After what has been a very difficult year for Aprilia's effort in MotoGP, the Noale factory is to shake up its racing department. Current Aprilia Racing boss Romano Albesiano is to be moved sideways to concentrate on the technical side of the racing program, while Massimo Rivola, former Ferrari F1 team boss and head of Ferrari Driver Academy, will take over as CEO of Aprilia Racing.
The move is a response to the difficulties Aprilia has faced since making a full-time return to MotoGP. Romano Albesiano's background is in engineering, but being forced to manage both the engineering and the sporting side of Aprilia Racing did not prove easy. Albesiano clashed on occasion with Aprilia Gresini team boss Fausto Gresini over the running of the team, which further detracted from Albesiano's ability to focus on the technical development of the RS-GP.
Rivola's appointment allows for a clear split in responsibilities. Rivola will oversee the entire organization, covering all aspects of racing. Romano Albesiano has been appointed Technical Director, and will oversee the engineering and technical side of the MotoGP project. And Fausto Gresini will focus on managing the MotoGP team, along with the Gresini Moto2 and Moto3 teams.
The press release from Aprilia announcing Rivola's appointment appears below:
MASSIMO RIVOLA TO BE APRILIA RACING CEO
In the latest episode of the Paddock Pass Podcast, Jensen Beeler, Steve English, and David Emmett take a deep dive into the WorldSBK championship. We take a look back at last season, and use that, and the results of the Jerez WorldSBK test, to preview the 2019 season, leading to a debate on what WorldSBK should be, and the difficulties of managing a racing series for motorcycles which are primarily to be sold for use on the road.
We start off with a long look at Kawasaki, and how Jonathan Rea has come to define the Kawasaki era. We analyze the reasons Rea has become such a dominant factor in the series. But we also discuss Tom Sykes, his situation, and how Sykes has handled Rea coming into the team.
The Shaun Muir Racing team had their first test with the new BMW S1000RR at Almeria, and issued the following press release:
The FIM today announced that the 2019 WorldSBK schedule has been finalized. The provisional round originally added for 21st July has been moved a week earlier, and is to be held at Laguna Seca. That had previously not been considered financially viable, but some reports are suggesting that Dorna may have given Laguna a further discount on hosting the round, because of the importance of the US market.
The arrival of Laguna Seca means that the planned South African round at Kyalami has been pushed back until at least 2020. But paddock rumor suggests that everything is being done to make this happen.
Below is the full 2019 WorldSBK schedule:
Just before his 2018 season went pear-shaped we talked to the three-time MotoGP king about how he transformed his riding technique from 2015 to 2018
How much did things change for you in 2016, when MotoGP switched to unified software and Michelin tyres?
A lot, a lot. When we started testing the new electronics and tyres at the end of 2015 and at the beginning of 2016 it was a huge change, because the first few times I tried the new electronics the engine-braking was always locking the rear wheel, because the software was very old-fashioned and not so sophisticated. It was difficult to ride the bike – you wasted a lot of energy and you were almost two seconds slower. Then little by little, it got better.
On Saturday 15th December, Barcelona-based daily newspaper La Vanguardia published a lengthy interview with Alberto Puig. That is in itself mildly surprising: despite being team manager of the Repsol Honda squad, Puig has little time for the media, and little interest in speaking to them. What is even more surprising is that it is a truly insightful and fascinating interview, revealing a lot about how Puig views running a MotoGP team, and what makes Marc Márquez tick.
So it is a shame that the discussion the interview has generated has centered around two of the briefest subjects Puig mentioned: his views of Dani Pedrosa, whom Puig thought had not been fully committed in recent years, and his thoughts on Valentino Rossi, whom he believed had seen his moment pass.
The old dog
Which of those generated the most controversy depended on where in the world you were. Puig's comments on Rossi were biggest in Italy, unsurprisingly. Perhaps rightly so, given the comparison Puig made between Rossi and Marc Márquez. Rossi has been a great rider who he fully respected, Puig said. He was impressed by Rossi's refusal to accept that he shouldn't be able to compete at his age, and by his undimmed desire to win. But, Puig said, "he is having a hard time accepting his moment has passed."
Behind the fairing of the Kalex (Marc VDS)
Peter Bom: A typical winter test photo. The wiring hasn't been tidied up and isn't very neat. Below the clutch lever, you can see a sensor which measures the movement of the steering damper. This isn't part of the ECU strategy (yet), but it does tell the data engineer a lot about the position of the bike, for example, if the bike is getting sideways when braking.
It may be December, and the world of motorcycle racing may be retreating into hibernation for a few weeks, but news does keep cropping up from time to time. So before we also take a break for the holiday season, here is a quick round up of the news stories you may have missed.
The week started off (or ended, depending on when you start counting) with a fascinating and honest appearance by Jorge Lorenzo on British MotoGP broadcaster BT Sport's season review show. The Spaniard spoke frankly about the reasons he left Yamaha, the struggles he faced at Ducati, and how he pondered retirement before turning it around.
Lorenzo made his reasons for leaving Yamaha clear: he had run out of challenges to chase. "There was a time when I was in Yamaha that I was not learning so much anymore, because I'd achieved my dream from when I was a little kid, which was winning the MotoGP World Championship. I won it three times with Yamaha, so I didn't have any more things to achieve, no, and I was feeling a lack of motivation."
No easy move
Under the tank of the Yamaha YZR-M1 (Petronas)
Peter Bom: A dummy fuel tank on the Yamaha R1 as used by the mechanics to start and warm up the bike in pit lane. The real fuel tank is constantly measured for weight (= amount of fuel) to calculate fuel consumption. It was with a fuel tank like this that things went horribly wrong at the Suzuki pit box in Sepang. Fuel leaked out from a leaking hose and the bike caught fire.
Petrucci has yet to win a MotoGP race, but Ducati’s latest factory rider is super-fast and few are better at describing what they do on a bike
You’ve been through some big technical changes in MotoGP: starting out on a CRT bike with a streetbike engine, then changing bikes, tyres and electronics
In reality, I had a Superstock bike during my first three years in MotoGP! So I only really started racing in MotoGP when I joined Pramac Ducati in 2015 and got my first real MotoGP bike.
Riding technique has changed a lot because we now have different tyres and different electronics. The way you use the throttle now is very, very different to how it was when we had the factory software before 2016. In 2015 it was easier to open the throttle out of a corner because the electronics were better. Now the rider has to manage the throttle much more, mostly because of the electronics, but also because the tyres are different.
Ever since the Superbike Commission - the rule-making body for WorldSBK - announced back in October that a third race would be added to the WorldSBK schedule, we have wondered exactly what this would mean for the class, both in terms of championship points and qualifying position for the second WorldSBK race, held on Sunday. On Tuesday, the FIM issued a press release containing the missing details for the coming season.
The new schedule impacts both qualifying and the races. The current two-stage Superpole has been abolished, replaced with a single Superpole session for the World Superbike and the World Supersport series. Those qualifying sessions will set the grid for the WorldSSP race on Sunday, and WorldSBK race 1 - the normal length race - on Saturday, and a new, 10-lap sprint race to be held on Sunday.
The 10-lap sprint race - to be named the Tissot Superpole race - will set the first 9 positions of the grid for the second full-length race on Sunday afternoon. Positions 10 and onwards will be set using the qualifying positions from Saturday's Superpole session, presumably taking account of riders who qualified inside the top 9 but crashed out of the Superpole race on Sunday.
There are a few books which every MotoGP fan should have on their bookshelves. As many editions of Motocourse as you can afford, of course, for a review of each year, as it was seen at the time. Michael Scott's MotoGP, The Illustrated History, for a grand overview of the history of Grand Prix racing. Mat Oxley's Age of Superheroes, for a closer look at the previous golden age of GPs, if you can get your hands on a copy. And Rick Broadbent's Ring of Fire, a look at the heady days at the end of the 990cc era in MotoGP.
Neil Spalding's MotoGP Technology belongs in that list. Part history and part technical reference work, MotoGP Technology takes a detailed and in depth look, not just at the current batch of MotoGP bikes and how they work, but also why they work. It is, if you like, a work on the engineering theory behind the design of a racing motorcycle, but also a guide to how the manufacturers racing in MotoGP have put that theory into practice.