Ducati

2018 Laguna Seca World Superbikes Preview: What To Expect At The Dry Lake

Laguna Seca is one of the world's most famous race tracks and it could play host to a memorable race this weekend. Yamaha are on a roll, Kawasaki are in the midst of what could become a difficult break-up, and Ducati are looking to recapture lost form at a venue of past glories.

Can Yamaha keep it up?

Michael van der Mark and Alex Lowes have combined to win three of the last four WorldSBK races but few circuits have uncovered the R1's shortcomings in recent years like Laguna Seca. A best result of fifth since 2016 has seen the US become a round to forget in the past. However" the progress made this year could change their fortunes and see the PATA squad head to California like the prospectors of 200 years ago. There's glory in the hills of Northern California and their confidence could see Yamaha spring a surprise again.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why Lorenzo is winning

The vital importance of straight-line braking in MotoGP’s Michelin era explained and the big question: can Lorenzo win the title for Ducati?

Over the years there have been many weird and wonderful world championships, but this year’s may be the weirdest and most wonderful of all.

There’s a three-time MotoGP world champion struggling to find his way with a recalcitrant motorcycle. His lack of results cause him to fall out with the factory management, so he looks elsewhere for employment, but none of the other factories want him. There are rumours of retirement and talk of a ride with an independent team, which doesn’t even exist. But this seems his only option.

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2018 Barcelona MotoGP Post-Race Test Round Up: What They Did And Didn't Tell Us

The Monday test at Barcelona felt like a proper test. Normally, such tests descend into a simple shoot out in the last fifteen minutes, frail egos demanding to finish fastest, especially when only pride is at stake. But perhaps the Barcelona race had taken a little too much out of the protagonists, or the hot and humid conditions were simply not conducive to spend even more energy risking everything for pointless pride, or perhaps the riders realize that the season is now so tightly packed with no summer break that they cannot risk injury when it doesn't count. Whatever the reason, at the test, people concentrated on testing.

Not that the riders or teams were particularly forthcoming about what exactly they were testing. Some were more open than others: Suzuki said they were testing a new swingarm, and engine update, and retesting the new chassis they have been using since Mugello. Danilo Petrucci tested a new exhaust, a new gearbox, and a new swingarm, which he promptly broke by taking it for a tumble through the gravel.

Show and tell

Some had nowhere they could hide: KTM debuted a new aerodynamic package taken straight out of the HRC playbook, which had in turned been "inspired" by Yamaha. Repsol Honda debuted a new bike in carbon fiber fairings, not the 2019 bike, they insisted, but rather a potential update for this season. But Honda were so intensely secretive that I would not be surprised if they had merely slapped a black fairing on it to distract from parts they were testing on the Repsol bike, as much as I detest conspiracy theories.

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Press Release: Jack Miller To Stay With Alma Pramac For 2019

The Alma Pramac Racing Team have confirmed that Jack Miller will be staying with them for the 2019 season, and riding a Ducati GP19. The press release appears below:


Alma Pramac Racing to continue with Jack Miller in the 2019 MotoGP season
The Australian rider will ride the 2019 version of the Ducati Desmosedici GP.

Alma Pramac Racing is pleased to announce that Jack Miller has been confirmed for the 2019 MotoGP season.

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2018 Barcelona MotoGP Saturday Round Up: Making Magic Saves, Mr Unbeatable, And Choosing Tires At The Test

The trouble with racing in MotoGP at the moment is that no matter how spectacular your riding, no matter how phenomenal your achievements, no matter how dominant your performance, you will always, always be upstaged by Marc Márquez. "The worst thing is that we have to deal with the situation of Marc saving [crashes] every week," Cal Crutchlow complained, only half joking. "It makes the rest of us on Honda look like idiots. Imagine how many he has saved this year compared to how many we have we crashed. He saves fifteen a weekend."

Saturday in Barcelona was yet another example, and perhaps Márquez' biggest yet. In the dying seconds of FP4, after passing Xavier Simeon through Turn 12, Márquez entered Turn 14 and the front folded completely on him. Where other riders would simply go down, Márquez was unwilling to surrender without a fight. "It was last corner, last lap and I lose the front," the Repsol Honda rider told the press conference. "I was fighting against everything, against the bike, against my knee pushing a lot. Then it looks like I was able to save it, but the when I go on the dirty part of the track, I again lose the front."

He had not yet had a chance to look at the data, he said. "I already said to [my team] to check, but what I can say is that the steering was full close because I feel, but it was long. It was very long this one. It was maybe the longest one in my career." Long enough to upstage everyone else on Saturday, despite there being many riders deserving of attention.

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2018 Barcelona MotoGP Friday Round Up: Crashing On A New Surface, And Why Lorenzo Scares His Rivals

MotoGP riders love resurfaced tracks, and Barcelona is no exception. But while the new asphalt laid at the start of this year is infinitely better than the old surface it replaces, there are still the odd few blemishes. The surface may be new, but the grip wasn't universally good, especially as the track was a little dirtier than expected. And as the Circuit de Catalunya in Montmeló is used extensively by F1, the cars have already started to pull up the tarmac in the braking zone, bumps and ripples starting to make an unwelcome appearance already.

And though you can change the asphalt, you can't change the locating and microclimate around the track. It got hot and humid in the afternoon on Friday, and riders went tumbling through the gravel despite the new surface. A grand total of 28 riders hit the deck on Friday, across all three classes and all sessions. That is well over twice as many crashes on Friday as on any Friday during the last five years.

Johann Zarco was one of them, washing out the front at Turn 5. It was a fairly normal crash, Zarco explained. "The crash this afternoon was not something bad, just closing the front when you try to lean the bike to turn the bike as quick as possible," the Monster Tech3 Yamaha rider said. "Things can happen. It was the medium front after three laps. Maybe I asked a bit too much, or we were not good in the setup to lean that way. But not a big problem, I could understand it quickly."

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2018 Barcelona MotoGP Preview: Will A New Surface Make Montmeló A Yamaha Track Once Again?

Barcelona has always been a challenging track, but the MotoGP paddock has faced additional challenges at the Catalonian circuit over the past three years. The tragic death of Luis Salom – a typical case of confusing the improbable with the impossible, and leaving a section of track with no gravel runoff and fence unprotected – caused the track layout to be changed halfway through the weekend in 2016, dropping the long left of Turn 10 and the sweeping right of Turn 12, and replacing them with the F1 layout.

A year later, the circuit made other changes, revising the F1 chicane to stop bikes which crashed from crossing the track, while still keeping the F1 layout replacing Turn 10, a tight hairpin and quick kink replacing the long sweeping turn. But that, too, had its shortcomings.

Even the revised chicane was a poor compromise, and for 2018, the Circuit de Catalunya chose to make more radical changes. The track badly needed resurfacing, and the circuit chose to reconfigure the runoff at the sweeping right hander which MotoGP used to use instead of the chicane. That restored the old Turn 12 (though it is now Turn 13, confusingly), bringing back much of the track's old glory. The old section, the tighter right hander of Turn 12, followed by the two sweeping turns of Turn 13 and Turn 14 which build towards the finish line.

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Subscriber Interview: Manager Simone Battistella On Negotiating Andrea Dovizioso's Contract With Ducati

There were very few people who were surprised when Ducati announced at Le Mans they had reached a deal with Andrea Dovizioso for a new two-year contract. The Italian factory had said at the launch of their MotoGP project back in January that they were keen to get a new deal done with Dovizioso. "Andrea has been with us for six years and he’s in the heart of Ducati fans because of what he did last year," team boss Paolo Ciabatti said in Bologna.

The original plan was to have the contracts signed early. "I don’t think making a firm decision too early, but for sure having a clear picture of the situation," Ciabatti had said. "Then do the next steps as a consequence of the situation quite early. Quite early probably means the second half of February or the first half of March."

Those next steps took longer than Ciabatti had perhaps appreciated. But this was perhaps unsurprising: after Dovizioso's success in 2017, winning six races and coming with a whisker of beating Marc Márquez to the MotoGP crown, there were other factories who were interested, including Honda. Those negotiations took time, and in the end, the deal was only done with Dovizioso after Jerez, and announced at the French Grand Prix at Le Mans.

Negotiating contracts is always a delicate business, and never more delicate where championship contenders and factories are involved. It is a complex and time-consuming process, requiring many meetings and much back and forth over the details before contracts can be finalized and ready to sign.

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