MotoGP

MotoGP: Ducati unveils colours for 2020 title assault

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The historic Palazzo Re Enzo in Piazza Maggiore, Bologna, set the stage for the 2020 Ducati Team Launch

During the event, riders Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci, together with Ducati Motor Holding CEO Claudio Domenicali and Ducati Corse General Manager Luigi Dall’Igna, unveiled the new colours of the Desmosedici GP20 bikes that the Italian squad will field in the 2020 MotoGP World Championship.

The brand-new liveries, painted in bright red with a few details in black and chrome, will make their first official race appearance at the inaugural Grand Prix of the 2020 MotoGP season in Qatar, om March 8.

Andrea Dovizioso, runner-up for the past three seasons, said: “2019 was interesting and made us understand a few aspects that will help us to improve and grow in 2020. Last year we finished as runner-up for the third consecutive time behind Marc Màrquez, a rider that for sure made the difference last year, but we also did our best managing well our potential. Every year has its own story, and it is not easy to predict what will happen in 2020. Our goal is clear; we want to challenge for the title again. Both Ducati and I are working hard to be back stronger than ever before. Compared to last year, I expect to find more competitive rivals, but we have also grown a lot, and I am confident that we will be able to continue with our positive trend.”

MotoGP: Lorenzo, Biaggi and Anderson to become MotoGP Legends

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Five-time world champion Jorge Lorenzo, four-time world Champion Max Biaggi and four-time world champion Hugh Anderson will become MotoGP Legends this season, with the Spaniard set to be inducted into the MotoGP Legends Hall of Fame at Jerez, the Italian at Mugello and the New Zealander later in the year.

Lorenzo is one of the most successful riders of all time, taking his first win in 2003 and his 68th in 2018. Back-to-back 250cc champion in 2006 and 2007, on pole in his first MotoGP race and becoming a winner third time out in the premier class, Lorenzo continued his meteoric rise by landing the world championship in 2010, 2012 and 2015. He won those titles and 44 wins with Yamaha, before switching to Ducati in 2017 and taking three more wins with the Italian marque before moving to Honda, later announcing his retirement from competition at the end of 2019.

Biaggi made his debut in the 250cc class 1991, and the Italian became a winner the very next season as he took his first victory.  He made the class his own and became champion in 1994, 1995, 1996 and 1997. He then moved up to the premier class and took a maiden victory in his rookie season, finishing second overall. From his 1998 debut in the premier class until his departure in 2005, Biaggi took 13 wins and was runner-up in the championship on three occasions. Biaggi then moved to WSBK and took two world championships, in 2010 and 2012, before announcing his retirement.

Anderson is the final inductee for 2020. Anderson made his first GP appearances in the 500cc and 350cc classes in 1960, taking a podium in the latter. Two years later he added the 125cc and 50cc classes to his resume, becoming a race winner in both. That set his course and for 1963 the New Zealander took on the 125cc and 50cc world championships, taking the crown in each class. He retained the 50cc crown the following year to make it back-to-back titles and was third in the 125cc title fight, reversing that in 1965 as he regained the 125cc crown and was third in the 50cc class. Anderson retired in 1966 after taking an impressive 25 Grand Prix wins and four titles in just six years.

Lorenzo, Biaggi and Anderson join a long list of greats that have been made MotoGP Legends including Giacomo Agostini, Mick Doohan, Geoff Duke, Wayne Gardner, Mike Hailwood, Daijiro Kato, Eddie Lawson, Anton Mang, Angel Nieto, Wayne Rainey, Phil Read, Jim Redman, Kenny Roberts, Kenny Roberts Jr, Jarno Saarinen, Kevin Schwantz, Barry Sheene, Marco Simoncelli, Freddie Spencer, Casey Stoner, John Surtees, Carlo Ubbiali, Alex Crivillé, Franco Uncini, Marco Lucchinelli, Randy Mamola, Kork Ballington, Dani Pedrosa, Stefan Dörflinger, Jorge Martinez and Nicky Hayden.

MotoGP: Marc Marquez undergoes shoulder surgery (again)

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With his most successful premier class season to date finished, eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez elected to undergo surgery at the Hospital Universitari Dexeus-Quiron today, November 27.

The operation was performed by Dr. Xavier Mir, Dr. Victor Marlet and Dr. Teresa Marlet, all part of ICATME (the Catalan Institute of Traumatology and Sports Medicine).

After experiencing some discomfort with his right shoulder, and after his Monday crash at the Jerez Test, the Repsol Honda Team rider elected to have the operation as a preventative measure after medical consultation.

The operation is similar to the one performed on his left shoulder at the end of 2018 but less aggressive in nature.

Marquez will be discharged within the next 48 hours. He will then begin his recovery and winter training in preparation for the Sepang Test at home in Cervera.

MotoGP: HRC signs Moto2 champion Alex Marquez to partner brother Marc in Repsol dream team

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Honda Racing Corporation has signed double World Champion Alex Marquez.

The young Spanish rider will join the Repsol Honda Team on a one-year contract and moves from the intermediate class to partner eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez in 2020 for his debut season in the premier class aboard the Honda RC213V.

Alex, the current Moto2 champion will replace the recently retired Jorge Lorenzo, beating LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow and Takaaki Nakagmi and Nakagami’s stand-in, Johann Zarco, to the seat.

Alex’s new contract is unusually short, but will bring him in line with the other riders in the grid, with almost every seat on the MotoGP grid being up for renewal at the end of 2020, and he has already ridden the bike during the post-season test at Valencia.

MotoGP: Jorge Lorenzo set to retire after Valencia

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Repsol Honda’s Jorge Lorenzo has announced his retirement from top-level motorcycle racing ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix at Valencia, which will be the final MotoGP race of his 18-year career.

In an unexpected extraordinary press conference, the three-time MotoGP champion told the gathered mass: “I don’t want to race anymore.”

After a bruising 2019 campaign, Lorenzo explained that he simply no longer has the passion to keep going after breaking his back in Assen at the Dutch TT earlier this season.

He said: “Everyone who has worked with me knows how much of a perfectionist I am, how much hard work and intensity I put into this. Being like this requires a high level of motivation; when I signed for Honda I had an incredible feeling of motivation, achieving one of the dreams of every rider: to be an official HRC factory rider.

“Unfortunately, injuries came to play an important role in my season, being unable to ride in a normal way. I started to see some light but I had this bad crash in the Montmelo test, and some weeks later that ugly one in Assen, and you all know the consequences. I have to admit, when I was rolling on the gravel and when I stood up, I thought to myself, ‘ok Jorge, is this really worth it, after what I’ve achieved, to keep suffering?’ I’m done with it, I don’t want to race anymore.

“I came home, I decided to give it a try, so I kept going but the truth is, the hill became so high and so big for me that I wasn’t able to find the motivation, the passion to keep climbing the mountain.

“I’m disappointed with that, I want to say sorry to Alberto Puig, to Takeo, Kuwata, Nomura and all my team, who I have to say have always treated me in an exceptional way.

“I think this is the best decision for me and for the team because Honda and Jorge Lorenzo cannot fight just to score some points at the odd race, or enter the top five or fight for the podium, I think it could be possible with time but we are both winners that need to fight for the win.”

“I would like to sincerely thank everyone at Honda for their support and understanding and also extend my thanks and gratitude to everyone who has been there through my career.”

With five World Championships, 152 podiums, 68 wins, 69 poles and 37 fastest laps, Lorenzo boasts one of the most impressive and consistent careers in Grand Prix racing.

Debuting on his 15th birthday on the second day of practice at the Spanish Grand Prix in 2002, Lorenzo has spent his entire life racing. A first Grand Prix win came just over a year later with his famous ‘Por Fuera’ move in Rio de Janeiro in 2003.

After a total of four wins in the 125cc class, ‘The Spartan’ moved to the 250cc championship and soon took back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2007, his butter-smooth style perfectly suited to the intermediate class. His formidable consistency saw him take 29 podium finishes in three years, including 17 wins and earned him a factory seat in the MotoGP class.

Lorenzo’s start to life in the premier class was nothing short of amazing as he took three-straight pole positions and converted them to three consecutive podium finishes, including a first win in his third MotoGP race. Although some heavy falls would halt his title challenge, Lorenzo established himself as a star of the future as he ended his debut season in fourth place.

2009 saw the soon-to-be World Champion never finish a race lower than fourth and Lorenzo carried this consistency through to 2010 and a debut MotoGP World Championship. Finishing all 18 World Championship rounds in the top four, only twice off the podium, Lorenzo put in a dominating performance to take his first of three premier class crowns. With 383 points, Lorenzo set a new record for points scored in the premier class – a record which would stand for almost a decade. The championship was Spain’s second in the premier class, Alex Criville the only Spanish rider to have previously won.

In 2011 Jorge Lorenzo went toe-to-toe with Casey Stoner, the pair trading wins throughout the season. Unfortunately, an injury in Australia forced Lorenzo to miss the final three races of the season – his efforts during the course of the year still enough to earn him second place in the championship with an impressive 260 points.

There was no stopping Lorenzo in 2012 as he took three wins from the first five races and missed out on the top two steps on the podium just once in the first 17 races. Again, his consistency was unmatched and Lorenzo marched to a fourth World Championship, his second in the premier class.

His final World Championship came in 2015 as he overcame a season-long challenge from both Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi to clinch the title at the last round in Valencia.

After conquering three championships, Lorenzo made the decision to change manufacturer and in two years took seven podiums and three wins, joining a prestigious club of riders to win on two different manufacturers.

Taking up a new challenge for 2019, Lorenzo joined the Repsol Honda Team as he set his sights on becoming the first rider to win on three different manufacturers in MotoGP.

Unfortunately, a pre-season training crash saw the Mallorca native miss the majority of testing and spend the opening races playing catch up. Despite making constant improvements aboard the Honda RC213V, a heavy crash in Assen saw Lorenzo suffer breaks to his T6 and T8 vertebrae, ruling him out of four Grands Prix and affecting him throughout his return.

Lorenzo leaves the MotoGP World Championship with a number of incredible achievements to his name including: the second most podium finishes in the premier class (114), the second highest amount of pole positions across all classes (69), the fifth most successful rider in terms of wins in the premier class (47) and the third highest point scorer of all time (2896) in the premier class.

MotoGP: Vinales is Top Gun in Sepang

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Yamaha’s Maverick Viñales put in a formidable performance at the Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix to destroy the opposition, picking up his second win of the 2019 season in emphatic style.

It was Pramac Ducati’s Jack Miller who took the holeshot from the second row, with the Aussie bravely heading round the outside to take the lead from front row starter Franco Morbidelli on the Petronas Yamaha.

Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez and Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso, meanwhile, had made lightning starts to move through from P11 and P10 respectively, but it was Vinales who was making waves at the front, snatching the lead from Miller at Turn 11 as Marquez passed Morbidelli for P4.

A frantic first lap wasn’t over yet though, as Dovizioso battled Miller for P2 at Turn 14 and Turn 15, with both heading wide and thus allowing Marquez to pounce. He sat Miller up, but the Australian shot back past heading into Turn 1.

Marquez then dug deep to finally dispatch Miller, but reeling Viñales in looked like a serious mountain to climb, with the gap well over a second. The Spaniard gradually built a solid lead of 1.5s, riding on his own to create a commanding lead, eventually crossing the line with a 3.059s advantage over second-place Marc Marquez.

Vinales said: “Honestly I have to say this is one of the times in life I’ve been the happiest. After the Australia crash I felt I won the race, because I attacked in my head…but then actually crashed. It was a bit of a disaster but we arrived here with everything clear, the bike was on a great level all weekend from FP1 since the first laps so we pushed, pushed and pushed and made a gap, which was important. I then tried to control the race which wasn’t easy; especially mentally it was very tough, but I have to congratulate the team because all weekend they did an awesome job.”

With Marquez grabbing a comfortable second, all eyes were on the fight for third; Dovizioso grabbed it from Miller on Lap 4 and Valentino Rossi was also in contention, with ‘The Doctor’ finally dispatching Miller shortly after.

And then things got even more heated between Miller and Suzuki’s Alex Rins at the final corner as Rins went for the inside and the two made contact. Rins lost some bodywork in the coming together, and even through both riders stayed upright, they were forced to watch the fight for third as Dovizioso and Rossi started to peel off into the distance.

The fight for third, try as he might, would not go the way of Rossi. Rins had closed in to make matters even closer, and every advance ‘The Doctor’ made on the Ducati was repelled as the Suzuki also started to threaten. Dovizioso, as ever, was the very last of the late brakers and the nine-time World Champion just couldn’t make a move stick, with the Ducati rider taking the final place on the podium.

MotoGP: Marquez wins dramatic race at Phillip Island

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Marc Marquez has clinched victory in an incident-packed MotoGP race at Phillip Island.

The 2019 Champion was involved in a race-long duel with Maverick Vinales who crashed on the final lap while trying to put a move on Marquez.

After darting into the lead on Lap 10, pole-sitter Vinales was stalked by Marquez until the final lap with the Repsol Honda rider measuring his rival’s pace around the iconic Australian circuit.

Marquez made his move at the start of the last lap to charge into the lead on the main straight into Turn 1. The newly-crowned MotoGP world champion then produced a defensive lap to keep Vinales at bay, with Vinales looking to sweep around Lukey Heights and attack Marquez down into Turn 10, but his soft rear tyre slipped out from underneath him to send the Yamaha crashing out.

With Marquez storming to his 55th career premier class victory, he surpasses Mick Doohan on the all-time list of winners and achieved his fifth-straight premier class win for the first time since 2014.

Marquez said: “It has been a crazy weekend with the weather and everything. Maverick was very fast today, but I was able to follow him and start slowly cooking the victory. Viñales started to push very hard and very fast at the front, but I knew that if I could stay with him for four or five laps then the victory was possible. The Repsol Honda Team has done a great job with the limited track time we have had. We had to gamble a little bit with the soft rear tyre and it was on the limit in the end, but we were able to win! It’s really special to take this 55th win with Honda, I feel incredible with the Honda family and I’m excited to enjoy this moment with them and the team.”

LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow rode to a strong second to claim his first rostrum since the Sachsenring, with Pramac Ducati’s Jack Miller claiming the final step on the podium.

MotoGP: ‘Dangerous’ conditions cancel MotoGP qualifying at Phillip Island

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Riders and race officials have called off qualifying deeming the weather conditions too dangerous to continue running at the Australian GP; qualifying is now rescheduled for Sunday morning should weather allow it.

Morning running on Saturday at the Australian Grand Prix was limited to just a few laps as high winds and rain hit the Phillip Island Circuit. While the rain eased in the afternoon, strong gusts of wind persisted. Riders attempted to run during Free Practice 4 but an emergency Safety Commission meeting between the MotoGP class riders ruled it was too dangerous to continue running today.

Before the red flag, Marc Marquez managed a 1’31.185 to lead Free Practice 4 from Maverick Viñales.

Sunday’s provisional schedule will see MotoGP Warm-Up held at 09:50 Local Time with Qualifying starting immediately after the session at 10:20. The 27-lap Australian Grand Prix is still scheduled to run at 15:00 Local Time, weather permitting.

MotoGP: Zarco set to make LCR Honda MotoGP debut at Phillip Island

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Johann Zarco will make his debut in LCR Honda IDEMITSU colours this weekend as he replaces Takaaki Nakagami at the Australian Grand Prix.

The 2017 #MotoGP rookie of the season has joined Lucio Cecchinello’s outfit for the final three races of the calendar with Nakagami having opted to undergo shoulder surgery ahead of the 2020 campaign.

Zarco will be determined to demonstrate the ability that saw him claim three podiums back in 2017 as he rejoins the MotoGP class following his acrimonious mid-season split from KTM.

Paddock insiders believe this is a dress rehearsal for the Frenchman to take Jorge Lorenzo’s seat inside the Repsol Honda team for the 2020 season. If Zarco impresses Honda bosses in the next three races, he will be offered Lorenzo’s ride. If he fails to deliver, his MotoGP dream will be over.

The Frenchman said: “I’m very happy. It’s difficult to fix a target, but I want to clear up all the feelings I got this year, because I had a great first two years in MotoGP, but this year has been really complicated. It looked like the MotoGP story was finished, but then Lucio (Cecchinello) called me to catch the opportunity to ride in these three races and yes, I’m catching it because it’s maybe my last three races. I took a big risk this summer quitting my contract for 2020, but I realized that racing is what I want to do. So now I have a short future, but I can live it with a lot of intensity.”

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.