MotoGP: Ducati unveils colours for 2020 title assault

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The historic Palazzo Re Enzo in Piazza Maggiore, Bologna, set the stage for the 2020 Ducati Team Launch

During the event, riders Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci, together with Ducati Motor Holding CEO Claudio Domenicali and Ducati Corse General Manager Luigi Dall’Igna, unveiled the new colours of the Desmosedici GP20 bikes that the Italian squad will field in the 2020 MotoGP World Championship.

The brand-new liveries, painted in bright red with a few details in black and chrome, will make their first official race appearance at the inaugural Grand Prix of the 2020 MotoGP season in Qatar, om March 8.

Andrea Dovizioso, runner-up for the past three seasons, said: “2019 was interesting and made us understand a few aspects that will help us to improve and grow in 2020. Last year we finished as runner-up for the third consecutive time behind Marc Màrquez, a rider that for sure made the difference last year, but we also did our best managing well our potential. Every year has its own story, and it is not easy to predict what will happen in 2020. Our goal is clear; we want to challenge for the title again. Both Ducati and I are working hard to be back stronger than ever before. Compared to last year, I expect to find more competitive rivals, but we have also grown a lot, and I am confident that we will be able to continue with our positive trend.”

WSBK: Rea reigns supreme in wet Jerez pre-seaon test

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Factory Kaswasaki rider Jonathan Rea has ended the two-day Jerez test on top of the timesheets despite completing just 19 laps in the sessions.

The five-time champion chose to avoid the rainy conditions on the opening day and had left the test only to return on day two as the track dried out, posting a 1:40.983 lap before the rain started to fall again.

His time was 0.231 seconds quicker than his nearest rival, new Yamaha factory rider Toprak Razgatlioglu. Ducati factory rider Scott Redding was 0.424 seconds off the pace set by Rea in third, while Kawasaki’s Alex Lowes finished the day in fourth spot. Michael van der Mark completed the top five on the second factory Yamaha.

WSBK: van der Mark on top of first day of testing in Jerez

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The 2020 WSBK championship has fired back into action as the first of two testing days at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto got underway in the south of Spain.

The day was wet and temperatures were far from ideal. Two red flags interrupted running, although there was plenty of action to also brighten up a damp day, with Yamaha’s Michael van der Mark ending the day on top.

Sylvain Barrier was the first rider out on the Brixx Performance Ducati with the Frenchman keen to dial in plenty of laps on his return to the series, and he was swiftly joined by fellow independent Ducati star Leandro Mercado on the Motocorsa Racing machine, who returns to the Italian manufacturer after three seasons away.

Then at just after 12.00, the HRC Team of Alvaro Bautista and Leon Haslam made their first public appearance, and they were joined on track by the Pata Yamaha duo, with Michael van der Mark firing in the top time just before 14:00, toppling fellow Yamaha rider Loris Baz. With a soaked circuit, Pata Yamaha team-mate Toprak Razgatlioglu crashed at Turn 1, having only completed one lap, but returned to the track about 40 minutes after his accident; he was seventh at lunch.

French star Loris Baz picked up where he left off at the last Jerez test – when he was second – and briefly headed the field as the morning evolved. He was a firm fixture inside the top three and was top Yamaha for most of the morning and early afternoon, eventually finishing in second. It is a strong start to the 2020 season for Baz, as he seeks his first WSBK podium in six years. Other Independent riders inside the top ten include Garrett Gerloff (GRT Yamaha WorldSBK Junior Team) in third – much to the surprise of many – and Leandro Mercado in sixth.

Over at the factory Ducati team, there were plenty of new things to experiment out on track, as Scott Redding received new parts for the chassis and engine. Redding finished the first half of the day in fourth, taking the fight to the Yamaha onslaught.

The HRC Team was also having a positive first experience in the public eye, as Leon Haslam momentarily hit the top spot with the all-new Fireblade. Teammate Alvaro Bautista also went out and was inside the top five, before suffering a small crash at Turn 6. Come the end of the first half of the day, Haslam was up to fifth place, whilst Bautista was 19th and elected not to return to the track.

The Kawasaki Racing Team elected not to field Jonathan Rea in the wet weather as he already knows the bike well enough, while Alex Lowes did take to the circuit in the afternoon and was ninth.

New kit: Alpinestars CE-certified gloves

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Alpinestars new motorcycling collection blends class-leading protection, performance and innovation in its new range of racing, road, urban and adventure touring products which have been designed to meet the demands of male and female riders in any environment.

The new line-up is the result of thousands of hours of research and development testing and evaluation in the laboratory, on the road and on the racetrack in the most challenging of conditions in a never-ending quest to improve overall functionality, performance, safety and comfort.

Featuring an eclectic blend of new construction methods, groundbreaking original design and the very best natural and man-made materials, the highlights of the new collection are the new range of CE-certified gloves which includes the SP-8 v2 and SP-8 v2 Stella and the SMX-1 Air v2 and SMX-1 Air v2 Stella gloves.

The Alpinestars SP-8 v2 leather glove features highly abrasion-resistant, full-grain leather and rugged polymer knuckle protection to combine advanced protective features with high levels of flexibility, comfort and practicality. As well as a premium quality suede palm and landing zone reinforcements, there is also an innovative microfiber and PU grip insert strategically positioned on the palm and thumb that all help to improve grip, control and durability, as well as Alpinestars patented third and fourth finger bridge to prevent finger roll and separation during an impact. The glove has pre-curved fingers to reduce fatigue and external seams to improve comfort and feel, while the Velcro cuff closure with an elasticized wrist provides a secure and personalized fit. The index fingers are touchscreen compatible.

The SMX-1 Air V2 is a lightweight, street/urban sport-styled glove that combines high levels of comfort, freedom of movement, flexibility, ventilation and impressive levels of protection. Made from a combination of premium leather and 3D mesh construction to allow for excellent durability, comfort and abrasion resistance, it also has perforated panels and air mesh panels to allow for high levels of ventilation and breathability. When it comes to impact protection, it has a hard polymer knuckle protection system that is backed up underneath with neoprene to also provide a high level of comfort. This glove also has touchscreen compatible fingertips to allow the customer to operate their smartphone or GPS systems without having to remove the glove.

Both gloves are available in Stella styles, which are designed specifically for female hands to ensure a dedicated, comfortable fit.

MotoGP: Lorenzo, Biaggi and Anderson to become MotoGP Legends

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Five-time world champion Jorge Lorenzo, four-time world Champion Max Biaggi and four-time world champion Hugh Anderson will become MotoGP Legends this season, with the Spaniard set to be inducted into the MotoGP Legends Hall of Fame at Jerez, the Italian at Mugello and the New Zealander later in the year.

Lorenzo is one of the most successful riders of all time, taking his first win in 2003 and his 68th in 2018. Back-to-back 250cc champion in 2006 and 2007, on pole in his first MotoGP race and becoming a winner third time out in the premier class, Lorenzo continued his meteoric rise by landing the world championship in 2010, 2012 and 2015. He won those titles and 44 wins with Yamaha, before switching to Ducati in 2017 and taking three more wins with the Italian marque before moving to Honda, later announcing his retirement from competition at the end of 2019.

Biaggi made his debut in the 250cc class 1991, and the Italian became a winner the very next season as he took his first victory.  He made the class his own and became champion in 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997. He then moved up to the premier class and took a maiden victory in his rookie season, finishing second overall. From his 1998 debut in the premier class until his departure in 2005, Biaggi took 13 wins and was runner-up in the championship on three occasions. Biaggi then moved to WSBK and took two world championships, in 2010 and 2012, before announcing his retirement.

Anderson is the final inductee for 2020. Anderson made his first GP appearances in the 500cc and 350cc classes in 1960, taking a podium in the latter. Two years later he added the 125cc and 50cc classes to his resume, becoming a race winner in both. That set his course and for 1963 the New Zealander took on the 125cc and 50cc world championships, taking the crown in each class. He retained the 50cc crown the following year to make it back-to-back titles and was third in the 125cc title fight, reversing that in 1965 as he regained the 125cc crown and was third in the 50cc class. Anderson retired in 1966 after taking an impressive 25 Grand Prix wins and four titles in just six years.

Lorenzo, Biaggi and Anderson join a long list of greats that have been made MotoGP Legends including Giacomo Agostini, Mick Doohan, Geoff Duke, Wayne Gardner, Mike Hailwood, Daijiro Kato, Eddie Lawson, Anton Mang, Angel Nieto, Wayne Rainey, Phil Read, Jim Redman, Kenny Roberts, Kenny Roberts Jr, Jarno Saarinen, Kevin Schwantz, Barry Sheene, Marco Simoncelli, Freddie Spencer, Casey Stoner, John Surtees, Carlo Ubbiali, Alex Crivillé, Franco Uncini, Marco Lucchinelli, Randy Mamola, Kork Ballington, Dani Pedrosa, Stefan Dörflinger, Jorge Martinez and Nicky Hayden.

Road racing: McGuinness ditches Norton for the Quattro Plant Bournemouth Kawasaki team for 2020 campaign

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TT legend John McGuinness has turned his back on Norton and signed for the Quattro Plant Bournemouth Kawasaki team.

McGuinness, a 23-time TT winner, will ride the team’s bikes in the Superstock and superbike classes at this year’s North West 200 and Isle of Man TT international road races.

Quattro Plant Kawasaki are concentrating solely on the roads in 2019, having previously competed successfully in the British Superbike Championship, a series they won with Leon Haslam in 2017, and Alastair Seeley will be McGuinness’s team-mate at the NW200, having signed for the team in November.

The move comes after the team recently announced that they were parting company with their regular roads racer James Hillier after a 10-year partnership.

McGuinness said: “I’m delighted to announce my plans for the 2020 international road racing season and equally delighted to be riding for Quattro Plant Bournemouth Kawasaki.

“Their record on the roads with James Hillier, in terms of both results and reliability, along with their reputation within the bike industry, speak for themselves and with it being such a family-orientated team, it’s the perfect fit for me.

“It’s a highly reputable, professional team who have achieved great things on both the roads and the circuits and, for me, they tick all the boxes.”

“After my performances at Macau, I really got my mojo back and, with my leg now 100%, I feel like I’m as riding as well as ever. Joining Kawasaki and riding the Ninja ZX-10RR is a new chapter for me, one I’m excited about and really looking forward to.”

McGuinness, 47, was the outright lap record holder around the 37.73-mile TT Mountain Course from 2004-2013, regaining the accolade in 2015 when he lapped at a personal best speed of 132.701mph, and his tally of TT wins stands three behind the record held by the late Joey Dunlop, while his tally of 47 podiums is the highest figure of all time.

New kit: spotlight on the all-new Alpinestars Tech-Air® 5 airbag system

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FULL COVERAGE: Tech-Air® 5 is a slim, self-contained wearable airbag vest that can be worn under any proper fitting textile jacket* or Tech-Air® compatible jacket. Tech-Air® 5 offers unrivaled upper body protection keeping motorcycle riders safe by uniquely covering the rider’s shoulders, chest, ribs and full back, effectively and efficiently minimizing the risk of the rider sustaining shoulder and collarbone injuries.  Alpinestars Tech- Air® 5 provides the most comprehensive coverage of any airbag currently available.

SMART: The state-of-the-art, wearable Tech-Air® 5 vest comes with an active electronic system that features six integrated sensors (3 gyroscopes and 3 accelerometers) and a crash algorithm that leverages AI to accurately monitor when to deploy the airbag in the event of a crash.

PROVEN: Developed from years of research with the world’s top MotoGP rider, and Alpinestars customers, data from millions of kilometers and thousands of crashes have been analyzed to constantly improve the intelligent crash detection algorithm.  Upon the detection of a crash situation, a protective airbag will be deployed, providing unrivaled protection to the rider with a maximum inflation time of 40ms.

EFFECTIVE:  The impact absorption while wearing the airbag results in a decrease of the impact force by up to 93% compared to a passive protector. The Tech-Air® 5 airbag system offers the same protection as that provided by 18 back protectors.

EASY TO USE: The system is extremely easy to use; just zip up the vest and close the magnetic flap and you’re ready to ride.  An LED display indicates the airbag’s operational status and the integrated, certified lithium ion battery has a battery life of 30 hours of riding time. The system comes equipped with a magnetic micro USB charger that allows quick, easy and convenient recharging.

RIDER FRIENDLY: The airbag itself is breathable and air channels and a perforated back zone provide a through-flow of air to improve comfort levels. The whole vest weighs approximately 1.8 kg in a size L.

ON OR OFF-ROAD: Tech-Air® 5 is designed for road use as well as light off-road, allowing more riders to enjoy the best possible choice of ‘active’ airbag protection in the market.

CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth connectivity to a Tech-Air® App allows means the system’s operational status, battery status and analysis of your ride that even includes plotting your route on a map can all be accessed. The App can also update the system’s firmware when improved crash-detection algorithms are released.

New Kit: Alpinestars launches Tech-Air® 5, the new generation of electronic airbag systems

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Alpinestars has been redefining protection for motorcyclists ever since the company was established in 1963, and the Italian firm continues to innovate with the launch of Tech-Air® 5, the all-new, autonomous motorcycling airbag system.

Tech-Air® 5 is the latest addition to the Alpinestars Tech-Air® family, which includes the Tech-Air® Race and Tech-Air® Street systems. Alpinestars continues to lead the way in active air-bag technology for riders and their passengers and Tech-Air® 5 is a powerful demonstration of Alpinestars commitment to making the technology more freely available as the best possible choice of ‘active’ airbag protection in the market.

Tech-Air® 5 is a slim, self-contained wearable airbag vest that can be worn under any proper fitting textile jacket* or Tech-Air® compatible jacket. Tech-Air® 5 offers unrivaled upper body protection keeping motorcycle riders safe by uniquely covering the rider’s shoulders, chest, ribs and full back, effectively and efficiently minimizing the risk of the rider sustaining shoulder and collarbone injuries.

The state-of-the-art, wearable Tech-Air® 5 vest comes with an active electronic system that features six integrated sensors (3 gyroscopes and 3 accelerometers) and a crash algorithm that leverages AI to accurately monitor when to deploy the airbag in the event of a crash.  Developed from years of research with the world’s top MotoGP rider, and Alpinestars customers, data from millions of kilometers and thousands of crashes have been analyzed to constantly improve the intelligent crash detection algorithm.  Upon the detection of a crash situation, a protective airbag will be deployed, providing unrivaled protection to the rider with a maximum inflation time of 40ms. The impact absorption while wearing the airbag results in a decrease of the impact force by up to 93% compared to a passive protector; the same protection as that provided by 18 back protectors.

The system is also extremely easy to use, just zip up the vest and close the magnetic flap and you’re ready to ride.  An LED display indicates the airbag’s operational status and the integrated, certified lithium-ion battery has a battery life of 30 hours of riding time. The system comes equipped with a magnetic micro USB charger that allows quick, easy and convenient recharging.

Tech-Air® 5 has Bluetooth connectivity and an accompanying Tech-Air® App, which uses the rider’s phone to display the system’s operational status, battery status and a detailed analysis of a ride; the system’s firmware can also be updated directly via the app.

A history of Alpinestars Tech-Air®:

2001: Tech-Air® Airbag system project begins.

2004: Alpinestars performs its first electronic airbag test; at this time with outer airbag balloons of 2 x 60 liters. Alpinestars decides to use electronic triggering for the airbag as the company analyzed and studied all solutions and discovered that with a mechanical system the activation is not fast enough to guarantee first impact protection.

2004: Alpinestars also starts collecting riding data from professional riders in e.g. MotoGP.

2009: Alpinestars introduces Tech-Air® Race in MotoGP.

2011: Tech-Air® Race is integrated into Alpinestars top leather suit and becomes become available to final customers.

2014: The Tech-Air® Street airbag system is launched to the market at the EICMA show in Milan as a modular self-contained electronic airbag system that provides first impact protection for the full upper torso. Tech-Air® Street is the first system in the market to provide this level of protection. Additionally, the system allows the rider to easily switch between Tech-Air® compatible garments and to adapt these garments to his/her riding requirements and the weather conditions.

2016: Tech-Air® Race is introduced as a modular system that allows riders to not only choose between a wide variety of compatible suits and garments, but to choose between algorithms; riders can switch between race track use and public road use. Tech-Air® Race is the first system in the market to allow this option.

2020: The Tech-Air®5 system is launched, joining the Tech-Air® Race and Tech-Air® Street vests in the Alpinestars Tech-Air® line-up.

*Note: The Tech-Air® 5 wearable vest is designed to be worn under any proper fitting textile jacket, keeping in mind that the jacket must be large enough to accommodate the expansion of the airbag in the event of a crash.  For textile jackets, this requires an additional 6cm of space around the circumference of the body.  For those riders who want to wear a sports leather jacket, Tech-Air® 5 may also be worn with Tech-Air® 5 compatible leather jackets which have built-in leather expansion panels to accommodate the inflation of the airbag.

Road racing: Hickman switches to Yamaha for 2020 Supersport assault

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Peter Hickman and Smiths Racing have ended end their long association with Triumph in favour of Yamaha machinery in the TT Supersport class.

The Lincolnshire rider’s win in the second Supersport TT race of 2019 followed four successive podium finishes around the Mountain Course and he also rode to a hat-trick of wins at last year’s Ulster Grand Prix.

However, the Triumph Daytona 675 is no longer in production, making parts increasingly scarce and it is for this reason that Smiths Racing is switching its allegiance to Yamaha and its R6, which currently dominates the World and British Supersport classes, and was also a winning machine at the 2019 Isle of Man TT.

Hickman said: “We’re all really looking forward to 2020 and having the official BMW support for the first time is a big thing for us as we’re a privately-run, small team so to get that recognition is absolutely fantastic and nothing short of what, I feel, the team deserves – what we’ve achieved over the last three years has been pretty epic!

“We’ve made the decision to change from the Triumph to the Yamaha in the Supersport class for the International road races which will obviously be a bit different to the last three years. We’ve had an awesome time with the Triumph and it’s been absolutely brilliant with the win at last year’s TT and all three victories at the Ulster Grand Prix being phenomenal.

“The little Daytona has done a fantastic job but, unfortunately, it’s a little bit long in the tooth now so to try and move with the times and keep up with what everyone else is doing we’ve decided to move over to the Yamaha. I’ve never actually raced an R6 before so I’m really looking forward to jumping on it to see what we can do.

Hickman will compete in all two-wheel classes of the 2020 Isle of Man, riding the factory-backed BMW S1000RR in the Superbike classes and a Norton Superlight in the Lightweight TT.

“We’re also running the Norton Superlight and carrying out all of the development work on the 650 Superlight which the team have already got in pieces and set to work on to hopefully turn the bike into a race winner at the TT.”

Tested: KTM 1290 Super Duke R

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KTM’s 1290 Super Duke R is an aggressive supernaked, a bike built for the roads, but one which packs a powerful punch. Yes, it has big suspension, a tall seat height and a wide set of bars, but it’s a bike designed to hussle, one which will put a big smile on your face as you scythe your way through your favourite set of twisties.

Take a look at the bike and you’ll see KTM’s design DNA everywhere, from the angular bodywork to the trellis frame, the slow slung fuel tank and the bright orange design touches. This isn’t a subtle bike, it’s one that screams ‘attitude’.  It’s definitely in your face.

Twist the key and fire the bike into life, and you’ll be greeted with the low rasp of the V-twin powerhouse.  It sounds mean, powerful and raw.

The bike may be designated a 1290, but the engine is, in fact, a 1301cc v-twin pumping out some 177bhp. It has two modes: a balls-out out, ballistic mode and a more refined, smoother mode which is perfect for grinding out big miles. Yes, the bike can be a fire-breathing beast with a twist of the throttle, if you choose it to be, but there’s so much torque that it’s perfectly happy eating up long distances too, even if the high seat isn’t the comfiest.

The Super Duke R’s chassis is just as good as its engine, and feels composed and engaging; there’s a fully adjustable front and rear, using KTM’s in-house WP suspension components, and while it lacks the ‘Gucci’ bling of other supernakeds, it works on the road. The bike feels really agile and provides plenty of feedback, allowing you to accurately and confidently choose your lines. It’s worth pointing out here that KTM and WP have won the Dakar Rally for the last 18 years in a row, so the suspension is proven.

It’s practical too. That trellis frame means strapping luggage to the bike has never been easier

The rest of the bike is just as well equipped, and the Super Duke R comes with cruise control, anti-wheelie control, cornering ABS,  ABS modes, traction control, launch control and a bi-directional quickshifter, while other thoughtful touches include LED lights, a TFT screen, heated grips, outside temperature display and real-time tyre pressure monitoring.

The TFT screen is especially rider-friendly. It’s bright, easy to read (even in strong sunlight) and is finished with a scratch resistant glass, which should keep it looking fresher for longer. However, it’s not angle adjustable.

So, the KTM is well equipped, handles well and looks great. but there’ a fly in the ointment. And it’s one that would really grate on a daily basis: the Super Duke R uses keyless ignition. Unfortunately, it’s a standard feature, and one that manifests itself when you try and activate the steering lock, requiring a slightly vague press-and-hold of the power button to activate. Why can’t manufacturers stick with a key?

KTM’s slogan is ‘ready to race’, but it should be ‘more smiles per mile’. This is a bike that entertains and flatters the rider, a bike that encourages you to ride harder for further, to explore new roads and ride solely for riding’s sake. Try one, you might just be converted…