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, Ducati 749S & Aprilia RSV-R Factory owner, full-time sportsbike lover, part-time deer slayer, petrolhead and owner of Write On Media (Writeonmedia.strikingly.com)

MotoGP: Dovi on pole in Japan

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Ducati Andrea Dovizioso powered to a scintillating pole position in qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix, which will be held tomorrow at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit.

The Italian, who had also been quickest in the morning’s FP3 run, then went out in Q2, in which he set a time of 1’44.590 on his second exit. Today’s pole is the second of the season for Dovizioso, his seventh in MotoGP and also the seventh pole of the 2018 season for Ducati.

Dovi said: “My qualifying session went very well and I’m happy with the feeling I had during my pole run. We’ve got a good pace, but so has Marquez and not only him. I think we still have to improve something if we want to fight for the win tomorrow, so we’ll analyse the data to see what the tyre wear is like, because probably we’ll be able to adopt a different strategy than in the last two races, where we had to save the tyre for the final few laps. We went strongly both with the soft and the medium, and we haven’t decided yet which one to use. I want to thank my team for their great job, because with a few small modifications we were able to make a big improvement and in qualifying I did a really great lap. This morning my aim was to set a time of 1’44.6 and I ended up lapping in 1’44.5!”

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WSBK: Record-breaking Rea dominates Race Two in Argentina

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On the same weekend that Kawasaki won the WSBK Manufacturers’ Championship, Jonathan Rea wrote his name in the history books by racing to his tenth consecutive victory.

Heavy overnight rain the second race day at the all new San Juan Villicum circuit threw up even more unknown challenges for the field, but it made no difference to Rea, who dominated the race once again.

Rea, launching from ninth on the grid after his Race One win on Saturday, had to use all his skill to pass his rivals on a new track surface that had one clear racing line. Into second place by Lap Four, Rea chased down the fast-starting leader Xavi Fores on the Barni Ducati on Lap Nine and set about recording his unique fifth double winning weekend in succession.

The win was even more impressive given that the four-time champion was taken ill on Saturday evening and was awake most of the night.

In recording his 55th victory on a Kawasaki, as part of his career record of 70 race wins in all, Rea has now equalled the greatest number of wins scored with a single manufacturer in WSBK racing.

Rea’s 16th win of the season has also taken him to within one victory of equalling the record of race wins in a single year, with two races remaining at the final round.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “It is really special to come to a new track, where everyone starts from zero, and be able to take the same kind of results. To be fast in the hot conditions and keep our tyre that was the key to the race. It was probably the hardest race win from the third row of the grid. If I went off line to pass, I could not be creative with my line choices. Everybody was pretty much on the same line so the passes had to be set up a few corners in advance. Once I settled into my rhythm I was able to clock off the lap times and pick off riders one by one. When I got clear track to Fores I tracked him down quite fast, but then there was the matter of passing him. Today has been difficult because I caught some kind of virus last night. I was ill all night from one o’clock until five this morning. It was good to have the race at 4pm because most of the day I have been sleeping in the cabin, regaining energy!”

WSBK: dominant Rea equals race-winning record in Argentina

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Kawasaki rider Jonathan Rea dominated in Argentina to win a record-equalling ninth WSBK race in succession at the all-new Villicum circuit, ensuring that Kawasaki won the Manufacturers’ Championship for the 2018 season.

Under greying skies and in front of an enthusiastic crowd Rea had started from second position on the grid after Superpole qualifying, getting a good launch from the startline  into the downhill first corner and taking a lead that he was to enjoy for the entire race, setting a new lap record of 1’39.175 and coming very close to breaking the Superpole record in the process.

High winds were a factor for all riders to deal with and even occasional spots of rain appeared for a time. The threat of heavier rain passed and in the final laps Rea was able to bring it home with a huge advantage of 9.163 seconds to the second placed rider, Marco Melandri on the Ducati.

Jonathan Rea, stated: “It was an incredible way to do it today. To take the manufacturers’ championship with a race win was really nice. Especially to win for the first time in Villicum and Argentina. It is a technical track, it has got everything. I was always worried about coming here because everyone starts from an equal base. The teams that react the fastest, and make the best setup in a short space of time, are the ones that would do well. There was a lot of side wind today and it was buffeting me around a lot. There were spots of rain at one time and I just tried to convince myself it was not raining. The facilities, the new track, the spectators; it has been a pretty awesome weekend so far.”

In the Manufacturers’ Championship Kawasaki has an unassailable lead of 92 points, with a maximum of 75 points left to play for. This was the fourth Manufacturers’ Championship win in succession for Kawasaki.

MotoGP: Marquez snatches victory in Thailand

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It was another master-class race for Championship leader Marc Marquez, who took the first MotoGP win ever in Thailand in front of a cheering, enthusiast crowd of more than 100.000 spectators. The Spaniard’s seventh victory of the season is also the 68th of his career, putting him equal with Jorge Lorenzo as the fifth-most winning rider across all classes. It was a hat-trick weekend for the Repsol Honda pilot, who earned pole position, set the lap record and earned the victory.

Marquez’s win came down to the last corner of the last lap, thanks to a thrilling battle with title contender Andrea Dovizioso. The points scenario makes the next round, the Grand Prix of Japan, the first match point for the MotoGP Title.

Speaking after the race, Marquez said: “Of course I’m very, very happy today because it’s the first time I’ve beaten Dovi in this way. We were very equal, and my strategy was to try and attack in order to open a gap and avoid having it come down to the last lap. But Dovi had a very good pace and I was struggling with the front tyre, so I wasn’t able. Instead, I just tried to manage the tyres and stick to him. Honestly, I wasn’t so confident going into the final lap because I’ve lost many head-to-head finishes with him in the past. But this time, we swapped roles—I used Dovi’s style and Dovi used Marquez’s style!—and that worked to overtake him on the corner exit.”

WSBK: rampant Rea secures fourth consecutive title with a double at Magny Cours


Jonathan Rea has secured his fourth WSBK title after a dominant performance at Magny Cours.

Rea’s victory in Race One was enough to land him the title, and he celebrated his fourth consecutive world crown by donning a celebratory golden helmet and fairing panels for Sunday’s race.

Rea looked imperious as he fought through the field from ninth on the grid, eventually taking the lead on Lap 12 on his way to yet another double race win, his fourth double in succession. Sunday’s race victory was the 68th of his WSBK career and sees him set another stand-alone record of 131 podiums, one more than Troy Corser.

Speaking after Race Two on Sunday, Rea said: “I was able to go out and do my job today a little bit different today. Coming from the third row I could not find my rhythm straight away because I was in traffic. Just by watching how the other bikes were behaving I had to think outside of the box a few times. But once I got clear track I was able to make a few solid lap times and then ride to my pit-board until the end.

“I just made some smart decision on the first lap and found myself behind van der Mark and Davies. From there I stayed quiet and then I started making my challenge on van der Mark, which was quite difficult. I had a lot more pace than him but he was not giving in easy. He was riding like every lap was the last lap. I picked my place and then set-off after Davies. It was not easy to pass him, but the final gearing we had in today was really perfect. To go 1-1 this weekend, with the world championship, it is the perfect weekend. I will remember this forever.”

 

MotoGP: Marc Marquez snatches victory in scintillating Aragon race

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Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez demonstrated his cunning and racecraft in an intense MotoGP race at the MotorLand Aragón circuit in Spain, taking victory ahead of Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso after a hard fought battle between the title rivals.

Temperatures soared to their highest point of the weekend as the riders lined up on the grid, causing many teams to make last minute changes to their chosen selection of race rubber, in readiness to combat the heat.

As the race began the track thermometer was reading 45°C – higher than it has ever been at the Aragón circuit for a MotoGP event – and following all the changes, five of the six allocated tyre compounds were now featured in different combinations throughout the field.

Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo was on pole after an exciting qualifying session on Saturday, which saw him take the first grid spot in the very last moment of the session. However, the Spaniard’ race was short-lived as he crashed out on the first corner after a late lunge by Marquez forced Lorenzo onto the dirty part of the track. Lorenzo had two choices; run wide and lose places, or force the bike to take the line he wanted. The Spaniard chose the latter, was too greedy with the gas and highsided out of the race.

This immediately handed the lead to his Ducati team-mate Andrea Dovizioso, a position he held for the next 13-laps, before coming under pressure from Marquez.

The pair then duelled out the remaining 10-laps of the 23-lap race, with the lead frequently changing hands as they pushed their tyres to the limit on a track that now had diminished grip levels due to the increased heat.

Marquez was using a hard front and soft rear pairing, while Dovizioso had gone for a hard/hard combination and the two battled it out for the final laps, and it was Marquez who had more rubber left, pulling out a slender lead to cross the line first, ahead of Dovizioso and Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone.

Marquez said: “I woke up this morning with the idea that today I could take a risk. I hadn’t felt totally at ease during the weekend with the hard rear spec tyre so, after the warm-up, I said to my team that I wanted to use the soft rear. That started many meetings and discussions but in the end I won the race because I could convince my box to take that gamble! In the end, it was the correct choice. I had a good start but soon after I almost lost the front in a dirty spot on the track, so I had to release the brakes and go a bit wide. I didn’t realize until the end that Lorenzo had crashed.

“Anyway, the fight was very tight with Dovi and Iannone as well; it was a hard fight but within the limit. This is MotoGP, and it’s what the fans enjoy to watch. Motorland is one of my favourite tracks, and I enjoyed so much riding here over the weekend even if the pressure was high, with events, people, and many things to do every day. I mean, it’s good but also demanding. Even with this, I managed to remain focused, work well with the team, and ultimately to stop Ducati’s momentum. This morning I listened to “In my feelings” from Drake and in the honour lap I thought back to that song and it was great. Anyway, now more than ever it’s the moment to keep calm and manage well the race weekends because I want to win the Championship and to do that you must remain fully concentrated.”

 

WSBK: double joy for Rea at Portimao

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A double Portimao race win for Kawasaki’s Jonathan Rea saw him extend his championship lead/ The track is a happy hunting ground for the Ulsterman; since he joined Kawasaki in 2015 he has won six Portuguese races in a row and seven in a row at Portimao overall.

After his dominant race victory on Saturday Rea had to start race two from ninth position, which made Sunday’s race a more combative affair in the early laps. Ducati’s Chaz Davies led for the first 11 laps across the line, with Tom Sykes and then Rea challenging behind on the Kawasakis. However, Rea pounced on Lap 12, taking the leading and building a gap as the podium order changed behind him. Michael van der Mark eventually finished second, Marco Melandri third.

Jonathan Rea said: “The run right now is incredible. It was a really tough race, as I had to fight a lot in the beginning. I made a very good start and had good track position early on. At turn five an opportunity opened up behind two riders and I found myself right behind Tom. He proved very hard to pass. I made a pass stick in T13, and chased Chaz down within a lap. Then it took me so many laps to go past him because he was braking so late, and his bike was so fast in the straight. Once I got past I just concentrated on making a couple of clean laps and setting my rhythm.

“The pace today was a little bit slower because the temperature had risen a bit and also I used the tyre a little bit more coming through the pack. I put everything into the race and managed to get 25 points, so I am really happy.”

The win was Rea’s 12th race victory so far in 2018  and extended his all time winning record in WSBK to 66. He has earned full points for six races in succession recently, scoring doubles at Laguna Seca, Misano and now Portimao.

In the championship Rea now has 420 points, Davies 304 and van der Mark 284, with three rounds and six races remaining. Rea will have his first opportunity to close out the championship at the following round in France, if results go his way.

The next round, the 11th of the 13 round championship, takes place at Magny Cours in France, between the 29th and 31st of September.

New kit: Alpinestars launches Limited Edition Doohan Supertech R boot

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The San Marino MotoGP race weekend at the iconic Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli holds fond memories for five-time 500cc World Champion Mick Doohan; the Australian won at the track in 1991 and enjoyed another five victories on Italian soil throughout his illustrious career.

Mick dominated racing’s premier class until 1998, winning five consecutive world titles, and to celebrate this incredible feat Alpinestars has created the Limited Edition Doohan Supertech R Race Replica.

The Doohan Limited Edition Supertech R’s are a fitting tribute to Doohan’s achievements on the track. Featuring all of the technical innovations of Alpinestars’ class-leading Supertech R boot, the special colorway allows fans to enjoy a distinctive, premium race boot fit for Champions.

MOTOGP: Dovi reigns supreme in Misano

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Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso took an expertly-crafted victory at the San Marino Grand Prix, fighting his way into the lead and unleashing incredible pace to secure only the second ever win for Ducati at the venue.

His win also makes it three in a row for the Borgo Panigale factory, having won at Brno and Austria.

It was polesitter JorgeLorenzo who shot out ahead and got the holeshot on his Ducati, shadowed by Jack Miller on the satellite Pramac Racing Ducati and Marc Marquez on the Repsol Honda.

However, Dovizioso struck quickly against the reigning champion, dispatching Marquez before picking off Miller, pushing hard to tag on to the back of his teammate as Marquez then sliced past the Aussie too – intent on keeping tabs on the Ducati duo at the front.

Unfortunately, the pace was too much for Miller, and he slid out a lap later at Turn 14.

Back at the front, Dovizioso was honing in on Lorenzo and looking to make a move. With 22 laps to go the Italian did just that, slicing past at Turn 7. He then began to pull away as Marquez tagged on to Lorenzo in the battle for second, before the number 93 then shot past with 14 laps to go as Lorenzo ran wide.

Lorenzo wasn’t done though and retook the position a few laps later at Turn 8, a move which lit the touch paper on a few spectacular exchanges between the two. Once past, Lorenzo put the hammer down and Lorenzo set about cutting the gap to his teammate. Tenth by tenth, the Spaniard was reeling him in – and the gap went back down to 1.3 seconds. Dovizioso began to respond, but drama suddenly hit the front on the penultimate lap when Lorenzo suddenly slid out of second.

That Dovizioso in free air at the front to take his first ever win at the venue, having managed the race to perfection. Marquez took second and extended his championship lead, with Crutchlow’s impressive pace and race rewarded by a podium after the late drama.

Dovizioso said: “I wanted this win so badly, because here at Misano Ducati and I have always struggled in recent years. In the test in August however we realised that we had made an important step forward and we could be competitive in the race. We worked really well during the weekend, in very different conditions, but both Lorenzo and Marquexz are very strong here so to win I had to do a perfect race. I started off in the right frame of mind, fully focussed on the race strategy, and when I took the lead, I pulled out a small advantage and then managed the situation until the finish.

“I’m really pleased, because winning here at Misano was very important for Ducati but also for me. Years ago it seemed like an impossible dream, but now we’ve done it and it fills me with so much satisfaction.”

Outside of the podium places Suzuki’s Alex Rins impressed on the softer compound rear tyre to get well in the initial fight and then hold great pace to the flag, not able to stay ahead of Crutchlow but nevertheless holding station in the top five until Lorenzo’s late crash saw him take fourth.

Yamaha’s Maverick Viñales took fifth after dropping back slightly from a front row start and suffering a more difficult race, holding off some steady pressure from Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, who took sixth.

It was a difficult Sunday at home for Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi. Missing the race through injury last season – as his special edition ‘Back to Misano’ helmet attests – Rossi had high hopes for the race that takes place so close to his home town of Tavullia. He crossed the line in seventh, retaining his qualifying position as he took the flag. Compatriot Andrea Iannone, also had a tough weekend, and came home eighth on his Suzuki.

Alvaro Bautista continued his good run of recent form and took ninth on his angel nieto Ducati, with Tech 3’s Johann Zarco completing the top ten ahead of Danilo Petrucci on the second Pramac Ducati; Petrucci had a difficult race day and was also given a 1.1 second penalty for cutting a corner early on.

Franco Morbidelli on the Marc VDS Honda beat Takaaki Nakagami on the LCR Honda to claim the honour of top rookie and twelfth, with Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro taking points for the Noale factory on home turf in fourteenth, just ahead of Ducati Test Team wildcard Michele Pirro.

Behind them? Lorenzo had remounted and dueled  with KTM’s Bradley Smith to the line, but the Brit was just able to stay ahead by a tenth.

MotoGP – Silverstone ends in shambles as rains stops British MotoGP

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Raceday at the British GP at Silverstone was a shambles as rain cancelled the race. Yes, the most obvious of British weather conditions brought the MotoGP Championship to a standstill. Yet, it took Race Direction some five and a half hours to finally bring the curtain down on a truly miserable day in every sense of the word.

The circuit owners blamed the cancellation on the riders and teams refusing to race, the teams blamed the standing water and the lack of drainage and the riders blamed safety – standing water was an issue during Saturday’s sessions (a major crash in the water during FP4 sent Tito Rabat to the hospital via helicopter, while four other riders ploughed into the gravel traps).

It is clear that Silverstone’s owners have fudged the recent multi-million fund resurfacing, which it boasted had removed the many bumps which had plagued the track for years. Standing water could be seen at much of the circuit, seemingly unable to cope with the most likely of weather conditions at this race track.

In an effort to beat the weather conditions, race organisers announced that the MotoGP race would be moved forward in the schedule to 11:15am in an effort to get the big bikes on the track before the rain was again expected to hit the circuit.

However, while the MotoGP warm-up session was held during dry conditions, rain began falling during the Moto3 warm-up and this quickly turned into a steady stream of rain.

With the Dorna and the track’s officials delaying Sunday’s races for as long as possible, Dorna, IRTA, and the MotoGP riders, bar Jack Miller and Johan Zarco, finally decided to cancel the race late in the afternoon, just before 4pm, as the rain showed no chance of stopping, and the track surface was clearly not safe enough to race upon when it was wet.

So, that was that…a shambolic end to a truly miserable day for British racing.