The FIM has today released the final, official version of the 2014 MotoGP calendar. As expected, the Brazil round has been dropped, after it became clear that construction work at the Autodromo Nelson Piquet in Brasilia would not be completed in time for the September round. To ease the congestion in that part of the season, the date of the Aragon round has now been pushed back a week, and will take place on 28th September, the date originally scheduled for Brazil.
The dropping of the Brazil round had been expected almost from the moment it was placed on the schedule. There were serious doubts that the circuit would be able to make the necessary changes in time for September 2014, and teams were informed of the doubts which Dorna and IRTA had. The inclusion of Brazil was a statement of intent, with both Dorna and the manufacturers keen to return to South America, as both Brazil and Argentina are key markets. Actually racing in Brazil will depend one of the circuits still in the country being able to make the necessary modifications to make it safe enough for Grand Prix motorcycles.
Below is the official, finalized version of the 2014 MotoGP calendar:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the final day of testing at Jerez:
Times at the end of day 3:
Times at the end of Day 3:
Cirjesa, the body which runs the Circuito de Jerez just north of the Spanish city, and GCJ, the company which organizes the events at the circuit, are under investigation by the Spanish tax authorities and the Spanish organized crime unit for tax evasion. According to reports in the regional Diario de Jerez newspaper, the investigations center around unpaid tax over undeclared income from ticket sales to general admission areas during races, including the MotoGP rounds in recent years.
Both the police and tax authorities have spent the last six months investigating the existence of a second, clandestine set of accounts which are alleged to include the missing income. The alleged fraud was made possible because the general admission areas (the so-called 'Pelousse') are accessible without having an assigned seat number, paying spectators sitting on the grass anywhere around the hillsides overlooking the circuit. Suspicions had been raised by the fact that the number of spectators in the general admission areas seemed to be larger than the numbers officially reported. But without numbered seating, it was impossible for anyone outside of the circuit organization to know the actual numbers of paying spectators.
Press releases after the second day of testing at Jerez for the Moto2 and Moto3 teams:
In the Moto2 class at Jerez, the battle continues between Interwetten's Tom Luthi and Marc VDS Racing rider Tito Rabat, with Rabat's teammate Mika Kallio giving chase. Luthi was strong all day, and though Rabat put in a late charge to head the final session, he fell just under a tenth short of the time of the Swiss rider.
The top of the Moto2 timesheets showed a good spread of nationalities. Behind the Swiss leader, Spaniard in 2nd slot and Finn in 3rd, Japanese rider Takaaki Nakagami grabbed 4th, veteral Italian - or more properly, San Marinese - Alex de Angelis bagged fifth, and the young British rider and World Supersport champion Sam Lowes snagged sixth spot. Lowes is adapting very quickly to the Moto2 class, despite having to deal with a lack of electronics and radically different tires.
Series tire supplier Dunlop added a note of interest to the proceedings today, announcing that as of this year, they will be marking the tire compound visibly at this year's races. This will make it possible for fans to easily identify which riders are on the soft, which on the medium and which on the hard compounds from now on. The soft tires will have black lettering on a yellow background, medium will have black lettering on a silver background, and hard will have yellow lettering on a black background.
Aki Ajo's teams have a firm grip on the Moto3 class on the second day of testing at Jerez. Jack Miller ended the day on top of the timesheets, well inside the pole record set by Alex Rins in May last year. Miller's teammate Karel Hanika grabbed second spot, the Red Bull Rookie Cup champion of 2013 making an outstanding debut in the class. Rounding out the top three was Danny Kent on the factory Husqvarna, an operation which is also run by Aki Ajo.
Though Miller's time was out of reach of the rest, over a third of a second quicker than the chasing mob, the group that followed was close. Karel Hanika was strong all session, Danny Kent putting on a late charge to challenge Hanika at the end of the session, ending the day just a thousandth behind the Czech rider. Italian Romano Fenati of the Team Sky VR46 squad was another four thousandths behind Kent, and his teammate Pecco Bagnaia was another two hundredths behind Fenati.
Alex Marquez was the first Honda rider, the NSF250RW showing distinct signs of improvement. Marquez ended the day just six tenths behind Miller, with Efren Vazquez and the French prodigy Fabio Quartararo a couple of hundredths behind.
Testing concludes on Thursday.
Press releases from some of the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of testing at Jerez:
In the Moto2 class at Jerez, battle was rejoined once again by the two strongest men of the season so far, with Marc VDS Racing's Tito Rabat coming out on top this time. Like Jack Miller in Moto3, Rabat was on record pace, just a few hundredths off the pole record set by Stefan Bradl in 2011. Tom Luthi was forced to settle for 2nd, despite having led for a good part of the day, ending a quarter of a second behind the Spaniard, and a third of a second ahead of Rabat's teammate Mika Kallio.
Sam Lowes continues to make a strong debut in the Moto2 class, ending the day as 4th fastest, just ahead of the other impressive rookie Maverick Viñales, while Takaaki Nakagami was 6th, just behind Viñales. The two Mapfre Aspar riders Nico Terol and Jordi Torres, so fast at Valencia, were well down the order at Jerez, Terol 17th and 1.6 seconds down, Torres all the way back in 30th.
After the World Superbike series wrapped up their testing in Australia, on the other side of the world the Moto2 and Moto3 riders took to the track at Jerez for the second of their three preseason tests. It took a while, though, as the day started of with a track still wet from overnight rain. Track conditions had improved markedly by lunchtime, and a very full grid were soon posting very fast times indeed.
Australian Jack Miller was the fastest of the bunch, getting within a few thousandths of Luis Salom's race record set last year, and ending comfortably ahead of Isaac Viñales, the man who took his cousin Maverick's slot at Team Calvo. Danny Kent put the Husqvarna into 3rd spot, the young Briton half a second off the pace of Miller. Niccolo Antonelli, who had dominated at last week's test in Valencia, set the 4th fastest time, fractionally behind Kent but a quarter of a second ahead of fellow Italian Romano Fenati.
Efren Vazquez was the fastest Honda rider, with Racing Team Germany starting to take on some of the development of the new Honda NSF250RW now that Alex Rins has been forced to miss the test for surgery on his wrist. His replacement, the young French talent Fabio Quartararo made exactly the kind of impression many had hoped, blitzing to 11th, just behind the more experienced Alex Marquez.
The Repsol Media Service issued the following press release on Alex Rins having surgery on his right wrist to have a cyst removed:
Alex Rins undergoes successful surgery on right wrist
2013 Moto3 World Championship runner-up goes under the knife at Hospital Universitario Quiron Dexeus in Barcelona, in procedure to remove cyst.
Alex Rins underwent a successful operation today at the Hospital Universitario Quiron Dexeus, carried out by Head of Hand Surgery, Dr. Xavier Mir. The procedure was performed to remove a synovial cyst hidden in the schapholunate of Rins’ right wrist. The cyst also formed part of a partial scapholunate ligament injury suffered by the Spanish rider. Microsurgical techniques were used to remove the cyst and repair the ligament as a preventative measure, to thus avoid possible problems during the season.
Rins will be resting up for 7 days before beginning a functional recovery programme and rejoining his team for further preseason testing. His team are already in Southern Spain for the test at the Circuito de Jerez, which begins tomorrow and runs through Thursday. French rider, current CEV Repsol champion and new addition to the Monlau Repsol Technical School project for the 2014 edition of the series, Fabio Quartararo will accompany Alex Marquez over the course of the three-day test.
While most of the world's attention was focused on the first MotoGP test of the year at Sepang, in Spain, a few of the World Superbike teams used a private test to prepare for their journey Down Under to the season opener at Phillip Island. The rain prevented testing for the first day of the test, but the second day took place under sunny skies, but with high winds and damp patches making going tricky.
Reigning world champion Tom Sykes topped the timesheets after the two-day test, ending two tenths ahead of his Kawasaki teammate Loris Baz. Aprilia's Marco Melandri and Pata Honda rider Jonathan Rea shared the third fastest time, a tenth behind Baz. Melandri had a crash on the first day, but walked away unhurt. His teammate also crashed, not what Sylvian Guintoli was looking for on his first return to the track after surgery to fix the shoulder he injured last year. Like Melandri, Guintoli suffered no damage.
While Honda and Kawasaki were hitting the track in Southern Spain, the Voltcom Suzuki team were in the UK for the launch of their 2014 campaign. Riders Eugene Laverty and Alex Lowes unveiled the machine they will be racing this year at the Crescent headquarters in Dorset.
The long wait for motorcycle racing fans is over. The winter test ban for the World Superbike ends today, and a number of teams will take to the track in Spain and Portugal over the next four days, weather permitting.
The World Superbike paddock is split between Portimao in Portugal and Almeria in southern Spain for the next few days, with Aprilia, Pata Honda and Ducati heading to Portimao, while Kawasaki and Voltcom Suzuki start at Almeria. Suzuki will pack up after two days at Almeria and join Aprilia, Honda and Ducati at Portimao until the 20th of January. The Yakhnich MV Agusta team will also be testing at Portimao, as will the World Supersport teams of PTR Honda and Mahi Kawasaki.
Kawasaki and Honda will be back in southern Spain in early February, with the factory Kawasaki team being joined by the Pedercini squad and Pata Honda for two days at Jerez. Everyone then packs up and heads much further south, to Australia, for the season opener at Phillip Island on 23rd February.
Below is the preseason testing schedule for the World Superbike, World Supersport and Superstock teams for the next few weeks:
The first major change to the 2014 MotoGP schedule has been announced. Though the dates remain the same, the order of the Asian flyaway triple header has been reshuffled, with Sepang moving from first of the three to last. The Grand Prix classes will now head to Japan first, for the Japanese GP at Motegi on 12th October, before heading south to Australia for the Phillip Island round a week later, on 19th October. The weekend after that the MotoGP paddock visits Malaysia, for the last of the three overseas races at Sepang on 26th October.
The change is unlikely to be the last. It is widely anticipated that the new track in Brasilia will not be ready for the Brazilian round of MotoGP on 28th September, and that the Motorland Aragon race, due to take place on 21st September, will be rescheduled for a week later. That decision will not take place for some time, however, as the Autodromo Brasilia Nelson Piquet will be given a few more months before the mandatory circuit homologation inspection.
Below is the updated, and still provisional, 2014 MotoGP calendar, with changes highlighted in bold. You can always find the latest, most up-to-date version including all changes on this page.