Month: September 2015

MotoGP – Marquez goes under the knife to fix broken hand

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Reigning MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez was operated on this morning at the Universitario Dexeus Hospital in Barcelona to treat a fracture to the fifth metacarpal of his left hand.

The Repsol Honda rider suffered the fracture on Tuesday while mountain bike training on the outskirts of Cervera. The operation was carried out by Dr. Xavier Mir, Head of the Hand and Upper Extremities department of the Universitario Dexeus Hospital, who declared the operation a success. If post-operation recovery goes as expected, Marquez should be fine to ride in the Japanese Grand Prix, which takes place in ten days’ time at Motegi.

After the surgery, Dr. Mir stated: “We have operated on Marc Marquez to treat a torsion fracture of the fifth metacarpal of his left hand. The surgery consisted of a reduction and internal fixation of the bone, through screws for compression and a neutralising titanium plate with six holes. After the insertion, the soft tissue has been closed up and we have placed a protective bandage around the finger, supporting it with the adjacent finger. Marc will remain in hospital for 24 hours, and in 48 hours will begin functional rehabilitation.”

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MotoGP – resurgent Pedrosa keeps the Doctor at bay

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Jorge Lorenzo may have ridden a faultless race to secure victory at Aragon and keep his championship chances alive, but all eyes were on the intense battle for second as Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi locked horns in an epic duel.

Lorenzo blasted into the lead from the start, but with Marquez crashing out early on after tucking the front of his Repsol Honda in Turn 12 on Lap Two, all eyes were on Valentino Rossi, with the Italian in third just behind Pedrosa.

The crowd may have been Spanish but they were firmly behind The Doctor, with it looking to be a matter of when and not if Rossi would pass Pedrosa.

The pair were separated by just hundredths of a second and  with five laps remaining Rossi began to try and pass but each time Pedrosa was able to respond and repass Rossi. The duo repeatedly traded blows in a scintillating display of aggression and precision with Pedrosa demonstrating that his forearm problems are well and truly behind him. Rossi passed Pedrosa again on the final lap, but the Spaniard reacted and returned the favour in Turn 7, forcing Rossi on to the kerbs and #26 was able to do enough to hold on to his lead and beat him to the chequered flag by just 0.090 seconds.

An elated Pedrosa said: “I’m really happy as it was a great race with Valentino! It was difficult, because I had him on my tail every lap and during the last five he tried to pass me, but I managed to stay in front of him. He is a rider who is very strong in this part of racing, and can usually beat anyone on the grid – and for me it is one of my weaker points. However, today I was able to beat him and I’m so happy because during the battle we swapped positions many times which gives me great motivation. I want to thank the entire Repsol Honda team and we will try to be stronger at the next race!”

The results keep Lorenzo in second in the rankings and see him inch closer to his teammate Rossi, who holds the lead in the standings with a 14-point advantage and a total of 263 points.

New metal – Ducati set to unveil nine new models in 2016

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Ducati is set to grow dramatically in 2016 with nine new models swelling the company’s range.

Details about which bikes will join the recently unveiled Monster 1200 R still remain sketchy, with the Italian manufacturer refusing to reveal exactly what the new bikes will be, although we are pretty certain they’re bound to include an updated 899 Panigale, an 899S and a new Streetfighter.

“The year 2016 will see continued growth at Ducati,” stated Claudio Domenicali, CEO of Ducati Motor Holding, at the Frankfurt IAA motorshow. “No less than nine new models, including the just-unveiled Monster 1200 R, will be joining the 2016 range. Never before has Ducati presented so many new bikes and EICMA will provide the perfect platform on which to show them to all to our enthusiastic customers.”

Domenicali also hinted that the company could be releasing some smaller capacity machines. He said: “Two of these will take us into segments in which we’re currently not present and this is going to be one of the greatest challenges of 2016: to extend the Ducati hallmarks of style and performance to motorcyclists who were – until now – beyond our reach.

“Following a highly positive 2015, we look to the future with optimism and confidence. Given the results achieved during the first six months of the year, with 22% growth and 32,600 bikes delivered, we can already state that 2015 will see us attain another absolute record as we expect – for the very first time in our company’s history – to break through the symbolic barrier of 50,000 bikes sold before the end of the year.

“Nevertheless, our main goal is not so much the pursuit of ever-greater volumes but, rather, to keep on surprising our customers with awe-inspiring bikes. The increase in sales is simply a consequence of just how incredibly well-received our products are – products that stem from implementing strategies that are in keeping with our identity, looking to new markets and taking on tough new challenges every day.”

WSBK – Yamaha Factory teams returns to fight for honours. Lowes and Guintoli to spearhead title assualt

Yamaha has announced it is officially returning to WSBK in 2016 in collaboration with highly experienced partner Crescent Racing and title sponsors PATA. The team will place the new YZF-R1 in the talented hands of 2014 World Superbike Champion Sylvain Guintoli and 2013 British Superbike Champion Alex Lowes.

The prospect of Guintoli and Lowes promises to be a tantalising one, blending experience and exuberance.

Frenchman Guintoli has over 15 years experience in racing, with 45 podiums, 10 race wins and the 2014 WSBK title to his credit, in classes spanning 250cc, MotoGP, BSB and WSB. Lowes is no rookie himself, and has taken 20 podiums, eight wins and six pole positions on his way to his 2013 BSB title. He has also competed with Crescent for the last two seasons so is no stranger to the team or the WSBK series.

The news sees Yamaha make a welcome return to the series, and the manufacturer has an impressive history in the championship – 2009 saw Yamaha take their first World Superbike Championship title, breaking multiple records throughout the season with American rider Ben Spies on board. Iconic riders such as Noriyuki Haga, Troy Corser, James Toseland, Marco Melandri and Cal Crutchlow, among others, have all taken their turns delivering countless victories on the YZF-R1 throughout Yamaha’s Superbike career.

Crescent will partner Yamaha as their fully-supported Official WSBK Team from 2016. Crescent is the World Superbike Championship’s only UK-based team and has a 20-year racing history at both national and global level that features victories in the British Superbike Championship, World Superbike and MotoGP.

Yamaha Motor Europe will retain responsibility over racing strategy and technical development, as well as the rider agreements with Crescent’s hugely experienced, dedicated, technical and engineering racing personnel running the team’s operation at each of the Championship rounds.

Yamaha Motor Europe Chief Operating Officer, Eric De Seynes, said: “Having re-written the Supersport rule book and changed the game with the new YZF-R1, directly developed from Yamaha MotoGP technology, it was clear we would need to return to the World Superbike Championship to show the full potential of our new Superbike machine. We took one year to grow experience with the new R1 in many other championships where the bike has shown its potential already, with the amazing 8H of Suzuka victory and the very positive results that our official Teams are gathering all around Europe. Now we are ready to be back on the world stage and I am happy we have found in Crescent the same values of professionalism, engineering detail and passion for victory we share.”

WSBK – maiden world title for Rea

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Northern Irish rider Jonathan Rea has been crowned WSBK World Champion after securing enough points after the first race to secure the title.

Rea has been dominant on the ZX-10R this season, crushing the field and helping Kawasaki to its first manufacturer’s title.

In Race 1 reals team-mate Tom Sykes got off the line well with Rea in hot pursuit, followed by Ducati rider Niccolò Canepa on the Althea Racing bike. In the third lap Canepa crashed and was forced to give up several positions, with Ducati factory rider  Chaz Davies moving into third place, and eventually passing Rea for second on lap seven.

Rea was overtaken on by Van der Mark on lap 11, before Rea and Leon Haslam had an epic fight four fourth place, the northern Irishman eventually prevailing and claiming his maiden WSBK title.

Speaking after the race, Rea said: “Last season I signed a contract with Kawasaki at this very track, so it’s really fitting that we lifted the world championship today. Right now it hasn’t sunk in. When my mechanics were putting the #1 sticker on my bike on the slowdown lap it felt really strange. I’m just so happy and grateful for this opportunity.

“There have been many hard times too. Moments like this are even more special because of the amount of challenges I’ve faced with injuries, a broken wrist, and more recently in 2013 with a bad fracture of my femur at the Nurburgring.

Rea went on to reveal the epic duel title showdown between Colin Edwards and Troy Bayliss at Imola was one of the factors that prompted him to challenge in the world series.

“When I was watching the 2002 championship between Colin Edwards and Troy Bayliss I got so much inspiration. It became my dream. Even in the toughest times I never doubted my ability. We’re here today and hopefully this can inspire some other young riders who are racing to never give up on their dream.”

On the slowdown lap Rea made three stops to change helmets – two of those he wore were those of the last riders from Northern Ireland to claim motorcycle world championships, Joey Dunlop and Brian Reid. ”

Race 2 saw Tom Sykes gain an another excellent start. The British rider created a sizeable gap in the first lap, with Chaz Davies and Jordi Torres battling hard for second place.

However, in the 11th lap Ducati rider Chaz Davies overtook Tom Sykes for the lead, and just a lap later Jordi Torres, Leon Haslam and Michael Van der Mark also passed the Race 1 winner, with teammate Rea managing the same feat on lap 15. However, Rea’s fourth place and Sykes’ fifth place were enough for Kawasaki to secure the Manufacturer’s Championship.

BSB – Brookes ready to shine in showdown

The Milwaukee Yamaha team head to mainland Europe this weekend for the opening round of the BSB Championship Showdown.

Australian Josh Brookes holds a narrow two point advantage ahead of the tenth round of the season and the Australian is feeling confident of adding to his winning tally at the Dutch circuit.

Brooks said: “I don’t feel any more pressure because it is the Showdown; I want to win races no matter what point it is in the season and I have put Oulton Park behind me now. At the last round I didn’t get the results I wanted for various reasons and it was a bit of a mess up compared to where we had been before that weekend.

“I try to apply a method to my racing and I want to be logical and calculated so I am thinking positively for Assen. I did the recent round of IDM there and it might be a different bike and different technical rules, but there must be some knowledge that I can take from there too. This should be a strong circuit for the Yamaha and if everything comes together then we have high expectations for this weekend.”

Alongside Brookes, Czech contender Jakub Smrz lines up on the second Milwaukee Yamaha for his racing debut with the team after returning from injury.

Riding – nine tips to get more from trackdays

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1) Positive thinking

Having the correct state of mind is crucial to a good ride. Whether you’re learning a new skill or pushing for a fast lap, a good mind set will pay dividends. Developing a new skill requires you to ride within your limitations, placing your attention on what you are doing. This allows you to understand the technique and gives your brain the time to digest new information. In the first few sessions of a trackday only work on one area of your riding.

2) Study a circuit map

The importance of a circuit map cannot be underestimated. Used correctly there are many advantages to be gained, none more-so than highlighting clear, easy to identify objects and markers for your braking, turn entry, apex and corner exit. Replaying laps of the circuit in your mind using these markers will reinforce the track layout and the lines you have chosen. Once you have specific makers set for a given turn you can refine them to become more efficient and reduce your lap times.

3) Raise your vision

All of the senses are working overtime when pushing personal limits, but the eyes often have a mind of their own. It’s easy to fall into the trap of focusing on what we are doing rather than what we want to do. Identifying reference points early will give you a better sense of speed, improve steering accuracy and throttle control.

4) Find your lines

One of the most common problems riders face is being able to understand what makes a good line. When constructing a corner start at the exit and work backwards. Your track position on the exit is dictated by your apex. Knowing the exact point of the apex will help you decide on a turn area. The position and the consistency of your mid-corner position is what truly dictates your line through a turn. Make a concerted effort to use good vision and locate a late apex to run faster lines.

5) Do corner preparation

The key to success is to get as much as possible done before the corner. Set yourself up early by moving your body position in to place before the turn entry. This helps the bike to remain stable.

6) Sort your braking

Use of the brakes on track has one primary function over all others, to set your speed for the turn. A very useful technique which allows you to set your speed deeper into the turn is trail braking. The initial hard braking should be done early while the bike is upright, reducing the risk of losing traction while the forks are compressed absorbing any bumps. As the turn begins and the lean angle increases additional cornering forces are placed on the tyre and suspension. The brake pressure should be released smoothly and in direct proportion to the increase in lean angle.

7) Turn quicker

One of the biggest limiting factors to increasing cornering speed and reducing your lap times is how quickly you can turn the bike. The faster you enter a corner, the quicker you must turn the bike. There are a number of ways to do this but the most effective way is to countersteer. Applying pressure to the right (inside) handlebar will turn the bike to the right and vice versa. The more pressure you apply the quicker the bike will turn. Using the pegs can assist with this and will allow you to run faster corner entry speeds.

8) Stand it up

A major factor to increasing your speed is how quickly you can get to full gas. Being patient with the throttle will help, and used in conjunction with picking the bike up on the exit will make use of its full potential. Standing the bike up reduces the lean angle and allows the suspension to work more effectively. This reduces the cornering forces and load on the tyres, enabling you to drive the bike out of the turn. Timing is important – too early and the bike will run wide. Get it right and you will smash your best times.

9) Be patient

Rolling the throttle on too hard early in the turn will push the bike wide, forcing you to hesitate or even roll of the throttle. Be disciplined and wait for the precise moment you can drive out of the turn. This will allow you to be assertive with your throttle and get to full gas sooner, carrying more speed down the straights.

New metal – Ducati Monster 1200 R unveiled

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Meet the Monster 1200 R, the most powerful and sophisticated new addition to the Monster family.

Equipped with a 1200 cc Testastretta 11° DS “R” version twin-cylinder engine, the Monster 1200 R takes the Ducati naked sports bike concept and delivers 10 per cent more power and 5.5 per cent more torque. The engine is good for 160bhp and 97lb.ft of torque, ensuring smooth delivery at low and medium RPM.

The “R” spirit that inspired the new Monster 1200 manifests itself in the completely redesigned, compact, lightweight and high-slung tailpiece, seat and high-mounted plate holder. The bike also features a higher stance than the Monster 1200 S for more extreme lean angles and to make the most of the Pirelli Diablo Supercorsa SP tyres.

The Monster 1200 R is equipped with new suspension and an Öhlins steering damper, and now features separate rider and passenger footpegs to enhance its racing-inspired riding experience. The new tailpiece, forged wheels, and carbon fibre components mean it’s even lighter than the S version, bringing the total dry weight down to 180 kg (397 lb).

The Monster 1200 R is also equipped with the Ducati Safety Pack including the ABS and Ducati Traction Control systems and features three different Riding Modes (Sport, Touring and Urban).

MotoGP – Redding revels in Misano mayhem to snatch podium finish from jaws of defeat

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Marc VDS rider Scott Redding celebrated a stunning first MotoGP podium after a dramatic and incident-packed clash in front of a record crowd packed into the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli today.

An early crash and two pits stops in a rain-hit 28-lap encounter failed to prevent the 22-year-old from mastering constantly changing track conditions to finish in a sensational third.

With the field starting the race on slick tyres, Redding crashed at turn four on lap six when rain started to fall heavily while he was on a brilliant charge up from 13th to the battle raging for fourth.

Redding pitted to switch to his wet weather Honda RC213V machine and was seemingly well out of contention.

As the rain quickly stopped, the 2.626 miles surface dried rapidly and Redding timed his switch back to slicks perfectly and he was fourth on track with just seven laps to go.

Redding then launched a terrific charge towards his first premier class podium, which ended in success when he passed Loris Baz for third on lap 25. Redding’s superior pace saw him comfortably streak away from the Frenchman and his first MotoGP podium was secured by almost eight seconds, much to the delight of on-looking team owner Marc van der Straten.

With Bradley Smith joining Redding on the podium it was the first time since Barry Sheene and Tom Herron stood on the podium together in Venezuela in 1979 that two British riders have achieved such a result.

An ecstatic Redding said: “Where do you start after a race like that? When it started to rain I knew I had nothing to lose and pushed hard on the slicks. But I pushed too much and couldn’t stop the bike before I entered the gravel and crashed. I thought that was race over but got back on as quickly as I could and I could see that a couple of guys still hadn’t passed me, so knew I was still in a good position.

“I changed to the rain tyres and had a really bad feeling. I couldn’t get them to working temperature and when I did the track had already started to dry. I switched back to slicks thinking I’d got no chance and then suddenly I saw P4. I thought it was a mistake but then saw seven seconds to Baz and got my head down to catch him in case it rained again. Then I’m in third and I certainly didn’t expect that when I woke up this morning. It’s a great feeling for me and especially the team because they have deserved this for sticking by me all season.”

Team boss Michael Bartholemy lavished praise on his rider. He said: “For a private team to get on a MotoGP podium is like a dream and today we accomplished that. It is a very special feeling to do it in our first year. I have always believed in Scott and we worked hard to make this team happen. It has not been easy and we have taken a lot of criticism but today he showed what he can do and without the crash he could have won. Now that would have been unbelievable.

“Now we think it is a shame because we know he is leaving us at the end of the season but nobody can take this away from him or the team. Scott is used to breaking records and today he’s done it again, with Bradley and him being the first two British riders on a MotoGP podium together since 1979. This is a day we will remember for a long time.”

MotoGP – Rossi claims fifth, Lorenzo crashes out at dramatic Misano race

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The Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli was a sea of yellow as thousands of fans cheered on local hero, Valentino Rossi, to take fifth in a drama-filled ‘Gran Premio di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini’.

Weather played a crucial part in the race, which saw Rossi put one hand on his 10th championship as total rival and teammate Jorge Lorenzo crashed out on cold tyres after pitting for slicks.

The race started well for the Yamaha duo, with Lorenzo and Rossi enjoying strong starts, the Doctor flying off the line at the start of the 28-lap sprint and held third position going into the first corner behind Marquez and Lorenzo.

Lorenzo put the hammer down and as he tried to shake off rival Marquez and teammate Rossi and built up nearly a second’s gap until the rain flags started to be waved on lap six.

The rain clearly played into the hands of Rossi who dived into the pits with Marquez and Lorenzo on lap seven, rejoining the race in seventh place. By the time all the grid had pitted for wet tyres Rossi had been restored top third place, and he began hunting down Marquez and Lorenzo for the lead.

Lapping more than a second quicker he used all his experience in tricky conditions and with 17 laps to go was right on their rear tyres. He overtook Marquez on the next lap, while a dry line started to form. On lap 15 the Doctor decided to make his move on Lorenzo and had the fans jumping to their feet when he led the race for the first time, but there was more drama on its way.

The track had dried up and several riders started to switch back to a bike with a dry set up. The Italian hero decided to stay out as long as possible and pushed to the maximum to create a margin between him and his teammate. He was the last rider to come in for a second bike swap after 20 laps and rejoined the track in fifth place.

Lorenzo pitted a lap before as large chunks of rubber were flying off the his wet tyres as the track dried, and he reentered the track in fourth place. However, he pushed too hard, too quickly on cold tyres and suffered a fast off in Turn 15.

Marquez won the race, ahead of Smith and Redding, who both excelled in the difficult conditions and were worthy of their podium places. Rossi managed to hold off Petrucci but was unable to close down Baz and finished the race in fifth place, increasing his championship lead over Lorenzo to 23 points.

Speaking after the race, Rossi said: “It’s true that the championship is a lot more important that winning this race, it’s the main target. Unfortunately Jorge crashed and I was able to gain another 11-points. This is good for the championship, but it’s a shame to miss out on the podium, because I wanted to arrive in the top three in front of all the spectators.

“It was a crazy race and when you have to change the bike, in this case twice, you need luck and rapid thinking to understand the situation. Fifth is still a good result and we’re looking forward to the next race in Aragon. There are still five races left and unfortunately Lorenzo has the ability to win at every single one and Marquez is also always strong, so there are still a lot of points left to fight for. Aragon is always a difficult track, but we did some tests there and my lap times weren’t so bad, so we have to try to do a good race and arrive on the podium.

A disconsolate Jorge Lorenzo said: “Two races with bad luck in a row, because the circumstances were wet and abnormal. In Silverstone I didn’t have the confidence and here I didn’t have the pace to warm up the tyre well, so I entered the corner with slicks that were still cold and lost the rear. I think I’ve been unlucky this year in general, but especially these last two races, because I could have won both or finished second, but that’s racing. In previous years, my rivals in the championship crashed and this year it’s me who’s unlucky, but all is not lost. If I win all the coming races I can still become the World Champion and it wouldn’t matter in what position Valentino would finish in.”