— Lisa Lewis (@LisaLewisWrites) September 12, 2015
Okay, MotoGP was really good, and because of the very special winner it is easy to forget or have missed the great races that went before.
So if you want to catch up or discover the ‘new’ Rossi or Marquez before they hit the big time why not try giving one of these a read?
For a smaller digest of the mornings events there is also my combined shorter report for Paddock Chatter here.
Happy reading and many thanks for stopping by if you do!
It’s Misano, a local race for Valentino Rossi and his special helmet for the weekend is one of his best.
The helmet is covered by handprints which were made by his mechanics, his dogs paw prints his cats prints too and the two kisses, representing his mother and his girlfriend. The fingerprints on the AGV helmets design belong to the artist and his friend Aldo Drudi.
The Italian phrase on the helmet reads ‘Misano ti da una mano’, which translates as ‘Misano helps you’.
At the circuit named after his late friend and fellow racer Marco Simoncelli, it is lovely to see the number 58 right in the middle at the back, where hopefully it will get a lot of airtime this weekend as the Yamaha rider chases down his rivals.
One of Rossi’s best? Here’s some images to help you decide for yourself:
Mugello always means special helmet time for the Italian riders, with Valentino Rossi’s generating the most interest and for his 300th Grand Prix start we have…Pasta!
Hopefully he won’t be tempted to overcook it! (The text “non scuoce mai” translates form Italian as never overcook).
Any updates on an exact meaning or a quote from Rossi on his helmet design will mean an update to this post later.
The floodlights of Qatar always offer up an exciting start to the MotoGP season and last time round Jorge Lorenzo chose to echo that with a glowing helmet, for more on that :
This time Valentino Rossi has brought the lights to his lid:
For a closer look there is also currently a free video called ‘Rossi’s Qatar LED Helmet’ in the official MotoGP website here.
First up Ducati have finally put to bed the Factory vs Open debate after the Jerez test…and picked Open Class.
I was early on this rumour and covered the ins and outs of the decision in my original story for crash.net, available here:
For everyone who’s still here, here’s the breakdown:
In an interview posted by Italian based website GPOne.com (link to site available in Crash.net article) Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso is quoted as saying that when testing resumes in February in Sepang that the ‘Factory’ team riders will be testing both the prototype GP14 they were expecting to be riding next season… and the ‘Open’ class Ducati that will be used by Pramac rider Yonny Hernandez.
Ducati seem keen to reveal that they have found little difference in the performance of the two bikes in the testing done so far. The plan therefore seems to be to run an as close to ‘Factory’ effort as possible while exploiting the benefits which come from being an ‘Open’ class entry – more fuel allowance, less engine restriction and as it stands, softer tyre options.
The major negative is the requirement to run the spec ECU package.
On the face of it, if all goes to plan this could be a shrewd move by Ducati.
The Desmosedici has not won a race since 2010 and struggled to a best of fourth last season. It was previously a championship winner under the control of Casey Stoner.
It is clear that after drafting in some of the worlds best mechanics, riders and developers with, for whatever reason, no improvement, that something must be done.
There is a level of expertise to the idea too – Ducati’s new General Manager, Gigi Dall’Igna, was in control at Aprilla last year instead, spearheading the performance of the only CRT bike entries to challenge the Factory and Satellite teams, with CRT champion Aleix Espargaro aboard the most successful of the bikes and often finding his skills mixed with the performance more than a match for the Satellite Ducati’s and even tangling with their Factory entries for final position.
The Open class has been brought in to replace the CRT category.
Though it looks to be a smart move, and certain to put Honda’s backs up (they had threatened to pull out of the championship over future electrical changes and restrictions so another GOOD thing to come from this if it goes ahead) it was until yesterday, until it was said, unthinkable. A step backwards for some of the red machines fans. A step away from a coveted ‘Factory’ bike for the riders.
If you are a casual bike follower perhaps it is easiest to consider it in terms of another sport, lets try F1 for an example:
The equivalent would be telling Vettel he was going to ride out 2014 in a new, improved Torro Rosso instead of the Red Bull but it will still be competitive as he has more fuel to play with and can hopefully use some really soft tyres, as long as the rules aren’t changed before the start of the season. And he doesn’t have to have his engine sealed.
Now this is confirmed news, Ducati have pointed out that Dovizioso’s improvements in Jerez told them what they needed to know, that further testing is vital for Ducati and allowed under Open rules.
Luigi Dall’Igna, Ducati Corse General Manager added: “We have carefully studied the new technical regulations and have concluded that the Open option is the most interesting for Ducati, in the current situation. This year we have to keep developing our bikes throughout the season to improve our competitiveness, and the Factory option appears to be too restrictive for our needs”.
The final day of the Jerez test also saw Valentino Rossi iron out his Yamaha and tyre issues to go top, pleasing as he was consistent and one of few to touch Marquez pre-injury. He was matched by one fast lap by Dani Pedrosa late in the final day, registering exactly the same time, Rossi had long gone home after a satisfying day of improvements.
The finalised entry lists are available and not only show that Ducati are an open class entry but also bring confirmation of the sad news that Leon Camier is out of a ride for the season as the Iodaracing team drop to just one rider.
Also troubling news coming from the MotoGP.com Twitter feed is that after crashing at a private test
Marinelarena has been in a similar place last season after a race crash, so here’s hoping he can pull through again.
Full entry lists available here.
Looks like this seasons support classes will offer some extremely closing racing if testing is anything to go by.
There was action before the test even began.
In Moto2 Xavier Simeon lost his teeth in a big crash at a private test in Almueria:
www.crash.net – Simeon set to miss Valencia test (my report, click link for more)
In Moto3 Eric Granado moved from Aspar to Team Calvo (who last year were home to championship winner Maverick Vinales) as sponsorship came before talent. He’s a Red Bull rider and then Aspar signed a big deal with another brand…(though to be fair they did help him find somewhere else to ride and not filling their vacated seat suggests to me they maybe helped foot the bill too…):
www.crash.net – Granado makes transfer from Aspar to Calvo (again, by me – click link for more)
Times were close at the top over the three day test with Moto2 seeing the whole top ten under 1m 36s. Maverick Vinales who moves up to Moto2 as the reigning Moto3 champion, has been quickly on the pace at the Pons team and his time on the final day was just slower than the overall fastest posted by Marc VDS rider Tito Rabat:
“I’m very happy for the feeling with the bike and with the team during these three days in Valencia. We worked very well, trying many different things on the bike – suspension, swinging arm and fairings – and we learnt a lot. We made improvements to the bike and also found a good rhythm during our race simulation today. Now we need to head down to Jerez to confirm everything at a different track, under different conditions and, hopefully, make one step more.”
In Moto3 Austrailan Jack Miller showed off his skills after joining the KTM ranks for 2014 with the fastest final day time for the Red Bull Ajo team, but it was Niccolo Antonelli, also now a KTM rider, who remained fastest overall. Britains Danny Kent and Romano Fenati at VAlentino Rossi’s Sky sponsored 46 team also went sub-1m 40s.
The top eight bikes were all KTM powered when Husqvarna and Kalex-KTM’s included, indicating that once again the riders on anything else will struggle for the top spots. Mahindra had the ninth fastest bike with the first Honda showing up in tenth, it was piloted by Alex Rins – a title contender last year- at Estrella Galicia last year before they went against the majority and swapped FROM KTM to Honda. Oh Dear.
The next official test is just next week in Jerez -from February 18-20.
Valencia combined Moto2 times:
1. Esteve Rabat Marc VDS Racing Team (Kalex) 1m 35.155
2. Maverick Viñales Pons HP 40 (Kalex) 1m 35.302
3. Takaaki Nakagami Idemitsu Honda Team Asia (Kalex) 1m 35.337
4. Thomas Luthi Interwetten Paddock Moto2 (Suter) 1m 35.422
5. Sandro Cortese Dynavolt Intact GP (Kalex) 1m 35.564
6. Jordi Torres Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2 (Suter) 1m 35.643
7. Mika Kallio Marc VDS Racing Team (Kalex) 1m 35.690
8. Nico Terol Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2 (Suter) 1m 35.715
9. Julian Simon Italtrans Racing Team (Kalex) 1m 35.725
10. Luis Salom Pons HP 40 (Kalex) 1m 35.844
11. Alex De Angelis Tasca Racing Moto2 (Suter) 1m 36.033
12. Sam Lowes Speed Up (Speed Up) 1m 36.082
13. Johann Zarco Caterham Moto Racing (Caterham Suter) 1m 36.222
14. Axel Pons Argiñano & Gines Racing (Kalex) 1m 36.335
15. Dominique Aegerter Technomag CarXpert (Suter) 1m 36.384
16. Jonas Folger Argiñano & Gines Racing (Kalex) 1m 36.439
17. Anthony West QMMF Racing Team (Speed Up) 1m 36.534
18. Josh Herrin Caterham Moto Racing (Caterham Suter) 1m 36.566
19. Marcel Schrotter Tech 3 (Tech 3) 1m 36.684
20. Franco Morbidelli Italtrans Racing Team (Kalex) 1m 36.785
21. Louis Rossi SAG Team (Kalex) 1m 36.852
22. Hafizh Syahrin Petronas Raceline Malaysia (Kalex) 1m 36.886
23. Lorenzo Baldassarri Gresini Moto2 (Suter) 1m 36.926
24. Azlan Shah Idemitsu Honda Team Asia (Kalex) 1m 36.955
25. Alex Mariñelarena Tech 3 (Tech 3) 1m 37.015
26. Roman Ramos QMMF Racing Team (Speed Up) 1m 37.067
27. Gino Rea AGT-Rea Racing (Suter) 1m 37.141
28. Randy Krummenacher Iodaracing Project (Suter) 1m 37.151
29. Thitipong Warokorn A.P. Honda SAG Team (Kalex) 1m 37.867
30. Robin Mulhauser Technomag CarXpert (Suter) 1m 37.878
31. Tetsuta Nagashima Teluru Team JiR Webike (MotoBI) 1m 38.915
Valencia Moto3 combined times:
1. Niccolo Antonelli Junior Team GO&FUN Moto3 (KTM) 1m 39.454
2. Jack Miller Red Bull KTM Ajo (KTM) 1m 39.462
3. Danny Kent Red Bull Husqvarna Ajo (Husqvarna) 1m 39.726
4. Romano Fenati Sky Racing Team by VR46 (KTM) 1m 39.885
5. Isaac Viñales Calvo Team (KTM) 1m 40.060
6. Francesco Bagnaia Sky Racing Team by VR46 (KTM) 1m 40.103
7. Juanfran Guevara Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3 (Kalex-KTM) 1m 40.112
8. Enea Bastianini Junior Team GO&FUN Moto3 (KTM) 1m 40.166
9. Miguel Oliveira Mahindra Racing (Mahindra) 1m 40.206
10. Alex Rins Estrella Galicia 0.0 (Honda) 1m 40.231
11. Livio Loi Marc VDS Racing Team (Kalex-KTM) 1m 40.394
12. Arthur Sissis Mahindra Racing (Mahindra) 1m 40.409
13. Jakub Kornfeil Calvo Team (KTM) 1m 40.444
14. Efren Vazquez Saxoprint-RTG (Honda) 1m 40.546
15. Philipp Oettl Interwetten Paddock Moto3 (Kalex-KTM) 1m 40.601
16. Alex Marquez Estrella Galicia 0.0 (Honda) 1m 40.629
17. Eric Granado Calvo Team (KTM) 1m 40.694
18. Hafiq Azmi SIC-Ajo (KTM) 1m 40.734
19. Brad Binder Ambrogio Racing (Mahindra) 1m 40.965
20. Niklas Ajo Avant Tecno Husqvarna Ajo (Husqvarna) 1m 41.127
21. John McPhee Saxoprint-RTG (Honda) 1m 41.170
22. Ana Carrasco RW Racing GP (Kalex-KTM) 1m 41.214
23. Karel Hanika Red Bull KTM Ajo (KTM) 1m 41.258
24. Matteo Ferrari San Carlo Team Italia (Mahindra) 1m 41.321
25. Luca Grunwald Kiefer Racing (Kalex-KTM) 1m 41.542
26. Gabriel Ramos Kiefer Racing (Kalex-KTM) 1m 41.749
27. Scott Deroue RW Racing GP (Kalex-KTM) 1m 41.765
28. Alessandro Tonucci CIP Moto3 (Mahindra) 1m 41.840
29. Jules Danilo Ambrogio Racing (Mahindra) 1m 41.962
30. Zulfahmi Khairuddin Ongetta-AirAsia (Honda) 1m 41.973
31. Andrea Locatelli San Carlo Team Italia (Mahindra) 1m 42.043
32. Bryan Schouten CIP Moto3 (Mahindra) 1m 42.392
33. Alexis Masbou Ongetta-Rivacold (Honda) 1m 42.404
Marc Marquez continued to improve at the Sepang MotoGP test.
Instead of resting on his laurels after topping the first two days of action Honda rider Marquez took things to a whole new level on the final day in Malaysia setting a new record time at the track with a 1m 59.533 lap – just inside Casey Stoner’s unofficial benchmark lap of 1m 59.607 from 2012.
This apparently left him “pretty happy”.
After the young Spaniard the trio with the next best times were all Yamaha riders and all worthy of a mention.
Valentino Rossi looks like he might be in for a good season after coming in second again and just 0.194 shy of the top time of current champion Marquez. The Italians lap was also his own best around Sepang ever. A good sign for a feisty championship ahead (hopefully!)
Jorge Lorenzo clocked in third as he continued to succeed in his mission to iron out bike issues but this time also working on race pace, something he found very quickly.
Impressing so much that accusations are already flying as they did in CRT, Aleix Espargaro was not only fourth quickest while working on a full race distance on his Open Class Forward Yamaha entry but also went sub 2 minutes!
Understandably “thrilled” the FTR M1 rider concluded his sensational test in style finishing ahead of many riders who you could reasonably have expected to see above him on the timesheets -factory Honda rider Dani Pedrosa, LCR Honda rider Stefan Bradl and the whole Ducati outfit.
Full list of final times for the third and final day below:
1. Marc Marquez Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 1m 59.533 (Lap 10/40)
2. Valentino Rossi Yamaha Factory Racing (YZR-M1) 1m 59.727 +0.194 (11/55)
3. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Factory Racing (YZR-M1) 1m 59.866 +0.333 (2/65)
4. Aleix Espargaro NGM Mobile Forward Racing (FTR-M1) 1m 59.998 +0.465 (7/43)
5. Stefan Bradl LCR Honda MotoGP (RC213V) 2m 0.112 +0.579 (11/38)
6. Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 2m 0.223 +0.690 (29/55)
7. Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Team (Desmosedici) 2m 0.370 +0.837 (10/40)
8. Pol Espargaro Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 2m 0.655 +1.122 (8/65)
9. Andrea Iannone Pramac Racing (Desmosedici) 2m 0.725 +1.192 (13/57)
10. Alvaro Bautista Go&Fun Honda Gresini (RC213V) 2m 0.788| +1.255 (3/63)
11. Bradley Smith Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 2m 0.896 +1.363 (10/65)
12. Cal Crutchlow Ducati Team (Desmosedici) 2m 1.057 +1.524 (58/58)
13. Nicky Hayden Drive M7 Aspar (RCV1000R) 2m 1.514 +1.981 (21/59)
14. Colin Edwards NGM Mobile Forward Racing (FTR-M1) 2m 1.731 +2.198 (41/47)
15. Michele Pirro Ducati Test Rider (Desmosedici) 2m 1.782 +2.249 (12/67)
16. Hiroshi Aoyama Drive M7 Aspar (RCV1000R) 2m 2.383 +2.850 (61/66)
17. Randy De Puniet Suzuki Test Rider (XRH-1) 2m 2.486 +2.953 (17/67)
18. Yonny Hernandez Pramac Racing (Desmosedici) 2m 2.556 +3.023 (31/65)
19. Kosuke Akiyoshi Honda Test Rider 2m 2.619 +3.086 (3/58)
20. Katsuyuki Nakasuga Yamaha Test Rider (YZR-M1) 2m 2.788 +3.255 (13/38)
21. Scott Redding Go&Fun Honda Gresini (RCV1000R) 2m 2.833 +3.300 (42/60)
22. Michael Laverty Paul Bird Motorsport (PBM-ART) 2m 3.187 +3.654 (12/41)
23. Hector Barbera Avintia Blusens (FTR-Kawasaki) 2m 3.204 +3.671 (49/54)
24. Broc Parkes Paul Bird Motorsport (PBM-ART) 2m 3.402 +3.869 (40/43)
25. Mike Di Meglio Avintia Blusens (FTR-Kawasaki) 2m 4.516| +4.983 (28/58)
26. Nobuatsu Aoki Suzuki Test Rider (XRH-1) 2m 5.686 +6.153 (10/12)
27. Karel Abraham Cardion AB Motoracing (RCV1000R) 2m 5.974 +6.441 (6/12)
MotoGP’s winter break is finally over (as is mine, with plenty of great blog reading for me to catch up on!) and to celebrate here is a picture of Rossi’s helmet for the Sepeng test as seen on Twitter and originally shared by MotoGP.com, hopefully for all his fans it will be the only view his rivals get of his face on track this season!
So far the helmet has served him well, finishing the first day in Sepang in second behind current World Champion Marc Marquez.
Here is a list of times from day 1:
1. Marc Marquez Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 2m 0.286s (52/62)
2. Valentino Rossi Yamaha Factory Racing (YZR-M1) 2m 0.804s | +0.518s (58/61)
3. Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda Team (RC213V) 2m 0.906s | +0.620s (73/75)
4. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Factory Racing (YZR-M1) 2m 1.082s | +0.796s (26/47)
5. Alvaro Bautista Go&Fun Honda Gresini (RC213V) 2m 1.240s | +0.954s (48/52)
6. Stefan Bradl LCR Honda MotoGP (RC213V) 2m 1.320s | +1.034s (10/25)
7. Aleix Espargaro NGM Mobile Forward Racing (FTR-M1) 2m 1.419s | +1.133s (19/26)
8. Andrea Iannone Pramac Racing (Desmosedici) 2m 1.538s | +1.252s (38/44)
9. Pol Espargaro Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 2m 1.634s | +1.348s (42/48)
10. Bradley Smith Monster Yamaha Tech 3 (YZR-M1) 2m 1.876s | +1.590s (54/55)
11. Colin Edwards NGM Mobile Forward Racing (FTR-M1) 2m 2.483s | +2.197s (25/26)
12. Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Team (Desmosedici) 2m 2.497s | +2.211s (21/27)
13. Michele Pirro Ducati Test Rider (Desmosedici) 2m 2.552s | +2.266s (47/48)
14. Cal Crutchlow Ducati Team (Desmosedici) 2m 2.860s | +2.574s (16/38)
15. Yonny Hernandez Pramac Racing (Desmosedici) 2m 2.891s | +2.605s (28/49)
16. Katsuyuki Nakasuga Yamaha Test Rider (YZR-M1) 2m 3.126s | +2.840s (14/35)
17. Nicky Hayden Drive M7 Aspar (RCV1000R) 2m 3.319s | +3.033s (53/56)
18. Hiroshi Aoyama Drive M7 Aspar (RCV1000R) 2m 3.328s | +3.042s (49/51)
19. Randy de Puniet Suzuki Test Rider (XRH-1) 2m 3.893s | +3.607s (47/75)
20. Kosuke Akiyoshi Honda Test Rider 2m 4.267s | +3.981s (27/64)
21. Scott Redding Go&Fun Honda Gresini (RCV1000R) 2m 4.431s | +4.145s (41/48)
22. Hector Barbera Avintia Blusens (FTR-Kawasaki) 2m 4.922s | +4.636s (34/44)
23. Mike di Meglio Avintia Blusens (FTR-Kawasaki) 2m 5.825s | +5.539s (50/51)
24. Broc Parkes Paul Bird Motorsport (PBM-ART) 2m 5.889s | +5.603s (32/40)
25. Michael Laverty Paul Bird Motorsport (PBM-ART) 2m 6.070s | +5.784s (14/14)
26. Karel Abraham Cardion AB Motoracing (RCV1000R) 2m 6.755s | +6.469s (21/41)
Early indications from day 1 give the impression that a competitive season between Marquez/Rossi/Lorenzo and Pedrosa could be on the cards with Aleix Espargaro giving a star turn once again – impressing in the Open class, as he did as a CRT rider. Ducati still seem to have work to do…
MotoGP is full of characters, and not just on the race track.
In many ways it is inevitable that the bigger the rider, the more light will shine on those who have worked with them as their personalities show through in the paddock too.
Valentino Rossi’s right-hand man Uccio is so ubiquitous that if he wasn’t there you’d wonder why, and in the garage; to the end of this season after an unexpected split; you always expect a shot of Jeremy Burgess hard at work, so popular and well known that he was often the grid interview when the Italian wouldn’t comply.
Burgess had a lot of fellow Australians working under his guidance wherever the job of being ‘The Doctor’s’ mechanic took them, one of which was Alex Briggs.
Briggs has now been in the MotoGP paddock for 21 seasons so losing the guy who had been your boss for that time suddenly was shocking as an outsider. The mechanic has been kind enough to explore this in an excellent blog post on his personal website, wrenchracer.com.
The post entitled ‘Thanks for that call’ is a touching account finishing with how Briggs came to work with Burgess after his fellow Aussie left a message for him to call, but mainly deals with how much of an influence Rossi’s head mechanic had on bike development and racing.
“Many people in this paddock don’t know why they do certain procedures or how things became the way they are. They might say “oh well that’s how we have always done it!” but they don’t realize that that’s how JB wanted it done and his riders and team were winning so everyone started to take notice of what he was saying and then implement it”.
Without wanting to give too much away (it really is worth a moment of your day!) the quote above gives a great insight into where his post is at. Burgess has had one of, if not THE greatest racing mind in the paddock and whether alongside the Mick Doohan or Rossi his ideas have been game changing.
Briggs also hints at what ‘JB’ the person is like, giving just the slightest of mentions of his family life and his storytelling ability.
The full blog post is available here: http://www.wrenchracer.com/1/category/all/1.html
It is an insightful, smart and poignant read, enjoyable to the final full stop.
The post started as something too long for a tweet, but there’s plenty to see at Alex Briggs’ Twitter account too – https://twitter.com/Alex__Briggs
And if you have a bit of spare change to give then he also does ‘Movember’ ( growing a mustache to raise money for prostate cancer charities if you don’t have it round your way!) and you can donate by clicking here.