WSBK: Full factory Honda WSBK team debuts 2019 bikes and rider line-up

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The foctory Honda WSBK tam has unveiled its 2019 bike ahead of the opening round of the championship in Australia.

The Moriwaki Althea Honda Team has deliberately kept off the radar during the pre-season,  and this is the first time the bikes and the 2019 rider line-up of Leon Camier and Ryuichi Kiyonari has been seen since the news broke that Honda had dropped Ten kate in favour of a full factory backed Moriwaki squad.

The most obvious change for the 2019 CBR1000RR is the livery, which to these eyes looks like a dog’s dinner. Predominantly red, with blue, white and yellow, the bikes will certainly stand out on the track.

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WSBK: 2019 factory Kawasaki WSBK bike breaks cover

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The factory Kawasaki WSBK team has pulled the wraps of its 2019 race bike.

Reigning WSBK champion Jonathan Rea and new team-mate Leon Haslam unveiled the 2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR  ahead of next weekend’s opening round of the championship at Phillip Island in Australia.

Rea said: “KRT always push the boat out when it comes to launching the new colours and it is the first time you see your final bike in the flesh.

“Everything is real and now we turn the page to 2019. Alpinestars have done a great job with my leathers as well. I changed my number 1 plate a little bit too, incorporating some new logos.”

MotoGP: 2019 Factory and satellite KTM liveries break cover

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KTM has unveiled the 2019 liveries for its Factory and satellite teams at a special event at its Austrian HQ in Mattighofen, and while the 2019 Factory KTM MotoGP livery follows the colours of the previous two seasons, the new satellite Tech 3 team’s striking blue, silver and orange paint caught the eye.

The team had used a black-and-white test livery for the Valencia, Jerez and Sepang winter tests, but this has been ditched in favour of blue and silver, combined with KTM orange, similar to sponsor Red Bull’s paint for its Toro Rosso ‘Junior’ team in F1.

New kit: Alpinestars Racing Absolute one-piece leathers

Motorcycle race suits offer the very best form of rider protection. They’re constructed with abrasion resistant materials, have generous impact protection and are designed to keep you as safe as possible in the event of a crash. Leather slides incredibly well, and you’re more likely to suffer heat burns from your skin rubbing against the leather than damage from cuts and the likes. Speed causes a lot of injuries but the injuries caused by friction are far greater.

The Racing Absolute Leather Suit is different. Using lessons learnt from the MotoGP World Championship and input from Alpinestars athletes, the Racing Absolute is a state-of-the-art kangaroo leather one-piece racing suit which sets new benchmarks for protective technology available to riders. An example of this is the brand-new innovative aramid bonded leather that is found in the areas of the suit prone to high abrasion; the shoulders, knees, elbows, forearm, seat, and the sides of the back all have this added layer of protection along with dual-leather layers. This aramidic bonding was developed in collaboration with Marc Marquez and is proven to significantly increase tear and abrasion resistance while also protecting the rider from heat transfer, particularly in the case of a long slide on the Tarmac.

The suit is constructed from premium grade, 1.1mm kangaroo leather for flexibility, light weight, suppleness and superior abrasion resistance, and this focus on performance continues with the suit’s armour; which consists of CE-approved, race-derived protectors on the elbow, shoulder, knee and tibia, and Alpinestars new exclusive GP Dynamic Friction Shield (DFS) on the knee and further DFS protection on the elbow and shoulder. This is bolstered with CE-certified Nucleon hip protectors, and riders can add the CE-certified Nucleon chest pads, available as an accessory upgrade.

A new feature of the Absolute Racing Leather Suit is the RR elbow slider, which is anatomically contoured for comfort and features a removable screw-mounted slider insert, which allows riders to replace it once it’s worn.

Other considered design touches include a body mapped race fit pre-curved sleeves for reduced fatigue on the track and strategically placed anatomical stretch panels for high levels of movement and a superior fit, with aramid reinforced stretch panels on the crotch, back of the leg and underarms for additional flexibility and breathability. There’s also a removable inner stretch mesh liner and large perforated leather panels on the chest and legs for cooling airflow, ensuring the rider stays cool, no matter how hot the action on track.

This attention to detail continues to the aerodynamic speed hump, which improves stability and airflow at speed. Designed to accommodate a hydration pack, it comes complete with an opening for a hydration hose. Another neat feature is the printed logos; these not only reduce weight, they also improve the flexibility of the leather, thereby enhancing comfort and performance.

The Absolute Racing Leather Suit is available in a number of striking colours and is a fully CE-certified riding garment, conforming to CE-Category II prEN17092 draft standards – AAA class.

Tech-Air® airbag system:

This suit is built to accept the Race Airbag System, which is purchased separately, installs easily and does not require any external sensors to operate. Should it detect the start of a crash, it will deploy a protective airbag, providing unrivaled protection to the rider’s full back, shoulders, kidney area and chest.

The garment is designed to accommodate the jacket’s inflated volume without compromising seam strength or material integrity. The jacket’s ergonomic design means that it can be worn without the airbag system for a versatile, personalised fit.

An LED display on the sleeve indicates the airbag’s operational status, while internal housing located in the built-in CE-certified back protector accommodates the system ECU allowing the Tech-Air® vest to be installed in any compatible Alpinestars jacket.

It’s smart too: extensive research and testing on the road and track have allowed us to refine the triggering algorithms, allowing the system to accurately assess when to deploy ahead of an impact.

For more information, visit http://www.alpinestars.com.

News: Alpinestars issues airbag statement

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In response to the news last week that a German court (the Higher Regional Court of Munich issued judgment) upheld the claim that Alpinestars had infringed upon patent EP 2 412 257 B1 held by Dainese S.p.A, relating to its D-air® system, Alpinestars has released the following statement: “As soon as the Court serves the written judgment, Alpinestars will study the details prior to taking any decision on its next steps.

“[We] want to clarify that this action never involved the core of Alpinestars Tech-Air® technology;  at no point, either past or present, has any action or patent infringement involved the electronic management, algorithm, or deployment mechanism, or any other part employed within Alpinestars entirely unique and advanced Tech-Air® technology.

“As consistently stated throughout this legal process, Alpinestars fully respects and honors third parties’ intellectual property rights and expects the same with respect to its own IP rights. Alpinestars’ highly innovative Tech-Air® products are based upon years of its in house research and development conducted by its own team of leading research and development staff.

“Since the very beginning of the Tech-Air® project, which commenced in 2001, the freedom to ride with the most advanced innovations of performance protection has been the objective relentlessly pursued by Alpinestars and the result is uniquely advanced and capable technology. Tech-Air® is the world’s first airbag providing full upper torso protection in a transferable vest which incorporates a completely independent electronic management system, with no reliance on any external devices (sensors or GPS), to give accident detection and full airbag inflation before the first impact, dual charge for the track and off-road capability as demonstrated in the 2019 Dakar Rally.”

News: the fight for Airbag supremacy takes another twist in Germany

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After a lengthy legal wrangle over the intellectual property found in the Alpinestars Tech-Air and Dainese D-Air airbag systems, the Munich Court of Appeals has ruled that Alpinestars violated a Dainese patent (EP 2 412 257 B1), which confirms the decision of the Munich Court of First Instance.

This is big news as the decision could influence similar legal actions that Dainese has pending against Alpinestars in the Italian, British, and French markets, as well as other legal actions still in the German market.

So what happens next? Alpinestars can appeal the decision with the German Federal Supreme Court, or accept the court’s decision. If it chose the latter, this would prohibit the sale of Tech-Air products in Germany and result in the company recalling existing Tech-Air products from commercial customers as well as compensating Dainese for damages that stem from the sale of Tech-Air products in Germany.

This legal battle surrounds the wording of the patent, most of which covers the placement of “airtight pouches” in the garment and specifically states that the activation intelligence is not part of the patent (protecting trade secrets).

Both brands have established themselves as safety platforms for motorcyclists, and both brands have begun to offer their airbag technologies to rival brands. Essentially, Alpinestars and Dainese are in a battle to control the future of motorcycle safety garments, which will surely include airbag technology.

MotoGP: Ducati tops the field on final day of testing in Sepang

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The final day of testing saw Ducati dominate the timesheets with factory rider Danilo Petrucci leading the charge with a jaw dropping time of 1:58.239 after 32 laps.

The Italian said: “Today we started off on the right foot: I was supposed to try two ‘time attacks’ but one attempt, done with a medium rear tyre, was enough. When I saw the lap time on the dashboard, I was really happy. After that, we resumed our work on some new items. Unfortunately, however, I crashed while I was trying a new fairing around midday. Given the fact that I was also experiencing some issues with blisters in my hands, we decided to stop a bit ahead of schedule to recover and make sure we’re at our best in the next tests in Qatar. Overall, it’s been a really positive test.”

Rookie Francesco Bagnaia was hot on his heels on the satellite Pramac bike and was just 0.063 in arrears after 21 laps. Next was his team-mate Jack Miller, only another small margin further back, with factory Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso completing the top four, three tenths off the top spot.

After the Ducati lock out at the top, it was Yamaha’s Maverick Viñales who remained close. The Spaniard put his newly-numbered number 12 into fifth on the timesheets, setting a 1:58.644 as his best of a huge 79 laps. Viñales’ long run pace was also electric – with the Yamaha rider putting in 20 laps in the 1:59 and 2:00 brackets. Team-mate Valentino Rossi was tenth on the timesheets after more than 60 laps.

Petronas Yamaha SRT, on their 2019 spec machines, also had another good showing on the timesheets. Franco Morbidelli was the second quickest Yamaha in P8 after 66 laps, with rookie team-mate Fabio Quartararo in P16 after a mammoth 77 laps – just 0.011 behind rookie rival Joan Mir on the Suzuki.

Behind Viñales, Cal Crutchlow took P6 overall and was fastest Honda once again on his LCR bike, despite returning from injury. The three-time Grand Prix winner crashed on Day 3 once again but managed an increased 61 laps – a positive showing after so much time away – and did a best of a 1:58.780. His team-mate Takaaki Nakagami also impressed as he finished Day 3 in P9.

Reigning Marc Marquez managed 39 laps as he continues to recover from shoulder surgery and piloted his Repsol Honda to a best of a 1:59.170 and ended the day in P11 – just 0.015 off Rossi. Honda Test Team rider Stefan Bradl also added more than 50 laps to the count for the Japanese manufacturer, ending the day in P13, and tested a new aero fairing, as did Marquez.

Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro was another rider who was quick on on Day 3, ending the session in seventh after 52 laps. Espargaro’s team-mate Andrea Iannone, meanwhile, sat out the action due to illness, although paddock chatter seems to suggest he has an infection after a botched plastic surgery procedure on his face.

Suzuki’s Alex Rins posted the 12th fastest time, 0.010 off Marquez but putting in 75 laps. Rookie Joan Mir made a big move up the rankings on Day 3 though, ending the session in P15 and only three tenths off his teammate.

KTM continues to struggle, with factory rider Johann Zarco once again taking the accolade of fastest Austrian machine in P17 with a 1:59.640 after 44 laps – enough to pip his team-mate Pol Espargaro by just over a tenth. The Spaniard was P18, with Miguel Oliveira putting his KTM Tech 3 machine just behind the two factory bikes.

MotoGP: Viñales is Top Gun at Day 2 of testing in Sepang

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Yamaha pilot Maverick Viñales got within just 0.067 of Jorge Lorenzo’s fastest ever lap of Sepang on Day 2 of testing, with the 1:58.830 set by Lorenzo last season – although not an official lap record – now surely under threat on Day 3. Top gun Viñales had been hovering in third for much of the latter part of the day before he dug deep to light up the timesheets. More than three tenths up before the final sector, the Spaniard eventually crossed the line 0.527 ahead of nearest rival Alex Rins on the Suzuki.

Viñales said: ““Honestly, we tried to work really hard today on the race pace. We were always using the spec for the race. I felt good and around midday we made good lap times, especially during the race simulation when it was hot, without grip, so I’m actually really happy how we worked today. We made a good improvement on the bike, so we need to try to do this again tomorrow.”

The #12 bike’s performance built on a positive first day on the timesheets for the factory Yamaha squad, and Valentino Rossi added to the good vibes by taking sixth place. The veteran Italian did 51 laps and was only two tenths off second, although the distance to his teammate stretched out from there.

Petronas Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli ended the day in P14 and P15 respectively – and the Frenchman had a 2019 bike as he made that key step forward. They both did 58 laps.

Alex Rins was the man who lost his top spot to Viñales after seeming set to end the day fastest, but the Spaniard’s 1:59.424 was nevertheless an incredible laptime and he did 61 laps on Thursday. However, rookie teammate Joan Mir struggled and ended the day in P21 after 64 laps.

On Rins’ tail was the fastest Ducati on Day 2 and once again it was an independent team rider – this time Pramac’s Jack Miller. The Australian was a late mover like those above him and was only a tenth off Rins by the end of play, putting in 49 laps. Just behind him came Andrea Dovizioso, who was the fastest factory Ducati and looked set to top the day’s action until the late flurry of fast laps saw him pushed down to fourth. Initially the number 04 was working on frames, and Team Manager Davide Tardozzi confirmed that teammate Danilo Petrucci was focused on finding a better connection between the throttle and the rear tyre – working on the electronics and engine. Roles were then reversed, and Tardozzi also confirmed the Borgo Panigale factory also had some work on aero planned. Petrucci ended the day in ninth with Avintia’s pipping him on his GP18 to end Thursday in P7. Francesco Bagnaia was fastest rookie in P12 on the other Pramac bike.

LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow continued his recovery from a badly damaged ankle to take fifth overall and end the day as fastest Honda. The Brit managed 53 laps to end the session within just 0.004 of Dovizioso. He also suffered a minor crash; but walked away unharmed.

Next up for Honda was eighth placed Marc Marquez, who put in 37 laps on Day 2 before stopping to rest his shoulder. Crutchlow’s LCR Honda team-mate Takaaki Nakagami took P10 after 60 laps, with Stefan Bradl (Honda Test Team) taking P16 after 59 laps.

The KTM factory team continues to struggle, but Johann Zarco ended the day as fastest Austrian machine for the first time since his switch to the marque. The Frenchman dipped below the two-minute mark for the first time, and he ended the day in P11 after 58 laps. Team-mate Pol Espargaro was P17 and just over three tenths off the Frenchman. KTM test rider Mika Kallio was a couple of places back, and just pipped KTM Tech 3 rookie Miguel Oliveira. Malaysian Hafizh Syahrin had a tougher day, outside the top twenty.

Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro ended the day in P13 after 54 laps, with Iannone in P18 after 39.

MotoGP: recovering Marquez tops the timesheets on first day of testing

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Despite still suffering the effects of surgery on his left shoulder during the winter break, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez topped the timesheets on Day 1 at the Sepang Test with a 1:59.621, 0.259 faster than Suzuki’s Alex Rins in second and 0.316 quicker than third place rider Maverick Viñales on the factory Yamaha.

Marquez completed 29 laps on Day 1 before stopping in the early afternoon to give his left shoulder a rest ahead of the next two days, with the reigning world champion heading for more physio in the afternoon. New team-mate Jorge Lorenzo is sitting out the test due to injury, but there were three Hondas in the top ten as Takaaki Nakagami, LCR Honda, fastest in Jerez, took seventh and Stefan Bradl (Honda Test Team) ended Day 1 in P9, just under six tenths off Marquez.

LCR Honda Castrol rider Cal Crutchlow, meanwhile, returned from his ankle injury sustained at Phillip Island with a solid 51 laps on Wednesday, ending his first time back on a bike in P14 with a 2:00.681.

Alex Rins was one of the big headlines of the day, able to put in a substantial 61 laps on board his 2019 GSX-RR and was fastest for some time until deposed by Marquez. He remained second after his earlier fast lap, however, and was the lead Hamamatsu machine by quite a stretch. Rookie teammate Joan Mir ended the day in P23, just behind veteran French test rider Sylvain Guintoli on the Suzuki.

There were positive signs from Yamaha, who are looking to bounce back after trying 2018 season. Maverick Viñales ended the day in P3 after 63 laps with a best of 1:59.937, with team-mate Valentino Rossi in P6 after 56 laps and just over a tenth off Viñales.

New team on the block Petronas Yamaha SRT, meanwhile, had Franco Morbidelli just outside the top ten in P12 after 60 laps – only eight tenths off the top – with rookie team-mate Fabio Quartararo a further half a second in arrears in P18 on tight timesheets.

Just behind Viñales, meanwhile, was the first of the Borgo Panigale machines – but it was Reale Avintia Racing’s Tito Rabat who took that honour. Less than half a tenth off Viñales and the last man under the two-minute barrier, the Spaniard impressed on his first day back on a MotoGP machine at fuller strength, having missed much of the latter part of last season following his horrific crash at Silverstone. Just behind him came the first of the factory Ducati bikes in the form of new arrival Danilo Petrucci, with the Italian just 0.003 ahead of Rossi after 54 laps. 2017 and 2018 runner up Andrea Dovizioso, meanwhile, ended Day 1 of 2019 in P8 with a 2:00.197.

Jack Miller wasn’t far off the second factory machine despite a small crash either, with the Aussie taking P11 – three tenths off Dovizioso and lead Alma Pramac Racing machine. Rookie team-mate Francesco Bagnaia – reigning Moto2 Champion – made for close company too, impressing in P15 as the fastest debutant.

Completing the top ten was an impressive day’s work for KTM factory rider Pol Espargaro, with the #44 completing a fitting 44 laps with a best of 2:00.313 despite a crash at the end. The Spaniard took the honours of lead Austrian machine by sixth tenths, although the second KTM on the timesheets was an equally stunning performance: rookie Miguel Oliveira of Red Bull KTM Tech 3. The Portuguese rider finished the day in P16 and only just off fastest newcomer Bagnaia, making a big impression on Day 1 after more difficult tests at Valencia and Jerez. Experienced test rider Mika Kallio was in P19, just ahead of Espargaro’s new team=mate Johann Zarco as the Frenchman continued his adaptation in P20.

Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro was the fastest Noale machine in P13 and said the 2019 bike is a definite improvement, with the Spaniard putting in 55 laps to end the first day of the season just ahead of Crutchlow. New team-mate Andrea Iannone was down in P21 and suffered a crash on his first lap, ending the day 1.6 seconds off Marquez as he continues to get used to his new machinery.

WSBK: Ducati factory team unveils new V4 R racer and new livery for 2019

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The factory Ducati WSBK team squad has officially presented the new V4 R which it hopes will fight for the 2019 World Superbike championship.

Ducati recently launched its road version of the V4 R in order to homologate the bike in time for the 2019 campaign. There will be four Ducati V4 R Superbikes on the 2019 grid with Barni Racing fielding Michael Ruben Rinaldi and Team Go Eleven partnering with Eugene Laverty.

Chaz Davies and Alvaro Bautista have been busy putting the bike through its paces at pre-season testing at Jerez and Portimao ahead of the season opener at Phillip Island on February 22-24.