Monthly Archives: March 2017

LIGHTS ON – THE WAIT IS OVER IN QATAR

The floodlights will light up the desert night sky when the long awaited MotoGP™ season launches into 2017 at the Losail International circuit in Qatar on Sunday. Four British riders, all who have tasted grand prix success, line up at the 3.343 miles circuit just outside Doha for the opening round of the championship that produced nine separate winners last season.

Heading the list is Isle of Man – based Midlander Cal Crutchlow who re-wrote the history books last year with two MotoGP victories on the LCR Honda. The 31-year-old was the first British rider to win a premier class race for 35 years and in pre-season testing has impressed and has every chance in the next 18 grands prix of winning more races and even challenging for ultimate championship success.

It’s a big season for Gloucestershires Scott Redding who came strong in the final test at Qatar last week. Riding the Octo Pramac Ducati the 24-year-old was seventh fastest at the Losail International circuit. A repeat in the 22 lap race on Sunday would be the perfect start for Redding who is still the youngest ever grand prix winner.

Oxfordshire’s Bradley Smith faces a tough opening few races as he spearheads the new Red Bull KTM team’s maiden season in MotoGP. He has recovered from the serious knee injury sustained last August and will be looking for points scoring rides in the opening three flyaway grands prix starting on Sunday.

Lincolnshire’s Sam Lowes makes his MotoGP debut after two grands prix wins last year in the Moto2™ class. The 26-year-old, whose twin brother Alex competes in the World Superbike Championship, has joined Aleix Espargaro in the Gresini Aprilia team.

Former Moto3™ World Champion Danny Kent continues in the Moto2 class. The Wiltshire – based rider had a tough time last year after winning the Moto3 Championship the previous season. He continues with the Kiefer team but switches to a Suter frame

Twenty-two-year-old Scotsman John McPhee gives the new British Talent team their grand prix debut. McPhee returned to testing fully fit after missing the last two grands prix last season following a crash in the Australian Grand Prix, just a few weeks after a brilliant win at the wet Czech Republic Grand Prix.

 
BRIT BRIEFS

– The four British riders in the MotoGP class in 2017 are all past grand prix winners. The last time that four British riders who are grand prix winners took part in a premier-class grand prix was at Silverstone in 1979 (Barry Sheene, John Newbold, Mick Grant and Tony Rutter).

– The six British riders across the three classes are all past grand prix winners. The last time that Britain had six or more grand prix winners take part in the opening grand prix event of the year was in 1970 at the Nurburgring.

 
DID YOU KNOW?

Fifteen of the riders on the full-time Moto2™ entry list have previously won grand prix races. Between them, these fifteen riders have scored seventy-one world championship race wins. Five of the riders competing in Moto2 in 2017 have won the 125cc/Moto3 World Championship: Thomas Luthi, Sandro Cortese, Alex Marquez, Danny Kent and Brad Binder.

As usual there are lots of changes in the full-time Moto3™ entry list for 2017, with a total of seven rookies on the grid. Six of the riders in the Moto3 entry list have grand prix victories to their name: Romano Fenati (7 GP wins), Nico Antonelli (3), Enea Bastianini (2), Livio Loi (1), Joan Mir (1) and John McPhee. (1).

 
Qatar Facts and Stats

– This will be the 14th occasion that a grand prix event has been held at the Losail circuit and the tenth under floodlights.

– This will be the 11th successive year that the Losail circuit has hosted the opening grand prix event of the year.

– After winning the final race of 2016 at Valencia on a Yamaha, Jorge Lorenzo has switched to the Ducati factory team for 2017 and will be aiming to become just the second rider ever to win back-to-back premier-class grand prix races on machine from two different manufacturers. The only rider to have previously achieved this was Valentino Rossi who won the opening race of 2004 in South Africa on a Yamaha having won the final race of 2003 at Valencia on a Honda.

– Yamaha have been the most successful manufacturer in the MotoGP™ class at the Losail circuit with seven wins, including four times in the last five years.

– Honda have had three MotoGP wins in Qatar, the last of which was in 2014 with Marc Marquez.

– Ducati won at Losail in three consecutive years, 2007 to 2009, with Casey Stoner riding.

– The best result for a Suzuki rider at the Losail circuit is the fourth place finish by John Hopkins in 2007.

– The riders with most GP victories at Losail is Jorge Lorenzo with six victories (3 x MotoGP, 2 x 250cc, 1 x 125cc).

– The second place finish by Marc Marquez at the final race of 2016 was the 51st time he has stood on the podium in the premier-class of grand prix racing, the same number of podium finishes as both Alex Criville and Kevin Schwantz achieved in their 500cc GP careers. If Marquez finishes in the top three in Qatar he will equal the number of premier-class podium finishes achieved by Wayne Gardner.

– Jonas Folger is the only one of the four rookie in the MotoGP class this year to have previously won at Qatar in any of the smaller classes, having taken the Moto2™ victory there in 2015.

– The last three MotoGP races of 2016 were won by three different manufacturers: Honda, Ducati, Yamaha. Not since 1975 have four successive premier-class GP races been won by four different manufacturers; on that occasion it was Yamaha, Kawasaki, Suzuki, MV Agusta.

– Having taken his first victory in the MotoGP last year at Silverstone riding a Suzuki, if Maverick Viñales wins a race at any time in 2017 on the factory Yamaha he will be the second youngest rider of all-time, after Mike Hailwood (Norton & MV Agusta), to have won in the premier-class on bikes from two different manufacturers.

– If Valentino Rossi, at the age of 38, finished in the top three during 2017 he will be the oldest rider to take a premier-class podium since Jack Findlay won the Austrian GP in 1977 – a race that was boycotted by many of the top riders due to safety concerns.

– If Maverick Viñales takes a MotoGP win in 2017 he will be only the fourth rider in the history of grand prix racing to win premier-class races on both Suzuki and Yamaha machinery, along with Barry Sheene, Randy Mamola and Jack Middelburg.

 
VINALES LEADS THE DESERT CHARGE

Can Maverick Vinales turn his dazzling testing form into race wins after he has dominated MotoGP™ pre-season testing on the Movistar Yamaha? The 22-year-old Spaniard has made a sensational start to his Yamaha career leading all three pre-season test sessions including the Losail International circuit test last week. He joins 38-year-old nine times World Champion Valentino Rossi, with the departure of last year’s Qatar winner Jorge Lorenzo to Ducati. Last year Vinales, a former Moto3™ World Champion, took his maiden MotoGP victory at the Octo British Grand Prix riding for the Ecstar Suzuki team. He is replaced at Suzuki by Austrian Grand Prix winner Andrea Iannone who has rookie Moto2™ winner Alex Rins as his team-mate.

World Champion Marc Marquez crashed five times in the Qatar test as he struggled to tame the power of the Repsol Honda and it promises to be a season long fight for glory between the three times MotoGP Champion and Vinales. Lorenzo made good progress on the GP17 Ducati in Qatar but the 22 lap race on Sunday may just come a little early for a repeat of his victory last year. His Ducati team-mate Andrea Dovizioso has been fast and consistent throughout testing at a circuit where he has a good MotoGP form.

The surprises on Sunday could come from a fit Danny Pedrosa, a rejuvenated Alvaro Bautista on his return to the Pull and Bear Aspar Team Ducati, the Monster Tech3 Yamaha rookie duo of Moto2 World Champion Johann Zarco and Jonas Folger. The grand prix also marks the proper debut of the Red Bull KTM team of Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro.

With four of the leading riders stepping up to MotoGP this year’s Moto2 Championship is wide open. Pre-season favourites must include Tom Luthi, Franco Morbidelli and Takaaki Nakagami but there is some big talent coming up from Moto3 including World Champion Brad Binder and grand prix winner Khairul Idham Pawi.

It’s the same story in Moto3 with the departure of the World Champion. Italian Romano Fenati returns after his problems and has looked impressive on the Marinelli Rivacold Snipers Honda and will face tough opposition from fellow Italian grand prix winners Enea Bastianini and Niccolo Antonelli.

 

MOTOGP HIGHLIGHTS ON CHANNEL 5

A new deal for 2017 sees the best of MotoGP™ free-to-air across the country

Dorna Sports is delighted to announce a new free-to-air home for highlights of the FIM MotoGP™ World Championship in the UK, as Channel 5 get ready to fire up new coverage for 2017. With the first Grand Prix just around the corner in Qatar, fans in the UK will now be able to watch the best of MotoGP™ every Monday following the race – with a prime-time slot assured.

The announcement comes as interest in the UK hits a new peak following Cal Crutchlow’s stunning victories in 2016, when a Brit got back on the top step of the premier class podium for the first time since the legendary Barry Sheene in 1981. There is also the new Dorna-backed British Talent Team lining up John McPhee in the Moto3™ category this year, as well as the debut of the British Talent Cup in 2018, meaning the timing could not be better for a new free-to-air home for MotoGP™ in the UK.

Television Times

Thursday March 23 BT Sport 2 14.00 – 19.45
Friday March 24 BT Sport 2 14.45 – 18.45
Saturday March 25 BT Sport 2 14.30 – 18.30
Sunday March 26 BT Sport 2 13.45 -21.00

Radio – Sunday March 26 talkSport2

Monday March 27 Channel 5 19.00 Highlights.

By | March 20th, 2017|Uncategorised|1 Comment

CRUCIAL THREE DAYS BEFORE THE OFF

The four British MotoGP™ riders face a crucial three day test around the 3.343 miles Losail International Circuit in Qatar starting on Friday. The desert track will stage the opening round of the 18 round MotoGP World Championship in just over two weeks’ time and these three days are the final test before the much anticipated season gets underway under the floodlights on Sunday March 26.

Isle of Man – based Midlander Cal Crutchlow was fifth fastest on the LCR Honda in the previous test at Phillip Island in Australia. The double grand prix winner has been working hard with the Repsol Honda factory team of World Champion Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa to curb the aggressive power of the Honda. Progress is being made and the three days around the Losail circuit will be a good indication just how Honda and Crutchlow will be prepared when they line up for the 22 lap opener.

It’s a crucial three days for the other three Brits. Gloucestershire’s Scott Redding is struggling on the Octo GP16 Pramac Ducati with major grip issues. He made some progress on the final day at the previous test in Phillip Island and hopes that will continue. His great rival Bradley Smith is happy with the progress being made with the new factory Red Bull KTM team. The former 125 cc grand prix winner is working well with team-mate Pol Espargaro to develop the new bike and some engine modifications are expected in Qatar.

Moto2™ grand prix winner Sam Lowes prepares for his MotoGP debut in a couple of weeks on the Gresini Aprilia. The Lincolnshire rider is concentrating on adapting to the Michelin tyres and electronics of the MotoGP machine and three clear days of testing at Losail International circuit will be vital before his MotoGP debut.

 
VINALES CHASES FOUR IN A ROW

Twenty – two year old Maverick Vinales chases his fourth top of the charts performance at this final MotoGP test before the real action gets underway at the Losail International circuit in Qatar. The Spaniard, who has made a seamless switch from Ecstar Suzuki to Movistar Yamaha, led the way in the final Valencia test last year and at the Sepang and Phillip Island tests this year. While his team-mate, 38 years old nine-times World Champion Valentino Rossi, struggled in Phillip Island, Vinales led the way once again on the M1 Yamaha after a much anticipated battle with World Champion Marc Marquez, riding the Repsol Honda.

Marquez fought back in Australia after a difficult first test in Sepang and the three day test in Qatar should be a foretaste of the much anticipated battles that lie ahead between these two super talented Spanish riders. Together with team-mate Dani Pedrosa and satellite riders Cal Crutchlow and Jack Miller, the World Champion has been working hard to curb the aggressive power of the RC213V Honda and the Qatar test will give us an indication just how successful they have been.

Three times MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo is adjusting to the very different characteristics of the factory Ducati after his switch from Yamaha. His lap times improved in Australia and it’s a vital three days for the Spaniard as he starts the new stage of his new career at the Losail International circuit where he brought Yamaha success last year. Team-mate Andrea Dovizioso continues the development of the GP17 machine, which Danilo Petrucci also rides in the Octo Pramac colours.

Andrea Iannone is enjoying life at Ecstar Suzuki after being replaced by Lorenzo at Ducati while his new team-mate Moto2 grand prix winner Alex Rins finished in the top ten in Australia. Two other MotoGP rookies Moto2 World Champion Johann Zarco and German Jonas Folger who was fourth in Australia, have really impressed in the Monster Tech3 Yamaha team. Aleix Espargaro is making progress on the updated RS – GP Gresini Aprilia while Hector Barbara found some precious time at Phillip Island on the Reale Esponsorama GP16 Ducati as did Alvaro Bautista on a similar machine in the Pull&Bear Aspar colours.

 
KENT AND MCPHEE IN JEREZ

The first official Moto2™ and Moto3™ tests started at Jerez in Spain yesterday. Former Moto3 World Champion Danny Kent and Scotsman John McPhee fly the British flag in their respective classes and despite some private testing this is the first time all the teams and riders have come together before a final Qatar test and then the opening grand prix on March 26.

Wiltshire-based Kent struggled last season in the Moto2 class after winning the Moto3 world title the previous year. He returns with the same Kiefer team but with a Suter frame. Oban-based Scotsman McPhee has been given a great chance to push on from his maiden Moto3 grand prix win last year. He will ride a factory Honda in the new British Talent team. He has fully recovered from the injuries sustained in the Australian Grand Prix last year causing him to miss the last two races and stay in Australia for over a month.

 
THE ROAD TO MOTOGP BECOMES A REALITY FOR BRITISH YOUNGSTERS

The wait is over for the British Talent Team and the British Talent Cup to officially launch last week, with London proving the perfect backdrop for the presentation of the exciting new projects as Dorna pulled the covers off the latest phase of the Road to MotoGP™ program. In attendance were FIM Moto3™ World Championship rider for the British Talent Team John McPhee, British two-wheeled legend Jeremy McWilliams, who is to act as British Talent Scout for the project, and Cup Talent Promotion Director Alberto Puig.

The launch sets in motion both the new British Talent Team and the British Talent Cup; Dorna’s commitment to the future of motorcycle racing in the UK and British Isles.

The new British Talent Cup is designed as the perfect stepping-stone for riders from the British Isles to get onto the world stage, providing an opportunity like no other for young talent to grow and progress on the Road to MotoGP™. Races will take place at existing Dorna-run events – such as MotoGP™ and MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship weekends – and the riders will race on Honda Moto3™ machinery. The British Talent Team is the presence of this project on the world stage, in the FIM Moto3™ World Championship – the last stop on the Road to MotoGP™ that begins, for these riders, in the British Talent Cup.

Dorna has been deeply involved in young rider programs since before the turn of the millennium, beginning with the FIM CEV Repsol and the Movistar Junior Cup – then going on to include initiatives such as the Asia Talent Cup and the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup. The Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup began in 2007, creating and continuing to create riders of incredible calibre like Johann Zarco, twice Moto2™ World Champion, and Brad Binder, reigning Moto3™ World Champion, who have joined FIM CEV Repsol graduates and subsequent World Champions such as Marc Marquez and Maverick Viñales on the list of young rider successes to have come from these initiatives. More recently, the Asia Talent Cup was born in 2014 and is now beginning to see Champions such as Ayumu Sasaki emerge onto the world stage – the 2015 ATC Champion and 2016 Red Bull Rookies Cup Champion debuts in the Moto3™ World Championship in 2017.

The British Talent Cup is the latest addition to this honour roll of young rider support and talent promotion, with selection set to take place in 2017 and the engines ready to fire up next year. Designed to develop British riders who would otherwise struggle to gain an opportunity to showcase their talent, the Cup will race at Dorna-run events including the UK Round of WorldSBK at Donington Park and the British GP at Silverstone. A range of circuits in the UK and Spain form a tentative base for the proposed calendar, and the bike will be a Honda NSF 250R Moto3 machine. Riders coming through the new Cup also have the incentive of seeing the British Talent Team in Moto3™, knowing there is a program designed around their journey to the FIM World Championship with Dorna supporting British talent on every rung of the ladder.

The first ever selection program for the Cup will preface the 2017 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, in the week leading up to the event. There, prospective riders will be put through their paces and the best offered the chance to race in the Cup’s inaugural 2018 season. Then riders are on the Road to MotoGP™ – with the ladder to the top waiting to be climbed. The application process runs from the 5th May to 18th June, and riders who will be invited to the selection process will be informed before the 21st July.

Onboard with the Team and Cup will be the experience of Jeremy McWilliams as British Talent Scout and Alberto Puig as Talent Promotion Director. British two-wheeled legend McWilliams adds his experience to the project in helping to find and develop these riders of the future, with Puig bringing his knowledge and experience from the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup – as well as a long career guiding talents such as Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner on their paths to World Championship glory.

With a long and distinguished history in motorsport, the British Isles are the perfect place for Dorna to take another step forward in their ongoing investment in the future: the British Talent Cup.

All the up to date lap times and breaking stories from Qatar first on motogp.com

By | March 10th, 2017|News and Events|Comments Off on CRUCIAL THREE DAYS BEFORE THE OFF