March 28th, 2014
The news that Honda would be building a production racer to compete in MotoGP aroused much excitement among fans. There was quickly much speculation over just how quick it would be, and whether it would be possible for a talented rider to beat the satellite bikes on some tracks. Expectations received a boost when former world champion Casey Stoner tested the RCV1000R, praising its performance. Speculation reached fever pitch when HRC vice president Shuhei Nakamoto told the press at the launch of the bike that the RCV1000R was just 0.3 seconds a lap slower than the factory RC213V in the hands of a test rider. Was that in the hands of Casey Stoner, the press asked? Nakamoto was deliberately vague. 'Casey Stoner is a Honda test rider,' he said cryptically.
Once the bike hit the track in the hands of active MotoGP riders Nicky Hayden, Hiroshi Aoyama and Scott Redding at the Valencia test, it became apparent that the bike was a long way off the pace. At Sepang in February, the situation was the same. Nakamoto clarified his earlier statements: no, the times originally quoted were not set by Casey Stoner, who had only done a handful of laps in tricky conditions on the bike. They had been set by one of Honda's test riders. And yes, the biggest problem was the straights, as times at Sepang demonstrated. Test riders were losing around half a second along the two long straights at Sepang, Nakamoto said.
In the hands of active MotoGP riders, the gap was around 2 seconds at the Sepang tests. Nicky Hayden - of whom much had been expected, not least by himself - had made significant improvements, especially on corner entry. Turning in and braking was much improved, something which did not come as a surprise after the American's time on the Ducati. Once the bikes arrived at Qatar, the Honda made another step forward, Hayden cutting the deficit to 1.4 seconds from the fastest man Aleix Espargaro.
Bridgestone is to bring its 2013-spec tires for the MotoGP race at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. Production delays meant that the Japanese tire manufacturer was unable to guarantee a full allocation of the 2014 spec medium rear tires with the heat-resistant treatment being supplied to all of the MotoGP riders. Research and inspection of data from 2013 showed that there would be no problem with the tires without the heat-resistant treatment, and so it was decided to supply everyone with the 2013-spec medium rear tires.
The alternative to this would be having two different specifications of the medium compound available to the riders in Austin. A Bridgestone spokesperson told MotoMatters.com, 'Bridgestone felt this was a better option than having riders end up with non-heat resistant and heat-resistant tyres in the same compound option at a race weekend.' The 2013 tires will only be used at Austin, however, resulting from a production issue. 'This is a one-off situation, the 2014 specification slicks will be offered at all other venues,' the spokesperson said.
Gresini Press Release: Tech Debrief - Bautista Pleased With Showa Progress, Redding Benefits From Modified Geometry
The Go&Fun Gresini Honda team is issuing a technical debrief with its race engineers after every MotoGP round this season. Below appears the thoughts of Antonio Jimenez and Diego Gubellini, crew chiefs to Alvaro Bautista and Scott Redding respectively, on the first race of the season at Qatar:
QATAR MOTOGP DEBRIEF WITH ANTONIO JIMENEZ AND DIEGO GUBELLINI
The first Grand Prix of the season, at the floodlit Losail International Circuit, didn’t finish in the best way for Alvaro Bautista, who crashed on lap 21 whilst challenging for a podium position aboard the Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini Honda RC213V. Nevertheless, the Spaniard has been an absolute protagonist of the race weekend from the first free practice session, missing the pole position in qualifying by just 57 thousandths of a second and setting the fastest lap of the race in 1’55”575.
Seventh placed and first among the riders riding an Open class Honda RCV1000R, Scott Redding made an impressive MotoGP debut in Qatar, delivering a determined ride thanks to a different chassis geometry that allowed him to improve his feeling with the front end. After an aggressive start, the British rookie adopted a prudent strategy to preserve the tyres, following the most experienced Nicky Hayden, then beaten on the finish line.
Waiting to get back in action at the Circuit of the Americas, in Texas, for the next Grand Prix, let’s see in detail with our crew chiefs, Antonio Jimenez and Diego Gubellini, what kind of work they did on their machines.
The long-running dispute between Kevin Schwantz and the Circuit of the Americas has finally come to an end. Today, the circuit in Austin, Texas and the 1993 500cc World Champion announced that the two sides had reached an amicable settlement, and that Schwantz would act as motorcycle racing ambassador for COTA.
The split between Schwantz and the track emerged after Schwantz accused the then owner of the track, Steve Sexton, of agreeing a deal with Dorna to promote the race behind Schwantz' back, when Schwantz already had a 10-year contract to organize the Texas MotoGP round. Schwantz sued COTA to get the rights back from the circuit, and the circuit countersued for costs and fees. Schwantz had been involved in the circuit from its very inception, having acted as an advisor to Hermann Tilke, the German designer of the track. The Texan had worked tirelessly to bring the race to his native state, and when he fell out with circuit management, it was a blow both to Schwantz and to the circuit and the status of the race.
The Monster Tech 3 team are producing a series of press release offering some background information on the practical side of MotoGP. The first in the series is a fascinating insight into what it takes to transport all of the bikes, tools, equipment and other paraphernalia necessary for racing around the world to allow the Tech 3 MotoGP and Moto2 teams to contest the world championship. It is an intriguing read. The press release appears below:
Insight - Part1: Logistical Organisation
As the lights on the starting grid turn green on a Sunday, a flurry of excitement descends upon the motorsport planet who become captivated for 45 solid minutes as adrenaline levels soar for everyone, watching the most entertaining two wheeled motorsport series on the planet. However, what needs to be undertaken ‘behind the scenes’ to ensure this happens 18 times a year?
The Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team aims to shed light on the actions and endeavours that take place for a Grand Prix race operation before a wheel has even been turned. This documentary series entitled ‘Insight’ will offer inside information, introduce key members of the team, cover various aspects of the business, and examine routines which have to be undertaken to race. There is no better way to begin this exciting and innovative series than illustrating the coordination required to move the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Teamd the Tech3 Racing Moto2 Team from one international race circuit to another, both inside Europe and for ‘Flyaway’ races.
After the race at Qatar, Marc Marquez flew to Kuala Lumpur, to attend the awards ceremony for the prestigious Laureus Awards. There, Marquez was presented with the award for best breakthrough athlete of 2014. HRC issued the following press release after Marquez received the reward:
Marquez receives 2013 Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award
Repsol Honda rider, Marc Marquez, current MotoGP World Champion, has won the prestigious Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year Award at a decorated ceremony at the Laureus Awards hosted in Malaysia.
At just 20 years old, the young man from Cervera completed a record season to become the youngest Premier Class World Champion in history. This feat has not gone unnoticed outside the world of motor racing and has been recognised in the most prestigious awards in the field of sport.
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 from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
MotoGP’s young guns and old dogs
That Qatar race was pretty special and not only because it was hugely entertaining, but because one of the riders battling for victory was almost old enough to be the other’s dad.
Valentino Rossi turned 35 in February, just a few days before Marc Márquez hit 21. That’s an age difference of 14 years, which isn’t something that happens very often in professional sport; in fact, has it ever happened before in motorcycle Grand Prix racing?
The question prompted me to trawl through my history books for evidence of a similar generation gap at the sharp end of premier-class GPs.
The Idemistu Honda Team Asia today issued a press release with a clarification on Takaaki Nakagami's disqualification after the Moto2 race at Losail. Nakagami's Kalex was found to be fitted with an illegal air filter during a technical inspection, as Race Director Mike Webb explained to the MotoGP.com website. Webb acknowledged that the error was entirely unintentional, and was a result of misinterpreting the technical rules.
Tady Okada, the former 500GP racer winner who now runs Idemitsu Team Asia, explained in the press release that they had failed to interpret the rules correctly. At the time the team took part in the first test, at the end of 2012, the foam air filter which is part of the HRC race kit was legal. The team fitted this part for testing, and continued to use the part throughout the 2013 season and the first race of 2014. However, for the 2013 season, the use of a standard paper filter was made compulsory, and the use of the foam filter was banned.
The first race of the year means also the first Bridgestone post-race press release. In this debrief, Shinji Aoki discusses the effect the Qatar circuit has on tires, the use of the softer rear tire by the Honda production racers, and Marc Marquez gambling on the harder rear tire. The press release appears below:
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after the thrilling first race of the season at Qatar:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first race of the season at Qatar:
2014 Qatar MotoGP Sunday Round Up: Of Deserving Winners, Old Champions, And The Correct Way To Celebrate Victory
There's an old racing adage: when the flag drops, the talking stops, though the word 'talking' is rarely used. It's a cliche, but like all cliches, it is a cliche because it reflects such a basic truth. Without bikes circulating on track in anger, fans and press have nothing to do but engage in idle speculation, and pick over the minutiae of rules, rumors and races long past. As soon as the racing starts again, all is forgotten, and we all lose ourselves in the now. It is the zen which all racing fans aspire to.
So after spending months going round in circles over the 2014 regulations, speculating about who they favor, and expressing outrage at either the perceived injustice of the rules, or the supposed incompetence of those involved in drawing them up at the last minute, the talk stopped at Qatar on Sunday night. The fans filled their bellies on three outstanding races, all of which went down to the wire. With something once again at stake, all talk of rules was forgotten.
And to be honest, the 2014 rules had none of the negative effects which so many people had feared. The best riders on the day still ended up on the podium, while the gap between the winner and the rest of the pack was much reduced. The gap from the winner to the first Ducati was cut from 22 seconds in 2013 to 12 seconds this year. The gap from the winner to Aleix Espargaro – first CRT in 2013, first Open class rider in 2014 – was cut from 49 seconds to just 11 seconds. And even ignoring Espargaro's Yamaha M1, the gap to the first Honda production racer – an outstanding performance by Scott Redding on the Gresini RCV1000R – was slashed to 32 seconds.