November 7th, 2014
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after practice on Friday at Valencia:
Moto2 rider Johan Zarco has followed the lead of Niccolo Antonelli and Marc Marquez before him to lead both Friday practice sessions at Valencia despite a crash with five minutes remaining. The Frenchman was very consistent throughout, reeling off a succession of impressive lap times in the low 1:35 bracket. He eventually topped the field with a time of 1:35.263 which was one tenth quicker than he managed in the early session and put him exactly one tenth clear of Tom Luthi in second place.
World Champion Tito Rabat appeared relaxed at his home track and took it easy by his usual tireless standards, he completed a lower volume of laps than usual but still claimed third spot ahead of his team mate Mika Kallio and Suzuki-bound Spaniard Maverick Vinales who rounded out the top five.
2014 World Champion Marc Marquez has displayed ominous consistency on his way to heading the MotoGP FP2 session at his home track in Valencia, his time of 1:31.454 was two tenths slower than his quickest time in the morning's session but was enough to put him a tenth clear of Andrea Dovizioso in second. Aleix Espargaro continued his strong Friday form to post the third fastest time and edge out Jorge Lorenzo who made it three Spaniards in the top four.
Cal Crutchlow continued to show newly found pace aboard his Ducati to take fifth spot - just over two tenths away from Marquez' best time. Dani Pedrosa focused on fine-tuning his race setup and ended up a further two tenths behind Crutchlow. Honda rider Stefan Bradl ended seventh on the time sheets ahead of Tech 3 riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith while Valentino Rossi rounded out the top ten. 'The Doctor' was six tenths shy of pace-setter Marquez and has work to do in order to be thereabouts for qualifying tomorrow and more importantly for the race on Sunday.
Niccolo Antonelli has topped the second Moto2 Free Practice session at Valencia, the Italian youngster posted a time of 1:39.647 to improve on his morning benchmark by seven tenths of a second and put him just two tenths shy of the quickest ever lap of the circuit, which was set by Alex Rins to clam pole position last year. Jack Miller ended the session in second place two tenths behind Antonelli but narrowly ahead of his Championship combatant Alex Marquez, the Italian duo of Enea Bastianini and Andrea Migno completed the top five.
Romano Fenati made it four Italian riders in the top ten to finish sixth on the time sheets, he was followed by Alex Rins and Mahindra's Brad Binder. Racing Team Germany riders John McPhee and Efren Vazquez rounded out the top ten. The session underlined the competitive nature of the Moto3 class this season as the top 20 riders were split by one second, all the ingredients are there already for another cracking race on Sunday.
The last race of the season is always a little bit special. They are even more special when riders are still scrapping over the spoils, battling for titles, for positions, for honor. There is much at stake at Valencia: a Moto3 title, second place in the MotoGP and Moto2 championships, and the team championship in MotoGP. Above all, though, there is victory, the glory of joining the elite band of Grand Prix winners. At the end of the day, that is what motivates motorcycle racers most on any given Sunday.
Top billing at Valencia is the race which is first, but with the most at stake. On Sunday, Jack Miller and Alex Marquez will slug it out for the 2014 Moto3 World Championship. The race at Sepang set up a fantastic season finale, with Miller riding an intimidating race to cut Marquez' championship lead. Just 11 points separate the two men, putting Marquez easily within reach of the Australian. But Miller will need help: it is not enough for him to win, he also needs to put a few riders between himself and the Estrella Galicia Honda of Marquez. As Miller found out at Sepang, that risks letting someone else slip ahead of him, making his quest even more difficult.
The math is relatively simple. Those 11 points would be enough for Miller to take the title, the Australian already having more wins than the younger Marquez. That means finishing ahead of the Estrella Galicia Honda, but above all, keeping him off the podium. A 3rd place finish would be enough for Marquez to lift the title, even if Miller were to win the race. Things get more difficult if Miller doesn't win: if he finishes second, then 6th will do for Marquez; if Miller ends in 3rd, then 11th will be sufficient for the Spaniard. If Miller doesn't get a top five finish, then his title ambitions are gone.
Suzuki issued the following press release, in which they preview their wildcard appearance at the final round of MotoGP at Valencia, and look ahead to their full-time return from Valencia onwards:
SUZUKI RE-LAUNCH INTO MOTOGP THIS WEEKEND!
Team Suzuki Press Office – November 5.
The prologue to Suzuki’s latest chapter of Grand Prix racing will open this weekend when the revitalised works team roll into action with the refined version of the GSX-RR at the Ricardo Tormo circuit for the Gran Premio Generali de la Comunitat Valenciana.
Randy De Puniet’s presence as a ‘wild-card’, overseen by the experience and expertise of Davide Brivio, and with the honed GSX-RR, will mark the first time the factory is back on the grid of the premier class since the same Grand Prix in 2011. The outing represents a competitive statement-of-intent ahead of the first testing run for the 2015 season that will take place on Monday and a matter of hours after the last chequered flag of the 2014 championship.
Suzuki has been riding, analysing and testing comprehensively in 2014 with sessions at Grand Prix venues of Sepang, Termas de Rio Hondo, Circuit of the Americas, Phillip Island and Catalunya and have now chosen to re-join the fray and bring a manufacturer with 40 years of Grand Prix history and six (Rider) titles in the premier class back to the sharp-edge of the sport.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone ahead of the final Grand Prix of the season at Valencia:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams ahead of this weekend's final round at Valencia:
Hiroshi Aoyama is to become a test rider for Honda in 2015. The future of the Japanese rider was uncertain after Eugene Laverty was signed to race with the Aspar team for next year, and Aoyama's options in the MotoGP paddock were limited. As a rider who has spent almost his entire career with Honda, including winning the last ever 250cc championship in 2009, Aoyama was the logical choice to take on a role as test rider.
Aoyama's work will commence on Friday at Valencia. Honda have brought the RC213V-RS to Valencia, the bike which is to replace the RCV1000R Open class Honda in 2015. Aoyama is to race the new bike, which features pneumatic valves and a more powerful engine, though it still does not have the seamless gearbox of the factory bikes. Aoyama's performance on the bike this weekend should give an idea of how much more competitive the Open class honda will be next year.
Aoyama will most likely not be Honda's only test rider. HRC are expected to reach an agreement with Casey Stoner to act as test rider for the factory. Aoyama is likely to take the place of one of Honda's other Japanese riders, Shinichi Itoh or Kousuke Akiyoshi.
The press release from Honda announcing Aoyama as a test rider appears below:
HRC announce Aoyama as test rider for 2015
It was no secret that Johnny Rea, Honda Europe and the Ten Kate Honda team had a fantastic working relationship. To underline just how strong the bonds were between Honda and Rea, they issued a press release bidding Rea a fond farewell, and wishing him the best in his future endeavors. The press release appears below:
Honda bids farewell to a racing friend
Last Sunday's thrilling end to the 2014 World Superbike championship season in Qatar also marked the conclusion of one of the longest and most successful racing partnerships that the series has ever seen.
After six seasons with the official Honda World Superbike team, run from the Ten Kate Racing workshops in the Netherlands – plus a year in the World Supersport championship with the same outfit – Jonathan Rea will begin the 2015 season with a new challenge.
Year one of the partnership between Rea and the Ten Kate Honda team yielded six World Supersport podiums and three race wins. When he stepped up to World Superbikes and the Honda Fireblade in 2009, Rea began a remarkable record that has seen him take at least one race victory every year.
What is the biggest problem in motorcycle racing today? Is it the predominant role electronics is playing, ruining the racing? Is it the ever more restrictive rules imposed, killing bike development and the spirit of Grand Prix racing? Is it the lack of competitive machinery, making it impossible for anyone but a factory rider to win a race? Or is it the dominance of the two top manufacturers, driving costs up and discouraging wider manufacturer participation?
You can point to all of those and more as being an issue, but they pale in comparison to the real problem the sport of motorcycle racing faces at the moment: Money. Specifically, the lack of it, and the inability of almost everyone involved in the sport to find ways of raising any. All of the ills of both MotoGP and World Superbikes can be traced back to this single failure.
The root of racing's problem is well-known. Once upon a time, when advertising tobacco products on TV and radio was banned, the cigarette companies needed some way of reaching potential customers. Spotting the loophole in the law, they immediately leaped on sports sponsorship as a means to promote their product. They went for sports which were glamorous, exciting, and had an edge of danger, exactly the image they want to project, and came up with motorsports.
Governments around the world saw the loophole they created, and started to close it down. After some clever negotiating by F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, motorsports were given an exemption until 2006, at which time all visible promotion of tobacco products in the sport's major markets was completely banned. The good times were over.
The last World Superbike race of a season is done, and with it, the season is over. The cloud of team orders hung over the overnight races, and tensions rose over orders refused.