16 September 2014

Rossi the Renaissance man.


After watching the Misano Grand Prix at the weekend it was clear that the future of the hallowed number 46 is as bright as it ever was. Valentino Rossi proved to any of the doubters that he still has the ability to race with and beat the best that our sport has to offer. 
Back to winning ways in front of a simply elated crowd
Photo: YamahaMotoGP


From the red light going out to the wave of the chequered flag, the Yamaha rider was the one to beat, even when his teammate Jorge Lorenzo was out in front there just seemed to be a sense that it was the weekend of the flambouyant Italian. With Misano being just eight miles from Rossi’s home town of Tavullia it always means there will be a sea of supporters in yellow, so this year was no different in that respect but even being sat here in Blighty there seemed to be a air of expectation that was to come to fruition.

There will no doubt be some that cast aspersions over the result in the respect that Marc Marquez ended his own battle for victory, equally though it could be said that the pace of Rossi forced the number 93 to push harder than he’d have liked and forced the error from the Spaniard.

For the last few years it would be fair to say that Rossi hasn’t had the greatest of times in the sport. After being almost pushed out of the door by the emergence of Lorenzo on the other side of the Yamaha garage, to his demoralising spell with Ducati that many hoped would be the Italian dream partnership. Then in the last couple of years when the dream return to Yamaha hadn’t bore fruit as people would have hoped it had been rumoured that one of the greatest riders of all time may step aside. Obviously that was quashed when Rossi signed a new two-year deal with the Japanese manufacturer recently but even then some onlookers were saying the 35 year old Italian couldn’t truly battle for the Championship again as he hadn’t won in some 14 or so months, but it was good for the sport as Rossi is still big business.

15 September 2014

Dovizioso: I didn't believe we could do such a race!

Not only did the Italian riders stun the Italian fans this weekend, Andrea Dovizioso also stunned himself by crossing the chequered flag just 5.5 seconds behind race winner Valentino Rossi.

Dovizioso gave Ducati yet more reason to smile at Misano
Photo: Ducati Corse
Dovizioso handed the Ducati team another promising surprise in the TIM San Marino and Rimini Riviera Grand Prix by sealing fourth place while bridging the gap to the front-runners.

The Italian rider got a quick start off the line and moved up a place to fifth by the end of lap one. Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa soon got past the Ducati man. However, Dovizioso managed to stick to the back of Pedrosa’s bike and they both overtook Andrea Iannone on lap eight. When Marc Marquez lost the front end of his Honda, they both found themselves in a scrap for the final step on the podium. However, Dovi was unable to put a move on Pedrosa and was forced to settle for fourth, ahead of Iannone, at the flag.

Dovizioso admitted his surprise at his performance during his home race. He said, “I am so happy, I did a really great race! This weekend was actually quite a difficult one and I didn’t believe I could do such a race. I’d like to thank all the team because we are working so hard to try and make up the gap to the leaders, and slowly but surely we are succeeding.

14 September 2014

Redding gets factory Honda with MarcVDS for 2015

Go&Fun Gresini's Scott Redding has secured his dream of a factory Honda machine next season, returning to the team who almost took him to his Moto2 World Championship, MarcVDS.
Redding will be back with MarcVDS next year
Photo: MarcVDS

After months of speculation over the whereabouts of Redding and the factory Honda next season, pieces began to fall into place once it was announced the Gresini squad would no longer be running the Japanese manufacturer next season.

Vocal in his 'need' for a Factory Honda following his rookie year on the Production machine, the 21 year old has impressed in the premier class however he knows in order to be a podium contender he needs the Factory machine. Putting in impressive performances at many rounds this season, including his home round at Silverstone, Redding lies 12th in the championship standings and is top production Honda.

Announcing the deal on twitter tonight, the MarcVDS team tweeted: "Marc VDS will move to MotoGP in 2015, with Scott Redding returning to the Marc VDS Racing family. We look forward to welcoming him back!"

More reaction when we get it...

Exultant Rossi writes history with famous home win

Valentino Rossi performed a Misano miracle by stopping Marc Marquez in his tracks and taking a long over-due MotoGP victory in front of a delighted home crowd.

Rossi celebrates with his adoring fans
Photo: Movistar Yamaha
Whenever the Doctor returns to his home country he aims to please and this year the supporters were in for a treat. The thousands of fans who had gathered at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli to watch their home hero saw their dreams come true when the Movistar Yamaha rider secured his first win in 15 months and his first in five years at Misano.

Rossi made his intentions clear from the line by moving up to second from third by the first corner. The Italian soon came under fire from Marquez, with the pair enjoying an almighty scrap but it was Rossi who got the better of his young rival before Marquez skidded onto the grass. Next on Rossi’s hit-list for the lead was teammate Jorge Lorenzo who was on a harder front tyre. After a short battle Valentino gained the lead and dominated for the final 25 laps when he crossed the chequered flag in first place.

Moto3 & Moto2 Round-up – Misano: Rins takes last lap win, Rabat takes control in Misano

The Misano Grand Prix weekend in San Marino had a few surprises in store as a pole start counted for nothing in any of the classes.

Moto3 was a thrilling affair between the Estrella Galicia team-mates – Alex Marquez overtook long time leader Alex Rins on the penultimate lap only for Rins to do exactly the same with his Honda on the final lap to take victory – his second of the year and second in a row after also winning at Silverstone. 

After a great start Red Bull KTM Ajo rider Jack Miller lost his lead to the duo and fell down the order but skill and determination pushed the Australian back into third, but too far adrift to catch up. Marquez's second cuts his Championship lead to nine points.
Back in the driving seat- Rabat              Photo:Marc VDS

Isaac Vinales took fourth for Calvo Team ahead of an exciting performance from Enea Bastianini, the Italian cutting through the pack for fifth, moving up twelve places from 17th position on the grid.

Top Mahindra honours went to Brad Binder in sixth for the Ambrogio Team after Miguel Oliveira crashed out from the leading group.

The experienced Alexis Masbou secured seventh for Ongetta-Rivacold finishing in front of the rather less experienced Andrea Migno, who replaced Arthur Sissis at Mahindra, who impressed powering up to eighth from 22nd on the grid.

A new lap record in the race helped Aspar's Juanfran Guevara to ninth, with Efren Vazquez tenth for SaxoPrint-RTG.

Marquez 'happy' despite first race crash of 2014

Marc Marquez declared himself ‘happy’ with his Sunday pace despite falling out of a fight for first position at the Moto Grand Prix of San Marino.

Marquez pushed Rossi hard for the first ten laps
Photo: Repsol Honda
The Spaniard crashed at the notoriously tight turn fourteen while fighting for the lead with Valentino Rossi on lap ten. He remounted at the back of the field and managed to secure one world championship point for finishing 15th.

“I’m happy with how today went, despite the crash due to my first mistake of the season, because yesterday I did not think that I would be capable of sticking with the Valentino [Rossi] and Jorge [Lorenzo],” Marquez said.

The championship leader started off the front row for the first time since Barcelona, 2013 and a glance at free practice times suggested he would struggle to live with the Movistar Yamahas’ pace. Yet he gladly rolled up his sleeves and fought hard from the start, picking off Lorenzo on lap four and running with Rossi until his fall.

Lorenzo: Valentino deserved the win

Jorge Lorenzo was left to rue a tyre choice that ultimately prevented him from challenging team-mate Valentino Rossi for his maiden MotoGP victory of 2014.

Lorenzo led Rossi and Marquez for the first three laps
Photo: Movistar Yamaha
The Majorcan finished second for the fourth consecutive race having gone with a hard Bridgestone front tyre, a decision that didn’t give him sufficient confidence to push for the win.

The Majorcan started the 28 lap race from pole position for the first time since Motegi, 2013. The pace that he ran through Saturday’s free practice sessions coupled with his stellar circuit record – three consecutive MotoGP wins from 2011-2013 – suggested Lorenzo was the man most likely end Repsol Honda’s domination of the year.

But with track temperatures increasing at Sunday lunch time Lorenzo opted for the hard front Bridgestone tyre. He led into the first corner and subsequently headed Rossi and Marc Marquez until he fell to third on the fourth lap.

MotoGP: Rossi wins first race of the season as Marquez crashes in San Marino

Movistar Yamaha's Valentino Rossi won his first race in 15 months at his home track of Misano ahead of team-mate Jorge Lorenzo in a dominant style.
Rossi has now been winning for 19 years
Photo: Yamaha MotoGP

Atmosphere was building at a full 'Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli' with two Italian's starting on the front row and the sun beating down, it was set to be a thriller. As the lights went out for the start of 28 laps, Lorenzo took the lead into the first corner ahead of Rossi as Marquez shot through into third.

Preventing a copy of last years race, Rossi and Marquez didn't let Lorenzo pull away and were able to stick with the Spaniard in order to fight for the lead. With the front three breaking away the stage was set for a strong battle until the end, as Marquez and Rossi swapped positions across the opening laps with the Repsol Honda rider taking the inside line on The Doctor but it wasn't long before Rossi took second position back, making it clear he wasn't playing any games in-front of his home crowd.

Picking the hard front Bridgestone tyre, Lorenzo's gamble was looking to pay off as he set the fastest lap of the race on the third lap. However clearly a man on a mission, Rossi soon caught his team-mate and secured the lead on the fourth lap after a small scrap with Lorenzo and from there the Italian never looked back.

13 September 2014

Good start 'vital' for Dovizoso as technical problems hinder Crutchlow

Ducati Factory Team's Andrea Dovizoso struggled in qualifying at his home round of Misano, starting on the back of the second row following a strong opening day in the wet.
Dovizoso needs a good start in Italy
Photo: Ducati Factory

Finishing second in free practise three this morning saw the Italian secure his place in Q2 this afternoon, unlike his team-mate Cal Crutchlow who had to fight through in qualifying one. Dovizoso was half a second off the fastest time in FP4 this afternoon and despite sitting in provisional pole in the opening minutes of Q2, he was unable to challenge for the front row.

The 28 year old was disappointed he couldn't stick to his work load, however he explains a second row start is key:“This afternoon we had a few problems and were unable to complete all the scheduled work load. Unlike the last few races, we didn’t manage to get into qualifying with the best possible set-up and as a result this didn’t allow me to get the best out of my technical package. We could have done a better qualifying session, but at this point it’s vital to get a good start from the second row, and then figure out the pace to maintain during the race”.

Marquez misses out on front row start at Misano

Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez missed out on a front row start for the first time this season at the San Marinese track of Misano, qualifying in fourth position.
Marquez hasn't won a MotoGP race at Misano
Photo: Repsol Honda

The reigning world champion has had a competitive pace all weekend, never finishing outside of the top four however he is yet to top a session in the wet or dry.

With rain hitting the east coast of Italy on Friday, it meant riders hadn't had any dry track time when they exited pit lane this morning. This left teams with more work to do in order to find the right set-up, which Marquez feel's he hasn't found yet. His time of 1.33.360 was 0.122s off pole-man Lorenzo's time.

Marquez explained his thoughts on starting from the second row of the grid for the first time since Catalunya last season "This is the first time this season that I've been off the front row, maybe because we haven't yet found the best setup for this circuit. However, we still have the warmup tomorrow in which to try things out and improve. Yesterday's practice sessions were both wet, so that is why today we found it a little difficult to find the optimal setup. Nevertheless, I am happy because I felt fairly comfortable on the bike - which is important for the race - but we will have to fight hard to finish on the podium."

Moto3 & Moto2 qualifying round-up, Misano : Cool Kallio and a well timed Miller take poles.

Great timing sees Miller back in pole position in Moto3, while in Moto2 it was Kallio's skill in the final section of the track which saw him power to the top of the timesheets in qualifying for the Misano Grand Prix.

Moto3 kicked off proceedings on a drying track as the sun finally shone in San Marino, and it was Red Bull KTM Ajo rider Jack Miller who managed the conditions best and timed his lap right as the rivals battled it out in the closing five minutes to seal pole with a time of 1m42.974s.

Second went to Niki Ajo. His best qualifying performance to date saw him put the Avant Tecno Husqvarna Ajo just 0.004s behind championship leader Miller.
Will it be three wins from pole for Kallio?        Photo:Marc VDS

Alex Rins takes the final spot on the front row, leading to a good mixed representation of manufacturers, with his Honda powered Estrella Galicia bike pushed hard by it's Spanish pilot to hold third.

His team-mate Alex Marquez held on to fourth despite a late off. Also on row three are the top Mahnindra of Miguel Oliveira in fifth and British Husqvarna rider Danny Kent in sixth.

Italian Niccolo Antonelli took seventh for Junior Go& Fun, Isaac Vinales eighth for Calvo Team, SaxoPrint-RTG's Efren Vazquez ninth and Ambrogio's Brad Binder completed the top ten.

Romano Fenati again rescued a desperate session with 11th for Sky Racing Team VR46.

A late strong lap pushed John Mcphee up to m15th for the SaxoPrint-RTG Team.

Moto2 was a very tense affair with the top 17 riders all within a second of the top time.

That time of 1m38.043s was set by Marc VDS rider Mika Kallio, who found a major advantage by being the strongest rider by far over the final section of the track, allowing him to snatch a late pole.

His team-mate Rabat was just +0.067s off his pace, and looked frustrated, kicking out near Ricky Cardus as he found traffic to be one area of annoyance on his way to second.

Third went to Tom Luthi, the Interwetten rider had set the pace in the early stages and was still lapping quickly as he bettered his own time to secure third, the top Suter behind the Marc VDS Kalex duo.

Fourth went to Maverick Vinales, who fought his rocking Paginas Amarillas HP 40 bike up the order. The Spaniard is joined on row two by Technomag carXpert rider Dominique Aegerter in fifth and AirAsia Caterham's Johann Zarco in sixth.

A best ever qualifying performance helped Tech3's Cardus up to seventh, Taka Nakagami improved for eighth, Randy Krummenacher took ninth with an impressive performance from Axel Pons placing him in the top ten for AGR, despite an alleged incident with Mika Kallio in pit lane.

It was a tough day for the Moto2 Brits with the injured Sam Lowes in 24th for Speed Up and Gino Rea 28th for AGT REA Racing.

For the full Moto3 result click here, and Moto2 here.


Lorenzo snatches first pole of 2014 at dry Misano

It proved to be thirteenth time lucky as Jorge Lorenzo rode to his first pole position of 2014 with a splendid late lap at Misano.

Lorenzo claimed a first pole position in 14 rounds at Misano
Photo: Movistar Yamaha MotoGP
The Majorcan’s late lap snatched pole position away from home hero Andrea Iannone, who had been on course for a debut pole position in the class with just two minutes to go.

It was a day of firsts as Valentino Rossi confirmed Yamaha’s fine pace around the Adriatic circuit with his debut front row start of the year, while Marc Marquez could only manage the fourth fastest time. 

Tomorrow will be the first time the reigning world champion starts off the front row since his home race in Barcelona in 2013.

Once Lorenzo laid down his marker several riders pushed for one last flyer, notably Dani Pedrosa, who was up on his countryman through the first two sectors. The Repsol Honda man lost time through the tight final double-right hander and was forced to settle for fifth, 0.18s off pole.

12 September 2014

MotoGP: Dovizioso tops crash fest opening day at Misano

Ducati Factory Team's Andrea Dovizioso ended the opening day at his home track of Misano on top in wet conditions ahead of Repsol Honda team-mates Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez.
Dovizioso impresses at home
Photo: Ducati Team

Relentless rain at the San Marinese circuit led to two wet free practise sessions as well a fair few crashes across all classes. It was a strong day for Ducati as Yonny Hernandez topped FP1 with a time of 1.50.310 putting him ahead of championship leader Marquez and fellow Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso.

Barely five minutes into the first session of the weekend and we saw British favourite Bradley Smith crash his Monster Yamaha Tech3 machine; he was the first of six riders to throw their bikes down the road on a slippery track, with home hero's Valentino Rossi, Andrea Iannone and Danilo Petrucci succumbing to the conditions. Thankfully, all riders walked away relatively unhurt.

Track conditions didn't improve for the afternoons free practise session as seven riders were caught out by the conditions, which MotoGP expert David Emmett explained to his 26,000 twitter followers: "Reason Misano so slippery is because cars have left rubber in braking zones, very difficult to judge braking, lots of front end crashes.". 

Ducati's Cal Crutchlow and Aspar's Hiroshi Aoyama were the two riders to put in the longest stints of the afternoon, with many riders not wanting to risk anything in the tricky conditions. Dovizioso topped the timing sheets with less than ten minutes remaining on the clock, and was never challenged at the top. His time of 1.49.195 put him over a second faster than Pedrosa in second.

Aprilia back in MotoGP with Gresini Racing from 2015

Following months of speculation is has been announced today that Aprilia will be making a return to the pinnacle of racing next season, in a team which will be under the Gresini Racing banner.
Melandri has been strong on the WSBK Aprilia
Photo: Aprilia Racing

Ten years since they departed from MotoGP in 2004, the Italian Factory have made the shock decision to move a year earlier than planned, initially hoping to return in 2016. With the cost of running a factory and production Honda proving too much for Fausto Gresini and his team, he made a switch to Aprilia, signing a deal for the next four years.

Despite the positive news about another manufacturer making it's way back into the GP paddock, this brings another twist to the Scott Redding tale, who was 'promised' a Factory Honda by Gresini when he signed at Silverstone in 2013, and as he told PaddockChatter at Silverstone, he wants that Factory Honda.

Speculation is now rife about who will be running the Factory and Production Honda's next season, with Aspar and MarcVDS the two names hotly mentioned in the running.

Now there's just the small matter of the riders, and it sounds like we could see a MotoGP return for Marco Melandri, with Alvaro Bautista keeping his ties with the Italian team. Gresini explained:“I am very glad that Aprilia identified Gresini Racing as the ideal partner to enter the MotoGP World Championship. I would like to thank the Piaggio Group for giving me a fantastic opportunity, that is working closely with such a glorious manufacturer; an Italian brand that has become synonymous with a passion for racing, reaching amazing results worldwide.”

11 September 2014

Midweek Debrief: Bumpy Britain delivers

From the announcement of the MotoAmerica series, which should revolutionise the AMA series following it's downhill spiral over recent years, to the British MotoGP, a new World Supersport champion and the Showdown spots being finalised, it's been a busy few weeks in the motorbike racing world.

MotoGP riders line up for the pre-race press conference
Photo: PaddockChatter
The MotoGP circus rolled up in Northamptonshire for the British Grand Prix last weekend, possibly for the last time and boy did it deliver! All three races at the 'bumpy' circuit provided us with non-stop entertainment and record crowd at the annual Day of Champions, and ended with a stunning Moto3 race which was won by eleven hundredths of a second. We then found out just days later that the 2015 British Grand Prix will be held back at Donington Park as we wait for the Circuit of Wales to be built.

We then (finally) welcomed the return of the World Superbike championship after what felt like years at the Spanish circuit of Jerez. Bringing thrilling racing to a small crowd, round 10 of the championship saw Aprilia reignite their championship charge, as well as one of the best WSS races of the season.

British Superbikes' 'Showdown decider' headed to Donington last weekend and we were treated to a sign of things to come over the next three rounds. Edge of your seat racing from Kiyonari and Byrne as well as the usual Supersport drama made for a fantastic weekend with the sun even making an appearance. 'King Kiyo' did the double, as Jordan Weaving cemented a solid championship lead with a win in the Motul British Motostar and John Hopkins secured his first pole position of the season, only to crash out of race one. It was a weekend of ups and downs that's for sure!

Fives rides worthy of a mention: 
Johann Zarco - Putting a British manufacturer's bike on pole position in Britain deserves a mention surely? Zarco was able to shock everyone by putting his Caterham Suter Moto2 machine at the very front of the grid ahead of Sunday's race, admitting in the press conference he felt that he could fight for the win. He didn't quite get that far, but then again it would take a lot to stop the force of Marc VDS this season! Crossing the line in fourth position, the Frenchman certainly impressed his bosses when it really mattered. Talk about good timing!

Scott Redding - At this rate we'll have to re-name this the 'Scott Redding' section, but the boy's doing good! Thriving off home pressure, even when everyone knows a win is off the cards, the Gloucester rider finished FP2 in the top six as well as getting his production Honda into Q2 on Saturday. Crossing the line in the top ten, Redding was not only top production Honda but top Brit. For his first British GP in the premier class, that's not bad going.