Bike review

MotoGP: Rins takes maiden premier class win in incident-packed race at COTA

Race 3 MotoGp Austin

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Suzuki’s Alex Rins secured his maiden win in an incident-packed race in Texas, thus giving Suzuki’s its first premier class victory since the 2016 British GP.

As the lights went out it was LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow who got the better launch out of the front three on the grid, with Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi also getting off the line well as the duo pulled alongside polesitter Marc Marquez up the hill, but it was Marquez who was bravest on the brakes to grab the holeshot.

Rossi and Crutchlow slotted into second and third as the duo tried to keep tabs on the leader, with Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso making a stellar start from P13 to move up to P6 on the opening lap.

Marquez didn’t get away from the clutches of Rossi straight away in the opening couple of laps, but the reigning World Champion then started to pull the pin and by lap five, the gap was 1.4 seconds.

Behind the Spaniard it was quickly becoming a battle for second, with Rossi and Crutchlow fighting with Pramac’s Jack Miller and Rins.

Crutchlow’s race then came to a premature end as he crashed out of contention at Turn 11 on Lap 6, which started a chain reaction of misery for Honda. With a three second lead on Lap 9, Marquez was clear of the rest and the magnificent seven was well in sight. But then the unthinkable happened. The King of COTA crashed, tucking the front at Turn 12, and through he remounted, he was unable to restart his RC213V.

Then, sensationally, he was quickly followed by teammate Jorge Lorenzo, with another chain issue forcing the Spaniard to retire.

Back at the front, Rins had got past Miller for third and it was soon Rossi vs Rins for the Americas GP win. With ten laps to go, Rossi was cracking the whip at the front with Rins less than half a second back, and Miller a furher two seconds adrift in a lonely third.

With four laps to go Rins made his move, with a clean and crisp pass up the inside. Rossi attempted to bite straight back at Turn 12, but ran in too hot and ran wide. This left Rins with a 0.7 advantage with three to go and then with two to go, with the gap still hovering at half a second, Rossi ran in deep at Turn 11.

Rins never looked back, crossing the line to take his maiden win in the class, thus becoming the first rider to win at the Circuit of the Americas in all the classes.

Rossi rode to his second consecutive second of the season to claim his 198th premier class podium, with Miller holding off some late pressure from Dovizioso to take his first Ducati podium.

Dovizioso finished fourth, ahead of Petronas Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli in fifth, with  Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci in sixth. Petronas Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo finished in seventh, with KTM’s Pol Espargaro in eighth, Pramac’s Francesco Bagnaia in ninth and LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami rounding out the top ten.

It was a miserable race for Yamaha’s Maverick Viñales. Both he and compatriot Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) were handed ride through penalties after clear jump starts, although Viñales bizarrely penalised himself even further by also taking the long lap penalty before coming through pitlane for his penalty.

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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.

News: Alpinestars issues airbag statement

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In response to the news last week that a German court (the Higher Regional Court of Munich issued judgment) upheld the claim that Alpinestars had infringed upon patent EP 2 412 257 B1 held by Dainese S.p.A, relating to its D-air® system, Alpinestars has released the following statement: “As soon as the Court serves the written judgment, Alpinestars will study the details prior to taking any decision on its next steps.

“[We] want to clarify that this action never involved the core of Alpinestars Tech-Air® technology;  at no point, either past or present, has any action or patent infringement involved the electronic management, algorithm, or deployment mechanism, or any other part employed within Alpinestars entirely unique and advanced Tech-Air® technology.

“As consistently stated throughout this legal process, Alpinestars fully respects and honors third parties’ intellectual property rights and expects the same with respect to its own IP rights. Alpinestars’ highly innovative Tech-Air® products are based upon years of its in house research and development conducted by its own team of leading research and development staff.

“Since the very beginning of the Tech-Air® project, which commenced in 2001, the freedom to ride with the most advanced innovations of performance protection has been the objective relentlessly pursued by Alpinestars and the result is uniquely advanced and capable technology. Tech-Air® is the world’s first airbag providing full upper torso protection in a transferable vest which incorporates a completely independent electronic management system, with no reliance on any external devices (sensors or GPS), to give accident detection and full airbag inflation before the first impact, dual charge for the track and off-road capability as demonstrated in the 2019 Dakar Rally.”

MotoGP: Ducati tops the field on final day of testing in Sepang

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The final day of testing saw Ducati dominate the timesheets with factory rider Danilo Petrucci leading the charge with a jaw dropping time of 1:58.239 after 32 laps.

The Italian said: “Today we started off on the right foot: I was supposed to try two ‘time attacks’ but one attempt, done with a medium rear tyre, was enough. When I saw the lap time on the dashboard, I was really happy. After that, we resumed our work on some new items. Unfortunately, however, I crashed while I was trying a new fairing around midday. Given the fact that I was also experiencing some issues with blisters in my hands, we decided to stop a bit ahead of schedule to recover and make sure we’re at our best in the next tests in Qatar. Overall, it’s been a really positive test.”

Rookie Francesco Bagnaia was hot on his heels on the satellite Pramac bike and was just 0.063 in arrears after 21 laps. Next was his team-mate Jack Miller, only another small margin further back, with factory Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso completing the top four, three tenths off the top spot.

After the Ducati lock out at the top, it was Yamaha’s Maverick Viñales who remained close. The Spaniard put his newly-numbered number 12 into fifth on the timesheets, setting a 1:58.644 as his best of a huge 79 laps. Viñales’ long run pace was also electric – with the Yamaha rider putting in 20 laps in the 1:59 and 2:00 brackets. Team-mate Valentino Rossi was tenth on the timesheets after more than 60 laps.

Petronas Yamaha SRT, on their 2019 spec machines, also had another good showing on the timesheets. Franco Morbidelli was the second quickest Yamaha in P8 after 66 laps, with rookie team-mate Fabio Quartararo in P16 after a mammoth 77 laps – just 0.011 behind rookie rival Joan Mir on the Suzuki.

Behind Viñales, Cal Crutchlow took P6 overall and was fastest Honda once again on his LCR bike, despite returning from injury. The three-time Grand Prix winner crashed on Day 3 once again but managed an increased 61 laps – a positive showing after so much time away – and did a best of a 1:58.780. His team-mate Takaaki Nakagami also impressed as he finished Day 3 in P9.

Reigning Marc Marquez managed 39 laps as he continues to recover from shoulder surgery and piloted his Repsol Honda to a best of a 1:59.170 and ended the day in P11 – just 0.015 off Rossi. Honda Test Team rider Stefan Bradl also added more than 50 laps to the count for the Japanese manufacturer, ending the day in P13, and tested a new aero fairing, as did Marquez.

Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro was another rider who was quick on on Day 3, ending the session in seventh after 52 laps. Espargaro’s team-mate Andrea Iannone, meanwhile, sat out the action due to illness, although paddock chatter seems to suggest he has an infection after a botched plastic surgery procedure on his face.

Suzuki’s Alex Rins posted the 12th fastest time, 0.010 off Marquez but putting in 75 laps. Rookie Joan Mir made a big move up the rankings on Day 3 though, ending the session in P15 and only three tenths off his teammate.

KTM continues to struggle, with factory rider Johann Zarco once again taking the accolade of fastest Austrian machine in P17 with a 1:59.640 after 44 laps – enough to pip his team-mate Pol Espargaro by just over a tenth. The Spaniard was P18, with Miguel Oliveira putting his KTM Tech 3 machine just behind the two factory bikes.

MotoGP: #69 to be retired at the Circuit of the Americas

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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.”

MotoGP: Ducati unveils 2019 livery

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.”

 

Motorcycle Live: Aprilia RS 660 concept

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Meet the Aprilia RS 660 concept, a mid-weight sportsbike prototype from the Noale-based motorcycle manufacturer.

Details are scarce, but Aprilia has revealed some insights into the new RS 660, which Aprilia says is for a ‘new generation of riders looking to fulfil thrills on the road as well as on the occasional track day’.

Aprilia says the 660 is a parallel twin unit derived from the 1100cc that powered the Tuono 1100 and the RSV4 1100 Factory. Aprilia says this configuration was chosen for its compact nature and efficiency, the extremely low level of heat transmitted to the rider and for the freedom it gives its designers to create a sleek and lightweight frame and suspension.

The engine is mated to an aluminium frame and swingarm that helps keep the weight down, and the engine is used as a stress member of the frame. Other noticeable features include the curved shape of the right side of the swingarm, which allows for cleaner exhaust routing, and lack of linkage between the shock absorber and swingarm.

Motorcycle Live: Panigale V4R breaks cover

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So, the covers are off, the manufacturers have made their move and Ducati has blown everyone out of the water with the Panigale V4R, its WSBK homologation special.

WSBK is a production-based race series, which sees tweaked versions of the actual bikes you can go and buy race against one another in competition – and this is why the V4R exists; to allow Ducati to take the WSBK fight to Kawasaki and wrestle the title out of the hands of the all-conquering Johnny Rea.

The new Panigale V4R runs a 998cc version of the Desmosedici Stradale 90-degree V4, with the stroke shortened from 53.5 mm to 48.4 mm, and the 81 mm bore untouched, essentially taking an extremely oversquare and rev-focused motor and making it significantly more oversquare and revvy.

The engine internals have also lost a fair bit of weight: the pistons are forged, with just two piston rings (one for compression, the other an oil scraper) and the crankshaft, high-lift valves and con rods are titanium. The crank alone saves an astonishing 1.1kg over the version used in the1103cc bikes, whereas the con rods save 100g each.

So as well as having less distance to travel with each revolution thanks to the shorter stroke, there’s significantly less mass to move as well. That means Ducati can rev this thing much higher than the 1103cc version: the V4S revs to 13,000rpm, and the R version keeps on pulling, up to a crazy 15,250rpm.

So the new R bike loses torque, which drops from a peak of 124Nm in the S bike down to 114Nm in the R, but gains significant horsepower at the top of its new stratospheric rev range: while the S bike makes 214bhp, the R boosts this to 221 in fully road-legal trim. Bin the legal cans for the Performance kit from Akrapovic and that horsepower figure leaps to 234 ponies.

The bodywork is notably different too, thanks to the gills on the side fairings, as well as the silver rear of the tank, the overall larger and higher front fairing and those black carbon winglets behind the headlights.

Ducati, of course, was the first manufacturer to push winglet technology in MotoGP, and even though that series has banned them, WSBK continues to allow their use.

Other stand out features include the Brembo Stylema brakes, traction, wheelie and control, cornering ABS Evo, up/down quickshifting, engine brake control, three riding modes, pit lane limiter, lap timing, data analysis and multimedia Bluetooth systems.

MotoGP: Marquez snatches difficult pole at Phillip Island

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Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez has secured pole position at Phillip Island, his fifth  consecutive pole at the track (equalling Casey Stoner’s five poles in a row).

Tricky weather conditions, including occasional rain, low temperatures and cold wind, made the search for bike set-up challenging and the track conditions demanding.

Marquez, wearing gloves and boots in Mick Doohan’s iconic colors as a tribute to the Aussie legend, was able to choose exactly the best moment to push, and his 1’29.199” lap time proved to be untouchable in the final minutes of the session.

With a 47-point lead in the Constructors Championship and three races remaining in the season, Honda have the chance to clinch their 24th Constructors Title tomorrow.