Photos

Tue, 2019-08-27 16:27
Body:


Jack Miller keeps it low at Silverstone. He had a good weekend, though a loss of grip hampered him at the end


Compare and contrast Andrea Iannone's body position on the Aprilia with Miller on the Ducati. Not the same corner, but Iannone is obviously uncomfortable


The boss congratulates the winner. The one criticism you hear about Ezpeleta is he is too close to the riders sometimes


Tito Rabat returned to the place which nearly ended his career. Things went much smoother this time


Pol Espargaro in Beast Mode, the only mode he knows


Valentino Rossi still has it. Or enough of it to at least be competitive


Win together, lose together. But winning together is the better feeling


V4 exhausts converging on the optimal solution


Fast, flowing, and physical, that's Silverstone


Maverick Viñales had pace for the second half of the race, but not the first half


Hafizh Syahrin has struggled all year, but he still looks good on the bike


Practice start: pull yourself as far forward as possible, and give it the berries


In the tuck out of pit lane


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Thu, 2019-08-15 11:53
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Man of the moment Jack Miller demonstrates the 'leaping from one side of the bike to the other to try to get the thing to turn' technique


The sea of orange wasn't for Marc Marquez. But he took it where he could get it


Trees, mountains, speed. Spielberg.


Fistbump. Fabio Quartararo's lucky ritual


Hard, hard, hard braking. That's what the Red Bull Ring is about


A lot of things get called bombshells. But Johann Zarco announcing he was leaving KTM with nowhere else to go definitely qualified as one


This is KTM's new hope. Miguel Oliveira finished 8th, and close to the front. Watch out world


This was a battle that went down to the last corner. Marquez vs Dovizioso at the Red Bull Ring was one for the ages


Franco Morbidelli, currently being overshadowed by his Petronas Yamaha SRT teammate


Maverick Viñales was fast during practice, but got swamped during the race, fighting back to finish fifth


Finally coming good: Pecco Bagnaia went missing mid-season, but is back with a bang after the Brno test


Note the new aero package on Danilo Petrucci's bike: the larger surface at the bottom of the upper wings, and the double wing inside the lower wing


Victory hugs all round


Finally chasing more than his tail. Valentino Rossi found real pace at Spielberg


One day he will stop. Can he live without this? Can this live without him?


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Tue, 2019-08-06 09:36
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Alex Rins gets told off by Suzuki staff for his head position (see Espargaro and Zarco behind). But he's fast enough with it


Jack Miller demonstrates improper brake technique


Brno is literally Karel Abraham's home race. You pass his father's house as you drive up the hill to get to the circuit


It rained at Brno, and when it rains, you get to see the riders' eyes. Intense


Valentino Rossi's fellow racers were less than impressed that he didn't get off the track when smoke started pouring out the back of his M1


Carmelo Ezpeleta was a busy man on the grid, involved in the discussions about whether to delay the race start


A front row start for Johann Zarco, KTM's best ever qualifying. Conditions creating a greater irony


There is a feeling that Miguel Oliveira is making big steps forward. He could be the answer KTM are looking for


Danilo Petrucci taking to a wet Brno like a duck to water


Better half


Sylvain Guintoli hotfooted it from Suzuka, barely knowing what day it was. Still fast in the wet, though


Top of the hill, and the HP of Mattighofen and Borgo Panigale is gaining on Qartararo


Front buried on the carbon brakes, about to tip in. MotoGP bikes are fast in the wet, but Brno has exceptional grip when it rains


Pecco remains an enigma


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Fri, 2019-08-02 22:57
Body:

It is always hard to tell where things stand in MotoGP on a Friday. The track is green, riders are working through the tire allocation to assess the best choice, factories with new parts will send the riders out to test them, to get feedback in the least important part of the day. Teams are still working through their checklist of ideas, some of which won't work, but having crossed an idea off the list, that can send the rider in the right direction. Or not.

It is even harder at a track like Brno, where a lap takes the best part of two minutes to complete. For a race which is 21 laps long, six laps counts as a long run during practice. Trying to assess race pace from six laps during FP2 is a very tricky proposition indeed. And as FP2 is usually the session where new parts are tested – the idea is, first establish a baseline with your existing setup, then put the new parts on to try at the end of FP1 or sometime during FP2 – that makes identifying patterns even more difficult.

What we did learn is that the Brno track is incredibly bumpy, more bumpy than it has been in the past. There are bumps at some crucial points in the track: Turn 3, the left hander at the end of the short back straight. Turn 8, in the stadium section. The chicane of Turn 11 and 12 and up the hill. Turn 13, the first corner of the final chicane before the finish straight. Complaints were shared equally, but opinions were divided on whether the track was becoming unrideable.

Frank Brno assessment

"The track is in quite rough condition," Jack Miller said, with his customary frankness. Does the track need resurfacing? "100%. It needed resurfacing last year but this year is even worse because you've got this two really long right hand corners where you are on the angle for such a long time, Turn 1 and Turn 10, and you're going it around it just… I feel sorry for the poor Moto3 boys because they've got a tiny surface area on the ground and they are bouncing around through there."

The problem is the sheer amount of asphalt that needs to be laid to resurface. "It's probably one of the most fun tracks on the calendar but at the moment you get to corners like that and you don’t really feel too comfortable," Miller said." She definitely needs resurfacing. I understand being how wide and how big it is, it's a massive amount of money, but I think they've been putting it off for a few years now and it's about time."

Some bumps were more costly than others, Fabio Quartararo felt. "In the corners where there are bumps, you feel it a lot, in the change of direction at Turn 11 and 12. Also for us it's difficult in the climb uphill, so if we make a small mistake in acceleration, we lose a lot of power from Turn 12 to 13, so there, even in my fast lap time, we need to be really precise, and not make any mistakes, and don't lose time with our bike." Make a mistake out of Turn 12, and you lose drive up the hill, a huge disadvantage for the underpowered Yamahas.

But the bumps are not necessarily a risk, Quartararo said. "In Turn 13 there is one big bump, also in Turn 3. But in the end you get used to these bumps, and it's the same for everyone. So everyone has these bumps. But you feel it quite aggressive. There is always a risk! Normally, the bumps are quite early, so it doesn't affect the apex."

Familiarity breeds contempt?

Valentino Rossi was the most flippant of the riders about the bumps. "The bumps of Brno are famous because they are there from 1996 exactly in the same places," the Monster Energy Yamaha rider joked. "We call the bumps with a name. You have entry to turn eight, entry to turn ten, last corner. And for me it’s like this. Every year the asphalt drops the condition but for me it’s not so bad."

Marc Márquez agreed with Rossi. "Yeah it’s bumpy but we have worse tracks on the calendar," the Repsol Honda rider opined. "I mean of course it's bumpy, there are two or three corners with some bumps, but they are inside the limit. Of course you would like to have a flat track because you enjoy it more but it's still inside the limit."

Aero updates

The fact that it might rain on Saturday also meant that the teams were compressing a lot of test work into the first day, including chasing a time quick enough to put them through to Q2. Ducati, for example, tried a new fairing, with a reshaped intake, and very different upper and lower wings. The fairing was meant to make the bike easier to turn, while retaining the positive aspect of providing anti-wheelie.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

New fairing, similar to last year? #MotoGP #CzechGP

A post shared by Thomas Morsellino (@offbikes) on

Andrea Dovizioso liked the fairing, but with so much to test, it made it hard to draw any real conclusions. "I don’t have the answer unfortunately, because tomorrow it looks like the weather will be wet so we tried a lot of things," the factory Ducati rider said. "Something on the setup, but we wanted to try the fairing because if tomorrow is wet we won’t be able to test the fairing before the race. We put a lot of things together and it’s not the best way to analyze the things together. I couldn’t make the comparison so I don’t have the answer. Also because when you try something like that the change is not big and you need a comparison to understand the details. It looks good but I don’t have a clear answer."

Yet he would not rule out using the new fairing during the race. "We want to try the new stuff. We don’t have a lot of time to test the new parts. We wanted to test that before the test. There was a chance and we did that. If the fairing is better we wanted to try it and use in the race as well."

Reading between the lines, the fairing provides a clear advantage, but Dovizioso did not want to tip his hand. And with so little time, the factory are having to draw conclusions based on the evidence at hand. But Ducati will already have a lot of data from test rider Michele Pirro, and given that they only have one update for the year, and they have chosen to use it on this new fairing, it seems safe to assume this is better.

Sincerest form of flattery

Alex Rins was much more open about Suzuki's new fairing. "We tried a new fairing here, with the new winglets, that works much better, sincerely. We need more information, but the initial feeling, it's working good," the Suzuki Ecstar rider said. The new fairing, looking for all the world like the Honda top fairing on steroids, helped reduce wheelie a lot.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

New fairing for @alexrins as well. #MotoGP #CzechGP

A post shared by Thomas Morsellino (@offbikes) on

The good news was that Rins could find no discernible downsides to the new fairing. "At the moment, no. We need to check during the Monday test, because the plan was to try on Monday. But we were pushing a lot last night to try it today. But for sure we will need to compare more." If Rins was able to persuade Suzuki to let him homologate the new fairing, he must have been confident in the work done by Sylvain Guintoli to ensure that it was an improvement.

Managing risk

Honda's new carbon fiber chassis cover is an example of what happens when the advantages of a design are not absolutely clear. Marc Márquez tried the chassis at Assen, and again at the Sachsenring, but chose to race the standard frame in both those races. The carbon chassis got another run out at Brno, the Repsol Honda rider back-to-backing it with the standard frame in both the morning and the afternoon sessions.

But he will probably race the standard frame once again, he said, despite being faster on the new chassis. "Today I tried both chassis in FP1 and again in FP2, because tomorrow the weather looks like not so good and that it will be half-half, some storms, and it's important to have two exactly the same bikes, exactly the same chassis" Márquez explained. "I did the fastest lap with the new one, but the old one is the old one and I know everything about that chassis. And I know the reactions of that chassis. So now the engineers are trying to analyze everything, the pace with both chassis was very similar, but with the old one is there, with the new one still we need to work and it looks like tomorrow the weather will be not so good. Still it's not decided yet but we have a Monday test so maybe we will retry on Monday."

The new chassis may potentially be better, but Márquez is still in championship mode, and is consequently still risk averse. He understands the old frame, knows its strength and can work around its weaknesses, and so racing the old frame should leave him with no surprises to deal with. He needs more time on the new frame before he is confident enough to make the switch for good, time which the Monday test will afford him. Even then, he may well hold off until he is confident that his advantage over his rivals is enough to be able to risk making a mistake, and possibly losing points as a result.

Massive drop

What Friday turned out to be good for is testing tires, though even that managed to throw up some surprises. The poor grip of the asphalt meant that tire performance was good for three or four laps before it dropped off a cliff. Figuring out the best option to deal with that was causing everyone headaches.

"The rear tire drops a lot, so for that reason the pace is quite difficult to understand because when you put new tires then you improve by nearly two seconds," Marc Márquez explained. "Then when the tire drops you lose 1-1.5 seconds per lap. So it's important to work with the used tires and it's what we did. We tried to analyze all the things."

Jack Miller was confounded by both the medium and the hard. "I felt the medium was the worst, he said. "I went out this morning, was getting quicker and quicker, came back in and then went out again and couldn’t get back in the 1'57s again no matter how hard I tried. The hard felt like it was getting better and better, but my medium front this morning let's say felt overpowered by the rear. It was just pushing a lot like I said through those long corners, especially on the right hand side."

Valentino Rossi believed that everyone was struggling with the rear tire. "For me the bigger drop for everybody is the rear tire," the Italian said. "All the specs have a big drop. This will be the key on Sunday: to try to be fast, but also to try to not stress the rear tire, because after three or four laps there is already a big drop."

Softs are super

Maverick Viñales may have stumbled on the right choice for the race. The Monster Energy Yamaha rider put in a soft tire in the middle of FP2, in search of a fast time to secure a slot in Q2 on Saturday. Once that was locked up, he went back out again on the same rear tire and did half race distance, stringing together 1'57s with consummate ease. Nobody, not even Marc Márquez, was capable of running that pace that consistently on any of the other tires.

Viñales' pace certainly caught the attention of Fabio Quartararo. "It's strange, because even with medium or hard tires, you feel the drop quite fast. But with the soft at the end, when I see Maverick doing 1'56.0, I said, woah, that's a really fast lap time, even if it's with the soft. But as soon as I put the soft, it was a big difference with the medium and the hard, so I was really impressed. Because since the beginning of the year, when we swap to a soft tire, we improved at least half a second, six tenths, but now it was a big, big step, and I was quite impressed to get down to the 1'56s."

"I didn't check the pace of Maverick, but my mechanics tell me that even with the soft, he can make a really good pace, and I think we need to analyze this tire to see if we can make the race with this one," the Petronas Yamaha rider said. "We need to check how it is dropping also. Because if it drops the same as the medium or the hard but has a lot of performance, we need to analyze. So I think tomorrow we need to work a little bit with the old soft tire to see if it can make the race distance."

If it doesn't rain on Saturday, or if the track is dry enough in either FP3 or FP4, expect to see a lot of other riders going out on the soft rear. The soft seems to be significantly quicker than the medium and the hard, and if it can hold up for as long as the other two tires, it could be the right choice, at least for those who can run it.

Front fun

It wasn't just the rear tire which was causing problems, however. The front was an issue for some of the riders, the consensus being that the allocation Michelin have brought is a little on the soft side. "I think all the riders have the same problem with the front tire," Alex Rins said. "Because it looks like are all the tires are soft, even the hard one. So we need to take care, because after five or six laps, the tire performance goes down."

Andrea Dovizioso confirmed that some Ducati riders had an issue with the front as well. "I had a good feeling with the hard front and I did the lap time with the hard front, because I normally brake quite hard and am quite good to create temperature in the front tire," the Italian said. "It worked for me but it didn’t work for some other Ducati riders, who normally use the same front tires as me. I think it’s about the way you ride and to create the right temperature on the front tire, to push and make a lap time."

Did this affect the Honda riders, and especially Marc Márquez, who uses the front harder than most? Paradoxically, Márquez suffered least, as he was used to the front tires being too soft for him, and has learned to work his way around it. "The front tire was already too soft last year, especially the softest option, but maybe Michelin checked the weather and brought the same one," Márquez said. "But we are always on the soft side. One of the things that we are working this year is to try to know how we can work with the soft tires, because it’s what we have."

Blowing a gasket

Tires were almost rendered irrelevant during FP2, when Valentino Rossi appeared to blow an engine and then cruised around half the track, smoke trailing out of his Yamaha M1. It was behavior which earned him a reprimand from his fellow riders during the Safety Commission on Friday night, telling him that if an engine breaks, his priority should be to head to the side of the track and stop immediately, no matter how inconvenient that is.

But Rossi told us on Friday night that he had made sure that he was not leaving oil on the track when the engine went. "During the practice I had a problem with the engine of bike one," the Italian said. It was an old engine with quite a lot of kilometers. Something broke but I don’t know exactly what. Fortunately I could pull the clutch before the engine broke. I felt it lose performance. When you are able to be fast enough with the clutch the engine normally don’t lose oil because it’s the moment before it breaks."

He had checked to make sure that the bike wasn't losing oil. "I checked both sides," Rossi said. "I saw some smoke. I tried to stay off the line. But usually you have some oil from the chain and the foot or boot becomes full of oil. I checked both sides and I continued for this reason." The proof for Rossi that he was not losing oil was that he was able to continue with the same rear tire in his second bike. "In fact I just moved the tire to the other bike and we started again because I don’t have any problem."

More races, young blood?

Outside of the track, developments are starting to warm up both for 2020 and beyond. Rumors are starting to circulate about the 2020 calendar, which looks like have 20 races, including Brno and Finland. There could be a shake up to the schedule, with more races back to back, and some races being shifted from their traditional slots.

The introduction of Finland is one of the complicating factors, logistics for the Kymiring meaning that the trucks cannot get there and back within a week, meaning it will have to have a free weekend either side. In the past, Finnish rounds at Tampere and Imatra were held in late July or late August, and those seem the most likely slots for 2020. But a late August slot would mean bumping Silverstone from the August Bank Holiday weekend.

More changes are expected, with a provisional calendar likely to be drawn up some time in early September.

As for 2021, I had a conversation with a rider manager today, asking about the entire grid all being lined up for new contracts at the end of next year. This is the last time this is likely to happen, I was told: with riders such as Andrea Dovizioso, Cal Crutchlow, and Jorge Lorenzo all approaching their mid-thirties, factories may not be inclined to offer then a two-year deal, opting instead for a one-plus-one deal. That would allow them to move on to a younger rider from Moto2 should the opportunity present itself, and also allow for riders deciding to retire of their own accord. Cal Crutchlow, certainly, has been hinting at stopping for some time now, and with a young family, and his daughter Willow approaching school age in a couple of years, he may decide to stop sooner rather than later.

Those were just three names we bandied about. There could be up to seven riders being nudged out for 2021, I was told. The arrival of this year's crop of rookies could signal the start of a new era. In 2021, MotoGP could see a wave of young riders force out the old guard.


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Thu, 2019-07-25 12:32
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Ego is a crucial part of the successful makeup of any world class racer. They need to have the belief that they are faster than everyone else on the grid. That they can do things that no one else can. That they’re the man for the job. What happens though when you’re forced to check that ego at the garage door? Having that ability can be the difference between winning and losing in Endurance race.

Adapt and survive. It’s rule of law in the natural world but it’s also the only way to be successful in endurance racing. Being a team and working together is the key success at the Suzuka 8 Hours. If you’re Yamaha Factory Racing Team rider Michael van der Mark, you know this better than most.

The Dutch star might be a four-time Suzuka winner, a WorldSBK race winner, and a World Supersport champion but he’s also cast in an unusual role in Japan; the outlier.

Standing six feet tall may not be unusual on the streets of Rotterdam, but it is unusual standing in pit lane waiting to step onto the Yamaha R1 for an hour around the Japanese circuit. Standing alongside his teammates Katsuyuki Nakasuga and Alex Lowes the difference is stark. All are top-tier racing talents - Nakasuga has a MotoGP podium finish to his name - but is the shortest rider of the trio by six inches. Lowes is a couple of inches taller.

When riders spend time testing new machinery during the winter days are set aside to ensure that the riding position is just perfect. That the handlebars are at the right distance, that brake levers are angled just such, that the foot pegs and rear sets are the right distance to ensure perfect balance on the bike for a rider. In endurance racing this isn’t so. Typically they’re set for one rider and everyone else has to adapt to survive.

“In WorldSBK I use a rear brake lever, Alex uses a thumb brake and in the Japanese Superbike championship Nakasuga-san uses a conventional foot brake. At Suzuka we all use the foot brake and that’s fine because you adapt to it. It’s not a big issue for myself or Alex to use this because it’s about having something that works for all of us.”

Being part of a team means sacrificing. It means understanding the greater good. It means being selfless. Those aren’t traits that come easy for any world class motorcyclist but they’re what you have to find for one week a year, Last year’s race saw Nakasuga ruled out and Yamaha fielding Lowes and Van der Mark. The Dutchman had been expected to do two stints and limit his time on the bike. Instead Yamaha stumbled onto a formula that could make all the difference in 2019.

“Last year because I had to ride for longer we made some changes to the bike,” said van der Mark. “We pushed the handlebars further forward and it gave me some more space on the bike. It made a big difference for me, I was able to find over half a second per lap, but over eight hours it’s about consistency and avoiding mistakes, not your best lap time. Every bike you ride at Suzuka is always a compromise and for me being a lot taller it means that I’ve always had this problem but the team understood this and helped me last year.

Adapt and survive and if you’re lucky it’ll lead to Suzuka success.


Gathering the background information for detailed articles such as these is an expensive and time-consuming operation. If you enjoyed this article, please consider supporting MotoMatters.com. You can help by either taking out a subscription, by making a donation, or by contributing via our GoFundMe page. You can find out more about subscribing to MotoMatters.com here.

Thu, 2019-07-25 09:15
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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. Peter Bom is a world championship winning former crew chief, with a deep and abiding knowledge of every aspect of motorcycle racing. Peter has worked with such riders as Cal Crutchlow, Danny Kent, and Stefan Bradl. After every race, MotoMatters.com will be publishing a selection of Tom's photos of MotoGP bikes, together with extensive technical explanations of the details by Peter Bom. MotoMatters.com subscribers will get access to the full resolution photos, which they can download and study in detail, and all of Peter's technical explanations of the photos. Readers who do not support the site will be limited to the 800x600 resolution photos, and an explanation of two photos.


The frame on one of Valentino Rossi's Yamaha M1s
Peter Bom/David Emmett: At both Assen and the Sachsenring, Valentino Rossi had two different frames on each of his Yamaha M1 bikes. One with a weld on the frame, one without (below). According to Maio Meregalli, the two frames are identical except for the weld (which is present, but has been ground down). This changes the flex a fraction, and gives a very slightly different feedback. At Assen, Rossi only used the frame with the visible weld.
Note also the rubber band being used as a brake lever return spring. Rossi is now the only rider using a rubber band instead of a steel spring, something which used to be common but is now rare. The spring/rubber band is there to give the riders enough resistance, a 'good' rear brake feels quite heavy. The spring is available in a variety of spring rates or stiffnesses (see the color at Honda), and the preload can be adjusted as well. No such nonsense with this old-school rubber band on a multi-million dollar racing motorcycle.


Valentino Rossi's second frame
Peter Bom/David Emmett: The horizontal weld, just above the clutch, has been ground off on this frame, though you can just see the line where the weld remains. Removing the external weld changes the character a little. Rossi chose these chassis at the start of the season.


Frame on Maverick Viñales' Yamaha M1 To see the technical explanation for this photo, sign up to be a site supporter.


Energica Ego Corsa MotoE rear shock with the suspension sensor To see the technical explanation for this photo, sign up to be a site supporter.


Plug to retrieve data from the MotoE Energica Ego Corsa To see the technical explanation for this photo, sign up to be a site supporter.


Jack Miller used the rear wheel cover on his Ducati GP19 for the first time in Germany. To see the technical explanation for this photo, sign up to be a site supporter.


Some Moto2 teams used a new exhaust from Assen (shown here on Xavi Vierge's Kalex) To see the technical explanation for this photo, sign up to be a site supporter.


Before his crash at Assen, Jorge Lorenzo used the new fairing with the larger lower winglets To see the technical explanation for this photo, sign up to be a site supporter.


Jorge Lorenzo's Honda RC213V with the new frame and new knee supports To see the technical explanation for this photo, sign up to be a site supporter.


Marc Marquez used the new frame during free practices in Germany To see the technical explanation for this photo, sign up to be a site supporter.


"Old" fairing on the KTM Moto2 with air intakes going to both sides of the bike. To see the technical explanation for this photo, sign up to be a site supporter.


New fairing with central air intake on the KTM Moto2. To see the technical explanation for this photo, sign up to be a site supporter.


KTM Moto3 (Aron Canet) To see the technical explanation for this photo, sign up to be a site supporter.


Johann Zarco tried a different tank cover for his KTM RC16 in Germany To see the technical explanation for this photo, sign up to be a site supporter.


Energica Ego Corsa frame, if the lights are red... run away ! To see the technical explanation for this photo, sign up to be a site supporter.


If you would like access to the full-size versions of these technical photos and all of Peter Bom's explanations, as well as desktop-size versions of the other fantastic photos which appear on the site, you can become a site supporter and take out a subscription. A subscription will also give you access to the many in-depth and exclusive articles we produce for MotoMatters.com site supporters. The more readers who join our growing band of site supporters, the better we can make MotoMatters.com, and the more readers will get out of the website. You can find out more about subscribing to MotoMatters.com here.

If you would like to buy a copy of one of these photos, you can email Thomas Morsellino

Fri, 2019-07-19 10:48
Body:

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. Peter Bom is a world championship winning former crew chief, with a deep and abiding knowledge of every aspect of motorcycle racing. Peter has worked with such riders as Cal Crutchlow, Danny Kent, and Stefan Bradl. After every race, MotoMatters.com will be publishing a selection of Tom's photos of MotoGP bikes, together with extensive technical explanations of the details by Peter Bom. MotoMatters.com subscribers will get access to the full resolution photos, which they can download and study in detail, and all of Peter's technical explanations of the photos. Readers who do not support the site will be limited to the 800x600 resolution photos, and an explanation of two photos.

 


Switchgear on Johann Zarco's KTM RC16
Peter Bom/David Emmett: Color-coded buttons (with labels) on the left handlebar of Zarco's KTM, green for traction control (TC), red for engine brake (EB), colors chosen for self-evident reasons. The thumb lever with the N on it below the handlebar is used for engaging neutral. You do not want to engage neutral while on track, so it is locked out and impossible to engage during normal riding. The position of this lever varies per rider: Zarco is not using a thumb brake, so can mount it on the left handlebar.


Triple clamp and left and right handlebars on Johann Zarco's KTM RC16
Peter Bom/David Emmett: ' There is a lot to see here. On the right handlebar, Zarco has two buttons, again color-coded. The blue button (LC) is for launch control. What the green button (CE) is for is not clear, though the most likely explanation is either the engine kill switch or the pit lane limiter.
Note the slotted top triple clamp. That is one way of managing flex, something which Yamaha also uses. Look carefully at the small locking bolts running in the slots behind the triple clamps. This is a way of ensuring the two handlebar clipons are in exactly the same position on each side.


Knee grip on Jorge Lorenzo’s Honda RC213V To see the technical explanation for this photo, sign up to be a site supporter.


Knee grip and special tank solution on Lorenzo’s Honda RC213V To see the technical explanation for this photo, sign up to be a site supporter.


DE: At the Barcelona test, Taka Nakagami got a chance to ride the 2019 factory-spec Honda RC213V belonging to teammate Cal Crutchlow. It was part reward for a strong season, part to get feedback from another rider (Marc Márquez dominates while Crutchlow and Jorge Lorenzo have struggled with the bike), and part because Nakagami's riding style is more similar to Lorenzo's. After the test, he said "I had a good feeling on this bike and it was positive. I felt that the engine performance was quite a big step, which means it's easier to make the lap time. But physically it's not so easy with this bike, the handling is a little bit heavier. But we understand this and I think it has good performance. There are some negative things, some positive things, but if you improve your lap time it means it's mainly in the positive way. Just a little struggle physically for the handling, but on the other side the positives are the top speed and corner exit."


Bigger exhaust on the Yamaha YZR-M1 To see the technical explanation for this photo, sign up to be a site supporter.


Knee grip and special tank solution on Lorenzo's Honda RC213V (also fitted with the new new aero) To see the technical explanation for this photo, sign up to be a site supporter.


A newer, larger 'salad box' on Jack Miller's Ducati GP19 To see the technical explanation for this photo, sign up to be a site supporter.


Another look at the larger GP19 'salad box'


Mudguard with temperature sensors (Yamaha YZR-M1) To see the technical explanation for this photo, sign up to be a site supporter.


Swingarm attachment on Jorge Lorenzo’s bike To see the technical explanation for this photo, sign up to be a site supporter.


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If you would like to buy a copy of one of these photos, you can email Thomas Morsellino

Mon, 2019-07-15 10:06
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A view which Maverick Viñales' rivals are having to get used to, now the Yamaha rider has worked out the issues he had at the start of the season


All gone green - the Sachsenring is very picturesque, especially the north side of the track, at the top of the hill as the riders flash through Turn 11


A graphic illustration of Ducati's woes. All three GP19s finished together in Germany. The bike needs to turn better


Up the hill from the final corner and along the main straight. Miguel Oliveira leads Alex Rins against a backdrop of houses, farms, and fields


Dark days for Johann Zarco at KTM.


While Maverick Viñales and Fabio Quartararo are a serious threat on the Yamaha, Valentino Rossi is still looking for the final piece of the setup puzzle


Jack attack: Miller is ever more competitive on the GP19, and is crossing the i's and dotting the t's on a contract for 2020


Up, down, and over, all on the side of the bike. That's the Sachsenring in a nutshell


Sure, it makes for great photos, but despite being asked not to, some fans lit flares while the race was on. Stupid and dangerous


Alex Rins is arguably the second best rider on the MotoGP grid at the moment. Or at least he would be if he could stop falling off


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Tue, 2019-07-09 09:30
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Marc Marquez, speaking at Assen

Marc Márquez is well on the way to winning his sixth MotoGP title in seven seasons, dominating the class almost as completely as he did in 2014. He is making winning look easy again, despite the fact that other Honda riders will tell you that the 2019 RC213V is more difficult to ride, albeit more powerful.

How has Márquez managed to return to such dominant form? At Assen, I sat down with the reigning world champion to try to find that out. We talked about the strategy behind winning races, how to analyze how strong the competition is, and how not to get fooled by the data.

We also talked about what Márquez learned from 2015, and how he has managed to shape Honda, to try to create some continuity and improve the communication process inside the factory. And to wrap up, I asked Márquez whether he thought a perfect season, winning every race could be possible.

Q: I want to talk about winning. I find it really interesting, because you win so much. Is it easy to win a MotoGP race for you? It looks like it sometimes.

Marc Marquez: No, it's never easy, because when you think that it's easy or it will be easy, or before you start the weekend you say sometimes, this circuit is good and it will be easy, then it becomes more difficult. So in the end, the way to prepare the weekend, the way to do the meetings, all these things, every weekend you have to do it in the same way. Sometimes it gets more difficult, sometimes easier, some years it’s easier, some years it’s more difficult. But in the end sometimes you go out and for some reason on Sunday in the race you feel really good, really smooth and then it becomes easy, like for example in Argentina this year. But then some days you go out, and then you are pushing, pushing, pushing and for some reason the distance is there and you cannot open a gap.

Q: The Barcelona race was interesting because it didn’t feel to me like you were comfortable all weekend. You did not seem like the normal comfortable Marc. But then something happens in the race, you get a little bit of a gap and that’s enough for you to manage. It becomes easier than it might have been if you had had Maverick, Valentino, Jorge, Dovizioso, or anyone else there?

MM: It’s true that Montmelo was a strange weekend, but it was all related to the tires. When you manage the tires in one way or another way. In Montmelo we managed them in a different way, but for that reason in the press conference, in everything, I was quiet. On Friday for example I was far behind on the timesheets, but I knew that I was there. And for that reason sometimes I say, yes, we are far behind, but we are not far. And sometimes we are there, and I say, we are far behind. Because you know how you did the lap or how you were pushing. But in Montmelo I was riding in a good way and I knew, OK, on Sunday we can fight for the victory.

Q: Is it easy for you to tell how strong the competition is as well? Because I look at the timesheets and I can see who’s got how many laps in low 1:40s and someone else has got high 1:40s. But then when you come to the race, it turns around.

MM: In MotoGP you need to analyze only FP2 and FP4. FP1 and FP3, it's like you can forget for the rhythm, because you will not find this temperature in the race. And then when you have low temperature, the grip is unbelievable and the bikes are working well. It’s like in the test on Monday in Montmelo, everybody was fast at the end of the day because there was a lot of rubber on track. Sometimes you need to analyze these first two runs of FP2 and FP4. The first two runs are the real conditions you will find in the race.

Q: That’s where you understand and get an idea of who’s competitive?

MM: Who will be fast and who will be slow.

Q: They say about Valentino Rossi that on Sunday morning he would always find something. It seems to me it's much more difficult, because warm up on Sunday is so much colder, conditions are very different. Can you really learn anything in a warm up session?

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Tue, 2019-07-02 08:39
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Assen means fast changes of direction. The Suzuki is better at that than the Ducati


What does it mean when they say that Assen is one of the most physically demanding tracks on the calendar? Pecco Bagnaia gives a demonstration


Moments before this photo, Alex Rins was leading the race and looking in total command. A race can change in a heartbeat


Miguel Oliveira had the carbon swingarm for the first time at Assen, and ended up battling with Aleix Espargaro and Pecco Bagnaia


Pol hustles. Pol loves to hustle. So Pol loves the KTM


Tranky Franky pulled his finger out at Assen and bagged a solid fifth


The jigsaw pieces are starting to fall into place for Suzuki's Joan Mir


Sweet release for Maverick Viñales. It's been eight months


It took Marc Marquez a long time to get past Fabio Quartararo, but he managed eventually


The GSX-RR is a bike that wants to be flicked from side to side


Tito Rabat embarks on the walk of shame


Consecutive poles, consecutive podiums, and just turned 20 years old. Signing Fabio Quartararo looks like less of a gamble every day

 


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