As we close in on the start of the season a lot can still change in a week in MotoGP…
Lets start with the UK based news (viewers from the rest of the world skip down the page – your news is below!)
Another excellent WordPress blog – The F1 Broadcasting blog – brings the news that it appears that ITV4 have picked up the MotoGP highlights rights for the forthcoming season, read more here.
This is big news for UK viewers when confirmed by ITV4. Until now after BBC/Eurosport lost the right to show MotoGP all other broadcasters were priced out of the market by the hoover that is BT Sport, moving MotoGP away from free-to-air tv. The young channel now have everything from Premier League football matches to rugby, through womens tennis and even managed to get their sticky fingers on some FA cup games.
BT Sports coverage looks strong, but is more pricey than the incredible detail of the MotoGP pass which costs significantly less. Unless your bargaining is top notch and you don’t move to BT to get free coverage on your initial contract (watch that line rental rocket, early switchers!!) it’s £12-15 a month with Virgin Media/Sky.
What ITV sport have here is a big deal. It should catch all the casual viewers who just want to see who won and who may have been planning to watch it later, delayed due to life commitments and work. They have also removed BT Sports bragging rights as an ‘exclusive’ on tv. Still exclusive for live full coverage yes, but now not just solely on their channel.
BT Sport still don’t even like to mentiontheir channel is available on Virgin Media along with Sky, allowing you to take all your football from one provider, so it will be interesting how long it takes them to adjust their advertising to allow for this amendment.
The big, big, big news of the week though came via Spanish publication AS.com, who published an interview with Dorna CEO Ezpeleta stating his plans to launch ‘Factory2’, nothing more than a flashy manner to shunt Ducati out of the new Open Class after some clever reading of the rules saw them make the move to take advantage of continued testing and development and an increased fuel allowance.
Dorna Managing Director of Events Javier Alonso claims the move is to compliment the existing classes within the championship, without letting the only Open entry capable of running the new second software (Ducati) get an advantage.
“As a championship we aim to allow everyone to have the best possible technology, including this type of software, but from talking to the private teams they are not yet set up to be able to use this ‘full software’. Clearly Ducati were not at the same level as Honda and Yamaha last season and what they have done is to look for a way within the rules to improve their grid and race results. We understand that by making some changes they can be closer to the other constructors but we do not want them to have too much of an advantage, as it would be unfair for them to beat the rest of the manufacturers with greater ammunition. So we think the proposal on the table is a good solution.”
The Factory 2 changes mean the now three tier championship runs as follows:
- Factory bikes (Yamaha/Honda) Run five sealed engines over a season and have a 20 litre fuel capacity and no access to the extra soft option tyre.
- Open Class entries have 12 non-sealed engines at thoer disposal and a higher 24 litres of fuel as their limit, they can also use the extra soft option tyre.
- The proposed Factory 2 class means that any Open entry obtaining three third places, two seconds or a win in dry races will trigger the Factory 2 settings for their bike – a reduction to 9 engines and 22.5 litres of fuel.
The notion that Ducati may exploit the rules too well have foundation. It causes concern though that as Dorna expect all entries to be Open in the near future (much to Honda’s disgust) that as soon as Honda voiced their concerns that Ducati may get a little of their mojo back by exploiting the rules to their advantage a new set of rules are announced.
It also seems to run against logic that you should penalize someone for doing well with the restrictions you have given them, you want to push and promote Open Class racing but, hey don’t do too well in case the Factory teams get upset?
Just when we thought there would be some really competitive racing on the cards.
As a final thought, though essentially brought in as an answer to Ducati’s move it has the potential to suck in Aleix Espargaro, the most successful Open bike in testing to date.
Espargaro who excelled in CRT and who has already set the Open Class bar pretty high has consistantly run in the top five for Forward Yamaha regardless of who was participating and has a chance at the podium in the right conditions. It seems he is on course to get penalized for getting the measure of his bike and being successful way ahead of Ducati.
Does it have it’s own separate class winner? Who knows what lies ahead now!
Let’s finish up with some positive news on Alex Marinelarena. The Tech3 Moto2 rider has seen his condition improve and can now move and speak after a accident at a private test left him in a coma, the second time this has happened to the 21-year old Spaniard after also falling into a coma after crashing in the 2013 season. Team Boss Herve Poncheral has been present and supportive since his fall.
Tech3 web statement:
“Alex Marinelarena, who was injured during a private test at the Paul Ricard Circuit in the south of France last Thursday, awoke this morning from the medically induced cma he was put under. After nearly one week in a deep sleep, the 21 year old rider was today, able to move his arms and legs as well as speak.
Further examinations will now follow to clarify his condition, but the recovery process has already started.
The Marinelarena family and the whole Tech3 Racing Team wish to thank everyone sincerely for the numerous thoughts and wishes sent during these tough days”.