25 October 2014

Moto2 and Moto3 qualifying round-up - Sepang: Rabat seals pole early while Miller leaves it late.

The rising temperature in Sepang played a big part in qualifying with Moto3 getting the coolest temperatures as the got qualifying under way for the Malaysian Grand Prix weekend.

Jack Miller's best lap of 2m 12.450 set a new lap and pole record of Sepang for the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider at the same time as title leader Alex Marquez fell from his Estrella Galicia Honda, leaving him in fifth.

British rider John McPhee had been on the pace all weekend, having been the first rider to set a new best lap of the track in FP3 and remained in contention having topped the session, taking second for the SaxoPrint-RTG team.
On Track...Tito Rabat                             Photo: Marc VDS
The final spot on the front row went to Jakub Kornfeil, a strong performance pushing the Calvo Team man to third.

Efren Vazquez took fourth on the second SaxoPrint machine, Marquez fifth, while Romano Fenati enjoyed his best qualifying for some time with sixth on the grid for Sky Racing Team VR46.

Danny Kent seemed spurred on by a late crash, going on to set his best lap at the flag for a gutsy seventh.

Joining him on row two are Team Calvo's Isaac Vinales in eighth and Mahindra's Miguel Oliveira in ninth, with Enea Bastianini completing the top ten for Junior Team Go& Fun.

Alex Rins continued to struggle and finds himself down in 19th.

Top home rider was wild-card Ramdan Rosli in 21st beating regular rider Zulfahmi Khairuddin by one place, in 22nd after a crash.

Moto2 was last and got the worst of the heat, with even the consistent, metronomic performance of eventual pole man Tito Rabat broken up by a break in his pit box.

21 October 2014

A disappointing end to a season of success for Weaving

Courtesy of StrawBales Media

The curtain came down on the 2014 Motul British Motostar season at Brands Hatch this weekend as Jordan Weaving received the Moto3 championship trophy to complete his most successful season to date.
Championship joy for Weaving in 2014
Photo: Freezeframe-Photography.co.uk

Consistency has been the target in the South African's first full campaign in the British Championship after previous seasons were interrupted by absence as the 17 year old contested the Red Bull Rookies Cup. After eleven rounds of point-scoring finishes, the final race was the one to forget as Weaving was collected by Dutchman Mike Brouwers going in to the left-hander at Stirlings on the opening lap after he'd made up 15 places from the start of the race.

Weaving had work to do on race day after technical gremlins put paid to the all-important second qualifying session on Saturday afternoon, which was held in dry conditions after a damp track hampered times in the morning qualifying session. Unfortunately, at the end of the morning session, Weaving had a low speed crash off the racing line on the run up to Druids, leaving the college student mystified as to the cause. With only cosmetic damage needing to be patched up, the team had the ever-reliable KTM ready for Q2 however unbeknownst to the team the clutch had failed and so losing the full session leaving him on the tenth row of the grid in 28th position.

Despite the trials and tribulations in Kent, the second #Fuelled By XpressCoffee champion of 2014 summed his weekend and the season, "It really has been a fantastic year, I've loved every minute of it. It's not been easy, the competition has been very strong and it could so easily have turned out differently, but it didn't. This weekend was the hardest of the year, without a doubt, not just the race itself but the off at the end of Q1 cost us dear. We know why it happened and it was just one of those things, to top it all off my dad missed the race as he was taken to hospital after crushing his finger whilst working on the bike after morning warm up. He's very sore but ok." 

He continued, "This year wouldn't have been possible without the unselfish support of my whole family along with Burkert Fluid Solutions with their continued support and technical knowledge, SMES, Chris Palmer with his boys Owen and Tristan and Sam Mitchell from XpressCoffee, Steve Patrickson, Gary Dawson and the team at Repli-cast, Shark Helmets, KTM, Dan at Go&Fun UK, our man in Scotland JD, Rory Milton, Richard Griffin, Glen Coombs at Freezeframe Photography, my manager Dave Neal and his daughter Emmy and finally to all the friends and fans, old and new, who've stopped by and wished me luck or just waved from trackside, thank you so much! See you all in 2015."

A still sore Colin Weaving added, "It seems we saved all our bad luck for the final round, we've had an incredible season so we can't complain at all, it's racing. We have never had the the level of support we've had this year, it's always been a small family team but this season we've grow in number and in stature, and everyone has played their part. To echo what Jordan said, thank you so much to all the people involved this season, we couldn't have done it without you all, Burkert as always but Chris and Dave too, who've been instrumental in helping us grow and introduced us to some great new friends like JD, Dave and Mark amongst many more." In closing, Colin said "As it's the end of the season I want to make a special thank you to Steve Patrickson who's helped us immeasurably since we started racing here and will always be indebted to him for his expertise, knowledge and friendship and also to Gary Dawson of Repli-cast for his help and advice over the last few years. Thank you. We don't know exactly where we'll end up next year yet, but we have some exciting plans in place. Chapter two, page one starts here..."

20 October 2014

Smith completes ‘dream’ weekend with debut podium

An exultant Bradley Smith was moved to tears moments after clinching his debut podium in the MotoGP class after a chaotic 27-lap race in Phillip Island.

Smith salutes the Australian fans from the podium - his first in the class
Photo: Monster Tech 3 Yamaha
Smith admitted that at first he hadn’t realised he finished third in a race which claimed the likes of Marc Marquez, Pol Espargaro and Cal Crutchlow in the closing laps, to complete an all Yamaha podium – the first in the class since 2008.

"For sure it is a fantastic feeling to clinch my debut podium in the MotoGP class and I am so pleased to reach this milestone,” said an emotional Smith. “Honestly, I wasn’t too happy with how I was riding at the beginning of the race, I made several mistakes and lost a few positions.

Therefore I told myself to calm down, I improved and moved forward. It’s a bit unexpected to be on the podium in all honesty, but after having great pace all weekend, it is the dream way to complete all of the good work we have done recently. I passed the chequered flag and saw the team on the wall, so I thought that I was in 4th or 5th, but then I saw my name in 3rd on the board as I came around the corner, which was an amazing feeling.”

Crutchlow: We didn’t deserve that

Cal Crutchlow was left to ponder what could have been as he saw a debut podium finish with Ducati agonisingly slip through his grasp at the Australian MotoGP at Phillip Island.

Crutchlow's eyes tell you everything
Photo: Ducati Corse
The 28-year old was a victim of the unpredictable Bridgestone front tyres, brought in especially to combat the circuit's abrasive surface, as he fell from second place on the last lap.

Bolstered by a season best second placed qualifying position, Crutchlow quickly recovered from an early moment with Andrea Iannone to climb four places to sit a comfortable fourth, behind Marc Marquez and the Movistar Yamahas of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo.

Opting for Bridgestone’s new asymmetric front tyre moments before the race, Crutchlow quickly found himself in second after Marquez crashed out and Lorenzo began to fade with near-terminal front tyre wear.

19 October 2014

Buckled rear wheel rim forced Pedrosa to retire in Australia.

Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa had a tough weekend at Philip Island after being forced to withdraw from the race following a collision on the seventh lap.
Pedrosa was victim of a mid-pack fight Down Under
Photo: Repsol Honda

Making it the worst weekend for the Repsol Honda team since Portugal 2010, Pedrosa got a mixed start and was riding in sixth position.

By the second lap he had slipped down to ninth position and was fighting his way back through the pack. He was then involved in a collision with Italian Andrea Iannone after his Ducati clipped Pedrosa's rear. This left Pedrosa's Honda with a buckled rear wheel rim.

Pedrosa was forced to retire out of the race on the seventh lap and his race was over: "We had no luck today. I didn't get a good start, I lost a lot on the opening two laps and I ended up in a position in which I was left exposed to what happened afterwards. When you are riding amongst so many riders in this part of the field there are always incidents, and today it happened to me. Fortunately I didn't crash, but the bike was damaged and I couldn't continue."

Marquez crashes in Australia: "I was not riding on the limit"

2014 MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez had a disaster at Philip Island for the second year in a row, failing to finish the race following a crash for the Repsol Honda rider.
Marquez lost the front end in Philip Island
Photo: Repsol Honda

Starting the race from pole position the 21 year old was looking to improve on last year's DNF in Australia and he got a slow start off the line as he dropped a few places in the opening lap but was back in-front by the end of lap one.

The Spaniard was able to open up a gap on Yamaha duo and had a solid lead by the fifth lap around the Island. However by the 19th lap Marquez lost the front end of this RC213V at the bottom of Lukey Heights, ending his race and meaning this was the second year in a row he failed to score points in Australia.

Tyre problems hindered the majority of the grid this afternoon and Marquez was no exception: "Today, because I had no pressure on me, I tried a different approach pushing hard from the start to try to open the largest gap possible. We were having a good race, right up until the crash. It was a pity that I went down at a time that I was not riding on the limit or faster than the lap before. It was a race where there were many crashes, and almost all happened the same way: the front wheel locking up. 

The temperatures were down a lot, something that was also a factor today. It is better that this happened now, so that I gain experience for next year. You don’t always have the opportunity to try things out.”

Kiyonari: "Looking back at this incredible season I am very, very happy"

Buildbase BMW's Ryuichi Kiyonari was unable to compete in the last War for Four round at Brands Hatch this weekend after a crash in the third free practise session of the weekend which saw him fracture his collarbone.
Kiyonari sat out of all remaining sessions in Kent
Photo: Buildbase BMW

The Japanese rider has made a stunning turnaround of his season after a tough return to the series last year, winning his first race of 2014 at round four of the championship at Knockhill. Since July Kiyonari has been back to his best taking seven wins and six podium finishes in the British class, giving Byrne some strong competition for the title.

Coming into Brands Hatch on the back of a second position and a win at Silverstone, the three time BSB champion was looking in strong form. However he crashed his BMW S 1000 RR at Graham Hill corner on his second lap of the session which ended his record breaking championship chance.

Kiyonari kept an upbeat attitude following the break however, and is already thinking about the 2015 season:“I’m obviously disappointed not to get to battle with Shakey at Brands Hatch, but looking back at this incredible season I am very, very happy. Around one year ago I first spoke to Stuart Hicken and signed to ride the BMW S 1000 RR and we hoped, maybe, to win a race in 2014. We have done that seven times and we are second in the championship. I wanted to prove that I was still fast and now that is certain. 

Rossi wins hectic Phillip Island encounter after Marquez falls

Valentino Rossi rode to his second MotoGP victory of 2014 and his first at Phillip Island since 2005 after an extraordinary race which saw Marc Marquez crash out of a comfortable lead.

Rossi salutes the Phillip Island crowd from the top step
Photo: Movistar Yamaha
The Italian led home team-mate Jorge Lorenzo and Bradley Smith for a first Yamaha one-two-three in the class since Le Mans 2008 but only after Cal Crutchlow cruelly fell from second place on the final lap.

There were crashes and non-finishes too for Iannone and Pedrosa – the Italian tagging the Repsol man at Honda curve, falling and damaging Pedrosa’s Honda sufficiently so that he couldn’t continue -, Bradl and Aleix Espargaro, who were involved in a near identical collision, and Pol Espargaro while closing in on Lorenzo for a podium spot on the penultimate lap.

A race of attrition in which only 14 riders finished, the high fall rate was in doubt due to the changeable temperatures and wind directions throughout Sunday afternoon, not to mention the abrasive nature of the Phillip Island asphalt.

BSB: Byrne secures fourth championship with two victories at Brands Hatch

Shane Byrne has taken the British Superbike crown in the second race of the triple header weekend at Brands Hatch with a double victory as Ryuichi Kiyonari sat out with a displaced collarbone.
Byrne has rewritten history
Photo: MCE BSB

Saturday saw drama hit the MCE British Superbike paddock with broken bones, crashes and slanging matches resulting in the War For Four battle continuing through to the final day of the season. At a wet Kent circuit Howie Mainwaring won race one head of Tyco Suzuki's Josh Waters and Jon Kirkham for Halsall Racing. 

Buildbase BMW announced Kiyonari would not participate in warm-up or race two on Sunday morning resulting in Byrne only needing to finish in fourth position to take the crown for the fourth time in his career. 

Waters got the lead off the line but it was Dan Linfoot and Kirkham who got the wholeshot into Paddock Hill Bend as Ellison shot into third position. On the second lap of 20 Linfoot got into the lead on his Quattro Plant Kawasaki, as fellow Kawasaki rider Byrne was down in tenth. 

There was now a group of top five developing fighting for the victory as Byrne was slowly making his way through the field, getting up to seventh by the fourth lap. The Rapid Solicitors Kawasaki rider was soon able to move into a championship winning position by the eighth lap and was now locked in a battle for the top podium position.

Moto3 and Moto2 round-up – Phillip Island: A home win for Miller as Vinales keeps the Moto2 title alive

Moto3 saw race day at Phillip Island get of to a great start for the home fans as after frantic lead changing and barging it was to be Jack Miller who blocked and weaved his way to win the Australian Moto3 Grand Prix, holding off the advancing Hondas over the final lap.

It is the first time that the Red Bull KTM rider has hit the podium when starting off the front row, resulting in a win, his fifth, by just 0.029 - with just 0.2 second covering the whole of the leading group over the line.
Vinales on his way to victory                  Photo: Pons Racing

Championship leader Alex Marquez lost five points but remained in control after pushing forward to secure second, with his Estrella Galicia team-mate Rins beaten in the drag to the line in third.

Efren Vazquez just scraped past his SaxoPrint-RTG team-mate John McPhee to fourth, with the British rider holding his own well despite injury in fifth.

Alexis Masbou held on despite a few wobbles for sixth and was the last of the leading group to cross the line after a nudge from Miller skittled off Brad Binder and Danny Kent. Binder salvaged the final point for Ambrogio in 15th, with an angry Kent 20th.

Miguel Oliveira was the best of the rest for Mahindra in seventh, ahead of Team Calvo's Jakub Kornfeil in eighth and Niklas Ajo, who recovered well after a big qualifying crash for ninth. Niccolo Antonelli completed the top ten.

The remaining points were sorted out in a big battle between Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) who made up 16 places for 11th, Jorge Navarro (Marc VDS) in 12th, Karel Hanika (Red Bull KTM Ajo) in 13th, Alessandro Tonucci (CIP) in 14th and Binder who regained composure for the final point.

Romano Fenati was one of a handful of crashers, running in the lead group until the closing stages.

Moto2 saw Maverick Vinales take his third win in his rookie and only Moto2 season, the first rider in the class to not be on pole to win at the Island as the Marc VDS riders braking issues at the breezy track kept the title alive for another round.

18 October 2014

MotoGP: Marquez draws alongside Doohan and Stoner with Phillip Island pole

Having basked in his third consecutive world championship triumph for all of six days, Marc Marquez demonstrated what he can with championship pressure lifted by storming to his twelfth MotoGP pole position of 2014 at Phillip Island.

Sights in motorcycle racing don't get much better
Photo: Repsol Honda
Marquez’s late lap of 1min 28.408s was good enough to snatch pole position away from a rejuvenated Cal Crutchlow, who had been on course to claim an unexpected debut pole position in Ducati colours with two minutes to go, and Jorge Lorenzo.

The 2014 world champion’s pole was good enough to draw alongside Mick Doohan (1997) and Casey Stoner (2011) – both present in the paddock this weekend -, who held the record for the highest number of pole positions set in a single MotoGP season.

The final session was dry, although riders were moved to see spots of rain falling at the close of Q1, bringing the first of the two fifteen minute shootouts to a premature close. Thankfully the rain abated as riders rushed to the track in Q2 to post an early time.

Moto2 and Moto3 Round-Up, Qualifying- Phillip Island: Marquez on pole and records for Rabat

As the paddock moves onto Australia for the second of the flyaway rounds at Phillip Island it was to be Alex Marquez who's perfect timing for clear track have him pole and a new fastest lap record in the process ahead of the Moto3 Grand Prix.

The Estrella Galicia rider's time of 1m 36.050 was enough to hold off his team mate Alex Rins final lunge to remain in contention for the title, just 0.014 shy on his Honda.

Juanfran Guevara's Mapfre Aspar finds it's way to a second front row start having also scored the third grid spot in Aragon.
Record breaking Rabat         Photo: Marc VDS

Guevara's late effort saw Danny Kent pushed to fourth, his Husqvarna one place ahead of fellow Briton John McPhee, who in fifth went one better than his team mate Efren Vazquez in sixth.

Jasper Iwema was seventh for CIP ahead of Red Bull KTM Ajo's Jack Miller who just held onto eighth after traffic trouble left him waving frantically at the other riders at his home track.

Alexis Masbou took ninth despite a crash while going out early helped Romano Fenati to tenth.

Also crashing were Niklas Ajo who walked away with destroyed leathers and bike, and Eric Granado who needed a stretcher after already sustaining injury in practice.

Moto2 saw Tito Rabat dominate, leading from start to finish as his lap of 1. 32.70 also setting a new track record on his way to his ninth pole this season, a new record for Moto2.

16 October 2014

Paddock Chatter's British Superbike 'Showdown' Preview

On the eve of the final British Superbike round of 2014 Paddock Chatter gives its thoughts on the upcoming weekend of action.

Who will be crowned British Superbike Champion on Sunday afternoon?

Matt Dunn, Paddock Chatter co-editor: I don't think I've ever been more torn in answering this sort of question, but my heart says that Kiyonari will win.

Can Kiyonari overcome Byrne for his fourth BSB title?
Photo: BMW Motorrad UK
Alannah Fellows, Paddock Chatter co-editor: I think Kiyo's going to do it, but I also think it'll be very, very close! 

Emma Guy, Paddock Chatter contributor: Shakey Byrne.

Steve Day, British Eurosport's World Superbike commentator: Shakey Byrne.

Dave Neal, co-host of MotoPod: Possibly the hardest question of the week! Shakey is on home turf, but that hasn't served him as well as you'd expect when it comes to the final round. It’s hard to see past him not winning at least one race at Brands Hatch, so I think the PBM Kawasaki man will lift the title.

Neil Morrison, Paddock Chatter contributor: Head says Byrne, heart says Kiyonari but I’ll follow my heart on this one (after much deliberation!!). Kiyonari.

12 October 2014

Dovizioso: We are making our fans dream again

Andrea Dovizioso remained in positive spirits after the Japanese MotoGP at Motegi even though he and his Ducati GP14.2 were unable to stay with the factory Yamahas and Hondas during the 24-lap race.

Dovizioso feels the Motegi race was a reality check for Ducati
Photo: Ducati Corse
Dovizioso claimed Ducati’s first MotoGP pole position since Valencia, 2010 on Saturday afternoon with a stirring performance on Bridgestone’s soft option tyre but he couldn’t hold the pace of the Lorenzo and Marquez after lap nine.

 “I think we have to be upbeat about this weekend’s result and look at things in a positive way,” said the 28-year old. “We went really well in practice and qualifying, yesterday we got a fantastic pole position and we have always been up at the top of the timesheets. We are making our fans dream again and so it’s obvious that we are creating expectations, but the fact is that we are still not ready to aim for the win.”

Lorenzo: We didn’t expect to lead this much

In a fashion similar to twelve months ago Jorge Lorenzo was back to his very best as he won in front of the factory bosses at the Japanese MotoGP for the second consecutive year.

Lorenzo celebrates on the podium with Rossi and Marquez
Photo: Movistar Yamaha
The rejuvenated Majorcan was in irresistible form as he swept past team-mate Valentino Rossi into an early lead from his fifth position slot on the grid. From there he quickly established a two second advantage, which he managed to maintain once world champion in waiting moved into second.

“It’s unbelievable,” said a jubilant Lorenzo after the race. “It has been a very difficult year but Yamaha has been improving the bike little by little and we’re getting better every race. In Aragón, because of the 'flag to flag' we were able to win. We were lucky under the circumstances and I also improved in the race compared to the practice.”

“Here we expected to get more and more strong for the race and be able to fight for the win but we didn’t expect to lead by this much and have a gap of 2.7 seconds in the middle of the race. I’m very happy to win the race for the second time in a row.”