Month: February 2019

WSBK: Bautista wins Race Two to complete Phillip Island hat-trick

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The final race of the Australian Round in the opening meeting of the 2019 WSBK Championship went the way of Ducati’s Alvaro Bautista, who completed a dream WSBK debut.

Initially taking the lead at Turn 1, Bautista started putting time into kawasaki’s Leon Haslam, who had managed to pass team-mate Jonathan Rea at Turn 4. Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha) also made a fast start and was fourth whilst Michael Ruben Rinaldi escalated from eighth on the grid into fifth, with Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha) remaining sixth.

At Turn One on lap two, Eugene Laverty (Team Goeleven) made a brief appearance into sixth, passing Melandri, only for the Italian to repay the compliment. Back in the fight for second position, Haslam began to pull away from Rea, the reigning champion not having things his own way.

Marco Melandri got his way ahead of van der Mark and immediately set about closing down the Kawasaki pairing of Haslam and Rea. Further up the road, Bautista was building his own gap, setting the fastest lap to confirm his relentless pace. The gap between the two Kawasakis was now at 0.5s, with Haslam seemingly able to put distance between Rea. Behind Melandri and van der Mark, Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha) was back into sixth.

Further down the order, Ducati’s Chaz Davies was making good progress from 16th on the grid and was now ninth, almost passing Laverty at Turn 10.

Behind the squabbling Kawasaki riders, the Yamaha riders of Melandri and van der Mark decided to have their own fight, passing and re-passing, hindering their chances of taking the fight to Rea and Haslam, less than half-a-second up the road at times. Van der Mark was up to fourth at Turn Four with four laps to go, although Melandri got back ahead at Turn 10.

At the front, Bautista was in a league of his own, slowing down considerably as he cruised past the line to take the chequered flag. Rea took second place ahead of Haslam, while van der Mark finished fourth ahead of teammate Alex Lowes, who put in a stunning late charge to demote Marco Melandri to sixth. Chaz Davies finished in seventh place, with reigning WSS Champion Sandro Cortese completing the top eight. Eugene Laverty took ninth place and his joint-best finish of the weekend, with Leon Camier rounding out the top ten.

 

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WSBK: Bautista wins first ever Superpole race as Ducati V4R continues to fly

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The first ever WSBK Superpole race saw Ducati’s Alvaro Bautista destroy the field to add another win to his tally.

The fast-paced ten lap encounter was a thriller from lights-out to chequered flag, with Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea sweeping majestically into the lead at Turn One, and Race One winner Bautista hot on his heels.

By the end of the first lap, Yamaha’s Alex Lowes had moved to third position – briefly taking Bautista for second place, only for the Ducati Panigale V4 R to blast past, passing him easily down the Gardner Straight. However, unlike in Race One on Saturday, the Spaniard was unable to make a break away from Rea, who stayed with him – a completely different story in comparison to the first race of the season yesterday.

Rea’s team-mate Leon Haslam was pushed back briefly to fifth position by Michael van der Mark on the factory Yamaha, but soon managed to retake fourth and then halfway into the race took back third place from Lowes.

With seven laps to go, Rea pushed ahead of Bautista at Turn Two, only for the championship leader to push back in front at Turn Four – the gloves were off. Rea briefly took the lead back, but Bautista’s Ducati power soon put him in front at the end of the lap. Rea put a bold move on the 34-year-old at Turn One immediately after, with similar moves being made throughout the field.

The battle raged on behind after Haslam had broke away to secure third, asLowes, van der Mark, Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha) and team-mate Marco Melandri all battled hard. The quartet of Yamaha YZF R1s duked it out and tripped up over each other, ending any chance they had of mounting a top three charge.

Tinal lap saw the drama continue to unfold, with Leandro Mercado (Orelac Racing VerdNatura) wiping out Jordi Torres (Team Pedercini Racing) and Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) at the infamous Turn Four.

At the flag, Bautista held off Rea’s onslaught to take the first ever win in the Superpole Race to start from pole position in Race Two. Rea secured second with team-mate Leon Haslam completing the top three.

 

 

 

 

MotoGP: Aprilia unveils new 2019 livery and squad

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Aprilia has unveiled its 2019 livery and team line-up for the new season.

As well as a new bike, the team has shaken up its squad in a bid to change its fortunes, appointing Massimo Rivola as new racing CEO, Romano Albesiano’s as technical director, Bradley Smith as test rider, with Andrea Iannone joining Aleix Espargaro.

“The final part of last season and the winter tests were fundamental from a technical point of view,” Albesiano said. “The arrival of Andrea and Bradley added new information to Aleix’s fundamental contribution, helping us to define the RS-GP’s line of evolution. This is a project that has come to fruition this season, with an overall improvement in every aspect.

“A lot of work was done on making it lighter. We made changes to the chassis architecture and electronics management, leaving room for further advancements that will be done constantly throughout the season.

“The reorganisation of the racing department and the reinforcement of the test team were two key factors in preparation over the winter, allowing us to streamline processes and have more precise data analysis. These are essential aspects in MotoGP these days.”

WSBK: Bautista the dominant force in Race One at Phillip Island

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The opening race of the 2019 WSBK series was dominated by  Alvaro Bautista on his maiden race on the Factory Ducati V4R, who set a scintillating pace and was able to clear off at the front of the pack from lap one. Bautista took the win in a convincing manner, winning by more than 15 seconds to become the first Rookie to win a WSBK race on his debut since Max Biaggi in 2007.

Off the line for the first time in 2019, Kawasaki’s Leon Haslam got a good start before being sandwiched into Turn 1 by Alvaro Bautista and early race leader and pole-sitter, Jonathan Rea on the other factory Kawasaki. However, Bautista soon blasted into the lead at Turn 3 and from there, built a gap, setting back-to-back fastest laps and building a  gap of over eight seconds.

With Bautista untouchable, the battle for the rest of the field was firmly on who would take second position, with Rea, Haslam and Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha) fighting for position. BMW’s Tom Sykes also had a good start to the race, sitting outside the leading group in fifth and chasing the leaders down hard. Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha) was in sixth and made a rampant start, despite opting for a harder compound tyre choice. Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) was a big mover and shaker after one lap, up to seventh from 14th on the grid.

The race evolved and began to take shape, with the Kawasaki duo of Rea and Haslam exchanging position frequently, while Sykes and Lowes also battled hard. Razgatlioglu made massive progress through the field and was soon into fourth place with an exciting move into Turn 1.
With Haslam managing to get ahead of Rea and pull clear, he crashed out of second at Turn 4, losing the front as he asked to much from the tyres.  This left Rea and Lowes at the front of the battle for second position, while Razgatlioglu and Sykes battled hard; the BMW of Sykes struggling to keep Toprak’s Kawasaki behind it on the front straight but then managing to get back ahead at the hairpins.

Later in the race, Marco Melandri started to make big in-roads to Dutchman, Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha). It wasn’t long before the Italian made his move into sixth place and then chased down the riders ahead of him. Soon, he got ahead of Sykes and then Razgatlioglu at Turn 2 with six laps left, releasing him into clear air to hunt Lowes and the final spot on the podium.

At the flag and Bautista romped home with 14.9s to spare, a remarkable achievement; one that echoed Anthony Gobert’s dominant victory at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit in 2000. Rea took second position and conceded the first race of the season for a second consecutive year. The battle for third saw a remarkable effort from Melandri, hunting down Lowes and finally making his move stick on the final corner to take the final position on the podium.

Michael van der Mark took fifth place to make it three Yamaha riders inside the top five, with Razgatlioglu completing the top six ahead of Sykes.

Speaking after the race, Bautista said: I am so happy to start my WorldSBK career this way. I missed the Superpole because I am still not used to work with the Superpole tyres but I was quite confident for the race. I tried to find my rhythm immediately and I found my pace from the beginning. The gap was increasing every lap, so I tried to manage the tyres and save them for the final part of the race. I am really happy and I want to thank Ducati and my team because they did an absolutely amazing job over the winter.”

With the first race complete for 2019, Bautista becomes the first Spanish Rookie to set a fastest lap at Phillip Island on a Ducati since Ruben Xaus in 2001, while also becoming the first Spanish rider to win a WSBK race since Jordi Torres in 2015 at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.

WSBK: Bautista still the man to beat at Phillip Island

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The final session of the opening day Round One of the 2019 WSBK season concluded with Ducati’s Alvaro Bautista taking over at the top of combined times, ahead of Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea and team-mate Leon Haslam, who finished in second and third positions.

Bautista’s time was the fastest in the individual FP2 session. The Spaniard was once again quickest in the speed trap and was by far the fastest of the all-new Ducati Panigale V4 Rs. The Rookie set a blistering lap time of 1’30.327 to go ahead of Rea in the final minutes by just 0.014s. By comparison, Ducati team-mate Chaz Davies only managed 14th position overall.

Bautista said: “Even though the main aim was not to set the quickest time, today was really positive and I’m very satisfied. We knew we had a good pace, so everything was possible. This morning we made a change to the set-up to try and improve the feeling from the tests at the start of the week, but we didn’t find what we expected. In addition, we tried a new spec of tyre which wasn’t at the test. In the afternoon we decided to work on race distance to verify tyre wear and all in all I’m happy. I’ve got an excellent feeling with the bike and I’m enjoying myself so we’ll try and continue like this tomorrow. As it’s my first race in Superbike many aspects are new to me, it’s not going to be easy but I hope to be able to fight with Rea.”

Outside the top three, Tom Sykes (BMW Motorrad) quietly went about his business, not troubling his lap time from FP1 in the session, remaining fourth overall. Teammate Markus Reiterberger also continued his development with the new BMW S1000RR but like Sykes, didn´t improve on his time with 20 minutes left, finishing in eighth overall and just over half a second off Bautista.

Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha) jumped up the order to fifth position, making amends for FP1. The Lincolnshire rider then continued to improve his lap times, consistently fast although he took a tumble in the middle of the session. Dutchman Michael van der Mark (Pata Yamaha) also continued the theme of great improvement for Yamaha, although remained ninth.

Sandro Cortese (GRT Yamaha) closed the day seventh on combined times for much of the session. Cortese has started to understand the YZF R1 much better over the course of testing and subsequently is up at the sharp end. Team-mate Marco Melandri continued to struggle, in 13th for most of the session.

Leon Camier (Moriwaki Althea Honda) had a good session, consolidating his pace and moving up to sixth on the combined times.

Completing the top ten was Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing), taking his Kawasaki to within 0.800s of the top time posted by Bautista.

WSBK: Bautista continues to lead the way at pre-season test at Phillip Island

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Alvaro Bautista shaved almost half a second off his Monday lap time to finish the two-day WSBK test at Phillip Island on top of the timesheets.

The Spanish rider clocked his best lap in 1m 30.303s to lead the way from Tom Sykes, who was right in the mix for the BMW Motorrad team in second place, 0.236s adrift.

Bautista said: “Today was another very positive day. This morning we made a change to the bike’s geometry but we didn’t find what we were looking for so we went back to yesterday’s setting. In the afternoon the aim was to do a long-run, to see how the tyres behaved after a number of laps in race trim. I’m pleased because I kept a very good pace throughout the entire long-run. These have been two very positive days, and I’d like to thank the whole team, which did a perfect job. We’re ready to tackle the first race, and I can’t wait to start!”

Reigning champion Jonathan Rea was fourth quickest on his Kawasaki, four tenths down on Bautista and one place behind new team-mate Leon Haslam, with just 0.054s between them.

Marco Melandri (GRT Yamaha) and Toprak Razgatliogu (Turkish Puccetti Racing Kawasaki) were next as half-a-second covered the top six on the combined times on the final day of the test.

Bautista’s team-mate, Chaz Davies, continued to struggle with the new Ducati as he languished in 14th position, 1.4 seconds off the top time, while Eugene Laverty was 16th on the Go Eleven Ducati.

Phillip Island Day Two Test Times:

1 A Bautista (Aruba.it Ducati) 1m 30.326s

2 T Sykes (BMW Motorrad) 1m 30.539s +0.213s

3 L Haslam (Kawasaki Racing Team) 1m 30.668s +0.342

4 J Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) 1m 30.772s +0.396s

5 M Melandri (GRT Yamaha) 1m 30.760s +0.457s

6 T Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Kawasaki) 1m 30.840s +0.514s

7 M van der Mark (Pata Yamaha) 1m 30.911s +0.608s

8 S Cortese (GRT Yamaha) 1m 31.077s +0.774

9 A Lowes (Pata Yamaha) 1m 31.146s +0.843s

10 J Torres (Team Pedercini Kawasaki) 1m 31.224s +0.898s

 

WSBK: Bautista top of the timesheets on Day One at Phillip Island test

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Day one of the WSBK test at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit saw factory Ducati’s Álvaro Bautista clocking the fastest time of the day, over four tenths of a second faster than Yamaha’s Alex Lowes and Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea.

Bautista said: “Today was a very positive day and I felt good on the bike right away. We mainly focussed on chassis set-up work by testing various solutions that I hadn’t tried out until now. I’m pleased because we were able to improve the turning of the bike, which gave me a lot more confidence going into the corner. In addition, we tried the different tyre solutions that Pirelli brought along for the weekend. Now we have to have a good look at the data and try and make another step forward, but all in all I’m very happy.”

The Spaniard’s best lap of 1’30.743 was impressive, but team-mate Chaz Davies lingered at the bottom end of the timesheets for both sessions. Still searching for an ideal base set-up, the Welshman found some technical issues early on and was unable to match his teammate’s pace. The other two Panigale V4 Rs on the 2019 grid also continued developing with Team Go Eleven’s Eugene Laverty focusing on base setup as well as improving the feeling on the rear of the bike, while Barni Racing’s Michael Ruben Rinaldi concentrated on adapting to the new Showa suspension.

The Kawasaki factory pairing of Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam were the two first men out on track in the morning and showed similar pace, finishing the day in third and fifth respectively. Puccetti’s Toprak Razgatlioglu also appeared to be making ground with the 2019 ZX-10RR as he set the tenth fastest lap on his first day with the new engine, rising above his fellow Kawasaki privateers.

Yamaha’s Alex Lowes again finished inside the top two at Phillip Island, 0.403s behind Bautista. Both the Englishman and team-mate Michael van der Mark – worked on race set-up. The other two Yamahas on the grid also excelled on day one, as the Japanese manufacturer managed to place all four bikes inside the top eight. GRT’s Marco Melandri placed sixth, while team-mate Sandro Cortese posted the eighth fastest time on what was his first laps on a superbike at Phillip Island.

The test also a fruitful day for the two BMW bikes, fitted with a new chassis and swingarm link for the first time. Tom Sykes finished the day in fourth position having the edge over team-mate Markus Reiterberger, ninth fastest.

After several months of swirling rumours and working outside the spotlight, the test also saw the debut of the Moriwaki Althea Honda Team. The first signs would seem promising, as Leon Camier edged close to the top ten with a bike still in an early development stage.

WSBK: Full factory Honda WSBK team debuts 2019 bikes and rider line-up

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The foctory Honda WSBK tam has unveiled its 2019 bike ahead of the opening round of the championship in Australia.

The Moriwaki Althea Honda Team has deliberately kept off the radar during the pre-season,  and this is the first time the bikes and the 2019 rider line-up of Leon Camier and Ryuichi Kiyonari has been seen since the news broke that Honda had dropped Ten kate in favour of a full factory backed Moriwaki squad.

The most obvious change for the 2019 CBR1000RR is the livery, which to these eyes looks like a dog’s dinner. Predominantly red, with blue, white and yellow, the bikes will certainly stand out on the track.

WSBK: 2019 factory Kawasaki WSBK bike breaks cover

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The factory Kawasaki WSBK team has pulled the wraps of its 2019 race bike.

Reigning WSBK champion Jonathan Rea and new team-mate Leon Haslam unveiled the 2019 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10RR  ahead of next weekend’s opening round of the championship at Phillip Island in Australia.

Rea said: “KRT always push the boat out when it comes to launching the new colours and it is the first time you see your final bike in the flesh.

“Everything is real and now we turn the page to 2019. Alpinestars have done a great job with my leathers as well. I changed my number 1 plate a little bit too, incorporating some new logos.”

MotoGP: 2019 Factory and satellite KTM liveries break cover

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KTM has unveiled the 2019 liveries for its Factory and satellite teams at a special event at its Austrian HQ in Mattighofen, and while the 2019 Factory KTM MotoGP livery follows the colours of the previous two seasons, the new satellite Tech 3 team’s striking blue, silver and orange paint caught the eye.

The team had used a black-and-white test livery for the Valencia, Jerez and Sepang winter tests, but this has been ditched in favour of blue and silver, combined with KTM orange, similar to sponsor Red Bull’s paint for its Toro Rosso ‘Junior’ team in F1.