Month: May 2017

Road racing – TT 2017 is go!

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After a frustrating and wet start to the 2017 Isle of Man TT races, qualifying finally got underway on Tuesday evening and last year’s headline makers – Ian Hutchinson and Michael Dunlop – immediately took up where they left off last year, setting the pace with 125mph+ laps.

Intermittent afternoon rain resulted in a number of damp patches around the 37.73-mile course, most notably at Greeba, on the approach to Glen Helen and in Governor’s Dip, but conditions were otherwise good with bright sunshine and blue skies at the start and finish of the session. It was a prompt start too as the three newcomers – Adam McLean, Paul Jordan and Joey Thompson – headed off down Glencrutchery Road slightly before the 6.20pm start.

After the sidecar newcomers left the line for their speed controlled lap, there was a slight gap before the session proper fired into life with Bruce Anstey on the Padgetts Honda first away just before 6.35pm with James Hillier, Ian Hutchinson, Josh Brookes and Lee Johnston on their Supersport mounts following the Kiwi rider down Glencrutchery Road.

Ivan Lintin, Peter Hickman and Michael Rutter were also among the early starters on their Lightweight machines while the returning Guy Martin set off slightly later on his Supersport Honda as he got his first taste of the Mountain Course on closed roads since the 2015 Senior TT.

Hutchinson, on the McAMS Yamaha, was first to complete a lap at 118.845mph with Michael Dunlop second across the line and quickest on the opening lap of TT2017 at 120.371mph. Gary Johnson was also above the 120mph mark at 120.311mph, just over half a second slower than Dunlop.

Hutchinson’s lap made him third quickest ahead of Dean Harrison and Jamie Coward (both 118.160), Hillier (117.884) and Conor Cummins (117.673). Martin’s first lap was a solid 115.808mph with Brookes back on 108.171mph. Meanwhile, Dan Kneen was reported as having stopped at Cronk y Voddy although he was able to proceed.

Second time out and Hutchinson and Dunlop both lapped in excess of 121mph, at 121.147 and 121.020 respectively. Anstey and Hillier were next with 119.794 and 119.776 respectively while Johnson was slightly slower on his second lap at 119.341. Martin improved to 117.092mph. McLean was the fastest newcomer with a fastest lap of 112.89mph.

Rutter was quickest in the Lightweight class with a speed of 113.946 on the Paton from Lintin (113.856) with Dan Cooper, Hickman and Stefano Bonetti all inside the 111mph lap barrier.

At 7.10pm it was the turn of the 1000cc machines with David Johnson first away on the Norton. The Aussie hasn’t got a Supersport bike at his disposal so waited slightly longer than other riders for his first laps of 2017.

Steve Mercer lapped at 120.906mph with Hillier (120.986) and Rutter (120.986) slightly quicker but it was that man Dunlop who was laying an early marker down on the Bennetts Suzuki and a speed of 125.680mph sent him comfortably to the top of the leaderboard.

Hutchinson cruised across the line with a lap of 122.704mph but this was only good enough for fourth as Dan Kneen slotted into second on the Penz13.com BMW with a fine lap of 124.642mph. Dean Harrison (122.853) moved up to third with Peter Hickman (121.472) and Lee Johnston (121.322) completing the top six while Guy Martin’s opening lap on the Superbike saw him post a speed of 118.739mph.

There were changes later in the session though and although Dunlop broke the 125mph barrier once more, Hutchinson took the first night honours with the fastest lap on the night with a speed of 125.839mph. Hickman (124.093) jumped up to fourth although Rutter’s lap of 124.117mph made him quickest in the Superstock class from Anstey (123.722).

Harrison looked like he would make a significant impression but he retired at the Mountain Box while Martin broke the 120mph barrier with a speed of (120.018).

Today’s qualify session is scheduled to get away at 18.20 (Superbikes, Superstock, Supersport, Newcomers (ex Lightweight) to 19.20 with Supersport, Lightweight and Newcomers all classes away from 19.20 to 19.50.

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WSBK – Rea ends Sykes stranglehold with historic Race Two win at Donington

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In a contest where only 14 riders finished the race, Jonathan Rea put in stellar performance to win his eighth race of the year and Kawasaki’s 100th in Superbike history.

Despite having to start from the fourth row of the grid because of his huge high speed crash in Race One,
Rea made a superb launch and was able to scythe his way through the field – such was Rea’s early pace that he went from tenth on the grid to second after just one complete lap, eventually taking the lead at Redgate on Lap Rea.

It was a commanding ride, and while many riders fell, Rea kept his cool, managing the gap to the chasing pack.

It was team-mate Tom Sykes who pushed Rea hardest. Sykes was in fifth place in lap one and eventually got to second place on lap seven. He managed to close the gap with some hard charging, but with the laps counting down Rea had enough of an advantage to hold the lead and win his 46th race since he joined the WSBK series.

The win secured put Kawasaki’s place the history books as only the third manufacturer to reach the landmark figure of 100 race victories. It was an impressive feat made even more remarkable considering his scary crash in yesterday’s race, and another heavy spill during this morning’s practice

Jonathan Rea, stated: “I had an incredible first lap today. I had been really frustrated because I got penalised by no fault of my own yesterday in scoring no points and then penalised again with my grid position today, when I went back to tenth. I knew I had to make a good start straight away otherwise my race was over. I was really quiet today and after warm-up I was really nervous. I was going through all these scenarios in my head about what I would do with a good start, or a bad start, and then what my race plan would be. My guys worked really hard overnight to build a completely brand new bike because yesterday’s was destroyed. The first time I rode it this morning, with some set-up changes from Pere. The bike was talking to me in a way I have not had this year. So I knew today was mine if I could get a good start.

“There was a little bit of pressure for the 100th Kawasaki win and I was thinking about it today. From half race distance I said to myself that it has to be me today. We managed the race perfectly and I even managed a nice little stand-up wheelie at the end!”

WSBK – Sykes continues Donington domination with Race One win

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On a dry track surface at Donington Park Tom Sykes won his first WSBK race of the season in dominant style, crushing the field by crossing the line a clear 16.5 seconds ahead of second place man Leon Haslam.

The victory sees Sykes score his ninth successive win at Donington Park – the 32nd of his career – and means he closes the points gap on his team-mate and championship leader Jonathan Rea to 50 after after a problem with his rear tyre caused Rea crash spectacularly at Craner Curves, without injury.

In the morning, before the start of the first race, Superpole was won by Sykes – the 39th of his career and the first this season, setting a new track best of 1’26.641 in the process.

At the beginning of the opening 23-lap contest, it was Ducati’s Chaz Davies took the lead, from Sykes and Rea, then after one lap of the 4.023km track Rea slotted into second place, and then the lead, after Davies crashed out on lap seven.

Having been down in fourth place for a short period, after trying to pass Rea for second but running wide, Sykes found himself behind eventual podium finisher Leon Haslam, racing as a wildcard at his ‘home’ circuit on the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing machine.

Sykes steadily worked his way into the lead at his favourite circuit and eventually had a clear run to victory, while Rea began experiencing some vibration issues late in the race which forced him to slow his pace. However with three laps to go his tyre deflated, causing the rear to come around as he tapped on the gas through Craner Curves.

Haslam, a wildcard rider for the Kawasaki Puccetti Racing team and riding with the blessing of his JG Speedfit Kawasaki British Superbike team, took his second place after Rea’s misfortune, but was already in line for a podium finish close to the end of the race after making a strong start.

The final rung on the podium was gifted Alex Lowes on the Yamaha after Ducati’s Marco Melandri, after he inexplicably ran on to the grass on the approach to the final corner.

Tom Sykes, stated: “That was a fantastic race and I enjoyed it. It turned out to be very difficult and not necessarily what I had in the plan but that is part of racing. We had a good start but during the attempted pass on Chaz I had a full fuel load and was just a little bit on the limit, I ran wide and did again on Jonathan. I lost a lot of time there but today’s experience has been a blessing in disguise really, because I now have a better understanding of the race bike set-up while riding with the others. All weekend I have been fairly much alone on track and doing my own thing and had some great results. But today being behind other riders was hampering the lap time. Overall to win here and continue my form at Donington is fantastic. ”

Jonathan Rea, stated: “About a lap before Tom passed me I started to get a lot of vibration entering the corner off the gas. I had a lot of chatter from the front and the rear. When Tom passed me it started to get worse and worse. All I was thinking about was to finish the race and get some points. In hindsight I should have pulled over because I would have saved my bike because it was completely destroyed. The team will have to build me a new bike for tomorrow so that is frustrating for the mechanics as well. I am really disappointed, to be honest.”

Nicky Hayden – godspeed Kentucky Kid

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The racing world is in mourning after learning the sad news that Nicky Hayden has succumbed to injuries suffered during an incident while riding his bicycle last Wednesday.

Nicky passed away at 19:09 CEST this evening at Maurizio Bufalini Hospital in Cesena, Italy. His fiancée Jackie, mother Rose and brother Tommy were at his side.

Throughout his career Nicky’s professionalism and fighting spirit was greatly valued and carried him to numerous successes, including his childhood dream of being crowned MotoGP World Champion with Honda in 2006.

As well as being a true champion on the track, Nicky was a fan favourite off it due to his kind nature, relaxed demeanour and the huge smile he invariably carried everywhere.

Nothing says more about Nicky’s character than the overwhelming response expressed by fellow racers and his legions of fans over the past few days. Jackie and his family are truly grateful for the countless prayers and well wishes for Nicky.

The ‘Kentucky Kid’ will be sorely missed by all that ever had the pleasure of meeting him or the privilege to see him race a motorcycle around a track, be it dirt or asphalt.

The racing world says goodbye to one of its dearest sons. Rest in peace Nicholas ‘Nicky’ Patrick Hayden.

 

MotoGP – Jackass walks away from massive crash at Le Mans

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The most dramatic moment of the French MotoGP round undoubtedly came during FP4, when Jack Miller suffered a terrifying crash at Turn 2.

The Marc VDS pilot was following Marc Márquez and Danilo Petrucci through Turn 1 and was preparing to flick his satellite Honda into left for Turn 2 when the front end folded.

What happened next was frightening – the front tyre gripped again and sent Miller straight towards the wall on the inside of the track. Miller’s factory spec RC213V then veered towards the wall, sliding and straightening as it went before glancing the protective barrier. The impact was violent enough to throw the Australian off the bike, sending him cartwheeling through the gravel parallel with the wall.

It was a violent crash, yet Miller walked away virtually unscathed – a testament to today’s airbag technology – and after a medical check a shaken Miller took his place in Q2 on his spare bike despite the discomfort of football-size swelling on his right knee and bruised right hand.

Those injuries contributed to a second but harmless tumble at the final corner when he was set to improve his time in the final moments of qualifying.

Miller said: “I was happy to get back on the bike for qualifying after not feeling 100% after the crash in FP4. It was a nasty crash and I’m lucky to walk away with just some bruises. I had some locking on the front through turn one which sent me towards the wall and when I saw I wasn’t going to stop in time I let go before I hit the wall. In Q2 I went quicker on my first run but my hand was not perfect after the crash and I struggled to stop the bike on the brakes in the final corner and touched the kerb. A shame but I’ll be ready for the race after I get some ice on my hand and knee to get the swelling down.”

Respect.

 

 

MotoGP – Viñales wins, Rossi crashes out at Le Mans

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Yamaha’s Maverick Viñales delivered a stunning performance at the Grand Prix de France, taking his third victory of the season and the 500th Grand Prix win for Yamaha.

Viñales was strong right from the beginning of the 28-lap French round. Starting from pole, he flew off the line to take the holeshot and slotted into second as he dived into Turn 3, behind Tech 3’s Johann Zarco.

The Frenchman tried to build a gap, but the Spaniard, shadowed by his teammate Valentino Rossi, kept up and with 22 laps Viñales made a textbook move on the satellite Yamaha rookie to take over the lead.

Now at the front, the Spaniard put the hammer down. He did everything in his power to escape from Zarco and managed his pace to perfection, ensuring he held on to his P1 position until he got in a fierce battle with a rapidly approaching Rossi.

Viñales was leading on the last lap when the Doctor sensationally crashed out of the race as he tapped on the gas, allowing him to bring hisYZR-M1over the finish line, 3.134s ahead of Zarco.

Viñales said: “Keeping up with Johann in the early laps of the race was hard, he was really fast and with the full tank we were not so strong as him. He was exiting from the corners really good and really fast. Then his tyre started to drop a little bit and our tyre started to work good on the rear, and lap by lap I was feeling better. Until the end, in the last lap, I gave everything I had here in the French GP and, honestly, I’m so happy and so pleased. The team was working on an incredible level this weekend, I hope we can continue like that.”

Teammate Rossi enjoyed a day to forget. Having made a good start from second on the grid, he put his Yamaha in fourth position behind Marc Marquez after the first couple of corners, only to pass the Spaniard a few turns later. With Viñales in front of him, the factory Yamaha men rode in tandem as they chased the leader of the race.

Outbraking himself with 16 laps to go, the Italian lost some time, which left him within the grasp of Marquez.The Doctor responded quickly to the situation and upped his pace as the Spaniard crashed out of the race, allowing Rossi to focus on the battle in front. With five laps to go, he overtook Zarco for second place, making it a perfect factory Yamaha1-2, but the nine-time World Champion was hungry for more.He attacked Viñales on Lap 26 but his teammate slipped back past him as the scrap continued and Rossi made a small mistake as he asked for the gas, losing the rear and sliding out, losing valuable championship points in the process.

Rossi said: “It was a great shame, because for my team it was the best weekend of the season, where I was more competitive on the track, also in the wet, but especially in the race.

“For sure, for me this could have been the best result of the season. It was very difficult because the pace was always very high, but at the end I felt comfortable on the bike, I had a good feeling, so I tried to attack. Unfortunately, on the last lap I made a mistake in Turn 6 and I fell back a little, so Maverick could overtake me. I knew I had another chance, because we were very close and I tried to remain there, because in sector 4 I was good.

“Sincerely, what happened during the crash, we don’t understand. Usually you have to pay attention to the front, but I lost the rear when I crashed. Anyway, I made a mistake, and it’s like this. It is a great shame to go back home with zero points. First of all, I’m very sorry for missing out on the probable victory and also for losing the lead in the championship, because I lost points. For me, it still has been a good weekend, I was strong. Now we have to start thinking about the next race track, I hope to ride there like I did this weekend. We hope to continue like this.”

Viñales’ first place earns him 25 points. This puts him on 85 points and in the lead in the championship standings, 23 points ahead of Rossi in third place. The 500th Grand Prix win also sees the Yamaha MotoGP Team hold the lead in the Team standings by 21 points, with a total of 147 points, while Yamaha remains the top manufacturer in the Constructor’s Championship by a 13 point margin, with 108 points.

MotoGP – Yamaha locks out front row at dramatic Le Mans qualifying session

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Yamaha factory riders Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi dug deep in a dramatic qualifying session at Le Mans to claim a superb first and second place respectively.

In fact it was a dominant performance for the Japanese manufacturer, with rookie sensation and local hero Johann Zarco piloting his satellite bike to the final place on the front row.

Viñales and Rossi went all out in an intense 15-minute qualifying session at the Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix race circuit , and having topped FP4, Viñales was one of the last men to leave pit lane, finding some free track space and going directly on the attack. He took the top spot with his first flying lap, a 1’33.134s, before being pushed back to sixth place when the pace quickened.

With more than seven-and-a-half minutes to go, he came into the pits for a fresh set of rubber. Two minutes later the Spaniard was back on track, now in seventh place in the timings, and had just enough time left for three more hot laps. He rose to the challenge and produced a strong 1’32.146s for provisional pole, but further underlined his incredible speed with a 1’31.994s on his next lap, that earned him his second pole position of the season.

Rossi also flexed his muscles during the 15-minute shoot-out. He was quick to head out to make the most of the time available, but decided to let some chasing riders pass at the end of his first hot lap. He moved up to second place on his third attempt, before heading back to the box with six minutes remaining.

The Italian continued his efforts one-and-a-half minutes later, setting another personal best lap that moved him up from fourth to second, despite having to avoid a crash from Jack Miller that happened right in front of him. The Doctor still had some time left for a final push, and improved his time to a 1’32.100s, to keep a strong hold on second place, ahead of Johann Zarco, who made it a full Yamaha front row.

Polesitter Viñales said: “It was a tricky qualifying, because the track was not at its best, but anyway our bike is really good here. We knew we could do it, so I just tried to concentrate and push to the best of my ability and bring home the pole position. We have to be really careful with the weather, we also have to pay a lot of attention if we have a flag to flag, a wet race or even on the dry, we still have to improve. We have to work tonight and try to improve for tomorrow.”

Road racing – Brookes to race Supertwins at TT

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Josh Brookes has secured another ride at this year’s Isle of Man TT after agreeing to ride for Ryan Farquhar’s IEG/KMR Kawasaki team in the Lightweight class.

The Australian will be making his Supertwins debut and will ride the bike earmarked for Hudson Kennaugh, who has withdrawn from the meeting.

Brookes joins fellow road racing stalwarts Lee Johnston, Peter Hickman and Danny Webb who are also riding KMR Supertwins.

Brookes, who lies fourth in the British Superbike series, will ride a Norton in the Superbike and Senior TT races.

The bike the 2015 British Superbike champion will ride is the one that Michael Rutter took to first and second places in the Supertwins races at the North West 200.

Team boss Ryan Farquhar said: “When Hudson withdrew from the North West 200 and TT, my immediate focus was on the North West and Michael Rutter did an absolutely brilliant job to take a race win after stepping in at the last minute.

“Michael had already agreed to ride the Paton at the TT though so he wasn’t available, but having had tentative talks with Josh over the winter, I’m now delighted to welcome him on board.

“Having a ride of that pedigree riding for KMR is a terrific coup and I’m really looking forward to working with him.”

“We were a little bit down on top speed at the North West but Michael showed what the bike was capable of, particularly in the handling department, and with four incredibly talented riders on the KMR Kawasakis, we’re confident of having a good TT.”

WSBK – Hayden in ‘serious’ condition after training crash

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Nicky Hayden remains in a very serious condition in hospital after a bicycle accident while training in Italy.

The 2006 MotoGP world champion was reportedly hit by a car between Tavoleto and Riccione, south of the seaside resort of Rimini and rushed to a local hospital with severe head and chest injuries. However, the severity of his injuries led to the medical team deciding to fly him to the Bufalini hospital in nearby Cesena, one better equipped to cater to serious head injuries.

Hospital staff describe Hayden’s condition as ‘very serious’ and he has now been moved to intensive care.

Hayden was in the region training following last weekend’s fifth round of the WSBK series at nearby Imola.

The Kentucky Kid raced for the factory Honda and Honda  MotoGP teams before switching to WSBK in 2016, finishing the season in place.

 

 

 

 

 

Kit advice – one-piece leathers buying guide

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Motorcycle race suits are the very best form of riding protection. They’re constructed with abrasion resistant materials, have generous impact protection and are designed to keep you as safe as possible in the event of a crash.

For maximum safety, a one-piece race suit is what you want. One of the drawbacks of a two-piece suit is the vulnerability of the connection between the pants and jacket, an issue that isn’t present with a single-piece set. They’re comprised primarily of high-quality leather (both cow and kangaroo hides), with stretch panels strategically placed in areas to improve fit, flexibility and comfort. Internal armor is often complimented by external protection.

WHAT IS BEST – COW HIDE OR KANGAROO?

When it comes to materials – there are two main choices; cow hide and kangaroo. Kangaroo is lighter, stronger and more supple, but it’s also thinner, which means it’s unlikely to survive more than one spill.

There’s a reason why most suits are made of cow hide – leather is more durable and wears better. Leather slides incredibly well, and in most cases it won’t hole – you’re more likely to suffer heat burns from your skin rubbing against the leather than damage from cuts and the likes. Speed causes a lot of injuries but the injuries caused by friction are far greater.

WHAT SHOULD I LOOK FOR WHEN IT COMES TO ARMOUR?

When it comes to leathers fit is incredibly important. Armour that doesn’t stay in place and moves is dangerous. Most suits have a mixture of soft internal armour and heavy-duty exterior armour. The armour is designed to disperse force at a certain point, whether it’s the shoulder, elbow, knees or wherever. If it moves, then it can’t dissipate the force away from the area it’s supposed to be protecting.

Look for suits which have CE-approved armour. These suits will have protective external features which have been designed to slide rather than grip, and will thus offer more protection.

WHAT ABOUT STITCHING?

Look for double and triple stitching. This is proven to offer the best protection in the case of a spill – double and triple stitching means the seams are less prone to bursting in an impact.

WHAT OTHER FEATURES SHOULD I LOOK OUT FOR?

This mainly comes down to ease of use. An inner suit will make the leathers easier to get on and off, as well as more comfortable on the bike. The same is true with neoprene cuffs and collars – no more chafing.

Zips are another often overlooked feature. They need to be sturdy and easy to operate with a gloved hand. And they need to stay closed – there’s nothing worse than a zip working its way loose.

HOW IMPORTANT IS FIT?

As with all areas of motorcycle clothing, fit is crucial. Leathers are always a compromise between fit and protection. Too snug and they’ll restrict movement, too loose and all the armour won’t be in the right place.

For a one-piece, fit will be snug, bordering on tight if you’re aiming to get a race-appropriate fit. You don’t want material or protective elements shifting in the event of a crash.

One-piece suits are also designed to be comfortable in the tucked riding position, so may not be all that comfortable when standing or sitting. Stretch panels on the arms, legs and lower back aid movement and flexibility, and thus comfort.

There’s also the option of choosing a size above the race-fit if your plans are to wear the suit while carving canyons or looking for a more spacious fit. Follow the standard fitment instructions for jackets and pants when choosing a two-piece suit.

It’s best to visit your local bike shop, get measured and try on a variety of suits from a range of manufacturers. Try them on with your normal kit – back protector, chest protector, helmet – and make sure everything works together. Bin any that restrict movement.

DO I NEED A SUIT WITH AN AERO HUMP?

Speed humps have been getter smaller over recent years, and apart from the aerodynamic benefits, some manufacturers are using the humps to house airbag systems or hydration packs.

However, there is also a school of thought which says to avoid them where possible. the late Doc John Hinds advised against leathers with a speed hump as he’d noticed that if a rider was unconscious and on their back, the head tended to roll back against the speed hump, which made it difficult to treat them – you can’t keep airways clear when the head’s tilted back as it narrows the airways.

DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR BEDDING A NEW SUIT IN?

Leathers bed in a lot, sometimes by as much as 10%. I know that double TT winner Ivan Lintin has a little trick he uses to expand a specific part of the suit. He had an issue around his knees at the TT one year and put a motorcycle inner tube into the problem area, blew it up and left overnight.

That may well work for him, but the only real way to bed a new suit in is to wear it, whether that be wearing it round the house, or out on the bike.

CAN I GET AWAY WITH BUYING SECONDHAND LEATHERS?

I’d advise against buying secondhand gear. With leathers they may well be the right size for you on paper, but the leather itself will have stretched to whoever had them before, and they’ll have a different body shape and size to you. So that means they won’t fit you as well as they should, and if they don’t fit then they aren’t going to be of much use in a spill.