2014 Motegi Moto2 FP2 Result: Rabat Dominates First Day Of Practice

Tito Rabat put on a fearsome display of fast riding on Friday afternoon at Motegi, completely dominating the second session of free practice for the Moto2 class. Rabat topped the timesheets almost from the off, ending FP2 with an advantage of a third of a second, and close to the outright lap record at the circuit. Johann Zarco eventually took 2nd spot, closing the gap with a very fast lap at the end of practice, and nudging Maverick Viñales back into 3rd spot. Domi Aegerter took 4th, while Julian Simon had a strong outing to end FP2 in 5gh, just ahead of Tom Luthi and Mika Kallio. Kallio has some pace to find if he is to cut the points advantage of his Marc VDS Racing teammate Rabat.

Results:

2014 Motegi MotoGP FP2 Result: Dovizioso Fastest, Lorenzo Impresses

Andrea Dovizioso has topped the second session of free practice for the MotoGP class at Motegi. The factory Ducati man took advantage of the extra soft tire the Italian factory is allowed to use to slash half a second off his time and depose Jorge Lorenzo from top spot, bumping the Movistar Yamaha rider into 2nd. Despite his fastest time coming with the softer rubber, Dovizioso was also quick on the soft tire, the harder of the two options have at their disposal, spending much of the day in the top four spots.

Lorenzo ended the day in 2nd, and is clearly heartened by his win last time out at Aragon. The Movistar Yamaha man was quick throughout the session, only losing out to the extra soft tire of Dovizioso at the end. Stefan Bradl picked up the pace at the end of the session to put the LCR Honda up into 3rd, just nipping ahead of Dani Pedrosa on the Repsol Honda. Pedrosa, in turn, held off Valentino Rossi, the Movistar Yamaha man managing his fractured right injured finger fine, and lapping quickly to finish 5th.

2014 Motegi Moto3 FP2 Result: Kent Edges Rins To Lead First Day

Danny Kent has topped both sessions of free practice for the Moto3 class at Motegi, leading the way on the Husqvarna in both the morning and afternoon sessions. Kent held off a late challenge from Alex Rins, the Honda rider having been quick throughout the session. Miguel Oliveira took 3rd spot on the factory Mahindra, making it three different manufacturers in the top three, with Brad Binder confirming the strong form of the Indian manufacturer in 4th.

Title contenders Alex Marquez and Jack Miller had a much tougher day of it. Marquez ended the day in 7th, half a second behind Kent and Marquez' Estrella Galicia teammate Alex Rins, while Jack Miller struggled to 13th, nearly three quarters of a second off the pace of Kent. It was not for want of trying, Miller running off the track on corner exit several times through the session.

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2014 Motegi Moto2 FP1 Results: Luthi & Rabat Share Top Spot

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2014 Motegi Moto3 FP1 Results: Kent Comes Out Flying

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2014 Motegi MotoGP Preview - The Race Nature Always Seems To Conspire Against

Part of the Japanese round of MotoGP always seems to involve learning a new name for a natural phenomenon. In 2010, we heard of Eyjafjallajökull for the first time, the volcano which awoke from under its ice cap and halted air travel in large parts of Europe and Asia. We laughed as newsreaders and MotoGP commentators tried to pronounce the name of the Icelandic volcano and ice cap (for the inquisitive, Wikipedia has the correct pronunciation), and the race was moved from the start of the season to October.

A year later, in April 2011, it was Tōhoku which was the name on everyone's lips. The massive earthquake which shook Japan and triggered an enormous tsunami, killing nearly 16,000 people and badly damaging the Fukushima nuclear power station. Again the Motegi race was moved to October, by which time the incredible resilience and industriousness had the track ready to host the MotoGP circus. 2012 turned out to be a relatively quiet year, but 2013 saw the tail end of typhoon Francisco ravage the region, causing the first day and a half of practice to be lost to fog and rain.

So it comes as no surprise that the 2014 round of MotoGP at Motegi teaches us yet another new name. This time it is Vongfong, a category 5 super typhoon which threatens the race in Japan. The super typhoon has been described as "the most powerful storm of the year" with recorded sustained winds of 285 km/h, and gusts of up to 350 km/h. It is currently over open water southwest of Japan, but is heading northeast towards Kyushu, the southernmost island of the Japanese archipelago.

The good news for Japan is that Vongfong is expected to weaken as it heads towards Japan, and arrives over much cooler water. Even better news for Motegi is that the typhoon looks unlikely to reach the region in time to affect the race. Vongfong is set to make landfall nearly 1200 km southwest of the Twin Ring circuit, and have weakened dramatically by the time it reaches the area by the middle of next week. 2014 looks like being another year in which Motegi was spared.

That will please Honda greatly. With Repsol Honda riders first and second in the championship, Honda within 10 points of the manufacturers' title, and the factory Repsol squad closing in on winning the team championship – though admittedly, both Movistar Yamahas would have to not score to achieve that at Motegi – Honda would really like to celebrate at home. The Motegi Twin Ring circuit is owned and operated by the Mobilityland Corporation, which is itself a 100% subsidiary of the Honda Motor Company, and so the stakes are high. Motegi is also the main test track used for developing the factory's MotoGP machines, the RC213V having racked up monster mileages around the circuit. The combination of hard braking zones, slow corners, long, fast straights and the occasional fast combo should suit HRC's Honda RC213V down to the ground.

2014 Motegi MotoGP Preview Press Releases

Press release previews of this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone:

Round Number: 
15
Year: 
2014

2014 Motegi Moto2 And Moto3 Preview Press Releases

Preview press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams ahead of this weekend's races at Motegi:

Round Number: 
15
Year: 
2014

World Superbike Test Ban Lifted Ahead Of Major Changes For 2015 Season

With new technical regulations set to come into effect for the 2015 season in World Superbikes, the Superbike Commission has decided to lift its customary testing ban. Instead of testing being prohibited for the months of December and January, the World Superbike and World Supersport teams will be allowed to continue testing, with only a short break over the holiday period. Testing will no be banned from 21st December 2014 to 4th January 2015.

The change was made at the request of the teams. With the technical regulations undergoing a radical overhaul for the 2015 season, the teams felt they needed a lot more testing time to identify and fix problems with the new bikes. Extracting sufficient horsepower while maintaining reliability, to comply with the limited engine allocation, had been a major concern. The extended period gives the teams a little more time to prepare for the 2015 season.

The current change has only been made for the 2015 season. With the rules set to stabilize for the future, a test ban is likely to be reinstated for the winter of 2015/2016.

You can read the text of the press release announcing the change on the FIM website (PDF document).

The Candid Cal Crutchlow Interview, Part 3 - On Having Jack Miller As A Teammate, And Mental Strength

It has been a very tough year for Cal Crutchlow. Coming off the high of 2013, the year in which he scored four podiums, finished fifth in the championship, and looked certain to score his first win in MotoGP, his season in Ducati has been a massive challenge. Technical malfunctions, crashes, and a battle to find a way around the chronic understeer which plagues the Desmosedici. Crutchlow lingers in the middle of the pack, not fighting at the sharp end. This was not the season which Crutchlow had envisaged when he signed for Ducati.

In the first part of the interview with Crutchlow, published on Monday, he spoke of his battle to adapt to the Ducati, and of the 2014 season being his toughest year so far. In the second part of the interview, he continued this theme, talking about his struggle to maintain his morale through this, the hardest part of his career, when the results refuse to come. And in this, the final part of the interview, he talks about how mental strength is the decisive factor in motorcycle racing, and discusses Jack Miller's ascent to MotoGP.

MM: What about Jack Miller as a teammate? It's quite a big step from Moto3 to MotoGP, and he is definitely a larrikin, as they say in Australia …

CC: I don't know, a few races ago, when they first talked about it, I was like, why not do it? It's the best thing ever, it'll be funny. But the more I think about it, the more I think, maybe he needed a year. But who am I to say? I don't know! He might be alright. I sat there and thought, maybe he needed a year to go into Moto2 and learn, but then you think, why doesn't he have his year learning in MotoGP? It makes no difference. It's a big decision to make.

I do have to say, everyone's saying about the power, from 55bhp or whatever they've got to 250 or whatever. I don't think it's a big thing. You've got your right wrist, if you want to open the gas, you can open it, if you don't, then don't open it. If you don't want the power, you don't open the throttle. I think he'll be fine with that.

The only thing that I believe that could be a hindrance to him, you can't have as much fun on a MotoGP bike as you can in Moto3. I'll tell you what, you're not riding around behind someone, waiting for them to make a move, or thinking, I'll pass on the next lap. You've got no chance of doing that. You know, these races are probably 50% more intense than his races. That's my opinion.

The Championship Mathematics: What Marc Marquez Needs To Become Champ At Motegi

Given Marc Marquez' dominance of the 2014 MotoGP championship, the question is not if, but when he will wrap up his second title in a row. His original aim had been to win the title in front of his home crowd at Aragon, but crashes at Misano and then Aragon put paid to that idea. With a massive lead in the championship, Marquez heads to the flyaway races with his primary aim shifted from winning at all costs, to making sure he returns to Spain and the final round of the series with the title already safely under his belt.

Motegi is the first opportunity for Marquez to take the title, and wrapping it up there would please his HRC bosses, as the circuit is owned by Honda and operated by a subsidiary. But it is not a simple question of turning up and finishing, the reigning champion will have to ensure his rivals do not gain too much back on him if he is to lift the crown there. He has a 75 point lead over his Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa, a 78 point advantage over Movistar Yamaha's Valentino Rossi, and a 90 point lead over the second factory Yamaha of Jorge Lorenzo. So what does Marquez need to do to win the title?

The Candid Cal Crutchlow Interview, Part 2 - On Morale, Following Rossi's Example, And Being A Factory Rider

It has been a very tough year for Cal Crutchlow. Coming off the high of 2013, the year in which he scored four podiums, finished fifth in the championship, and looked certain to score his first win in MotoGP, his season in Ducati has been a massive challenge. Technical malfunctions, crashes, and a battle to find a way around the chronic understeer which plagues the Desmosedici. Crutchlow lingers in the middle of the pack, not fighting at the sharp end. This was not the season which Crutchlow had envisaged when he signed for Ducati.

In the first part of the interview with Crutchlow, published on Monday, he spoke of his battle to adapt to the Ducati, and of the 2014 season being his toughest year so far. He continues the theme in this, the second part of the interview, where he discusses his struggle to maintain his morale through the darkest part of his career, when the results refuse to come. And in the final part of the interview, he talks about how mental strength is the decisive factor in motorcycle racing, and discusses Jack Miller's ascent to MotoGP.

MotoMatters.com: I'm glad you mentioned morale, because that was something I wanted to ask you about. Last year, when we talked about Cal Crutchlow, it was about when you were going to win your first MotoGP race. Compare that to this year, and it's not, are you going to win, but are you going to get into the top ten. That must be very tough mentally.

Cal Crutchlow: Yes, it's demoralizing. The worst thing for me is, I take it personally, as in I think that I'm not doing something right. I mean, obviously, it's true, I'm not doing something right, but when I go home, I'm hard on myself. When I go out training, I train harder. For no reason, because it's nothing to do with that.

You know, I do sit there and think, you're getting paid a lot of money to finish behind a lot of guys who are not getting paid anywhere near as much as you. But I still feel I earned it, I earned my place in the factory team. And it's demoralizing for me to think, you know, it's OK to say, just go faster, but I can't. I'm not saying I don't know how, if I could go faster, I would. People are like, why can't you beat that guy, why can't you get into the top ten, why can't you be like Andrea Dovizioso or Iannone? If I could, I would, it's as simple as that. I'm not sitting there going, right, I'm having a few weekends off, I'm just going to cruise round.

The Candid Cal Crutchlow Interview, Part 1 - His Toughest Year Yet, Adapting To The Ducati

It has been a very tough year for Cal Crutchlow. Coming off the high of 2013, the year in which he scored four podiums, finished fifth in the championship, and looked certain to score his first win in MotoGP, his season in Ducati has been a massive challenge. Technical malfunctions, crashes, and a battle to find a way around the chronic understeer which plagues the Desmosedici. Crutchlow lingers in the middle of the pack, not fighting at the sharp end. This was not the season which Crutchlow had envisaged when he signed for Ducati.

At Aragon, ahead of the fourteenth race of the season, we caught up with Crutchlow, to talk about his year so far, his expectations for next year, and how he manages to keep his morale up through such a difficult period. Cal Crutchlow gave a candid and honest account of his season, not shirking the blame, and speaking openly of the fears and doubts which plague a professional motorcycle racer when they go through a season as tough as this. He opened a window into a side of racing which is not often talked about, and marks his courage as both a rider, and as a human being.

The interview went on for so long that we have had to split it up into three parts, which will appear over the next few days. In the first part of the interview, he speaks of his battle to adapt to the Ducati, and of 2014 being his toughest year in MotoGP so far. In the second part of the interview, he delves into the dark side of his year, of the struggle to maintain his morale while the results are not coming. And in the final part of the interview, he talks about how mental strength is the decisive factor in motorcycle racing, and discusses Jack Miller's ascent to MotoGP.

MotoMatters.com: You said 2011 was one of the toughest seasons you've ever had. Is this one tougher? Or easier because you know that it could be worse?

Cal Crutchlow: I think first and foremost, when I came to Ducati, I thought I could make it work, I thought I could ride the bike how it needed to be ridden. As every rider does in this situation, I think every rider has to believe in themselves and believe that they can do it.

I didn't know the situation until I rode the bike, sure, but would I say it's worse than 2011? Yes, because I'm expected to do well now, and in 2011 I wasn't. I wanted to do well in 2011, that was the difference. Not that I don't want to do well now, but I mean in 2011, I expected myself that I would just turn up and be competitive, because I'd been at the front in World Superbikes, and it really wasn't the case. But if you look at the results, I probably had better results in 2011 than I have now.

2014 Magny-Cours World Superbike Sunday Round Up: Team Suggestions

The rain made for a challenging set of races today, with attrition and setup playing a large part in today's races, but mostly, they'll be remembered for one symbol:

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