Archive - 2013
As the final few moments of 2013 tick away (in this part of the world; for some readers, it is already 2014), we would just like to take a moment and say a big thank you to all our readers for your support and contributions this year. Thanks to everyone for reading the site, to the people who post such well-informed and well-thought out comments, and to everyone who has supported us. A special thanks goes out to everyone who has either donated or become an official site supporter by taking out a subscription. A special thanks also to everyone who bought a calendar, as that also helps keep the site running.
Thanks also to everyone who has helped the site in other ways, with suggestions, technical support, information and many other things. Thanks to everyone in the paddock for talking to us and putting up with our questions, however impertinent or stupid they may seem. Thanks most of all to everyone in the world of motorcycle racing, for feeding our passion, and providing a fantastic year of racing in so many classes, in MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3, World Superbike, World Supersport and the many national and support championships around the world.
Ratthapark Wilairot is to return to racing, and will compete in the 2014 World Supersport championship. The Thai rider will be joining the PTR Honda team for the 2014 season, racing a CBR600RR alongside Jack Kennedy and Nacho Calero.
Wilairot's return comes after an announcement in August last year that he would be retiring from racing, stepping down from the Gresini Moto2 team with immediate effect. That announcement was met with a good deal of incredulity, especially as the decision was made by the team, at the behest of Thai Honda, who had backed Wilairot until that point. Reports from Thailand suggested that the decision had been involuntary, coming as it did mid-season, and after a string of mediocre results. But Wilairot's successor, Thitipong Warokorn, fared worse than Wilairot, raising even more doubt about the reason for the announcement.
The 2014 MotoGP season marks a key point in the evolution of Grand Prix racing. Next season, all entries in the MotoGP class must use the Magneti Marelli standard ECU and datalogger as part of their hardware package. For the first time in history, electronics have been limited in motorcycle racing's premier class.
It is a small victory for Dorna and the teams, however. Only the hardware has been regulated. All entries must use the standard ECU, but the choice of which software that ECU runs is up to the teams themselves. If a team decides to run Dorna's standard software, they get extra fuel to play with, and more engines to last a season. If a factory decides they would rather write their own software, they are also free to do so, but must make do with only 20 liters to last a race, and just five engines to last a season.
The difference between the two - entries under the Open class, using Dorna software, and as Factory option entries using custom software - is bigger than it seems. Open class entries are stuck with the engine management strategies (including launch control, traction control, wheelie control, and much more) as devised and implemented by the Magneti Marelli engineers, under instruction by Dorna. Factory option entries will have vastly more sophisticated strategies at their disposal, and manufacturers will be free to develop more as and when they see fit.
Clash Of The Champions: Barcelona Superprestigio Flat Track Event Pits Marquez, Espargaro And Viñales Against Brad Baker
A new chapter is to be written in the long and illustrious history of motorcycle racing on Montjuic, the hill that borders the south side of Barcelona. On January 11th, a selection of Grand Prix racers, including all three world champions Marc Marquez, Pol Espargaro and Maverick Viñales, are to compete in the Superprestigio dirt track event to be held at the Palau Sant Jordi on Montjuic. The event is to be broadcast on Spanish TV
The race is to be held on single cylinder four-stroke flat trackers, raced around a 200 meter dirt oval inside the former Olympic indoor arena. Entry is by invitation only, and racing will take place in three separate classes: the Junior category, for riders under 18; the Open category, for experienced riders from around the globe racing in national championships; and the Superprestigio category, for riders currently competing in the MotoGP, Moto2 and Moto3 classes. At the end of the evening, a run off is to be held between the four best racers in the Open category and the four best from the Superprestigio category.
There are a few things which every fan of motorcycle racing feels they must do when they visit Italy. Visit Mugello, ride the Futa pass from Borgo San Lorenzo to Bologna, and head to Borgo Panigale to take the Ducati factory tour, ending with a wander around the Museo Ducati. That is what turns a trip to Italy into a motorcycling pilgrimage.
For those who cannot make it to Italy, they can still take a virtual tour on Ducati's website. While that gives you a general idea of the bikes in the museum, it serves mainly to whet your appetite for more. To help satiate that appetite, a book was published this year featuring 25 of the motorcycles contained in the Ducati museum. Titled 'Museo Ducati, Six decades of classic motorcycles of the official Ducati Museum', the book was put together in close collaboration with the curator of the Ducati museum, Livio Lodi.
Lodi has been instrumental in the creation and evolution of the museum, researching the history of the factory, seeking out and collecting rare parts and machinery, and putting it on display for the general public. Lodi has a wealth of knowledge and a passion for both Ducati and history, and it shows through in the museum.
Casey Stoner is to continue as test rider for Honda in 2014. The Australian double world champion will once again take the track to help develop Honda's RC213V during the 2014 season, according to British publication MCN.
Stoner took up his role as test rider in the middle of 2013, after HRC's regular test rider Kousuke Akiyoshi broke his femur at a Japanese Superbike round. The Australian worked on the 2013 RC213V, as well as a rain-shortened test on Honda's RCV1000R production racer.
According to the report on MCN, Stoner's testing schedule for 2014 has yet to be fixed. It appears that Stoner will not be present at the special tire test put on by Bridgestone at Phillip Island, which all three factory teams will attend, but he will take on further testing duties at Motegi later in the season. If Stoner does miss the Phillip Island test, it would deprive fans of a chance to directly compare his lap times with those of current Honda riders Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa.
Althea Racing Return To The Ducati Fold: Will Field Niccolo Canepa As EVO Entry In 2014 WSBK Campaign
The Althea Racing team is to switch back to Ducati from Aprilia for the 2014 World Superbike season. After their split with Ducati over development of the Panigale at the end of 2012, the Italian team are to return to the Bologna factory fold and race the Panigale in 2014.
They will do so on a different footing to their previous relationship with Ducati, however. Next season, Althea will race the Panigale 1199R as an EVO entry in WSBK, the subclass set up to allow a more affordable entry into World Superbikes. With WSBK looking set to switch completely to EVO rules in the next few years, having a strong partner to help develop the Panigale within the restrictions set by the EVO rules - basically, a Superstock-spec engine in Superbike-spec chassis - will help Ducati prepare for the future. Given how well the Panigale has performed in Superstock form wherever it has been able to use the Ducati ECU, the bike should suit the EVO rules well.
The signing of Niccolo Canepa to race the Panigale with Althea is indicative of how close the cooperation with Ducati is likely to be. Canepa has a long history with Ducati, having functioned as a test rider for the Italian factory for a number of years, and having won the Superstock 1000 title on a Ducati in 2007, and raced Ducatis for the majority of his career.
We are both proud and humbled to have been honored twice in the 2013 Silverstone Media Awards. MotoMatters.com was named Best MotoGP Blogger for the third year in succession, while our Twitter account @motomatters was also named Best MotoGP Tweeter. The awards are decided by popular vote, with MotoGP and F1 fans voting via the Silverstone Circuit Facebook page for their favorite racing-related publications and broadcasters.
MotoMatters.com was not the only repeat winner. The official MotoGP.com website took best website, British motorcycling paper MCN won best publication, British newspaper The Telegraph took best newspaper, and the BBC took best TV channel.
The list of riders taking advantage of the winter test ban to have surgery grows longer. This week, both Jorge Lorenzo and Sandro Cortese have gone under the surgeon's knife to have metal plates removed, in preparation for the 2014 season.
For Lorenzo, surgery was done to remove the metal plate put in to fixate the collarbone he broke first at Assen, then again at the Sachsenring. Lorenzo crashed heavily on a soaking wet track during the Thursday free practice session at Assen, breaking his left collarbone. After a dash by private jet to and from Barcelona to have his collarbone plated, he raced, finishing in 5th. At the Sachsenring Two weeks later, Lorenzo crashed again the force of the crash bending the plate on his collarbone, and he had surgery once again to replace the bent plate. This time, he did not race.
Lorenzo finished the rest of the season with a plated collarbone, but to allow his collarbone to return to full strength, the Spaniard decided to have the plate removed now. While he was having his collarbone plate removed, he also had surgery on his thumb, to clean up scar tissue left from an injury in 2010.
Just hours after the announcement that Ana Carrasco had signed with the RW Racing GP team for 2014 comes confirmation that Isaac Viñales is to take the place she leaves at Team Calvo. The 20-year-old Spaniard will join Jakub Kornfeil at Team Calvo, where both men will be racing KTMs. In a wry coincidence, Viñales will be joining the team vacated by his cousin Maverick, who became 2013 Moto3 world champion with the squad.
Isaac Viñales had earlier signed a contract to race with the Go&Fun Gresini team in Moto3, alongside Niccolo Antonelli. However, as part of that deal, Viñales had been required to bring in a given quantity of financial backing. After he had failed to muster the necessary cash, Viñales had been left without a ride. In the end, the Spaniard found shelter with Team Calvo, giving him another chance in Moto3. Viñales had a solid season in 2013 riding the underpowered FTR Honda bike with Ongetta. He ended the year in 17th place in the championship, scoring a total of 47 points. His best finish in 2013 came at Valencia, where he took 7th ahead of Ana Carrasco.
Ana Carrasco will have a second season in Moto3. The 16-year-old Spaniard has signed a one-year deal with Dutch Moto3 team RW Racing GP to race their Kalex KTM in 2014.
Carrasco had a positive rookie season in Moto3, ending the year with points in two races, as well as scoring the best result for a female rider in 18 years when she finished 8th at Valencia. But her performance was overshadowed by her teammate at Team Calvo, where Maverick Viñales became world champion. Despite being teammates, the two were on very different bikes, Viñales racing on a fully-factory supported KTM, where Carrasco competed on the basic KTM Moto3 bike.
Team Calvo had expressed an interest in retaining the services of Carrasco for 2014, but to do that, she would have to being money to fund the ride. Carrasco had been raising sponsorship through a Spanish website, but it was not enough to get her seat.
On the same day that the Grand Prix Comission met to discuss new rules on penalty points and Moto3 chassis prices, the equivalent body ruling the World Superbike series - the Superbike Commission - also met to discuss a raft of new measures. The meeting was part of a series of ongoing talks between the teams, Dorna and the manufacturers to establish a new set of rules for WSBK from 2015 onwards. At this meeting, the Superbike Commission established a new time schedule for each World Superbike weekend, as well as continuing talks on homologation and technical regulations.
With Dorna now in charge, one of the measures taken was to attempt to standardize the sporting regulations between the World Superbike and MotoGP series. In practice, that means that both series will have a common set of procedures and flags, which should make it a little easier for TV audiences to understand the differences between the two, with only the technical rules being different.
A much bigger change for TV audiences is the radically changed schedule for race day, with racing moved to the late morning and early afternoon to avoid clashes with major sporting events such as Formula One, MotoGP and European soccer matches. The day will now start very early, with a warm up for the World Superbike class at 8:40am, followed by Supersport warm up at 9:05am. The first World Superbike race of the day is at 10:30am (was previously 12 noon), the Supersport race is at 11:40am (was 1:30pm) and the second and final World Superbike race of the day is at 1:10pm (was 3:30pm). For most of the rounds taking place in Europe, this means that the second World Superbike race will just be finishing as Formula One or other major sporting events start at 2pm. The hope is that fans of both motorcycle racing and Formula One will tune in for the WSBK races before F1, offering a full day of motor sports action for race fans.
At its final meeting of 2013, the Grand Prix Commission has agreed changes to the regulations for the three Grand Prix classes, mostly minor, but a couple with much wider implications. Changes were agreed to the penalty points system, to the procedure for restarting interrupted races, for protests and wild cards. But the biggest changes made were to the Moto3 class. The loophole which allowed manufacturers to charge what they wanted for chassis has been closed, capping prices in Moto3 even further.
The biggest change to the sporting regulations is the extension of the penalty points system, to allow penalty points to be carried across between seasons. In 2013, the first year the system was used, penalty points accumulated during the season were only valid until after the final race of 2013 at Valencia was over. This posed a problem for Race Direction, as Mike Webb explained to MotoMatters.com in an interview at Valencia. It meant that any points awarded at the final races of the season had less effect on rider behavior than those early on in the season, and points awarded in the final race were completely meaningless. In his interview with this website, Mike Webb had already suggested giving points a limited lifetime, allowing them to be carried over from one season to the next.