After testing last week at Jerez, some of the Moto2 and Moto3 have migrated north again, back to Valencia. At the end of Monday, Alex Marquez was the fastest of the Moto2 riders, a couple of tenths quicker than Pecco Bagnaia and Luca Marini. Joan Mir showed good improvement as a rookie, moving up to eighth quickest overall, eight tenths slower than Marquez.
As winter testing begins, we take a look at the regulation changes for WorldSBK in 2018.
The opening round of the 2018 WorldSBK season may be 100 days away but the race to get ready for Phillip Island has begun in earnest. The majority of the paddock are in the south of Spain to begin winter testing at Jerez, and there is certainly a lot of work to be done.
The biggest single change in the history of the series will see widespread changes to the technical regulations. The headline act has been the introduction of mandated - and variable - rev limits for each manufacturer, in a bid to curtail the dominance enjoyed by Kawasaki and Ducati in recent years.
The time schedule for the 2018 round of MotoGP at Qatar is to undergo a radical shake up. As we have previously reported, from next season, the time slots are to be moved up much earlier, with most of the action taking place during the day, and only the MotoGP race to take place completely at night.
The change has been made to address a range of problems at Qatar. The 2017 race came under threat when rain started falling between the end of the Moto2 race and the planned start of the MotoGP race. Fortunately, the track dried sufficiently for the race to start with a 45 minute delay, but the later start pushed the race right into the time period during which the dew usually starts to settle on the track, rendering it treacherous.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the two-day test at Jerez:
Oliveira and Binder start 2018 preseason with strong showing
Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto2 riders begin preparing for next year with two-day test at Jerez Circuit, in which the Portuguese rider was fastest.
11/17/2017 - Jerez Circuit, Spain
Miguel Oliveira and Aron Canet leave the Jerez joint Moto2 and Moto3 test as the fastest in their respective classes. Among the Moto2 riders, Oliveira knocked nearly eight tenths off his time from Thursday to go a tenth quicker than Pecco Bagnaia, who was fastest yesterday. Alex Marquez - who will be staying on to ride the Honda RC213V MotoGP bike next week - ended Friday as third fastest, ahead of Oliveira's Red Bull KTM teammate Brad Binder. Danny Kent had a very strong day on Friday, setting the fifth fastest time just four tenths off Miguel Oliveira.
The Jerez circuit has a busy week or so ahead of it. On Thursday and Friday, the Moto2 and Moto3 teams are testing there, then from Monday to Friday, there is a combined MotoGP and WorldSBK test at the Spanish circuit.
The dust has settled on Sunday’s frantic season finale at Valencia; so it’s time to decide: was Jorge Lorenzo right or wrong to refuse assistance to his team-mate?
Team orders suck, right? Yes, they do. But team orders aren’t always what you think they are. If you are a professional racer and you race for a factory team in MotoGP you will have at least a hundred colleagues. You may be the star man, the best-paid employee, the worker who’s on the telly, the guy who gets chased by the ladies, but you go racing on the backs of everyone else. Without them, you are nothing. There is not a rider on the MotoGP grid who doesn’t know this.
On Sunday, Ducati had a chance to win the MotoGP world championship. A tiny chance, but a chance nonetheless. For several months Jorge Lorenzo had told us that he would happily help team-mate Andrea Dovizioso at the last two races. He made all the right noises and at Sepang last month he did indeed make way for Dovizioso. Everyone assumed he would do the same at Valencia.
But he didn’t. Lap after lap, he rode around behind Johann Zarco, Marc Márquez and Dani Pedrosa, with Dovizioso right behind him. The sense of dismay in the Ducati garage was palpable. Lorenzo knew exactly what was up, but he failed to do what any reasonable team-mate would do – team orders or not – move aside and let the world-title hopeful decide his own fate.
The latest episode of the Paddock Pass Podcast sees Steve English, Neil Morrison, and David Emmett sit down at Valencia to discuss a thrilling season finale, and how the title decider played out. Naturally, there was plenty to talk about, given all of the shenanigans in the race and throughout the weekend.
Loris Baz has signed to race for the Althea Ducati team in WorldSBK in 2018. The team issued the following press release announcing the deal:
Althea BMW Racing announces its plans for the 2018 season
Rome, Italy, Thursday 16 November 2017
The Althea BMW Racing Team prepares for the 2018 Superbike World championship and announces its hiring of former MotoGP rider, Frenchman Loris Baz.
Press releases from the teams after the final day of the Valencia MotoGP test:
Repsol Honda duo top the time sheets on final day of Valencia test
The Repsol Honda Team’s long Valencia stint, comprising a very successful final race weekend of the 2017 Championship and two productive days of testing, has finally come to an end.
Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa took advantage of another sunny day to continue their work in preparation for 2018. As was the case yesterday, they started on the current machine before switching over to the new one also.
The moment the bikes fell silent at Valencia, at 5pm on Wednesday, officially marked the end of the beginning. The 2018 season is now well underway, the initial outlines of next year's bikes being revealed. There is still a long way to go to Qatar, but the first step has been taken, the first few hundred terabytes of data downloaded to laptops and uploaded to factory servers for analysis.
The new season began in much the same vein as the old season ended: with Marc Márquez fastest, and on a tear. The Repsol Honda rider was fastest on the second day of the test, and fastest overall, four tenths quicker than his teammate on Wednesday, and a tenth quicker than Maverick Viñales, who had topped the timesheets on Tuesday.
The timesheets had a familiar look to them. The top five overall consisted of the two Repsol Hondas and three Yamahas – the two Movistar factory bikes and Johann Zarco on the Tech 3 machine – followed by a couple of Ducatis, Jorge Lorenzo on the factory bike and Jack Miller on the Pramac machine. Whether the timesheets will stay like that when Qatar rolls around is another question entirely.
Marc Marquez has ended the second day of testing at Valencia fastest overall, the Repsol Honda rider topping the timesheets on his final run of the day. He was four tenths faster than his teammate Dani Pedrosa, both riders having spent the majority of their time on the 2018 prototype Honda RC213V.
Times at 3:30pm:
Times at 2pm:
The morning chill meant a late start for the MotoGP teams again. Jack Miller was the first to go out, but he was also the first to crash. Marc Marquez is fastest so far this morning, swapping between the 2017 and 2018 bikes, a quarter of a second ahead of Jorge Lorenzo. The Suzuki riders are also back on track, after missing out on the first day due to illness, Andrea Iannone setting the third fastest time at lunchtime.
Times at 12:30pm: