There will be a new team on the tracks from next season as the Petronas Yamaha Sepang Racing Team was officially unveiled.
The team will have a presence in all three tiers of Grand Prix Motorsports and have already announced their line-up. Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo will represent the team in MotoGP, Khairul Idham Pawi will ride in Moto2 and Ayumu Sasaki and John McPhee are the ones chosen for Moto3.
Franco Morbidelli, the 2018 MotoGP rookie of the year, said: “This is my second team presentation as a MotoGP rider and my first with this ambitious team. To be honest, it has been really impressive, everybody is very excited and committed to the team.
“I love how the bike has turned out and the whole look with the leathers and helmet. I am looking forward to debuting it next week in the first test at the Sepang International Circuit.”
The new team will make its debut during the first official MotoGP Test of 2019 at the Sepang International Circuit from February 6-8.
Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea enjoyed a successfuol WSBK test at jerez, setting the fastesst time on board the new ZX-10RR.
On a partially resurfaced racetrack the opening day proved to be almost as much of a fact-finding exercise as a regular test at times. With new asphalt being laid in several corners, but not all, everyone had to take some time to adapt to the new feel and grip levels, as the track cleaned up with every lap the riders set.
With warmer weather and better track conditions present on day two both Rea found improvements in performance and consistency, putting in a 1’39.160 lap on a normal race tyre set-up.
With most of their WorldSBK competitors out together for the first time in 2019 at the 4.423 km long circuit in Andalusia at this test, it was an important one for KRT to measure where they are with the most recent version of the Ninja ZX-10RR.
Jonathan Rea, stated: “That was positive, very positive. I felt much better on the bike today and we found some good tyre consumption results. Yesterday the track was really green and I struggled a bit with that. Pirelli have brought some different tyres that we had to put in the plan today. Aside from that we just kept working with the chassis set-up and we found some big improvements. We are continuing to work with electronics but we are not doing too much fine tuning. We played around with wheelbase length a little bit. We had a clear direction in the last winter test and I preferred the bike a certain way. Here I just sacrificed a little bit of turning-in performance and that is what we tried to look for today, to make the bike a bit a little bit more manageable. I enjoyed today and started to ride with a smile on my face. Finding good improvements throughout the day kept motivation high and the track was in much better shape. I felt like over one lap, and in terms of consistent pace, we are in a really good place.”
Team-mate Haslam finsihed the two-day session in third in the timesheets.
Fan favourite Michael Dunlop will return to the Isle of Man TT Races with Tyco BMW for 2019.
Dunlop added three more wins to his tally at TT 2018, riding a combination of Tyco machinery and his own MD Racing bikes, to take him to third place on the all-time winners board behind legends John McGuinness and Joey Dunlop.
Dunlop has his sights firmly fixed on adding to his impressive tally of silverware. He said: “We grabbed a Superbike TT win last year, which was a good start, and the goal this year will be to go after both the Superbike and Senior TT wins.”
Although the team and rider are remaining the same, one element of the mix will be changing as BMW introduce the new S1000RR.
Michael confirmed he was expecting to test the new superbike shortly. He said: “With the added improvements to the package and a second season with the same team, we should be in a good place to go after both the big wins on the Island.“
The Honda Racing Team has annoucned that David Johnson will line-up next to Ian Hutchinson on the roads for the 2019 road race season.
Hutchinson and Johnson will spearhead Honda’s charge on the roads at The International North West 200 and the Isle of Man TT, with both rider contesting the Superbike and Superstock 1000 classes aboard the CBR1000RR Fireblade SP2, with the team also preparing a CBR600RR Supersport machine for Hutchinson.
‘Davo’ made his debut at the TT in 2010 aboard Honda machinery where he claimed the accolade of fastest newcomer that year. The Australian has since racked up three 4th place finishes at the Mountain Course and was close to a podium last year in the Superbike race. His best result at the Ulster GP has been 3rd (2018) and 7th at the NW200.
Johnson said: I am really happy to join the Honda Racing Team for this season. Over the years they have been incredibly successful on the roads and won a lot at the TT; I feel that I will gel with the Fireblade, so I’m very excited to get started.”
Hutchinson continues with Honda after a valiant return last year, while recovering from injury. Displaying incredible drive and determination throughout 2018, the ‘Bingley Bullet’ is coming into the new road racing season with more bike time under his belt as he looks to return to winning form.
The Honda Racing team will now embark on a comprehensive testing programme before tackling the road circuits, starting with the North West 200 in May.
In tribute to the late, great Nicky Hayden, who passed away in 2017, the number 69 will be retired from Grand Prix racing at the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin, Texas. The “Kentucky Kid” rode 69 to the crown and MotoGP Legend status during an impressive career that saw him leave an indelible mark on the sport and the paddock.
Hayden’s first successes came in 2003 when he took podiums as a rookie and he went on to win his first Grand Prix in 2005. That created a perfect springboard for the following season and he put together an impressive campaign to become 2006 MotoGP World Champion, wrapping up the crown in the season finale.
Hayden rose from dirt track beginnings to the absolute pinnacle of his sport, taking his unique blend of work ethic, humility and talent from the domestic scene to the world stage and putting his name to an astounding number achievements both within racing and beyond its limits – key amongst which was his moniker as ‘the nicest man in Grand Prix racing’.
Hayden remained a cornerstone of the paddock until his departure at the end of 2015, upon which he was named a MotoGP Legend. The number 69 will now forever remain the number of the “Kentucky Kid”; the man who rode it into the Hall of Fame.
“What a great honor it will be for Nicky’s #69 to be retired at Austin,” says Hayden’s father, Earl. “It is very fitting that it will be done at the US race as these races meant so much to Nicky and he looked forward to them so much every year. For myself in particular this will be very special event because the #69 was my number when I raced and I was very proud to see Nicky run the #69 on his bikes for his entire career. On behalf of my entire family I would like to say a special thanks to Dorna for honoring Nicky in this special way along with the many other gestures they have done to support us through the difficult times.”
Marc Márquez and Jorge Lorenzo were joined by Repsol Honda Team legends Mick Doohan and Alex Crivillé to launch their rider-line up and livery for 2019, as well as celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Repsol Honda Team.
The new rider line-up is one of the strongest ever to take to the grid: Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo have taken eight of the last nine world championships in the premier class.
The new livery is disappontingly the same as last year’s, with the team opting not to run special paitn to mark its 25th anniversary of racing together. Instead it chose to mark that occasion by wheeling out Mick Doohan and Alex Crivillé, the first riders to run in the teasm’s colours.
It’s worth remembering just how successful the partnership between Honda and Repsol has been: from the Honda NSR500 of Doohan and Crivillé to the RC213V of Márquez and now Lorenzo, the HRC machines have taken 168 victories in the premier class, 14 World Championships, 427 podiums, 182 fastest laps and 177 pole positions together with Repsol.
With Lorenzo injured, Marquez will be the team’s only rider at the Sepang Test (February 6 – 8) where he and the RC213V will debut the 2019 livery for the first time on track. Lorenzo meanwhile is set to commence an intense physical therapy routine in order to be as fit as possible for the Qatar Test (February 23 – 25).
New Repsol Honda pilot Jorge Lorenzo has undergone surgery to repair the broken left scaphoid he damaged while training off-road.
While continuing his preparations for the 2019 MotoGP world championship, Lorenzo suffered a fall while riding just outside of Verona, Italy. After multiple checks, it was confirmed that the five-time world champion had sustained a broken scaphoid.
Lorenzo elected to have surgery on the injury, a titanium screw inserted via a minimally invasive technique. He will remain in hospital for 24 hours for further observation. Four days rest will give the injury sufficient time to heal from the operation and physiotherapy can then begin.
Due to the nature of the injury, Lorenzo and the Repsol Honda Team have elected for him to miss the Sepang Test to focus fully on his recovery. His aim is to return fully fit for the Qatar Test, February 23 to 25. He now heads to Madrid for the 25th Anniversary Repsol Honda Team launch on January 23 alongside Marc Márquez.
Ducati has unveiled its 2019 team colours at the Phillip Morris R&D Cube in Neuchatel, Switzerland.
Sporting a very, very red livery, the design harks backs to the liveries of yore for the Italian brand, complete with Audi Sport logo and a barcode-esque Ducati Winnow logo on the side.
As usual, Ducati remains tightlipped when it comes to actual details and figures about its race bikes, and instead quotes a ballpark peak power figure ‘in excess of 250hp’ for its Desmodromic V4 powerplant.
The Audi Sport logo is big news; Audi was rumoured to have put Ducati up for sale at the table end of 2018, and the inclusion of the Audi Sport branding seems to imply that this is no longer the case.
The ‘Mission Winnow’ has generated even more interest as Ducati continues to flout the sport’s anti-tobacco advertising legislation. Philip Morris has remained Ducati’s main MotoGP sponsor ever since the Italian factory entered the sport in 2003, despite no longer being allowed to run any Marlboro cigarette branding, and the Mission Winnow logo first appeared on the Ferrari F1 cars at last season’s Japanese Grand Prix. and is a slogan used by Philip Morris to ‘discard old approaches, learn from past mistakes and use them to shape our future’.
The company is now pushing for a smoke-free future through its IQOS tobacco heating system, but Philip Morris emphasised that ‘Mission Winnow’ does not advertise or promote any PMI-branded products: “This is about passion.”
HJC Helmets have reached an agreement with Cal Crutchlow to become his official helmet sponsor for 2019 and 2020 in the MotoGP World Championship.
Cal has been a permanent fixture on the MotoGP grid since 2011 and the British rider continues his relationship with Team LCR Honda in 2019 after celebrating three podiums in 2018 including a victory in Argentina. Unfortunately, an injury sustained in Australia excluded Cal from the final three races of the season.
A well-respected rider by all in the paddock, Cal will become a vital part of HJC’s racing program. His maturity and experience on track bring important knowledge to contribute to the development of HJC’s products, building on their 47 years of experience in manufacturing quality motorcycle helmets.
Crutchlow said: “I am very pleased to announce my new partnership with HJC Helmets. They’ve grown their presence in the MotoGP paddock over the past few years, sponsoring races and I’m happy to join the family. Despite being a huge company, they haven’t lost the personal approach and relationship, and this means a lot to me. Their helmet is a great product and I’m looking forward to working with them to continue to develop and evolve their design.”
The move sees Cal ditch his long-standing relationship with Arai.