MotoGP – Dovizioso takes first blood at season opener in Qatar


Andrea Dovizioso took top honours at the opening round of the 2018 season, holding off a determined challenge by Marc Marquez to cement his place as the second most successful racer in Ducati’s history.

The Italian rider, who started from Row 2, was unable to get a good start when the lights went out and he crossed the line at the end of the opening lap in seventh place.

However, Dovizioso dug deep, consolidated his position and then began moving up into the leading group, battling with Marquez, Rossi and Zarco before taking over at the front on lap 18.

Dovizioso was unable to shake off Marquez on the Repsol Honda, the Spaniard shadowing the Italian before launching an attack at the final curve. However, Dovizioso held his nerve and was able to get through on the inside and profit from the acceleration of his Desmosedici GP18 to cross the line just 0.027s ahead of his Honda rival.

Dovizioso said: “I’m really happy with this win because we have confirmed the improvements made over the winter and I was able to manage the race well, even though I made a really bad start.

“On the first lap I had to come off the gas, otherwise I would have crashed into Rins I think, but then I began to make up places, trying not to ruin the tyres.. Towards the end, after passing Zarco, I tried to pull out a gap on Marquez and Rossi but I didn’t have any more grip and was unable to increase my lead.

“At the last curve I had to be very careful because I knew that Marquez would try and pass me, and that’s how it went. He closed the door on me even more than in Austria and Japan, but I passed him on the inside of the kerb and then took advantage of the power of my Desmosedici to stay ahead.”

The win means Dovizioso has overtaken Loris Capirossi in the list of most victorious Ducati riders in MotoGP with eight wins to his name, and is now in second place in this particular ranking behind Casey Stoner.

The race was less enjoyable for team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, who crashed out with a front brake problem on Lap 12.

The Spaniard said: “It wasn’t one of the best weekends for me. I had a lot of problems and my crash was the result of a problem with the front brakes. Already on Lap 2 I realised that something wasn’t right and I tried to manage the situation, but the problem was getting worse. I thought it was an overheating problem, but when I was about to catch Iannone I wasn’t able to stop the bike and I tipped myself off to avoid worse damage. Now we have to understand what exactly happened to prevent the same problem from repeating itself in the future. It’s a pity because I was lapping with good times and I think I could have got closer to the leading group.”


MotoGP – Zarco smashes track record to take pole at session opener in Qatar



Tech 3 pilot Johann Zarco phenomenally sealed the first pole position of the 2018 season by posting the fastest ever lap on two wheels at the Losail International Circuit.

With his remarkable time of 1’53.680 minutes, the satellite Yamaha rider smashed the 10-year-old track record at the venue in Qatar, after going straight through to Q2.

The Frenchman said: “I’m really happy, it’s truly the best way to start the season. I had a crash in FP4 and while I came away with no harm, it’s not funny to be down before the qualifying.

“Beating the lap record makes me really proud. Tomorrow is the main day. I want to try to win, try to be on the podium. It looks like my pace over the distance is not the best one, but at least starting from pole is the best chance to catch a good result.”

MotoGP – The Doctor signs two-year extension to Yamaha contract


Valentino Rossi will race for two more years with the Yamaha factory outfit in MotoGP after announcing he had signed a new deal which will see him racing through 2020.

The move is hardly a shock – Rossi has always said he’ll race for as long as he feels competitive, and the only surprise about the announcement is that it took so long to announce.

Rossi said: “When I signed my last contract with Yamaha, in March 2016, I wondered if that would have been the last contract as a MotoGP rider. At that time, I decided that I‘d take that decision during the following two years.

“During the last two years I came to the conclusion that I want to continue because racing, being a MotoGP rider, but especially riding my M1, is the thing that makes me feel good.

“Having the opportunity to work with my team, with Silvano, Matteo and all my mechanics, and working with all Japanese engineers, Tsuji-san, and above all Tsuya-san, is a pleasure – I‘m happy.

“I want to thank Yamaha – Lin Jarvis and Maio Meregalli in particular – for their trust in me, because the challenge is difficult: being competitive until I‘m 40 years old!

“I know it‘s going to be difficult and it requires a lot of effort from my side and a lot of training but I‘m ready, I am not lacking in motivation, that‘s why I‘m signing for two more years.”

Rossi’s new contract brings the total of signed riders to 7 for the 2019 season – Rossi and Maverick Viñales will stay on the Yamahas, Marc Marquez will stay at Repsol Honda, Cal Crutchlow still has a contract with LCR Honda, as does Xavier Simeon at Avintia and Franco Morbidelli at Marc VDS, while Pecco Bagnaia will be making the move up to MotoGP in 2019 with Pramac Ducati.

MotoGP – meet the 2018 Aprilia RS-GP


Aprilia has unveiled its racing platform for the 2018 MotoGP – an updated version of the Aprilia RS-GP.

The bike features a new aluminium frame, a new new carbon fibre swingarm, a new airbox and new exhaust are also new.

Other changes include a new aero package and new suspension – Öhlins TSB46 forks and an Öhlins TRSP44 rear shock..

The Aprilia RS-GP will be raced by team stalwart Aleix Espagaro and new recruit Scott Redding.

MotoGP – Tech 3 to become a KTM satellite team in 2019



After taking on the premier class for the first time last season with impressive results – including seven top ten finishes – KTM will now have even more representation on the MotoGP grid next season, announcing a new partnership to supply Tech 3 with machinery from 2019 and bring the number of RC16s on the grid up to four.

The move comes soon after the Tech 3 team revealed its long-standing  partnership with Yamaha would be coming to an end at the close of 2018, with the two having raced together for two decades.

“We are very happy to join forces with Tech 3 in MotoGP from 2019,” says Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsport Director.

“The team has many years of experience and achieved a lot of great results in this championship. Their professional structure will make us even stronger. Having four KTM RC16 on the grid is also another big step for us, both for the development of our MotoGP bike and expanding KTM’s structure in the paddock. From the Red Bull Rookies Cup up to MotoGP there is a clear path to the top. We are looking forward to start a great cooperation and I’m thankful towards Hervé Poncharal for the future trust in KTM.”

MotoGP – Zarco sets the pace on final day of testing in Qatar

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With a masterful lap of 1:54.029 Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider Johann Zarco dominated the MotoGP field on the last day of testing before the start of the 2018 season.

The remarkable Frenchman took over the top spot with two hours to go, before he carried out a race simulation in order to be perfectly prepared for the first race, which takes place in two weeks’ time under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit.

Zarco said: “That was a very good third day, I’m delighted to finish with the top lap time. I think it was even possible to ride inside the high 53s, but we have to accept that we have to understand step by step how to ride at this speed. We did some great work with the team and with everything we did during these three days, I felt more confidence and I could work well on this. When I did a very long run to test the race, it was not too fast. I did 17 laps in a row, but probably a bit tired after this intense days here. Anyway, we are constant and I can relax a lot on the bike. I’m really happy about that and I need to keep this feeling in mind to start the race weekend well in a fortnight.”

MotoGP – Iannone fastest on Day Two at Losail


The second day of testing at the Losail International Circuit saw teams shift their focus to race set-up ahead of the first GP of the season on March 18, and Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone finished the session at the top of the timesheets.

While focusing mainly on finding base race settings, Iannone was able to string together a run of 15 highly consistent and quick laps. The Italian confirmed the fast pace he showed on the first day, and was once again the strongest rider through sector T2 and T4. All of this, combined with a boost in confidence and a comfortable feeling with the front of the bike, earned him the fastest time of the day and he ended the session on the top of the time sheet with a 1:54.586.

The Italian said: “Here, since yesterday, the bike has given me a good feeling. I am able to ride more and more with my usual style, and we struggle less where we don’t have hard braking. Today I completed a short race simulation and it was quite positive, we still have some room to improve but the team and Suzuki are doing a good job. We’ve taken all the information from the first two tests and tried to build a competitive bike. So far I’m very happy with how things are going here in Qatar!”

QATAR TEST – Classification after Day 2:

1. IANNONE, Andrea Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 1:54.586 45 / 45

2. DOVIZIOSO, Andrea Ducati Team 1:54.627 0.041 0.041 33 / 41

3. MARQUEZ, Marc Repsol Honda Team 1:54.753 0.167 0.126 58 / 59

4. ZARCO, Johann Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1:54.874 0.288 0.121 27 / 49

5. RINS, Alex Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 1:54.967 0.381 0.093 39 / 41

6. CRUTCHLOW, Cal LCR Honda CASTROL 1:54.992 0.406 0.025 20 / 51

7. VIÑALES, Maverick Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1:55.051 0.465 0.059 51 / 52

8. PETRUCCI, Danilo Alma Pramac Racing 1:55.188 0.602 0.137 17 / 30

9. MILLER, Jack Alma Pramac Racing 1:55.236 0.650 0.048 44 / 47

10. PEDROSA, Dani Repsol Honda Team 1:55.282 0.696 0.046 21 / 35

11. ROSSI, Valentino Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1:55.316 0.730 0.034 30 / 45

12. ESPARGARO, Aleix Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1:55.460 0.874 0.144 36 / 47

13. NAKAGAMI, Takaaki LCR Honda IDEMITSU 1:55.539 0.953 0.079 58 / 61

14. LORENZO, Jorge Ducati Team 1:55.562 0.976 0.023 30 / 53

15. REDDING, Scott Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1:55.708 1.122 0.146 35 / 57

16. SMITH, Bradley Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 1:55.798 1.212 0.090 37 / 49

17. RABAT, Tito Reale Avintia Racing 1:55.875 1.289 0.077 44 / 61

18. ABRAHAM, Karel Ángel Nieto Team 1:55.876 1.290 0.001 10 / 37

19. MORBIDELLI, Franco EG 0,0 Marc VDS 1:56.074 1.488 0.198 48 / 55

20. BAUTISTA, Alvaro Ángel Nieto Team 1:56.104 1.518 0.030 25 / 70

21. SYAHRIN, Hafizh Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1:56.263 1.677 0.159 31 / 46

22. LUTHI, Thomas EG 0,0 Marc VDS 1:56.295 1.709 0.032 27 / 38

23. SIMEON, Xavier Reale Avintia Racing 1:56.795 2.209 0.500 29 / 46

24. KALLIO, Mika Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 1:57.218 2.632 0.423 50 / 56

MotoGP – Viñales fastest on day one at Losail test


Yamaha factory rider Maverick Viñales enjoyed a positive first day’s testing at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar, finishing the session in first place.

Viñales tried various tweaks to the basic setting, gradually improving his feeling on the bike as well as his position, slotting into second place, behind team-mate Valentino Rossi, with more than three and a half hours to go.

He spent the remaining time of the session concentrating on his riding style and setting a consistent pace – he set a 1’55.053s on lap 50 of 64 laps in total, and ended the first day in first place with a 0.051s margin over his closest rival.

He said: “We had no confidence to push in Thailand. Today it looks like we improved in that area. In the beginning I didn’t feel well with the bike, but after trying some set-ups we felt better and I could push the front more, and step-by-step the lap times became lower. We are trying to make the bike the best we can. I started to feel better and better every time I exited pit lane today.

“On the last run I was doing many laps, focusing on my riding style and it looks to be going well. The bike is very consistent and I was able to ride well, but we still need to work on the corner speed, turning and acceleration, so we need to stay focused and keep working. Anyway, in the area that we wanted to improve, we improved – that’s positive.”

MotoGP – Tech 3 to leave Yamaha in 2019



The 2018 MotoGP season has not even started, yet news is starting to break that will play a crucial role in the 2019 season – the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team has announced that this will be the last season it competes as a satellite Yamaha team.

The decision to split its ties with the Japanese manufacturer brings to an end the French team’s near two-decade association with Yamaha.

The rumour mill has gone into overdrive speculating who will be supplying Tech3 with MotoGP bikes next year. Both Honda and Ducati are already supplying a lot of teams with bikes for 2019, and neither would want to add another satellite squad. Aprilia doesn’t have the budget to be able to support Tech3, so that only really two candidates: KTM and Suzuki.

KTM is backed by Red Bull and has one of the largest budgets in the paddock – the Austrian factory is investing €250 million over a five-year program and definitely has the resources to support a satellite team.Suzuki doesn’t. Team boss Davide Brivio has expressed a desire to have a satellite team, but has always said that the team would be comfortable managing a single satellite rider. This option wouldn’t appal to Tech 3.

One thing that is for certain is that the team will also bring an end to tits agreement with current title sponsor Monster.

Where does that leave Yamaha in 2019? The most likely answer is, without a satellite team.

Although Dorna is known to be keen to have the Sky VR46 team in MotoGP, the series organisers have guaranteed the grid slots to the current MotoGP teams for a five-year period ending in 2020, meaning that a vacancy for a new team would only open in 2021.

MotoGP: Marquez extends Honda contract


The 2018 season may not even have kicked off, but Marc Marquez has become the third rider to secure his long-term future after signing a contract extension with Honda to stay with the Repsol team for two more years, for the 2019 and 2020 seasons.

Marquez said: “I’m excited to continue to race for Honda’s factory team in the MotoGP class. I’m proud to race as a member of the Honda family, and I appreciate how Honda and the team always do their best to provide me with everything I need. I would also like to thank everyone who has given me such warm support over the years. The first two official tests went well and, with my contract renewed, I can focus on racing in the new season. I will continue to enjoy racing, share my joy with everybody and do my best to reach our shared goals. Thank you!”

The news makes sense – Marquez is very happy with Honda, and at this point in his career, his main ambition is to keep winning races and championships.

He has proven that he is capable of doing that with Honda. And the bike looks to be better than last season’s machine; Marquez has been both very fast and very comfortable in winter testing, his long runs an indication of just how fast he is, even in race trim. With Dani Pedrosa and Cal Crutchlow also quick on the bike, the RC213V looks like being extremely competitive this year.

Marquez is the third rider to sign a new contract before the season has even begun.

Maverick Viñales announced that he would be back with Yamaha for two more years at the Movistar Yamaha team launch, before he had even swung a leg over the bike, and Ducati announced they had signed Pecco Bagnaia to the Pramac team for two years.

With Cal Crutchlow, Franco Morbidelli, and Xavier Simeon all having contracts for 2019 with their current teams, that brings the total number of riders already signed for next year up to six.