MotoGP fans will get a small glimpse of Ducati's future at Jerez this weekend. Ducati test rider Michele Pirro is due to make his first wildcard appearance of the season at the Spanish track. Most significantly, Pirro is to ride Ducati's so-called lab bike at Jerez, which contains a number of major updates to the Desmosedici GP13.
Though it is unclear exactly what Pirro will be riding - in the Ducati press release, Vitto Guareschi says only that Pirro's Ducati "will have some new development parts that will help us to focus on the development for the rest of the championship" - it seems likely that he will be racing the bike he has been busy testing. This machine, first seen at the Sepang test, was also the bike Pirro spent a lot of time testing at Jerez.
One of the things that has often struck me as I move around the track at a MotoGP round is the amount of cable Dorna sets up to deliver their TV coverage. Many kilometres of cables run around the entire circuit, are spliced into a complex network of amplifiers, antennas, and cameras, and eventually lead back to Dorna’s TV center in the paddock. In Qatar I was chatting with Pol Bardolet, one of the Dorna staff who is part of the TV and video production department, and he kindly arranged for me to speak with Sergi Sendra, Director of Dorna Sports TV Production. In Austin we sat down for a few minutes on Friday so that I could ask him about how he and his team deliver TV coverage of 18 rounds of Grand Prix racing.
MotoMatters: Most if not all of our readers regularly watch MotoGP on television, but I don’t think many of them have any idea how complicated it is for you to set that up for each race then get it packed up and on to the next event. So, to start off can you tell me a little bit about how you do it?
The 2013 MotoGP season has only just got underway, but as is seemingly customary in MotoGP now, thoughts are already turning to next year. With eight of the twelve men on factory prototypes on two-year contracts, the most attractive seats already appear to be taken. There is no room for any movement at either the factory Yamaha or factory Honda teams, and only one seat potentially available at the factory Ducati team. Both satellite Honda seats are taken for 2014, as is Bradley Smith's seat at the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team.
Despite this, there are some intriguing possibilities being played out. The most desirable seat still left is almost certainly the second Monster Tech 3 Yamaha seat currently occupied by Cal Crutchlow. Despite the Englishman's outstanding performance since last year, Crutchlow may not be able to hold on to his seat. There have been credible reports since 2012 that Yamaha have a keen interest in Moto2 title favorite Pol Espargaro, and in the run up to the season opener at Qatar, rumors emerged that Espargaro is already in talks with Yamaha for 2014.
Press releases from the World Superbike series organizer, and World Superbike and World Supersport teams, after Sunday's thrilling races at Assen:
The World Superbike standings after a weekend's racing in the Netherlands make for interesting reading. The day gave us good weather that got better as the day went on and thrilling racing that followed the weather. There were ups and downs, winners and losers and those who leave with a mixture of both.
Race two at Assen was under warmer weather, causing a few tyre changes, but tyres didn't plague any of the front runners.
Fabien Foret leads the championship and starts the race from third place behind the seething rivalry of Sam Lowes and Kenan Sofuoglu.
The weather decided not to turn nasty, allowing us to enjoy another flowing race at Assen. In the warm-up lap, Marco Melandri's BMW had gearbox issues that meant he had to get off and push. He didn't start the race. Chaz Davies, to add to BMW's woes, destroyed his bike in the morning's warm-up and it was being rebuilt until the last possible minute, starting the warm-up lap from the pits. Leon Camier stated that he may only manage a few laps as his injured knee was causing him issues.
Press releases after qualifying for Sunday's Dutch round of World Superbikes at Assen:
Assen, motorcycle racing's cathedral, has been the scene of some of the greatest entertainment in World Superbike racing, hailing back to Carl Fogarty's incredible run of victories, through the Bayliss years up to the Jonathan Rea wins. Assen has always been considered a rider's track, much like Donington and Philip Island. It represents everything that's good about World Superbikes with flowing corners making it a skill and bravery over power track. While it suits certain machinery, a good rider can, so the legends go, win on anything.
Carrying on from this morning, qualifying would come down to whoever was able to dial in a setting with the fewest laps.
The track was dry, if cold, promising to favour the Kawasakis, Aprilias and Jonathan Rea.