Press release previews from most of the MotoGP teams ahead of this weekend's season opening race at Qatar:
Press release previews issued by the Moto2 and Moto3 teams ahead of the season opener at Qatar:
After a week of debate and discussion, the Grand Prix Commission has finally reached an agreement on the Factory 2 class. It took many hours of phone calls, and full agreement was not reached until late on Monday afternoon, but the agreement contains some significant changes to the long-term future of the MotoGP championship. The Factory 2 proposal has been adopted in a slightly modified guise, with any manufacturer entering in the Open class liable to lose fuel and soft tires should they win races. But the bigger news is that the full MotoGP class will switch to use the spec software and ECU from the 2016 season, a year earlier than expected.
The proposals adopted by the GPC now lays out a plan for MotoGP moving forward to 2016. In 2014 and 2015, there will be only two categories - Open and Factory Option - with the set of rules agreed at the end of last year. The new proposal sees manufacturers without a dry weather win in three years to compete as Factory Option entries, but with all of the advantages of the Open class - more fuel, more tires, no engine freeze and unlimited testing. However, should they start to achieve success, they will start to lose first fuel, and then the soft tires. If Ducati - for it is mainly Ducati to which these rules apply, as they are currently the only manufacturer who are eligible at the moment - score 1 win, 2 second place finishes or 3 third places during dry races, then all bikes entered by Ducati will have their fuel cut from 24 to 22 liters for each race. Should Ducati win 3 races in the dry, they will also lose use of the softer rear tires which the Open category entries can use. If Ducati were to lose the extra fuel or tires during 2014, they would also have to race under the same conditions in 2015.
The Red Bull KTM Ajo team issued a press release today, containing an interview with Karel Hanika, the young Czech rookie who has made an astounding debut in the Moto3 class during testing. In the interview, Hanika talks about progress in testing, working inside the Ajo team structure, and being the favorite to win rookie of the year in Moto3. The press release appears below:
"I wasn’t expecting to be so fast in preseason"
Red Bull KTM Ajo rider anxiously awaiting debut in World Championship after strong preseason –in which he was third last week at Jerez.
Karel Hanika is the reigning Red Bull Rookies Cup champion and a Moto3 World Championship debutant with Red Bull KTM Ajo. He has surprised many with his speedy preseason performances, and was third quickest at last week’s Jerez test. The 17 year-old is delighted with his new team, with KTM and with the help of new teammate Jack Miller.
The man with the number 98 will debut this Sunday at Losail, Qatar.
What is your analysis of this preseason?
"I think I can say that after the last test at Jerez, overall it was not bad. We've done a lot of work, many experiments and ridden very well. We have also had a mix of fast laps and race simulation laps. After all that, we are ready to start the season."
It has been ten days since Carmelo Ezpeleta announced to an unsuspecting world that a new category would be added to the MotoGP class to contain Ducati, the 'Factory 2' class. The change was to be ratified on Tuesday, 11th March, in a telephone meeting of the Grand Prix Commission, and Ezpeleta was confident that it would go through without too many problems.
Tuesday came and went, and no agreement had been reached. In fact, it has taken all week and much of this weekend for the situation to approach a resolution. Sources with knowledge of the situation have now confirmed that an agreement will be announced on Monday, allowing the rules to be set in place for the start of the season on Thursday, 20th March.
If you wanted proof that things are changing at Ducati, you need look no further than the launch of their MotoGP team. In years past, it was an outrageously flamboyant affair, a veritable extravaganza hosted by Philip Morris to showcase their two motor sports projects, the Ducati MotoGP team and the Ferrari Formula One squad. Held at the upmarket Italian ski resort of Madonna di Campiglio, the event even had a proper showbiz name: Wrooom. All that was missing was an exclamation mark.
Ducati's 2014 launch was very different. Held not in Italy, but in Munich and Ingolstadt, on premises owned and operated by Ducati's current owners, Audi. The team presentation at the Audi Forum at Munich airport, the unveiling of the livery in the evening, at the Audi Gebrauchtwagen Plus center in Munich, then to Audi headquarters in Ingolstadt the following day, for the presentation of the Germany company's annual report to the press. If the Wrooom event had been flamboyant and over the top, the 2014 launch was serious, focused, yet still stylish. It felt very much like Italy versus Germany, and Germany won.
There was another difference too. Despite the media having been present at both Sepang tests and the Phillip Island tire test, there was still some real meat for journalists to get their teeth into in Munich. Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall'Igna, MotoGP project leader Paolo Ciabatti, Ducati CEO Claudio Domenicali, head of technical development at Audi Ulrich Hackenberg, even the riders Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow all had something new to add. It was much, much more interesting than expected.
The fact that the launch was hosted in Munich, at joint event with Audi, rather than Italy was itself a message, one intentionally framed by both Ducati and Audi. Both Claudio Domenicali and Ulrich Hackenberg, the two heaviest hitters at the Ducati launch, underlined the importance of MotoGP to Ducati. After three years out of contention, Domenicali told the press, the company had even questioned how relevant racing was to its business. After taking a long hard look at racing, Ducati had come to the conclusion that it was a key part of its strategy. Racing lies at the heart of Ducati's brand.
The Red Bull KTM team issued a press release containing an interview with Moto3 rider Jack Miller. In the interview, Miller looks back at preseason testing, talks about his hopes and expectations for 2014, and discusses how spending time on an uncompetitive bike has proven to be a strength. He also predicts when his first podium will come, and dicusses his teammate Karel Hanika. The press release appears below:
"I’ve trained hard for many years and I believe I am prepared"
Dominant in preseason testing, Jack Miller has proven to be one of the in-form Moto3 riders in the week before the start of the World Championship.
He debuted in the World Championship in 2011 and, after contesting the full 2012 and 2013 seasons, Jack Miller has signed with Red Bull KTM Ajo for 2014. The Australian has been quick to adapt to the Finnish team and has taken a big step forward ahead of the season –which starts in a week’s time in Qatar. He will be one of the focuses at Losail when the red lights go out.
How do you rate your preseason?
"It has been a very good preseason. I learnt a lot and the whole team have helped me. We’ve had some truly productive tests, so I think we're prepared."
How was your first experience of the Red Bull KTM Ajo team?
Though it is still some years off, Valentino Rossi is laying the groundwork for his life after racing. The nine-times world champion yesterday announced the start of the VR46 Riders Academy, a program for nurturing young Italian racing talent during the transition into Grand Prix racing.
The academy will consist of offering training facilities to help young riders develop their talent. The riders will have Rossi's gym and his dirt track ranch at their disposal, and will also receive support and tuition from Rossi himself. The first entrants into the academy will consist of the Team Sky VR46 Moto3 riders, Romano Fenati and Francesco 'Pecco' Bagnaia, Moto2 rider Franco Morbidelli, and Luca Marini, Andrea Migno and Nicolo Bulega, all of whom will be competing in the Spanish CEV Moto3 championship. The academy is to be run by Alessio 'Uccio' Salucci, with other key people from Rossi's Tavullia circle.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the last day of the final test at Jerez:
Jack Miller leaves the final Moto3 test of the 2014 preseason in confident mood, having topped the timesheets both on the final day, and leaving as overall fastest. The Red Bull KTM rider did not improve on his time from yesterday, but still held an advantage of three hundredths of a second on the final day, and a tenth of a second overall.
The final day of the test saw a resurgence of the Hondas, both the Estrella Galicia team and Racing Team Germany starting to find a set up which works with the extra power of the Honda engine. The teams still lack some set up date with the new bike, but still booked outstanding progress. Alex Marquez ended the day in 2nd, just behind Miller and ahead of Miller's teammate Karel Hanika, while Efren Vazquez and RTG teammate John McPhee took 5th and 6th, making it three Hondas in the top six, and with Alex Rins taking 10th, four Hondas in the top ten. With Rins still recovering from surgery on his wrist, the Hondas should be a lot closer to the front by the time the season gets underway at Qatar.
Takaaki Nakagami leaves the Jerez Moto2 test as fastest, having dominated all three days of testing. The Idemitsu Team Asia rider was quickest on the final day of the test, just as he had been on Tuesday and Wednesday, holding a comfortable lead over Sandro Cortese on the Intact GP bike. Behind the leading Kalexes came a trio of Suters bearing Thomas Luti, Xavier Simeon and Johann Zarco. Luthi took 3rd on th day, despite still suffering the after-effects of a big highside he had on Wednesday, just edging out Simeon and Zarco, with Luis Salom and Lorenzo Baldassari also very close behind.
With the exception of Nakagami, who held a lead of two tenths over Cortese, the rest of the field was bunched up pretty close. 2nd through 11th were covered by less than half a second, while Ant West down in 19th was the first rider to be a second off the pace of Nakagami. The times were not quite as quick as at the first Jerez test in February, Mika Kallio having posted a lap of 1'42.169 on that occasion. The Marc VDS Racing team and Mapfre Aspar were both absent from the test, having tested tires for Dunlop at Phillip Island last week.
Sam Lowes rode once again on Thursday, though the swollen tendons in his wrist confined him to just 9 laps in the morning. He was the only rider in the top 20 not to have improved his time from Tuesday, and ended the test in 14th.
Repsol Press Release Interview: Dani Pedrosa On Testing, The 2014 Honda RC213V, And Coping With Fuel Limits
The Repsol Press service provided a press release containing an interview with Dani Pedrosa. It it, the 28-year-old Spaniard looks ahead to the 2014 season, and weighs up the strengths and weaknesses of Honda's uprated RC213V. Pedrosa also talks about how he spent the off season, and gives his thoughts on both how the partnership with Repsol helps Honda deal with the reduction in the fuel allowance, and on Ducati's decision to switch to the Factory 2 class.
"The strong relationship between Repsol and Honda can help us adapt quickly to the new 20 litre fuel limit"
Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa analyses recent preseason tests and looks ahead to the new season.
With the 2014 preseason over, Dani Pedrosa feels ready for the challenges the year holds for himself and his team. Less than two weeks away from the start of the campaign in Qatar, the Repsol Honda rider is very positive after a speedy start at Sepang and Phillip Island.
After testing in Malaysia and Australia, what is your review of the 2014 preseason?
"It’s been quite positive. We have completed a lot of laps at two different circuits and useful tests have been made with the tyres. Overall, we have made a lot of progress. Nevertheless, we still have room for improvement. Let's see how long we need."
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the second day of testing at Jerez:
Takaaki Nakagami has topped the timesheets on the second day of the final Moto2 test at Jerez. His advantage is slim, though: the Idemitsu Team Asia rider was just fifteen hundredths quicker than Tom Luthi on the Interwetten Paddock Suter, the Swiss rider holding off former Moto3 champion Sandro Cortese. Cortese had a very strong day on the Intact GP Kalex, ending the day in 3rd, and over a tenth ahead of Johann Zarco on the AirAsia Caterham.
Luis Salom continues to make a strong debut in the Moto2 class, grabbing 5th spot a third of a second behind Japanese veteran Nakagami. Fellow Moto2 rookie Maverick Viñales struggled again on Wednesday, managing only the 14th best time, more than eight tenths behind Nakagami. Reigning World Supersport champion Sam Lowes skipped the second day of the Moto2 test, choosing to rest a painful wrist. A tendon inflammation had flared up overnight, he told British site Bikesportnews.com, and he decided to sit out the test, hoping to ride on Thursday.
The test concludes on Thursday, and with it preseason testing. The only concern will be the weather, as light showers are forecast for the afternoon.
Jack Miller has stamped his authority on the Moto3 class on the second day of testing at Jerez. The Australian put a big gap into the competition, ending the day nearly three tenths of a second ahead of the chasing pack. Isaac Viñales grabbed 2nd spot, the Spaniard putting a big gap of his own over Danny Kent. The Husqvarna man was a quarter of a second slower than Viñales, and the fastest of a tight group containing places 3 through 8. Jakub Kornfeil grabbed 4th on the Calvo KTM, just ahead of the first Honda, Efren Vazquez on the Racing Team Germany bike in 5th.
Though the Hondas are showing improvement, there is still plenty of work to be done. The latest revision of the engines now produces sufficient power, Estrella Galicia team manager Emilio Alzamora told Speedweek.com, but the Honda teams still need to spend a lot of time on set up. Fine tuning the bike will take some time, but the Honda teams are confident they can close the gap. They will need the first few races to get everything dialled in before they are completely competitive, however.