Latest MotoGP News
Alberto Puig is to take on a new role inside Honda. Brought into HRC as advisor to Dani Pedrosa, the former 500cc race winner is to focus his efforts more on talent development for Honda, starting with the Asia Talent Cup.
Puig has a long and very successful history of spotting and developing talent. The Spaniard was the driving force behind the MotoGP Academy, the forerunner of Red Bull Rookies Cup, and before that, had worked with Telefonica Movistar in the Spanish championship. That work had produced a string of highly successful riders in various classes, including several world champions. Alongside Dani Pedrosa, Puig was responsible for Casey Stoner, Julian Simon, Bradley Smith, Joan Lascorz and Leon Camier.
Having Puig work in the Asia Talent Cup is a clever move for Honda. The Japanese company is keenly aware of the importance of the Asian market for its sales, and bringing on talent from the region will be a powerful marketing tool. HRC also has a long history of backing Japanese riders in Grand Prix racing, and after a relatively lean period for Japanese talent, having Puig help spot and develop them early should help bring more fast young Japanese riders into the sport.
Yamaha's MotoGP team looks set to gain another sponsor for 2014. According to the PU24.it website - the same website which broke the news of Rossi's decision to drop Jeremy Burgess - sportswear manufacturer Adidas is set to sponsor the factory Yamaha team of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo next season.
The deal is said to be part of a larger contract, which will involve the Team Sky VR46 Moto3 squad as well. The deal appears mainly aimed at the Italian market: according to the PU24 website, one of the benefits for Adidas will be better visibility for its ads on the Sky Italia channel, which will be broadcasting MotoGP in Italy next year, and which is also a co-sponsor of Valentino Rossi's Team Sky VR46 Moto3 squad. The deal is rumored to be a two-year contract, though how much money is involved is currently unknown.
Marc Marquez has been back briefly to the operating theater today, where he has undergone surgery to improve his breathing. The reigning world champion was admitted to the Dexeus hospital in Barcelona, where he had an operation to correct a deviated septum, which had hampered his breathing through his nose. Marquez is one of a few riders who uses the nasal plaster strips to keep the nostrils open (see photo below). These strips are said to aid breathing through the nose, and with Marquez suffering a deviated septum, he may have had some benefit from the strips.
The septum is the mixture of cartilage and bone which separates the two nostrils, and if the septum becomes enlarged - a common occurrence after injury - then breathing through the nose can be more difficult. The surgery Marquez underwent is aimed at making the nasal cavity larger, and removing any obstructions, to help him breath more easily. Marquez will have to take a week of rest, before returning to the busy schedule of a world champion, which has included trips to Japan and Monaco. The press release from the Repsol Honda team appears below.
The FIM today issued a press release confirming the 18-month ban imposed retrospectively on Ant West for using banned substances. The Australian has had all of his results scrapped, between 20th May 2012 and 19th October 2013. That includes the two podiums he scored at Sepang and Phillip Island at the end of 2012, meaning that Gino Rea moves up to 2nd at Sepang, and Hafizh Syahrin will be awarded 3rd place (and his first podium), while Marc Marquez takes 2nd at Phillip Island, and Scott Redding adds another podium to his tally to take 3rd.
The official FIM Press release is shown below:
Doping - Decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport in the case of rider Anthony West
The FIM has taken note of the Award handed down on 22 November 2013 by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in the case of rider Anthony West, participant in the 2012 FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix in the Moto2 Class.
On 20 May 2012, Anthony West underwent an anti-doping test conducted by the FIM at the 2012 French Grand Prix. The urine sample obtained from Mr West revealed the presence of a stimulant (Methylhexaneamine) prohibited in competition under the FIM Anti-doping Code in force.
Valentino Rossi has acknowledged he is one step closer to retirement. In an interview to be broadcast Italian TV channel Mediaset, the Italian said that the early tests and the first six races of 2014 would be crucial to the future of his career. 'In 2014 I need to be at the front, closer to the first three', Rossi said, referring to the Spanish trio of Marc Marquez, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa, who dominated the 2013 MotoGP season. He has not lost his appetite for racing, Rossi told Italian TV, but he was not content just to circulate. 'I would like to continue for another couple of years, but only if I'm competitive.'
It's been a busy time for motorcycle racing in the south of Spain. With the winter test ban about to commence, and now in force for both MotoGP and World Superbikes, the teams are heading south to get some development work done while they still can. For the World Superbike and MotoGP Open class teams, their destination is Jerez, while Moto2 and Moto3 are at Almeria, in Spain's southeastern corner.
At Jerez, Suzuki has just wrapped up a test, and Yakhnich Motorsport are taking the MV Agusta F4RR out for its first spin. The Jerez test was Eugene Laverty's first opportunity to ride the GSX-R1000, after the Irishman had signed for the Crescent Suzuki team, who have swapped title sponsors from Fixi to Voltcom. The move is a step down from the full factory Aprilia team for Laverty, but it is a long-term investment for the Irishman. Speaking to German language website Speedweek.com, Laverty explained that he believed that it was easier to move development on a project forward with a smaller group of people than inside a large organization.
Gino Rea's gamble to self-finance his 2013 wild cards has paid off. Yesterday, the young Londoner announced he would be contesting the full 2014 Moto2 season, in a one-rider team based in the USA. Rea has joined forces with the Austin, Texas based World Motors organization to create the World Motors Rea Racing team. The good news for both Rea and the sport is that the team has also attracted a sponsor from outside of the motorcycle industry. AGT is an induction lighting company providing professional lighting products to industry.
Rea will continue to race an FTR Moto2 machine, one of three FTRs which will be on the grid, with the NGM Forward team also racing the British chassis. The press release from Gino Rea and the AGT Rea team appears below:
AGT REA RACING SET TO COMPETE IN THE 2014 MOTO2 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP WITH GINO REA
AGT (American Green Technology) will back World Motors Rea Racing team in their entry to the 2014 Moto2 class of World Motorcycle Grand Prix (MotoGP) on a full-season basis with their rider, Gino Rea.
Ant West has been issued a retroactive ban by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and has had almost all the results for the last 18 months declared invalid. All of West's results between the Le Mans 2012 race and 20th October 2013 have been declared null and void, and will be scrapped from the official Moto2 results.
The retroactive ban goes back to a failed doping test at Le Mans in 2012. West had bought a supplement energy drink without checking the ingredients, and subsequently failed a drug test. The energy drink (Mesomorph) turned out to contain the banned substance methylhexaneamine, traces of which were found in West's urine. At the time, the FIM imposed a one month suspension on West, but the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) appealed against the leniency of the ban, and that appeal has now been partially upheld.
Though most of the contracts were settled some time ago, there were still a few question marks on the 2014 MotoGP grid. The official entry list released by the FIM today answers some of those questions, but the answers it gives may yet turn out to be wrong. The list features 11 entries to be run under the Factory rules, which means 20 liters of fuel, 5 engines per season and the freedom to use proprietary software on the spec Magneti Marelli ECU. The remaining 13 bikes will be run as Open entries, which gives them 24 liters of fuel and 12 engines per season, but forces them to use the Dorna-controlled spec software on the Magneti Marelli ECU.
The 2014 season looks set to follow the pattern established in 2013, with Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo likely to dominate. Of interest is the fact that Marc Marquez has been entered with number 93, rather than the number 1 which the world champion is allowed to use, but this may yet change before the start of the season. Marquez would dearly like to retain 93, but Honda is keen to see him run the number 1 plate.
The Moto2 field for next season is even better filled than the Moto3 grid, with 35 entries for 2014. Like Moto3, the two men who fought for the championship have departed, leaving the championship wide open. The departure of Pol Espargaro and Scott Redding for MotoGP leaves Tito Rabat as hot favorite for the title, after the Spaniard had challenged for most of the season. Rabat has switched from the Pons team to join Marc VDS, where he is already off to a strong start, while teammate Mika Kallio has also showed strongly in preseason testing.
Strongest of all has been Tom Luthi, the Swiss rider having topped the timesheets at the Jerez tests so far. Dark horse in the Moto2 class is surely Nico Terol, who had a very strong end to the season after finally being diagnosed with lactose intolerance, a condition which had been troubling him all year. Since his successful diagnosis, Terol won two out of five races.
With the MotoGP season now officially ended, riders are taking the opportunity to have various medical niggles sorted out ready for 2014. Last week, Dani Pedrosa had the metal plate removed from his right collarbone, and on Sunday, Nicky Hayden had a screw removed from his right wrist.
Pedrosa's surgery brings to a close a painful chapter in his life. The plate which has just been removed was inserted on his right collarbone after his clash with Marco Simoncelli at Le Mans in 2011. Pedrosa was reluctant to have surgery on his his right collarbone, as he was only just starting to recover from surgery on his left collarbone, which he had injured at Motegi in 2010. The operation to fix that injury had seen screws compress the artery leading down to his left arm, causing a loss of feeling during racing. The clash with Simoncelli took place just weeks after an operation to resolve the Thoracic Outlet Syndrome which had resulted from the previous injury.
With the plate in his right collarbone removed, Pedrosa will need two weeks of rest before starting physical rehabilitation. The recovery period should give his collarbone time to heal, and for bone growth to fill in the holes left by the screws, restoring his collarbone to full strength.
2013 Valencia Post-Race Test Day 3 Round Up: Ducati's Hope, Espargaro's Improvement, And Hayden's Honda
The rain that threatened didn't come, to both the relief and the despair of everyone at the MotoGP test in Valencia. After 18 races, three flyaways and two days of testing, there were plenty of folk who had been secretly doing rain dances so they could pack up and go home early. As much as we all love MotoGP - and given the number of people who have to work second jobs to be able to afford to be there, love is the only explanation - the season is long and tiring, and testing is necessary, but a real grind to both do and watch. There were a lot of jealous looks at the empty space where the Factory Yamaha trucks had stood, the team having upped sticks and left at the end of Tuesday.
There were plenty of people who were happy to ride, though, and people who had things to test. Pol Espargaro was delighted to be back on the bike, and continued his impressive debut on the Tech 3 bike. Aleix Espargaro continued work on the NGM Forward Yamaha FTR, while Hiroshi Aoyama and Nicky Hayden continued to ride the production Honda. At Ducati, a mildly despondent Andrea Dovizioso continued to turn laps, while new signing Cal Crutchlow learned about the grind that riding for Ducati can be, testing lots of things that don't appear to make much difference to the bike. Crutchlow remained positive, pointing to the fact that even though the experiments had failed to produce a blistering lap time, the fact that his feedback was the same as Dovizioso's and the other Ducati riders, it would prove useful in the search for improvement.
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.