September 12th, 2014
While the weather doesn't improve, Andrea Dovizioso does, putting in a laptime over a second quicker than Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez.
Alex Rins one again leads a tumultuous wet qualifying, with times several seconds slower than this morning's wet session. Alex Marquez and Jack Miller rounded out the top three in another session filled with wet crashes.
After the official announcement by Gresini, Aprilia have also issued a press release announcing their return to MotoGP:
APRILIA TO ENTER WORLD MOTOGP CHAMPIONSHIP ONE YEAR AHEAD OF SCHEDULE
ROBERTO COLANINNO: "30 WORLD TITLES WON IN LESS THAN 10 YEARS".
Misano, 12 September 2014 - Aprilia (Piaggio Group) officially announced that they will enter the Grand Prix motorcycle racing in the MotoGP class.
The Aprilia brand's return to the top world motorcycling competition will take place in 2015, a year ahead of their previously announced plans.
The intent of the Piaggio Group's strategy to commit the Aprilia brand in the MotoGP class is to favour a rapid growth of competitiveness, focusing all Aprilia Racing's technical and organisational efforts on developing prototypes. For this reason, Aprilia Racing will send its bikes onto the track supported by a cooperation agreement which has been reached with Gresini Racing.
It is to be a weekend of announcements, most of them already widely expected. The most widely trailed move has now been confirmed officially: from 2015, Aprilia is to return to MotoGP with the Gresini Racing team.
Aprilia and Gresini have reached agreement for the next four seasons, with Gresini running the Italian factory's team through 2018. The partnership benefits both sides: by entering via Gresini, Aprilia will save €3.4 million in their first year in the class, an important saving which will allow them to spend more resources on development. The partnership was important to Gresini, as having lost their sponsorship from Go&Fun, the future of the team's places in MotoGP was under severe threat. Aprilia's funding will now keep them in the premier class.
No riders have been announced, but it is widely anticipated that Marco Melandri wil return from World Superbikes to race the Aprilia, where he will partner with current Gresini rider Alvaro Bautista. Gresini may also be looking to retain Scott Redding, but Redding is keen to ride the Honda RC213V stipulated in his contract. With the 2015 Aprilia being an uprated version of the ART machine currently being ridden by Danilo Petrucci, that bike is unlikely to be competitive. For 2016, Aprilia will be bringing an all-new machine, only loosely based on the current ART.
As the weather continues to shape qualifying, Johann Zarco and Julian Simon make the most of the wet conditions.
Yonny Hernandez braved the wet conditions in a slow session with nine fallers to set the quickest time.
Press releases previewing the Misano round of MotoGP from the teams and Bridgestone:
Alex Rins opens up the weekend with a second lead over Niccolo Antoneli at a wet Misano.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams ahead of this weekend's Misano round:
2014 Misano MotoGP Preview: On Honda At A Yamaha Track, Ducati's Test Bonus, And The Redding And Crew Chief Merry-go-round
With Marc Marquez back to winning ways at Silverstone, the Misano round of MotoGP (or to give it its full name, the Gran Premio di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini) is the next venue to host the Marquez MotoGP record demolition steamroller. At Misano, Marquez can equal Mick Doohan's record of twelve wins in a single season, clearing the way for him to break that record at a following round.
What are the odds of him actually achieving that? Misano is a circuit where he has had a great deal of success, having won in 125s and both the Moto2 races he contested here. A mistake during last year's MotoGP race meant he lost ground on the leaders, though he recovered to finish in second. Going by his past record, Marquez is once again favorite to win.
It should not be that simple, however. Misano is what we used to call a Yamaha track: Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo have won five of the seven races contested here since MotoGP made a return to the circuit in 2007, after a fourteen year absence. Lorenzo has won the last three in a row at Misano, and took second when Rossi won in 2008 and 2009. This is a circuit which Lorenzo has always gone well at, and after a strong showing at Silverstone, you would expect him to be extremely motivated. "We arrive here in good shape," Lorenzo told the press conference. At Silverstone, his team had done a great job to give him a competitive package, matching tires and set up to make the bike competitive. Lorenzo was aware that his previous record at the track was no guarantee of success. "The past doesn't give you any advantage for this year, so we all start from zero," he said.
Mike Leitner Interview: Pedrosa's Crew Chief Talks Race Strategy, The Dangers Of Starts, And Tires Past And Future
Dani Pedrosa has been with his crew chief Mike Leitner for over ten years now, since Pedrosa's first season in the 250cc class in 2004. Pedrosa and Leitner have been a strong partnership, with the Austrian helping Pedrosa win two world championships and 41 victories in the two classes they have been together.
The arrival of Marc Marquez into MotoGP has had a profound impact both inside and outside the Repsol Honda team. Marquez' natural speed has forced Pedrosa and his crew to rethink their approach to the races, to try to match the pace of Pedrosa's young teammate. At the beginning of the season, Pedrosa complained a number of times that he felt the revised strategy taken by Leitner was not working as hoped, and that had left him unable to compete.
Though Pedrosa's competitiveness has improved, the Spaniard being the first person to beat his teammate with victory at Brno, it has still left tension in Pedrosa's garage. Rumors are circulating that Pedrosa would like to drop Leitner and change his crew chief.
Intrigued by the question of what exactly had changed in Pedrosa's race strategy, we spoke to his crew chief Mike Leitner. The resulting conversation gave a fascinating insight into race strategy, and how teams approach each MotoGP race. Leitner talks about how Pedrosa was the first rider to realize that pushing hard from the earliest laps could be a profitable strategy, and how other riders have now followed his lead. He talks about the potential and the dangers of the Bridgestone tires, and how crucial the starts have become in MotoGP.
To the surprise of absolutely nobody, Pirelli is to remain the official tire supplier for the World Superbike championship until at least the end of the 2018 season. The Italian brand has held the contract to supply tires to WSBK since the introduction of control tires back in 2004, and their continued involvement was widely expected. The World Superbike championship, under both Dorna and their predecessors Infront Motor Sports and FG Sport, have been very happy with the job done so far by Pirelli, and there was little reason to change.
Pirelli won the tire contract after a short tender process, but it is not believed that Pirelli had any serious competition for the role. Bridgestone has only just withdrawn from MotoGP, and is considering its involvement in motorsports; Michelin has just taken over the MotoGP contract from Bridgestone, and has its hands full; and Dunlop is focused on its role in Moto2 and Moto3, and showed little interest in expanding into World Superbikes.
The official press release appears below:
Pirelli Official Tyre Supplier for the eni FIM Superbike World Championship for the 2016-2018 seasons
Most of the previews of Misano you will read over the coming few days will focus on whether Marc Marquez can match Mick Doohan's record of twelve wins in one season, whether Valentino Rossi can finally get an elusive win in front of his home crowds, and whether the test at Misano last month will give the Ducati riders a better chance of a decent result in Italy. My own preview, once I write it, will likely focus on these issues, and more. But they won't be the most pressing issues at the San Marino round of MotoGP by a long stretch. The fortunes of the major players in the premier class will matter to them and to the fans, but further down pit lane, careers will be saved and dreams will be shattered.
The culprit? The Aragon deadline for entries in the Moto2 and Moto3 classes. By the end of this month, the Moto2 and Moto3 teams will have to submit a list of their intended riders for the 2015 season, and pay a deposit. IRTA will then go through the list and finalize the entry list for the two support classes for next season. Though the teams will not be held exactly to the rider line ups they submitted, they have to be credible. Anyone claiming that Marc Marquez has agreed to race for them in both the Moto2 and Moto3 categories next season will have their applications rejected.
With 32 places in each of the two classes, there are a lot of seats up for grabs. But there are more than enough riders to fill those seats many times over. The further up the points standings a rider is, the better his chances of securing a ride for next year, but even then, it is not simple. Scoring points is often not enough: it is whether a rider has scored the number of points expected of him, or in many cases, agreed in the contract they signed.
Team orders, an unpopular aspect of team racing, usually come into play at this point of a title chase, with Eugene Laverty gifting Max Biaggi points to win the 2012 championship being the most blatant example of recent years.
After wrapping up the 2014 World Supersport title at Jerez, the Pata Honda team issued the following press release, containing a profile of Michael van der Mark, and charting his rise to become the first Dutch solo roadracing champion since Henk van Kessel in 1974:
A profile of Michael van der Mark, 2014 World Supersport champion
On 7 October 2012, Michael van der Mark won that year's Superstock 600 UEM European championship in only his second season on the Ten Kate Honda Junior Team’s Honda CBR600RR.
It was an especially impressive and outstandingly mature performance from the then 19-year-old from Gouda near Rotterdam in the Netherlands. Needing only to finish ahead of his nearest rival, van der Mark rode an incredibly mature race for one so young in a ‘winner-takes-all’ final race at Magny-Cours in France in the face of some less-than-subtle intimidation.
Just seven years earlier, the Dutch flyer’s entry into motorcycle racing had been relatively late at the age of 12. Having been entered into the Dutch Junior Cup on an Aprilia RS125, he was taken to quiet industrial estate by his father, Henk, to try out the bike.
This was just a week before his first race, and he had never ridden a motorcycle before.