“Lies, damned lies, and statistics” is a phrase made popular by Mark Twain as a comment on the power of numbers when used in supporting an argument.
Well, as someone who has a lifelong fascination with numbers both in my ‘day job’ as an engineer and in my passion of motorcycle racing I am afraid that is what you are going to get lots of if you read this blog! I will be looking at some of the records and milestones achieved in the grand prix season and will examine the stories behind the numbers.
Of course it is a great pleasure to write this first blog after having witnessed such a tremendous season of grand prix racing, with many records set. To start off with the most impressive of those records:
– There were nine different winners in the MotoGP class in 2016 (Lorenzo, Marquez, Rossi, Miller, Iannone, Crutchlow, Viñales, Pedrosa, Dovizioso) a new record for most different winners in a single season in the premier-class of grand prix racing. The previous record was eight different winners in a season in 2000: Kenny Roberts Jnr, Garry McCoy, Valentino Rossi, Max Biaggi, Alex Barros, Alex Criville, Loris Capirossi and Norick Abe.
For me this unpredictability greatly increases the drama and excitement of a grand prix weekend. The anticipation of each grand prix is tremendous when at the start of the weekend there are maybe four or five riders with a strong chance of taking the race win and a handful of others who can be a threat if the circumstances fall their way. Much better than when racing is dominated by a single rider who can put on a show of close racing before clearing off on the final five laps.
Many reasons have been given as to why there have been so many different winners this year, one of the most popular being that it was due to the inclement weather suffered at a number of the races. However, it must be stressed that seven of the riders who won this year did so in dry weather conditions (the only riders who won wet races only were Miller and Dovizioso).
There is little doubt that the change to the new electronic regulations has had an equalizing effect and the change to Michelin tyres has introduced an additional variable. The overall result of these changes to the technical regulations has been that there have been more bikes on the grid capable of winning races than ever before in the MotoGP era, and for the first time since 1994 four different manufacturers won dry weather premier-class races (in 1994 it was Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki and Cagiva). Also the level of riders on the grid is at an all-time high, with eighteen of the full-time riders lining up on the grid for MotoGP this year having won World Championship motorcycle races.
The big question now is – can this trend of multiple winners continue in 2017? Well, I don’t see why not. All six full-factory riders in the Yamaha, Honda and Ducati teams are certainly capable of winning in 2017, along with Andrea Iannone on the improving Suzuki. And I do not expect Cal Crutchlow to be happy with podium positions now that he has been on the top step. I for one will be hoping the unpredictability continues and we have more drama-filled weekends to look forward to next year.
The interview with Jordan Moreland for Belfast Met Radio talking about the upcoming MotoGP season:
Click the video below to hear the interview. Thank you to Moreland for a being a great interviewer.
Monster Energy Grand Prix of France
ROUND FOUR 2012 MotoGP™ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP SUNDAY MAY 20
CRUTCHLOW PUSHES FOR LEGENDARY LE MANS PODIUM
Cal Crutchlow pushes for his first MotoGP™ podium of the season in the Monster Energy Grand Prix of France at the legendary Le Mans circuit on Sunday. The Isle of Man based Midlander has been pushing so hard for that podium finish against the factory bikes in the opening three rounds of the MotoGP World Championship and fancies his chances in the 28 lap race round the 2.600 mile Bugatti circuit at Le Mans.
It’s the home race for his French-based Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team and the former World Supersport Champion lies fifth in just his third season in the MotoGP World Championship. His team-mate Bradley Smith, who took his very first 125 cc podium in 2007 at Le Mans, starts just his fourth MotoGP race encouraged by his tenth place in the previous round in Jerez.
Also encouraged by his Jerez performance is 31 year old Ulsterman Michael Laverty. He scored his first ever world championship points with 13th place at Jerez riding the Paul Bird Motorsport CRT machine. He has finished all three of the opening rounds and improvements to the electronics should see him very capable of more points on Sunday.
Twenty year old Gloucestershire Marc VDS rider Scott Redding has made a superb start to his Moto2™ World Championship campaign. Two second places in the opening three rounds sees him trail Spaniard Esteve Rabat in the championship by a single point and the battle will continue in the 26 lap race on Sunday with Redding so close to that first vital Moto2 victory.
It’s been tougher going for Wiltshire teenager Danny Kent and Spanish-based Yorkshire man Kyle Smith. It’s a big weekend for Kent’s Tech 3 team and the perfect venue for him to start his points scoring campaign while Smith makes his debut at the Bugatti circuit. Londoner Gino Rea makes a welcome return to the Moto2 fray on an FTR machine funded by him and fans (see separate story).
It’s better news in the highly competitive Moto3™ class where both Danny Webb and John McPhee scored points in Jerez. Kent-based Webb’s 13th position finish placed him 14th in the world championship after scoring at every round. Scottish teenager McPhee grabbed his first points of the season with an impressive 11th.
“Le Mans is a big weekend for me and the team and we face it with plenty of confidence. Jerez had been a difficult weekend in many respects so I was very satisfied with fifth because probably last year I would not have finished the race in the same situation and that’s for sure an improvement. The next day we tested at Jerez and I was happy to have got through so much work and do almost 70 laps because my back was still quite sore from the two big crashes I had on Saturday. It was a positive day and after a tough weekend with the crashes to finish fifth in the race and second in the test shows again we are doing a good job.”
REA RETURNS AFTER PLENTY OF HELP FROM HIS FRIENDS
Londoner Gino Rea makes a welcome return to the Moto2 fray on the FTR Honda after a lot of help from fans, friends and family. They have all clubbed together to finance Rea to race at Le Mans and at least the Hertz British Grand Prix at Silverstone in September after his intended full season ride fell through at the start of the season.
Last year Rea finished a brilliant third in the Moto2 race at the rain sodden Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang riding for the Gresini team.
“I would not have thought that there were that many people wanting me to get back out on track. I would like to send a huge thank you to everyone. It’s all been a great motivation to me and now I’m itching to get back out there.”
MARQUEZ MARCHES INTO LE MANS
Twenty year old Marc Marquez marches into Le Mans for the fourth round of the MotoGP World Championship this weekend with a three point lead in the championship. The Monster Energy Grand Prix of France around the 2.600 mile Bugatti circuit at Le Mans is only his fourth MotoGP race but the Moto2 World Champion has finished on the podium in the first three including victory at Austin, Texas.
It promises to be another bruising 28 lap encounter on Sunday with his Spanish rivals, Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa and World Champion Jorge Lorenzo. Pedrosa won the previous round in Jerez with Marquez second after a clash at the infamous last corner with Lorenzo who won the Le Mans race last year. The trio are separated by just four points.
Last year nine times World Champion Valentino Rossi brought Ducati a much needed second place in the difficult conditions at Le Mans and the Italian returns on the factory Yamaha hoping for a repeat although it will be tough against the leading trio. British Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow has made a superb start to the season with two fifths and a fourth place. It’s a big home race for his French-based team with his team-mate Bradley Smith looking to push closer to the leaders after finishing tenth in Jerez.
Spaniard Alvaro Bautista has made a steady start to the season on the Go&Fun Gresini Honda but trails Crutchlow by seven points in their battle for fifth while the Ducati duo of Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden are only two and four points behind respectively. Spaniard Aleix Espargaro has made a great start and is comfortably the top CRT bike on the Power Electronics Aspar machine. He has been top CRT rider in those opening three rounds and leads factory bike riders Andrea Iannone, Stefan Bradl, Smith and Ben Spies who missed the last race through injury. It’s a big race for former Moto2 World Champion Bradl who has crashed the LCR Honda in two of the three races.
Old rivals since their schoolboy days Esteve Rabat and Scott Redding are separated by a single point going into the Moto2 battle. Spaniard Rabat has been the surprise of the season taking his first win and pole position at the previous round at Jerez on the Tuenti HP 40 Pons Kalex. Redding, riding the Marc VDS Kalex, has grabbed two second places to trail by that single point. Pre-season favourite and Rabat’s team-mate Pol Espargaro won the opening round in Qatar but a crash in Texas followed by a third in Jerez puts him ten points down on Redding. Former 125 cc World Champion Tom Luthi won the race last year and made a welcome return with a brave 11th at Jerez following his massive pre-season crash.
It’s just as close in the Moto3 World Championship with Jerez winner Maverick Vinales, who won his first ever grand prix at Le Mans two years ago, leading Luis Salom by four points. Spanish teenager Alex Rins crashed in Jerez but holds onto third place by a single point from German Jonas Folger. The Moto3 riders will be hoping for a full 24 laps on Sunday with the two previous rounds being halted by a red flag.
LE MANS FACTS AND FIGURES
Circuit Length: 4.185 kms
Width: 13 m
Pole Position: Left
Longest Straight: 674m
Left Corners: Four
Right Corners: Nine
Pole Position Record
Friday 17 May
0855–0940 MotoGP Free Practice1 BST Connected TV & Online
1210-1450 Free Practice 2 BST Connected TV & Online
Saturday 18 May
0855–0940 MotoGP Free Practice 3 BST Connected TV & Online
1120–1505 Qualifying Red Button and British Eurosport 2
1300-1400 MotoGP Qualifying BBC1 HD
0945–1220 Moto3 and Moto2 races Red Button and British Eurosport
1230–1415 MotoGP race BBC2 HD
Monday 29 April 2013
bwin Grand Prix of Spain
ROUND THREE 2013 MotoGP™ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP SUNDAY MAY 5
CRUTCHLOW AND REDDING RACE INTO EUROPE
Cal Crutchlow and Scott Redding spearhead the considerable British charge into Europe at the bwin Grand Prix of Spain at the legendary Jerez circuit in Spain on Sunday. Isle of Man – based Midlander Cal Crutchlow has started his third season in the MotoGP™ World Championship in superb form while 20 year old Gloucestershire rider Scott Redding leads the Moto2™ World Championship after the opening two rounds in Qatar and America.
Crutchlow arrives at the 2.748 mile circuit in Southern Spain fired up to take on the factory bikes. Riding for the Satellite Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team he has grabbed fourth and fifth places already this year, led the final day of pre-season testing at Jerez and finished fourth last year. His new team-mate Bradley Smith won his first grand prix at Jerez in the 2009 125 cc race. The Oxfordshire rider scored his first ever MotoGP points in Texas with a 12th place and will be looking to push on over the weekend at a track he knows well and on which he has tested the MotoGP Yamaha. Ulsterman Michael Laverty also returns to a track on which he has tested the Paul Bird Motorsport CRT machine. He must fancy his chances of his first ever MotoGP points after impressive performances in the opening two races in his debut season.
Redding has a four point lead in the Moto2 Championship after second and fifth places on the Marc VDS Kalex machine. The sparks will fly in the 26 lap race on Sunday with three riders sharing second place in the championship including Texas winner Nico Terol. Last year’s Jerez winner Pol Espargaro who crashed in Texas will also be a massive threat. Wiltshire teenager Danny Kent and Spanish-based Yorkshire man Kyle Smith chase their first points of the season at a circuit they both know well.
After a couple of miserable seasons the experienced Kent-based Danny Webb is at last finding a change of fortune in the Moto3™ class. Riding the Ambrogio Racing Suter Honda he’s picked up points at the opening two rounds. Scottish teenager John McPhee could do with a change of fortune. His Caretta Technology FTR Honda was wrecked when he was taken out in the Qatar race which made for a tough time in Texas. He returns to Jerez in better shape.
“I was very pleased with the result in Texas and we did a better job than any of us expected. To finish fourth and be behind Marquez, Pedrosa and Lorenzo is a great achievement for all and gives us confidence to take into the next few races. I’m giving it my all and I’ll never give up and I think in Texas again we showed how competitive the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 package is. Now we go to Jerez and I was quickest at the winter test a few weeks ago, so it’s going to be another big battle that I’m excited about.”
REDDING RE-WRITES THE HISTORY BOOKS
The Moto2 World Championship leader Scott Redding is the first British rider since Tom Herron in 1976 to lead the intermediate class in the MotoGP World Championship. It was 37 years ago that Herron led the 250 cc World Championship by a single point from Walter Villa after winning at the 1976 TT race in the Isle of Man.
The last British rider to lead a World Championship was Bradley Smith in 2009. After his victory at the Italian Grand Prix in Mugello he led the 125 cc World Championship from Julian Simon by 3.5 points.
EUROPEAN KICK OFF WITH MIGHTY JEREZ CONFRONTATION
The first MotoGP European grand prix of the season promises to provide a mighty confrontation at the bwin Grand Prix of Spain at Jerez on Sunday. After two superb opening races in Qatar and Texas the action switches to Europe around the 2.748 mile circuit in Southern Spain and all the components are in place for a continuation of the battle.
World Champion Jorge Lorenzo and the youngest ever Premier class winner 20 year old Marc Marquez share the lead in the championship after a victory apiece at the opening two races. Factory Yamaha mounted Lorenzo has already two MotoGP victories in Jerez but Marquez has never won a grand prix there. Their respective team-mates Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi have both tasted MotoGP success at Jerez and will be desperate to claw back the points advantage. Pedrosa riding the Repsol Honda was successful five years ago while Rossi has secured six wins on both Honda and Yamaha machinery.
Diving right into the middle of those four factory riders will be Cal Crutchlow who has looked more than capable of mixing it with them in the opening two rounds. Riding the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha he has grabbed fifth and fourth places and also led the final day of testing this year at the track where he was fourth last year. Spaniard Alvaro Bautista injured his hand at that final test but has made a steady start on the Go and Fun Gresini Honda while the new Ducati pairing of Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden have made a solid start. It’s a marathon rather than a sprint for the Italian factory and so Dovizioso’s two seventh places represent the start of what could prove a long journey. They will be joined by test rider Michele Pirro in the 27 lap race.
Former Moto2 World Champion Stefan Bradl was mighty relieved to finish fifth in America after crashing out on the LCR Honda in Qatar and will seek to climb from his tenth place just one point in front of the impressive Aleix Espargaro. The Spaniard was the top CRT bike last year and has put the Power Electronics Aspar ART top CRT at the opening two rounds, giving the likes of MotoGP newcomers Bradley Smith and Andrea Iannone a tough time. Iannone’s Pramac Ducati team-mate Ben Spies will miss the race still suffering from a shoulder injury sustained last year despite finishing 13th in his native Texas.
Twenty year old Scott Redding leads the Moto2 World Championship after second and fifth places on the Marc VDS Kalex. Three riders shares second place just four points adrift. Former 125 cc World Champion Nico Terol won in Texas from Tito Rabat and Mika Kallio and they will be looking over their shoulders for Dominique Aegerter who’s made a brilliant start with two fourth place and Qatar winner Pol Espargaro. The Tuenti HP40 Pons Kalex rider crashed out in Texas but won his first Moto2 race at Jerez in difficult conditions last year.
Just one point separates the three leading riders in the Moto3 Championship. Spanish teenager Alex Rins, after his first grand prix victory in Texas and Qatar winner Spaniard Luis Salom share the lead. Maverick Vinales’s two second places put him one point adrift and the fight between these three and many others is certain to continue in the 23 lap race on Sunday.
JEREZ FACTS AND FIGURES
Circuit Length: 4.423 km
Width: 11 m
Pole Position: Left
Longest Straight: 607m
Left Corners: Five
Right Corners: Eight
Pole Position Record
1.38.189/162.164 km/h (2008)
1’39.731/159.7 Km/h (2010)
Friday 3 May
12.05 – 15:00 Free Practice British Eurosport 2
Saturday 4 May
11.30 – 15:00 Live Qualifying Red Button and British Eurosport 2
Sunday 5 May
09.45 – 12.30 Live Moto3 and Moto2 Races Red Button and British Eurosport 2
12.30 – 14:00 Live MotoGP Race BBC2
After impressive starts to their respective seasons British riders Cal Crutchlow and Scott Redding chase podium finishes in the very first MotoGP™ race in Texas, the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas on Sunday.
The 3.427 miles Circuit of the Americas in Austin hosts the second round of the MotoGP World Championship for the first time. At the opening round of the season in Qatar Crutchlow fought tooth and nail with the factory bikes to eventually finish fifth in the MotoGP race. Redding pushed eventual Moto2™ race winner Pol Espargaro to the limit to finish second.
Isle of Man – based Midlander Crutchlow was contesting second place on the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha in Qatar when he ran on at turn one and had to settle for fifth behind the factory foursome of Lorenzo, Rossi, Marquez and Pedrosa. Throughout the weekend he’d harassed the factory bikes and will continue to do so at the new circuit starting in the very first practice session on Friday morning.
It was a tough MotoGP debut for his new team-mate Bradley Smith who crashed out after impressive practice and qualifying sessions. His main aim will be to secure his first MotoGP finish in the 21 lap race on Sunday. Thirty one year old Ulsterman Michael Laverty made a solid MotoGP debut in Qatar finishing 17th on the Paul Bird Motorsport CRT machine. More track time for him and the team should result in his first World Championship points very soon.
Redding’s stunning performance in Qatar was a real boost for the Marc VDS team. The 20 year old Gloucestershire rider fought Moto2 pre-season favourite Espargaro throughout the race and his first win in the class can’t be far away. Although they finished out of the points both Danny Kent and Kyle Smith made decent starts to their Moto2 careers. Wiltshire teenager Kent was 18th on the Tech 3 machine while Spanish-based Yorkshireman Smith was 21st on his World Championship debut.
The highly experienced Kent rider Danny Webb picked up his first World Championship points for over a year with a hard fought 11th in the ferociously fought typical Moto3™ race in Qatar riding the Ambrogio Racing Suter Honda. Not so lucky was Scottish teenager John McPhee who was fighting for championship points when he was brought down.
“It was a great night in Qatar for Yamaha but also for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team because I showed that I can battle for the podium. The top four are the best riders on the best bikes but I pushed them as hard as I could until the small mistake stopped me. I’m best of the rest and that’s pleasing and hopefully I can be up there again in Austin.”
“It’s a new track for everyone, which will be interesting, but I’m sure it won’t take any of us long to get up to speed. I’ve never had a problem learning new tracks and I’m looking forward to seeing what the Circuit of the Americas has to offer. If we approach this race in the same way as we did the last then I think there’s every chance we can repeat the success of Qatar in America. That’s the goal, anyway”
THE CIRCUIT OF THE AMERICAS – FOURTH AMERICAN MOTOPGP VENUE
The brand new Circuit of the Americas is the fourth circuit in America to host grand prix motorcycle racing. The first American Grand Prix was held at Daytona in Florida in 1964. Laguna Seca in California staged its first grand prix in 1989 with the world famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway coming on board in 2008. This year there will be three MotoGP races in Americas at the Circuit of the Americas, Laguna Seca and Indianapolis.
LORENZO AND ROSSI CHARGE INTO TEXAS
World Champion Jorge Lorenzo and team-mate, nine times world champion, Valentino Rossi lead the charge into Texas for the second round of the MotoGP World Championship on Sunday. The Yamaha riders dominated the opening round in Qatar but know it will not be so easy at the very inaugural Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin.
The demanding 3.427 miles Circuit of the Americas track stages its very first MotoGP event after hosting its first Formula One car race last season. Lorenzo has tested at the track earlier in the year with team-mate Rossi and the Honda trio of Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa and Stefan Bradl. Rossi’s second place in Qatar on his return to Yamaha and his battle with Rookie Marc Marquez made all the headlines somewhat eclipsing the perfect weekend for the Lorenzo in both qualifying and the race.
Pedrosa was disappointed with his fourth place especially being beaten by his new Repsol Honda team-mate, Marquez, who’s debut lived up to all the pre-season hype. Cal Crutchlow fought tooth and nail with the factory bikes until running on at turn one and having to settle for fifth on the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha. Spaniard Alvaro Bautista was a brave sixth on the Go and Fun Gresini Honda despite considerable discomfort from a hand injury sustained in a testing crash. The former 125 cc world champion should be stronger after a two week break.
Another former 125 cc world champion Andrea Dovizioso made a solid start to his Ducati career with a seventh place one place in front of American team-mate Nicky Hayden Ben Spies, the last American winner of a MotoGP race, was not helped by a practice crash but finished tenth behind his Pramac Ducati team-mate Andrea Iannone on his MotoGP debut.
Last year the CRT battle was fought out between Power Electronics Aspar team-mates Aleix Espargaro and Randy De Puniet and the opening round in Qatar gave every indication it will be the same this time round. Last year Espargaro came out on top as he did in Qatar but keep an eye on Hector Barbara who was the third top CRT bike despite problems in practice and qualifying.
The MotoGP grid will be increased to 26 riders with the inclusion of American riders Blake Young riding the Attack Performance Racing Kawasaki and Mike Barnes on the GP Tech’s Suzuki.
Pol Espargaro and Scott Redding should continue their Moto2 Qatar battle that was only decided on the last bend in favour of the Tuenti HP 40 Kalex rider. They will be checking out Japanese rider Takaaki Nakagami who was not only third in the race but very impressive in qualifying and practice on the Italtrans Kalex. Some old hands including Mika Kallio, Julian Simon, Simone Corsi and Alex De Angelis where close behind and it promises to be a typical 19 lap Moto2 encounter round the new circuit.
The second year of Moto3 started in Qatar with a breathtaking five rider battle. Spaniard Luis Salom just came out on top riding the Red Bull Ajo KTM and thirsting for revenge in Austin will be the other four; Maverick Vinales, Alex Rins, Alex Marquez and Jonas Folger. Throw in the likes of Fahmi Khairuddin, Miquel Oliveira and Arthur Sissis and the new American audience is in for a treat.
CIRCUIT OF THE AMERICAS FACTS AND FIGURES
Circuit Length: 5.513 km / 3.426 miles
Width: 15 m
Pole Position: Right
Left Corners: Eleven
Right Corners: Nine
Friday 19 April
19:10 – 22:00 Free Practice British Eurosport 2/ BBC Live Streaming
Saturday 20 April
18:20 – 21:00 Live Qualifying Red Button/British Eurosport 2
Sunday 21 April
16:45 – 19:30 Live Moto3/ Moto2 Races Red Button/British Eurosport 2
19:30 – 21:00 Live MotoGP Race BBC3
21:00 Replay MotoGP Race British Eurosport 2
2013 Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar
ROUND ONE 2013 MotoGP™ WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP SUNDAY APRIL 7
Crutchlow poised to end 32 year old British MotoGP™ drought
Twenty seven year old Isle of Man – based Midlander Cal Crutchlow is poised to end the amazing 32 year old drought for British riders in the MotoGP™ World Championship as he lines up for the opening round of the 2013 championship in Qatar on Sunday evening.
It was 32 years ago that Barry Sheene was the last British rider to win a premier class grand prix but Crutchlow’s form in pre-season testing suggests that the drought may soon be over. He starts his third year in the MotoGP World Championship at the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar under the floodlights at the 3.343 miles desert circuit riding the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha after some superb pre-season testing. He led the way on the final day of the Jerez test in mixed conditions last week following his two podium finishes last year.
The former World Supersport Champion has shown he is capable of fighting with the factory bikes especially in mixed conditions which he may not get in Qatar. The wind and sand can be the major problem but in the remaining 17 rounds of the Championship he has a great chance of re-writing the history books.
He is joined in the Tech 3 team by MotoGP debutant Bradley Smith. The 22 year old Oxfordshire rider was runner-up in the 2009 125 cc World Championship and was signed up for MotoGP a year and a half ago after three successive Moto2™ podium finishes. He has made steady progress in testing and that learning curve will continue throughout his debut season.
Ulsterman Michael Laverty also makes his MotoGP debut riding in the CRT Category for the Paul Bird Motorsport team. The PBM team has built their own frame for the Aprilia engine as they enter their second year in MotoGP with a two man team.
Twenty year old Gloucestershire rider Scott Redding heads British hope in the Moto2 class. Last year he grabbed four podiums on his way to fifth place in the Championship riding the Marc VDS Kalex machine and returns to the fray with a wealth of experience and helped by the minimum weight rule in the class. It’s a big year for Redding while two other British riders make their Moto2 debuts.
Wiltshire teenager Danny Kent had a superb season in the Moto3™ class last year winning two grands prix in Japan and Valencia before replacing Bradley Smith in the Tech 3 Moto2 team this year. He’s joined in the class by 21 year old Yorkshireman Kyle Smith who chose a very different route. The Spanish-based rider finished second in the very competitive Spanish CEV Stock Extreme Championship last year which included a win at Jerez. He joins former World Champion Toni Elias in the Blusens Avintia Kalex team.
The Moto3 debut season was a fantastic success last year and two British riders prepare for battle in the fiercest of all Championship classes. The experienced Kent-based Danny Webb deserves a real change of fortune and hopes to find it by switching to the Ambrogio Racing Suter Honda team. Scottish teenager John McPhee impressed at the end of last season and has been rewarded with a full time ride in the Caretta Technology – RTG FTR Honda team.
“It is obviously very satisfying to finish the Jerez test with the fastest time because it shows what a really good job I did and what a great job my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team did too. It has been a positive pre-season and I think I have shown I have made another big improvement for this year. This result gives me a lot of confidence going to Qatar but my goal will be to finish in the top six and get some early momentum like I did last season. It is going to be a very exciting season and now I can’t wait to get to Qatar.”
The race in Qatar will herald the new qualifying system in the MotoGP Class. The top ten riders from the three practice sessions will automatically be seeded into the second qualifying session. The remaining riders will participate in the first qualifying session. The top two riders from that session will then join the top ten from practice in the second Qualifying session to determine the front four rows of the grid. The remaining places on the grid will be determined by the times from the first qualifying session.
There will be a 30 minute untimed practice session before the two qualifying sessions. The qualifying in Moto3 and Moto2 will remain the same as last year with a single session.
Vintage year uncorked in Qatar
What promises to be a vintage 2013 MotoGP season is uncorked at the opening round of the 18 round championship at the CommercialBank Grand Prix of Qatar on Sunday evening.
Under the floodlights of the 3.342 miles Losail International circuit the 24 MotoGP riders clash for the first time and the 22 lap race should give us a foretaste of the bruising battles that lie ahead.
World Champion Jorge Lorenzo arrives with an old Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi back in the fold to face the might of Honda. Dani Pedrosa finished second in the championship last year after winning six of the last 11 grands prix and is joined in the Repsol Honda team by Moto2 World Champion Marc Marquez. Throw the likes of Cal Crutchlow, Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl into the mix and it should explode at the desert circuit.
Lorenzo will be seeking a good start and has two 250cc and 125 cc victories in Qatar but the only other MotoGP winner in the race is nine times World Champion Valentino Rossi. The Italian returns to Yamaha after a disastrous two years at Ducati determined to make it four wins for himself and Yamaha at the Losail International circuit.
If Pedrosa hits the ground running he could be the biggest threat to his great rival Lorenzo’s crown and he has a new young team-mate to keep him on his toes. Twenty – year old Marc Marquez has been the sensation in pre-season testing and makes his MotoGP debut in Qatar where he won the Moto2 race last year in typical aggressive style.
Former Moto2 World Champion and Qatar winner Stefan Bradl starts his second MotoGP season after an impressive first year with the LCR Honda team. Former 125 cc Qatar winner Alvaro Bautista should have fully recovered from a testing crash to ride the Goandfun Gresini Honda while Cal Crutchlow starts his third MotoGP season riding the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha absolutely flying after some brilliant pre-season testing.
His former ream-mate Andrea Dovizioso joins former World Champion Nicky Hayden at Ducati determined to re-ignite the fortunes of the Italian factory while former World Superbike Champion Ben Spies joins MotoGP debutant Andrea Iannone in the Ignite Pramac Racing Ducati team. Another debutant is 125 cc grand prix winner, Bradley Smith who replaces Dovizioso at Tech 3.
The CRT category starts its second year and promises to be a real battle with the Power Electronics Aspar Aprilia duo of Aleix Espargaro and Randy de Puniet fighting to stay on top and to get among the prototypes machines at every opportunity. Former 250 cc World Champion Hiroshi Aoyama returns to partner Hector Barbara in the strong Avintia Blusens Aprilia team. Former World Superbike Champion Colin Edwards is joined by Italian Claudio Corti at NGM Mobile Forward Racing FTR Kawasaki while Ulsterman Michael Laverty and Columbian Yonny Hernandez team-up at Paul Bird Motorsport.
As always the Moto2 Championship is sure to provide many different winners and some breathtaking racing. Pol Espargaro must be favourite after such an unlucky season last year on the Tuenti HP 40 Pons Kalex but picking a winner in this class is a real lottery. From last year’s mix you have to fancy Scott Redding, Nico Terol, former World Champion Tony Elias, Julian Simon and Johann Zarco while checking out the newcomers from Moto3. Heading the list is German World Champion Sandro Cortese and grands prix winners Danny Kent and Louis Rossi.
The Moto3 Championship is equally wide open. Spanish teenager Maverick Vinales must be favourite on the Team Laglisse KTM but is fighting to be 100 per cent fit after damaging his hand in a testing crash. German Jonas Folger and Spaniard Luis Salom won grands prix last year and check out some of the impressive youngsters such as Spaniards Alex Rins and Alex Marquez and Australians Arthur Sissis and Jack Miller.
LOSAIL FACTS AND FIGURES
Circuit Length: 5.380 km / 3.343 miles
Width: 12 m
Pole Position: Left
Longest Straight: 1.068m/ 0.664 miles
Left Corners: Six
Right Corners: Ten
Pole position record:
Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha)
1’53.927/170.003 km/h (2008)
Casey Stoner (Ducati)
1.55.153/168.193 km/h (2008)
Thursday 4 April
15:45 – 20:45 Free Practice Red Button and British Eurosport 2
Friday 5 April
15:45 – 20:00 Free Practice Red Button and British Eurosport 2
Saturday 6 April
15:45 – 19:30 Live Qualifying Red Button and British Eurosport 2
Sunday 7 April
16:40 – 19:30 Moto3 and Moto2 Races Red Button and British Eurosport2
19:30 – 21:00 Live MotoGP Race BBC2
21:00 Replay MotoGP Race British Eurosport 2
Nick will be available at the circuit from Wednesday lunchtime until Sunday night. Please note Nick will not be available to answer the phone during practice, qualifying or the races.
A time schedule for the event is attached.
Bradley Smith returns to the Sepang track in Malaysia fired-up for the second MotoGP™ test of the season which starts on Tuesday. The 22 year old Oxfordshire rider had a very impressive first full MotoGP test at the 3.447 miles circuit on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur at the beginning of the month.
In three days of testing in hot humid conditions he finished a very impressive eighth fastest and was less than half a second slower than nine times World Champion Valentino Rossi. He returns on the 250 bhp Monster Tech 3 Yamaha with still a great deal to learn about riding the fast, complex machine on the Bridgestone tyres before that opening grand prix of the season in Qatar on April 7.
The Oxfordshire rider has stayed out in Malaysia between the tests and has kept fit with motocross, supermoto and cycle training in the heat. There will be one more test at Jerez in Spain after the three days in Sepang before that first race of the 18 round season.
“Now the hard work starts to close the gap on those top riders even more. Of course I was pleased with that first test and thought it was a decent start by a rookie but I suppose I’ll show if I deserve the ride when I start mixing it with the likes of Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista. I’m having to re-learn how to ride a bike that is so incredibly fast. I feel I’m riding ten out of ten but I’m around the seven mark. I need to forget so much I learnt riding a Moto2 bike and trust the Yamaha and the Bridgestone tyres. Also the carbon brakes mean you brake so much later from a much higher speed. I can’t wait to get back out there and work with the Tech 3 team who were fantastic at the first test. I’ve kept very fit and really enjoyed the motocross, supermoto and cycling. Hopefully that hard work will pay off on Tuesday and for the next two days. Let’s hope the rain stays away and I can make the next big step in my MotoGP education.”
The British trio of Cal Crutchlow, Bradley Smith and Michael Laverty head back to Sepang in Malaysia brimming with confidence for the second MotoGP™ test of the season which starts on Tuesday.
All three British riders had a morale boosting first test at the 3.447 mile Sepang circuit at the beginning of the month and return for three more days of track time before the opening grand prix of the season in Qatar on April 7.
Isle of Man based Midlander, Crutchlow started his third season with the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team. He followed up his two podium finishes last season by finishing fifth fastest in that first test behind the factory Repsol Hondas of Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez and the factory Yamahas of World Champions Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi. He was just over half a second slower than Pedrosa who led the way.
Oxfordshire’s Bradley Smith had a very impressive first full MotoGP test finishing eighth fastest. Crutchlow’s Yamaha team-mate is still adjusting to the sheer speed and complexity of riding a 250 bhp MotoGP machine after two years in the Moto2™ class. He’s stayed in Malaysia between the two tests keeping fit with motocross and Supermoto training in the heat. It is important the weather stays dry for the three day test as the 22 year old needs as much track time as possible before that first grand prix.
Ulsterman Michael Laverty also had a superb test at Sepang as he prepares for his first MotoGP season riding the Paul Bird Motorsport machine. He was a very impressive 15th fastest overall and was the third fastest CRT machine behind the very experienced Aleix Espargaro and Randy de Puniet. Laverty returns to Sepang with the new British-built PBM frame and the Magneti Marelli electronics to test.
The first MotoGP test earlier in February heralded what could be a vintage MotoGP season. Two big questions were answered immediately. Nine times World Champion Valentino Rossi is back on the pace riding the factory Yamaha after those two disastrous years at Ducati. He was third fastest followed by Moto2 World Champion Marc Marquez who was right up there with the MotoGP grand prix winners from the very first morning.
It promises to be another crucial three day test. Fingers crossed the rain stays away and the riders avoid injury as that opening grand prix approaches.
Twenty year old Scott Redding leads the British charge in the first Moto2™ and Moto3™ tests of the 2013 season which start in Valencia tomorrow. He will be joined on the Moto2 grid by debutants Danny Kent and Kyle Smith while in the hugely competitive Moto3 class the very experienced Danny Webb and Scottish teenager John McPhee have their first rides of the season.
Gloucestershire-based Redding is a pre-season favourite on the Marc VDS Kalex machine after finishing fifth, including four podium finishes, last year. He is still the youngest rider ever to win a grand prix and realises what a massive season lays ahead in the 17 round championship.
“My main goal for this season is to be in the battle for the championship, and I need to start the process with two good tests in Valencia and Jerez this month, before returning to Jerez for the final test in March,” he explained before the three day test at the 2.489 miles Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia. “I’ve been working hard over the winter, because I feel like I need to be prepared for the first race more than any this season. I was out in Spain for a month doing a lot of training, not just in the gym or on the bicycle, but also on my MX and Supermoto bikes. I also spent some time in Austria doing some core training and working on my mental and physical approach, just so everything is 100% when I get on the bike for the first time tomorrow.”
Kent-based Danny Webb returns for another season of grand prix racing looking for a little bit of good fortune. He rides the Suter Honda for the Ambrogio Racing team after two tough years with the Indian Mahindra team. John McPhee made a good impression when he rode in selected grands prix at the end of last season. He has been rewarded with a full time ride with Racing Team Germany on an FTR Honda.
The three days Valencia tests starts tomorrow (Tuesday) and testing will continue in Jerez next week.