MotoGP

MotoGP – Livio Suppo to leave HRC

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Honda has announced that Livio Suppo has decided to leave his role as Repsol Honda’s Team Principal.

Suppo joined HRC in 2010, as Communications and Marketing Director. From 2013 he assumed a dual-role as Team Principal of the Repsol Honda Team and HRC Communications and Marketing Director, giving a precious contribution in marketing, plus team and rider management.

Suppo said: “It has been a real honour to work for HRC over the past eight years. It has been a great professional and human experience, and I will be always grateful to the Company for asking me to be part of it.

“Anyway, after 22 seasons in the motorcycle racing world, I feel that it is time for me to look for new challenges. I leave HRC knowing that in 2018 they will be competitive, because Marc and Dani are very strong and the engineers will as always prepare a good package for them to fight for the championship again. I will never forget all the good days we had together, and one more time I would like to say thanks to everybody in the team and at HRC for sharing these exciting years with me.”

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MotoGP – Pedrosa wins, Marquez takes the title in scintillating finale

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The final race of the season was an epic climax to 2018, with with Dani Pedrosa winning the Grand Prix, his seventh at Valencia across all classes and his 31st in the MotoGP class.

But all eyes were on team-mate Marc Marquez and Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso to see which pilot would take the title.

It was Marquez who got the better start, hustling his way to the front before Tech 3’s Johann Zarco assumed the lead on lap four.

Dovizioso also made a blistering start, forcing his way through the midfield to sit behind team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.

Marquez was happy in second – he’d win the title – and stuck behind the satellite Yamaha for 20 laps before making a pass. However, he immediately ran wide in Turn 1, the front wheel closing at full left lock. But Marquez would not be beaten and managed to balance the bike on his knee and his elbow, holding on in the hope the front would come back to him as smoke poured off the front tire. The rear finally gripped and he succeeded in flipping the bike back up again as he headed to the edge of the hard standing on the outside of Turn 1. With something resembling control, he ran off the track and through the gravel, rejoining behind the Ducatis and several seconds behind.

The Ducatis were embroiled in an internal battle of their own. To stand any chance of landing the title, Dovizioso had to get past his team-mate. Lap after lap Lorenzo refused to move over, and then the ‘Suggested Mapping 8’ appeared on his dashboard, the same message which had been shown at Sepang. This was surely the sign that Ducati were ordering Lorenzo to let Dovizioso by, but Lorenzo steadfastly refused to obey.

The same message was sent again just five laps later, and then a lap later it was clear for all to see – Lorenzo’s pit board had an instruction to drop one place, thus allowing Dovizioso through.

The messages kept coming, on both dashboard and pit board, but Lorenzo kept ignoring them, and actually started catching Pedrosa in second, dropping Dovizioso in the process as if to prove a point.

It is this stubbornness which would cost him dearly. He had caught Pedrosa and was starting to push, too hard as it turned out, and lost the front in Turn 5, crashing out.

And just three corners later the title was decided as Dovizioso failed to get his bike stopped on the way into Turn 8, ran straight on into the gravel, and tumbled over at slow speed. Dovizioso remounted his bike, and cruised back to the Ducati garage, where he retired. The title was now Marquez’s, regardless of where he finished.

At the front, the battle continued to rage, with Pedrosa dicing with Zarco for the lead. With four laps left, the Spaniard was clearly quicker than Zarco, and on the final lap he pounced. He was close enough behind Zarco to use the slipstream of the Frenchman to launch himself out of the draft along the straight and grab the inside line as he drew level with Zarco, holding him off on the brakes. The Repsol Honda rider then continued to push while riding defensive lines, and eventually crossed the line to take victory, his second of the season, and scoring enough points to secure the team championship for Repsol Honda.

It was a fitting end to a spectacular season. Roll on 2018…

 

MotoGP – Desmo Dovizioso takes Malaysia GP win to set-up last round title decider

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Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso gave a riding masterclass in tricky conditions at the Sepang International Circuit, winning his sixth of the season to keep the title battle alive going into the final round at Valencia.

Dovizioso, who started from third place on the grid, didn’t get a perfect start and had to battle with Honda’s Dani Pedrosa on the opening lap. The Italian then caught and passed title rival Marc Marquez on Lap 5, before setting after the leading duo made up of Zarco and Lorenzo.

Dovizioso passed the impressive French rookie on Lap 9, and began stalking his team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, who was himself looking to take his maiden Ducati win.

The paddock went into overdrive as Dovizioso closed the gap – would team orders prevail? Would Ducati order Lorenzo to pull aside? Would Lorenzo follow that order if it was given?

With 6 laps to go, Ducati played its hand and Lorenzo received a dashboard message from his team stating “Suggested Mapping: Mapping 8”. Many took this to be a coded instruction to let Dovizioso by. It didn’t matter. Just a lap later the Spaniard had a major moment at the final corner, losing the front and saving the bike on his knee as he ran wide, enabling Dovizioso to dive up the inside and take the lead.

The deed was done. Lorenzo effectively rode shotgun behind his team-mate and followed his team-mate home for the runner-up slot. Zarco crossed the line in third, with Marquez in fourth. The result sees the Italian trail the Spaniard by 21 points ahead of the finale in Valencia.

Dovizioso said: “It was a truly perfect weekend: we were quick in every session, both in the dry and in the wet, and today in the rain we dominated. Here at Sepang Jorge and I really had a bike advantage, because our Desmosedici was very fast, and we managed to administer the gap in the best possible way even though track conditions were very difficult because there wasn’t much grip. I’m very pleased for the win which keeps my hopes alive for the title, and even though I know it will be very difficult at Valencia because it’s a track where Marquez always goes well, we’ll be going to Spain with confidence to try and bring home the victory.”

Lorenzo said: “It was a great race that showed the progress we made throughout the weekend. I was really at ease on the bike, and even though I’d have preferred a dry race, when I saw it was raining I changed my mentality and tried to keep focussed, in order to avoid a mistake like Misano. I pushed hard but in the last few laps I was in a bit of crisis with the tyres, especially the front, and had a few scary moments in some corners.

“It wasn’t the right time to do anything stupid and when I almost crashed at Turn 15 and Andrea passed me I realised that I wasn’t going to be able to fight for the win. I know exactly how important a world title is for Ducati, Dovizioso has had a fantastic season and deserves to fight for the championship right down to the last race. In this weekend Andrea has always been faster and I’m pleased for the team for this first 1-2 win of the season, because it means we’re working really well.”

MotoGP – Desmo Dovi wins scintillating wet race at Motegi

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Unprecedented weather at Motegi this weekend had seen every session declared wet – the first time in the MotoGP era – and race day was no exception as the skies opened and a torrential downpour covered the 4,801m Japanese circuit.

With rain in the air, the riders lined up on the grid, Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech3) took pole position after setting the best time in yesterday’s qualifying. As the lights changed Marquez was ahead in the first corner, but was soon passed by Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team). The Spaniard held this position until Lap Two, before Danilo Petrucci (OCTO Pramac Racing) took his place at the head of the field. Petrucci then began stretching his lead at the front, as the remainder of the pack got involved in their own battles behind him.

As the race progressed, Marquez closed on the leader and overtook him on Lap 13, before Dovizioso snatched the lead from the reigning World Champion on Lap 19, with what was to be the first of many changes of leadership between the pair as the race drew to a close. Dovizioso’s surge to the front resulted in him setting the fastest time of the day, and the top-two in the championship then went head-to-head over the remainder of the race, before heading into the last-lap with Marquez out in front.

With rain still falling, Dovizioso lined up a successful pass at the 90° corner, only to see Marquez come past him straight away, before the Ducati-rider again got the best of the Honda-mounted man to take victory at the end of a scintillating race. Marquez crossed the line in second and saw his title-lead cut to just 11-points, with three races remaining. Petrucci finished third and had the distinction of taking the First Independent Rider honours.

Dovizioso said: “It was a difficult race because at the start there wasn’t much grip and I didn’t have a good feeling with the bike but I never gave up, not even when I was losing ground, and this made all the difference.

“Marc was really quick and he tried right until the end, but there were some places where I could attack and he also made a small mistake on the last lap which gave me a chance to catch him again and try and pass him at Turn 11.

“I knew that he was going to attack me in the final two corners but I was prepared for this, I closed the door on him and he had to go a bit wide to pass me. It was absolutely vital to win here and I’m really so pleased for the whole team and for the championship.”

The race was watched trackside by 52,439 fans who braved the awful weather and they were treated to battles throughout the race that almost matched the excitement at the front. Andrea Iannone (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR) took fourth, just ahead of team-mate Alex Rins (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR), both recording their best results of the season so far. Lorenzo was sixth, followed home by Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini). Zarco took eighth and continues to lead both the Independent Team Rider and Rookie Championships. Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) was ninth, with Loris Baz (Reale Avintia Racing) rounding out the top-ten.

MotoGP – Repsol Honda duo dominate Aragon

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Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa scored a fantastic one-two result at the Aragon Grand Prix.

The duo, starting from the second row of the grid, Marquez on a hard-hard Michelin tyre combination, Pedrosa on medium-medium, fought their way forward to take the squad’s seventh double podium of the season.

The race got off to a dramatic start, with poleman Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) quickly passed by the fast-starting Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team), as the Ducati man led into the first corner and took the race to the rest of the field.

The Ducati racer led for the next 15 of the 23-lap race, with Marquez, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) – who was returning to competitive racing action just 24-days after breaking his right leg in two places – all in close contention.

Lorenzo came under scrutiny from Marquez, before the reigning world champion made his move on lap-16. Once in the lead Marquez pushed all the way to the line and finished almost a second ahead of his nearest rival, a result that increased his championship lead to 16-points.

Pedrosa made his way from sixth on the grid – setting the fastest lap of the race in the process – to follow his team-mate home, and once he had created enough heat in the tyres he was able to produce fast laps and push his way towards the front of the field. Lorenzo made up the trio of riders on the podium as he steered his machine to third. The choice of Michelin compounds was certainly evident on the podium as soft, medium, and hard rear versions were used by the top-three collectively.

Pole-setter Viñales was the next across the line after the top-three, following a spirited fight with his team-mate Rossi. Sixth – and the first independent rider – went to Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), as he equalled his best result of the season so far. Dovizioso came home in seventh to consolidate his second position in the championship, with Alvaro Bautista (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) in eighth. Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) took ninth and strengthened his lead in the Independent and Rookie of the Year title chases. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) rounded out the top-ten.

Marquez’s 60th career win is also his fifth this year and his ninth podium of the season (the seventh out of the last eight races), helping him to pull a small gap of 16 points over Andrea Dovizioso and 28 points over Maverick Viñales, his two closest pursuers in the title chase.

Marquez said: “I’m very very happy with this victory because it was a tough race. Yesterday I wasn’t feeling totally comfortable with the bike, and today I was struggling again except in the warm-up; I don’t really know why. Anyway, racing at one of my favourite tracks, close to my home and in front of my fans, gave me extra motivation. I pushed hard and in some corners I just clicked the off-button in my head, even if I crashed twice yesterday. I saw that Viñales and Dovi were struggling a bit and knew it was the moment to push, so I did.

“There were a few scary moments, once when I was trying to overtake Valentino; he was tighter in that corner than I was expecting, and to avoid a clash I released the brakes, only to realise that Lorenzo was right there. So I went off the track, and at that moment I cooled down a bit, even if I continued to try and close the gap. Once I passed Lorenzo, I had to keep going as I saw that Dani was coming very fast. Anyway, that’s the Marquez style. Of course it’s important to think of the championship, but the situation now requires that we give it everything. So we’ll try to continue with the same motivation and mentality race by race, giving our 100 per cent.”

MotoGP – Dovizioso wins dramatic race in Austria to keep title dream alive

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Andrea Dovizioso scores a fantastic win in the Austrian Grand Prix to move into second place in the championship. Jorge Lorenzo had a good race to finish fourth

Ducati factory rider Andrea Dovizioso produced a spectacular ride to keep his championship ambitions alive at the Red Bull Ring circuit near Spielberg, fending off an attacking Marc Marquez to take the win in a sensational last lap duel.

The Italian rider, who started from the front row of the grid after going second quickest in qualifying, rode a tactical race to always stay in the leading group, carefully managing his tyres before taking the lead on Lap 18.

Dovizioso was then passed by Marquez but was back in the lead again on Lap 22 and he held on to that position until the chequered flag, despite a sensational last-ditch attempt by the Spanish rider in the final corner.

Thanks to the 25 points’ haul for the win, his third of the season, Dovizioso has moved into second place in the overall championship standings, reducing the gap from leader Marquez to just 16 points.

Dovizioso said: “It was a crazy race, but to be honest the whole weekend was incredible, and in particular the final curve of the last lap, but I managed to remain clear headed and was aware that Marquez was going to try and pass me.

“It was a very difficult situation because if Marquez had closed the door coming out of the corner, he would have forced me out and passed me. Instead I was able to resist his attack and I went on to win! I’m very satisfied with the way we managed the entire weekend with my team: understanding the right choice of tyres was really difficult but we did it.

“We had a great race, we’re making up points in the championship, and we’ve got all the right cards to fight for the title.”

 

MotoGP – dominant win for Marquez at Brno

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Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez took a back-to-back victory at Brno in challenging conditions, his third this year and the 58th in his career, extending his championship lead to 14 points over his closest follower.

It was the fifth flag-to-flag race that Marquez has perfectly mastered thanks to a mix of tactics and determination – on this occasion the Spaniard found himself struggling soon after the lights went off, having fitted a soft rear tyre that he wasn’t at ease with on a drying track.

He was the first to roll the dice and pitted on Lap Two, where his team was ready with his second bike fitted with slick tyres. That allowed him to pull a huge gap on his opponents, which he managed until the chequered flag.

Team-mate Pedrosa was also on form and secured a strong second place, bringing his career podium tally to 150 (and his MotoGP podium tally to 109, one more than Jorge Lorenzo) – Pedrosa switched to his second bike on Lap Four and re-entered the race in eighth position. He immediately started riding at a very fast pace, fighting his way forward to second and setting the fastest lap of the race along the way.

Maverick Viñales finished third on the Factory Yamaha, one place ahead of his team-mate Valentino Rossi with Cal Crutchlow rounding out the top five on the LCR Honda.

The all-Spanish rostrum was a fitting way to honour the “Maestro” Angel Nieto, 12+1 World Champion, who passed away on Thursday.

Marquez said: “This was a very special Sunday because everyone was racing for Angel Nieto, but it was also a very challenging race. On the grid, I took the risk to use the soft rear tyre because I thought it would give me extra grip for five laps before pitting to change bikes, but it didn’t go like that.

“I soon started to struggle a lot and lost many positions. When I saw that, I decided to immediately get in and take the risk of the slicks. When I re-joined the race, honestly it was still too damp in some parts and I nearly crashed during the first lap out. When you go out for the flag-to-flag, it’s so difficult to get the feeling with the bike again, but I tried to quickly understand the grip.

“Honestly, today I took some risks but it was one of those days when you just have to do it. After pulling a great gap, I just tried to manage, to ride well, and to finish the race. I’m really very happy with the result. It’s a track I normally struggle at, one I worry about every year, and getting 25 points was very important. The Championship is still very, very tight; we must be able to be fast in every condition.”

MotoGP – Marquez storms to pole in Brno

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On a sunny and hot second day at Brno, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez claimed a stunning pole position for tomorrow’s Czech Grand Prix, his fourth this season and the 69th of his career.
Team-mate Dani Pedrosa was a close third, a mere 0.046” behind Valentino Rossi on the Factory Yamaha in second and just 0.138” off his teammate.
Marquez said: “I’m very happy with today because I knew that making the pole would be tough, as I normally struggle at this track, but I tried for it anyway.
“The test we did here was useful. I felt good already with the first tyre, even if I nearly crashed as I was pushing very hard. I tried to ride smoothly but still brake hard. With the second tyre, I gave it all I had and we got this pole. I’m very, very happy.
“Tomorrow we’ll see what weather conditions we have, as it looks a bit unstable and not as warm. It will be a long, hard race but we should be able to fight for the podium in either the dry or the wet, so we’re looking forward to it and to enjoying the race.”
Both Marquez and Pedrosa had already displayed a fast pace in the FP3 session, taking P1 and P2 respectively despite suffering a crash each in the early stages, Marquez going down at Turn 10 because of an oil spill from another rider’s bike and Pedrosa sliding out at Turn 8 while pushing hard.

MotoGP – Marqyez extends German winning streak

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Reigning Champion takes eighth successive win at the Sachsenring, under pressure from a stunning rookie ride by home hero Folger.

Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez has taken an incredible eighth win in a row at the Sachsenring, extending his run from the 125 World championship to another year of the premier class – with all those wins from pole.

However, it was anything but easy, however – with German rookie Jonas Folger on the Tech 3 Yamaha pushing the reigning champion throughout the race in a stunning ride to his first podium. Dani Pedrosa on the seconf Repsol Honda completed the podium.

Marquez took the lead into Turn 1 from pole, with teammate Dani Pedrosa slotting into second as Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo sliced through from P6 on the grid to third, pushing Pramac’s Danilo Petrucci and Jonas Folger back.

Marquez and Pedrosa began to pull away in the lead as Folger charged through to get himself into third, and then started threatening the Repsol Honda duo in the lead.

The Tech 3 rookie look composed and smooth and quickly took Pedrosa and prepared to attack Marquez – pushing through soon after and below lap record pace.

With Petrucci through on Lorenzo into fourth, it was Valentino Rossi on the factory Yamaha who struck next, with the Italian, Andrea Dovizioso on the factory Ducati and Petrucci battling for fourth as Pedrosa began to drop back from the lead duo.

Folger then headed wide and Marquez took the opportunity, but couldn’t shake the German.

That’s the way it stayed – with Marquez’ pitboard remaining +0.1 lap after lap, and the rookie not for giving up. Facing down the reigning.
Finally it was a small mistake that saw Folger run deep, and Marquez pulled the pin to stretch the gap – eventually crossing the line for win number eight just over three seconds clear.

Folger’s tyres were shot, but he kept his head to cross the line in second for his first premier class podium, sealing the deal in an incredible performance at his home race. Dani Pedrosa completed the podium after a more lonely ride in the latter stages, also bouncing back from a tough Dutch GP.

As the top ten battled it out further, Rossi found his fourth under attack from Dovizioso, with team-mate Viñales then joining the fight. After some stunning wheel-to-wheel action, it was Viñales who took P4, with teammate Rossi close behind to complete the top five.

Bautista took P6 after an impressive ride, with Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro crossing the line in seventh for a good haul of points for the Noale factory ahead of the summer break.

Championship leader going into the race, Dovizioso crossed the line in eighth and remains third in the standings – ahead of a stunning comeback from Johann Zarco (who guided his Tech  Yamaha to ninth after fighting from P19 on the grid. LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow completed the top ten, with Jorge Lorenzo crossing the line in P11 after running at the front earlier in the race.

Danilo Petrucci was another who fell back, taking twelfth ahead of another double points finish for Red Bull KTM’s Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith. Jack Miller on the Marc VDS Honda completed the top fifteen.

Marquez said: “I’m very, very happy. I knew before the weekend that this was an important moment in the Championship and that the Sachsenring was an important circuit for us. It was the place to take a risk if necessary and to try to win. So I’m happy we took these 25 points and the lead in the Championship before the summer break.

“I wish to dedicate this win to Nicky (Hayden) and his family. I had promised this to myself after his incident because we had some very good moments together and he was a friend.

“The race was very tight. Honestly, before the start I thought I would have to battle with Dani, but actually there was also another very fast opponent. I was very surprised at the beginning to see Jonas there, and I thought he might stay in between with the other riders, but he actually remained there! He was quite a tough opponent!

“The Championship is very close with four riders within 10 points and with Dani also not far away. Everything is open, so we’ll keep the same mentality, the same positivity and hard work. Now we have a few days of holidays, but not too much to be ready for Brno test!”

 

 

MotoGP – Marquez extends Sachsenring pole record

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Marc Marquez continued his Sachsenring dominance by taking his eighth successive pole at the venue in a washed out Q2.

The reigning champion Marc Marquez took his sixty-eight career pole position in career, but it was anything but easy for the number 93 as  Pramac Racing’sa Danilo Petrucci pushed him hard. Only a tenth and a half back despite the conditions, ‘Petrux’ starts second to split the Repsol Hondas, with Dani Pedrosa completing the front row after a weekend of impressive pace.

Marquez said: “When I saw that it was going to be a wet qualifying session, I set a front-row position as my target. Anyway, I’ve felt very good on the bike since the beginning and I saw that the rain was easing off, so I tried to find a good rhythm as I prepared to attack in the final stages.

“Halfway into the session there was a bit of confusion with Maverick. In qualifying everyone pushes a lot and there was some contact, but luckily nothing happened. In the end I was able to do a very good lap and I’m quite happy with that, as it’s always very difficult to manage in the rain.

“Now we just need to focus on the race, which will be tough as there are many fast riders with a good pace, starting with my teammate! It seems that it won’t rain, but whatever conditions we find, it will be okay, as we have a really good pace both in the dry and in the wet.”

In a late rush for pole as the sun began to peek out, LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow was a key protagonist in the session and will start fourth, ahead of home hero and rookie Jonas Folger on the Tech 3 Yamaha. Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo completes the second row after putting in a solid if not spectacular performance as he gets to grips with the Desmosedici in the rain.

KTM’s Pol Espargaro was the second man to move through from Q1 with Petrucci, and the Spaniard took the Austrian factory’s best ever qualifying result in seventh to continue the incredible form into Q2. Older brother Aleix Espargaro on the Aprilia and nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi on the factory Yamaha complete the third row.

Championship leader Andrea Dovizioso was another of those to have a slightly more difficult session to pilot his Ducati to tenth, but starts ahead of key rival in the points standings Maverick Viñales on the second factory Yamaha bike, who was eleventh fastest in the wet. Alvaro Bautista on the Aspar Ducati completes the top twelve on the grid from Q2.