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.
The 2014 MotoGP calendar (provisional):
After the test at Valencia, Marc Marquez was asked by journalists what he was going to do over the winter. His answer came back quick as a flash: 'First I will do a lot of interviews.' Marquez was all too keenly aware of the media exposure his championship would bring.
He had already done his first big interview, speaking to journalists last Tuesday in a teleconference organized by the ever-industrious Indianapolis Motor Speedway press office. In the interview, Marquez talks about winning the championship at the first attempt, aggressive riding by himself and by Jorge Lorenzo, what Honda needs to do to improve the 2014 bike, and the mental strength he learned after the eye injury he suffered at Sepang in 2011.
The transcript of the press conference appears below:
2013 RED BULL INDIANAPOLIS GP TELECONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
2013 MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez, Nov. 12, 2013
THE MODERATOR: Welcome, everyone, to the Red Bull Indianapolis GP teleconference. We are very grateful and privileged today to have the new Moto GP World Champion, Marc Marquez, of the Repsol Honda Team. Marc won the title by finishing third Sunday at the Grand Prix of Valencia, edging Jorge Lorenzo by four points. I could spend the next 15 minutes reading off a list of Marc's accomplishments, but I'll try to keep it brief.
A little bit of background. Marc is 20 years old. He's from Spain. He's the youngest premier class World Champion in history. He's the first rookie to win the premier class world title since American legend Kenny Roberts in 1978. Marc won six races this season, a rookie record. One of those wins came in August at the Red Bull Indianapolis GP at IMS, and he finished on the podium in 16 of his 18 starts this year. Marc has won three world championships in the last four seasons. He's won the 125cc title in 2010, the Moto2 title in 2012 and the MotoGP World Championship in 2013. Oh, by the way, he also led testing today. His 2014 season is already underway. He led test today at Valencia.
In part one of our interview with Mike Webb, the MotoGP Race Director talked about the penalty point system and how it had worked in 2013. In the second part, talks about the tire debacle at Phillip Island. Webb explains what the teams were told about the rules and the penalties they would incur, and he discusses the incident on the exit of pit lane between Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo. He explains how Race Direction felt the dry flag-to-flag race went, and whether the situation could be handled any differently.
Webb also explains why penalty points are only handed out at the front of the race, while the battle mid-pack can be much fiercer than anything happening for the lead. Finally, Mike Webb casts an eye on the future, and explains the next steps towards improving safety, and improving communication with the riders.
Q: Phillip Island. First of all, I've seen the sheet of paper that was passed out to all the teams …
Mike Webb: Several sheets of paper, unfortunately. It changed several times, we were forced to. There was Moto2 for a start, that changed several times, and the same situation in MotoGP, where we had a meeting with the tire supplier, and they told us, OK, this is how many laps the tire can safely do, our recommendation from the tire supplier is that how many laps the tire can do, now it's up to you to make a decision on the race. And that information changed, during Saturday and then after Sunday warm up, so we had three different instructions to the teams based on what the tire companies told us their tires were able to do. And the last one was of course after warm up on Sunday, which is a horrible time to change anything. I know I hated that whole thing, but it was forced on us.
Race Director Mike Webb Interview, Part 1: On Penalty Points, Precedent, Jerez, Sepang And Whether Motorcycle Racing Is A Contact Sport
It has been a busy year for MotoGP Race Director Mike Webb. Since taking on the job of ensuring that MotoGP events take place safely and efficiently, stepping into the shoes vacated by Paul Butler at the start of the 2012 season, Webb has faced some tough decisions and unusual situations, his second year in the job even more eventful than the first.
In response to criticism over the warning system in 2012, a new penalty points system was introduced to allow for harsher penalties for persistent offenders. There were several high-profile incidents involving Marc Marquez in his rookie season, including a clash with Jorge Lorenzo at Jerez, a touch which severed the traction control sensor of teammate Dani Pedrosa's Honda and caused Pedrosa to crash, and the situation at Phillip Island, where the new asphalt at the circuit caused the tires to degrade much more than the two spec tire manufacturers had expected, requiring last-minute adjustments to the race schedule on the fly.
We spoke with Mike Webb extensively at Valencia, on the Thursday evening before the race, covering the above subjects and more, and reviewing his second year as Race Director. In the first part of the interview, Webb talks of whether motorcycle racing is a contact sport, how the penalty system has worked out, explains why Marc Marquez was not given points at Jerez, why Jorge Lorenzo wasn't penalized for the touch at Sepang, and of changing perceptions.
Q: You're at the end of your second year in the job of Race Director. Was it easier than the first?
Press releases from the MotoGP teams which stayed on for the third and final day of testing at Valencia:
Marc Marquez has started 2014 the way he finished 2013: as the fastest MotoGP rider in the world. The newly-crowned world champion started the day off quickly and continued to improve, posting a fast time to extend his lead over the rest of the field. Marquez spent his day riding the 2014 prototype, and working on fuel consumption for the Honda RC213V.
Bradley Smith took an impressive second place, though the time he set was in qualifying trim with little fuel in the tank and pushing as hard as he could. He ended just three tenths behind Marquez, and a quarter of a second ahead of Stefan Bradl on the LCR Honda. Dani Pedrosa was 4th fastest, over seven tenths slower than his Repsol Honda teammate, while Alvaro Bautista was the last of the satellite Hondas, just under a second off the time set by Marquez.
2013 Valencia Post-Race Test Day 3 Times 2:30pm - Marquez Leads Smith And Bradl, Espargaro Impresses
Times at 2:30pm:
2013 Valencia Post-Race Test Day 2 Notes: Hayden's Honda, Edwards On The FTR, And The Brothers Espargaro
The track was a lot busier on Tuesday at Valencia, after the halfhearted beginning to MotoGP testing on Monday afternoon. A group of well-rested riders took to the track to get prepared for the 2014 onslaught, and take the first steps on the road to a new season. Some familiar faces, some new faces, but also a couple of new bikes, with the Yamaha FTR machines run by Forward Racing making their debut on the track, and Nicky Hayden getting his first taste of the Honda RCV1000R.
The times set by the brand new Open class bikes hardly set the world on fire, but that was to be expected given the fact that this was the first time either of them had seen serious use in the hands of Grand Prix riders. 'Don't forget that Casey [Stoner] did just five laps in Motegi with that bike,' Honda principal Livio Suppo told me. 'It's really just a first shakedown with the riders.' That point was illustrated by Scott Redding, who has a problem with the wiring loom of the Gresini RCV1000R, and had to wait while they fixed that problem. It was probably for the best, as Redding is still struggling with injuries to his arm and back. The problems is worse in left handers, which Valencia has in abundance. By the end of the long left of Turn 13, the pain had become almost unbearable, Redding said.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the second day of testing at Valencia:
Marc Marquez topped the timesheets on the second day of the MotoGP test at Valencia, the newly-crowned world champion posting a very fast time at the end of the day to open a gap between himself and Jorge Lorenzo. Lorenzo had been closing the gap on Marquez, but in the end, the Repsol Honda man was over two tenths faster than the Yamaha man. Marquez had divided his time between three bikes: the 2013 machine, the 2014 bike as tested at Misano, and a brand new version of the 2014 bike. Lorenzo, in turn, had alternated between 2013 and 2014 versions of the Yamaha M1.
Dani Pedrosa ended the day in 3rd, having spent his time working on electronics for the 2014 bike, though he spent plenty of time on the 2013 machine as well for comparison. Pedrosa headed up the two satellite Hondas, Stefan Bradl close on Pedrosa's time, Alvaro Bautista a fraction further back. Bradley Smith tested the 2013 Yamaha ridden by Cal Crutchlow at the end of the season, the bike with the modified fuel tank. He pronounced the bike a big improvement, and was fast enough to end the test in front of Valentino Rossi. Rossi had spent some time on the 2014 bike, and had spent a lot of his time working on fuel consumption, the drop to 20 liters being a major issue for the Yamaha, and especially for taller and heavier riders such as Rossi.
The Bridgestone press office issued the following press release, detailing the performance of the new hard rear tire the firm brought to Valencia, and their testing plans for the 2014 season:
Valencia MotoGP™ debrief with Shinji Aoki
Monday 11 November 2013
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Extra-soft & Soft. Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main) & Hard (Alternative)
The MotoGP™ season finale at Valencia’s Circuito Ricardo Tormo was an exciting contest, with Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo winning his third consecutive race ahead of Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez. Marquez’s third place was enough to secure the MotoGP™ World Championship title at his first attempt.
In contrast to recent Grands Prix at Valencia, weather conditions on all three days of the race weekend were fine and dry, with track temperatures in the afternoon sessions of around 30°C. The fine weather conditions and a revised tyre allocation from Bridgestone resulted in the pace at Valencia being extremely quick, with new qualifying and race lap records being set, and the overall race time bettering the old record by over thirty seconds.
There is a lot of activity out on track at Valencia, with nineteen riders having lapped since 10am this morning. After four hours of testing, Marc Marquez has the top time, having posted a blistering lap early in the day. Marquez sits ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa, with the two satellite Hondas of Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl just over half a second off the time of Marquez.
Valentino Rossi leads a brace of Yamahas, a cecond behind Marquez and a tenth of a second ahead of Bradley Smith, while Andrea Iannone is once again top Ducati.
Nicky Hayden has made his debut on the Honda production racer, but has as yet only turned 19 laps on the bike, where the others have already done at least twice that. The Forward Yamaha has also made its debut, Aleix Espargaro turning some laps on the FTR-built Yamaha-powered machine. The bike looks very different to the factory Yamaha, despite the chassis, swingarm and engine coming from the factory bike.
Times at 2pm:
2013 Valencia Post-Race Test Day 1 Round Up: Rossi's New Crew Chief, Crutchlow's Strong Debut, And Gigi Dall'Igna On Ducati's Future
Having a test on the Monday after the last race of the season is a rather cruel punishment for the MotoGP riders. The Sunday night after Valencia is usually a rather festive affair, with teams holding parties to mark either the departure of one rider, the arrival of a new one, celebrating success or drowning their sorrows. For those 'lucky' enough to go to the FIM Gala awards, a stately and formal affair, there is also the need to blow off some steam afterwards, riders never very good at sitting still for a couple of hours while official presentations are made. Most people in the paddock are usually a little worse for wear on Monday morning.
Several years ago, the riders were given respite on Monday as journalists were allowed to ride the bikes, but as technology and tires have moved on, just getting the tires to work requires the kind of commitment and riding talent sorely lacking among the denizens of the media center (though they would only admit it under severe torture). Tired of spending many thousands of euros to repair the damage done after the inevitable crashes, that idea was abandoned, freeing up the Monday testing slot. The last couple of years, it was filled by the Moto2 and Moto3 tests, but a single day was not much use, and so the Moto2 and Moto3 teams will now test separately.
So the start of testing saw quite a few bleary-eyed riders turn up for work on Monday afternoon, the test supposed to start at noon. Though the track was clear, and the weather was perfect - warm, dry, with thin clouds preventing the track temperatures from going sky high - much of the action was confined to pit lane, where hordes of reporters thronged around the Ducati, Gresini and Tech 3 garages, where Cal Crutchlow, Scott Redding and Pol Espargaro were due to make their debut. There was also plenty of ogling at Yamaha's 2014 machine, though there were virtually no discernible differences between it and the 2013 bike it replaces. MotoGP bikes tend to change in small evolutionary increments - a different frame wall thickness here, a weld moved a couple of millimeters there, or even more intangible, the invisible world of bits and bytes that control so much of MotoGP performance nowadays - so of the thirty of forty people milling around Jorge Lorenzo's 2014 bike, there may only have been two or three which could genuinely spot the differences. I was not one of them.