The Suzuka 8-Hours is dominated by Bridgestone tire. Why is that? And what is the difference between a Bridgestone a Pirelli, and a Michelin at this iconic race?
Even the most talkative factory riders get tight-lipped when the topic of tires is raised. Jonathan Rea was asked after securing pole position for tomorrow's Suzuka 8-Hours about the feeling he has with Bridgestone tires, compared to using Pirelli rubber in WorldSBK. The three-time world champion sidestepped that landmine with customary ease by saying, “both are very high performance tires.” It was a similar situation when talking with MotoGP riders about comparing to Michelin tires in recent years.
There are, however, some outliers in the paddock. Riders with experience of Bridgestone, Pirelli, and Michelin tires, and who are able to speak about the contrasts. Both Michael Laverty and Sylvain Guintoli have plenty of experience on all three brands, with Laverty even acting as a MotoGP test rider at the time when the French manufacturer was building their initial batch of tires for their return to Grand Prix racing.
Some experts tipped Johann Zarco to challenge for this year’s MotoGP crown. So what has become of him? Best ask Tech 3 boss Hervé Poncharal…
It’s time to examine the strange case of Johann Zarco. Last year the French rookie bulldozed his way into our hearts by bruising egos, ruffling leathers and almost sawing Marc Márquez’s seat unit in half at Phillip Island. And all this on a second-hand motorcycle that wasn’t particularly adored by its previous owners.
No wonder the Frenchman was tipped to challenge for the 2018 MotoGP title. And he did, at least for the first few races. The 27-year-old qualified on pole in Qatar and led the race until he ran out of front grip. Two weeks later, he missed out on his first MotoGP victory by two-tenths of a second and another two weeks later he finished on the podium at Jerez. France was agog with excitement. More than 100,000 fans turned up at Le Mans to see him win. And he might have done if he hadn’t crashed out.
The summer break – if an extra weekend off can be counted as an actual break – marks the end of the first half of the 2018 MotoGP season, but it also marks a significant point in the MotoGP Silly Season. With Marc van der Straten telling the riders and crew of the Marc VDS MotoGP team that the team will not be competing in MotoGP in 2019 and beyond, the final shape of the 2019 MotoGP grid is almost clear.
There was no official announcement to mark the withdrawal of the Marc VDS squad, it was indirectly confirmed when the team sent out a press release (shown below) announcing that they had extended their deal with Alex Márquez for the Spaniard, younger brother of Marc, to remain in Moto2 for another season. Emilio Alzamora, who manages both Márquez brothers, had been pushing for Van der Straten to keep at least one grid slot in MotoGP for Alex Márquez, a move which had the strong backing of his brother Marc. Alex Márquez remaining in Moto2 is tacit confirmation that there is no seat in MotoGP for the Spaniard.
The withdrawal of the Marc VDS team, and the transfer of the Angel Nieto Team's grid slots to the Petronas SIC Yamaha team (whose existence was confirmed officially in a press release between the Dutch and German rounds of MotoGP) means that the MotoGP grid will be smaller in 2019. There will be 22 riders lining up at Qatar, rather than the 24 who started at Losail this season. The loss of two riders from the grid will not overly trouble Dorna: with uncertainty over who will broadcast MotoGP in Spain next year, saving around €6 million in team subsidies will create some negotiating room for the series organizer.
The Kawasaki Racing Team issued the following press release confirming that Leon Haslam will partner Jonathan Rea in 2019 in the KRT WorldSBK team:
Haslam To Join KRT In 2019
Experienced British competitor Leon Haslam will join Jonathan Rea in KRT to complete the rider line up of Kawasaki’s official squad in the 2019 WorldSBK Championship.
The Suzuka 8 Hours is the biggest single race on the motorcycle racing calendar. The final Sunday of July is circled on the calendars of racing presidents of the Japanese manufacturers because it's the day that careers are made or lost. It's the day that legends are born, and it's the day that the pressure is ramped right up on the racing bosses at Yamaha, Honda, Kawasaki and Suzuki.
If you want to ensure your future, you need to prove your worth at Suzuka. The only way to guarantee good graces is with success. Honda has been chasing it in recent years, and after being on the receiving end of a Yamaha trouncing in recent years the pressure is higher than ever to win again.
That pressure manifests itself up and down the pit lane. Riders come off their bikes and look into the expectant faces of engineers who know their career aspirations are linked to Suzuka. Win here and you could get the chance to develop the next MotoGP machine. Lose and you could well be looking at the job ads on Monday.
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 the latest edition of his Rider Insights video blog, Freddie Spencer takes a look back at the German round of MotoGP at the Sachsenring. Though Spencer never raced there during his Grand Prix years - the circuit wasn't built until well after he had retired - Fast Freddie knows the circuit well, having taken part in several events at the track, including the Sachsenring Classic. Spencer explains what it takes to go fast around the very particular circuit, and the demands it imposes on rider and machine.
After the WorldSBK extravaganza podcast with Steve English and Jensen Beeler, the Paddock Pass Podcast turns its attention back to MotoGP. After the epic race at Assen, and then another intriguing round at the Sachsenring in Germany, Neil Morrison and David Emmett get together to discuss where MotoGP stands as the 2018 season reaches its halfway point.
We start off with a discussion of where the Assen race ranks in the list of all time great MotoGP/500cc races, which turns into a debate over what criteria to use in judging whether a race is great or not. Is it all about how close the finish is? Does it have to be decided on the last lap? Does the significance of a race in the championship matter?
The WorldSBK series may be on its summer hiatus, but there is still plenty of news going on. After the official announcement that Tom Sykes would not be back with the KRT Kawasaki team, it is the turn of the Pata Yamaha WorldSBK squad to make announcements. Today, the team issued a statement saying that current riders Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes will remain with the team for the 2019 season.
There's another episode of the Paddock Pass Podcast out, and this one is a corker. WorldSBK commentator and Paddock Pass Podcast regular Steve English sat down with Jensen Beeler of Asphalt & Rubber to go over the state of WorldSBk at the US round of World Superbikes at Laguna Seca.
In a fascinating and wide-ranging conversation, Steve and Jensen cover the present state of the World Superbike series, and where it is going in the future. They start off in Phillip Island, and the expectations of the season at the opening round of the year, then go on to discuss how all that has changed over the course of the first half of the season.
Tom Sykes is to part ways with Kawasaki in the WorldSBK championship. The 2013 WorldSBK champion is to leave the team and manufacturer with which he had virtually all of his success in the series.
Sykes' departure has been coming for some time. The Yorkshireman has been increasingly unhappy in the team ever since Jonathan Rea joined Kawasaki. Since Rea arrived, development of the bike has been moving away from Sykes and towards Rea, understandably, given just how dominant Rea has been on the ZX-10R, winning three titles in a row and on his way to a fourth.
Pedrosa's MotoGP career may have been blessed with the HRC golden ticket, but racing, regulations and broken bones have (mostly) conspired against him
Dani Pedrosa was once king of the Sachsenring. He won the 250 race in 2004 and 2005, then a hat-trick of MotoGP victories in 2010, 2011 and 2012, before Marc Márquez came along.
But that’s another story. Today we are talking about Pedrosa, MotoGP’s pint-sized perennial performer who, last Thursday, announced his retirement.
Pedrosa has broken a few records and many more bones during a long career during which he’s never quite lifted the MotoGP crown. But if you think he’s just been unlucky, you don’t know the half of it.
Yamaha have announced that they will have a new title sponsor for their MotoGP team in 2019 and beyond. Current title sponsors Movistar are to leave Yamaha, and subsponsor Monster is to take their place as title sponsor.
The move comes as no surprise, given the background of the two companies. Monster had been left without a title sponsorship for 2019 since the Tech3 team announced they were switching from Yamaha to KTM for next year, which also implied taking on the Red Bull sponsorship which comes along with that. Movistar are withdrawing not just from title sponsorship of MotoGP, but also from their role as MotoGP broadcaster in Spain. Movistar's departure made it logical for Monster to step up as title sponsor, especially as both current Yamaha MotoGP riders, Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales, are also Monster athletes.