2019 Assen World Superbike FP1 Result: Rabbit Doesn't Diminish Rea's Glory

After a rabbit crossed the track and brought out the red flags, Jonathan Rea, Michael van der Mark and Tom Sykes held off the Ducatis of Alvaro Bautista and Chaz Davies as all five were within half a second of each other.

The Ducatis have been handed a 250rpm reduction (Honda have had an increase of 500rpm) but as Assen doesn't let them stretch their legs, getting top speeds around 30kmh slower than Aragon, it's not known if the top end reduction will affect them here.

Results:

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2019 Austin Thursday MotoGP Round Up: Dealing With A Bumpy Track, And Addressing Jump Starts

The Grand Prix of the Americas is one of the MotoGP paddock's favorite races, because of the setting, the atmosphere, and the city of Austin. The layout of the Circuit of the Americas is beloved by many a rider. They love the challenge of threading the needle of Turns 2 through 10, the braking for Turn 11, Turn 12, Turn 1. They love the run up the hill to Turn 1, the sweep down through Turn 2, the fact that the back straight is not straight, but meanders like the straights at many great tracks. The front straight at Mugello wanders, the Veenslang at Assen is anything but straight, that adds an element of challenge to a straigeht.

What the riders don't love are the bumps. The bumps turn the Austin racetrack into a rodeo, the MotoGP bikes into bucking broncos. At close to 350 km/h along the back straight, the bikes become very difficult to control. The bumps turn into whoops, a motocross track taken at light speed, and almost impossible to ride safely. Turn 2, that glorious sweeping downhill right hander has a bump in it which threatens to unseat anyone who takes it at the speed it begs of a rider.

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Paddock Pass Podcast Episode 98: Taking Stock Of Argentina - False Starts And MSMA Aerodynamics Arguments

It's a busy time for the Paddock Pass Podcast crew. Hot on the heels of the Aragon WorldSBK edition comes a look back at the MotoGP round in Argentina, and a look ahead to Austin. Jensen Beeler leads a discussion with Neil Morrison and David Emmett of the fallout from the Argentina round.

We kick off with a look at Marc Marquez' domination of the race, and the battle for second behind the Repsol Honda rider. We ponder just how close MotoGP is at the moment, and how the level of equipment and and riders is very equal. We talk about the battle between Andrea Dovizioso and Valentino Rossi, and the tactics the two used to approach the race.

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Paddock Pass Podcast Episode 97: Steve And Gordo Talk WorldSBK At Aragon

It's a busy time for racing, with WorldSBK back in Europe and MotoGP in the Americas. In this episode of the Paddock Pass Podcast, Steve English and Gordon Ritchie get together to discuss the Aragon round of WorldSBK.

They start off with a discussion of how close the race for second has become, given that Alvaro Bautista is, for the moment at least, uncatchable. Steve and Gordo talk about the progress BMW have made with the new bike, and the updates being brought to Aragon, and how BMW are using the WorldSBK series as a development platform for the S1000RR.

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2019 Austin MotoGP Preview: Grinding Down Bumps, Beating Marquez, And Surviving Injuries

After a display of utter domination by Marc Márquez in Argentina, MotoGP heads 7000km north to Austin where if history is to be the judge, we are in for a repeat performance. Marc Márquez has never been beaten at Austin, and indeed, has not been beaten on US soil since he moved up to Moto2 in 2011. It seems foolish to bet against him at the Circuit of the Americas.

Yet the Termas De Rio Hondo circuit and the Circuit of the Americas are two very different beasts indeed. Termas flows, with only a couple of points where the brakes are challenged, and is a track where corner speed and the ability to ride the bike on the rear is paramount. COTA is more a collection of corners than a flowing race track. Three tight corners where the brakes are taken to the limit – Turn 12 being the toughest, braking from nearly 340 km/h to just under 65 km/h – a dizzying extended esses section from Turn 2 to Turn 9, a tight infield section and a big sweeping right hander.

If there is a section where the track sort of flows, it is from the top of the hill. The first corner is one of the most difficult on the calendar. The riders charge uphill hard on the gas, then slam on the brakes compressing the suspension harder than at any point on the calendar. At the top of the hill they release the brakes and try to turn in, managing rebounding suspension with a corner which rises, crests, and then falls away down towards Turn 2.

Precision and forcefulness combined

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WorldSBK Rev Limit Changes: Ducati Panigale V4R Loses, Honda CBR1000RR Gains

After Alvaro Bautista's runaway success since joining the WorldSBK series, winning all six main races and all three Superpole races, mostly by a significant margin, the FIM has made the first move toward balancing out performance. Starting from the next round at Assen, the Ducati Panigale V4R is to lose 250 revs, while the Honda CBR1000RR, which has struggled badly since the start of the year, is to given an extra 500 revs on the maximum rev limit.

This is not the only step taken to limit the advantage which the Ducati has. Because Bautista has won every race so far, Ducati will also not be allowed to bring any engine performance upgrades, the so-called concession parts, which includes items such as cylinder heads, air intake funnels, etc. The Panigale V4R will have to compete in the state of tune they started the season. 

The same applies to Kawasaki. As Jonathan Rea finished every race in second place, the ZX-10RR will also not be allowed any updates through the 2019 season. 

All other manufacturers - Honda, Yamaha, BMW - will be allowed to bring one set of updates at some point during the season. This also applies to the brands not currently competing, MV Agusta, Aprilia, and Suzuki.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - How I ride: Jack Miller

Ducati’s latest Aussie MotoGP star follows in the wheel tracks of Troy Bayliss and Casey Stoner. This is how he rides and this is how he will surely soon score his first dry-weather MotoGP podium

You rode your rookie MotoGP season in 2015, so was it difficult in 2016 switching from factory electronics to control software and from Bridgestones to Michelins?

Electronics-wise, not really, because I didn’t have factory electronics, I had the open software which was literally the worst crap you could imagine. The wheelie control didn’t work at all, but at least it taught me how to handle the raw power of a MotoGP bike. It was a good experience because I learned how to manage the bike in my rookie season. That year I had Nicky [Hayden] and Eugene [Laverty] on the same bikes, so it was great to have those guys to gauge myself against and I beat them in the championship.

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From Despair To Redemption: Ronald ten Kate On Losing Honda And Gaining Yamaha In WorldSBK

For nearly a quarter of a century, Ten Kate was synonymous with Honda in World Superbike racing. They first started racing in World Supersport, and then later raced in both classes, gaining official support from Honda in 2001, and then becoming Honda's main flag bearer since 2005, winning titles in both World Superbike and World Supersport classes with big-name riders such as Michael van der Mark, James Toseland, Chris Vermeulen, and Kenan Sofuoglu.

So it came as a shock to the world when Honda announced they would not be continuing their partnership with Ten Kate for the 2019 WorldSBK season. Once, contract extensions were a formality, left until the last minute only because both parties knew they would be racing together the next season anyway. But all that changed on 30th October 2018.

If it was a shock to the racing world, imagine what a blow it was to Ronald ten Kate and the rest of the team when they were told at a meeting in Amsterdam that Honda had decided to partner with Moriwaki and the Althea team, and use Honda's Suzuka 8 Hour bike as a base for their WorldSBK campaign. At a stroke, the Ten Kate team were left without bikes, without backing, and without their main rider, Leon Camier, who was signed to Honda, rather than Ten Kate.

They were also left with mounting costs, having already invested many tens of thousands of Euros in the 2019 season. Equipment and parts had been ordered, and preparations already made. The team also had over 20 staff on the payroll, with no means to pay them. Driving home from the meeting in Amsterdam, that is where Ronald ten Kate's thoughts were, with the people he would have to lay off.

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Belgian Region Approves Loan To Prepare Spa-Francorchamps For EWC And MotoGP

The odds of Grand Prix motorcycle racing returning to the magnificent Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium increased last week. On Thursday, the government of Wallonia, the French-speaking region of Belgium, announced that the circuit had been granted a €29.5 million loan for upgrades to make the track safe enough to eventually host motorcycle racing at the circuit

The loan, from the Walloon development agency SOGEPA, is part of a larger financial package of €80 million aimed at updating and modernizing the Belgian circuit. €51 million of that total is targeted at bringing back international motorcycle racing to the track. The objective, according to Belgian website 7sur7, is to have the FIM WEC World Endurance Championship return to the circuit in 2022, with a possible return for MotoGP planned for 2024. 

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Michael van der Mark Interview: "If You Want To Start A WorldSBK Season, The Yamaha Is The Best Base"

Michael van der Mark finished third in the WorldSBK championship in 2018, after getting off to a relatively rocky start. His 2019 season started on a more solid foundation, but like the rest of the WorldSBK grid, the Dutchman has been blown away by the arrival of Alvaro Bautista on the Aruba.it Ducati.

Bautista's performance has overshadowed some very interesting developments with the rest of the WorldSBK grid. The Yamaha has made a big step forward – so much so that Van der Mark finds himself regularly finishing behind his Pata Yamaha teammate Alex Lowes – making it possible for the now four Yamaha riders to try to take on the might of Jonathan Rea on the Kawasaki.

At the press presentation of the Assen round of WorldSBK on the Tuesday before Aragon, I got a chance to interview Michael van der Mark about how he sees 2019 WorldSBK season. Van der Mark talks about the improvement the Yamahas have made, what to make of Alvaro Bautista, and whether Assen might give him a better chance to fight with the Ducati at a track where horsepower is less of a factor.

Q: How do you see your season so far? It seems like a mixture of good and bad?

Michael van der Mark: We must be really happy with the results so far. Of course, I want to be on the podium much more, but to score so many points for the first two races is not bad. I think all four Yamaha's are doing a really good job. My teammate was a bit stronger in Thailand, but he's not far away. So I think we must be really happy. Also I think it shows that all four of us use everything which is in the bike.

Q: Would it be fair to say that the Yamaha is the best bike on the grid, or the most well-rounded bike on the grid?

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