Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain

Interview: Alvaro Bautista On The Pros And Cons Of Nissin And Showa, Electronics, And The Importance Of Training

Since leaving Suzuki when the Japanese factory withdrew from MotoGP at the end of 2011, Alvaro Bautista has been with the Gresini Honda team. There, he has ridden the team's factory RC213V, racking up three podiums and one pole for the team. Things have not been as easy for him as for the other Honda riders, however, as Gresini has a deal with Showa to supply suspension and Nissin to supply brakes. As the only team in the paddock on that combination, competing against the massed ranks of Brembo/Öhlins-shod MotoGP machines has been hard. Where the Brembo/Öhlins bikes have masses of data from other riders they can compare their set ups against, Bautista and Gresini have only their bike, and the data from the bike on the other side of the garage. In the previous two seasons, that was an FTR-built machine powered by a CBR1000RR engine, making data comparison very difficult. This year things are a little easier, with the RCV1000R being closely related to the RC213V, but challenges remain. 

At Barcelona, MotoMatters.com friend and contributor Mick Fialkowski caught up with Bautista to ask him about his season so far. In a long conversation, Bautista talks about the difficult start to the season, the challenges presented in developing the Nissin and Showa suspension, about the changes made for the 2014 season, and about the fitness required to compete at the top level of MotoGP. It made for a fascinating discussion:


Mick Fialkowski: Alvaro, it's been an up-and-down season so far. First three races without points, then a podium at Le Mans. What happened?

Alvaro Bautista: I think in the first three races we just had bad luck. We were competitive in Qatar. Also at Austin I was in the podium group, as well as in Argentina. We had a setting that wasn't too bad for the race but I didn't finish, so it was just bad luck. Then I scored a podium at Le Mans and in Mugello I struggled a lot with the setup of the bike. Using this suspension and these brakes the thing is that when we have problems, it's difficult to fix them because we don't have any reference, only myself, and that makes it more difficult for us.

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Can racing ever be too safe?

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.


Can racing ever be too safe?

Here are a few philosophical questions for you. Can motorcycle racing ever be too safe? Or how safe/dangerous should MotoGP be? Should MotoGP return to the Isle of Man TT and damn the consequences, or should Dorna take advantage of the trillions of dollars available from Middle Eastern oil nations keen to establish mind-bogglingly ostentatious racetracks in their kingdoms, with thousands of metres of sandy runoff at every corner?

Interview: Mika Kallio On The Moto2 Title, Lighter Riders, And Dani Pedrosa

Mika Kallio is quietly intense, focused, and often overlooked in Moto2. The Finn is in his fourth season with the Marc VDS Racing team, where he once again forms a serious challenge in the Moto2 championship with his teammate. Last year, it was with Scott Redding, this year, teammate Tito Rabat is the main obstacle between Kallio and the Moto2 title. 

MotoMatters.com friend and contributor Mick Fialkowski caught up with Mika Kallio at Barcelona, and spoke to him about a range of subjects. Kallio talked about his approach to trying to win a Moto2 title and how the Kalex Moto2 machine has changed over the years. Kallio also talked about the problems the combined rider weight rules cause for lighter riders, and how he sees the comparison with Dani Pedrosa. 


Mick Fialkowski: It's been a pretty solid start to the season. You must be pretty pleased?

Mika Kallio: Yes, of course it's not bad. I'm second in the Championship which is a quite good position. I'm happy with how the season had gone so far. Just maybe the last weekend at Mugello wasn't the best, not perfect as I was struggling a little bit to find the feeling with the track. but the other races were good. I won the two previous ones at Jerez and Le Mans, so everything is good. We're ready to fight for the championship.

MF: So how much are your focusing on the title and now much is it race by race?

MK: Before the season my goal was to win the title, absolutely. Now we're second in the championship so we're going in the right direction, but we need to go into it race by race and don't think too much about the standings. There's a lot of races left, so you need to go step by step and try to repeat the same good feeling with the bike. If you start to think too much about the championship, it's not good for your head. It's better to keep the pressure as little as possible and focus on the right things.

MF: You're one of the most consistent riders in Moto2. What's the key to that?

MK: For some reason each year in Moto2 we can see the same story; one rider can be really fast and win a race and then in the next race he's nowhere. It has something to do with these bikes. They're so sensitive to find the right settings, that if you miss the feeling a little bit, like I did at Mugello, immediately do drop a bit. It's complicated to keep the same level every week, also because of the rules, because all the bikes are so close. That's the main reason. If you don't have the confidence you drop a lot. However me and Tito are the most consistent ones and I think that in the long term, to win the championship, that's the main key. You need to win the race and be on the podium of course but it's also very important that when a bad day is coming – and it will come anyway in such a long season – then you need to still be somewhere and score points. Consistency is the key.

Interview: Paolo Ciabatti On Cal Crutchlow, Jorge Lorenzo And Michelin Tires

The situation at Ducati was the talk of the paddock in Barcelona. With Andrea Dovizioso, Andrea Iannone and Cal Crutchlow being linked to Suzuki, Crutchlow having a contract for 2015, Ducati keen to retain the services of both Dovizioso and Iannone, and Iannone openly pushing for a seat in the factory Ducati team, the Bologna factory faces a series of complex contract negotiations. To check on the state of play with Ducati, we cornered Ducati Corse's MotoGP Project Director Paolo Ciabatti.

What was meant to be just a brief chat turned into a much longer conversation, on a range of subjects. Ciabatti gave his view of the situation with Cal Crutchlow, as well as his hopes of retaining both Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone. He discussed the rumors concerning an approach to Jorge Lorenzo, and reflected on having had Valentino Rossi in the Ducati team. He gave us an update on Ducati's plans to provide more Open bikes for 2015. And finally, he turned his attention to the return of Michelin, and Ducati's hopes for the new tire manufacturer.

MotoMatters.com: It appears that Ducati's problem this year is that Cal Crutchlow has a two-year contract, while you also have Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone who are both riding very well. And only two seats in the factory team...

Paolo Ciabatti: As most people in the paddock know, we have a two-year contract with Cal, but he has a way out of the contract. Having said so, we invested in Cal because we wanted very strongly to have him with Ducati, and the fact that so far things have not worked in the way we all hoped is due, honestly I don't believe in luck or bad luck, but in his case, we must admit some of the things have been particularly going wrong on the technical side with no explanation. Because he has exactly the same treatment as Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone, and his team has actually been working together since a long time. Dovi's team was put together last year, after Valentino [Rossi] left, but Cal's team is Nicky's [Hayden] former team, and has been together for a long time. Daniele Romagnoli joined instead of Juan Martinez, but it is a very good team. So it's difficult for us to really understand why these things have happened.

Suzuki Press Release: Three Days Of Testing At Barcelona A Success

The Suzuki MotoGP team issued the following press release after completing their three day test at Barcelona:


SUZUKI MOTOGP UPBEAT AFTER BARCELONA TEST

Team Suzuki Press Office – June 18.

The Suzuki MotoGP Test Team has completed a busy and positive three-days of testing at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit in Spain today.

Test rider Randy De Puniet was joined by Takuya Tsuda for the official MotoGP test with the current series riders and teams; and then a private test today to evaluate several new revisions to the development 2015 Suzuki machine that included a new-specification engine, plus electronic ignition and chassis revisions.

With weather conditions fluctuating over the three-days, but averaging 25° Air/ 35° Track temperatures, De Puniet put-in his fastest lap on the opening day with a time of 1’43”683. Over the three days, he completed 200 laps of the 4.655 km, 16-corner circuit. Tsuda, who was supporting De Puniet and adding to the Suzuki MotoGP data-logging and evaluation of the new parts and settings at the event, completed a total of 103 laps.

Year: 
2014

Bridgestone Press Release - Masao Azuma On Grip vs Durability At Barcelona

In this week's post-race debrief press release, Bridgestone's chief engineer discusses the challenges faced by the factory in balancing grip and durability at the tricky Barcelona circuit. Azuma also discusses the new front tire which the riders tested and praised at the test on Monday. The press release appears below:


Catalan MotoGP™ debrief with Masao Azuma

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium & Hard; Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)

Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Hard (Main), Soft (Alternative)

Last weekend’s Catalan Grand Prix at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya was one for the ages, with a thrilling three-way battle for victory between Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, and Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi producing one of the most exciting encounters in recent years. Ultimately it was Marquez who claimed victory to extend his perfect record in 2014, with Rossi finishing second and Pedrosa third.

After a hot start to the weekend, temperatures cooled down on Sunday with a peak track temperature of 40°C recorded during the twenty-five lap Catalan Grand Prix.

Q&A with Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department

Temperatures on Friday and Saturday were extremely hot, but then we had a cool change on Sunday. Did this have an effect on race tyre choice for riders, and how did it affect tyre performance?

Round Number: 
7
Year: 
2014

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Homage to Catalunya

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.


Homage to Catalunya

In September Scotland will decide whether it wants to split from Great Britain, after three centuries together. Two months later the Catalan people will vote in a referendum to decide whether Catalunya will split from Spain, also after 300 years together, following the conquest of the region by the Bourbon kings.

This is a huge political issue, much bigger than anything to do with motorcycling, but if Catalunya does gain the independence it craves it will become the greatest bike racing nation on earth, even greater than Spain.

Testing Continues Unabated: Suzuki And Moto2 Stay At Barcelona, Yamaha Head To Aragon

Though most of the MotoGP teams packed up and headed to Assen after the MotoGP test on Monday, Suzuki and the Ducati test team remained. The two factories continued testing on Tuesday, in between tests with some of the top Moto2 teams, including Marc VDS, Aspar, AGR, and Technomag.

Suzuki continued the hard work of preparing for their return next year. They are continuing to work on a new engine, but the biggest headache they face is with the electronics. The process of porting and reengineering their software to work with the spec Magneti Marelli hardware is taking more time than they thought, and it still needs plenty of development before it is ready.

The Moto2 teams testing were working on performance for this year. No times were released, but according to the MotoGP.com website, Jonas Folger posted the fastest unofficial time, a lap of 1'45.6. Folger was working on the WP suspension his team uses, as well as on braking. Tito Rabat was second fastest with a 1'46.4, while Marc VDS teammate Mika Kallio spent his time working with a new swingarm. For Maverick Vinales, the test was another chance to continue to work on set up and adapting to the Moto2 class.

2014 Barcelona MotoGP Test Round Up: Yamaha's Busy Schedule, Ducati's Shortcomings, And An Alternative Track Layout

It should hardly come as a surprise that Marc Marquez should be fastest man on the day at the post-race test at Barcelona. The Spaniard has been the standout of the season, and for him to be fastest, even at a track where he has not dominated like at others, is starting to become par for the course. More of a surprise is the name of the man in second. Bradley Smith came up just four hundredths short of Marquez, making up for a mediocre race on Sunday, caused by a tire which was not performing as expected. The first thing Smith did when he started testing in earnest this morning was to try the same tire he used in the race. It was a tire which had already been used on Saturday, yet he was immediately as fast as he was in the race, and ended up going four tenths of a second faster on the same tire. Smith had something to prove, and matching Marquez' time did just that. Now he just needs to replicate it in a race.

2014 Barcelona MotoGP Test Press Releases

Press releases from the teams after the MotoGP test at Barcelona:

Year: 
2014

2014 Barcelona MotoGP Test Times Final: Marquez Fastest, Smith Close Behind

Final times from the MotoGP test at Barcelona:

2014 Barcelona MotoGP Test Times At 4pm: Marquez Leads The Yamahas

Marc Marquez continues at the top of the test timesheets with just a couple of hours left in the MotoGP test. The Spaniard is a third of a second faster than Jorge Lorenzo, who together with Valentino Rossi is testing a new exhaust system. Pol Espargaro is in 3rd, despite not having much to test, and is ahead of Stefan Bradl on the LCR Honda. Valentino Rossi finally started testing shortly after noon, but so far has only managed the 10th fastest time. Suzuki's Randy De Puniet has been busy, but remains 3.3 seconds off the pace of Marquez.

Times at 4pm:

Scott Jones' Catalonia Dreamin' - Barcelona Race Day


Storm coming


Room for a little 'un?


The younger Marquez prepares for battle

2014 Barcelona MotoGP Test Times At 12am: Marquez Fastest In Morning

Testing is underway at the Circuit de Catalunya, the MotoGP riders not given a chance to recover from yesterday's thrilling race. Aleix Espargaro set the early pace, before Marc Marquez took over at the top just before noon. All eyes are on Suzuki, as the riders assess whether the bike can be competitive and a viable alternative for their current rides. Currently, Randy De Puniet is 3.7 seconds off the pace on the XRH-1.

The day started with a test of a revised layout, using the tight F1 double corner at La Caixa instead of the grand sweep of Turn 10. The test was done at the request of some of the riders in the safety commission, over concerns at a lack of run off at the end of the back straight. Turn 10 is the corner were the most crashes happen, but it is a signature corner for the Barcelona track, and it would be a tragedy to lose it.

Times at 12 noon:

2014 Barcelona MotoGP Sunday Round Up: MotoGP's New Golden Age, Ducati's Bad Luck, And Honda Ending KTM's Moto3 Streak

Whenever I have the pleasure of running across MotoGP's official statistician and number cruncher Dr Martin Raines, he likes to point out to me exactly why we are living through a golden age of racing. His arguments are backed with a battery of indisputable facts and figures, which boil down to a single fact: the races have never been closer. Not in terms of gap between the podium finishers, not in terms of gap between first and last, nor between all points finishers. This is an era of truly great racing.

As if to underline his point, the Barcelona Grand Prix served up a veritable smorgasbord of fantastic races: a strong win and thrilling podium battle in Moto3, a surprisingly hard-fought Moto2 race, and to top it off, perhaps the most exciting MotoGP race we have had since 2006, with four riders slugging it out and swapping places right to the final lap. The winner of the MotoGP race may have been predictable – any bet against Marc Marquez looks more and more foolish each week – but in Barcelona, Marquez' victory looked in doubt all the way to the final couple of corners. At half a second, his margin of victory is overstated. If things had run a little bit differently, Marquez winning streak – now up to seven in a row – could have ended along with his string of poles.

It was a scintillating race indeed. Four men swapped the lead frequently. Dani Pedrosa got the holeshot, changes to weight distribution having given him back his lightning start. Jorge Lorenzo took off after him, taking the lead with an outrageous 'porfuera' pass around the outside of Turn 1, lining him up for Turn 2. Lorenzo then tried to pull a gap, but that simply wasn't happening, Movistar Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi took over the lead after three laps, getting past his teammate after a brutal exchange of passes in the first part of the lap. Marc Marquez followed, exploiting Lorenzo's moment of weakness to follow Rossi through, before latching onto the Italian's tail. There he found his teammate Dani Pedrosa stalking him, jabbing and probing, seeking a way past. The two exchanged blows for six laps, before Marquez finally escaped from Pedrosa's clutches and started snapping at Rossi's heels. Marquez took over at the front with six laps to go, holding off attacks from both Rossi and Pedrosa, swapping the lead with Pedrosa, before the final do-or-die lap, where he countered Pedrosa's final attack and held on for the win. Any opportunity to pass was seized, all four men just as aggressive in their passing as each other.

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