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2015 MotoGP Provisional Calendar Released: 18 Races, No Brazil

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 series then heads to Europe, and an almost identical schedule through to the summer break. After a four-week break, MotoGP returns at Indianapolis on 9th August, before returning to Brno the week after. From Brno, the series heads to Donington, the only major change on the calendar, after the British GP was switched from Silverstone. The remaining races are in the same sequence, and at the same time as this year, the series heading to Misano and Aragon, before the three flyaways to Motegi, Phillip Island and Sepang. The 2015 season then wraps up at Valencia, on 8th November.

The big name missing from the calendar is Brazil. MotoGP had been hoping to add a Brazilian round of the series for next season, and had been speaking to the Autodromo Ayrton Senna at Goiania. However, the track is not ready to host a MotoGP race, and in the aftermath of the World Cup in 2014, and with the Olympics in 2016, there is little leeway to spend the money upgrading the circuit to get it up to MotoGP standard.

The released calendar is still provisional, though few changes are likely. There are question marks over the date of the British GP, as 30th August is a Bank Holiday weekend, with Monday 31st an official holiday. This means that there are a lot of events that weekend, with all of them competing for resources such as security, temporary fencing, etc. However, moving the British GP to a week earlier would put three races back to back, something which the series would not be keen on.

Below is the provisional calendar

Date Grand Prix Circuit
29 March Qatar* Doha/Losail
12 April Americas Austin
19 April Argentina Termas del Rio Hondo
03 May Spain Jerez de la Frontera
17 May France Le Mans
31 May Italy Mugello
14 June Catalunya Catalunya - Barcelona
27 June Netherlands** Assen
12 July Germany Sachsenring
09 August Indianapolis Indianapolis
16 August Czech Republic Brno
30 August Great Britain Donington
13 September San Marino & Riviera di Rimini Marco Simoncelli Misano
27 September Aragon MotorLand Aragon
11 October Japan Motegi
18 October Australia Philip Island
25 October Malaysia Sepang
08 November Valencia Ricardo Tormo-Valencia
* Evening Race
** Saturday Race
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.

Alex Lowes To Stay With Voltcom Suzuki In World Superbikes For 2015

Alex Lowes has extended his contract with the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki team for another season. The 24-year-old Englishman is to stay in World Superbikes for 2015, where he will race the GSX-R1000.

Lowes' decision brings an end to rumors that the Englishman was set to join his brother in the Grand Prix paddock. Lowes had explored a number of options in Moto2, but none stacked up against remaining with the Voltcom Suzuki team in WSBK.

Who Lowes' teammate will be is uncertain. With Eugene Laverty set to move to MotoGP with the Aspar team, there is an empty seat in the team. The departure of Aprilia from WSBK puts a number or riders on the market, with Leon Camier and Loris Baz the top riders still without a ride

The press release from Suzuki announcing the re-signing of Lowes appears below:


LOWES RE-SIGNS FOR VOLTCOM CRESCENT SUZUKI

Team Suzuki Press Office – September 25.

Alex Lowes will continue his partnership with Voltcom Crescent Suzuki for the 2015 eni FIM Superbike World Championship season.

Lowes is confident his progression with the Suzuki GSX-R will allow him to become a consistent front-runner during his second season in the Championship and the British racer is eager to return to the tracks he has been learning as part of his apprenticeship year.

Extending his contract with Voltcom Crescent Suzuki for a further 12 months, Lowes will remain with the team until December 2015, and will be back in action on his GSX-R1000 next week at Magny-Cours in France for the penultimate round of the 2014 Championship.

Despite a rocky start to his rookie year aboard the Yoshimura-powered GSX-R1000 - fracturing his left foot during the season’s opening qualifying sessions at Phillip Island in Australia – the reigning BSB Champion has developed well on the World stage, demonstrating huge speed and achieving two podiums and two fastest-laps in 2014 so far with four races left to run.

Alex Lowes:

“My first year with Voltcom Crescent Suzuki in the World Championship hasn’t always been easy but overall it’s been great! You learn a lot about yourself and the team when things don't quite go right and now at this stage of the year we know exactly where we need to improve, both on and off track. I'm really enjoying my riding again after some injuries early in the year and looking forward to continuing my improvement and being more consistent in 2015.

“The World Superbike Championship is a fantastic series to race in, it's been great to race at so many new tracks but it has also meant I've had a lot to learn! My second year will allow me the opportunity to continue my development with the benefit of a year’s experience, so I’m really looking forward to the next stage in my career.

“I want to say a huge thank you to the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki team and all the sponsors and partners for their continued faith in me, bringing me up from BSB Champion to the World level and continuing that support into my second year as a World Championship racer. I’m confident we can challenge at the front with the Suzuki GSX-R next year and will be aiming, as ever, to achieve my very best for all involved.”

Paul Denning –Team Manager:

“There have been a lot of challenges for Alex this year; new Championship, new team, new bike, new tracks, and learning the electronic control strategies used at World level. It’s not easy to jump straight-in from a domestic series and be competitive, but Alex has clearly shown his raw speed, determination and understanding of what’s needed to run with the fastest riders.

“Alex’s most important attribute in terms of our decision to extend the contract is simple – he is blindingly fast. The second year together will allow us to make better decisions, improve consistency and to understand what’s needed circuit-to-circuit to achieve the best performance. In some cases, that might mean settling for a result that is below our target but is the best that can be achieved on the day; and that approach will come with time and experience. However, when the opportunity is there; we need a rider who can win – and Alex fits that bill perfectly.”

Alex Lowes has extended his contract with the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki team for another season. The 24-year-old Englishman is to stay in World Superbikes for 2015, where he will race the GSX-R1000.Lowes' decision brings an end to rumors that the Englishman was set to join his brother in the Grand Prix paddock. Lowes had explored a number of options in Moto2, but none stacked up against remaining with the Voltcom Suzuki team in WSBK.Who Lowes' teammate will be is uncertain. With Eugene Laverty set to move to MotoGP with the Aspar team, there is an empty seat in the team. The departure of Aprilia from WSBK puts a number or riders on the market, with Leon Camier and Loris Baz the top riders still without a rideThe press release from Suzuki announcing the re-signing of Lowes appears below:LOWES RE-SIGNS FOR VOLTCOM CRESCENT SUZUKITeam Suzuki Press Office – September 25.Alex Lowes will continue his partnership with Voltcom Crescent Suzuki for the 2015 eni FIM Superbike World Championship season.Lowes is confident his progression with the Suzuki GSX-R will allow him to become a consistent front-runner during his second season in the Championship and the British racer is eager to return to the tracks he has been learning as part of his apprenticeship year.

Gresini To Switch To Honda In Moto3 For 2015 With Bastianini and Locatelli

The Gresini team may have abandoned Honda in the MotoGP class, but they have not left the Japanese manufacturer altogether. Today, the Italian team announced that they will be switching from KTM to Honda in the Moto3 championship. They will be keeping Enea Bastianini as their main rider, while Andrea Locatelli replaces Niccolo Antonelli on the second bike.

The switch to Honda comes with the encouragement from HRC. Honda is keen to bring Bastianini under their wing, the 16-year-old Italian having had a fantastic debut season in Moto3, scoring three podiums so far this year, living up to his nickname of 'Bestia', or The Beast. Gresini has signed a two-year deal with Bastianini, with an option to move him up to Moto2 for 2016.

The press release announcing the deal makes no further mention of Go&Fun, suggesting that the sponsorship deal with the Italian manufacturer of energy drinks will end not just in MotoGP, but in all three classes.

The announcement by Gresini is likely to be just the first of many this weekend, with the Moto2 and Moto3 entry lists due out this weekend. Below is the text of the press release from Gresini:


GRESINI RACING TO RACE IN THE 2015 MOTO3 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP WITH HONDA AND AN ALL ITALIAN LINE-UP

Gresini Racing's commitment to support young Italian talents in the Moto3 World Championship will continue in the 2015 season with Honda machinery and an all Italian line-up, composed by Enea Bastianini and Andrea Locatelli.

Brought to debut this year by Gresini Racing, 16-year-old Bastianini turned out to be the great surprise of the season thanks to the three podium finishes claimed at Barcelona, Brno and Silverstone. Results which has attracted the interest of Honda, which will be Gresini Racing’s technical partner for the 2015 Moto3 campaign. The two-year contract with Enea Bastianini represents a long-term strategy, with a possible transition to a higher category in 2016.

Alongside Bastianini there will be 17-year-old Andrea Locatelli: the rider from Bergamo, grew up as part of the Honda Italia Racing Project and 2013 Moto3 Italian Champion, is currently racing his first season in the Moto3 World Championship aboard a Mahindra managed by Team Italia FMI.

ENEA BASTIANINI

“I am delighted to continue to race for Gresini Racing: already at the beginning of the year I became convinced to stay here for the future, because I found myself immediately at ease. I’m having fun and I can work well together my technicians and my mechanics: this is also a factor that makes the difference. In 2015 I will be aboard a Honda and to race for such an important manufacturer is undoubtedly exciting; moreover, the bike is already proving to be very competitive and there is every reason to think that it will be even faster next season. My debut season in the World Championship is going particularly well, more than I expected: I can say that I’m getting used to fight at the top, however we keep our feet on the ground. The goal for 2015 is obviously to continue to improve, although in some ways we will start again from scratch”.

ANDREA LOCATELLI

“I’m very happy to continue my experience in the Moto3 World Championship with Gresini Racing: 2014 is representing for me an important year of apprenticeship and to be able to continue my path in one of the best teams in the class will surely help me to take a step forward. I will race with a Honda, a very competitive bike, so there is every requirement to do well and of course I will give my best in order to succeed. This year I did’nt know most of the tracks and I have collected a lot of experience that will be valuable ahead of the 2015 campaign. However, I don’t want to say too much before the first test, but it would be nice to start the next season with the right foot”.

FAUSTO GRESINI

“I’m pleased to have defined our young riders development project for next year and to continue in the Moto3 class, which we consider essential to breed future champions. Bastianini, great revelation of this year and our great discovery, will be again with us: with Enea we decided to plan a long-term commitment, over two seasons. Depending on the results, we will choose in which category to participate in the 2016 season. Andrea Locatelli is a rider we already know from the Italia Honda Racing Project trophy and whom I respect very much: we see in him a good potential to work on, so we decided to give him this important opportunity. Finally, we decided together with the riders to choose Honda as a technical partner for 2015: we are obviously confident and happy to be able to count on this great manufacturer for our young riders development project”.

The Gresini team may have abandoned Honda in the MotoGP class, but they have not left the Japanese manufacturer altogether. Today, the Italian team announced that they will be switching from KTM to Honda in the Moto3 championship. They will be keeping Enea Bastianini as their main rider, while Andrea Locatelli replaces Niccolo Antonelli on the second bike.The switch to Honda comes with the encouragement from HRC. Honda is keen to bring Bastianini under their wing, the 16-year-old Italian having had a fantastic debut season in Moto3, scoring three podiums so far this year, living up to his nickname of 'Bestia', or The Beast. Gresini has signed a two-year deal with Bastianini, with an option to move him up to Moto2 for 2016.The press release announcing the deal makes no further mention of Go&Fun, suggesting that the sponsorship deal with the Italian manufacturer of energy drinks will end not just in MotoGP, but in all three classes.

Americans Return To MotoGP: Nicky Hayden Back In Action In Aragon, Kenny Noyes To Race in Moto2?

Nicky Hayden is to get back to action after four races away recovering from surgery. The American had an operation to remove a row of bones in his right hand after the Sachsenring round of MotoGP, to deal with a chronic problem of pain and arthritis in his wrist. That problem stemmed from an injury he picked up back in 2011 at Valencia, his wrist, and especially his scaphoid, never fully healing again afterwards. Hayden had the scaphoid and two other bones removed, to prevent them from causing further problems.

Such a drastic surgical procedure required a long recovery time, Hayden having been absent from the MotoGP paddock for over two months. But his recovery has been progressing well, with strength and motion returning. Hayden has spent a lot of time riding dirt track, to get back the feel of racing a motorcycle, and now feels fit enough to attempt to ride a MotoGP bike again. The differences between riding dirt track and a MotoGP bike are large, and will show whether Hayden's wrist is strong enough yet or not. The American's aim at the moment is just to get the feel of riding a MotoGP bike again, and test his wrist. With three races back-to-back coming up after Aragon, it is a sensible precaution to try his wrist first, with time for it to recover afterwards.

The return of Hayden means that there will once again be an American on the GP grid. With Hayden absent, Josh Herrin having lost his Moto2 ride at the Caterham team, a 12-year string of races with at least one American on the grid starts came to an end. Hayden's return marks the start of a new streak, with news emerging that a second US rider will be on the grid at Aragon. The Teluru JiR Team hinted on their Twitter account that they will have an American rider replacing the injured Tetsuta Nagashima at Aragon. They then went on to thank Palmeto Kawasaki, who run the Kawasaki team in the Spanish CEV Superbike championship. Palmeto have three riders: The Venezuelan Robertino Pietri, the Spaniard Lucas De Ulacia, and the American Kenny Noyes. That suggests that Noyes will be back in action on a Moto2 machine, after an absence of three years. Noyes is currently involved in close, three-way battle for the championship in the CEV, but the dates of that series do not clash with the MotoGP calendar. Whether that means that Noyes will be replacing Nagashima for the rest of the season remains to be seen, though the fact that he spent 2 years in the class, scoring a pole position in the process, makes him an obvious choice.

Below is the press release from Aspar on Hayden's return:


Nicky Hayden excited to return to MotoGP action

DRIVE M7 Aspar returns after four-race absence and hopes to quickly recover strength and speed

The MotoGP World Championship returns to Spain for the third time this season this weekend as the final round on European soil before the season-defining flyaway races takes place at Motorland, Aragon. Motorland is one of the 'newest' additions to the calendar and also one of the most challenging, with virtually every kind of corner and two long straights packed into its 5km layout. After victory for Valentino Rossi at Misano last time out, Jorge Lorenzo is the only rider in the top four yet to win a race this season so he will be looking to put that right on Sunday, whilst Marc Márquez cannot win the title on home soil this weekend after failing to make the podium for the first time this season at the San Marino round.

The paddock will be pleased to welcome back one of its most charismatic figures as DRIVE M7 Aspar Team rider Nicky Hayden returns from a four-race absence. The American underwent surgery on his right wrist in July but he has undergone an intense recovery programme and after riding some dirt-track in recent weeks he feels ready to test himself on his MotoGP bike again at a circuit where he stood on the podium in 2010. His DRIVE M7 Aspar team-mate Hiroshi Aoyama has been one of the most consistent riders in 2014 and after making some solid recent progress the Japanese rider is aiming to maintain this trend until the end of the season.

Nicky Hayden: “I am really happy to finally return to action this weekend. Racing motorcycles is not only my job but my passion and it hasn't been easy for me to miss so many races. I just focused on getting back as quickly as possible but riding a MotoGP is not something you can test your fitness for until you try it. I have been riding quite a bit of dirt-track lately but I can't say for sure how strong I am so I am looking forward to getting on the bike and seeing the results of the operation. At the moment I don't want to set any objectives other than to get back out there and see how I feel. I am looking forward to seeing the team again and I can't wait to get back to the serious work on Friday. My arm and wrist feel quite strong and the movement has improved. I didn't want to come back until I knew I had done everything I could to recover and I am happy with the result. I managed to get on the podium the first year we raced at Motorland, I quite like the circuit and it has some fun corners.”

Hiroshi Aoyama: “I am excited about racing at Aragón this weekend. There are only five races left this season and I want a good result from each of them - especially Motorland because it comes directly before my home Grand Prix in Japan so I want to go there in good form. Aragón is also an important race for the team because it is one of their home races. Motorland is a cool circuit, I guess the long straight will penalise us in respect to some of our rivals but the rest of the track should suit our bike. Misano didn't go as well as we hoped but we are making decent progress at the moment and hopefully we can continue to do so this weekend.”

Nicky Hayden is to get back to action after four races away recovering from surgery. The American had an operation to remove a row of bones in his right hand after the Sachsenring round of MotoGP, to deal with a chronic problem of pain and arthritis in his wrist. That problem stemmed from an injury he picked up back in 2011 at Valencia, his wrist, and especially his scaphoid, never fully healing again afterwards. Hayden had the scaphoid and two other bones removed, to prevent them from causing further problems.Such a drastic surgical procedure required a long recovery time, Hayden having been absent from the MotoGP paddock for over two months. But his recovery has been progressing well, with strength and motion returning. Hayden has spent a lot of time riding dirt track, to get back the feel of racing a motorcycle, and now feels fit enough to attempt to ride a MotoGP bike again. The differences between riding dirt track and a MotoGP bike are large, and will show whether Hayden's wrist is strong enough yet or not. The American's aim at the moment is just to get the feel of riding a MotoGP bike again, and test his wrist. With three races back-to-back coming up after Aragon, it is a sensible precaution to try his wrist first, with time for it to recover afterwards.

WSS Champion Michael Van Der Mark To Race In World Superbikes For Next Two Seasons

Michael van der Mark will be moving up to the World Superbike class for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. The move had been widely expected, after the 22-year-old Dutchman had shown a very strong progression in his second World Supersport season, culminating in clinching the title with a thrilling at the last round in Jerez.

Van der Mark is to stay with the Ten Kate team, who recognized his talent early and supported him throughout his European Superstock 600 and World Supersport career, putting him on the CBR1000RR in the Pata Honda WSBK squad. Though Van der Mark will be staying with the team, his contract is now directly with Honda, rather than with Ten Kate. The deal with Honda is a three-year one, with Van der Mark aiming to make the move to MotoGP after two seasons in World Superbikes with Pata Honda.

The Dutchman will be taking the place of the departing Jonathan Rea in the Pata Honda team. Though Rea had come close to signing a deal in the MotoGP paddock, where he had several offers, the 27-year-old is to make the switch to the Kawasaki team, where he will attempt to dethrone his new teammate and World Superbike champion Tom Sykes. The second slot in the Pata Honda team will be taken by Sylvain Guintoli.

Below is the press release issued by the Pata Honda team:


Two years of World Superbike for van der Mark and Honda

Honda's new World Supersport champion Michael van der Mark has signed a two-year agreement to race with the Pata Honda team in the World Superbike championship in 2015 and 2016.

The 21-year-old, who secured the 2014 World Supersport series title with two rounds to spare on 7 September in Jerez in Spain, will ride the Pata Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP from next season. It was confirmed on Friday 19 September that Pata will be with Honda for further two years in the World Superbike championship.

Although he has raced on Honda’s CBR600RR for four years - winning the European Superstock 600 championship in 2012 before stepping up to World Supersport last season - van der Mark is no stranger to Honda’s 1000cc flagship sportsbike.

The Dutch rider has won the last two editions of the prestigious Suzuka 8-hours World Endurance championship race in Japan, impressing many with his outright pace on the larger machine.

Van der Mark still has two rounds remaining in this year’s World Supersport championship at Magny-Cours, France on 5 October and at Losail in Qatar on 2 November. However, the team’s testing schedule and the calendar for the 2015 World Superbike championship are yet to be announced.

Michael van der Mark
Date of birth 26 October 1992
Place of birth Gouda, Netherlands
Home town Rotterdam, Netherlands
Race number 60
2015 race machine Pata Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP
First race 2005 - Assen, Netherlands, Dutch Jr. Cup
World Supersport debut 2012 - Moscow, Russia (wildcard)
World Supersport races 20
First World Supersport podium 2013 - Phillip Island, Australia
Total World Supersport podiums 11
First World Supersport win 2014 - Assen, the Netherlands
Total World Supersport wins 5
 
Career Highlights
2005 4th, Dutch Junior Cup - Aprilia
2006 2nd, Dutch Junior Cup - Aprilia
2007 2nd, ONK Dutch 125cc championship - Honda
2008 ONK Dutch 125cc champion - Honda
  3rd, IDM 125cc championship - Honda
  Selected CEV Spanish championship - Honda
  26th, Dutch 125cc GP - Honda
2009 ONK Dutch 125cc champion - Honda
  Selected CEV Spanish championship - Honda
  18th, Dutch 125cc GP - Honda
2010 125cc Grands Prix - Lambretta
  7th, Dutch 125cc GP
  Debut, European Superstock 600 championship - Honda
2011 3rd, European STK 600 championship - Honda
  Wildcard - Moto2 GP, Assen
2012 European Superstock 600 champion - Honda
2013 Winner, Suzuka 8-hours - Honda
  4th, World Supersport championship - Honda
2014 Winner, Suzuka 8-hours - Honda
  World Supersport Champion - Honda

Michael van der Mark

I’m really, really happy with this next step. It’s been going in two-year stages for me with the team, so this next stage in World Superbikes is fantastic and really exciting. It’s a good and safe place to be with Honda for 2015 and 2016. I’ve had a great experience with this team for the last two years and there was never really any question that I would be going anywhere else. World Superbikes in 2015 is going to be really interesting – there are new technical regulations and I think there will be a few surprises next year. Although the electronics will be a big change for me, I have shown that I can ride a superbike and now I really can’t wait to get started.

Ronald ten Kate - team manager

In a way, I’m a little sad that we have to let Michael go from his contract with Ten Kate Racing for 2015. But in reality, I am absolutely happy and proud that he has been given this fantastic opportunity with Honda. There is now a clear plan and vision to grow his impressive talent in the future. We have been working with Michael now for four years – two in Superstock 600 and two in World Supersport – so this next step for him feels completely natural. He fully deserves this chance and we are all looking forward to taking these next steps together with him.

Robert Watherston - head of motorsports, Honda Europe

We are absolutely delighted that Michael has found his niche with Honda. He has gelled with the CBR range from day one in European Superstock where he became champion in 2012. Now he has a world title with Honda and the CBR600RR and we’re looking forward to the next two-year cycle as we target our common goal of another world championship together.

Michael van der Mark will be moving up to the World Superbike class for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. The move had been widely expected, after the 22-year-old Dutchman had shown a very strong progression in his second World Supersport season, culminating in clinching the title with a thrilling at the last round in Jerez.Van der Mark is to stay with the Ten Kate team, who recognized his talent early and supported him throughout his European Superstock 600 and World Supersport career, putting him on the CBR1000RR in the Pata Honda WSBK squad. Though Van der Mark will be staying with the team, his contract is now directly with Honda, rather than with Ten Kate. The deal with Honda is a three-year one, with Van der Mark aiming to make the move to MotoGP after two seasons in World Superbikes with Pata Honda.The Dutchman will be taking the place of the departing Jonathan Rea in the Pata Honda team. Though Rea had come close to signing a deal in the MotoGP paddock, where he had several offers, the 27-year-old is to make the switch to the Kawasaki team, where he will attempt to dethrone his new teammate and World Superbike champion Tom Sykes. The second slot in the Pata Honda team will be taken by Sylvain Guintoli.Below is the press release issued by the Pata Honda team:Two years of World Superbike for van der Mark and Honda

KTM Confirms MotoGP Entry For 2017

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.

The entry of KTM to MotoGP will bring the number of manufacturers in MotoGP up to six, with Suzuki and Aprilia set to join from next year. However, unlike the other manufacturers, there will be no KTM factory team, as the bike KTM are building is a pure production racer for sale only. The MotoGP machine will be much more powerful version of a track-only bike to be sold to wealthy private individuals. Where the MotoGP machine will cost around €1 million euros, the track bike will go for some €150,000-200,000.

Though the idea of selling a track version of their bike is an interesting one, only choosing to sell the bike to teams is a risky strategy. The problem KTM will face is finding customers for a machine that has not been proven in the hands of an existing rider. By 2017, the teams will not be short of competitive machinery. Next year, in addition to the sixteen Factory Option bikes (four Hondas, four Yamahas, four Ducatis, two Aprilias and two Suzukis), there will be eight Open class bikes, consisting of four Honda RC213V-RS machines in the Aspar, LCR and Cardion AB teams, two Forward Yamahas in the NGM Forward team, and two Open Ducati GP14s in the Avintia squad. In 2016, when the distinction between the two classes disappears, the factories are likely to provide year-old versions of their current bikes to the private teams at around the €1 million a year mark, though the bikes will be leased rather than sold. By then, all of the bikes sold to private teams should be fairly competitive, and be capable of mixing it with the satellite bikes on any given day.

Persuading one of the private teams to choose a KTM over a year-old Honda could be very difficult indeed. KTM will need some way of proving that the bike is competitive. The normal way of doing so is to compete as a factory team, but KTM have said explicitly they are not interested in doing so. That makes financial sense, as the cost of competing as a factory is huge, and the returns uncertain. Private teams are incredibly conservative and unwilling to take risks, as the fact that the Moto2 class is on the verge of becoming a de facto single-make series proves. Teams and riders would prefer to stick with something they know, or something ridden by others, than take a chance on something altogether new.

There will also not be any new teams coming into the class to sell the bike to. Dorna and IRTA believe the ideal size for the MotoGP grid is 22 bikes. This number is predicated in part by talent: the number of teams capable of putting a bike on the grid which can compete at the highest level, and the number of riders capable of racing competitively in the premier class. But it is also a question of money: each team on the grid receives free tires from the single tire manufacturer, a freight allowance for transporting equipment to the overseas rounds, and financial support in the form of travel allowance, to help with the logisticial cost of competing in MotoGP. The total financial support is equivalent to around €1.7 million per rider, per season. Unless Dorna can increase the revenue they generate from the sport, they cannot afford to subsidize more teams in MotoGP. So far, Dorna have been singularly unsuccessful at drastically increasing income for the series.

Whether KTM can attract customers for their MotoGP bikes or not, the fact that the bike is being tested for MotoGP will at least create the halo effect necessary for selling the track-only bikes to the wealthy clientele they are targeting. The fact that the bike has been developed for MotoGP but is not racing in the series may even be a marketing benefit. Not racing at all may be better for sales than racing around at the back. Unproven potential may be more marketable than a lack of success at the track, especially with halo products such as a track-only sports bike.

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.

Official At Last: Jack Miller To MotoGP With LCR Honda For 2015 And Beyond

This year's MotoGP's silly season has seen many badly-kept secrets, and one of the very worst of them is now out in the open. Today, the LCR Honda squad confirmed what everybody has known since July, and suspected since the beginning of June: Jack Miller is to make the leap directly from Moto3 to MotoGP, to ride the Open class Honda in the LCR team alongside Cal Crutchlow.

Miller may be riding in the LCR Honda team, but hsi contract is directly with HRC. Lucio Cecchinello has long insisted that he has had no direct involvement with the deal, Honda working hard to secure the services of Miller for the future. Miller's contract is for three years, according to GPOne.com, and the young Australian will spend the next two seasons with LCR. That would put him in the frame for the second seat in the Repsol Honda team, with both Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa out of contract at the end of 2016.

The bike Miller will be riding is the Open class machine produced by HRC. Next year's bike will be radically different from the bike of this year, and will consist basically of this year's engine minus the seamless gearbox. It will be much closer to the power of the factory bikes, though it will only have the spec software, rather than Honda's custom electronics. The uprated version of the bike is to be given a new name: no longer will it be known as the RCV1000R, it has been rebranded an RC213V-RS,.

Miller is to be partnered with Cristian Gabarrini in the LCR Honda team. The crew chief who formerly worked with Casey Stoner has a history of working with young riders, and as an HRC employee, can nurture the 19-year-old Australian's talent. There had been rumors that Valentino Rossi's former crew chief Jeremy Burgess was to work with Jack Miller, but those rumors appear to have been a fabrication leaked to discredit a particular section of the Italian media.

The LCR press release announcing the deal appears below:


JACK MILLER TO JOIN CWM LCR HONDA TEAM FOR THE 2015 MOTOGP CAMPAIGN

The CWM LCR Honda Team is pleased to officially announce that Australian rider, Jack Miller, will compete with them in the 2015 MotoGP World Championship riding the Honda RC213V-RS Open Specification bike.

The 19-year-old racer from Townsville, who is currently leading the Moto3 World Championship, will compete in the MotoGP Open Class thanks to the support of Honda Racing Corporation, LCR’s historical sponsors and new team partner CWM, alongside the more experienced British talent Cal Crutchlow riding the Honda RC213V Factory Specification bike.

This is the first time since their debut in the MotoGP class in 2006, that Lucio Cecchinello’s squad will field two riders, and this is largely thanks to new sponsor CWMFX.com.

Jack Miller: “I’m very happy to make the leap up to MotoGP next year, especially because I will do so alongside HRC. It's a dream come true; I think that every rider would like to race at the highest level in the World Championship with a Honda. It is certainly a big jump from Moto3 to MotoGP, but I am convinced that we are ready and that, step-by-step, learning every day, we can do a great job. It's a fantastic opportunity and I'm very excited about starting this new stage of my career with HRC, whom I wish to thank together with CWM LCR Honda Team. I'm looking forward to working with them! In the meantime, I remain fully focused on this season's Moto3 World Championship. I will have to avoid any distraction in order to fight for the title.”

Lucio Cecchinello (CWM LCR Team Principal): “Without any doubt, this is a very exciting project and a completely new challenge for us. We do believe that Jack will be a future strong performer in the premier class due to his undeniable talent, motivation and drive. Together with Honda we will do our best to let him familiarise himself, step by step, with the MotoGP class. For sure Jack will need time to learn how to ride a 1000cc machine but there is no rush, and next year will just be a learning season for him in the new Class. Honda has a long term plan with him and we believe that with no pressure Jack will be able to show his talent in MotoGP.”

This year's MotoGP's silly season has seen many badly-kept secrets, and one of the very worst of them is now out in the open. Today, the LCR Honda squad confirmed what everybody has known since July, and suspected since the beginning of June: Jack Miller is to make the leap directly from Moto3 to MotoGP, to ride the Open class Honda in the LCR team alongside Cal Crutchlow.Miller may be riding in the LCR Honda team, but hsi contract is directly with HRC. Lucio Cecchinello has long insisted that he has had no direct involvement with the deal, Honda working hard to secure the services of Miller for the future. Miller's contract is for three years, according to GPOne.com, and the young Australian will spend the next two seasons with LCR. That would put him in the frame for the second seat in the Repsol Honda team, with both Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa out of contract at the end of 2016.

Eugene Laverty To Switch To MotoGP For 2015 - Destination Aspar?

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.

Laverty faced a second problem at Aspar. The Spanish team had also signed a proposal with Loris Baz, stating that if Redding didn't sign with the team by 15th September, then Baz would get the ride on the production Honda. For the past week, however, Aspar have been struggling to get out of that contract, claiming that Baz (at 1.92m) is "too tall" for a MotoGP bike. With Baz now seemingly out of the frame, that clears the way for Laverty, who had a similar agreement with Aspar. Nicky Hayden has a contract with Aspar for 2015, but the American is yet to return to action after wrist surgery. Hayden is set to return at Aragon, but no confirmation that he actually will has been forthcoming yet.

Below is the press release from the Voltcom Crescent Suzuki WSBK team:


Voltcom Crescent Suzuki wishes Laverty well on his way to MotoGP™

Voltcom Crescent Suzuki extends its thanks and best wishes to Eugene Laverty as he prepares to move to the MotoGP Championship for the 2015 season.

A motivated and technically accomplished racer, Laverty has so far added two podiums to his Superbike tally this year taking his achievement to 33 to date - including a dramatic win on board his Yoshimura-powered GSX-R in the season opener at Phillip Island – and remains focused in his objective to remount the rostrum before the year draws to a close.

The Irishman will relocate from the eni FIM Superbike World Championship at the end of the 2014 season after six successful years in the production class paddock in both World Supersport and World Superbike competition.

Eugene Laverty:

“I’d like to thank everyone at Voltcom Crescent Suzuki for all their efforts this season. They’re an incredibly hard working team and we share the same desire to win. We started the year fantastically with a win first time out at Phillip Island, something nobody expected us to do. Even if the results haven't always come our way, I've really enjoyed working with the team and the GSX-R, there is so much potential there. We still have two rounds remaining and my aim is to climb back up on that rostrum before I move to MotoGP in 2015.”

Paul Denning – Team Manager:

“We wanted to move forward with Eugene into 2015 but at the same time we completely understand his desire to compete in MotoGP. He has been a pleasure to work with and, even though a black cloud of bad luck seems to have followed us and the consistency of results has not been what we both hoped for, Eugene has given us and Suzuki some very special moments including of course the victory at Phillip Island.

“It is positive to see a skilful, intelligent Superbike rider’s abilities recognised by a strong MotoGP team and all at Crescent, title partner Voltcom and Suzuki wish Eugene the very best of luck in this next stage of his career. We are looking forward to the last two rounds together; let’s hope we can finish this season with Eugene as strongly as we started!

“Voltcom Crescent Suzuki is committed to building on 2014’s potential shown in 2015, and to fighting for victories in the World Superbike Championship. Our rider line-up to allow us to achieve those targets will be announced in the near future.”

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.

Official: Alvaro Bautista Confirmed At Aprilia For Two Seasons

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.

However, it also became clear at Misano that Marco Melandri is far from certain to take the other seat at Gresini Aprilia. In several TV interviews that the Italian gave at Misano, he said he was only interested in coming to MotoGP with a competitive ride. The 2015 bike is not expected to be competing for wins next year - Aprilia boss Romano Albesiano told the German website Speedweek that "tenth places would be a good result for us" - with 2016 the first year of a completely new and radically updated MotoGP prototype. Melandri appears to be favoring remaining in World Superbikes and competing for wins and titles, rather than going to MotoGP and battling Open class Hondas. Although Aprilia is scrapping its factory WSBK team, there are reports that a new team is to be set up with strong factory backing, under the leadership of Giulio Bardi, currently in charge of the EBR team, and previously having worked with Yamaha.

If Melandri does choose to remain in World Superbikes, then it will open a new raft of speculation on who will be the second rider at Gresini Aprilia in MotoGP. Along with the second seats at Pramac, Aspar and Forward, there are still a lot of seats to be filled.

Below is the official press release from Aprilia on Bautista's contract:


ALVARO BAUTISTA WITH APRILIA IN MOTOGP

Two year contract for the Spanish rider, 2006 World Champion with Aprilia

Spanish rider Alvaro Bautista will ride one of the official Aprilias that will race next year in the MotoGP Championship, managed by the Aprilia Gresini Racing Team.

The agreement with Bautista is valid for two years, for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. A rider with vast experience, Bautista – born in Talavera de la Reina on 21 November 1984 – took his first world championship steps astride an Aprilia 125cc, which he rode to victory as World Champion in the "eighth litre" class in 2006.

In his fifth year in the top category, MotoGP, Bautista boasts 3 podiums and one pole position and his trophy case includes a total of 16 wins, 33 podiums and 18 pole positions.

The signing of Alvaro Bautista comes just a few hours after the official announcement that the Aprilia brand will return to the MotoGP World Championship – already in 2015, one year ahead of the previously announced plan – through a four year cooperation with the Gresini Racing Team and Aprilia Racing manager, Romano Albesiano, commented with satisfaction. "This represents another step in defining the team that will take the Aprilia bikes onto the track for the next MotoGP season" said Mr Albesiano. "On Friday we announced our return to the championship with Gresini Racing. Today we have inserted another very important tile in the mosaic by announcing Bautista's signing. I am particularly satisfied because Alvaro has been confirmed on a team that he already knows well, creating the basis for that rapidity in finding maximum competitiveness that led us to moving up our plans to return to MotoGP".

"I am happy to be able to continue working with Bautista - confirmed Fausto Gresini - Alvaro has significant experience in MotoGP so his contribution will certainly be essential in developing the new projects with Aprilia in the best possible way. I believe very much in him and his potential and I am confident that he will be able to bring us the results we are expecting. Also, this two year agreement will allow us to maintain continuity in the bond between Alvaro and Gresini racing which was formed in 2012 and that has been strengthened over the years".

Also enthusiastic about the new project is Alvaro Bautista: "I am very happy to have signed an agreement with Aprilia or the next to MotoGP World Championship seasons. Working in close contact with a manufacturer is what I wanted for my future and Aprilia has offered me a great chance. I am also very motivated to embark on this new adventure because I am coming back to a brand that has brought me great satisfaction in the past and with which I have shared some great times. Above all, the cooperation between Aprilia Racing and Gresini Racing will allow me to stay on a team that I've been racing with already for three years and which has become like a family to me. I have worked directly for a manufacturer in the past and I really liked developing a new project together. Knowing that I'll be able to count on the support of so many engineers and technicians is exciting and I can't wait to get started working with them".

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.

Official: Marc VDS To Move Up To MotoGP With Scott Redding Aboard A Honda RC213V

Marc VDS Racing are to move up to MotoGP, fielding a factory Honda RC213V for Scott Redding. The deal was announced late on Sunday night via the Marc VDS Racing Twitter feed, after meetings between the team, Honda, and team owner Marc van der Straten.

The agreement means that the Marc VDS team will field a factory Honda RC213V for the next three seasons, through 2017. The duration of the contract had been a critical point in the negotiations, allowing the team to spread the costs out over a longer period, and showing HRC's support for both the team and Redding. 

The move to MotoGP had been mooted after the Indianapolis GP. After Indy, rumors emerged that Gresini's title sponsor, Go&Fun, would be pulling out of their deal a year early. Without the money from Go&Fun, Gresini could not afford the factory Honda. Gresini have now officially switched to Aprilia, leaving a factory Honda and an Open class Honda going begging.

Once they realized the bike was available, the Marc VDS Racing team started work on gathering the sponsorship to cover the cost of a factory Honda. They thought they had covered the cost at Silverstone, only to find that as a new team, they would have to pay for their own tires and freight, and not receive support for travel from IRTA. That left them €1.7 million extra to find in less than two weeks. They were believed to be just short of the necessary amount, but some last-minute negotiations - including the signing of a main sponsor for the project - may have covered the shortfall sufficientlly to make the move.

The team have yet to issue a full press release on the move, as there are still details with Redding's contract with Gresini to be cleared up. Once those issues have been resolved, then a full statement from the team will be expected. There are some details we know, however: unlike at Gresini, the Marc VDS bike will run Ohlins and Brembo, rather than Showa and Nissin. A crew chief is yet to be announced, but it is unlikely that Redding will be reunited with Pete Benson. Benson is currently working with Tito Rabat, and as Rabat is expected to be challenging for the Moto2 title again in 2015, the team feel it is a bad idea to split Benson and Rabat up.

The Redding annoucement means that two British riders will be on the satellite Hondas. While Redding is on the Marc VDS bike, Cal Crutchlow will be switching to LCR Honda for next year.

The announcement also clears the way for a further raft of announcements. Redding was being courted by Aprilia, Ducati, and Forward Yamaha, while Aspar were also waiting to pick up the factory Honda and Redding if Marc VDS decided against making the jump. With Redding gone, the second seats at Pramac, Forward and Aspar will quickly be filled. Expect a flurry of activity at the Aragon round in two weeks' time.

Marc VDS Racing are to move up to MotoGP, fielding a factory Honda RC213V for Scott Redding. The deal was announced late on Sunday night via the Marc VDS Racing Twitter feed, after meetings between the team, Honda, and team owner Marc van der Straten.The agreement means that the Marc VDS team will field a factory Honda RC213V for the next three seasons, through 2017. The duration of the contract had been a critical point in the negotiations, allowing the team to spread the costs out over a longer period, and showing HRC's support for both the team and Redding. The move to MotoGP had been mooted after the Indianapolis GP. After Indy, rumors emerged that Gresini's title sponsor, Go&Fun, would be pulling out of their deal a year early. Without the money from Go&Fun, Gresini could not afford the factory Honda. Gresini have now officially switched to Aprilia, leaving a factory Honda and an Open class Honda going begging.

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