Marc Marquez has taken revenge at the event he helped to create, winning the 2016 edition of the Superprestigio in dominant style. The 2016 MotoGP champion had dominated the qualifying heats, and chose the inside gate to start from. Though he dropped behind the excellent French Supermoto champion Tom Chareyre off the line, he entered the first corner in good position, with AMA star Brad Baker tight on his tail. The pair quickly slid through to take the lead.
Qualifying for the Superprestigio at Barcelona saw Marc Marquez top the timesheets, both in the Superprestigio class and overall. The Spaniard posted a time 12.054 seconds on the 180 meter track. Former Moto2 champion and current MotoAmerica Yoshimura Suzuki rider Toni Elias was second fastest, just under a tenth of a second slower than Marquez, while Tech 3 rider Xavi Vierge was third quickest.
The final line up for Saturday night's Superprestigio indoor dirt track event, to be held at the Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona, has been announced. As always, the big names at the event are reigning MotoGP champion Marc Marquez and former AMA Flat Track champion Brad Baker, with the event likely to see another run off in the Superfinal between the two.
Aki Ajo is one of the most significant figures in the Grand Prix paddock. The Finnish manager has seen a long string of talent pass through his team on their way to greater success. Ajo explained how he goes about identifying talent in the first part of this two-part interview. In the second part, he gives more insight into the process of building a winning team.
Ajo talks about how he nearly ended up working with Romano Fenati in 2017, and some of the factors which prevented it. Ajo also explains why he believes Moto2 is the toughest category in motorcycle racing, and the daunting challenge stepping up to the intermediate category can be. The Finnish team manager also dives more deeply into the importance of a team, and surrounding a rider with the right pieces to help him get the best out of himself.
Q: You don't have a background in psychology, this is all just learning from experience?
AA: No, no, this is racing. My life is racing. Always. It's basically just the school of life. I was riding myself, and at that moment, it was already a big school. When you are riding yourself, you have big pressure, I had to find money, I was the tuning guy, I was everything. This was the big school for me. Maybe I was not good in anything, but touching on everything a little bit and learning a lot.
The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, home to the Barcelona round of MotoGP, has agreed a new track layout to be used for MotoGP from now on. After consultation with the FIM and the FIA, the circuit has settled upon a slightly revised version of the F1 layout used during the race at Barcelona this year, with the chicane at the (new) Turn 14 and Turn 15 having been moved several meters closer to the (new) Turn 13, providing more run off at the chicane.
Aki Ajo is one of the most significant figures in the Grand Prix paddock. The Finnish manager has seen a long string of talent pass through his team on their way to greater success. The list of champions and great riders he has produced is almost endless: Marc Marquez, Johann Zarco, Jack Miller, Sandro Cortese, Luis Salom, Danny Kent to name just a few.
To find out how he does it, I sat down with Aki Ajo at Valencia and spoke for nearly half an hour. The results of this interview were fascinating, and offer a great insight into the how to get the best out of a rider, to help them achieve success. In the first part of this interview, he shares his philosophy of racing and team management, of motivation, and what keeps him going. He also talks about the difference it makes working with a rider the second time around, and why he is happy with his current crop of riders in Moto2 and Moto3.
Q: You always seem to find the right riders?
Aki Ajo: Not always, but sometimes, yes!
Q: Often, though. And sometimes you will take a rider and give them what they need to succeed. What is it you are looking for in a rider? What is talent?
We have had a lot of people asking us over the past few weeks whether we will be producing our usual 2017 MotoMatters.com Motorcycle Racing Calendar. The good news is that the answer is yes, we will. The bad news is that we are running badly behind in production, meaning it will not be ready in time for Christmas.
The current plan is for printing to start in the next few days, but that will probably mean it will not be ready to be shipped in time for Christmas. We do hope to be able to ship in time for the start of the new year. As soon as we have a production date, we shall put the calendar on sale on the website.
"If it wasn't for the Dutch TT race, I would have to close my business." Those were the words of the taxi driver who took me from Assen train station to the circuit, for a presentation on the plans for major upgrades to their spectator facilities over the next three years and beyond.
It offered an insight into the importance of the MotoGP race at Assen, and by extension, the importance of circuits and MotoGP events around the world. My taxi driver explained that over the week surrounding the Assen race, he was kept so busy that the money he made during that period was the difference between ending the year with a profit and the ability to invest in the future of the business, or just about breaking even.
Chatting to an official of the provincial government, who had grown up in the city and worked in bars there during his college years, he confirmed that experience. The bars back then were so busy during the race weekend that it was the difference between survival and failure. The same is true for many businesses and hotels around the region, as anyone who has ever tried to book accommodation in the weeks before the race can attest.
The Barcelona Superprestigio has proven to be a popular staple of the winter break. The indoor flat track race, which takes place at the Palau Sant Jordi, is returning for its fourth edition on 17th December. Once again, the stars of the MotoGP, World Superbikes and Endurance will take on the cream of dirt track and off-road disciplines. Former winners Marc Marquez and Brad Baker face off for the fourth time.
December is a time for reflection, and for making the necessary changes to the rulebook where incidents during the season have made clear. Last week, MotoGP's rule making body, the Grand Prix Commission met to review the 2016 season and make a few necessary adjustments to the MotoGP rulebook. Fortunately, they decided not to do anything quite so drastic as the Superbike Commission did at the same time.
The most eye-catching change is the dropping of intermediate tires in MotoGP. Intermediates had been introduced at the request of the teams and Dorna, to allow riders to go out during sessions when conditions were not suitable for slicks. However, the experience of 2016 showed that intermediates were rarely used, and when they were, they added little or no value over soft slicks or hard wets. During a press conference at Valencia, Michelin boss Nicolas Goubert said "at some races, there were riders on track with slicks, with intermediate, and with rain tires, all at the same time."
It’s one of the great mysteries of modern racing: how does traction control work? We tell you how, with a little help from MotoGP electronics providers Magneti Marelli
Until last season the workings of MotoGP rider aids were unknown because the factories kept them a closely guarded secret. But the introduction of control software for the 2016 MotoGP championship changed all that.
Last summer all I had to do was walk into the Magneti Marelli truck and ask to see some data traces that would help me understand how MotoGP traction control, wheelie control, engine-braking control and launch control do their jobs. Vicente Pechuan-Vilar and Maurizio Scrignari at Magneti Marelli were only too happy to help, although they may have changed their minds when I took up hours of their time asking one stupid question after another.
The Repsol Honda team issued the following press release, announcing an extension of their sponsorship deal with Spanish petroleum giant Repsol, who will remain title sponsor for the 2017 and 2018 MotoGP seasons:
Repsol and Honda extend MotoGP contract until 2018
The alliance between the Spanish energy company and the Japanese vehicle manufacturer has been in existence for more than 20 years and is the most successful in MotoGP history, with 12 rider World Championships.
The FIM today issued a revised and updated version of the provisional 2017 MotoGP calendar. The calendar features just a single change: the date of the German round of MotoGP at the Sachsenring has been moved forward two weeks, and will now take place on 2nd July.
Valencia may be the last race of the season for most MotoGP racers, but it is not for Valentino Rossi. The Italian always has one final event to compete in before the winter break. As a keen rally fan, Rossi always takes part in the Monza Rally, an exhibition race in which many top stars from several different two- and four-wheeled disciplines compete.
As it is an event which takes place entirely on four wheels, I do not cover it on MotoMatters.com, a website devoted entirely to racing on two wheels. (Indeed, so little do I care for four wheels that I have not owned a car for nearly 15 years, relying solely on motorcycles for transport.) However, as the Monza Rally takes place in a more informal atmosphere, there is a chance for Rossi, and some of the others around him, to speak a little more freely.
Our friends over at GPOne.com did go along to the Monza Rally, and provided very full coverage of the event. They used that opportunity to speak to Valentino Rossi, as well as Yamaha team boss Maio Meregalli and Rossi's friend and Sky VR46 team boss Uccio Salucci about the way the private Yamaha test at Sepang had gone, and how Maverick Viñales had been received in the team. Those conversations revealed some fascinating insights.
The Superbike Commission, governing body for the WorldSBK series, met at Madrid to introduce a number of changes to the rules for the World Superbike and World Supersport championships for 2017. There were some minor changes to the sporting regulations, as well as a couple of tweaks to the technical regulations. But there were also two major changes which will have a significant impact for next season and beyond.
The biggest change is also the most surprising and the least comprehensible. There is to be a major shake up in the way the grid for the second World Superbike race is set. The Superpole session run on Saturday morning will continue to set the grid for Race 1. The grid for Race 2, however, will be partially set by the results of Race 1, using a slightly complex formula.