18 April 2015

Moto3 and Moto2 – Argentina: Record tumble as Oilveira and Zarco secure pole in the dying seconds.

With the sun finally with the paddock in Argentina the good weather lead to a highly competitive Moto3 session, before making the track slippery and wind appearing for the last class to take to the track, Moto2.

Despite this both qualifying sessions shared similar qualities, with the track record dropping further and the closing seconds being crucial, and record altering.
Close, lap after lap - Rabat at work but settles for second Photo EG 0,0 Marc VDS

Qualifying Reports:


Moto3 got qualifying started and initially it was Danny Kent who looked to have control and a strong candidate to top the timesheets at the flag. His controlled and dominant performance for Leopard racing was halted by a last lap dash by Red Bull KTM rider Miguel Oilveira, giving the manufacturer their first pole this year.

Kent's time remained good enough for second, with Nico Antonelli completing the front row for Ongetta Rivacold.

Efren Vazquez (Leopard Racing) took fourth after staying on his bike following contact which could have easily lead to a crash, Isaac Vinales (Husqvarna Factory Laglisse) early lap held on for fifth, with Karel Hanika having a return to form in sixth for Red Bull KTM.

Jorge Navarro ( Estrella Galicia 0,0) was top rookie in seventh, his team-mate Fabio Quartararo could only manage 16th on his first tour around Rio Hondo.

Romano Fenati (Sky Racing Team VR 46) made a late surge to push for eighth, one place ahead of another well performing rookie, Hiroki Ono for Leopard Racing. Enea Bastianini completed the top ten for Gresini.

13 April 2015

MotoGP Austin: Keep Austin Weird

Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez came out and rained on Britain's parade this weekend in Austin, becoming the only non-Brit to win a Grand Prix, although we suppose even we knew a British
Marquez dominates in America once more
Photo: Repsol Honda
MotoGP winner was a little out of reach this Sunday.

With fog, water under the bridge and superstars turning up at the Circuit of the America's, the 22 year old was able to secure his third win at the COTA. There are now just 25 points covering the top five in the championship and MotoGP 2015 gets better and better!

Race Report

With no jump starts recorded year it was Jorge Lorenzo from the back of the front row who seemed to have the wholeshot on his Movistar Yamaha, however after almost coming into contact with Dovizioso the Spaniard was pushed back through the pack. Dovizoso took the lead into the opening corner, ahead of Marquez and Valentino Rossi.

Getting a strong start off the line, Scott Redding was having a dramatic opening lap and following a mistake from Lorenzo, Redding lost the front end of his EG 0,0 Marc VDS machine and took Pol Espargaro out with him. Marquez hit the front on the fifth lap and never looked back, leaving Rossi and Dovizioso to fight it out for second position.

12 April 2015

Moto3 and Moto2 Austin: The Brits are coming! – Impressive wins for Kent and Lowes.

The predicted bad weather didn't have much of an effect on the support class races, with just a few spots of rain to hamper the riders in Moto3 and Moto2. Brit boys Danny Kent and Sam Lowes both used their racecraft to pull out leads which they converted  into convincing wins at the Circuit of the Americas, in Austin Texas.

Both riders had looked strong over the weekend in the lead up to the race but had faltered when in control before, missing poles and crashing out while leading races, but no such mistakes were made this time.

Qualifying Reports:

Miguel Oliveira had been the early race leader, often finding himself at the sharp end of the lead group before crashing out of contention. It was to be Leopard Racing rider Kent who had the mind to sit back and let the pack test conditions before hitting the front when confident with what the track had to offer and pull away for a commanding win with a lead of 8.5 seconds.

11 April 2015

Moto3 and Moto2: A lesson in perseverance – Poles for Kent and Simeon.

The MotoGP paddock made it's second stop of the season in Austin, Texas for the qualifying action to be a show in determination in all classes.
After that tricky season in Moto2 and a hard first season back in Moto3 Danny Kent continued to build with a pole position. Xavier Simeon also rallied for just his second career pole in Moto2, with even more perseverance on show from the hurting Sam Lowes who he just beat in the final moments.

Both classes set new lap records in the process.

Qualifying Reports:

After being at the front for most of Qatar bar when it counted for qualifying Danny Kent set about his task of pole with an attention grabbing performance on the Honda, utterly dominant on his way to his first pole of the season with Leopard Racing.

Kent's new record was 0.998 faster than Miller's 2014 record.

After some serious lapping Miguel Oilveira came closest to rivaling Kent, the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider the only man to also see his personal best give him a sub 2m16 time. They are joined on the front row by Gresini's Andrea Locatelli.

Fellow Italian Niccolo Antonelli was just a shade behind on the timesheets in fourth, joined on row two by the best performing rookies Estrella Galicia riders Jorge Navarro and Fabio Quartararo in fifth and sixth respectively.

Seventh went to Isaac Vinales, eighth Enea Bastianini, ninth Francesco Bagnaia with Qatar race winner Alexis Masbou completing the top ten.

Moto3's second British rider John McPhee had to wait for his bike to be fixed following a frustrating crash with Livio Loi after five minutes, the troubled Saxoprint RTG rider eventually able to pick off enough places for 15th on the grid.

There were also big crashes for Manzi, Ajo and Ono – with the Japanese rider's causing a brief red flag.


With Moto2 Qatar riders all featuring at the front in practice it was expected it would be Zarco, Lowes and Rabat dueling it out for qualifying honours.

Though Lowes' very early hot lap, which was followed by a chatter induced crash for the Speed Up rider, looked like holding on it was to be Xavier Simeon's late dash that pushed his Gresini to pole, for just the second time in his career and the first since 2013.

He again broke the lap record on his way to pole as had long time leader Sam Lowes before his time was ultimately bettered.

The pair are joined on the front row by Tito Rabat, the EG 0,0 Marc VDS man putting in an impressive 20 laps on his way to third on the grid.

Johann Zarco's late push was only good enough for fourth for Ajo Motorsport, while Franco Morbidelli held fifth for Italtrans despite a late crash. Sixth went to Idemitsu rider Taka Nakagami, who had hoped for more before having his best lap hit traffic.

Julian Simon starts sevneth for QMMF, Alex Rins is the best of the rookies in seventh for Paginas Amarillas HP 40 ( main rival Alex Marquez starts 23rd) while Dominique Aegerter made huge improvements learning behind Rabat for ninth.

Tech 3's Marcel Schrotter held on to tenth after crashing at the same time as Morbidelli.

Qatar race winner Jonas Folger finds himself 19th, Tom Luthi had bike woes all session hampering his progress in 17th.

There were also crashes for Mulhauser, Cardus and Baldassarri.

Full Moto3 qualifying results here.

Full Moto2 qualifying results here.

3 April 2015

Seven things to look forward to in BSB 2015

The clocks have gone forward, Easter eggs are on Supermarket shelves, and MotoGP is under way, it can only mean one thing - the first round of the 2015 British Superbike Championshop season is upon us.
Back to school - the class of 2015.
Photo: MCE BSB

It's set to be the biggest ever BSB season - literally - with 40 riders set to grace the grid at Donington Park on Easter Monday. Making up the numbers are riders from 11 different countries. With young guns looking to make their mark, returning heroes from the world stage, and highly experienced BSB veterans out with a point to prove; a mistake at any single round could be pivotal in who will make the cut through to the Showdown in September.

PaddockChatter has been keeping an eye on testing and come up with seven things we're most looking forward to seeing when the lights go out in Derbyshire on Monday...

Aussies on a brand new bike with a point to prove... 

Photo: Milwaukee Yamaha
The new Yamaha R1 has been arguably the most eagerly anticipated Superbike of the year, and has received praise far and wide. The first test for the Milwaukee Yamaha squad, Josh Brookes and new team mate & compatriot, Broc Parkes, went smoothly for the team on the whole, with team manager Mick Shanley beaming at the bike's 'huge potential', stating that the team "haven't even scratched the surface yet". Brookes seems more determined than ever before to wrap up a BSB title, he has even backed out of road racing for this year in an attempt to fully focus on the short circuits. Meanwhile, former World Supersport ace and Yamaha factory Superbike golden child from the EWC,  Broc Parkes, took a hat-trick of podiums the last time he competed in BSB as a wildcard with PBM at Brands Hatch in 2009. Should he be able to adapt to the tricky nature of the British circuit calendar, who could bet against the Andorran resident for being a permanent podium threat? Both will be immensely strong contenders throughout the season, but there is always a degree of uncertainty when developing a brand new bike.

Estment previews 2015 British Supersport return: 'I'm more prepared than ever'

Bjorn Estment will be returning to British shores for 2015 to compete once again in the fearsome British Supersport Championship for the Evo class honours.
Estment will be riding a NFB backed Triumph 675 for 2015
Photo: Evan de Boer/PaddockChatter

Having spent the previous two seasons with Colin Appleyard's squad, Estment has formed his own outfit for 2015 less than 3 weeks ago prior to the first round of the season, which is kicking off this weekend at Donington Park. Estment will be racing a Smith's Racing prepared Triumph 675 backed by NFB Financial Services; "better late than never!" Exclaims the South African.

Chomping at the bit to get back into action, Estment said: “I am absolutely thrilled to announce that I will be making a return to my new ‘home’ once again in 2015. There have been many uncertain times over the winter break, but the support and enthusiasm that I have received from the British public and race fans alike has been fantastic and incredibly motivating when times have got tough.

“It is a very exciting year for me as a new bike and manufacturer is always interesting, fresh and a challenge. A huge thanks to NFB Financial Services Group and Smiths Racing, for their efficiency and professionalism in making it happen. I would like to thank everyone who continues to support my efforts and I am looking forward to a successful season aboard the new machine. Roll on round one – hell yeah!”

In light of the news about his 2015 plans, PaddockChatter caught up with Bjorn for a further chat about the off-season and what it takes to get such a project off the ground and ready for Round 1... 

Weaving excited for new challenge

Courtesy of StrawBales Media

2015 sees a step upwards for the 2014 Motul Motostar Moto3 British Champion. After securing the title with a round to spare, Jordan will this year contest the Pirelli National STK600 Championship, which again runs in support of the MCE British Superbike Championship, for NMT No Limits Kawasaki aboard their factory-supported ZX-6R Ninja. 
New beginnings for the South African
Photo: freezeframe-photography.co.uk

After two intensive test sessions in Spain, the Gloucestershire engineering student has been working closely with team rider coach Ewan Burnett to work on the transition of riding style from the light and nimble, slick-shod, KTM250 prototype to the heavier and more powerful 600cc production racer on treaded tyres. Whilst the lap times are coming step by step, the main focus has been getting comfortable on the bike and learning session on session.

After the sun-blessed tests in Southern Spain it was rain and a cold, bitter wind that greeted the former Red Bull Rookie and the NMT No Limits Kawasaki team at Donington Park last week for the only official UK test day ahead of the season opener at the same circuit over Easter Weekend. With the wind causing concern for all, Jordan posted a time on a dry but cold track that saw him finish just shy of the top ten, which is nothing but encouraging given the progress required in this most hotly-contested of classes.

Ahead of Round One, Jordan said "It's was a long winter waiting to make my debut for the NMT No Limits Kawasaki team, passing the time working hard in the gym and at college. Now I've had a few sessions on the Kawasaki ZX-6R Ninja, I have to say I really enjoy riding her. Whilst a very different machine to the one that served me so well last year, I'm getting more and more confident every time we go out. It's not an easy transition and patience is absolutely the key."

He continued, "I'm thankful to the NMT No Limits Kawasaki team for this opportunity and to Ewan for his continued hard work in getting me this far, although I'm fully aware we still have work to do, but I'm excited to see where my level is at Donington Park this weekend and will be doing all I can to bring home the best result I can for the whole team."

30 March 2015

MotoGP Qatar: Il Canto degli Italiani

MotoGP 2015 kicked off with a bang under the floodlights at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar; with Ducati's back on top, Rossi showing he is serious contender for 2015 and Marquez
Rossi started his tenth season in style
Photo: Yamaha MotoGP
proving his is really human after all.

Fans were treated to a fantastic race which saw more overtakes for the lead than you can count on two hands and some drama to go alongside it. Starting his now tenth season in MotoGP Valentino Rossi took his first opening round win since 2010, Dovizioso was close to securing his second ever MotoGP win and Repsol Honda had a race day to forget. If Qatar is anything to go by we're in for one hell of a season!

Race report: 

Pole position man Andrea Dovizioso secured the hole shot into the first corner closely followed by Yonny Hernandez and Jorge Lorenzo. Reigning World Champion Marc Marquez hoped to make up for his lacklustre (for his standards) start and in turn found himself running wide, resulting in the Spaniard entering the second corner dead last.

It didn't take long for Lorenzo to get his factory Yamaha into second position as Andrea Iannone made a Ducati sandwich, sitting in third position. As the front three began to break away and the battle for first had already begun, Valentino Rossi was sat back in eight position whilst Marquez was barging his way up into 14th.

With the pace to fight for the win Lorenzo was setting fastest laps but struggled to keep hold of the lead with the power of his YZR-M1 not enough to match Dovizioso's on the home straight. With 14 laps to go Rossi made the six-wheeled battle a nine wheeler as he latched onto the back of the leading group with a visibly fast pace.

29 March 2015

Moto3 and Moto2 - Qatar: First class wins for Folger and Masbou among the mayhem

On a day where MotoGP in Qatar brought the sort of racing it's dedicated fans soak up, the drama had begun with the support class action - with new winners, crashes and breakdowns all on the menu.

Moto3 had been quite an open affair with Masbou sitting on pole after a great tow to the line, where Moto2's build -up had seen British rider Sam Lowes stamp his authority as the form rider. Like with qualifying the two races couldn't have been more different, though equally exciting, with a nine man group in the shootout for the win on the final lap in Moto3 and a series of crashes within a lap taking out many of Moto2 big names in a flash, followed by a technical failure for the then easy leader Johann Zarco.

Race Reports:


Moto3 had the honour of getting the Sunday action under way and was a tense, close affair starting with Miguel Oliveira being knocked out of contention at the first corner. A large gaggle of riders, which had shrunk to nine by the final lap jostled for position as the laps counted down.

28 March 2015

Moto3 and Moto2 – Qatar: Pole newcomers Masbou and Lowes - experience and dominance

The first MotoGP weekend is in full swing as the action gets under way on Thursday in Qatar and qualifying in the two classes couldn't have been more different -where the sudden revelation that a tow meant everything in Moto3 threw the form book out of the window, Moto2 was by contrast a one man show -Sam Lowes reigned supreme on his Speed Up.
Reigning Champ, Rabat, was superseded in Qualifying
Pic: MVDS Racing

The Brits had fared well over the course of practice with Danny Kent ahead in FP1 and fastest overall with his leading time from FP3, John McPhee had a bike to learn having only got his 2015 edition of the SaxoPrint bike at the wet Jerez test and immediately showed progress.

Now, however, it was time to make those times count.

Qualifying Reports:

Some precision timing and good fortune saw SaxoPrint RTG rider Alexis Masbou on pole for the first time at his 141st Grand Prix Weekend, the Frenchman, still learning his way around the SaxoPrint Honda, had the luck to discover at the right time that a great slipstream was the key to a quick time in the final sector, and the skill to pull it off from the back of a group of four.

MotoGP: Dovizioso secures opening pole of 2015

Andrea Dovizioso will start the opening race of 2015 from pole position as Ducati make their mark already this season. Repsol Honda team-mates Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez complete the front
Soft tyres helped Dovizioso at Losail
Photo: Ducati 
row under the floodlights in Qatar.

Ducati's dominated the opening MotoGP session of the day as the riders came out for the fourth free practise session of the weekend, allowing riders to get set-up's ready for qualifying. Andrea Iannone ended the session on top ahead of fellow Italian Dovizioso with reigning champion Marquez rounding out the top three, followed by the Movistar Yamaha's of Lorenzo and Rossi.

Heading into the first Q1 of the year were: Barbera, Redding, Vinales, Bradl, Di Meglio, Smith, Petrucci, Hayden, Laverty, Abraham, Miller, De Angelis, Baz, Bautista and Melandri.

With just 15 minutes to get a spot to fight for the top 12 positions on the grid, and it was Danilo Petrucci who was the first rider to sit at the top of the timing sheets. Nine minutes were remaining on the clock and rookie Jack Miller crashed out of the session at turn 10, making it a difficult debut MotoGP race for the LCR Honda rider.

16 March 2015

Nikki Coates talks European Moto2 deal to Paddock Chatter

Opportunities like this don’t come around every day. Like several Irish Championship names Nikki Coates was labouring to find a competitive ride in the British Championship when an offer to compete in the European Moto2 series presented itself.

Nikki Coates returns to race for Team Stratos in 2015
Photo: Team Stratos
Coates recently signed to race with former Spanish national champions Team Stratos in the rebranded European championship for 2015. The deal is a reunion of sorts as the Belfast rider formerly competed with the outfit in the 2011 CEV series.

Competing alongside former national Moto3 hotshot Alejandro Medina, Coates will race the Spanish Ariane chassis which took current World Superbike rider Roman Ramos to the national title in 2013.

The winner of the inaugural Davy Wood Memorial Trophy recently spoke to Paddock Chatter about his thoughts ahead of the upcoming season, transitioning to a Moto2 machine and his offseason training to date.

Paddock Chatter:
Was deal been in the pipeline for long?

Nikki Coates:
I’ve known about it for a while but wasn’t able to say anything. I’m over the moon. I was struggling to get anything over in England. To be fair if I could have got on this bike it would have been my first choice anyway. I had been speaking to them [the team] from November but we were too far apart moneywise to agree a deal. They were able to come back to me and work with me. I’ve ridden for this team before in 2011. Since then they’ve developed different chassis. They were developing this one when I was riding for them and then in 2012 they got runner up in the championship and in 2013 they won the championship with this chassis. The bike will be a lot more competitive. I’m really looking forward to having a go. We really struggled last time with the chassis. We seem to be pushing in the same direction with the chassis manufacturer and the team. 

9 March 2015

Gareth Keys speaks to Paddock Chatter about upcoming TT debut

The majority of road racers that hail from Northern Ireland share one burning ambition – competing at the Isle of Man TT. Gareth Keys is no different. Having risen through the ranks on the Irish short circuits, the 24-year old turned to road racing full-time in 2013. Two years on and Keys is preparing for his first competitive visit to the Island.

Gareth with the Keys Racing set up in 2013
Photo: Raman Sharma
A winter’s worth of financial and logistical planning has gone into his TT debut and Keys is fully motivated for his appearances in the Supersport and Supertwin classes.

Speaking to Paddock Chatter, Gareth opens up about his busy offseason, the never-ending search for extra sponsorship and the preparation that goes into learning the 37.7-mile TT course.

Paddock Chatter:
What is your machine situation like at the moment?

Gareth Keys:
We’ve only got two bikes. We bought the Kawasaki 650 some weeks ago. We got the fairings painted so it’s sitting there all ready to go. We got the engine for the 600 coming back so we’ll get that built up. We’re just trying to get sponsors and a couple of pounds in now, which we’re struggling with.

23 February 2015

WSBK Phillip Island: Old Dogs, New Teams.

'Tis the season to be jolly. Winter is over, motorcycle racing season is upon us. The revs were up, riders in their new teams, new colours, and new leathers were ready for the lights to go out at Phillip Island, and World Superbike racing to get underway for the first time in 2015.
An action packed opening weekend for WSBK 2015.
Photo: KRT

With Brits on top throughout testing, along with young guns from far and wide popping up with some staggering pace, it was anyone's guess who would take the honours yesterday at the Australian circuit. Could Alex Lowes convert his testing success into racing glory? Would Troy Bayliss make a triumphant return to the series he dominated for so many years? Both Jonathan Rea and Leon Haslam are on new machinery for 2015 - the final ingredient they need for WSBK stardom at long last?

Race Reports

Race One

As race one got going under the blazing Australian sun, Jonathan Rea in his new colours took the holeshot, closely followed in the opening laps by Aprilia duo Haslam and Torres, as well as Chaz Davies, team mate Sykes and reigning World Supersport Champion Michael van der Mark.

By half distance, Rea, Davies and Haslam had managed to drop Aprilia's Jordi Torres, but a substantial mistake from Haslam on lap 15 allowed Torres to catch Davies and Rea, creating a four way battle for the top spot.

The final few laps produced thrilling action (almost too much to cope with at 1am GMT). A last lap, last corner scrap left the winner to be decided on the home straight with Rea's Kawasaki just having the legs on Haslam's RSV4 Aprilia. Davies took his first Phillip Island podium for Ducati, and Jordi Torres produced a fantastic debut finishing in a solid fourth position.

Michael van der Mark held off last year's championship runner-up Tom Sykes for 5th place, and reigning SBK champion Guintoli, Moto2 exile Nico Terol, Alex Lowes and Leon Camier rounding out the top 10.

'Read More' for Race Two, Championship Standings, Rider Reactions, and Tweets of The Weekend!

18 February 2015

Bayliss in shock WSBK return as injured Giugliano side lined

Former three-time World Superbike Champion, Troy Bayliss is set to make a sensational return to motorcycle road racing this coming weekend in his home round at Phillip Island, replacing Ducati's Davide Giugliano who suffered small fractures to two of his vertebrae in a crash suffered on Monday at the Australian circuit. 

Bayliss retired from WSBK in 2008
Photo: Ducati
Bayliss was set to make the journey from his home on the Gold Coast to make an guest appearance at the opening round of the 2015 WSBK season regardless, participating in his very own Scrambling event held alongside the opening World Championship meeting. But following Giugliano's heavy crash on the second day of the two day pre-season test, it's been confirmed that the Italian will be out of action for the next 90 days to recover. 

The Aruba.it Racing Ducati team have said they had not anticipated bringing in a replacement, but decided to accept the 45-year-old Veteran's request to ride on the 25th anniversary weekend of Phillip Island's first appearance on the World Superbike calendar. 

Bayliss has not raced a Superbike since his retirement from the sport in 2008; however, a thorough Dirt Track racing, Superbike 'experience', Scrambling, Cycling and Superbike development schedule has kept the Ducati icon in phenomenal shape. Bayliss was crowned the 2014 Australian Dirt Track champion and was a key component in the development of the Panigale concept, spending hours upon hours tearing up the asphalt at Mugello on practically the very machine that he will be wildcarding this weekend.

While acknowledging the enormity of the challenge ahead, given that he hasn't ridden a full-factory Ducati Superbike since his last test in May 2014, Bayliss admits that it was an opportunity too good to miss: “I want to start by saying that I really feel for Davide and that it’s a real shame for his season to be starting in this way. The desire to be able to return to the track and see the home crowd and the Ducatisti has always been strong, ever since I last raced and then also Phillip Island, one of my favourite tracks, is celebrating its 25th anniversary of World Superbikes. This gave me the idea to compete as a wildcard and work with the Ducati Superbike technicians once again. I know it’s going to be a very difficult weekend, also because it’s a while since I’ve ridden the Superbike but I do know the track well and so hope to get back into it after a few laps. I’ll try to enjoy myself and will of course be doing my best to score a good result and put on a good show for the public.”

Giugliano's injuries means he will miss at least the first 3 rounds of the 2015 season, seeing him most likely to return at Assen in late April, or possibly his home round at Imola in early May: “My aim now is to do all I can to recover as quickly as possible. I will return to Italy as soon as possible to start my rehabilitation. I’m proud to know that it will be Troy to substitute for me this weekend. He’s a great champion and I’ve always admired him. I hope he gets on well with the set-up that my team and I have worked on in recent months.”