June 7th, 2013
Max Biaggi's brief return to MotoGP is over. After two days of testing Ducati's MotoGP bike at Mugello, filling in for the injured Ben Spies, Biaggi returns to his day job, as TV commentator for the Italian coverage of World Superbikes.
Two short days were not really enough time for Biaggi to get back to grips with a MotoGP bike, especially given that testing stopped early on both days after rain started to fall in the afternoon. Biaggi faced two problems, returning to riding at speed for the first time in eight months, and returning to a MotoGP bike for the first time in over seven years. Given those difficulties, the times he set in the end were respectable. According to GPOne.com, who had reporter Luca Semprini on location, Biaggi's best time was a lap of 1'52.1, which would have seen him qualify in 23rd position for last Sunday's MotoGP race, just ahead of Hiroshi Aoyama on the FTR Kawasaki CRT machine.
Jonathan Rea grabs and holds on to provisional pole, in spite of a last minute onslaught from both Eugene Laverty and Tom Sykes. All three men kept the rest of the field from the top spot throughout the session and were separated at the end by under a tenth of a second.
Sam Lowes once again sets provisional pole, half a second faster than his rival Kenan Sofuoglu. Jack Kennedy continues to impress with the last provisional front row place. while David Salom, fourth fastest and returning from injury, is the only other rider within a second of the fast Lowes.
The long-awaited new rules for the World Superbike series, to be applied from 2014 onwards, are finally ready. Or rather, the framework on which they will be based has been agreed upon by all of the parties involved. Today, the FIM issued a press release announcing that an agreement had been reached between the FIM, the MSMA and Dorna over a new framework for technical regulations for WSBK to be applied from 2014 onwards.
Though no details were announced - the details still have to be hammered out, a process which could turn out to be more difficult than currently anticipated - the gist of the rules is that a price-capped formula is to be introduced. The constructors, assembled in the MSMA, have agreed to supply a minimum number of bikes in a particular state of tune for a fixed price. Component suppliers will also see the price of their parts cut as well, with suspension and brakes the main focus of cost-capping.
Tom Sykes made the most of the clearing conditions and rode into his familiar top spot, fresh from his double victory two weeks ago. Michel Fabrizio continued his run of good form, setting the second fastest time of the morning.
After a damn grey morning, Sam Lowes opened the weekend with a fastest lap some five seconds off the record, demonstrating that the track wasn't ready for the fast times. The session was split with a red flagged six minutes from the end, but there were no major incidents recorded.
Press release previews from the teams and organizer ahead of this weekend's World Superbike round at Portimao, in Portugal:
2013 Mugello Moto2 And Moto3 Round Up: Redding Stokes Up A War of Words, And Why KTM Is Killing It In Moto3
In many ways, the Moto2 race at Mugello resembled the MotoGP race. One rider seized the initiative, sized up the competition, and when he saw that they were no match for him, pressed home his advantage. While Scott Redding's victory at Mugello was not quite as dominant as Jorge Lorenzo's in MotoGP - after watching it again at leisure, it is clear just how totally Lorenzo controlled every aspect of that race, from his tough pass on Dani Pedrosa in the first corner to the devastating pace increase he forced when he sensed the Repsol Honda man weaken - it is still one of the most commanding Moto2 wins for some time.
Redding did not quite lead from the start, but he disposed of Takaaki Nakagami without too much difficulty. He then pulled a gap, with only Nico Terol and Johann Zarco able to follow his pace. Terol passed Redding just before the halfway mark, exploiting the slipstream provided by the oversized Englishman, but that was all Terol could do. Redding was puzzled when Terol failed to pull a gap after passing. "I couldn't understand how he caught me, because when he passed me, I was expecting to be fighting to hold on to him, but I was really comfortable behind," Redding said afterwards. He got past four laps later, and turned up the pressure, and while Terol and Zarco could hang on along the front straight, once Redding broke the slipstream he was gone. It was the first back-to-back victory by a British rider in 42 years.
Max Biaggi is back on a MotoGP machine, for the first time since he lost his ride at the end of the 2005 season. The reigning World Superbike champion took to the track at Mugello today to test Ben Spies' Pramac Ducati, and get a feel for a MotoGP machine again. Biaggi was invited to ride the bike by Ducati, mainly just as a friendly gesture towards an old rider, but in part also to give his input on riding the bike. With Spies still absent recovering from his shoulder injury, putting Biaggi on the bike was an interesting prospect. Because of Biaggi's Italian connections, he rode Spies bike, but with bodywork from Iannone's Energy.TI bike.
In a series of posts on his Twitter feed, Biaggi took some time getting up to speed on the machine. An enormous amount has changed since Biaggi last rode a V5 990cc Honda RC211V back in 2005, all of which take a lot of getting used to. The spec Bridgestone tires and the amount of electronic rider aids are two of the biggest changes, though the electronics on the factory Aprilia RSV4 WSBK machine are already highly sophisticated. The tires, though, are totally different to what Biaggi was used to, Bridgestone having made huge steps forward in grip, durability and stiffness in the intervening period, the tires offering much more performance than the Michelins Biaggi used in the past, but also being less compliant. The difference in performance between 2005 and 2013 is huge: Dani Pedrosa's pole record (1'47.157) is over two seconds faster now than the record (1'49.223) set by Valentino Rossi eight years ago, and Marc Marquez' race lap record (1'47.639) is two and a half seconds quicker than Max Biaggi's from 2005 (1'50.117). According to GPOne.com, one of the biggest challenges Biaggi faced was getting used to carbon disk brakes once again, having raced using steel disks during his time in World Superbikes.
MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections of Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Marquez and Dunlop: on the same curve
Sunday was quite a day for motorcycle racing: MotoGP at Mugello, the world’s greatest purpose-built circuit, and the Superbike TT on the Mountain Course, the world’s greatest circuit carved out of ordinary roads.
Michael Dunlop was the man on the Island and Marc Márquez might’ve been the man at Mugello, if he hadn’t teetered over the brink once too often. Even so, to come back from three practice crashes – including the fastest-ever in GP history, after he lost the front at 210mph – to challenge for a podium was nothing short of magnificent.
While normally, MotoGP fans never get enough of seeing Valentino Rossi on TV, there is one shot they would (for the most part) gladly be spared. Every time the Italian leaves the pits for practice or qualifying, the TV director seems determined to show the same shot, from the camera on the back of Rossi's bike. As he leaves the pits, Rossi stands on the footpegs, and pulls his leathers from between his buttocks, before sitting back down again and leaving.
Why does he do this? Are his Dainese leathers so badly cut that they are continually creeping up between his buttocks whenever he's not on the bike? The answer to that is obviously no, his leathers are custom made to fit perfectly, yet still Rossi does this every time, whether he needs to or not. It is part of the long series of rituals he performs before he hits the track, rituals which include bend over and touching his toes, crouching down and holding the right footpeg, and only getting on from the right side of the bike. These rituals - part useful limbering up, part invocation of Lady Luck - are something many riders perform, in their attempt to exert control over themselves, and over their environment.
In a fascinating press release - by far the most interesting we have received in many months - the Aspar team today provided a discussion and explanation of what riders are trying to achieve through the use of these rituals. The press release - entitled 'Controlling the Uncontrollable' - walks the reader through the many factors which go in to making a champion, and emphasizes the enormous importance of the mental side of the sport. It is a fascinating insight, and a highly recommended read:
Pramac Ducati today issued the following press release, confirming the news reported yesterday, that Max Biaggi is to test the Pramac Ducati at Mugello, and Michele Pirro is to substitute for Ben Spies at Barcelona:
Max Biaggi to test Pramac Racing Team’s Ducati Desmosedici for two days at Mugello
Bridgestone Press Release: Masao Azuma Explains Why Bridgestone's Heat-Resistant Tires Were Used At Mugello
Bridgestone today issued their customary post-race press release, today discussing the use of their special heat-resistant slicks at Mugello:
Italian MotoGP™ debrief with Masao Azuma
Wednesday 5 June 2013
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft & Medium. Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Hard (Main), Soft (Alternative)
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo rode an inspired race at Mugello last Sunday, winning his third race in a row at the Italian circuit ahead of Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa and Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Cal Crutchlow.
Excellent conditions greeted riders at this year’s Italian Grand Prix with the dry Mugello tarmac reaching a peak of 44°C during both Saturday and Sunday afternoon, ensuring the teams had plenty of relevant set-up data for the twenty-three lap race.
Q&A with Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
All of the rear slicks brought to Mugello this year featured Bridgestone’s heat-resistant construction. Can you explain why these tyres were supplied and did they do the job last weekend?
Max Biaggi is to make a surprise return to riding a MotoGP machine. The former 250 and World Superbike champion will take a seat on Ben Spies' Ignite Pramac Ducati as part of a one-day test at Mugello, as part of Ducati's testing program, according to Italian site GPOne.com.
Spies was scheduled to stay on at Mugello to take part in a two-day test, but after the first day of practice at last weekend's Italian Grand Prix, it was clear to both Spies and Ducati that his shoulder was still too weak to ride a MotoGP machine. With work continuing on the Desmosedici, it was important for Ducati to get as much data as possible on their bike, and so Biaggi was offered the chance to ride the machine.
While the MotoGP riders packed up and headed home after the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, the Moto2 and Moto3 classes stayed on for their first official in-season test. There was plenty to test, with Marc VDS having brought a new swingarm, Dunlop having new tires to try, Suter having a new fairing, FCC having new clutch parts, and a lot of set up work to try, but the weather was not inclined to cooperate. Heavy rain towards the end of the morning cut testing short for several riders, with about half the field staying on for the afternoon.
Pol Espargaro found an improved set up, which solved some of the grip problems he has been having for most of the year, and posted the fastest time of both the day and the weekend. He improved his qualifying time by nearly a full second, and was nearly a quarter of a second faster than Scott Redding's pole time from Saturday. Takaaki Nakagami also improved on his qualifying time, also dipping under the time set by Redding, as the Japanese rider focused on solving clutch issues which had caused him problems during the race. Tito Rabat was third fastests, rounding out a trio of Kalexes.