2018 Le Mans Thursday Round Up: Honda's Advantage, Yamaha's New Engine, And 20+ Races In 2019

For the past decade or so, Le Mans has been a Yamaha track, with Yamaha riders taking seven wins in the last ten races. The answer to whether that situation can continue or is simple: it depends. Maybe a Yamaha can win at Le Mans on Sunday. Or maybe another bike will take victory here instead.

That answer is generic almost to the point of meaninglessness, but beneath it lies a kernel of truth. The first four races in MotoGP have taught us a few lessons which point to who and what could do the winning on Sunday. The more precise answer? If a Yamaha is going to win, it is more likely to be be the Tech3 bike of Johann Zarco, rather than the factory Movistar machines of Valentino Rossi or Maverick Viñales. If a Yamaha doesn't win, then the Ducatis are in with a much better chance than you might expect, with Andrea Dovizioso and, who knows?, maybe even Jorge Lorenzo in with a shout.

But the lesson of the first four races of 2018 is that the most likely outcome on Sunday is that a Honda will win, and probably a Honda in the hands of Marc Márquez. That is clearly what most of the riders felt on Sunday. The one recurring theme that came back from riders on every competing manufacturer was that they were both impressed and feared how much the Honda has improved since last year.

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Aleix Espargaro Extends With Aprilia Through 2020

Aleix Espargaro is to remain with Aprilia for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. Aprilia today announced they have extended Espargaro's contract for two more years. 

Espargaro's announcement is the second signing to come today, and brings the total of signed riders for next season and beyond up to eleven. For the full list, see the story on Alex Rins re-signing with Suzuki.

The Aprilia press release appears below:

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Alex Rins To Stay With Suzuki For Two More Seasons

Alex Rins has signed a new contract with the factory Suzuki Ecstar team for 2019 and 2020. The young Spaniard will stay with the team for two more seasons, as he continues to show the growth expected of him after a difficult rookie season marred by injury. Rins is now the twelfth rider to be confirmed for the 2019 season, and leaves one less factory seat to fill.

The re-signing of Rins had been widely expected. The Spaniard had spoken at Austin of positive progress being made, and the final details were hammered out at Jerez. Rins' first podium in MotoGP helped, taking third place in Argentina, but the fact that he has crashed out of the other three races held so far is a concern. Yet he has consistently shown he has the pace to compete at the front.

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2018 Le Mans MotoGP Preview: Is Le Mans Still A Yamaha Track, Or A Lorenzo Track?

In a city where no sporting event is taken seriously if it lasts any less than 24 hours – Le Mans even has a literary festival which features 24-hour readings – MotoGP feels slightly out of place. Yet over 100,000 fans come to watch what is surely the greatest motorized show on earth, flocking to what remains a legendary racing venue, despite the fact that MotoGP runs on the much shorter, tighter Bugatti circuit rather than the full length layout used by the 24-hour car race.

The race is very much a throwback to the past. The atmosphere is different to almost every other race: there is a constant edge, a sense of danger lurking just below the surface. Some revel in that excitement, others – myself included – grow tired at spending the evening wondering if you will make it out of the track alive if you leave after dark. If Quentin Tarantino directed a movie about MotoGP, he would set it at Le Mans.

The track may be rather tight and stop and go, but it presents a unique and fascinating challenge. Just making it through the Dunlop Chicane after the blisteringly fast first corner at Dunlop Curve is an achievement at the start, and it remains a favorite passing place throughout the race. The downhill right hander at La Chapelle can be treacherous, as can Musee, the long left hander which follows.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP’s next electronics ban

Dorna is so convinced that most teams are fiddling their ECU sensory systems that it will banish tailormade IMUs from 2019

MotoGP is better than it’s ever been for several reasons, including 2016’s move to control software.

Dorna’s control software narrowed the performance gap between the motorcycles and most importantly gave control back to the riders, so when you see Marc Márquez or Johann Zarco smoking the rear tyre, that’s their right wrists playing the game of risk versus reward, rather than a little black box playing rhythms with its algorithms. Up to a point, anyway.

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2018 Imola WorldSBK Notes: One hand on the title already?

Following his double victory at Imola Jonathan Rea has laid the foundations for his fourth consecutive WorldSBK title.

Rea becomes the equal of Foggy

Jonathan Rea's 59th WorldSBK victory saw the Northern Irishman join Carl Fogarty as the most successful rider in WorldSBK history. But the triple champion was quick to point out that winning races is good but winning championships is better. Still trailing Foggy by one title, there is now a sense of inevitability that Rea will add to his championship haul. The previous two years had seen Chaz Davies do the double at Imola, but he had no answers for Rea over the weekend. They were the class of the field, but it was Rea who came out on top following a tough weekend for the Ducati rider. With a 47 point advantage the title race is now firmly in Rea's hands.

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Guest Video Blog: Freddie Spencer On That Incident At Jerez

MotoMatters.com, in association with Motor Sport Magazine, is proud to feature the rider insights of 1983 and 1985 500cc world champion Freddie Spencer. After every MotoGP race, Fast Freddie will share what he saw and learned from the race.

In his latest video blog, Freddie Spencer takes a look back at the eventful Jerez round of MotoGP, and examines its repercussions on the championship. He starts off with a look back at his own first experiences of what is a fiery and passionate event, and his own first visit to the Jerez circuit. He then takes a quick digression to discuss the benefits and risks of rider training, with a view to Remy Gardner's injury picked up in an MX crash.

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2018 Imola World Superbike Race Two Results: A Race Of Pace

World Superbike's second race at Imola made use of the reverse grid set in yesterday's race but would be missing Jason O'Halloran as he has been declared unfit after his crash yesterday. His leg was broken by a foot peg during his crash in yesterday's race.

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