Month: October 2015

MotoGP – Lorenzi officially denies Marquez pact

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Yamaha Factory rider Jorge Lorenzo has issued a strong statement denying he has made a ‘pact’ with Marc Marquez as the furore following the Malaysian MotoGP round refuses to die.

In the pre-race press conference at Sepang, championship leader Valentino Rossi had accused Repsol Honda’s Marquez of actively favouring Lorenzo for the premier class title, claiming the outgoing world champion had ‘helped’ his Movistar Yamaha team-mate at Phillip Island in Australia by significantly hampering and interfering with Rossi’s own race pace.

If Rossi had hoped the ploy would subdue Marquez it backfired, spectacularly, with the Spaniard pushing Rossi hard – so hard that  Marquez lowsided after contact was made between the warring pair on lap Seven, with Rossi admitting he had deliberately ran the Honda to the edge of the track in a bid to stop him from taking valuable points from him.

Rossi received three Penalty Points for ‘irresponsible riding’ and will start the final race at Valencia in Spain from the back of the grid after accumulating four in total.

BT Sport’s Neil Hodgon reported live from Malaysia that a ‘shouting and screaming” Lorenzo was present in a Race Direction meeting with Marquez and Rossi,  although that later turned out to be untrue.

And now Lorenzo has stunned the MotoGP world by officially denying he has made a pact with Marquez after Italian newspaper La Repubblica claim Lorenzo and Marquez had formed an alliance ahead of the final race at Valencia to help deliver the world title at Rossi’s expense.

Lorenzo’s statement sates: “From the staff team Jorge Lorenzo, we officially deny categorically everything that has been published in the last hours of a possible meeting or Jorge Lorenzo pact with Marc Marquez – a ridiculous and unfounded information published yesterday [Wednesday] by La Repubblica and subsequently chimed other Italian media,” said the statement.

“Not wanting to feed more this unpleasant situation for the pilot, [we] just want to express unease about such rumours, which have not been verified before going public. We reiterate once again that all this information is absolutely false. ”

The move comes a day after Respol Honda threw its weight into the debate with a strongly worded statement condoning Rossi’s actions. The full statement is as follows:

“Dani Pedrosa achieved a great victory today in the Malaysian Grand Prix – a win that was unfortunately overshadowed by the unacceptable and unsportsmanlike conduct of Valentino Rossi against Repsol Honda Team rider, Marc Marquez.

“On the seventh lap of the race, with Marquez and Rossi immersed in a battle for third place that involved several overtaking moves between the two, the Italian – in an absolutely intentional action – dealt an unsportsmanlike kick to the Repsol Honda rider that knocked him to the ground.

“Although Marquez was fortunately able to escape unharmed from the attack, for Repsol the conduct of Rossi is absolutely unacceptable because it endangered – in a premeditated and unsportsmanlike manner – the safety of the Repsol Honda team rider. Repsol consider this an unsportsmanlike act incompatible with the values of sport and competition.

“Repsol are deeply saddened that situations like that which occurred today in Sepang exist, especially as the company feel proud of sporting values: Companionship, competitive spirit and commitment from riders. Without these values, it would not make sense for Repsol to participate in the sport as a sponsor.

“Repsol also call for a clear and strong regulation in the interest of the safety and physical integrity of the riders, which punishes behaviour like that seen today clearly and decisively.”

The explosive climax of the 2015 MotoGP campaign takes place in Valencia next weekend.

MotoGP – Rossi, Marquez and the desti-knee of the title

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Last weekend’s MotoGP round at Sepang finally saw the pendulum tip in favour of Jorge Lorenzo as team-mate Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez’s intense rivalry reached boiling point in the searing heat of Malaysia.

Rossi had lit the blue touch paper with a sensational press conference on the Thursday ahead of the race when he accused Marquez of favouring Lorenzo to win the title and suggesting the young Spaniard had deliberately messed with Rossi’s race to help Lorenzo. And he even went so far as to question whether Marquez had been a Rossi fan in his childhood.

If Rossi’s pre-race statement had been meant as a barb to inspire Marquez to prove him wrong and take points off Lorenzo, it backfired. Spectacularly. As Dani Pedrosa and Lorenzo made a break at the front, Marquez and Rossi become embroiled in a close and bitter battle for third place, Marquez seemingly able to pass the Italian at will.

The two riders passed each other nine times on Lap Four in a scintillating display of racecraft, with Marquez leading as they crossed the line to begin Lap Five. The pair continued to trade moves and passed one another five times with Rossi in front as they exited turn thirteen. With Marquez on the outside, Rossi slowed them both down into turn fourteen and then looked at his young heir apparent twice before Marquez lost the front and crashed out.

The camera footage initially seemed to show Rossi had caused the crash by forcing Marquez wide and extending his leg into the Honda, touching the RC213V’s brake lever and causing the Spaniard to crash. However, other camera angles later showed Marquez refusing to change his line as Rossi pushed him wide and the Spaniard learning on the Yamaha, seemingly headbutting Rossi, and Rossi has stuck his leg out only after he’d lost his footing as the bikes came together.

Rossi remained on his bike and went on to finish third, but while Marquez remounted he was unable to finish the race and retired shortly afterwards, parking his bike in the Repsol Honda garage. And then all hell broke loose.

HRC team boss Livio Suppo launched a savage attack on Rossi’s unsporting conduct. He said: “For the Repsol Honda Team what happened today is something we never want to see in racing, as it is unacceptable that a rider would intentionally create a dangerous situation causing the crash of another rider. We love motorsport and we like to see riders competing for victory, but there must be a limit and mutual respect of each other.”

Marquez agreed. He said: “We were having a good race up until the incident. At the beginning I made a mistake, but then I regained confidence. Valentino overtook me, I followed him for half a lap, and I saw that I could go faster than him, so I tried overtake him back. We started a fight between us and I always passed without making any contact with him. At Turn 14 he passed me on the inside, I sat the bike up, he kept going straight ahead and I saw him looking at me. I didn’t know what to do. Then he kicked out at me, knocking my brake lever, and I crashed.

“I will leave the sanction in the hands of Race Direction. All I know is that I scored zero points and ended up in the gravel, but thankfully I’m fine. Both what Valentino said to Race Direction and what he did on the track has made me disappointed. I’ve never seen anything like it: a rider kicking another rider. It might be down to nerves, but I want to try to forget about all this and the important thing is that I’m fine physically. I hope, for the sake of the sport that this ends here.”

Unsurprisingly, Rossi saw the incident differently. He said: “Marquez knows it wasn’t red mist that caused the incident. It’s very clear from the helicopter footage that I didn’t want to make him crash, I just wanted to make him lose time, go outside of the line and slow down, because he was playing his dirty game, even worse than in Australia. When I went wide and slowed down to nearly a stop, I looked at him as if to say ‘what are you doing?’.

“After that we touched. He touched with his right underarm on my leg and my foot slipped off the foot peg. If you look at the image from the helicopter it’s clear that when my foot slipped of the foot peg, Marquez had already crashed. I didn’t want to kick him, especially because, if you give a kick to a MotoGP bike, it won’t crash, it’s very heavy.

“For me the sanction is not fair, because Marquez won his fight. His program is OK because he is making me lose the championship. The sanction is not good, especially for me, because I didn’t purposefully want to make him crash, I just reacted to his behaviour, but I didn’t kick him. You can’t say anything in the press conference, maybe it changes something, but to me this was not fair, because I just want to fight for the championship with Jorge and let the better man win, but like this that’s not happening. Like I said, I didn’t want to make Marquez crash, but I had to do something because at that moment Jorge was already gone. The championship is not over yet, but this sanction cut me off by the legs and made Marquez win.

After the podium ceremony, Rossi and Marquez were called to Race Direction for a hearing. Their decision – after speaking with both riders – was to give three penalty points to Rossi, resulting in him starting the final race of the season from the back of the grid, as he already has one penalty point after an incident in Misano. Yamaha appealed this decision and the FIM had their own hearing with both riders but the appeal was declined and the penalty stands.

Social media broke out in a frenzy with many former riders sharing their views. Former world champion Casey Stoner was quick to point the finger of blame firmly at Rossi’s door, as was Ben Spies, but others, including Michael Laverty and Jeremy McWilliams, pointed out that Marquez’s riding was on the very edge of what was acceptable within the rules of the sport.

And now that the dust has settled the saga continues, with Rossi issuing a statement earlier this evening that he’s considering not racing at the season finale at Valencia. Watch this space…

MotoGP – Pedrosa dominates in Malaysia

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Pole man Dani Pedrosa led every lap of the Malaysian GP to take his second win of the season and seal the hat-trick of victories for the Repsol Honda Team in the fly away races, dominating the race from the off.

Pedrosa made a strong start off the line and never looked back, giving a riding masterclass and proving that his arm issues are well and truly behind him.

As all eyes focused on the intense battle between Marquez and Rossi for third, Pedrosa built a steady lead over Lorenzo in second, and managed the gap to perfection, eventually finishing the race with a margin of 3.6 seconds over the Yamaha rider. .

Pedrosa said: “I am very happy because it was a very nice Grand Prix! We had a good feeling from Friday, we were able to manage the weekend well and above all we had a bike that worked very well during every practice. The setup we used at this circuit in February during testing helped me a lot and I’m very happy to take this win for my team, who have been behind me all the way. I am especially pleased to finish the season very positively, as it has been a hard year but we are now recovering well and we’re in good form. Australia is always the hardest race of the year for me, but that turned out fine and I’m really glad we completed the fly aways like this.”

With his victory, Pedrosa moves up into fourth in the Championship Standings with just one race of 2015 remaining in Valencia.

MotoGP – Pedrosa smashes lap record to take pole in Sepang

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Dani Pedrosa has taken an incredible pole position for tomorrow’s Malaysian GP – his first since Catalunya 2014 – and with it smashed the current lap record by over seven tenths of a second.

With most riders aiming aiming to complete three exits in qualifying, Pedrosa decided on only two and waited before exiting the garage in order to have more space on track without traffic. He executed his plan perfectly, and on his first flying lap he broke the lap record with his time of 1’59.053 – beating the 2014 record by 0.738 seconds (1’59.791 – Marquez) – and six tenths faster than second placed Marquez.

Pedrosa said: “The team did a great job! We will have to concentrate a lot in the race, because the tyres are suffering at this track so there is the possibility of making mistakes, and we must be attentive on every lap. I will try to ride as best I can, but I’m sure that the bike and tyres will have a tough time. We will have to see how the track is tomorrow, because with so much heat we might not have as much grip as now; we will have to feel it out on the first few laps.”

The qualifying results are as follows:

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Constructor Time/Gap
1 PEDROSA Dani 26 SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 1’59.053
2 MARQUEZ Marc 93 SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 1’59.462
3 ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1’59.726
4 LORENZO Jorge 99 SPA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1’59.737
5 CRUTCHLOW Cal 35 GBR LCR Honda Honda 2’00.199
6 IANNONE Andrea 29 ITA Ducati Team Ducati 2’00.224
7 DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 ITA Ducati Team Ducati 2’00.423
8 VINALES Maverick 25 SPA Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki 2’00.478
9 SMITH Bradley 38 GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 2’00.652
10 BARBERA Hector 8 SPA Avintia Racing Ducati 2’00.724
11 ESPARGARO Aleix 41 SPA Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki 2’00.724
12 ESPARGARO Pol 44 SPA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 2’00.794
13 PETRUCCI Danilo 9 ITA Pramac Racing Ducati 2’01.223
14 BRADL Stefan 6 GER Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 2’01.346
15 REDDING Scott 45 GBR Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda 2’01.367
16 MILLER Jack 43 AUS LCR Honda Honda 2’01.725
17 BAUTISTA Alvaro 19 SPA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Aprilia 2’01.727
18 HERNANDEZ Yonny 68 COL Pramac Racing Ducati 2’01.748
19 HAYDEN Nicky 69 USA Aspar MotoGP Team Honda 2’01.829
20 BAZ Loris 76 FRA Athina Forward Racing Forward Yamaha 2’01.862
21 ELIAS Toni 24 SPA Athina Forward Racing Forward Yamaha 2’02.415
22 LAVERTY Eugene 50 IRE Aspar MotoGP Team Honda 2’02.460
23 DI MEGLIO Mike 63 FRA Avintia Racing Ducati 2’02.964
24 WEST Anthony 13 AUS AB Motoracing Honda 2’03.855
25 CUDLIN Damian 55 AUS E-Motion IodaRacing Team ART 2’06.051

Road racing – Hutchy joins TAS Racing squad

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TAS Racing has confirmed that 11-time Isle of Man TT winner Ian Hutchinson will be joining Tyco BMW for the Isle of Man TT races and other international road races in the 2016 season.

Hutchinson was back to his very best in 2015 with a hat-trick of wins at the Isle of Man TT including a new Superstock class race record and is now looking forward to teaming up with Tyco BMW, where he will ride BMW Motorrad S1000RR Superbike and Superstock machinery next season.

The Bingley Bullet said: “We’ve been in negotiations for a couple of months but I’ve always been serious about coming to the team for next year. I’m really looking forward to getting going now with Tyco BMW.”

He added: “After pretty much four years away from the sport I now need a bit of consistency. BMW is a huge brand and along with Philip Neill at TAS, they have shown how much they want to be involved with me for next season. That enthusiasm sold it to me and with direct support from BMW Motorrad it was hard to turn down.”

Tyco BMW Team Manager Philip Neill was keen to have nabbed his man. He said: “Hutchy was undoubtedly the dominant force at this year’s TT so to sign him up for 2016 is hopefully a big enough statement from both BMW Motorrad and TAS Racing, as to our aspirations for next season.”

“We’ve talked about working together previously and it didn’t quite come to fruition, but I think we’ve joined forces at the best possible time. I believe Ian can add to his International Road Racing success next season on BMW Motorrad machinery with the support of TAS Racing.”

Hutchinson is also scheduled to ride BMW Motorrad S1000RR machinery next season for Tyco BMW in the National Superstock 1000cc series, which will keep him sharp for his TT Races and International Road Racing campaign.

The move has led to many speculating that Guy Martin won’t be racing on the roads next season as the mercurial truck mechanic has a notoriously prickly relationship with Hutchinson.

Tested – Metzeler K3 Racetec

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These tyres are phenomenal – I’m still struggling to get my head around just how good they are.

I’ve just come back from three days on track at Jerez – and they excelled in the wet and greasy morning conditions as well as in the supper hot and muggy afternoon sessions.

They’re performance is staggering – they’re very quick to warm up and allowed me to to push hard within half a lap. And once they’re up to working temperature they’re superb; they’re stable and offer supreme levels of confidence inspiring grip. And the amount of heat they generate and retain is astounding.

They’re durable too. After two wet mornings and two dry afternoons, and one hot day on track they’re just about shagged, but then again they’re covered some 450 hard miles and they’ve not torn and have worn equally across the whole carcass.

These tyres perfectly suit the 749S in the damp and in the dry, allowing me to lay long darkies through the long Sito Pons right-hander on the final day.

If this comes across as some kind of love letter to the Racetec’s then I make no apologies – they’re great and are the best rubber I’ve yet tested. They’re epic. Try some for yourself, and if you’re not impressed I’ll give you your money back.

MotoGP – Pedrosa claims 50th career win with a riding masterclass at a wet Motegi

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Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa has taken a fantastic win – his first since Brno GP 2014 and his 50th of his career (8 x 125cc, 15 x 250cc, 27 x MotoGP) – at Honda’s home race in Japan.

With rain arriving this morning and delaying proceedings, the MotoGP warm up was delayed to 11h20am and the riders had a frantic twenty minutes to prepare the wet setup on their machines. As the race began, Pedrosa made up some positions from 6th place to 4th and by Lap 8 the Spaniard had begun to find a good rhythm and started to close the gap to third-placed Dovizioso.

After passing the Italian on Lap 11, reached Dovizioso on lap eleven and after the Italian made a small error, Pedrosa began to hunt down Rossi who was four seconds ahead.

Pedrosa made his move and passed the Doctor on Lap 16 and passed him into second place. Then two laps later, Pedrosa passed Lorenzo and began building a commanding lead, controlling the final seven laps and winning by a massive 8.5 seconds.

A rejuvenated Pedrosa said: “I’m so happy with this win! It has been a long time since my last one and I’m really pleased. It was a fun race, because at first I took things calmly and lost too much time, but the strategy worked out because afterwards I recovered ground gradually. I had a special feeling at that point in the race and I’m happy to take this victory for Honda at their home track, for the team, the sponsors, my friends and family, because it has been a difficult season. It’s not been an easy weekend here in Japan, I’d also like to wish Alex De Angelis all the best and hope he recovers soon.”

Pedrosa remains the most successful rider at Motegi with five wins (2011,12,15 in MotoGP; 2004 in 250cc; 2002 in 125cc). He now moves up two places in the rider standings to 5th on 154 points.