Month: January 2016

MotoGP – Stoner returns to the track as Ducati Team test rider

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Casey Stoner has completed his first laps for Ducati after his sensational return to the Italian manufacturer last year.

The Australian, a two-time MotoGP champion, completed 54 laps of at Sepang on the 2015 Ducati Desmosedici GP for the Italian factory team ahead of next week’s official MotoGP test – the first time Stoner has ridden a Ducati since the Valencia round in 2010, when he left the team to ride for the HRC Repsol squad.

Stoner was pleased with his pace, and how quickly he had got up to speed with the new spec Michelin tyres. He said: “It’s been a really good experience today with the Ducati Team. I wasn’t too sure what to expect but everybody has been fantastic, welcoming me and working with me to try and get the best out of myself and this bike.

“I need some time to get back to speed and get the feeling back, because I haven’t ridden a MotoGP bike for one year and any bike at all for six months. It was a very productive first day, we got comfortable with the bike and the tyres a lot more quickly than I thought I would. We’ve got a lot of things to test and get myself a little bit more acquainted with the bike but generally I’m very happy.

“The Desmosedici GP has a lot of potential, hopefully we can give the right input and help the two Andreas to try and achieve something great this year.”

 

 

 

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MotoGP – KTM extends test programme ahead of GP return

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KTM is expanding its MotoGP test programme after adding Randy de Puniet and Thomas Luthi to its test team ahead of the manufacturer’s return to racing’s premier class in 2017.

Alex Hofmann and Mika Kallio have already begun turning laps on the company’s RC16 bike, and they will be bolstered with the addition of WSBK exile De Puniet and Moto2 pilot Luthi.

De Puniet has extensive MotoGP and WSBK experience, and was instrumental in developing Suzuki’s GP racer, while Luthi will combine his testing role with his Moto2 ride.

The bike will be officially unveiled at the Red Bull Ring during the Austrian GP, and will make its racing debut as a wildcard entry at the season finale at Valencia.

 

 

WSBK – Factory squad unveils 2016 bike

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Yamaha is returning to  World Superbikes with a full factory effort run by Crescent Racing.

The new team will be fighting for honours from the off, with former world champion Sylvain Guintoli and former BSB champion Alex Lowes piloting the new YZF-R1, a bike which is getting better and better after taking both the Superbike and Superstock 1000 classes in the MotoAmerica racing series, as well as the  BSB title.

The outfit will be backed by title sponsor Pata, which has switched from the Ten Kate Honda squad.

 

Road racing – Guy Martin to miss TT

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Guy Martin will sit out this year’s Isle of Man TT Races, as he sets his sights on tackling the world’s toughest mountain bike race – the Tour Divide.

His team, Tyco BMW, will instead focus their efforts around 11-time TT race winner Ian Hutchinson, who scored impressive treble winner on the island in 2015 and is now looking forward to campaigning Tyco BMW S 1000 RR machinery.

Martin has no plans to road race prior to his Tour Divide attempt and the Tyco BMW team is not actively looking to replace the Lincolnshire man at the aforementioned events.

Martin said: “I’m not done with motorbikes and if I race on the roads again this year it will be with the TAS team. The BMW bikes are mega and the team are spot on.

“I fancy a change of scenery. I’ve been racing the TT for 11 years. All I’ve really done since I was 18, except the trucks, is race motorbikes and my brain needs something else. Every year’s the same: testing, racing, then start again.

“It brought it home to me when I was lying in hospital after the Ulster Grand Prix crash. I’ve been on about the Tour Divide, the toughest pushbike race in the world, for three years and I thought I’ll blink and next thing I’ll be 45, so I’m going to do it this year.

“I like breaking myself mentally and the Tour Divide will be tough, but it’s same time at TT, so that’s forced me to make a choice.

“I’m not done with motorbikes. I’m attempting the Wall of Death record in the spring and having a go at the land speed record in the summer and if I do race on the roads it will be with TAS.

“After the Tour Divide I might never want to see a pushbike again – or never want to go road racing again, I don’t know. But I do know Bruce Anstey and John McGuinness are still racing the TT, and they’ve got a few years on me, so maybe I’ll come back next year. Or maybe I’ll find something else interesting to do. I’ve got more interests than just motorbikes and I just think let’s bloody have ‘em.”

MotoGP – no rift between Yamaha factory duo

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Yamaha MotoGP bosses have said there will be no return of the garage wall and that there is no rift between World champion Jorge Lorenzo and runner-up Valentino Rossi.

The pair enjoyed a fractious end to the season in 2015 after Rossi’s campaign unravelled following his sensational press conference in Sepang where he accused Marquez of wanting Lorenzo to win the title. Rossi was leading the championship at the time, but the consequences of his outburst live on – Rossi forced Marquez off track during the race, the Spaniard crashed out and the Italian was forced to start the final race from the back of the grid, thus thwarting his bid for a tenth world title.

Despite this acrimony between the riders, which was compounded by Lorenzo’s public condemnation of Rossi, both demonstrably on the podium, and verbally in various press conferences, Yamaha’s Team Director, Massimo Meregalli has said he expects there to be no ill feeling between the duo over the coming season.

He said: “I don’t see that it will be difficult dealing with the two riders together, no different than last year or the year before. I was prepared to have some troubles when Vale came back to the team in 2013, but it never happened and I don’t expect it to happen next year or in the future.”

Yamaha Motor Racing’s Managing Director, Lin Jarvis, agreed that the team remained as one and that last season’s fight for supremacy between its star rider would have no effects on the upcoming assault for honours.

He said: “There’s no reason to put a wall in the garage. One of our strengths is the fact that the team works really well together. We realise that the riders are individually competitors of each other but the team, the mechanics, the crew chiefs and engineers all work really well together and if we put a barrier or wall in the garage it will be to the deficit of the team, both riders and the engineers.”

MotoGP – Rossi needs ‘special effort’ to secure 10th world title this year

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Nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi has said it will take a ‘special effort’ to be in a position to challenge for the MotoGP crown this year.

remain at a level where he can fight for the MotoGP World Championship this year.

This year’s runner-up, who turns 37 next month, acknowledges the superhuman effort required to take on the much younger competition, and this, when combined with the new tyres and electronics being introduced this year, means the Italian will need to be at the very top of his game.

He said: “I think I have to give a special effort to try and stay at the same level of the last two years. This is the target because in the last two years, especially in 2015, I was competitive more or less everywhere. Whether we’ll be able to fight to win the championship I don’t know.

“Last year the start was fantastic; in the first part of the season I was ready to be very fast but you never know. This year it is like you start from another point because of the new tyres, everyone needs to understand what will happen in a race weekend and also in the race so it will be different and difficult but we will try to be ready from the beginning.

“When you become older you try to use your experience to bridge the gap. It is interesting but the feeling to race a motorcycle and also to work during the weekend has to be the same, you have to find the right motivation and the right concentration. The rivals are all very strong so it will be interesting.”

Rossi enters the upcoming season with his contract up for grabs, a fate all the Yamaha riders face. His main challengers are expected to be team-mate, and world champion, Jorge Lorenzo, and fierce rival Marc Marquez.

Rossi, ever the optimist, refused to be downbeat about his campaign last season, when he seemed to unravel following a bizarre press conference where he accused Marquez of wanting Lorenzo to win the title.

He said:  “The end of last year was quite difficult but it is like it is. At the end I am happy about the 2015 season. I enjoyed it a lot and fought for the championship until the last race, the rest is the past. From today we will start with the new season from the beginning and it will be hard but I will try to stay at the same level.

 

MotoGP – KTM to unveil GP16 racer at Austrian GP

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KTM is will be unveiling its RC16 MotoGP race bike at the Red Bull Ring  when premier class racing returns to Austria on August 19-21.
The bike, which has a 90-degree V-4 and a steel-tube chassis with bottom-braced aluminum swingarm, is undergoing a thorough in-house testing programme ahead of its competitive debut in the 2017 season, with test riders Alex Hofmann and Mika Kallio putting the bike through its paces.
Initial teaser photos from KTM show that the RC16 features an Akrapovic exhaust exiting from the seat tail and another one exiting from under the rider’s right foot, which are the trademark characteristics of a V4. Paddock insiders expect the  Gp16 to have a 16,000 rpm rev limit, with the power plant pumping out some 270bhp.
Other distinguishing features include a seamless gearbox designed by X-Trac, a large intake on the front fairing and massive top-to-bottom radiator.
However, the bike won’t have pneumatic values as KTM feels they are too complicated and lower durability.
The bike is being officially unveiled to the public during the Austrian GP at the Red Bull Ring and is expected to make its racing debut as a wildcard entry at the season’s final race in Valencia.

Racing – Stalker to switch to sidecars

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Fans’ favourite Chris ‘Stalker’ Walker will be back in the MCE British Superbike paddock this season – on three wheels.

The BSB runner-up and WSBK race winner had been hopeful of landing a BSB ride but has instead announced he will be joining the Hyundai Heavy Industries British Sidecar Championship in association with Molson.

Walker, who owns and runs thew Kawasaki dealership in Grantham,  will make his racing debut in the Championship at Oulton Park in May with the experienced Santander Salt Kawasaki team.

He said: “I am really excited by this completely new challenge, especially as the British Sidecar Championship is going from strength to strength. I have no knowledge of it so I am full of anticipation, although I have to say it is still a bit daunting.

“I guess the last time I had that kind of feeling of the complete unknown was my first Superbike race in 1995; Hizzy was out injured and I got called up to replace him. I was up against the big hitters of BSB and the night before I was like a six year-old at Christmas; I think that was the last time I really experienced such a dramatic change. Even switching from motocross to road racing didn’t feel as big as I had been riding road bikes.

“I really don’t know what to expect and that is what I think excites me the most. The sidecar is completely different to a superbike in terms of the gearing and braking so I am sure that will be something for me to get my head around, but the biggest draw for me is the new challenge.”

Bell Helmets to introduce integrated cameras

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Bell Helmets and 360fly have joined forced to create a helmet with an integrated camera.

The helmet will use a 360fly camera system which captures everything around the rider in 4k video resolution to creates a video that can be viewed from an immersive virtual-reality perspective.

Thanks to a built-in GPS, altimeter/barometer, and accelerometer, the 360fly system is capable of overlaying telemetry data into its video, among a variety of other features. What really separates the unit from the rest though is what is in the pipeline from 360fly.

The company says that with its 360° it can soon bring new technologies to motorcyclists, most chiefly the ability to alert the rider of possible collisions from objects outside the rider’s field of view.

Why does this matter? This is hugely important – just think of the amount of riders you see with action cameras attached to their helmets, recording their ride to cover their arse. The issue with these cameras is what happens to them in the case of a spill; they often impact on the helmet itself and can cause all sorts of damage. Michael Schumacher was wearing an action camera in his skiing accident, and that penetrated his helmet causing serious injury.
If Bell can successfully integrate a camera without compromising the helmet’s integrity and protective qualities, then expect others to follow suit very quickly.

MotoGP – will new electronics and tyres mean better racing?

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MotoGP has introduced a new set of technical rules and regulations in a bid to make racing’s premier class more competitive, and cheaper to compete in.

There are two new stand out changes – tyres and electronics – and these mean that the 2016 promises to be one of the most exciting season’s ever.

The biggest change sees the introduction of Michelin as the sole tyre supplier – and many riders are struggling to understand where the limit of the front tyre is. Testing was marred by a series of front end crashes with Marquez, Lorenzo and Rossi all suffering lowsides.

Another seismic change is the introduction of unified software, with all teams forced to run the same Magneti Marelli ECU complete with standard hardware and homologated software.

Honda, Yamaha and Ducati have had a significant input into the software, and if all three factories unanimously request a specific piece of functionality then Magneti Marelli is obliged to introduced it.

With all teams now forced to run the same software and hardware, and the gap between Factory and privateer teams being reduced (on paper anyway), the special tyre allocation has been scrapped.

Many fans disliked this concession to the weaker teams, as did the Factory Yamaha and Honda riders, claiming the tyres gave the weaker Ducatis and Suzukis an unfair advantage and artificially high starting positions on track, something they struggled to maintain at race pace.

All 22 bikes on the 2016 grid will now have access to the same rubber – a softer option and a harder option.

Fuel concessions have also been scrapped and all bikes now have a maximum of 22 liters of fuel, with the minimum weight has been reduced by one kilogram to 157kg.

What this means is that every rider is effectively starting the 2016 season from scratch. Rossi and Pedrosa have experience of racing on Michelins, and ordinarily this would be an advantage, but as all teams are now forced to run a spec ECU, that experience effectively counts for nothing. And make no mistake, Honda are struggling to make the ECU work. Their engine is still overly aggressive, and Pedrosa was forced to switch the electronics off altogether during testing at Valencia in November in a bid to understand how the 2016 engine works.

Testing starts again in Sepang at the beginning of February and many teams will switch their attention from electronics to tyres in an attempt to fine tune their set-up ahead of the season opener in Qatar in March.

Expect to see a few surprise results during the first three races – our money’s on the Suzukis and Pramac Ducatis being right at the very sharp end before the Factory teams considerable resources see them return to the top.