Month: August 2015

MotoGP – HJC bears brunt of fragile Lorenzo’s fury

Jorge Lorenzo suffered another torrid time in the rain, going from the lead at a wet and treacherous Silverstone to eventually crossing the line in fourth place.

Lorenzo got off to his usual blistering start but was unable to maintain his pace in the tricky conditions, falling down the order and blaming the issue on his visor misting up, making it unable to see the track.

Speaking after the race the Spaniard said: “At the first start with the slicks the situation was very dangerous, so I was happy when it started raining more so we could start with the rain tyre. The feeling in the first three or four laps was good and I was riding well, but the other riders started going faster than me.

“Valentino and Marquez passed me and I was in third position losing time every lap. They had a better pace than me early on in the race and I couldn’t do anything to follow them. Suddenly, when entering the chicane, I almost had a big crash with Espargarò who made a incomprehensible move and it was a miracle I stayed on the bike. I was upset, but luckily I remained on the track and I tried to stay in third position, but Petrucci, Dovizioso and Pedrosa passed me.

“I was able to move faster and was getting better and passed Dani. In the last laps I arrived at Dovizioso, who made some mistakes, but it started to get colder and raining more. I completely lost my vision, because the visor was foggy and had to slow down and lost a chance at the third place, which was a pity.”

This is the second time this year that Lorenzo’s helmet has cost him points – at Qatar Lorenzo claimed the lining of his HJC came loose, causing him to drop back down the order to fifth. So is his helmet manufacturer to blame?

Dovizioso also suffered with misting at Silverstone, as most racers did. During the post-race press conference he said: “Vision was a problem, a really big problem and I couldn’t see anything at all for the final five laps.” However, the Italian just dug deep, sucked it up and carried on racing. And he didn’t point the finger at his helmet manufacturer or accuse them of robbing of a place or two.

Lorenzo undoubtedly has a mental problem with riding in the wet – a hangover from his massive and painful crash in the wet at Assen – and has admitted in the past that he was scared of taking big risks in the wet. His contract with HJC is lucrative, yet the manufacturer won’t tolerate continuing to write the cheques while their sponsored rider points the finger and blames them for dropped points. At Silverstone, Lorenzo told the media that he intended to complete his contract with HJC for the rest of the season. Expect to see him in a new lid next year…

MotoGP – Redding turns back on Factory Honda. Inspired or madness?

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As has been widely rumoured, Scott Redding has announced he will be leaving the Marc VDS outfit and switching to the  Octo Pramac Ducati squad for MotoGP 2016.

Redding enjoyed a strong season in 2014 on board the customer Gresini Honda and switched to a factory RC213V with Marc VDS this season, but the 22-year-old Briton has struggled to gel with the bike, suffering with a lack of rear grip and unable to tame the bike’s aggressive power delivery.

This weekend Redding enjoyed his best finish of the season, crossing the line in sixth place, and Redding admitted the announcement had relieved some of the pressure he had been feeling.

A statement by Ducati’s sporting director Paolo Ciabatti said: “We are happy to welcome Scott in the Ducati family. “He’s going to be racing for Ducati Pramac Team next year with the latest GP15 bikes. So we’re glad and we hope to put in the conditions to show his real potential. We’ve been following Scott from his Moto2 career and in his debut season with Gresini in MotoGP. We approached him last year, but then his team decided to move to MotoGP and it was not possible. We discussed with him again around the Brno weekend and we decided that this time was the right time.”

Redding has previous with Ducati after completing a successful private Ducati test in 2012, alongside Moto2 rival Andrea Iannone, who now rides for the Factory team. The Englishman posted quicker times than the Italian and is confident he can replicate that pace and get his career back on track, believing the Ducati is better suited to his riding style.

He will riding GP15 machinery, the same bikes currently used by Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso, but like the rest of the field be will be running Michelin tyres and a standard ECU.

However, many in the paddock are questioning the logic behind the move. Yes, the Honda RC213V is proving to be difficult to tame this year, with even the mercurial Marc Marquez unable to handle its power delivery, but that is down to Honda placing too much importance on Marquez’s feedback when they were developing the bike. They have riders of the calibre of Pedrosa, Crutchlow, Laverty and Miller to fall back on, and the bike will be a far better prospect in 2016.

Honda also has one of the biggest budgets in MotoGP and the full might of HRC will be unleashed in wrestling its MotoGP crown back from Yamaha – which is where the title is heading this year. This, when combined with he fact that the series switches to Michelin rubber next year,  means the momentum should swing back in the big H’s favour. When Honda got their arses handed to them by KTM in Moto3, Honda went back to basics and assembled a bike to crush the opposition…and Danny Kent is proof that that strategy is working. What Honda wants, Honda gets.

And look at the Ducati; after a bright and blistering opening to the season the Factory bikes have gone backwards, with Andrea Dovizioso particularly suffering. Yes, the GP15 is a massive leap forward, but a lot of the Ducati’s performance is down to the tyre concessions. And with the field running on standard rubber next year, it will be interesting to see how the Italian bikes fare.

Not many turn their backs on a Honda Factory bike and go on to bigger and better things. Time will tell whether Redding’s made the right decision during this pivotal period in his career…

MotoGP – ‘scared’ Petrucci puts on a riding masterclass at a wet Silverstone

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Danilo Petrucci claimed a sensational debut MotoGP podium after carving his way through the field from 18th to finish second in Sunday’s wet British Grand Prix.

The Pramac Ducati rider feared he was going to crash at every corner in the treacherous conditions but sliced his way through the field and by the end of the first lap he had battled his way up to ninth place.

After passing Lorenzo and Pedrosa, Petrucci found himself behind are leader Valentino Rossi and admitted he felt uncomfortable with his lofty position.

He said: “It was incredible and one moment I was behind Pedrosa and Lorenzo. I’ve never seen that situation. Only on the Playstation! So now what do I do? It’s so difficult to pass them – especially because it’s Lorenzo and Pedrosa.

“I was scared for Jorge after the race if I crash with him! I was scared about the reaction of Jorge, not the crashing. So I tried to keep some distance to him. But at the end everything went in a good situation.”

Petrucci reduced the gap to Rossi to just 1.5sec and looked to be narrowing the gap with three laps left, putting him within touching distance of earning Ducati’s first win since 2010. However, Rossi managed the gap leaving an ecstatic Perucci to cross the line in second place.

Speaking in the post-race press conference he said: “When I realised I was on the podium I was scared about crashing, because on the wet you never know your limit. But then Marquez crashed and – I don’t know why – but Valentino was coming closer, closer and closer. I was scared I was too fast because it’s not usual you gain that time to Valentino. It’s not a comfortable situation.

“Usually when we are training with Valentino (Petrucci is a regular training partner of Rossi and the pair train together at The Doctr’s ranch), when you are close to him he has something more. Last week we touched in one corner. I finished in front of him because I pushed him out. I thought, ‘that’s the last time we train together!’

“I didn’t want to repeat that situation especially because I was happy for this great result. Coming closer to him was too risky and with two laps to go I saw I had created a little bit of gap to Dovi behind.

“In the last lap I think I made every corner wrong! Then in the last corner I started laughing and thinking ‘now I wake up in bed’. So I’m very happy to be there.

“I was always fast in the wet, even with a not so competitive bike. I managed some 11th or 12th positions in the past. For everyone, for the media, it’s not a good result but for us it was a good result.

“I came especially from motocross and maybe I have some advantage with the track changing every lap. Maybe I’m fast because in the wet everyone is slower! So in the box they told me ‘we were scared about you, because you looked like you were crashing in every corner’.

“But for me as I say maybe everyone is slower and I don’t understand why. I really, really enjoy riding in the wet because everything is more smooth. It’s more natural riding.”

Petrucci is now up to eighth in the world championship and will be partnering Scott Redding next year, a situation he thinks will benefit both riders.

He said: “Redding is a fast rider. In the past he has raced against Marc Marquez and beaten him. He will be quick on the Ducati and we can push each other. I want to be eighth in the championship this year, but with Redding in the team may be next year I can be higher.”

MotoGP – how to solve a problem like Jack Miller

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Jackass Jack Miller lived up to his nickname in spectacular fashion at the British Grand Prix after crashing out and wiping out teammate Cal Crutchlow.

Miller made a superb start in the treacherous wet conditions at Silverstone and having departed the grid in 16th position, the LCR Honda rider stormed through the field and had fought his way up to fourth spot on lap three.

After swapping places several times with home rider and fellow LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow, Miller made a late lunge from too far back with no chance of making the apex, losing the front on the brakes and torpedoing Crutchlow into the gravel. Both riders slid out, and although they remounted, were unable to finish the race.

A clearly disappointed and frustrated Crutchlow said: “Obviously I’m really disappointed, we could have done a great race today, I thought I had the pace to be with the winner. I felt really comfortable this morning in the rain and I felt really comfortable in the race, but these things happen. Jack is young, he was near to the front in a MotoGP race and made an ambitious move. He made a mistake, he apologised and I have accepted his apology. I’ve done it before and I’m sure I will do it again – this is racing, but obviously I was very disappointed.

“I came in and we changed the bike, but as soon as I went out of the pitlane I crashed immediately because it was a dry setting on that bike and there is a big, big difference. I was not really going to carry on too much as I was too far behind the leader at that point, but it was a good job by the LCR Honda team this weekend and I really appreciate all the fan support as they really helped us.”

Rookie Miller’s misdemeanour is the latest in a long series of mistakes that have plagued his debut season, leading many to question his ability and attitude after making the jump from Moto3 to MotoGP. Nicky Hayden, Hector Barbera and Eugene Laverty have all publicly aired their concerns about Miller’s reckless style. There’s a growing feeling among the paddock that the Australian is riding beyond his ability in an effort to impress his Honda paymasters – Miller has a contract with Honda and not LCR – and that race direction needs to take action in a bid to tame his aggression, much like they did with Marco Simoncelli.

MotoGP – Redding shines at Silverstone, lands seventh place in quali

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Scott Redding will start from the third row of the grid at his home Grand Prix after an impressive qualifying performance at Silverstone.

The Marc VDS rider has been fast and consistent all weekend and built on his top ten pace on Friday to claim his best starting position since the Grand Prix of the Americas.

Having been searching for a solution to some front-end problems over the bumps yesterday, Redding looked much more confident today with his Honda RC213V. The 22-year-old has been in the top ten every session this weekend, although tyre wear remains a concern for Redding and his crew.

Redding, who is expected to announce his move to Pramac Ducati tomorrow, said: “I felt pretty good and the qualifying was really interesting. I was behind Marc Marquez both times and it was quite a nice thing to have. I’ve not really been worried about following anyone this weekend but in qualifying to have someone so fast in front of me was very interesting indeed. Following Marc is unreal because you’re completely on the limit and he’s still one second faster! Our race pace isn’t too bad but our tyre wear isn’t too good. We’ll try something in the morning to help that but generally I feel quite comfortable and I’m enjoying this weekend.”

MotoGP – Lorenzo satisfied with second place in qualifying

Jorge Lorenzo secured second place for tomorrow’s British Grand Prix, slotting in behind Marc Marquez but two places ahead of his teammate and championship rival Valentino Rossi.

Lorenzo was the last rider to come out of the box at the start of the overcast 15-minute session and needed little time to put the hammer down. His first hot lap was a 2’00.798 for provisional second place. He followed that up with a second flying lap, but was unable to improve his time and with five and half minutes left Lorenzo returned to the pits for a fresh rear tyre.

The Spaniard was pushed back to third and cunningly waited for all other riders to exit the pit lane before heading out for his second attempt to improve his starting position. With three and half minutes still on the clock, he had just enough time left for a final try and dropped a hot time of 2’00.522 to reclaim second position, 0,288s off the front.

The current championship leader said: “To be honest, I didn’t expect to improve so much and that everyone would be so quick in qualifying, but it’s normal for everyone to improve their times by one second out of nowhere. If you don’t get the perfect lap or don’t push to your limits, it’s very difficult to stay on the first row. For this reason I’m very happy with second place, this is a very good position, I’m very happy. I’m very proud of my two laps. Let’s see which small details we can improve for tomorrow to keep a consistent pace.”

Teammate Rossi also bided his time at the start of the session to avoid traffic. The nine time World Champion soon dropped under the 2’02 mark with a 2’01.779 and moved up to fifth, but was pushed back a place when the pace picked up. He gave another push and delivered a 2’01.182 moving back up to fifth after which he immediately returned to the pits with a little less than six minutes of the session remaining. A minute later he was back on track to pick up the pace. He was unable to improve on his time on his third flying lap, but having been pushed back to sixth the Italian was determined to make up ground. He put his head down on his final attempt and rode a strong final sector to secure fourth position clocking a brilliant 2’00.947, 0.713s off pole.

MotoGP – Marquez seals stunning pole despite mistake

Repsol Honda pilot Marc Marquez has racked up his sixth pole position of the season with a stunning pole time that set Silverstone alight.

It was a good day for the Repsol Honda team at Silverstone today, with teammate Dani Pedrosa qualifying third.

The reigning MotoGP World Champion made his intentions clear from his first exit, taking the lead with a time of 2’00.564. During his second and final outing, Marquez lowered his time to stop the clock at 2’00.234, a record breaking pole position time which he previously set in 2013 (2’00.691), surpassing Jorge Lorenzo who qualified second by almost three tenths.

Marquez said: “It was a good qualifying session. When I did the first lap I noticed that if put together the perfect lap, maybe I could get very close to 1’59.00. But I noticed I was right on the limit a couple of times, and especially in the last sector I was missing a little something under braking. In the end what counts is that we took pole position! You can always improve, but it was a very good lap.”

This is Marc’s 28th pole in the MotoGP class, the only Spanish rider with more poles in the premier-class is Lorenzo with 31.

Pedrosa joins his teammate on the front row in the third position, after being overtaken by Lorenzo in the closing stages of the session. The Respol Honda rider was less than two tenths off second position and less than half of a second off pole with his time of 2’00.716.

The British Grand Prix, round twelve of the season, will be held tomorrow at 13h00 local time.

MotoGP – strong start to practice for Redding

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The British Grand Prix has always been a happy hunting ground for Scott Redding and his home race started strongly with top ten pace on the opening day of practice. The Marc VDS rider, who has won the British Grand Prix in both the 125cc and Moto2 classes, was within one second of Jorge Lorenzo at the close of the day.

Redding completed 33 laps of the Silverstone circuit and set his fastest time early in FP2 and thereafter focussed his efforts on finding a better balance on the bike. Despite his strong start Redding has some issues with the bumpy Silverstone track surface, leaving him looking for more rear grip.

The 22 year old Briton has had a difficult first season aboard the Honda RC213V but having had such a strong start to the weekend there are plenty of positives to build on ahead of tomorrow’s all important FP3 session.

He said: “I said before the weekend that I’d wait and see how the bike felt here at Silverstone, but it felt pretty good this morning. It wasn’t great initially but it got better and I got into a good rhythm. It feels quite different here compared to the Open bike from last year and it’s surprising how much faster it is. We’re struggling a little over the bumps because the tyre absorbs the bump but it doesn’t grip. We need to work in that area for tomorrow. The wind was playing a big role at the end of the day, it’s a crosswind coming out of Turn 15 and when the bike is trying to pull a bit of a wheelie the wind gets underneath, so it’s important to keep the front on the ground.”

MotoGP – Redding looking for a strong home GP as speculation about Ducati switch intensifies

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Marc VDS rider, Scott Redding, heads to his home GP determined to put on a strong showing in Sunday’s 20-lap British Grand Prix despite growing uncertainty over his future.

Redding’s best result so far this season was a seventh place in the Grand Prix of Catalunya, a result he is keen to improve upon this weekend in Silverstone, aided by the extra motivation that he’s riding for his future.

Redding looked to have landed one of MotoGP’s dream tickets when he landed the Marc VDS Factory Honda ride, but like the other Honda riders he’s struggled to tame the bike and rumours in the paddock are growing that he’s about to sign for the Pramac Ducati squad.

The move would make sense for both parties – Redding was quicker than current Factory rider Andrea Iannone when the pair tested with Ducati, plus his Honda experience would be a valuable reference point for Ducati technical director Gigi Dall’Igna to gauge just how competitive the GP15/16 really is.

Redding said: “Silverstone is a special race. I like the track, I’ve won there in the past in Moto2 and the support of the British fans is always incredible. This year we arrive in Great Britain off the back of a few difficult races and not really knowing what to expect. It could be that the bike works well, like at Austin and Sachsenring, but we could just as easily find ourselves in the same situation as Brno, where we had to work hard to find a good setting. Either way my goal is to try and secure my best result of the season so far at Silverstone. My motivation is still strong, and the support of the home crowd only adds to that, so I hope we can pull everything together and put in a strong performance this weekend.”

BSB – Brookes dominates at Cadwell to take championship lead

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Milwaukee Yamaha’s Brookes dominated the eighth round of the British Superbike Championship at Cadwell Park, claiming a full sweep of pole position, fastest lap and the two races in Lincolnshire to extend his advantage at the top of the standings.

In race one Brookes instantly hit the front of the pack on the opening lap and his progress was only briefly halted in the first race when the Safety Car was deployed for a crash at the Mountain. The Australian controlled the race from the front of the pack when it resumed to win by 1.878s.

Brookes carried the momentum into race two where he again delivered an inch perfect performance to score his sixth consecutive win by an incredible 5.089s. 

The results meant the Australian takes over the championship lead. He said: “I worked really hard at the start of the first race to make a gap and then I saw the Safety Car come out and I knew I had to get back on the gas straight away and make the gap again. I always ride better on my own smooth lines and I just wanted to stay ahead. The bike feels like an extension of my body at the moment – I am sure it appears easy but it isn’t!

“I just wanted to get out the front in race two and then not let up and keep going. It is easy to make mistakes and lose concentration. I wanted to be smooth and calculated so I kept it pinned and rode it to the flag. I am really pleased for the Milwaukee Yamaha team and everything is all working really well now so we are looking forward to Oulton Park.”

Brookes now leads Byrne by 39 points in the overall standings and just four in the all-important Podium Points score. The leading pair have both already qualified for the final three round Showdown, but the scrap for the final four places is set to intensify in the decisive triple-header next round at Oulton Park (4/5/6 September).