Month: June 2015

Rossi fever grips Goodwood as the Doctor takes to the hill

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 Valentino Rossi shone as a special guest at the 23rd edition of the Goodwood Festival of Speed, where Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. celebrated its 60th anniversary.

After a stunning race at the TT Assen Circuit yesterday, where Valentino Rossi won his third race this season, the 111th in his career, starting from pole position, today the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider made his first ever appearance at the prestigious Goodwood Festival of Speed, which carried a theme of nostalgia and pride in the growing interest in motorsport, as Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. took the occasion to celebrate its 60th anniversary.

The nine-time World Champion was specially invited by Lord March to make his debut at this famous event as a guest star. Rossi travelled straight from the Dutch GP to the UK to be able to attend the event, where he revealed his Yamaha YZR-M1, equipped with a special livery, in Yamaha’s display area in the F1 Paddock. The yellow and retro styled bike commemorates Yamaha Motor’s 60th anniversary and the ceremony was completed by motorsport legends Kenny Roberts, Giacomo Agostini and Phil Read taking part in this celebration of Yamaha’s supreme racing heritage.

Rossi’s yellow bike was in good company at the Yamaha exhibition; other iconic show bikes on display were Phil Read’s 1965 RD56, Giacomo Agostini’s 1975 YZR500 OW23 and Kenny Roberts’s 1978 YZR750 OW31.

The unveiling of Rossi’s bike was followed by the Doctor delighting thousands of spectators when he rode up and down the 1.16-mile Hillclimb on the yellow liveried bike, very similar to the one he and Colin Edwards sported ten years ago when they marked Yamaha’s 50th anniversary at the Raceway Laguna Seca with a double podium.

Rossi said: “It’s been an incredible weekend. I was barely off the podium before immediately heading to the United Kingdom, but I’m very happy that I got to attend the Festival of Speed at Goodwood, it has been a real pleasure! I knew about the event because I saw videos of it, but I had never been there before and it’s even more impressive than I imagined. It is a very large venue and there were many fans but also lots of famous riders, drivers and other VIPs which gave it a great atmosphere, especially when I rode my Yamaha YZR-M1 up and down the hill.

“I revealed my bike’s special Yamaha Motor 60th anniversary livery earlier this morning together with Giacomo and Kenny. For Yamaha Motor to be a part of motorsport history for so long and to have achieved so many accomplishments is very special and something to be proud of. At the end of the day I also got to drive a historic Le Mans car and also a rally car, which was great fun as well. I want to say a big thank you to Lord March for inviting and hosting me at this year’s event. I had a great time and made memories I will never forget!”

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MotoGP – Rossi takes dramatic victory at Assen

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Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi completed a perfect weekend at the TT Assen with an impeccable victory, the 111th in his career and his third of the 2015 season. Teammate Jorge Lorenzo also did a superb job at the overcast but dry track, coming from eighth on the grid, to take Yamaha to its fifth double podium of the season.

Valentino Rossi kicked off the Dutch Grand Prix from pole with a dream start to take the holeshot. He held a 0,426 advantage to Marc Marquez after the first lap. The Doctor tried to break away from his encroaching rival and the rapidly approaching Lorenzo and responded by dipping under the previous lap record, but was unable to shake his pursuers off.

Rossi had Marquez on his tail by lap four, but used his YZR-M1’s nimble nature to the fullest to keep him at bay. He held on to his position until the Spaniard made his move going into turn one with seven laps to go, but the Doctor was far from defeated. Refusing to let his rival go he stuck close to Marquez and bided his time for four laps before retaking the lead.

The following laps had the fans on the edge of their seat. Valentino rode a personal best time on the penultimate lap of 1’33.673 to create a margin, but Marquez closed in on him in the second half of the last lap. The crowd went wild when the Spaniard made his move going into the chicane for the final time clipping the side of the YZR-M1 and forcing Rossi to run straight through a patch of gravel. The Italian did well to hold on to the bike and rejoined the track ahead his rival to take his third win of the season with a 1.242s advantage.

Speaking after the race a jubilant Rossi said: “I pushed, and I don’t want to say I did a perfect race, but close. I saw I was not able to get distance from Marc. It’s always difficult with him and you know the battle will be very hard, but I was confident that I was competitive and I wanted to try for victory.

“In the last laps I pushed a lot and I arrived at the last chicane when Marc tried to overtake but he arrived a little bit too late, I was already into the chicane and we touched a little bit and I had to cut the corner.

“Essentially I had no choice and I was lucky, because I got on the gravel, but I stayed on the throttle even though I didn’t know how deep it was and I thought there was a chance I could lose control. When I returned to the track I checked the position of Marc, but he had slowed down more than I did”

It was a lonely race for Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo. Starting from eighth on the grid he flew off the line, taking fifth in the first corner. With his teammate in his sights he had an incredible first lap and started to claw his way to the front. He overtook Aleix Espargarò and Pol Espargarò to finish the first lap in third, but the passes cost him valuable time.

The Spaniard put his head down to close the gap to Marquez in second place, but was unable to join the front-runners. With no other riders to spar with, he focused on managing the gap to the rider in fourth place and crossed the line 14.576s behind his teammate, claiming his fifth podium in a row.

The results see Rossi hold on to the lead in the championship with a 163 points total. He is now 10 points ahead of teammate Lorenzo in second place.

MotoGP – Marquez stops the rot at Assen

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Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez experienced  a return to form after a strong another performance at Assen at the Dutch TT.

A resurgent Marquez is clearly getting to grips with the hybrid 2015/2014 race bike and had a good start to the race, moving up to second place behind Valentino Rossi on the first lap. The  Spaniard then shadowed Rossi for 19 laps, looking a lot more comfortable and composed on the mongrel bike and even set a new fastest lap record on lap four of 1’33.617 (Beating Dani’s 2012 time of 1’34.548) before making his move with seven laps remaining, taking the lead.

The fight for the lead exploded into life with just three laps to go, a small mistake in the last chicane allowed Rossi to pass Marquez and try to open up a gap. Marquez wouldn’t be denied and dug deep to recover four tenths of a second in the last lap to Rossi and made a hard move into the last chicane on the final lap. The two riders touched Rossi was able to pick the bike up, riding through the gravel trap, beating Marquez to the finish line.

Marquez said: “I am very happy that I’m back on the podium and I had a good race, fighting for victory until the end. I think it was a moral victory for us, but we were riding at the limit on the last chicane. We have worked very well all weekend and I have to thank the team, because you regain confidence when you’re with the best team in the World. They are helping me a lot and this was shown by the fact that, at a track where we are usually not so strong, we fought for the win until the last corner. We’ll see if we can take another step forward in the coming races. We rode a last lap to win the race, especially on the last chicane. I had studied things well and knew where I had to brake in order to be able to overtake Vale, and so I did that but didn’t end like I wanted….”

After the official post-race press conference, Marquez and Valentino were called into race direction for a rider hearing and to review the video footage. It was agreed this was a racing incident and no appeal has been lodged.

MotoGP – Rossi claims sensational pole at Assen

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Yamaha MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi became the last rider to claim a Friday pole at Assen, setting a new circuit best lap record of 1’32.627 and securing the 61st pole position of his career.

Topping the combined free practice times after FP4, the Doctor was determined to drop a hot lap during the 15-minute long time attack. He was the first man to leave pit lane and momentarily took pole before dropping down the order to eighth place. His second attempt didn’t gain him any places, but his third hot lap moved him up to fifth.

The Italian pitted for fresh tyres with seven minutes left on the clock and although he was unable to improve on his next lap, dropping down to eighth in the ranking order, this only seemed to motivate him even more. Completely focused on getting that all important front row start, he gave it his all on his final push and delivered a brilliant 1’32.627 lap to claim pole. Rossi‘s stunning pole is 0.835s quicker than the previous circuit best lap record set by Marc Marquez last year.

Rossi said: “Assen is always special for me, because I have great memories here. I have won here in the past and a lot of important races in my career took place at this circuit. I love this track, because it‘s fantastic. There’s already a lot of crowd assembled here today and this is a good moment, because it gives you a special feeling when you get the pole position, especially for me, because it doesn‘t happen that often. Getting pole position is vital for tomorrow. It was very important that I started the weekend well, beginning with yesterday‘s first practice session. I felt good with the bike and started with a good basic setting. Today’s result is important because I wanted to start more in front, because we always struggle a lot when qualifying on the second and third row.
Tomorrow’s race will be the last held on a Saturday as the circuit has announced racing will be held on Sundays from 2016.

MotoGP – Repsol duo qualify third and fourth at Assen

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The Factory Honda duo of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa moved to stop the rot by qualifying in third and fourth at Assen.

Qualifying for the Dutch TT was an incredibly tough battle with the top seven riders separated by just 0.4 seconds. Marquez secured a front row start in third place for tomorrow’s 26-lap race after recording his fastest time of 1’32.886 on his final lap of eight. Teammate Pedrosa missed out on the front row by just 0.1 seconds and will start a place further back his best time of 1’32.987 on his penultimate lap of nine.

Marquez was happy with his performance after his recent woes. He said: “Every rider was on the limit in qualifying. I’m happy, because we knew this circuit was going to be tough for us, but still we are close to Valentino and Jorge, who are very fast and smooth here. We are finding things a little tougher as we are still missing a tenth or half a tenth, but we will try to be as close as possible to them tomorrow and see what happens. I think it will be difficult, especially against Valentino.”

Pedrosa was equally pleased. He said: “Today was useful for confirming the setup of the bike as we were fortunate to be able to have dry track time again for most of the day. In the qualifying session it was amazing how close the times were and I’m happy to have qualified a bit better than at the last Grand Prix in Catalunya. We’ll try to have a good start tomorrow and hope we can do well and have a good race!”

New metal – Honda’s RC213V-S fails to hit the mark

Casey Stoner rides new RC213V-S on demonstration lap

Casey Stoner rides new RC213V-S on demonstration lap

Almost a decade ago Ducati took the world by storm by unveiling the Desmosedici – a road legal GP bike. And after years of speculation Honda has followed suit with this, the RC213V-S.

Production is set to be limited to some 300 units, and each bike will be hand-built at Honda’s Kumamoto factory, with the big H predicting that one bike per day will leave the production line.

The ultra desirable bike will be available in two colour schemes – the Freddie Spencer-inspired red, white and blue HRC Nippon paint or a clear coated finish on the carbon-reinforced fairings.

The bike may be derived straight from the world of MotoGP, but your £140,000 gets you a customer spec racer, and not the full factory bike as raced by Marquez and Pedrosa. What this means is that there is no seamless shift and no pneumatic valves, instead the RC213V-S uses a conventional gearbox and valve springs, and it gets aluminium crankcases instead of the racer’s magnesium cases. However, Honda claims that 80 per cent of the parts are the same as featured on the race bike and the RC213V-S uses the same swingarm, suspension, wheels and injectors as the racer, and just like the GP bikes the fuel tank is situated under the rider’s seat.

As far as electronics go, there are five riding modes, a state-of the-art traction control system (a first on a Honda road bike), a quick shifter, adjustable engine braking and adjustable torque control.

Somewhat underwhelmingly the road-legal 999cc 90º V4 motor only produces 157bhp, but a Sports Kit is included with the bike which raises that figure to 211bhp. The circuit-only kit includes a new ECU, revised air-ram tubes, and a racing exhaust system which reduces weight by 10kg to 160kg. By comparison a Ducati Supperlegera produces 205bhp, and 99lb.ft of torque, a MV F4 RC produces 212bhp and produces 85lb.ft of torque and an R1 produces 197bhp and produces 83lb.ft of torque.

Potential customers must register on a special website, rc213v-s.com, which opens on July 13. Once purchased, the bike must be stored indoors in a controlled environment and can only be serviced by specially-trained Honda technicians.

Honda has had 10 years planning to bring the RC213V-S to the market and it seems like they’ve missed the mark somewhat. It should have been the ultimate showcase of Honda’s ‘can do’ engineering skills.Instead it’s very much a car of ‘what if’. Shame…

WSBK – world champions continue to struggle on Pata Honda

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Pata Honda riders Sylvain Guintoli and Michael van der Mark finished in ninth and tenth places respectively in both races at today’s eighth-round World Superbike championship event at Misano World Circuit in Italy. The races at the 4.226km circuit were won by Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea.

Guintoli enjoyed good starts in both races but, despite running as high as seventh in the early stages, the French rider was unable to hook up with the leading groups, instead becoming embroiled in battles with local rider Ayrton Badovini and his own Pata Honda team-mate, van der Mark.

For van der Mark, a grid position of 15th following problems during qualifying yesterday was a difficult place to start the two 21-lap races. However, the 22-year-old Dutch rider enjoyed flying starts in both outings, with an intermittent electrical issue hindering his progress in the opening race.

Guintoli said: “I had to fight hard today in both races; all I saw on my board was +0 – I was being hunted down by everyone! In race one, with the colder track, we had some significant tyre wear in the second half of the race and the rhythm went a little. Race two was more consistent but we’re still missing some pace from the guys at the front. I gave everything I could today and won my personal battles in each race. We have a bit of time now before the next race to try to make some different plans and strategies for the second half of the season, but we need to find something because there is still some pace missing.”

van der Mark was equally frustrated. He said: “In race one I had a really good start and made up some places early on. I had a good feeling and was quite fast, closing the gap to the guys in front of me. I passed Sylvain but then I had an issue which seems to have happened quite a lot this season. In the end I finished 10th just behind Sylvain, which was quite disappointing. I got another good start in race two but I was missing a lot of grip from the start. It was difficult to maintain the lap times but in the last couple of laps I was able to close the gap again to Sylvain and had a nice battle with him and Badovini. Sylvain passed Badovini and I went with him and I wanted to attack in the last lap but he was strong and in the end he finished in front of me. I think this is the best we can do at the moment because we are both doing very similar lap times.”

BSB – Dominant Byrne claims double at Snetterton

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Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne regained the lead in the BSB standings as he blitzed the opposition with a fourth round double victory at Snetterton, leading the double Australian threat of Josh Brookes and Jason O’Halloran.

Byrne had not won a race since the opening round of the season at Donington Park in April, but he beat off the challenge of Milwaukee Yamaha’s Brookes, who had also been scrapping with fellow countryman O’Halloran for Honda Racing.

Whilst Byrne surged back to the top, triple Champion Ryuichi Kiyonari’s troubles continued and he held 19th after tyre woes during the opening race and James Ellison also was struck by misfortune as he was forced to retire, relinquishing his standings lead.

Meanwhile Tommy Bridewell forged forward to secure fourth for Tyco BMW ahead of Dan Linfoot and Chris Walker aboard the Be Wiser Kawasaki, who scored his best result of the season so far for the Tommy Hill-managed squad.

An incident-packed second race featured early drama for Kiyonari as he crashed out of contention on the third lap before the Nissan GT-R Safety Car was called in to play when Taylor Mackenzie had to eject from his WD40 Kawasaki as it became engulfed in flames.

The race soon resumed and Byrne was not going to take any prisoners, claiming the second win of the day. However behind the chasing pack were scrapping it out and Brookes overcame some earlier electrical gremlins to claim second after a pulling a determined move on O’Halloran at Nelsons.

Laverty equalled his best result of the season in fourth place ahead of Ellison, who salvaged a seventh place which now leaves him third in the standings ahead of Stuart Easton who took seventh and sixth places on the second PBM Kawasaki.

Byrne said: ““The weekend feels pretty good with these two wins. We had a problem in the first race with the bike thinking that it was changing gear when it was not – that race was actually a lot harder than it looked because of that. I had to be careful to keep a good pace and rhythm and bring the bike home to win.

“The guys fixed the bike and it was faultless in the second race and I never looked back. I anticipated it would be a tougher race with Josh [Brookes] starting alongside me but I chipped away at it then saw Jason [O’Halloran] up there. I watched my pit-boards, rode consistently and did what I had to do. It felt like I was cruising around – the team had worked so hard to hard to get us where we are, so now it is onwards and upwards for us.”

BSB – Snetterton preview

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Australian Josh Brookes is targeting his first win of the season as BSB returns to Snetterton after setting the fastest ever lap of the Norfolk circuit during the recent test.

Tens of thousands of fans are set to descend on the circuit and Brookes is full focused on turning his podium-finishing form into a victory with the next generation Milwaukee Yamaha. The Australian demolished the circuit record and has high hopes of holding off his rivals in Norfolk. There have already been four different race winners from the opening six races and the Milwaukee Yamaha team are determined to add Brookes to that list.

However championship leader James Ellison arrives full of confidence and with a marginal eight-point advantage over closest rival and defending Champion Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne. Ellison and the JG Speedfit Kawasaki team have scored three of the six wins so far and are determined to carry that momentum into the fourth round.

Byrne meanwhile is ready to come out fighting to return to the top step of the podium; the record-breaking champion hasn’t scored a victory since the opening round in April and after a collision with Ryuichi Kiyonari last time out at Oulton Park, has his sights solely on victory to close the deficit to Ellison.

Kiyonari has endured a torrid start to his season and has failed to score a podium finish, but the Buildbase BMW rider has scored more victories at Snetterton than any of his rivals in previous years and knows he needs to return to the podium this weekend.

Stuart Easton and Tommy Bridewell both scored their first wins of 2015 at Oulton Park to move themselves into the top six in the standings ahead of this weekend and the pair will be pushing for more in their quest for all-important podium points ahead of the title-deciding Showdown later in the season.

Honda Racing return with their full line-up as Dan Linfoot is back on the grid alongside Jason O’Halloran and Jenny Tinmouth after recovering from a broken wrist he sustained at the second round of the season at Brands Hatch.

The local contenders will also have high hopes of a strong performance this weekend and MCE BSB rookies Luke Mossey, who hails from Cambridge and Essex’s Danny Buchan will be pushing hard for the Quattro Plant Teccare Kawasaki and Be Wiser Kawasaki teams respectively. The home teams also want to make an impression too as Norwich’s Morello Racing line up with former podium finisher Lee Costello and Danny Johnson and the RAF Reserves BMW team from nearby RAF Marham will be pushing for results with Peter Hickman.

The event will also feature a special appearance from Grand Prix legend Giacomo Agostini. The illustrious 15-times World Champion will be supporting Italian manufacturer MV Agusta’s campaign and attending an official ceremony to formally inaugurate the corner of the track named in his honour.

MotoGP – everything you need to know about the Catalan GP

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Aleix Espargaro has given Suzuki their first pole since Chris Vermeulen took the top qualifying spot at the Dutch TT in 2007.

Suzuki are the fourth different manufacturer to take pole in the MotoGP class in the last four races: Jerez – Yamaha, Le Mans – Honda, Mugello – Ducati, Catalunya – Suzuki.

Espargaro’s pole is the 100th in the MotoGP class for Spanish riders, which is a greater number of MotoGP poles than any other nation.

Maverick Viñales has qualified on the front row for the first time in only his seventh start in the MotoGP class. Viñales is the second youngest rider, after Marc Marquez, to qualifying on the front row in MotoGP class since it was introduced as the premier-class of grand prix racing in 2002.

This is the first time that Suzuki riders have taken the top two places on the grid since the Spanish 500cc GP in 1993 when Kevin Schwantz was on pole and Alex Barros was in second place on the grid.

Both Espargaro and Viñales will be attempting to give Suzuki their first podium finish since Loris Capirossi finished third at the Czech GP in 2008.

Jorge Lorenzo, who is on the front row for the fifth time this year, is aiming to win four successive races for the first time in his grand prix career.

Marc Marquez heads the second row of the grid – only the second time in 2015 that he has failed to get onto the front row. Of the twenty MotoGP wins for Marquez, only one has been achieved when he has not started from the front row, at Valencia last year when he was fifth fastest qualifier.

For just the second time ever in the premier-class of grand prix racing Spanish riders have filled the top four places on the grid; the only other time was in Argentina last year.

Andrea Dovizioso is the highest placed Ducati rider in qualifying, in fifth place on the grid. Dovizioso has been the first Ducati rider across the line for the last two years in Catalunya; finishing eighth last year and seventh in 2013.

Starting from the final place on the second row is Dani Pedrosa, who has finished on the podium in Catalunya six times in the last seven years, including a win in 2008.

In seventh place on the grid is Valentino Rossi, the fifth time this year he has started from the third row. Rossi has finished on the podium at the last ten successive MotoGP races since he crashed in Aragon last year.

Bradley Smith is the eighth fastest qualifier and is the highest placed Satellite rider on the grid.

Cal Crutchlow is in ninth place on the grid, which is his worst qualifying result since he was 12th fastest qualifier at the opening race of the year in Qatar.

The pole position qualifier from two weeks ago at Mugello, Andrea Iannone, has qualified in 12th place on the grid with a time just 0.978 seconds slower than the pole position lap by Espargaro.