The FIM have finally released the provisional calendar for the World Superbike series for next year. The 2015 season will see WSBK travel to 14 rounds, returning to all of the venues which hosted races in 2014, and two more overseas rounds added, in Russia and Thailand.
The chances of this being the definitive calendar appear to be slim. Three rounds are marked as still subject to contract: Portimao, Moscow and Qatar. Both Portimao and Qatar look likely to go ahead, but whether WSBK will actually return to Moscow remains to be seen. The 2014 round was canceled due to the political instability in the Russian Federation and the overflow of conflict in Ukraine, which affected various partners of the series. The political situation has only deteriorated since then, with the EU and US imposing sanctions on Russia, making the race there almost impossible. The teams and riders will be hoping for the round to be canceled: the race was a logistical nightmare to get equipment to and from, and for both the fans and riders to attend and find accommodation for.
The first of the official announcements to be made over this weekend has arrived. Today, the FIM released the provisional version of the 2015 calendar for MotoGP.
The schedule is a virtual carbon copy of the 2014 calendar this year, with the order of the races the same as this year. A few minor tweaks have been applied to the calendar: the series kicks off in Qatar on 29th March, a week later than originally planned to avoid a TV clash with the soccer game between Barcelona and Real Madrid in Spain. Two weeks later, the circus heads to Austin, and the following week to Argentina.
Having the two races in the Americas back-to-back will create a much easier schedule than this year, where the teams faced a very long journey back from Argentina to arrive on time for Jerez. With a year of experience under their belt, Dorna's logistics and TV crew are now certain they can get the Termas de Rio Hondo track ready within the few days they have after Austin.
The news that KTM would be building a MotoGP machine has been public since the beginning of August. In an interview with the German website Speedweek, KTM CEO Stefan Pierer confirmed that the Austrian manufacturer would be building a V4 MotoGP machine ready for the 2017 season.
KTM's MotoGP plans were confirmed again last weekend at Misano. KTM's head of motorsport Pit Beirer told the MotoGP.com website that they would indeed be building a MotoGP bike, and that work on the machine had already started. The bike, Beirer told MotoGP.com, would be a V4, would use a steel trellis frame, just as their Moto3 machines do, and would be kitted with WP suspension. Design work on the bike was already underway, with the bike scheduled to make its debut on track "at the end of next summer," Beirer said.
There would be no prospect of an early entry, however. The bike is to be prepared for the 2017 season, with testing going on from late 2015 onwards. The bike would be designed around the Michelin tires, which will be replacing Bridgestone as the spec tire from 2016 onwards. The bike would also be designed with the spec electronics and unified software package in mind, which is also to be compulsory from the 2016 season.
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.
A new way of riding, a new way of crashing
Well, it appears that whoever coined the term ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ didn’t know what they were talking about.
On Sunday in Italy a middle-aged man defeated a young phenomenon for several reasons. Firstly, he’s learned a new trick or two.
I can only assume that Valentino Rossi discovered his new way of riding his Yamaha YZR-M1 by reading old copies of Grand Prix annual Motocourse because he seems to have adopted the outlandish riding style of 1990s BSB champ James Whitham. The Yorkshireman rode in a highly unusual fashion, with upper body completely out of line with the motorcycle, neck craning towards the inside of the corner, as if he was literally dragging his machine to the apex.
Misano was the stage for a flurry of negotiating among riders, though much of it was dependent on the fate of Scott Redding. As was previously the case with Marc Marquez, Jorge Lorenzo and Cal Crutchlow, Redding was proving pivotal in which seats would be available. With Redding now firmly ensconced in the Marc VDS Racing team for the next two years, the other seats can start to fill up.
Below is a list of all of the seats currently filled and available in MotoGP, with notes on individual contracts and speculation on who could fill the empty seats. PBM has sold its grid slots to IRTA, who will be selling them to Suzuki. The IODA team have made no announcement on their future, but they seem unlikely to continue, given the dearth of funding for the project. The grid as it stands consists of 24 bikes, two more than IRTA's target of 22. All 24 will get a start, but the grid slots with the worst record at the end of 2015 will lose their IRTA travel allowance.
Here's the state of play so far:
As usual, Bridgestone issued its post-race debrief after the Misano round of MotoGP on Tuesday. In the press release, chief engineer Masao Azuma explains the situation with the wet tires on Friday, how the rain on Friday affected tire choice on Sunday, and Jorge Lorenzo's decision to go with the hard front tire at Misano. The press release debrief appears below:
San Marino and Rimini MotoGP™ debrief with Masao Azuma
Tuesday, September 16 2014
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium & Hard; Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Hard (Main), Soft (Alternative)
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi won his first race of the 2014 MotoGP™ season ahead of teammate Jorge Lorenzo in second place, and Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa in third.
After the first day of the race weekend was subjected to heavy rain and the coldest track temperatures yet recorded this season, conditions for the rest of the weekend were fine and Sunday experienced the warmest weather of the weekend, resulting in a peak track temperature of 37°C for the race.
Q&A with Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department
Can you explain the situation on Friday, when Bridgestone expanded its wet tyre allocation to make more soft compound wet tyres available to each rider? Why was this decision made, and did the soft compound wet tyres bring an improvement in grip over the hard compound?
It is no secret that Eugene Laverty is keen to move to MotoGP for the 2015 season. The Irishman has been present at the last three MotoGP rounds, touting his services around the teams in the hope of securing a ride. He has been in talks with Forward, Pramac and Aspar about a ride in 2015, but as yet, no deal has been announced.
It is certain that one has been signed, however. Today, the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki team - his team in World Superbikes - issued a press release wishing Laverty well on his step up to MotoGP. No details were given of where Laverty is headed, other than that he will not be in World Superbikes in 2015, but will be racing in MotoGP.
Though no announcement was made, it seems certain that Laverty will be riding a production Honda for Aspar in 2015. A deal had to wait until Scott Redding's future had been secured, as Redding was Aspar's preferred choice, despite never having spoken to either the Gloucestershire rider or his manager. Once Redding was confirmed as riding with Marc VDS in MotoGP next season, that cleared the way for Laverty.
Alvaro Bautista has signed a two year contract with Aprilia, and will remain in the Gresini squad in MotoGP for the 2015 and 2016 season. The Spaniard had been widely expected to be one of the two riders on the factory Aprilias, given his long association with both Gresini in MotoGP and Aprilia in the 125cc and 250cc classes. Bautista won the 125cc world championship for Aprilia in 2006.
The signing of Bautista is the next domino to fall after the announcement that Marc VDS Racing would be moving up to MotoGP, and taking over the Honda RC213V from Gresini, along with Scott Redding. That, in turn, had been triggered by Gresini's announcement that they would be switching to Aprilia, and abandoning Honda. Bautista's deal was dependent on Redding, as the Englishman was Aprilia's first choice to place alongside Marco Melandri. With Redding no longer available, the path was cleared for Bautista to sign.
Press releases after Sunday's dramatic MotoGP race at Misano from the teams and from Bridgestone:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after Sunday's races at Misano:
It would be fair to say that Sunday at Misano turned into a perfect Italian fairy story. After being forced to sit through two renditions of the Spanish national anthem after the Moto3 and Moto2 races, the Italian fans were finally able to bellow along with Il Canto degli Italiani, or the Song of the Italians, at the end of the MotoGP race. Valentino Rossi took his eighty-first victory in MotoGP in front of a crowd awash with yellow #46 banners, at the track just a few miles from his home. It was Rossi's first victory since Assen last year, and his first victory at Misano since 2009.
But the happy ending to the fairy tale was Rossi's win was no fluke, and came with no asterisk attached. There were no riders out through injury, as there were at Assen in 2013. Rossi came to Misano determined to score a good result. His team worked perfectly to give him a competitive bike, improving an already strong set up. The Italian dominated practice, qualified on the front row, and got a strong start. He then chased down his teammate Jorge Lorenzo, beat up Marc Marquez, and drew the Repsol Honda rider into making a mistake.
This was the Valentino Rossi of old, the man that many (myself included) feared had disappeared. He had not. A shoulder injury, two years on the Ducati, and then a year to adapt to the Yamaha had merely left him working out how to go fast again, and get back to winning ways. That Rossi was prepared to suffer through the Ducati years, then put in the long, hard hours of work adapting his style to the new realities of MotoGP, changing his approach, learning new skills and putting them to use on track speaks of the hunger Rossi still has for success. Valentino Rossi is unquestionably one of the most talented riders ever to have swung his leg over a motorcycle. But he owed this victory to far more than his talent. Dedication, hard work, ambition, mental toughness: these were the keys to his win at Misano.
The Grand Prix Commission met at Misano to agree a couple of steps on the long road towards creating a single, unified MotoGP class from 2016. The four parties to the GPC agreed that the minimum weight in the MotoGP class would be reduced from 160kg to 158kg, and agreed to freeze development of the software for all Factory Option class bikes from 30th June 2015. From that point on, work will switch to the spec, or unified software, ready for the start of 2016.
The reduction in minimum weights has been under discussion since last year. The weights were originally raised to make it cheaper for manufacturers of CRT machines to reach the minimum weight of a MotoGP machine, with the need to resort to exotic materials. However, with the disappearance of the CRT machines at the beginning of this season, the weight became less of an issue. The Open class bikes which replaced CRTs were much closer to MotoGP prototypes, and as a consequence, were easier to keep light.
Race report and results follow.