Author: Simon Toyne

Lincolnshire Biker and PMF Biker magazine editor, Goodwood (grrc.goodwood.com) motorcycle road tester and reviewer, UlsterGP contributor, Paddock chatter contributor, Bikefan.co.uk editor, Aprilia RSV-R Factory owner, full-time sportsbike lover, part-time deer slayer, petrolhead and owner of Write On Media (Writeonmedia.strikingly.com)

MotoGP: untouchable Marquez cruises to Motegi win to equal Doohan as most successful Honda rider

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The riders’ Championship may already have been decided before the paddock arrived at the Twin Ring Motegi, but the Motul Grand Prix of Japan saw plenty of milestones: Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) took a commanding victory to wrap up the constructors’ Championship for Honda, Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) pushed him as hard as he could and took second to secure Rookie of the Year and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) pounced on Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) to take his 100th Grand Prix podium.

It wasn’t the perfect getaway for polesitter Marquez but he held his advantage into Turn 1, with Quartararo braking later to get underneath his teammate Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and start his stalking of the reigning Champion early. But that allowed the fast-starting Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) to grab P3 on the exit of Turn 2, and a frantic opening lap then unfolded as Quartararo passed Marquez for the lead only for the Honda rider to immediately counter at the tight Turn 10. It was a late lunge from Marquez as the duo ran slightly wide, with Quartararo looking for the cutback but almost losing the front, foot slipping into the air. That gave third place Miller a sniff at second, but the door quickly closed and the Aussie almost hit the back of the Frenchman ahead.

At the front, meanwhile, Marquez had pulled the pin. Eight tenths were his advantage over Quartararo as the duo started to break clear of the chasing pack, that then becoming a second as the rookie hovered close but not quite close enough. Further behind, the battle for the final place on the podium was getting intense, however, with Miller holding P3 as Morbidelli, Viñales and Dovizioso all started to close in.

It didn’t take long for Morbidelli to lead the trio past Miller, but the group was over three seconds off Quartararo at the midpoint of the race and after staying within almost-striking distance of the reigning Champion for the first half, ‘El Diablo’ was also starting to drop back. With 11 laps to go, Dovi took Morbidelli before Viñales followed suit and it soon became Dovizioso vs Viñales for the final rostrum place.

On the last lap, everything suddenly tightened up as Marquez cruised round for the win and Quartararo closed in; with Dovizioso closing in on him…but the Italian couldn’t quite get close enough to make a final lap lunge. Marquez took the win, Quartararo second and Dovizioso third, all with big reasons to spray the prosecco with a smile on the podium: manufacturer glory, rookie genius and a century of rostrum finishes.

Victory for Marquez at Honda’s home round in Motegi earned Honda the Premier Class Constructors Championship for a record 25th time. As a result, Honda claim both the Riders and Constructors Championships in the same year for the 20th occasion as they celebrate the 60th Anniversary of competition. It also marks Honda’s 70th Constructors Championship across all classes.

Marquez said: “It wasn’t an easy race. I was pushing from the beginning, the strategy was clear – I had to try to open a gap. I felt strong and with the team we had calculated a pace of 1’46 low but then I was able to ride in 1’45 high – good news for me but I had to slow down a little bit. I worked on riding as smooth as possible and I was able to open the gap to two seconds but in the final two laps we were getting a little low on fuel because Motegi is always very demanding. There was a little bit of pressure to win the Constructors Championship in Japan, but I love the pressure and it is great to win it here for Honda because everyone works so hard. All the Repsol Honda Team did a great job to find the best setting and strategy for this race.”

The victory is the tenth 2019 and his fourth in a row, the first time Marquez has achieved four-straight wins in the premier class since 2014. Taking his 54th win in the premier class, Marquez draws level with the legendary Mick Doohan as the most successful premier class Honda rider. The 14 podiums, 13 of them in succession, of 2019 also move Marc Marquez to 350 World Championship points, just 33 points shy of Jorge Lorenzo’s all-time premier class points record of 383 with 75 points still to play for.

Viñales took fourth after just being denied the podium, ahead of Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) in P5 as the Brit beat Morbidelli by 0.047 on the run to the line to grab his first top five finish since the Czech GP. Morbidelli’s early podium hopes sadly faded as the Italian picked up P6 in Japan, with Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) recovering from P11 on the grid to P7 in the race. Teammate Joan Mir rode a solid race to finish just over a second behind Rins in P8, with the Ducatis of Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) and Miller rounding out the top 10.

One name noticeably absent from that run down is that of nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), who had a tough race that then ended early in a crash, as was the situation for Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini).

Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was 11th and got the better of impressive KTM-riding rookie Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) in P12, with Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) taking 13th. Mika Kallio (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) made it three KTMs in the points in P14, with Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) the final man to score.

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New kit: Alpinestars launches Limited Edition ‘Motegi MotoGP’ Supertech R race replica boot

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The Japanese MotoGP race weekend at the iconic Motegi circuit sees Alpinestars launch the ‘Motegi MotoGP’ Supertech R race replica boot in celebration of Japanese culture and the country’s unrivalled passion for motorcycle racing. The ‘Motegi MotoGP’ Supertech R features an eye-catching white, black and red colorway, complete with a bold red and white ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ design in Japanese characters, allowing riders to stand out from the crowd every time they hit the road or track.

Alpinestars most iconic road riding boot worn by a roster of the fastest world champions past and present, the Supertech R features performance innovations, including a redesigned compound rubber sole, an ergonomically profiled shin plate and a redesigned front flex area – all of which enhance the podium winning performance of this premium race boot.

The distinctive ‘Motegi MotoGP’ Limited Edition Supertech R will be worn by Alpinestars athletes Takaaki Nakagami and Ayumu Sasaki during the race weekend.

MotoGP: First Motegi pole for Marquez in Japan

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Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez again demonstrated his incredible skill in mixed conditions, securing his 90th career pole position in front of Honda’s home crowd.

The predicated rain hit Motegi from late Friday evening and persisted throughout the morning on Saturday. Free Practice 3 began in soaking wet conditions but with no sign of the rain easing, riders quickly headed out on track to assess conditions. Free Practice 4 at the Twin Ring Motegi Circuit saw the circuit begin to dry, with Marquez showing incredible confidence in the mixed conditions to go 1.342 seconds faster than his nearest opposition.

This confidence carried on through to Q2 where the freshly crowned eight-time World Champion took pole position – his first at the Japanese track in the premier class.

As a result, Marquez has now started from pole position at every circuit on the current MotoGP calendar in the premier class.

He said: “The first pole position on the MotoGP bike in Motegi is great, I didn’t know it was the last one! It’s a circuit that I usually struggle at a bit but today the setup was working very well in Qualifying and I was able to ride in a different way. It’s important to start on pole at the home of Honda. I felt very strong during Free Practice 4 but the conditions weren’t really normal. It was still a bit wet out on track, tomorrow we will have a lot of pressure from Yamaha and Dovizioso I think, so we still need to work a bit in Warm Up. The target is to fight for the victory, let’s see what the conditions are.”

The 1’45.763 lap also earned him the 90th pole position of his Grand Prix career and his 62nd in the premier class, continuing to extend his pole position record.

Sunday’s 24-lap Japanese Grand Prix is scheduled to start at 15:00 Local Time and presents Honda with their first chance to win the 2019 Constructors World Championship, needing to concede no more than two points to chief rivals Ducati.

MotoGP: Alpinestars releases Marc Marquez’s 26G crash data

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Alpinestars has released the crash data from Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez’s vicious high side in FP1 during the Thailand Grand Prix.

The Spaniard FP1 suffered a monster highside at Turn 7 when pushing on cold tyres and the data from his his race suit manufacturer shows that there were two seconds between Marquez losing control of his RC213V and the crash, with the airbag being deployed 0.585 seconds before Marquez made contact with the asphalt. On the first impact with the ground, the left shoulder sensor registered a staggering impact of 26.14Gs. However, this didn’t quite match the reading that Loris Baz registered when he crashed at the Sepang Test in 2016 – the Frenchman’s left shoulder clocked 29.9Gs.

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Thanks to the airbag technology Marquez was able to escape from the incident relatively unscathed, and just two days later, he beat Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) to Thai GP glory to claim his eighth World Championship.

MotoGP: Marquez wins in Thailand to take 2019 MotoGP crown

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Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez was crowned the 2019 MotoGP World Champion in the only way he knows how: with a thrilling race win delivered at the final corner at the Thai MotoGP round.

A full house at the Buriram Circuit were treated to an edge of their seats MotoGP race as they witnessed Marc Marquez crowned World Champion for the eighth time. From the front of the grid, Marquez charged forward and immediately began to chase pole setter Fabio Quartararo on the Petronas Yamaha. With his only title rival, Andrea Dovizioso, a distant fourth Marquez was able to focus solely on the race win.

After trading fastest laps, the pair settled into their rhythm and Marquez waited for his moment to attack. The final laps were explosive as the 2019 MotoGP World Champion launched an all out assault on the young French rider, moving ahead as the last lap began. But it would go down to the final corner, Marquez expertly defending from Quartararo in the last corner to take the 2019 MotoGP World Championship in style.

Speaking after the race, Marquez said: “I’m very happy. I’m so happy. When you have an advantage like I had you realise you are so close to the championship but you need to find something to keep you motivated. Today it was winning the race and it’s what I did. Fabio was so fast during the race but I never gave up, even during the middle of the race where it looked like he was escaping. It was a beautiful way to win the championship – even if I wasn’t thinking about it on the last lap! Arriving in parc ferme with the whole Repsol Honda Team there was fantastic; it’s a dream to do it with the whole fan club and the nice celebration. Every year is special, it’s not easy to keep everything perfect each year to fight for the title and I had a very hard winter with the injury but myself, the team and HRC managed it well. Now we’ll enjoy this feeling a little bit!”

With 325 points, nine wins, 14 podiums, nine poles and 10 fastest laps – Marquez becomes the MotoGP World Champion for the sixth time and takes the eighth World Championship of his career. The victory is also Honda’s 150th in the MotoGP class – an achievement no other manufacturer has been able to match.

WSBK: Rea wins fifth consecutive world title after Race Two victory at Magny Cours

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Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea secured a fifth straight World Superbike title with two rounds to spare after taking victory in Race Two at Magny-Cours; the Northern Irishman, 32, becomes the first rider to win five World Superbikes titles.

His nearest title rival, Ducati’s Alvaro Bautista, exited early in Race Two after being taken out by Turkish Puccetti Racing’s Toprak Razgatlioglu.

Turkey’s Razgatlioglu beat Rea in Sunday morning’s Sprint Race which was same one-two as Saturday’s Race One.

That meant victory for the Kawasaki rider in Race Two was guaranteed to land him the title if Spaniard Bautista finished outside the top 11.

Bautista looked set to challenge strongly in Race Two before Razgatlioglu’s mistake on lap two led to both riders exiting which left Rea in second spot just behind Dutchman Michael van der Mark on the factory Yamaha.

Rea and Van der Mark then swapped the lead before the Northern Irishman moved ahead on lap 11.

The defending champion gradually edged clear of the Dutchman to secure the victory that ensured his five-in-a-row.

Rea said: “I am just super-happy. It has been the biggest challenge to date and we have just chipped away. The beginning of the season was really tough, to be beaten the way we were. But to mentally accept the challenge and keep working as a team – also away from the track – we kept strong. I have worked and kept working. We all go to each weekend looking for the opportunity and we have had lots of opportunities this year, and won a lot of races. It is beyond my wildest dreams to win the title here because after four rounds I would have bitten your hand off if you told me I was going to be champion.

“With yesterday’s race being quite chaotic I was nervous going into today because I did not understand the points situation. The target all weekend was to try and – realistically – win it in Argentina, so we could go to Qatar with less pressure. But we got another opportunity today and I felt a little bit better with the bike compared to yesterday. With the temperature going up the pace was not so fast I was able to manage the bike, and I could see my opportunity with Michael. He was struggling in some areas where we were strong. And we were weaker in some areas where he was strong. So I was putting that all together, learning that for a few laps and then putting my head down and getting the job done.

“Massive thanks to Kawasaki, the team, my sponsors, my family, all my friends and everybody in my corner. I am the guy taking the plaudits but it is such a big team effort and I am fortunate to be in this position.”

 

New Kit: Alpinestars ‘Randy Mamola Legend’ Supertech R Limited Edition boot

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The Spanish MotoGP race weekend at the iconic Aragon circuit saw Alpinestars launch the ‘Randy Mamola Legend’ Supertech R Race Replica boot in recognition of one of MotoGP’s most endearing characters, Randy Mamola.

The American enjoyed a successful career that lasted from 1979 through to 1992, with Randy finishing second in the premiere 500cc World Championship on four different occasions. Randy competed in 151 races in 500cc racing, securing 13 wins, 57 podiums, five poles and 11 fastest laps, and his unique blend of bike control, racecraft and showmanship saw him become a firm favorite with fans across the globe.

Recognized as one of the sport’s most charismatic personalities, Randy continues to entertain fans on and off the track, piloting the Ducati two-seat MotoGP bike as well as spearheading the Two Wheels For Life charity.

Alpinestars most iconic road riding boot worn by a roster of the fastest world champions past and present, the Supertech R features performance innovations, including a redesigned compound rubber sole, an ergonomically profiled shin plate and a redesigned front flex area – all of which enhance the podium winning performance of this CE-certified boot.

The ‘Randy Mamola Legend’ Limited Edition Supertech R is a fitting tribute to Randy’s skill and dedication to life on two wheels. Featuring all of the technical innovations of Alpinestars class-leading Supertech R boot, the red, black and white colorway allows fans to enjoy a distinctive, premium race boot fit for Champions.

MotoGP: Dominant Marquez takes lights to flag win at Aragon

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Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez completed a perfect home weekend with a faultless 23-lap race where the World Championship leader delivered on his early weekend domination.

With a perfect start, Marc Marquez shot forward and immediately began to open an advantage of half a second after just a few corners, growing to a full second by the end of the first lap. Lapping on average half a second faster than the riders behind him for most of the race saw Marquez quickly build an insurmountable lead, 5.5 seconds clear by mid-race distance.

Yamaha’s Maverick Viñales managed to gain a few tenths during the middle of the race, but Marquez quickly responded to stabilise the gap. Ultimately unchallenged, Marquez took his 78th career victory from 200 Grand Prix starts by 4.8 seconds in front of his adoring home fans.

Marquez said: “I was convinced about my strategy and what I had to do. I had a good feeling from when I left the box, so I knew I could push in the beginning and open a gap of four or five seconds and just keep it there, not pushing too much. I saw at one stage of the race that Viñales closed in a little, so I pushed a little more for two or three laps and I stabilised the advantage. It looked easy but it wasn’t, we have been working hard all weekend to find the limit. It was amazing to win here in front of our home fans so I have to say thank you to them all!”

Marquez now leaves Aragon with a clean 300 World Championship points, 98-points in front of second placed Andrea Dovizioso.

The weekend’s results leave Honda 65 points clear of second placed Ducati in the Constructor Championship and as a result of Marquez’s victory, the Repsol Honda Team move to within 24 points of the Ducati Team in the Team Championship.

MotoGP: Zarco’s shambolic season comes to an end as KTM axe him from racing duties

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Johann Zarco has seen his dream factory ride turn into a nightmare even quicker than anticipated, with KTM deciding replace him in the team with immediate effect.

Zarco and KTM had decided to mutually end their association at the end of 2019, but the Austrian powerhouse has decided to act now and relieve the Frenchman from racing duties for the remainder of the season.

The official reason is that ‘developments and ongoing work mean that priorities have been realigned’, and while Zarco is exempt from his MotoGP commitments, he will remain contracted to KTM until the end of the season.

He will be replaced in the team by test rider Mika Kallio – who rode the KTM on its debut in the MotoGP division in Valencia 2016 and has contributed strongly since the early testing phases of the RC16, already participating in seven wild card races from 2016 until 2018.

Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsport Director: “We have to make decisions to ensure that we use our resources in the best possible way and we are currently in a positive direction with our MotoGP structure. We firmly believe that Mika can help us in this stage thanks to his knowledge and background. It is paramount that we verify our testing results in real race conditions to start our 2020 season in the best position.

“Mika has proved his ability on the RC16 and we are happy that he joins the line-up as a racer again. There is no doubt that we will focus on a new configuration with the #82 bike while fighting for points in the last races of the championship. At the same time we want to express gratitude to Johann for his effort since he joined our ambitious project in November last year. We now have to think of the future and are making this step accordingly. KTM will continue supporting him until the expiry of our contract at the end of the 2019 and we truly wish him all the best for his future.”

Paddock insiders insist Zarco has a future in the MotoGP paddock, with a rumoured contract with HRC about to be signed. The smart money is that Repsol Honda’s Jorge Lorenzo will be released from his two-year contract at the end of this season, with Zarco either replacing the Spaniard directly, or moving to the LCR Honda squad, should Repsol Honda prefer Cal Crutchlow. Watch this space…

MotoGP: Marquez wins last lap duel to take victory in Misano

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Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez rode a controlled race, pouncing on the last lap to take the MotoGP win at Misano.

After a promising morning Warm Up session, Marquez entered the 27-lap San Marino Grand Prix with confidence.

Marquez made a flying start to the race and moved to fourth by the first corner, quickly progressing up to third just a few corners later. Muscling past Yamaha’s Maverick Viñales on Lap Four, the World Championship leader set about closing down the almost one-second lead of Petronas Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo. The Frenchman’s advantage was soon reduced to just two tenths, with Marquez electing to wait for his moment to attack. As the laps ticked down, the reigning champion began to edge closer and put increasing pressure on the young French rider.

The start of the last lap saw Marquez’s RC213V roar past Quartararo heading into Turn One, the pair briefly sparring before Marquez made the move stick later in the lap. Crossing the line 0.903s ahead of Quartararo, Marquez returned to the top step of the podium after back-to-back second place finishes.

Marquez said: “Honestly speaking, I knew it wasn’t necessary to win because I saw that Rins was out and Dovizioso was far from us but I had some extra motivation. I just tried to stay with Fabio as close as I could and in the end I was weighing up whether to try or not. On the last lap I decided to go. I knew Fabio was very fast in Sector 3, so I made my move before that and closed the corner as much as I could. Fabio rode a very strong race today. I raced as smart as I could and in the end it is nice to win in Italy, but even nicer to have 93 points of advantage.”

The win moves him 93 points clear of title rival Andrea Dovizioso in the MotoGP World Championship standings with six races remaining. Taking the 77th win of his career, Marquez also moves ahead of Mike Hailwood to cement himself as the fourth most successful rider in Grand Prix history.