Month: June 2016

Better riding – how to master the wet weather

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The recent MotoGP race at Assen showed just how much grip is available in the wet with today’s tyres. Follow these tips to ensure you keep it shiny side up:

RELAX – “Many riders don’t enjoy riding in the wet and most actually avoid it where possible. It’s completely the wrong approach. The reality is that the skills you need in the wet are exactly the same as those you need when you’re riding in the dry, namely you need to be smooth with your inputs and you need to be relaxed on the bike.

“The biggest secret to good bike control is to ensure you’re in the right riding position. You need to be comfortable and leant forward slightly, with your arms bent – they need to be parallel to the road, and this allows you to steer the bike with the lightest of touches. This is important. If you’re holding too tight and the bike slides in the wet, this movement will be amplified and you’ll actually stop the bike from correcting itself.”

CORNERING – “Another mistake many riders make in the wet is that they corner too gingerly. I’m not talking about really attacking bends, but riding confidently and making progress. If you tip-toe through the corners, virtually upright, on a closed throttle, you’re not generating any cornering force and your tyres will be generating very little grip. It’s a viscous circle – the bike’s feels nervous and twitchy, you back off, the bike feels even worse, so you back off more.

“It sounds crazy, but by riding more confidently and smoothly, you’ll actually be generating some cornering and braking forces, which in turn allows the tyres to grip. Still not convinced? Then try this – gently side your fingers across glass and they will simply glide across. Now try it again but this time push down with increasing force and they will begin to dig into the surface. Again the secret is smoothness.”

ACCELERATING – “Good throttle control is the key to wet weather riding, and I’m amazed at how few rides are able to demonstrate this basic, but essential, skill. Again, it’s all about smoothness – any big input will break traction and light the rear up, whereas smoothly winding the throttle provides drive and traction.”

BRAKING – “The best way to brake in the wet is to brake exactly the same as you would in the dry – squeeze the lever and apply it progressively. Never, ever grab, as any sudden input will break traction.

“You won’t be able to brake as hard as you would in the dry, and this needs to be reflect in your riding, but you can still brake surprisingly hard.

“The rear brake comes into its own in the wet, and by trying to provoke a rear-wheel lock up I can use it as a gauge for assessing how much grip is available – a vital tool for helping you to ride to the conditions.”

ROAD POSITIONING – “Wet weather means you’ll have to compromise your road position. Road markings, cat’s eyes, manhole covers and overbanding will all be very, very slippery and all should be avoided where possible.

“You may also have to adjust your position on corners as gravel could be sitting on your ideal line, so keep your vison up, look as far forward as possible and try and anticipate any hazards.”

BSB – leading duo claim a win apiece at Knockhill

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British Superbike Championship titans Leon Haslam and Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne claimed a win apiece at the fourth round at Knockhill in an incredible pair of races.

In the opening dry race at the Scottish circuit Kawasaki’s Haslam served up his third victory of the season after an intense fight for the win with Honda Racing’s Dan Linfoot.

As the race got underway Jason O’Halloran had hit the front of the pack from Haslam and John Hopkins, with the ‘Pocket Rocket’ hitting the lead with a decisive move on the third lap. As the pair diced for the lead, Byrne was pushing to move up the order, but crashed out on the fourth lap at the Hairpin, collecting Briggs Equipment BMW’s Jake Dixon as he fell.

The incident bought out the safety car and the pack formed up with Haslam leading Hopkins. By Lap 11 Hopkins was looking menacing at the front, briefly taking the lead for the ePayMe Yamaha team, but as they streamed down to the Hairpin Haslam made a strong move to regain the lead.

Linfoot was also on the move, pushing ahead of Hopkins to go second as Luke Mossey carved his way through the field and then also made a move on the American to move into third.

Linfoot then began piling the pressure on Haslam for the lead, regaining the position on the run into Turn One. However, just two laps later Haslam repaid the move with a pass down the inside into the Hairpin and the pair continued to trade blows, but the JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider crossed the line to claim the win.

Mossey held off Hopkins to take third, becoming the tenth different rider to claim a podium finish this season with Peter Hickman closing on the leading quartet to score fifth position from Richard Cooper on the Buildbase BMW.

Race Two saw conditions completely change and Be Wiser Ducati’s Byrne bounced back from his crash in the opening race to claim victory, scything his way through the pack before an intense scrap at the front.

Linfoot had initially hit the front ahead of Hopkins, but the positions rapidly changed as Hickman and Haslam moved ahead of the American.

Hickman was hounding Linfoot and the JG Speedfit Kawasaki rider pulled a move at the Hairpin to take the lead. However, Linfoot instantly responded, repaying the move to head back into the lead.

As Linfoot and Hickman diced at the front, race one winner Haslam and Byrne had moved into third and fourth respectively and soon the ‘Pocket Rocket’ was trading blows with his team-mate ahead of him. Haslam finally moved ahead of Hickman at the Hairpin with Byrne following him.

Byrne then pulled a pass on championship leader Haslam, moving into second before both Byrne and Haslam took advantage of a mistake by Linfoot when he ran wide, pushing the Honda Racing rider back into third.

Haslam then claimed the lead from Byrne and the leading two riders in the standings then diced intensely for the advantage. Linfoot wasn’t done though, and he moved back to the front of the trio with a move on the 25th lap. However, just one lap later Byrne was back ahead.

Four-time champion Shakey then wasn’t giving an inch and he edged away as the battle for the final podium positions intensified. Linfoot stayed ahead of Haslam, but in the final three laps a hard-charging Ellison continued to move up the order, passing Haslam and then mugging Linfoot for second place at the line.

Hickman surged ahead to fourth in the closing laps ahead of O’Halloran and Haslam who dropped to sixth after suffering with visor problems. Richard Cooper continued his run of strong point scoring finishes in seventh ahead of Tommy Bridewell turned his weekend around to score an eighth place for Bennetts Suzuki.

Howie Mainwaring and Christian Iddon completed the top ten, but it was disappointment for John Hopkins and Glenn Irwin who both crashed out unhurt.

Race One winner Haslam was bullish after the weekend, claiming he could have had a brace of wins bar the visor incident. He said: “We’ve extended the Championship lead over this weekend, but for me it should have been a very easy second win. With ten to 12 laps to go I couldn’t see anything, and I dropped nearly three to four seconds a lap at the end, it wasn’t anything to do with the bike it was purely because I couldn’t see.

“I felt good, I felt the pace I had at the front I could have gone quicker at any point but I just couldn’t see. I’m feeling pretty confident heading into Snetterton, I have a test in between in Japan but we will take the positives from this weekend.”

Race Two winner Byrne relished crossing the line first in challenging conditions. He Said: “It was a difficult second race to be honest. Before we started one of my mechanics said to me it is a long race and you are starting from the fourth row, there are a lot of chances for things to go wrong!

“I got to second quite quickly, then I got in the lead and then Leon passed me. I followed him for a bit and I felt quite happy there, then Dan Linfoot passed me and I thought ‘this isn’t in the plan, I don’t want to go backwards!’

“I got to the front, I had a few little issues to deal with and made a few mistakes and with all the work that I gave the Be Wiser Ducati team this weekend they deserved that win. I had two crashes this weekend and that isn’t like me, so thanks to them – it is onwards and upwards now!”

MotoGP – JackAssen gives a wet weather masterclass

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The 250th race of the modern MotoGP era will be one that Australian Jack Miller will never forget, after the Mark VDS pilot claimed a remarkable maiden premier class victory at the historic Assen track.

Miller overcame perilously tricky conditions on a weather-dominated afternoon at the Dutch TT to become the first non-factory rider in 10 years to win in MotoGP.

He also became the first Australian to win a MotoGP race since Casey Stoner in 2012 after a day of high drama and tension in front of a sell-out crowd of 105,000 fans in Holland.

Scheduled to be a 26-lap race that started on a wet track, Miller had expertly mastered the tricky track conditions to charge from 19th into eighth when the action was halted on safety grounds on lap 15 as monsoon conditions enveloped the 4.5km Assen venue.

Once conditions had improved and standing water was cleared from the track, the race was restarted over a shortened distance of 12-laps, with the grid forming based on positions from part one.

Conditions were no less hazardous in part two, but as experienced riders crashed out of contention, Miller rode a majestically measured and composed race to move into the top three on only the second lap.

A brilliantly executed overtake on Factory Honda rider Marc Márquez on lap four then put Miller at the front of the field.

And it was a lead he never looked like relinquishing, as he rode a faultless final eight laps to win by almost two seconds, sparking jubilant celebrations to mark the first MotoGP win by Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS since its premier class collaboration started with Honda in 2015.

Miller said: “I don’t often say this but I’m lost for words. I feel incredibly emotional right now and it is hard to describe the sensation of winning for the first time in MotoGP. I felt confident and fast in the first part of the race but it was the right call to red flag it because the conditions were getting pretty dangerous.

“The track was really slippery for part two as well but I immediately felt comfortable. I could see a few riders making mistakes but I just kept my focus and concentrated on being fast and consistent without taking any silly risks.

“Once I passed Marc I just tried to block out the fact that I was heading for my first win and keep a clear mind. Coming out of the final chicane and seeing the chequered flag was just an unbelievable feeling. My family and I have made a lot of sacrifices to make today happen and it feels amazing. I can’t thank Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS enough. They have given me incredible support and never stopped believing in me. I must also thank Honda and their management for giving me this opportunity and allowing me to show what I can do at this level. It might take a while to sink in but I am going to enjoy tonight that’s for sure!”

MotoGP –two more teams finalise their line-ups

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Britain’s Cal Crutchlow has signed to ride for LCR Honda for another year, quashing speculation that the team was end it’s long-standing relationship with Honda in favour of the ever-improving Suzukis.

Crutchlow made the announcement at the Assen GP press conference, explaining that he had signed to ride the Factory spec Honda for the 2017 season.

The former Ducati, and Tech 3 rider has enjoyed a difficult 2016 season, initially struggling to tame the aggressive nature of the RC213V, but he has enjoyed better results recently and has started to put in the performance he feels his talent is worthy of.

Crutchlow had been linked with a move to the Suzuki Factory team, but that option was  closed when the Japanese manufacturer announced it had signed hotshot Alex Rins to partner the fast but erratic Andrea Iannone.

The moves means most of the seats for the 2017 season are now locked out, with Aprilia being the only Factory  team to still confirm its line-up, although it has announced that neither Stefan Bradl nor Alvaro Bautista will be retained.

WSBK – Rea does proper Italian job on Sykes

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The second race at Misano saw reigning world champion Jonathan Rea put in another dominant stint to claim the double win.

The current series leader got off the line well, beating team-mate Tom Sykes at the start,. However, Sykes regrouped quickly and  sensationally retook the lead just seconds later with an audacious move around the outside of Rea.

The first lap also saw a massive high side for German Markus Reiterberger, who was launched high into the air after his bike tangled with the Ducati of Chaz Davies in Turn Eight. He landed hard, but luckily was up walking moments later.

The drama continued to unfold on lap Three, when Davies fell at Turn 14, taking out Honda’s Michael van der Mark, who had been behind him. Fortunately both riders were able to remount and rejoin the race.

Rea began hunting down race leader Sykes from lap Eight, with the gap closing to just two tenths of a second, with the squabbling pair a comfortable two seconds ahead of Ducati’s Davide Giugliano in third.

The turning point came in the 17th lap whenRea made his decisive attack on Sykes, becoming the new race leader, building a cushion and easing out a comfortable lead. The order would remain the same until the chequered flag, where Italian Davide Giugliano finished behind the Kawasaki riders for an excellent third place.

Race 2 standings:

1) Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team)

2) Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team)

3) Davide Giugliano (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)

4) Xavi Forés (Barni Racing Team)

5) Lorenzo Savadori (IodaRacing Team)

6) Nicky Hayden (Honda World Superbike Team)

7) Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team)

8) Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team)

9) Niccolò Canepa (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team)

10) Michael van der Mark (Honda World Superbike Team)

WSBK – Sykes extends stay at Kawasaki

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Former world champion Tom Sykes has signed a two-year extension to his Kawasaki contract, meaning the Team Green line-up will remained unchanged for the next two years.

The Yorkshireman will race alongside current world champion, and series leader, Jonathan Rea in 2017 and 2018, meaning the championship’s two main protagonists will continue their duel for supremacy over the coming seasons.

Many in the paddock had speculated that Sykes’ deteriorating relationship with Rea would mean he would jump ship, and Ducati has openly admitted to courting him , effectively asking him to name his price.

However, Sykes’s resurgent form over recent weeks, and his double win at Silverstone, has  given him the belief that he can fight for the title on the Kawasaki, and he has chosen to stay with the team, despite the public animosity between the team-mates.

The news means Ducati will have to reconsider its line-up. Chaz Davies is a virtual shoe in, despite being linked with a Ducati satellite ride in MotoGP, although the future of the fast, but erratic, Davide Giugliano is far from secure.

 

WSBK – Kawasaki duo dominate Race One at Misano

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The Kawasaki pair of Jonny Rea and Tom Sykes dominated Race One at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli , maintaining  an impressive pace throughout the race, creating a gap behind them to bring home the sixth one-two victory of the season for Team Green.

Race One was dominated from start to end by Jonathan Rea who, starting from the second spot on the grid, overtook team-mate  and poleman Tom Sykes when the lights went out, staying in the lead all the way to the chequered flag.

It was an incident-packed opening couple of laps with Aprilia’s Lorenzo Savadori forced to retire on the first lap after a crash, and Davide Giugliano and Nicky Hayden who both crashed out during the second lap.

In the meantime, Rea and Sykes created a gap behind them, igniting an exciting duel which had the two of them battling for the lead within less than two tenths of one another.

In the penultimate lap, the race lost another protagonist, Xavi Forés, who had started from the third spot on the grid, but all eyes were on the Kawasakis ridden by Rea and Sykes, who put on a heart-stopping show for the finale. The English rider refused to settle for second place and pulled out all the stops trying to overtake his teammate, but Rea held tough to the end, managing to cross the wire first, albeit less than a tenth of a second ahead of Sykes.

Behind them, three seconds later, Honda’s Michael van der Mark crossed the wire for the bottom step of the podium.

Race One standings:

1) Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team)

2) Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team)

3) Michael van der Mark (Honda World Superbike Team)

4) Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing – Ducati)

5) Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team)

6) Markus Reiterberger (Althea BMW Racing Team)

7) Niccolò Canepa (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team)

8) Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse)

9) Román Ramos (Team GoEleven)

10) Anthony West (Pedercini Racing)

Road racing – fifteen things I’ve learnt about this year’s TT…

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1) The superbikes at Ballaugh are spectacular

2) Ballacrye is sooooo fast

3) Bruce Anstey’s RCV sounds mean

4) The Norton sounds better

5) The Suter smells so, so good…but the sound was slightly underwhelming. The Paton on the other hand sounded like victory

6) Cam Donald’s best days may be behind him

7) The Irish can spend all day talking to you about how flat and smooth the road surface is

8) It’s illegal to overtake in double whites on the Mountain, even when the traffic is one way. Sorry officer.

9) Graham Hill and Jimmy Hill are brothers. Possibly. Then again…

10) The peanut butter cheesecake at the Forge in Santon is to die for

11) NEVER try and do a Michael Jackson joke 

12) It takes three women to make tea at the WI in Ballaugh…Caroline pours it, Jennifer stirs, and Gladys adds the milk. Tastes mighty fine too 

13) Fastest I saw on the clocks on the Mountain was 143…and didn’t get overtaken either 

14) Johnny Foreigner still loves a random over (and under) take 

15) The flies seem bigger this year

Road racing – Hutchy smashes 130mph lap during practice

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DAVE KNEEN/PACEMAKER PRESS, BELFAST: 31/05/2016: Ian Hutchinson (BMW – Tyco BMW) at Rhencullen during qualifying for the Monster Energy Isle of Man TT.

With glorious conditions once more all across the island, qualifying on Tuesday evening for the 2016 Isle of Man TT Races, went ahead promptly at 6.20pm and Ian Hutchinson recorded the first 130mph lap of the week with his fourth lap of the night stopping the clocks at 130.63mph.

Unlike the previous evening, the session was split into two with the Superbikes, Superstocks and Supersports away first before the latter were joined at 7.25pm by the Lightweights.  Michael Rutter and Steve Mercer, both Supebike mounted, led the field away followed by Dan Stewart and Bruce Anstey, also electing to go out on their Superbikes, the latter again on the RCV213S.

As expected, all the front runners were prominent with Ian Hutchinson in the third pairing away alongside Dean Harrison, while Peter Hickman, John McGuinness and Michael Dunlop weren’t far behind.

Hutchinson was quickest through the speed trap at 196.8mph and the Tyco BMW rider set the fastest opening lap at 129.120 although he was only slightly quicker than starting partner Harrison who lapped at 129.022. Anstey improved to 127.37 whilst Conor Cummins, Mercer, McGuinness and Hickman all broke the 127mph barrier

William Dunlop had stopped at Quaterbridge on his Superbike but returned to the paddock and rejoined the action on his Superstock bike while brother Michael also ran into trouble, pulling off the circuit before making his own way back to the Grandstand. However, the Ulsterman didn’t rejoin the session until 7.30pm on his Supersport bike.

Hutchinson switched to his Superstock BMW but Hickman, McGuinness, Cummins and James Hillier all went straight through and McGuinness went quickest at 129.62mph although he was only a fraction ahead of Hickman’s lap of 129.55. Cummins was also in the 129s whilst Mercer set his best ever lap of the Mountain Course, albeit unofficially, at 128.55.

Anstey improved again to 128.98mph while last year’s triple race winner Hutchinson went to the top of the Superstock leaderboard with a lap of 128.723mph. Meanwhile, newcomer Jochem van den Hoek from Holland was showing well with a lap in excess of 115mph.

Rutter then went second quickest in the Superstock class after lapping at 128.43 but a lot of attention was focussing on Anstey’s third lap on the RCV with his sector times showing he as on a flyer. However, he lost time coming down the Mountain and crossed the line at 128.85mph but Hutchinson had switched back to his Superbike with a lap of 129.5mph before saving the best until last with his 130.63mph lap.

At 7.25pm, it was the turn of the Lightweights to join the Supersports on course and TT Rider Liaison Officer John Barton was first to leave the line. Italian Stefano Bonetti was initially the quickest rider with his lap on the Paton being 114.611mph with last year’s Manx Grand Prix winner Rob Hodson not far behind at 113.545mph. However, there were all upstaged by last year’s race winner Ivan Lintin who went comfortably clear at the top of the pack after a lap of exactly 118mph.

Martin Jessopp went second quickest at 114.871mph with Bonetti’s opening lap seeing him hold onto third. James Hillier slotted into fourth (114.482) with Hodson (114.049) and James Cowton (113.444) completing the top six. Rutter did his first lap on the SGS International/KMR Kawasaki at 113.342mph.

In the Supersport class, Anstey was quickest with a speed of 124.51mph just ahead of Harrison and Hutchinson whilst Michael Dunlop got two laps in on his R6 Yamaha, the quickest of which was a fraction above 123mph.

Frank Gallagher (32nd) and Kamil Holan (Cruickshanks) both came off their machines in the session but both were reported as unhurt.