Month: April 2015

MotoGP – Redding ready for Jerez

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This weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez marks the start of a busy European MotoGP campaign, with six races in the space of just 11 weeks.

Marc VDS Racing rider Scott Redding returns to Europe determined to build on the improvements made during the three overseas races. The 22-year-old Briton currently lies 13th in the championship standings, but his race results in Qatar, Texas and Argentina don’t truly reflect the progress he has made with the factory Honda RC213V since the start of the season.

Redding will receive updated chassis parts in Jerez, which should allow the British pilot to add consistency to the outright speed that was so evident during the Austin race weekend.

Redding said: “Argentina was a bit like Texas, as we had the speed but we still need to find a few things with the bike that work for me and work consistently. We will receive updated chassis parts in Jerez, so this should help us make the next step, but we also return to Europe with more experience of the bike and a clear direction in which to go in with regards to set up.

“The priority is to improve my feeling from the front, to give me more confidence. We’ve made a lot of progress in this area since the start of the season and we just need to continue in the same way. The goal for Jerez is simply to carry on improving and to try and close the gap to the guys at the front.”

The Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez, a permanent fixture on the MotoGP calendar since 1987, features eight right turns and five lefts, with a number of fast changes of direction but relatively few hard braking points. In recent years the track has seen some legendary clashes, most of them at the all-important final corner.

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BSB – riders all set for Oulton

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The British Superbike Championship descends on Oulton Park this Bank Holiday weekend as the series hits Cheshire for the third round of the season.

Record-breaking four-time champion Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne leads the overall standings by a slender six points for the PBM Kawasaki team after scoring a pair of second places at his home round of Brands Hatch last time out. The Kent ace has battled to be fully fit for the opening events after a pre-season testing crash, but will be pushing for a return to the top at Oulton Park.

Kendal’s James Ellison arrives in Cheshire as the rider on form after celebrating his first double win in the championship at Brands Hatch, but both the JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider and Byrne were edged out in last week’s official test by Milwaukee Yamaha’s Josh Brookes.

Brookes set an incredible pace under his own existing lap record at the Cheshire track during the official test last Friday to head off Byrne by 0.041s, and now the Australian is aiming for the team’s first win of the season.

Brookes said: “This weekend at Oulton Park is going to be really close. The test last week was really positive for us and I feel that we have a good starting point for this weekend. I expect there is going to be the usual suspects going for the wins on Monday; Ellison has a good history of being fast at Oulton Park and so does Stuart Easton. Then you look at Kiyo who has had good results here in the past, then I hold the lap record, so that puts me into the mix and then obviously there is Shakey, so you have to expect him to be difficult to beat.

“It’s going to be a good four or five way battle at the front for the wins, but we are confident we can make some more improvements and then it is down to me, so there is a bit in myself too.”

Stuart Easton on the second PBM Kawasaki will also be targeting a return to the podium after a strong performance saw him finish fourth in the official test ahead of Tyco BMW’s Tommy Bridewell, who equally is seeking a surge forward in Cheshire.

Triple MCE BSB champion Ryuichi Kiyonari was twice denied his first podium finish of the season at Brands Hatch and the Japanese contender is now hunting for further improvements to return to winning ways at the circuit where he has had the most success.

Kiyonari said: “I was happy to go back to Oulton Park last week and do lots of laps because we worked on some of the areas we needed to after Brands Hatch and we have improved. Missing the podium at Brands Hatch has made me more determined to have better results this weekend -I need to make no mistakes and improve again. We were so close at the last round and I was disappointed with a double fourth because in every race I want to win.”

MotoGP – Pedrosa rules himself out of Jerez

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Repsol HRC factory rider Dani Pedrosa has declared himself unfit to race at Jerez.

The Spaniard admitted he had tried to ride a bike yesterday but his arm still wasn’t strong enough to race. He said: “I wanted to give you good news but unfortunately I can’t, as I won’t be in Jerez. Yesterday I tried to ride a supermotard bike to check my arm and ven though at first it felt OK, after riding my forearm still didn’t feel 100 per cent.

“I know that if I do a whole race by the weekend it will be much worse, and the last thing I want is to create another big problem. So it has been a very difficult decision to make, but I think the best is to wait a while longer, go ahead with the rehabilitation and be back in Le Mans.”

MotoGP – Repsol HRC squad with no official riders at Jerez?

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Repsol Honda could be forced to field two stand-in riders this weekend as both Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa are out injured and may be incapable of racing.

Pedrosa underwent an operation to fix the chronic arm pump that plagued him during the season opener in Qatar. This problem, common among motorcycle racers, is a build-up of pressure in the forearm causing great pain, and makes riding a bike exceptionally difficult when the muscle becomes too big for the ‘sack’ that it sits in. And although the operation has been described as being ‘successful’, it may be too soon for Pedrosa to make a return.

The Repsol team’s rider problems are further compounded by reigning MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez breaking his little finger in his left hand in a dirt track training accident. And although he underwent a successful operation to fix a titanium plate to his finger, there is still a possibility that Marquez won’t be race fit at Jerez.

That would leave the HRC squad a rider short – Aoyama would continue to deputise for Pedrosa, but who would fill Marquez’s boots? HRC’s official test rider Stoner? WSBK’s Van Der Mark? Watch this space…

Road racing – Martin takes Cookstown double

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Guy Martin is clearly loving life on BMW machinery after taking a brace of wins in yesterday’s Superbike races at the KDM Hire Cookstown 100, making it three wins for the Lincolnshire man on Tyco BMW S1000 RR Superstock machinery this month.

In the opening encounter the enigmatic Martin held off a late charge from Michael Dunlop to take the win by just 0.114sec, but all the drama came in the feature race of the day – the KDM Hire Cookstown 100 Superbike race.

Martin led for the opening six laps, which he relinquished for a short period on lap seven, but a red flag incident involving Michael Dunlop forced the race to be stopped.

The end result was a second Superbike win for Martin with his Tyco BMW team-mate William Dunlop coming through from the second group to finish fourth on corrected time. Dunlop was fifth in the opening Superbike encounter.

Kirmington-based Martin said: “I could have smoked a Woodbine in that last race, the Superstock BMW was so stable and working just mint. I was never under any pressure and when Dunlop came past, I thought, ‘this will give me a chance to have a look at what he is doing and plan my pass for the last lap’. We certainly had an advantage on the back part of the circuit and definitely the speed on the front straight to make the pass. It didn’t need to happen, but a good day all round and just what we needed.”

Team manager Philip Neil said: “We will not get carried away but it was brilliant to start our road racing season with a win for Guy in the Spring Cup at Scarborough and now a double at the Cookstown 100. It doesn’t necessarily determine what the outcome of the international road races will be, however it is our local event and we really enjoy supporting the Cookstown Club and racing in front of our local supporters.

“More importantly, today confirms the strength of the package we have in BMW’s S 1000 RR after we made a conscious decision for both riders to compete on Superstock machines against quite a few Superbikes.

“The end result shows the potential of our BMW Motorrad machinery, and we can now concentrate on testing our Superbike machines ahead of the North West 200. Thanks to all our sponsors for their continued support and for us it’s nice to repay some of the faith they have shown in us.”

TT – Sarolea announces new SP7 electric superbike

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Belgian outfit Sarolea has launched its new 2015 Saroléa Electric Superbike at Autoworld, the vintage car museum in the centre of Brussels.

The new Saroléa is an evolution of the 2014 model and has been modified and enhanced on a number of levels. The Belgian team is now targeting a podium place at this year’s SES TT Zero Race on the Isle of Man with Scottish rider Robert Wilson once again piloting the squad’s bike.

The new bike has improved aerodynamics, which will provide higher top speeds, and is considerably slimmer, which also enhances the position for the rider, while modifications to shift the centre of gravity will improve the bike’s handling. Saroléa has also managed to reduce the bike’s weight. The modifications are mainly related to the use of more carbon fibre and more titanium parts as well as the use of 3D printed parts.

The biggest improvement however is the new motor which boasts a significant improvement in torque – early tests by Saroléa are demonstrating a 50 per cent increase.

Road racing – Norton to race Lightweight TT

Not only will Norton compete in the Superbike and Senior TT Races at the Isle of Man TT Races, they will also be taking on the Lightweight class in partnership with The British Motorcycle Manufacturing Academy with MCN’s senior Road Tester and TT racer Adam ‘Chad’ Child piloting the bike.

Students on the BMMA’s apprenticeship programme at Norton HQ at Donington Park will primarily run the project. It is a unique opportunity for the students who will not only build the exciting new bike, but a lucky select few will travel with the Norton team to the TT to work on the lightweight bike alongside the factory team.

The project will use a proven Kawasaki ER-6 motor, in line with the majority of the field. Ohlins has already produced some bespoke suspension for the project and the BMMA race team are expected to start testing in the next few weeks.

Chad, who will be competing in his fourth TT, and has competed in every Lightweight race at the TT since the new class was introduced in 2012, is looking forward to the new project. He said: “It’s going to be really interesting to work with the students, together we have steep learning curve; the TT is the ultimate test. They have bags of enthusiasm and it’s going to an exciting few weeks; it will be great to see young faces in the paddock actually working on the race bike.”

Norton boss Stuart Garner said: “It’s a great opportunity for the students who will work alongside the Norton race team. Chad will be on hand giving feedback developing the bike and the team, he’s obviously got extensive bike testing experience and knowledge of Lightweight class.”

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Metal – The Rev’It#95 All-Wheel-Drive Bike

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Meet the The REV’IT!#95, a bike conceptualised from the very beginning to break boundaries. The aim of the project was to convert a rugged adventure bike into an all-wheel-drive machine and in just four months, a KTM 950 Super Enduro was found, stripped, and reassembled a dozen or more times to create an immediately recognisable, one-off motorcycle.

Lead designer Gerbrandt Aart says: “This design features advanced technology in a simple and honest presentation, putting the parts that improve the rider’s experience on display.”

As the custom motorcycle trend sweeps the streetbike market, the idea of a custom adventure bike is without precedent. Adding to that a large displacement engine and all-wheel drive system is an even rarer phenomena; only three are known to exist. Why then all-wheel drive, and how does it work?

Street bikes can readily make use of all available traction, but off road it’s a different story: No matter how aggressive the tires on a larger displacement adventure bike, a spinning tire off-road is inevitable. The Christini-based system on the REV’IT!#95 transfers power off the countershaft sprocket through a custom-made system of gears and shafts, to the headstock where it’s converted again to two counter rotating drive shafts. These deliver power to the front hub via a one-way free hub. The front wheel is driven at 80 per cent of the speed of the rear wheel to prevent undue torque from affecting the steering, but when the rear wheel outpaces the front, the front digs in to bring the bike into line and convert what was once wasted power and roost into forward motion… and exhilaration.

The practical benefit of AWD on a full-sized adventure bike is the ability to navigate through deep sand or mud – the spots where a large, weighty bike might typically get stuck. It’s the same advantage as a four wheel drive vehicle, and offers a huge bonus to the solo adventure rider: You can traverse more difficult terrain, more easily.

MotoGP – Marquez the latest rider to get outpsyched by the GOAT?

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The internet was awash with keyboard warriors suggesting Marc Marquez was the latest in a long list of riders to get outpsyched by Rossi following yesterday’s sensational MotoGP race in Argentina that saw Valentino Rossi recover from a sluggish start to take a sensational race win after brushing aside Marquez.

Rossi gave a riding masterclass as he cut through the field, carefully managing his extra-hard rear as Marquez charged to the front early on, putting his softer rear to good effect and building up a four-second cushion.

However, with 12 laps to go, Rossi tyre choice started to turn into Rossi’s favour, and on the penultimate lap he had cut the deficit enough to make a move, although he was instantly re-passed by Marquez. Rossi made his next move under braking for Turn 5 at the end of the back straight, the pair making contact when Marquez instantly tried to cut back under Rossi at the apex. But the real drama was on the exit, when their lines again crossed and Marquez was thrown down the track after clipping the rear of Rossi’s Yamaha.

Social media went into meltdown, with many ‘experts’ suggesting Rossi had got under the skin of his rival and that Marquez was the latest in a long line of riders to succumb to Rossi’s mind games – Biaggi, Gibernau, Stoner, Lorenzo et al.

The Reality couldn’t be more different. Marquez is a ‘win it or bin it’ type of rider, and was simply trying all he could to race for the win on tyres that were well past their best. The fact that he was able to keep Rossi behind him for so long is proof of his talent, while the fact that he was still prepared to have a go when he was clearly on inferior rubber is testament of his fierce determination to win.

Marquez said himself of the incident: “It’s a shame what happened, because we were having a good race! It was interesting, because our tyre choice was different from Valentino’s as I felt we were not as competitive the harder compound. The strategy was working out well for us – it’s just a pity about the last two laps. When I saw that he was closing in on me, I decided to conserve the tyres a little. On the final laps I went back to riding in the low 1’39s to check that the tyres were still in good shape, and knew that we would be fighting to the end. When he caught me, we fought for a few corners and unfortunately we touched and I crashed. I’ve always said that he’s my idol and my reference, so you always learn things from him. Now we have to think about Jerez and begin to recover points.”

Rossi, however, thought that the incident was the result of a mistake by #93. He said: “It’s a great victory, we made the right decision and started with the extra hard tyre. When I saw Marc start with the red one I knew that he would try to push at the beginning. I made a great start but on the first corner Iannone pushed me on the outside. Step by step I came back, and when I arrived in second Marc had a little more than four seconds lead. I knew the race was long, so I knew he could have some difficulty. Catching him lap by lap, I could see him far away but coming closer and closer, it was a great taste! I overtook him in braking, but he is a rider who is all or nothing, he touched me in the corner, then he touched me again as I was accelerating, I think he made a mistake and he crashed. It’s a shame because it could have been a great fight on the last lap. In three races we have demonstrated we can be competitive everywhere and fight for the championship.”

BSB – Ellison snatches pole at Brands

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James Ellison claimed his first pole position of the 2015 MCE Insurance British Superbike Championship season by pushing under the Brands Hatch Indy circuit lap record during Datatag Qualifying to fire his JG Speedfit Kawasaki to the top of the times ahead of Jakub Smrz and Ryuichi Kiyonari.

The intense Q3 session saw the position change at the top almost every lap in the final 10 minute battle for the pole start in a top ten that featured six different manufacturers and five different nationalities.

Ellison had been on the pace across the free practice sessions, but found that little bit extra in reserve to post a 45.310s flying lap to head off the intense challenges of Czech Republic rider Smrz on the Lloyds British Ducati.

Ellison said: “I felt comfortable during qualifying and we have just been making steps forward. We have come through winter testing with a good programme and I feel I am a match now for the riders in front with the extra power we have this year.

“We always have a little bit in reserve and if I am honest I didn’t think we would get pole position in qualifying as Kiyo has been really strong and I have watched his laps and he has done long consistent runs. We now need to make sure we can do the same and I will do my best in the two races tomorrow and enjoy it too.”