World Superbike race one in Portimao started their twenty lap race at 1pm and Jonathan Rea had a ninety two points over Chaz Davies with eight races left. The clouds from earlier in the day had cleared, leaving behind warmer temperatures.
The new World Superbike schedule started under a cloudy Portimao after a Friday dominated by Jonathan Rea. The Superpole one favourites to advance were Loris Baz and Leon Camier, but the presence of Chaz Davies, bouncing back from injury, in the ten riders aiming to get through to Superpole two meant nothing was a given.
Another new feature on the site starting this week. After every round of MotoGP, the immensely talented Cormac Ryan Meenan of CormacGP will be supplying a selection of photographs from that weekend's event. If you'd like to see more of his work, you can follow him on Twitter or Instagram, or check out his website, cormacgp.com.
Marco Melandri was quickest this session, cementing his entry into Superpole two. Jonathan Rea was second-quickest, but in spite of a fall in Free Practice two, he ends the day in provisional pole position as the only rider to break the 1'41 barrier. Loris Baz and Leon Camier head to Superpole one as the favourites to advance to Superpole two.
Jules Cluzel, Lucas Mahias and Sandro Cortese were within two tenths of a second of each other and improved on their mornings' times. Luke Stapleford made it six Yamahas at the top for Superpole two tomorrow.
There was an awful lot for the Paddock Pass Podcast crew to talk about after the Misano round of MotoGP, most of it having very little to do with the racing itself. In the latest episode, Neil Morrison and David Emmett join Steve English to mull over the fallout of the Misano weekend.
We start off, as you might expect, with Romano Fenati. The boys talk over what Fenati did, and the repercussions he has suffered as a result. Steve, Neil, and David attempt to put the penalty in some kind of context, and ask whether he punishment fitted the crime.
Marco Melandri improved on his morning's time, second quickest behind Jonathan Rea, pushing him up to third-quickest overall, behond Jordi Torres's quick time from free practice one. Lorenzo Savadori, ninth quickest overall, was the only other rider in the top ten to improve on his morning's time.
A familiar group of Yamahas topped the morning's results, with Federico Caricasulo and Lucas Mahias heading a group of five Yamahas including Randy Krummenacher, Sandro Cortese and Jules Cluzel. Kyle Smith on the Honda and Ayrton Badovini on the MV Agusta were the only non-Yamahas within a second of Caricasulo's best time.
Ant West didn't compete due to a failed anti-doping test.
The FIM has provisionally suspended Ant West for failing a doping test. He won't be taking part in this weekend's World Supersport race.
In the return from the long summer break, Jonathan Rea returned to the top of the timing sheet, over half a second quicker than Jordi Torres. Torres was over three tenths of a second quicker than everyone else on his MV Agusta, with Rea's Kawasaki teammate Tom Sykes third quickest and Xavi Fores quickest Ducati in fourth.
Watch any session of MotoGP practice and at some point, you will see Valentino Rossi enter the garage, sit down, and start talking animatedly to two people. One, a balding mustachioed red-headed man, is Silvano Galbusera, the crew chief who replaced Jeremy Burgess at the end of 2013. The other, tall, slim, dark-haired, and invariably bearing a laptop, is Matteo Flamigni, Valentino Rossi's data engineer.
Together, this triumvirate work at perfecting a setup for Rossi's Yamaha M1, each with their separate roles. The data engineer seeking out where the bike can be improved, the crew chief finding ways to improve it, and the rider trying to extract the maximum performance from the bike, and telling the other two what he needs to go faster.
At Misano, I spoke to Matteo Flamigni at some length about his job, what it entails, and what it is like working with Valentino Rossi. Flamigni has been with Rossi since the Italian joined Yamaha back in 2004, and has formed a close, almost intimate relationship with the nine-time world champion, four of which Flamigni has had a hand in. We talked about his job, and how it has changed over the years; the precise nature of Rossi's feedback, and what Flamigni has taught Rossi through the years; and why the rider is always right.
Q: First of all, I'd like you to explain your job, explain what you do.
Matteo Flamigni: Basically I’m a data recording engineer, and I’m taking care of the data recording system on the bike. That means we have quite a lot of sensors on the bike that give you many, many different kinds of information. I record and I take all that information in my PC and I analyze that information and try to get the bike performing better and better during the weekend.
Q: Whenever I see you in the garage, it’s you and Valentino and Silvano. You seem to be the core?
Thomas Morsellino is a French freelance journalist and photographer, with keen eye for the technical details of MotoGP bikes. You may have seen some of his work on Twitter, where he runs the @Off_Bikes account. After every race, MotoMatters.com will be publishing a selection of Tom's photos of MotoGP bikes, together with technical explanations of the details. MotoMatters.com subscribers will get access to the full resolution photos, which they can download and study in detail, while readers who do not support the site will be limited to the 800x600 resolution photos.
Ducati and Honda V4s have won the last 22 MotoGP races, so is it time for Yamaha to ditch its faithful inline-four engine?
Valentino Rossi finally said it. After finishing a miserable seventh on Sunday in front of his adoring fans, the seven-time MotoGP champion wondered aloud: “Ducati and Honda have V4 engines; we have an inline four – maybe this is the problem…”
But would a V4 M1 really get Rossi and Yamaha back to their winning ways? In other words, is a V4 engine better than an inline-four engine?
Things are going poorly for Romano Fenati. His actions during Sunday's Moto2 race at Misano, when he reached over and squeezed Stefano Manzi's front brake, are having far-reaching repercussions.
On Sunday, the FIM Panel of Stewards penalized Fenati with a two-race ban. On Monday morning, he was sacked from his current Moto2 ride by the Marinelli Snipers Racing Team. On Monday afternoon, he also lost his 2019 ride with the MV Agusta Forward Racing Team.
More was to come on Tuesday. First, the Italian motorcycle federation FMI revoked Fenati's racing license for all sporting activities in Italy. This also renders him ineligible to compete in any international or world championship events, as international racing licenses are also issued by the national federation, which in Fenati's case is the FMI. He has been invited to a hearing on 14th September, at which he will have the right to representation by a lawyer.
Then, the FIM, the international motorcycling federation, summoned Fenati to the FIM headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, to explain his actions. In a press release, shown below, FIM president Vito Ippolito summoned Fenati to the FIM to here his side of the story, before considering further action against the Italian.
Romano Fenati burst onto the racing scene like a meteor, burning bright and lighting up Moto3. In his first race, at Qatar in 2012, he finished second behind Maverick Viñales. In his second, at Jerez, in difficult conditions, he won by a fearsome 36 seconds. Here was surely a rider to watch for the future.
His ascension to greatness did not run as smoothly as those early races promised. A couple more podiums in 2012 saw him finish sixth in the championship on the underpowered FTR Honda. After a tough 2013, he rediscovered his form when he was invited to become part of the VR46 Academy, and signed to ride a KTM with the Sky VR46 Racing Team the following year. The change did him good, winning four races and finishing fifth in the championship.
2015 saw less success, Fenati showing signs of frustration. During the warm up in Argentina, the Italian lashed out at Niklas Ajo inexplicably, first trying to kick him, then stopping next to the Finn for a practice start, and reaching over a flicking his kill switch.