24 August 2015

MotoGP Silverstone Preview: Hold Onto People, They're Slipping Away

The MotoGP circus has arrived in the UK for this weekend's 12th round of the 2015 season. Timing couldn't be better for the premier class of motorcycle racing, its nearing the end of the school's summer holidays, which as everyone knows, means the weather is set to be an absolute scorcher... oh wait, sorry, scratch that. The forecast is dismal. But anyway, if it isn't sizzling in the grandstands it certainly should be out on circuit as it's crunch time for the three main championship contenders, Jorge Lorenzo, Valentino Rossi, and Marc Marquez. 
Will Lorenzo steam roll this weekend, too?
Photo: YamahaMotoGP

Coming into the race, Lorenzo now 'leads' the championship despite being on equal points as team mate Valentino Rossi on account of the higher number of wins this season, while Marquez lags over 50 points behind. Sounds like he's out of the title race, right? Wrong. Well, not quite. That's just two DNFs for both Rossi and Lorenzo over the next six races, and Marquez will be right on their tails once more. 

But before we delve into any (probably completely wrong) predictions about what we may see occurring over the Silverstone weekend, it'd be wise to rewind to Brno and Indianapolis...

Race Reports

Indianapolis

Marc Marquez headed into the US GP (quite possibly the last at Indianapolis for a while...) with heaps of pressure on his young but vastly experienced shoulders, not least questioning whether he could retain his faultless record of straight wins in the US since racing in the premier class, but also to clinch the win in an attempt to claw back his bid for the 2015 championship victory. 

BSB Cadwell Park: Might As Well Jump!

With a double double win to his name over the last two rounds, the question on everyone's lips heading to the Party In The Park this last weekend was whether Josh Brookes could do the triple double and take the overall lead in the 2015 British Superbike Championship season.
Domination from Brookes at the #PartyInThePark
Photo: MCE BSB


The Aussie (literally) flew through the practice and qualifying process, landing on top of the time sheets in every session leading up to Sunday's races. Fellow high flyers over the famous 'Cadwell Park Mountain'; Danny Buchan, Tommy Bridewell and Peter Hickman were also regularly challenging the top of the timing screens leading into Sunday lunchtime but were unable to match the Milwaukee Yamaha rider's lap record breaking pace.

With James Ellison and Stuart Easton sidelined due to injury, Brookes' closest championship rival this weekend was Shane Byrne who was looking to make amends for a dismal outing at Thruxton just two weeks ago. His action plan for qualifying wasn't exactly a success, placing the Londoner 11th on the grid...

Race Reports

Race One

As the lights went out for the first time on Sunday, Brookes' intentions were clear; get out front - stay out of trouble - dazzle fans with some styling over the mountain - win. The only slight issue for the former BSB runner-up came when the safety car was deployed following Danny Buchan's early departure from the race, the BeWiser Kawasaki rider was ejected from his ZX10R over the mountain while chasing Luke Mossey and Peter Hickman for a podium position.

16 August 2015

Moto3 and Moto2 round-up: Brno – The perfect conversion - pole to win for both Antonelli and Zarco.

The predicted rain stayed away in Brno ahead of round eleven, the Czech Republic Grand Prix, and despite the scrap of Moto3 Niccolo Antonelli found his way back to the front from his pole start – the fist person to do so in the lightweight class at Brno since 2005.

Johann Zarco got past Tito Rabat after an early wobble for a new record, his consistent season is underlined by his tenth consecutive podium - a win – and a new best for Moto2.

Race Reports
      Moto2 in action                         Photo:Ponsracing.com

Moto3

Moto3 only lasted one lap after two big crashes on lap one. The first was at turn one and saw Suzuki, Oettl, Ajo and Danilo out.

The second was at turn three and saw Locatelli lose his Gresini and collect Dalla Porta, Ono and Rodrigo.Ono went to the medical centre for a fractured right foot. Gabriel Rodrigo was treated trackside for a long time before being taken away by ambulance. He lost consciousness for two minutes so stayed in hospital in Brno overnight and was also treated for a leg injury.

The restart for the twelve lap sprint began with another big crash with Quartararo, Hanika, Vinales and Rodrigo (again) involved.

At the front the lead was changing rapidly and in classic Moto3 style all the great passing, fast laps and huge lunges meant nothing as a ten man strong group went in to the final lap in contention for the win.

It was to be pole man Niccolo Antonelli who was best prepared and pulled out a small lead at the start of the final lap as his rivals tripped each other up racing each other.

The Ongetta-Rivacold rider had done enough for his first ever win, holding off fellow Honda rider Enea Bastianini who had a great race making up 13 places for a podium finish, just 0.1s behind Antonelli as he tried to reel in his fellow countryman.

15 August 2015

Moto3 and Moto2 round-up: Brno – Running on different speeds – Antonelli and Zarco on pole

There was no time to dwell on the results of Indianapolis with the Paddock heading to Brno for round eleven of the championship – the Czech Grand Prix this weekend.

Moto3 saw pole decided at the very last moment with the re-signed Niccolo Antonelli finding a way through the traffic to sneak past the subject of all the press attention for the day down to his link to the Pramac Team, Danny Kent.

If Moto3 was all about the last minute, Moto2 was quite the opposite with Johann Zarco taking just five laps to break the lap record before progress halted in the Brno heat.

The grid positions could be key for keeping out of trouble on Sunday if the predicted rain arrives at the circuit...

Race Reports

Moto3

Moto3 Got the qualifying sessions under way with their usual flurry of action, as usual for the class it turned into a very hectic final five minutes with the whole field on track at once.
Rabat won in 2014, can he do it again? Photo: EG 0,0 Marc VDS

Leopard Racing's Danny Kent looked to have the session in the bag as the chequered flag waved only for Ongetta-Rivacold's Niccolo Antonelli to slip and slide throughtraffic to the top spot and claim pole as one of the last riders over the line, the second pole of his career after claiming his first at the end of last season in Valencia.

That left British star Kent in second and secure of good pace after being in charge until the frantic end. They are joined on the front row by a third Honda that of Estrella Galicia's rookie Jorge Navarro, immediately seeming comfortable with the Brno circuit.

9 August 2015

Moto3 and Moto2 Indianapolis – All Change! Loi and Rins first time winners at the Brickyard.

The rain hit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway just in time to shake up the order in the Moto3 and Moto2 races. Moto3 ran wet while Moto2 contended with a dryng track but both led to some surprising results …

Race Reports

Moto3

Moto3 got race day under way with a frantic opening - the race was declared wet and tyre choice proved key to victory. Only those who had opted for slicks early on stood a chance as the track dried out rapidly, with the usual suspects nowhere to be seen after late pit stops to switch tyre.
Rins takes his first Moto2 win              photo:Ponsracing.com

It was to be RW Racing GP rider Livio Loi who was smart beyond his years as the only rider confident enough to opt for slicks on the grid, which over the course of the race gave him almost a 40 second lead as he crossed the strip of bricks for the final time to take the first win of his career.

The podium was awash with riders getting their first taste of success and it was John McPhee who scored second after a last minute change by the British rider and his SaxoPrint-RTG team saw him reap the benefits of a pit lane start on a slick.

Joining the Honda pair in picking up a trophy in Indianapolis was Philipp Oettl , the Schedl GP rider pulling his KTM bike in at the first opportunity to take his first podium finish in third.

Fourth went to a stroppy Romano Fenati, his arm waving enough to motivate his team into a flurry of action and speed to be the best of the rest in fourth with a determined performance by replacement at RBA Isaac Vinales enough to push him up to fifth.

8 August 2015

Moto3 and Moto2 Indianapolis: Record breaking poles for Kent and Rins

MotoGP returned to our screens after the summer break as the paddock makes its way to the USA for round ten at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

'The Brickyard' saw a whole host of riders in both of the support classes back with a new found confidence, intent on putting in a good performance, but first up was Moto3 – where Danny Kent continued from exactly where he left things in Germany, by easing to pole.

Qualifying Reports

Moto3

It was business as usual for Danny Kent who secured pole just after the halfway mark with a lap of 1m 40.703 proving to be a marker too far for his rivals.
Moto2's Rapid Rookie Rins         Photo: Pons Racing

The Briton will look to extend his championship lead further from the front after another confident performance on his Leopard Racing Honda took him to pole position for the fourth time this season.

Red Bull KTM Ajo rider Miguel Oliveira had been talking himself up as a rival after his wins moved him into third in the title hunt, and backed up his words with a superb late dash to secure second on the grid.

The front row is completed by a surprise third on the grid for Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Drive M7 SIC) back in form and doing enough to pin Gresini's Enea Bastianini, currently second in the overall standings, to row two in fourth.

Also on row two are rookie Fabio Quartararo, learning another new track fast for fifth for Estrella Galicia 0,0 and Oliveira's team-mate Brad Binder who starts from the sixth spot on the grid.

Last years race winner Efren Vazquez sits in seventh on the second Leopard entry, Niccolo Antonelli is eighth for Ongetta-Rivacold and Jorge Navarro ninth for Estrella Galicia.

6 August 2015

MotoGP Summer break: What have we missed?

A lot has happened over the three weeks since the MotoGP was on track in Germany. Riders have
MotoGP is back on track this weekend
Photo: Yamaha Factory Racing
been changing teams, winning endurance races and training like the warriors they are. As the circus heads to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the second half of the season and the second American round, we take a quick look at the main news stories of the summer.

Suzuka 8 Hour

This year's Suzuka 8 hour race was bound to bring drama and excitement and for the first time British fans were able to watch the full 8 hours on Eurosport.

With the return of former MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner, a brand new R1 as well as a strong line up of British riders on the entry list there were many reasons to tune into the 8 hour this year. Not only because there's no other event like it.

21 July 2015

WSBK: All The Gold in California for Davies

The Ducati Factory squad in World Superbikes will have been laughing all the way back across the Atlantic and to Bologna after Chaz Davies destroyed the field at round 9 of the 2015 series from Laguna Seca last weekend, storming to an inaugural double victory for the Italian manufacturer's Panigale machine; ending Team Green riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes' streak of victories.
Photo: Ducati

Race Reports

Race One

Davies showed he was the man to beat all weekend, clinching an impressive pole position in Superpole on Saturday afternoon by nearly two tenths ahead of team mate Davide Giugliano. In such confident style, the Welshman flew off the line, building up to over a second's lead by the end of the first couple of laps by which time it was game-set-match to the former World Supersport champion.

The battle behind him for silver trophy honours was between Kawasaki team mates Tom Sykes and Jonathan Rea, with Sykes coming out on top after a race long battle. Behind them Davide Giugliano and Jordi Torres rolled over the line with Alex Lowes not too far down the road in 6th, his best result of the season. His compatriot Leon Haslam fell off while battling for 5th with team mate Torres, while his replacement at Pata Honda, Sylvain Guintoli brought his CBR1000RR home in 7th ahead of team mate Michael van der Mark.

Race Two

Much the same as race one, aside from where Haslam managed to stay on his machine, battling with Torres once more, losing out to come home across the line in 5th. Davide Giugliano had a violent change of fortunes for the second outing, battling for lower podium honours while his team mate checked in his bags at San Francisco airport, he managed to high side himself out of the race and into a tumbling dizzy state following a spouting of rain shortly after the lights went out. Sylvain Guintoli also fell on the same lap in an apparent collision with Alex Lowes who suffered a punctured front tyre and was pulling into the pits.

BSB King of Brands: It's Not About The Money, Money, Money...

Shaun Muir's SMR squad and the Yamaha factory have major reason to celebrate following this weekend's Big Brands Hatch event as their Aussie prodigy Josh Brookes claimed his first wins of the season and was subsequently crowned 'King of Brands', all the while drowning the doubts critics had about the R1s capability in the series. 
King of Brands!
Photo: MCE BSB

This weekend had something different up for grabs as well, such is the nature of the MCE BSB series in always looking for something different to entice fans through the gates, new and old. The coveted 'King of Brands' prize made a return for the rider who aggregated the best result from the weekend, along with a potential £50,000 up for grabs for a rider able to go from #LastToFirst as Neil Hodgson did back at Oulton Park in 2000. Would anyone take the plunge?

Race Reports

Race One

Reigning BSB champion Shane Byrne stormed off the line as the lights went out the first time around, taking the holeshot ahead of Brookes, whom he clinched pole from on Saturday by just 0.001s, with Michael Laverty, Richard Cooper, James Ellison and Stuart Easton in hot pursuit during the opening laps.

14 July 2015

BSB: £50,000 for King of Brands, would you take the gamble?

MCE British Superbikes announced yesterday they were to add a 'unique twist' to their now traditional King of Brands ahead of this weekend's round in Kent.
'Shakey' hopes to be King of Brands with an extra prize
Photo: MCE BSB

Riders will now be in with a chance of winning a massive £50,000 prize as well as being crowned the now coveted 'King of Brands'.

Explained clearly by MCE BSB: "At the start of race two, as the riders form up on the grid, the top three starters will be given the choice to either take up their positions, or alternatively line up on the final row. Should they elect to sacrifice their front row slot, their challenge will be to charge from last to first and replicate Neil Hodgson's famous achievement from Oulton Park during the 2000 season.

The highest placed 'MCE BSB - Monster Energy King of Brands' contender will receive a specially commissioned trophy and should they win the race, they will receive a total £50,000 cash prize. Second position would be rewarded with £25,000, and third place with £10,000. Only the leading rider will be eligible to win a top-three bonus, but any rider that accepts the challenge will receive £5,000, regardless of success.

Double Main Season championship points will be awarded to the challengers and regular Podium Points if they battle into a top three position."

This exciting and unique news has created a stir amongst many, including the riders themselves.
Shane Byrne, who is currently chasing his 'Strive for Five' took to twitter to express his thoughts: "My view.., £50k doesn't buy a 1st BSB title let along a 5th one, 10 podium credits for 2 more wins I'm chasing!! However the £50,000 odd would be quite nice...along with hopefully 2 wins, double points and ten credits."

Sachsenring MotoGP: Go-Pro or Go Home

Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez returned to winning ways at the German Grand Prix this weekend as
Marquez wowed the German crowd

Photo: Repsol Honda

he showcased what he does best, dominating the opposition. However the Spaniard wasn't the only rider to 'go happy to his holidays', as Valentino Rossi was able to extend his championship lead over his Movistar Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo. At a track which is notoriously tough on tyres Germany proved it's more than just a two horse race for the title.

Race Report
Jorge Lorenzo was able to get a stunning start, slingshotting his YZR-M1 into first position through the opening corner, holding his lead over the Repsol Honda duo. EG 0,0 Marc VDS' Scott Redding's weekend was over before it started as he crashed out on the opening lap despite having a strong pace all weekend aboard his Honda.

With 26 laps to go it was an eight wheeled battle for the victory between the factory Yamaha's and Honda's as Rossi made up for his lowely qualifying position by passing Pedrosa to sit in third. Marquez took the lead from Lorenzo at the final corner, clearly not wanting to get held up as the 21 year old disappeared off into the distance.

12 July 2015

Sachsenring Moto3 and Moto2: Kent vanishes for victory, Simeon steals first win.

The German Grand Prix round brought two very exciting support class races, Moto3 stepped outside it's normal last lap chaos to deliver a getaway performance of excellence from Danny Kent as he saw off all rivals.

Moto2 looked geared up for more of the same with Johann Zarco poised to try the same tactic, but Belgian rider Xavier Simeon had other ideas for how the end of the race would run...

Race Reports

Moto3

Danny Kent may have been the pole-sitter but it did not guarantee him a dream start, swamped as the lights changed before fighting back and hitting the front. From that point on the Leopard riders win never looked in doubt as he eased away to win by an impressive 7.5 seconds.

The British rider now leads the championship by 66 points from his nearest rival Enea Bastianini.

The only rider to attempt to stay with Kent was his team-mate Efren Vazquez, though the Spaniard eventually faded from view too, marking a great day at home for the Kiefer/Leopard team.

Gresini's Bastianini stole third at the line, undoing all Romano Fenati's hard work to gain the position, leaving his fellow Italian fourth and off the podium for Sky Racing Team VR46.

Nico Antonelli was next to take the flag in fifth in a tight finish for Ongetta-Rivacold, with Jorge Navarro top rookie in sixth after his team-mate Fabio Quartararo crashed out.
Before the dramatic end - Rabat and Rins    Photo: EG 0,0 Marc VDS

Brad Binder was also in the group fighting for third, though lost out heavily to finish seventh for Red Bull KTM Ajo. Alexis Masbou made massive improvements in the race on his way to eighth after a tough weekend, his team-mate John McPhee was battling down the order for the final points, but just missed out in 17th.

Andrea Locatelli was ninth on the other Gresini entry, with Niklas Ajo making up only the places he was deducted to finish where he originally qualified in tenth for RBA Racing.

Philipp Oettl (Schedl GP) impressed at home in eleventh, with Jorge Marin the top Mahindra in twelfth.

11 July 2015

Sachsenring Moto3 & Moto2 round-up : Kent and Zarco in a class of their own for poles in Germany as race direction dish out the penalties!


The Sachsenring was dry on qualifying day and all the riders made the most of the conditions to set some fast lap times with records tumbling in all classes, Danny Kent was so far ahead that most of his pole run was spent in the pits after a crash, yet he still claimed the top spot. Johann Zarco gave a great lesson in the perfect pole performance, with his mid-session hot lap holding off all late challengers.

Qualifying Reports

Moto3

It took just nine laps for Britain's Danny Kent to seal pole for the third time this season, which was just as well as just seconds after his new record lap of 1m 26.420 he collected wild-card Max Kappler on the way into the gravel.

The Leopard Racing rider then had to sit in the pits and watch the action unfold, but his time was to stay at the top with nearest rival in the championship Enea Bastianini the best of the rest for Gresini, making up a place on his final lap as the session drew to a close to snatch second. That displaced Karel Hanika, who had been in second since his early tumble from the Red Bull KTM Ajo bike that joins the two Hondas to complete the front row.

8 July 2015

BSB Knockhill: I Shake It Off, I Shake It Off...

After dominating the previous round at Snetterton just a fortnight ago, four times British Superbike Champion, Shane 'Shakey' Byrne threw his cards down on the table at Knockhill last weekend for the 5th round of the 2015 series, taking another double victory ahead of team mate Stuart Easton on both occasions.
2x PBM 1-2 in Scotland
Photo: MCE BSB

On the back of a disappointing 3rd round at Oulton Park, which saw the BSB veteran (sorry, Shane..) crash out of the second race after War for Four rival Ryuichi Kiyonari's BMW S1000RR torpedoed the rear of Byrne's Kawasaki, the Londoner has been out to prove a point ever since.

Race Report

Race 1
As the lights went out and riders hurtled round the 1.2mile circuit for the first time, Byrne managed to clinch the lead into the final corner from home-round-hero team mate, Stuart Easton, before a crash at the back of the pack lead to the safety car being sent out on circuit while debris was cleared.

The main battle for the final podium position in the first half of the race was between Ohalloran and Milwaukee Yamaha's Josh Brookes with the Aussie duo being passed by Tyco BMW's Michael Laverty before the Northern Irishman setting his sights on Scotsman Stuart Easton ahead of him.

Come the final lap, Byrne had enough of a gap to stop any further attacks from behind, taking the win, while Laverty managed to best Easton taking second over the line with the second PBM rider rounding out the podium positions. Laverty was later shifted back down to fourth in the overall results due to passing Brookes under yellow flags, which lifted Easton into second, Brookes third, Laverty fourth and O'Halloran fifth.

Championship contenders, James Ellison and Ryuichi Kiyonari were both fallers in the race along with a series of other riders including Dan Linfoot, Richard Cooper and Jack Kennedy.

Race 2
The second outing for the British Superbike brigade turned from usual 30 lap strategic race to all-out-war 11 lap sprint after a brief shower stopped the race just before the 2/3s distance mark on lap 19. Byrne, Laverty, Brookes and Easton lead the charge prior to the stoppage.

Byrne made a rocket-like start off the line for the second outing of the second outing, controlling the pace from the get-go, fending off launches from the rear for the entirety of the sprint race. Easton brought his Kawasaki home in second once again ahead of Brookes just behind him. Kiyonari redeemed himself from his race one crash with a 4th place finish ahead of Jason O'Halloran, while Michael Laverty, Danny Buchan and James Westmoreland filled out the top 8.

James Ellison was a retiree this race as well due to a malfunction on his JG Speedfit Kawasaki, while Quattroplant Kawasaki's Luke Mossey failed to finish due to crashing out of the race.

Results

1 July 2015

Stoner returns to the Festival of Speed, in pictures: 'the difference is really incredible'

The 23rd edition of the Goodwood Festival of Speed undoubtedly contained the biggest focus on motorcycle racing in the event's history. A charm of World Champions, present and former, took their machines for skids, wheelies and general loud noisiness up the famous hill climb in front of 200,000 or so Motorsport enthusiasts.
Joint winner of #bestwheelie at FoS

Two of the show's biggest stars present this year were Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi, with the Doctor having been flown in especially on Saturday night following his accolades in Assen earlier that day. In amongst the constant scrum around the 9 time World Champion, he managed to take a specially liveried M1 up the hill and then into Lord March's house (without wiping his feet, the scoundrel..), details of which are described here.

Former arch rival Casey Stoner's weekend in West Sussex was slightly less manic, spending a steady three days at the event taking his 2015 RC213V Repsol Honda up and down the driveway, much to the delight of the spectator's lining nearly every inch of 1-mile the course.

PaddockChatter managed to catch Stoner for a brief word in amongst his hill runs and various chats with the likes of John McGuinness, Sylvain Guintoli, and Jim Redman, to ask about what has brought him back to the prestigious annual festival. "Quite honestly it's been fantastic. I haven't been here since '06, so seeing the difference and how much it's expanded over these years is something really incredible, to be honest. 

"I went over to the Honda display and the whole thing is design to look like matchbox cars, it's incredible. To see all that and the amount of riders and drivers that are here that you've watched when you're growing up your whole life and, in a sense, getting to share a track with them on the way up the hill is something really special. 

"It's a very unique event in that you get to see some of the bikes and cars out here, but at the same time, generally talk to a lot of riders that you never thought you'd be able to get close to. I've spoken to quite a few people who I've known for many years but only had short times to talk with them. It's very good to see Agostini, he's always a lot of fun to chat with and is always a gentleman, for someone who is as famous as he is. I've always enjoyed talking to Jim Redman, I haven't seen him since '06 and there's lots of others like that, Kenny Roberts and Freddie Spencer for example, always a pleasure."

Below are a selection of images of the double MotoGP World Champion's visit to Lord March's estate, for your viewing pleasure...