Gino Borsoi: "Maybe We Will Sit Down With Yamaha At Qatar"

The Tech3 team's decision to switch from Yamaha to KTM sent shock waves through the MotoGP paddock. Few had been expecting Tech3 to abandon a relationship of 20 years and give up a bike which a proven track record of success. Simultaneously, the shock waves Tech3's announcement triggered a reaction among the other teams in the paddock: with two Yamaha M1s up for grabs, other satellite teams not already locked in are weighing their options. After Tech3, who's next?

The names being bandied about to replace Tech3 as a satellite Yamaha team are self evident. Marc VDS have been strongly linked to the rides, with the Angel Nieto Team a close second, though Avintia are also in the fray. With suggestions that Suzuki and Aprilia are also examining the possibility of supplying bikes to a satellite team, it seems there is much to play for.

At the Jerez Moto2/Moto3 test, I spoke to Gino Borsoi, team director of the Angel Nieto Team, who was there to oversee the test for the team's Moto3 riders, Andrea Migno and Albert Arenas. The subject was of course whether the team had any interest in taking over the Yamahas which had been freed up by Tech3, and their plans for 2019 and beyond.

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Carmelo Ezpeleta's Grand Plan, Or The Long History Behind Tech3's Switch To KTM

Sometimes decisions are a long time in the making. Tech3's decision to leave Yamaha and sign with KTM may have been made in the space of a few months, but the genesis of that choice, the process that made it all possible is ten years in the making. If MotoGP hadn't switched from 990cc to 800cc at the start of the 2007 season, if the ban on tobacco sponsorship in sports hadn't been enforced from 2005, if the financial system hadn't collapsed under the weight of tranches of "ninja" loans, Tech3 would be a Yamaha satellite team for the foreseeable future. Whether they wanted to be or not.

How did MotoGP get to a place where Tech3 could switch to KTM? To make complete sense of the story, we have to go back to the end of the last century. Through the last 1990s, the popularity of Grand Prix racing was waning, while the World Superbike series went from strength to strength. The manufacturers were losing interest in the 500cc class, as two strokes were gradually disappearing from the road.

Big bore four strokes were the flavor of the month among motorcycle buyers, and the factories were investing less and less in their two stroke racers. The manufacturers expressed an interest in racing four strokes in the premier class, and Dorna sketched out a contract with the MSMA, the organization representing the manufacturers, and MotoGP was born.

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Q&A: Pecco Bagnaia On The Jerez Moto2 Test, The 2018 Kalex, And Pressure For The Coming Season

Pecco Bagnaia goes into the 2018 season as one of the major favorites for the Moto2 championship. The Italian is rated very highly among team managers and factory bosses. So highly rated, in fact, that Ducati have already signed Bagnaia to a two-year deal to race in the Pramac Ducati squad for 2019 and 2020.

He proved his pace at the final Moto2 test ahead of the 2018 season at Jerez. Bagnaia was fastest on the first day, and tied for third quickest on the second and best day of the test. When asking around among his Moto2 rivals, the Sky VR46 Racing Team rider's name is the first to be mentioned as a candidate for the title.

On Wednesday evening, Bagnaia spoke to a small group of journalists about how testing had gone so far, about the changes to the 2018 Kalex chassis, and about the pressure he feels ahead of the 2018 Moto2 season. But first, Bagnaia wanted to address some of the rumors floating around about his leg, injured in a crash at the Valencia Moto2 test.

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2018 Jerez Moto2 Test Thursday Times: Quartararo Fastest On Wet Day, Lowes Quickest Overall

Though the Moto2 riders had the best of the weather on the final day of testing at Jerez, it was still poor enough to slow them down considerably. Only towards the end of the second session was it dry enough for a handful of riders to crack the 1'50 barrier, leaving Fabio Quartararo with the best time on the day.

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2018 Jerez Moto3 Test Thursday Times: Atiratphuvapat Tops Damp Final Day

The final day of testing at Jerez was a bit of a washout. Overnight rain left the track damp, and showers on and off all day kept wetting the track every time a dry line started to appear. The poor weather persuaded a third of the grid to pack up early, and the rendered the results meaningless for the remaining two thirds.

Thai rider Nakarin Atiratphuvapat ended the day as fastest, the Honda Team Asia rider nearly four tenths faster than Marcos Ramirez on the Bester Capital Dubai KTM. Sky VR46 Racing Team rider Dennis Foggia finished Thursday in third place. 

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2018 Jerez Moto2 Test Wednesday Times: Lowes On Top As KTM Take Top Three

Sam Lowes has topped the second day of the Moto2 test at Jerez, the Swiss Innovative Investors KTM rider borne by newly refound confidence to get under the pole record at the Andalusian track.

Lowes' teammate Iker Lecuona ended the day in second, the young Spaniard showing a good turn of pace once again, and finishing ahead of the factory-backed Red Bull KTM of Brad Binder in third. 

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2018 Jerez Moto3 Test Wednesday Times: Martin Leads Bastianini

Jorge Martin has topped the second day of the Jerez Moto3 test, the Gresini Honda rider making the best of what was nearly a full dry day of testing. Martin ended up a tenth of a second faster than Enea Bastianini, the Italian proving once again how well he is settling in to the Leopard Honda setup. 

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP 2018’s Holy Grail

Marquez… Zarco… Dovizioso… Rossi: this year there’s one performance factor they’re chasing more than any other: mid-corner turning

Motorcycle racing has always been about walking a tightrope. For the riders, at least. Now in MotoGP it’s the same for the engineers.

MotoGP’s new tech reality, ushered in by control software and Michelin control tyres, has narrowed the set-up window to little more than those arrow-slits you see in castle walls. Engineers must work harder than ever to unlock the secret to going fast, by getting the motorcycle within that narrow range, then asking the rider to find his way around any remaining imperfections.

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2018 Jerez Moto3 Test Tuesday Times: Canet Leads Bastianini In Restricted Action

The Moto3 class had the worst of the weather on the first day of the final three-day test at Jerez ahead of the 2018 season. The Moto3 bikes only got a single session that was really any use, the day's two other sessions being marred by rain. Aron Canet came out on top of the timesheets, the Estrella Galicia rider leading by over a third of a second.

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2018 Jerez Moto2 Test Tuesday Times: Bagnaia Leads On Day Of Mixed Conditions

The final test for the Moto2 and Moto3 class is underway at Jerez, and for the Moto2 bikes, that means they are finally testing with the official Moto2 Honda engines. The weather has been a touch recalcitrant on Tuesday, the track sometimes dry, but light showers blowing in and out to render the track rather tricky. 

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Paddock Pass Podcast Episode 68: Thailand And Qatar Tests With Manuel Pecino

The Paddock Pass Podcast is back with another episode, and this one is a real treat, with another special guest. At Qatar, Paddock Pass Podcast regular Neil Morrison is joined by veteran globetrotting Spanish journalist Manuel Pecino, to discuss the state of play after the Buriram and the Qatar tests.

Manuel adds even more depth to Neil's incisive analysis of testing, and the pair get into the details of where the various factories stand. They start off with Yamaha, and ponder how the once-dominant factory seems to have lost its way, with the exception of Johann Zarco on the satellite bike. They take a long hard look at what has happened, and how Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales seem to be taking the bike in two different directions.

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Press Release: KTM To Supply Tech3 With MotoGP Machines For 2019

KTM have confirmed their widely-predicted collaboration with Tech3 for the 2019 season and beyond. Here's the press release:

KTM Motorsport confirms cooperation with Tech3 in MotoGP from 2019

MotoGP Announcement

From the 2019 MotoGP season KTM Factory Racing will join forces with Hervé Poncharal and his Tech3 squad to field a strong satellite team putting all in all four KTM RC16 on the grid for the Austrian brand.

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Michelin To Bring Stability To Tire Allocations For 2018, Says Piero Taramasso

Michelin's return to the MotoGP paddock has been nothing if not eventful. Since taking over from Bridgestone as official tire supplier to MotoGP, Michelin has had both spectacular success and highly visible failure. Lap records (and more importantly to Michelin, race time records) have been broken, but there have also been delaminating tires, compulsory pit stops, and at the start of their time, a lot of crashes as the riders, teams, and Michelin all struggled with the front tire.

It is hardly surprising that the first two years of Michelin's return did not go entirely to plan. Having been out of MotoGP since 2009, it was predictable that Michelin would run into unexpected problems. The spate of front end crashes which marred the first Valencia test was quickly remedied as riders learned to fathom the different nature of the Michelins, teams adapted the geometry of the bikes, and Michelin changed the profile of the front tire to improve the contact patch. The extreme tire wear was dealt with by using harder compounds, which Michelin then slowly adjusted back in search of the right balance.

By the end of their second year in the class, Michelin had a much better understanding of the demands of MotoGP, and tires had become much less of a talking point. That is something of a double-edged sword according to Piero Taramasso, head of Two-Wheel Motorsport for Michelin. "We want people to speak about the tires, but in a good way," Taramasso joked to reporters on the final day of the Qatar test. "But I know this is not the case, I know that when we do well, nobody speaks about the tires, when something goes wrong, everybody speaks about the tires, this is the way it is since forever."

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2018 Qatar MotoGP Test Saturday Round Up: The Fast, The Slow, And Learning By Crashing

The phony war is finally over. The last MotoGP test has finished, with riders completing their final day of testing at Qatar. The next time the MotoGP grid assembles, it will be for something of real value: race wins, and world championship points.

Did the last day of the test offer any clear indications as to what might happen in two weeks' time? Plenty, though they were as confusing as all of testing has been this year. Johann Zarco managed to be both blisteringly fast and worryingly slow simultaneously. Danilo Petrucci managed to do exactly the same, though in a diametrically opposite manner. Valentino Rossi managed to impress both in terms of race pace and a single fast lap, but he was still worried whether his pace would last race distance. Maverick Viñales was terrible for the first six hours of the test, then brilliant in the last forty minutes, after basically wasting a day and a half.

Underneath the surface drama, the two biggest winners of the preseason just got on with their work. Their headline times were great but not breathtaking, but the race pace of Andrea Dovizioso and Marc Márquez was impressive. They reinforced their status as the title favorites going into the first race of the season through sheer consistency. While others raced up and down the timesheets like hyperactive kittens from day to day and hour to hour, Márquez and Dovizioso were always there or thereabouts, just getting on with business.

There were others, too. Cal Crutchlow has been repaying HRC's faith, especially with a phenomenal long run on Saturday. Alex Rins has shown every sign of growing into the rider we thought he could be. Rins' Suzuki teammate Andrea Iannone (absent due to illness on Saturday) may have been quicker, but Rins has shown the kind of consistency that puts him in the top five just about everywhere he goes.

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