2017 Assen Moto3 FP1 Result: Oettl Sneaks Ahead Of Bastianini

Assen was always going to give us a bit of a cool down after the soul-crushing heat of Barcelona, and a kind eighteen degrees welcomed the lightweight class to the first day of practice. Add a few clouds and some breeze and you get the usual recipe. Although, one different ingredient was Philipp Oettl fighting his way through traffic to pop up at the top of the timesheets in the final two minutes of the session.

Behind him, Enea Bastianini proved why he was the poleman in Assen for the past two years and why his name is scribbled next to the fastest Moto3 lap around the circuit. The Italian seems to be recovering some form of late and this second position serves to prove that.

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2017 Assen MotoGP Preview: Grip, Glory, And Sheer Guts

For the first ten years I spent writing previews for the Dutch TT at Assen, I would start have to start of on a tangent, with a brief summary of the schisms and splits of the Dutch Reformed Church. Without the background to the religious topology of The Netherlands, it is hard to explain why the race was held on Saturday. Last year, when the MotoGP race was held on a Sunday for the first time, I had to recap that, to explain why it was a big deal for the race to be held on Sunday, and to be moved from Saturday.

This year, 2017, I can leave aside the history of Dutch Protestantism and its aversion to any activity on the Sabbath. This will be the second time the race will be held on Sunday, and so the novelty of the change has worn off. It has fallen in line with the rest of the calendar, and so it is just another race weekend, same as any other. Although of course, being Assen, it is still something a bit special.

If anything, the switch from having a Saturday race to a Sunday race has been a positive boon. Though some feared the traditionalists would stay away, offended by change, visitor numbers were up last year, especially on Friday and Saturday. More people came for the race as well, despite taking place in an absolute downpour. Over 105,000 fans packed a flooded Assen, because being Assen, it is still something a bit special.

Diminished, but still glorious

Though the track has been neutered, the former glory of the North Loop removed to raise funds to improve facilities, three and a half of the circuit's four and a half kilometer length is still a unique and challenging layout. The banking and camber may be reduced, but the weird snaking layout and subtle dips and bumps make it a tough track to get absolutely perfect. It is still fast too, with corners like the Ruskenhoek, Meeuwenmeer, Hoge Heide and Ramshoek demanding both courage and skill. And it has one of the best final chicanes in the world, the GT Chicane or Geert Timmer Bocht offering the perfect final shot at a pass to win the race.

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Pecco Bagnaia Stays In Moto2 With Sky VR46 For Another Year

Pecco Bagnaia is one Moto2 rider who will not be moving up to MotoGP in 2018. The Italian rookie, who has been impressive in his debut Moto2 season, scoring a podium at Jerez, is to remain with the Sky Racing Team VR46 for the following season.

Bagnaia had been linked to a couple of rides in MotoGP. Both Pramac and especially Aspar were keen to see the Italian youngster move up to MotoGP for next season, after his strong rides in Moto3 and impressive start to his Moto2 career. Bagnaia has chosen stability, however, remaining with the Sky VR46 team for a second season in Moto2. 

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In Conversation With Sylvain Guintoli: On MotoGP, And Comparing Suzuki's GSX-RR and GSX-R1000

Being a replacement rider is never easy. Being asked to replace a factory MotoGP rider is always an honor, and one which nobody wants to turn down, but it also means being thrown in at the deep end, with a new bike, new tires, and sometimes even new tracks to learn with little or no testing.

Bearing all that in mind, experience can make the world of difference. So when Suzuki were forced to replace Alex Rins, after he broke his left arm in Austin, they turned to one of the most experienced riders around. Sylvain Guintoli spent five seasons in 250s and two full seasons in MotoGP, before heading off to World Superbikes, where he won the title in 2014. He is currently racing the brand new Suzuki GSX-R1000 for Bennetts Suzuki in the BSB championship.

In Barcelona, I found myself alone at Guintoli's debrief, and had a chance to spend fifteen minutes talking to the Frenchman. We had a wide-ranging conversation, covering topics as diverse as the changes to the bikes and tires since 2008, the character of the Suzuki GSX-RR MotoGP bike, and how it compares to Suzuki's production GSX-R1000.

Q: What’s it been like having to come back into the paddock and obviously totally different tires from when you were racing?

Sylvain Guintoli: It’s been a blast so far, to be honest. It’s been honestly a great opportunity, a great experience to back riding the GP race. The Suzuki is a beautiful bike to ride. But it’s also been challenging. Like you said, the tires obviously, the last time I rode Michelins was 2002.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Assen, née The Cathedral

Assen was despoiled some years ago, just like Catalunya more recently, but then the history of racing is a history of epic race tracks disappearing

Being an old MotoGP journalist is a bit like being a very old man. You keep losing the people you love, or in this case, the circuits you love. This week the paddock goes to Assen, once the most fascinating circuit on the championship calendar because it was entirely unique, offering a special challenge to riders and engineers alike.

The old Assen (shown above in all its glory) had all kinds of tricks hidden in its 3.7 miles of serpentine curves, from devilishly tricky cambers to 160mph direction changes that had to be ridden just so to prevent your machine from convulsing into the mother of all tank-slappers. The brainwork needed to solve these conundrums involved everyone, from riders to engineers to mechanics, tyre technicians and suspension twiddlers. If a rider won at Assen, his crew knew as well as he did that they had done something very special. Not for nothing was the place called The Cathedral.

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Cal Crutchlow Signs Two-Year Deal With HRC To Stay At LCR Honda

Cal Crutchlow is to stay with the LCR Honda team for the next two years. The Englishman's contract is part of a new deal between HRC and LCR, which will see Honda supply Honda RC213Vs to the LCR Honda team for the next two seasons, and signs Crutchlow directly to HRC, rather than LCR.

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An Unexpected MotoGP Silly Season - Who Goes Where In 2018?

With all twelve factory riders on two-year contracts, there wasn't supposed to be a MotoGP Silly Season in 2017, or at least, not much of one. That impression was further reinforced when the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha squad quickly tied up both Johann Zarco and Jonas Folger for an extra year, until the end of 2018.

As usual, reality intervened, of course. Though the factory seats were supposedly taken, there was plenty of interest in the satellite seats once the season got underway. All eyes turned to the Moto2 class, and especially to the remarkable performances by Franco Morbidelli and Pecco Bagnaia. Alex Márquez, too, raised eyebrows. And so speculation started.

Then there were those factory seats. Yes, all twelve factory riders have two-year contracts, but all contracts have clauses that allow for either side to make an early escape. Great managers make sure the escape clause benefits their rider. Great factory lawyers make sure the contract is in their favor. The measure of a rider manager is where they end up on that side of the equation.

Trouble in paradise?

And so already, there are rumblings at two factories. The stories of Andrea Iannone and Sam Lowes are very different, but possibly related. It is an open secret that both riders have fallen far short of expectations. Iannone has struggled to get his head around the way the Suzuki needs to be ridden, especially the way braking needs to be done. The bike is built to carry corner speed, which means braking as hard as possible in a straight line, then releasing the brakes and carrying corner speed. On the Ducati, Iannone learned to brake later, and keep the brakes on into the corner all the way to the apex. His failure to adapt has seen a string of poor results and growing frustration.

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Pirelli To Bring Stiffer Rear Tire To Laguna Seca To Stem Tire Issues

The Misano round of WorldSBK was dominated by talk of tires. As such, following a weekend fraught with failures, Pirelli will revert to an older specification of tire for the Laguna Seca round. The move sees Pirelli at a crossroads, after a series of high profile incidents during the scorching weekend in Italy.

This includes Michael van der Mark's crash from the lead of Saturday's race, after a tire failure saw the Dutch rider robbed of his chance to claim his first podium for Yamaha. One has to remember too, Jonathan Rea also crashed out of the lead at the previous round in Donington Park, as it was a shock to see the previously robust Pirelli fail once again.

"Johnny was using the V0602 tire, which is a development SC0, but Van der Mark was a standard SC0 tire," said Pirelli's Communication Manager, Matteo Giusti.

"The standard has been available for more than one year and has been used many times. They were two different tires and two different problems with different damage to them.Johnny had a tear in his tire that was about 10cm along the side of the tire whereas Michael had a small hole in the surface. With Mickey's tire you can put your finger through the tire but we are not sure what happened to cause this on the tire."

Pirelli separates its tires by their family of compound. In the case of the tires that suffered the issues, they were the SC0 compound. Within those tires, things get divided further, as there are 'standard' and 'development' tires within the family.

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2017 Misano World Superbike Race Two Results: Could The Reverse Grid Finally Make A Difference?

As with all Sunday races this year, the front three grid places are based on where riders finished in the Saturday race. Twenty laps of Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli under a clear Italian sky. In spite of a tyre acting unusually yesterday, everyone was on the SC0 Pirelli rear. Chaz Davies would not start the race due to his crash yesterday. 

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2017 Misano World Supersport Race Results: Mechanical Issues For Sofuoglu

Thirty four riders, with Alex Baldolini not competing, started the race of nineteen laps around Misano. Kenan Sofuoglu had trouble at the start of the race with a malfunctioning t-shirt gun that required a change to manual launching, throwing by hand, to get the t-shirts to their intended targets.

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Pirelli On Van der Mark's Tire: "We Have Not Had This Issue Before"

Michael van der Mark suffered a rear tire failures during the closing stages of Race 1 of the Misano WorldSBK round. The Dutch rider was leading the race at the time and had a firm chance to claim a first career victory in the class when his rear tire suddenly failed and pitched him off the bike through the series of fast right handers at the end of the lap.

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