Month: March 2019

MotoGP: dominant Marquez romps to pole in Argentina

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A flying Marc Marquez proved unstoppable in Argentina as he powered to pole.

Saturday’s proceedings at the Argentina GP opened with the Free Practice 3 session and Marquez was fast from his first lap, quickly moving to top and becoming the first rider to set a 1’38 to move straight through to Q2.

Marquez continued to show impressive speed aboard his Honda RC213V and claimed his fifth pole position at the sixth running of the Argentina GP with a lap of 1’38.304. 

Marquez said: “In Qualifying I was really focused to push to the maximum and fight for pole position. On the second tyre I made a small mistake at the first corner so I cancelled the lap and went back in. We had planned to do three runs and my team was ready. I am happy because it’s never easy to get pole position here, especially this weekend. Our rhythm is there but we need to wait and see what the weather does!”

At over 120 kilometres long, Sunday’s Argentina GP is amongst the longest on the calendar. Lights go out on the 25-lap race at 15:00 local time.

Argentina Grand Prix Qualifications 

Pos. Rider Num Nation Team Time/Gap

1 MARQUEZ Marc 93 SPA Repsol Honda Team 1’38.304

2 VINALES Maverick 12 SPA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP 0.154

3 DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 ITA Mission Winnow Ducati 0.164

4 ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP 0.241

5 MILLER Jack 43 AUS Pramac Racing 0.244

6 MORBIDELLI Franco 21 ITA Petronas Yamaha SRT 0.582

7 QUARTARARO Fabio 20 FRA Petronas Yamaha SRT 0.593

8 CRUTCHLOW Cal 35 GBR LCR Honda 0.651

9 NAKAGAMI Takaaki 30 JPN LCR Honda 0.734

10 PETRUCCI Danilo 9 ITA Mission Winnow Ducati 0.789

11 ESPARGARO Pol 44 SPA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 1.185

12 LORENZO Jorge 99 SPA Repsol Honda Team 1.216

13 ESPARGARO Aleix 41 SPA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1’39.288 Q1

14 OLIVEIRA Miguel 88 POR Red Bull KTM Tech 3 0.234

15 ABRAHAM Karel 17 CZE Reale Avintia Racing 0.267

16 RINS Alex 42 SPA Team Suzuki Ecstar 0.320

17 BAGNAIA Francesco 63 ITA Pramac Racing 0.323

18 ZARCO Johann 5 FRA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 0.507

19 MIR Joan 36 SPA Team Suzuki Ecstar 0.541

20 RABAT Tito 53 SPA Reale Avintia Racing 0.914

21 SYAHRIN Hafizh 55 MAL Red Bull KTM Tech 3 0.989

22 IANNONE Andrea 29 ITA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1.054

 

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New metal: Aprilia celebrates 10 years of the RSV4 with the RSV4 X

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Aprilia has unveiled a new, track-ready version of its hugely successful RSV4 to celebrate 10 years of production; the RSV4 X.

As part of the 2019 Aprilia All Stars event at Mugello, Aprilia unveiled a track-only version of its RSV4 sportbike; the 225hp X. has been tailor-made by Aprilia Racing – and if you delve into the bikes technical specification, it’s obvious that it’s serious about its performance on track.

The bike is the creation of Aprilia Racing and makes use of a selection of lightweight components, including a carbon fairing, a lightweight fuel tank, a billet aluminium clutch lever, front brake lever guard, engine sump guard, adjustable foot pegs, upper steering plate and Marchesini forged magnesium wheels. All in this extensive weight saving programmer means the bike weighs just 165 kg.

The RSV4 X is powered by a hand-built 1100cc V4 engine that’s been breathed on by Aprilia Racing and boasts new intake camshafts, new valve return springs and caps and new convex bucket tappets.

The bike comes with a titanium Akrapovic exhaust system, a MotoGP-spec air filter and it receives an ECU map complete with dedicated track settings. It’s also equipped with the ANN (Aprilia No Neutral) system – essentially a gearbox with neutral positioned below first gear that speeds up shifting from first to second and prevents any up-shifting errors. It’s another clever piece of technology derived from Aprilia’s experiences in WSBK and MotoGP.

Brembo GP4-MS callipers complete the factory feel.

Just ten Aprilia RSV4 X bikes are available, priced at 39,900 Euros.

The new RSV4 X can be reserved online during the second half of April.

Road racing: Arai unveils 2019 Limited Edition TT RX-7V

Arai’s Limited Edition TT Isle of Man RX-7V is the latest in the line of stunning, collectible helmets which began in 2007. Renowned designer Drudi Performance has ramped up the colour this year with fluorescent yellow set against black with the three legs of man, the famous triskelion, picked out in gunmetal on either side. Details include the TT logo on the chin bar and TT Limited Edition printed on the back, set below atmospheric black and white chequers.

For 2019, riders including Michael Dunlop, Ian Hutchinson, Conor Cummins, Davey Todd, Derek McGee, David Johnson and Lee Johnston will be racing on the roads i n the RX-7V.

The Arai RX-7V IoM TT 2019 edition will be available in the paddock at the Isle of Man TT races and thereafter at every authorized Arai dealer.

WSBK: another race hat-trick for Bautista in Thailand as the Spaniard cruises to Race Two victory

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In what has been a dream opening six races in Alvaro Bautista’s WSBK career, the Spaniard romped to another race win to become the first rider since Neil Hodgson to win the opening six races of a WSBK season, back in 2003, causing to another lights to flag victory in dominant fashion.

When the lights turned green, Bautista was able to hold onto first position from start to finish. Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea didn’t have the outright speed to challenge Bautista and instead had his hands full dealing with Yamaha’s Alex Lowes.

At the end of the first lap the leading trio had a slight gap over Kawasaki’s Leon Haslam, Yamaha’s Michael van der Mark and GRT Yamaha’s Marco Melandri.

Soon, the big battle came from the scrap for fifth position, with van der Mark, Melandri, GRT Yamaha’s Sandro Cortese and Ducati’s Chaz Davies duelling for position. Turn 3 was once again a prime overtaking area, with Melandri trying a move on van der Mark, with both running wide and allowing Chaz Davies to get a better drive down the straight. Melandri retook Davies at Turn 8 but the race winner from Buriram in 2018 fought back at Turn 12, a fight replicated by Cortese and van der Mark.

On lap Four Melandri and Davies had a close call, with the Italian forcefully moving aside his former teammate at Turn 9, allowing van der Mark to go through, while Chaz Davies had to recover right at the back of the group and eventually retired on lap eight.

Up front, Bautista continued to dominate and took the chequered flag by more than ten seconds ahead of Rea and Lowes.

Bautista said: “I don’t know what to say. I think this weekend has been perfect for us because we dominate in all of the practices and all of the races. I want to say thanks to Ducati and to my team, we are working with a completely new bike, arriving at completely new tracks and we have to work for a set-up to make a good base. Here, we knew it would be difficult because in the last eight races, seven have been won by Kawasaki. At the end, we manage to have the same feeling that we have in Australia and we can be competitive. I am very, very happy!”.

Further back van der Mark was able to hold off a late charge by Leon Haslam, while Marco Melandri finished in sixth position for a fifth race in a row. Van der Mark’s fourth place means he stretches his finishing run to 21.

Behind the leading six, Sandro Cortese became the first German since Max Neukirchner in 2008 to finish six consecutive races inside the top eight, with his seventh position. Eighth belonged to Michael Ruben Rinaldi (BARNI Racing Team), with Razgatlioglu holding off Jordi Torres as they completed the top ten.

WSBK: Bautista wins red flagged Sprint Race in Thailand

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Alvaro Bautista kept his winning run going in the Thailand sprint race, which was cut short by a red flag following an incident between Leon Camier and Thitipong Warokorn.

The factory Ducati rider had another strong race on the V4R, trading passes with Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea on the opening lap of the sprint race before gradually pulling clear until a red flag on lap six prematurely ended the race early.

With results taken from the last completed sector point, effectively the halfway through lap six, Bautista won by 1.6s from Rea with Alex Lowes repeating the race one podium on the Pata Yamaha.

WSBK: Bautista dominates in Thailand to take Race One win

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The opening race of the Thai Round in the WSBK world championship saw an intense fight between reigning champion Jonathan Rea and series newcomer Alvaro Bautista, with Bautista using the Ducati’s speed advantage to power past the Kawasaki rider to take his fourth win of the season.

An action-packed start saw Bautista originally get a flying start but Buriram specialist Rea got ahead of the Spaniard through Turn 1 with Yamaha’s Alex Lowes tucked in behind.

The GRT riders of Sandro Cortese and Marco Melandri ran wide at the same turn, with BMW’s Tom Sykes slicing under them and into fourth. At the end of lap one, the top four were covered by 1.1s. A lightening start from Yamaha’s Michael van der Mark saw him rise from 10th on the grid to fifth by the end of the opening lap.

On lap three, Rea led by a narrow margin ahead of championship leader Bautista, and Bautista pounced at Turn 3, only for Rea to cut back underneath him, colliding with his rival. Bautista managed to hold on and regroup, and while Lowes came through, Bautista shook his head in disgust at Rea’s aggressive pass.

It didn’t take long for Bautista to surge forwards again, and the Spaniard made a pass on Lowes at the final corner, only to run wide and Lowes to pass him back down the front straight. Soon enough though, on the fourth lap at Turn 1, Bautista made his way through on Lowes and then set off in his pursuit of the four-time champion.

With 12 laps to go, Bautista had regained ground on Rea and set about trying to find a way ahead of the Kawasaki-mounted rider. On the run to the Turn 3, Bautista got ahead and this time, he was able to make the move stick. The two continued to romp away from the rest of the pack and while Rea didn’t lose too much time on Bautista initially, lap after lap, Bautista’s metronomic pace soon saw him break clear.

With the third place battle seemingly a stalemate between the Pata riders, Leon Haslam was starting to feel the pressure of Marco Melandri. Melandri made his way ahead on lap 11, but the battle was far from over. With just five laps to go, a rough lap from Melandri allowed Haslam to close up and make a move at the final corner. Haslam ran wide and the wily Italian cut back under him, clashing on the start and finish straight.

Out in front, an imperious Bautista took the win by 8.2s ahead of Rea, with Lowes finishing ahead of Michael van der Mark by 0.4s to take his third Buriram podium. In fifth position, Leon Haslam clinched the place over Melandri, whilst Sandro Cortese took seventh after a late battle with Barni Raciing’s Michael Ruben Rinaldi. Sykes was ninth after being pushed back due to his top speed deficit, with Toprak Razgatlioglu (Turkish Puccetti Racing) coming from 13th to 10th.

Bautista said: “For sure today has been tougher than Australia. I knew that Johnny would be fighting with me in the race because we had a similar pace during the free practices. I didn’t make a good start. I went wide in the first corner and lost the first position. I kept pushing and I caught Rea, and we had a clash at Turn 3 that almost made me crash. After a few laps, I was able to recover and find back my rhythm. I pushed to the limit and passed Johnny to take the win. I am really happy because even if my feeling with the bike wasn’t perfect, I was still able to win”.

Bautista’s win makes him the first Ducati rider since Neil Hodgson in 2003 to win the opening four races of a WSBK season. He gives Ducati their 345th win in the World Superbike class, as well as their 587th WSBK podium. He also becomes the first non-British rider to win at the Chang International Circuit.

WSBK: Hayden’s 2017 Honda SP2 up for sale

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Nicky Hayden’s 2017 Ten-Kate spec Honda CBR1000RR SP2 WSBK racebike is up for sale for a cool  €95.000.

Former Honda WSBK team Ten Kate is selling the machine, which has matching chassis and engine numbers, matching ECU and electronics numbers, matching chassis build-up and is set to the exact specification that Hayden used on track.

Ten Kate lists the bike as in ‘absolute showroom state’ though the machine is a runner and ready for track duties. The Dutch racing outfit is also issuing a certificate of authenticity with the sale and it will come with a full package and parts sold by Ten-Kate Racing.

For more info on the bike please contact Kervin Bos at Ten Kate Racing: k.bos@tenkateracing.com.

MotoGP: Dovizioso wins last lap duel with Marquez to take win at season opener in Qatar

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Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso won an explosive opening race of the season in Qatar. The Ducati rider rode a calculated race, holding off Marc Marquez in an intense end of race battle to take the chequered flag just 0.023 seconds ahead of the Honda rider.

Dovizioso said: “I’m so happy. The strategy was clear for me and really good. I stopped Rins every time because he wanted to be faster too soon, and that was bad for the tyre and I was right. I stop him every time, fortunately I have more power on the straight. I lose a little bit of time in the middle of the corner because his speed in the middle of the corner is amazing, but I was able to overtake him every time and stop him and continue to save the tyre, that was the key to try and put Marquez on the limit in the last few laps. And that was the key, I’m so happy I was able to do that.”

2019 saw an almost identical finish to last year’s race, with the final corner once again being pivotal. Dovizioso said: “It was good because it helped me to understand his bad situation on the rear tyre. I stayed at the front for the entire race so I couldn’t know the positive and negative parts. My strategy was clear, I had to overtake him immediately, push because he didn’t really have the same speed as me and that’s why I was able to win.

“He was able to try again in the last corner, and he is so good with that. But in the end he did a mistake. Only Marquez in that situation is thinking about overtaking riders, all other riders – no. So I did a perfect lap to put him on the limit, but at the end you have to be ready with him in this battle because he is like this.

“It was different. I didn’t expect him on the entry to the last corner. But I did like, a dummy, and in that situation he had to release the brake because he could hit me. So that was the key and for sure he was too fast to stop the bike. So we were very close on the entry but in the end it was easier for me to stop him on the exit. Last year he was able to brake so good, so good and stop the bike, last year I was closer when I changed the line. This year the exit was easier.”

It was Dovizioso who got the holeshot from pole, he and Pramac Racing’s Jack Miller grabbing P1 and P2 into Turn 1 as Marquez held position just behind. Polesitter Maverick Viñales  didn’t get the start he was aiming for as his Yamaha  dropped to sixth on Lap 1, with :CR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami and team-mate Cal Crutchlow catapulting through to the top five.

The race then began to settle into a rhythm, with a train of riders at the front led by Dovizioso keeping a steady pace at the front. Rins was the man on the move on Lap 4 as the Spaniard made more progress after a sharp start from P10 on the grid, the Suzuki man coming through to take the lead by Lap 5 before the Spaniard fought with Dovizioso.

On Lap 12 Dovizioso was back at the front, and the pace then turned up a notch as he and Marquez started to create a gap back to third place Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci, who’d made his way through the group. The pace then slowed again, however, as Dovizioso went from a 1:55.3 to a 1:56.1 to bring the top eight back to within just over a second…

With seven to go, the top eight were covered 1.2 seconds and that’s when Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi really started to make up ground, picking off his team-mate first and then Suzuki’s Joan Mir to go up to P6.

With three laps to go the fight for the win became a five-way scrap, with Petrucci, Viñales and Mir fading off the pacesetters.

Reigning champion Marquez got the better of Dovizioso on the penultimate lap, but the Ducati struck back down the straight. Crutchlow held P3, Rins P4 and Rossi P5, lurking behind and waiting for the fireworks to begin at the front. Pushing hard, Marquez had a slight moment with the front at Turn 3, before making a lunge up the inside of Dovizioso at Turn 10. It was a brave move, but the Ducati cut back up the inside on the exit, setting up another classic grandstand finish.

It looked like a carbon copy of the 2018 race at the final corner, with Marquez diving through on the inside, sitting up Dovizioso but running wide. From there it was another classic point and shoot contest to the line as both gunned it on the exit, but Dovizioso couldn’t be caught and made it out ahead. It was closer than last year though, with just 0.023 separating the two as the flag dropped.

Behind, Crutchlow kept his cool to take a remarkable podium on his first race back since his huge Australian GP crash, with Rins a valiant P4 and Rossi again proving you should never rule ‘The Doctor’ out.

It wasn’t such a successful race for Honda’s Jorge Lorenzo, who was making his competitive debut on the factory Repsol bike; the five-time champion suffered a nasty highside at Turn 6 in FP3 and despite being declared fit for the rest of the weekend, he only managed a 13th place finish. However, a scan on Tuesday revealed he suffered a fissure of the first rib, an injury which will take three to four weeks to heal.