MotoGP

2014 Sepang Friday Round Up: A Starring Role For The Weather

If you wanted a demonstration of just why the weather at Sepang can play such a decisive factor, you need look no further than MotoGP FP2. Fifteen minutes before the MotoGP bikes were set to take to the track, the Moto3 machines were finishing their second free practice session in sunshine and sweltering heat. But a couple of minutes before MotoGP FP2 was meant to start, the heavens opened, producing a deluge that had first-time visitors to Malaysia hunting around for gopher wood with which to build a boat.

The downpour covered the track in several centimeters of standing water, making it impossible to ride. The session was delayed for twenty five minutes, starting after the rain had nearly eased up completely. Once the session got underway, the weather cleared up completely, the last ten minutes taking place in glorious sunshine once again.

The changes in the weather had a dramatic effect on the state of the track. It went from being fully wet, with water everywhere, to having just a thin layer of rainwater on it at the halfway mark, to being dry at most of the corners around the track once the session ended. Full wets were essential at the start of the session, but forty five minutes later, slicks were starting to become a viable option.

2014 Sepang MotoGP Friday Post-Practice Press Releases

Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after the first day of practice at Sepang:

Round Number: 
17
Year: 
2014

2014 Sepang MotoGP FP2: Lorenzo Dominates Rain-Hit Session

Jorge Lorenzo has lead the way during a rain-affected MotoGP FP2 at Sepang; the session was initially delayed by twenty five minutes due to a torrential downpour that fell at the conclusion of Moto3 FP2 as the circuit was blanketed in thick cloud. Once the rain halted the wind picked up and managed to sweep the track and quickly dry it out enough for the riders to emerge from the pit lane. Lorenzo circulated with impressive consistency and ended up at the top of the time sheets, his benchmark time was some thirteen seconds slower than the pace set in the morning's opening practice despite the track drying considerably by the end of the session.

2014 Sepang MotoGP Preview: The End Of MotoGP's Asian Peregrinations Beckon In The Sweltering Sepang Heat

Another week, another 8 hour flight, another race track. Sepang comes as the last of three grueling weekends chasing around the Pacific Ocean to race in Japan, Australia, and now Malaysia. Even from the comfort of my European home (I lack the funds and, to a lesser extent, the inclination to pursue the paddock halfway around the world), it has been a tough schedule, and the riders and team members I have spoken to about it are all just about ready to come home. Nearly a month away from home, sharing flights, hire cars and hotel rooms can be grating even for the best of friends. Add in the stresses and tensions of Grand Prix motorcycle racing, and a lot of people are gritting their teeth and doing their best not to punch the people they work with. Some will even make it home without doing so.

The final leg of MotoGP's odyssey sees the circus travel from Phillip Island, nearly halfway to the South Pole, to Sepang, not far north of the equator. Yet though they are a quarter of a world away, the two have one thing in common: weather. The actual conditions may be different, the cold, changeable climate of Phillip Island a far cry from the sweltering heat of Malaysia, but at both tracks, the weather plays a much greater role in the proceedings than at other tracks. Judging conditions, and preparing for them, is crucial.

If anything, putting Sepang at the end of the trio of flyaways is a difficult decision. The heat and intense humidity at the track makes it the most physically demanding of the three races. Severe dehydration lies waiting for the unwary or the out of shape, if they do not drink enough to recover the fluids lost through sweat and exertion. This is a race which richly deserves its reputation as the most punishing of the year.

2015 MotoGP Provisional Entry List Announced - No Surprises, But Still No Second Aprilia Rider

Along with the Moto3 and Moto2 entry lists, the FIM announced the provisional entry list for MotoGP for the 2015 season. The list contains no surprises, all the signings already announced. 

It does, however, contain two question marks, one large, one small. The large one is whether Marco Melandri will be joining Alvaro Bautista in the Gresini Aprilia squad next season, or whether he will stay on in World Superbikes for another year. Melandri is believed to be wary of the Aprilia MotoGP project, given the lack of competitiveness of the bike. For 2016, a new and greatly revised bike is expected, built specifically for MotoGP, rather than the modified RSV4 which they are currently racing. Melandri may be holding out for a year to assess the competitiveness of a new bike. However, if Aprilia do not back any teams in WSBK next year, then Melandri may find that his hand is being forced. No doubt that situation will finally be resolved next week, at the last round of World Superbikes at Qatar.

2014 Sepang MotoGP Preview Press Releases

Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone previewing this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang:

Round Number: 
17
Year: 
2014

Bridgestone Press Release - Shinji Aoki Reflects On Tough Climatic Conditions At Phillip Island

As usual after each race, Bridgestone issued a press release containing a debrief with one of their senior engineers, reviewing how their tires performed at the previous weekend. Given the events during the race at Phillip Island, this press release will be eagerly awaited in some quarters. In it, Shinji Aoki discusses the difficult weather conditions during the race, especially with the cooling temperatures, the performance of their rear tires at the track, and how the cold affected the asymmetric front tire Bridgestone brought to the circuit. There is no discussion of Jorge Lorenzo's front tire, though a Bridgestone spokesman did issue a response to our colleages over at the Bikesportnews.com website.


Australian MotoGP™ debrief with Shinji Aoki
Tuesday, October 21 2014

Bridgestone slick compounds available:
Front: Extra-soft & Soft (Symmetric) & Soft (Asymmetric). Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main) & Hard (Alternative)

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi won a dramatic Australian Grand Prix last Sunday, leading a Yamaha sweep of the podium in a race where rapidly cooling temperatures created challenging conditions for the riders.

After a warm start to the day, a cool change in the afternoon saw cool winds lower ambient and track temperatures for the race, with the peak track temperature recording of 34°C recorded at the start of the twenty-seven lap race. This year’s Australian Grand Prix saw Bridgestone bring a whole new range of asymmetric rear slick tyres to meet the severe demands of the recently repaved Phillip Island circuit, as well as a newly-developed asymmetric front slick – the first time Bridgestone has offered this technology to MotoGP™ riders.

Round Number: 
16
Year: 
2014

Scott Jones On The Island: Race Day Photos From Australia


Attack vector: Rossi about to try to pass Lorenzo at MG


The new Cal Crutchlow is a completely different kettle of fish to the old one


After faltering in the last few races, Jack Miller got it perfectly right at home

2014 Phillip Island Sunday Round Up: Why The MotoGP Race Was Not A Tire Fiasco, And Rossi Reaps Rewards

Once again, a MotoGP race at Phillip Island is decided by tires. The tires Bridgestone brought to the Australian circuit were not up to the task, with riders crashing out all throughout the race. The front tires Bridgestone brought to the track were unable to cope with the conditions. The result was determined by tires, not by talent.

That, at least, is the narrative being heard around the internet after the bizarre yet fascinating MotoGP race at Phillip Island. It is an attractive narrative – a nice, simple explanation for what happened in Australia – but it is fundamentally flawed. The tire situation was complicated, certainly. Jorge Lorenzo's front tire showed very severe degradation, more than would normally be explained by the expected wear. Several riders crashed out on the asymmetric front tire Bridgestone brought. But to lay the blame entirely on Bridgestone is quite wrong.

The problems at Phillip Island are inherent to the track, and were exacerbated by changes made to suit European TV schedules. Phillip Island, like Assen, is a track which places peculiar demands on tires. It features a lot of very fast left-hand corners, with only a few right handers, two of which are the slowest corners on the track. It is located next to the Bass Strait, a freezing stretch of water connected to the globe-spanning Southern Ocean, which means the weather is highly changeable. Temperatures dropped during the race by as much as 9°C, probably a result of Dorna insisting on running the race at 4pm local time (the late afternoon) to hit a 7am TV slot in their main markets of Spain and Italy. That time will draw a bigger audience than the 5am slot a 2pm race start would fill. But to locals, racing at 4pm at this time of the year is madness.

2014 Phillip Island MotoGP Sunday Post-Race Press Releases

Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after an incident-packed Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island:

Round Number: 
16
Year: 
2014

2014 MotoGP Championship Standings After Round 16, Phillip Island, Australia

MotoGP Championship standings for round 16, 2014

2014 Phillip Island MotoGP WUP: Repsol Honda Duo Top Warm Up

Marc Marquez has topped the final MotoGP pre-race hit out at Phillip Island with a time of 1:29.871, he topped the time sheets for the morning Warm Up and edged out his team mate Dani Pedrosa by two hundredths of a second. Jorge Lorenzo and Iannone also ended the session less than a tenth of a second behind Marquez while Valentino Rossi was a further tenth behind, the top eleven riders down to Stefan Bradl were split by less than half of a second. 

Some riders practiced flag-to-flag bike swaps throughout as a dark gray cloud cover blanketed the circuit, it meant for humid suffocating conditions however this was more carried out as a precaution, no rain is forecast for later this afternoon. 

Results:

2014 Phillip Island Saturday Round Up: The Rufea Team's Front Row Sweep, Winning Attitude, And The Secret Of Riding The Ducati

The three men on pole for Sunday's Australian Grand Prix have a lot in common. One is already champion in MotoGP, another could become champion on Sunday, the other looks to have taken control of the Moto3 title chase in the past few races. The MotoGP and Moto3 pole sitters are brothers, and the man on pole for Moto2 is a good friend of the brothers. Most importantly, perhaps, all three train together.

The "Rufea Team", as they are known to the Spanish media and among themselves, spend long days pushing each other hard at the dirt track oval in Rufea, a small parish outside of Lleida in Spain. Moto2 championship leader Tito Rabat doesn't spend as much time there as the Marquez brothers Marc and Alex, as he is mainly based in Almeria, where he spends his days whittling away the circuit record. But when he does go, the three go all out for glory, even though they are only racing among themselves, and in front of a couple of friends, and maybe the Marquez brothers' father Julià.

Is it coincidence that the trio should find themselves leading their respective championships? Marc Marquez has already proved his talent, by wrapping up four world championships, including three in a row. Tito Rabat has grown enormously as a rider after switching to the Marc VDS Racing team, and stepping out of the shadow of Pol Espargaro at Pons. Alex Marquez already proved himself in the Spanish championship, got up to speed in Moto3 last year, and is proving to be the steadiest of the Moto3 riders.

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