Silverstone was its glorious best on Friday. The sun shone, fans wandered round in t-shirts and shorts, and bikes bellowed their way around a magnificent circuit. It was a good day for motorcycle racing.
“First of all, riding the MotoGP at Silverstone with this incredible weather is great,” Valentino Rossi summed up his day. “I enjoy it a lot, because this track is fantastic and this weather is a big surprise for everybody.”
So good has the weather been that it has given the small contingent of British journalists in the MotoGP paddock a new hobby.
A conversation overheard on Friday afternoon: “I’ve just been over to taunt some Italians about the sunny weather.” “Ah yes, I was just doing the same to an Australian.”
Two weeks ago, we English speakers were getting stick about having to pack winter coats and rain gear for Silverstone. Revenge is all the sweeter when served up under blue skies and radiant sunshine.
The good weather complicated tire selection for the MotoGP teams. Many a rider was out trying the hard rear much earlier than expected, trying to judge how it would hold up over race distance.
The warm weather has pushed the temperatures to the upper range of the Michelins’ operating window. The tires are still working, but everyone is having to go a step harder than expected.
If you haven’t listened to the latest Two Enthusiasts Podcast episode, you should.
In it, myself and co-host Quentin Wilson break some industry news, with our sources in Suzuki confirming that the Japanese manufacturer will bring a turbocharged Hayabusa model as an early 2019 model year bike.
This news is well-timed, as the Suzuki Hayabusa will turn 20-years-old in 2019, and it has changed very little during that two-decade time period.
Additionally, the introduction of modern forced induction to Suzuki’s motorcycle lineup is sea change moment for Suzuki, with the Hayabusa being a perfect fit for such an endeavor.
The 2017 British Grand Prix at Silverstone is the race that nearly didn’t happen. OK, that’s an exaggeration: Dorna was always going to ensure that a British Grand Prix would happen.
The British Isles are such an important market that it is unthinkable for the series not to race here. But the collapse of the Circuit of Wales project meant that a lot of negotiation had to go into ensuring that the British round of MotoGP would actually take place.
For many observers, the refusal of the Welsh Government to underwrite the construction of the circuit was inevitable. The numbers being claimed seemed at best wildly optimistic, and at worst woefully inaccurate.
Was Dorna wrong to get into bed with the Heads of the Valley Development Company, the organization behind the Circuit of Wales? Possibly. Dorna has a history of making deals with circuits that never get built, as anyone who can recall the saga of the Balatonring can surely tell you.
Then again, what has Dorna lost? They signed a deal with the Circuit of Wales for five years starting in 2015, with an option to extend for a further five years. The deal was reportedly lucrative, well above what Silverstone was offering to pay to host the race.
Donington Park was no competition at the time, the circuit in financial difficult and badly in need of upgrades. Since the deal was signed, Dorna has had two successful races at Silverstone, for which they have been well paid.
When the Circuit of Wales project collapsed, Silverstone stepped in to take over. Dorna will still be paid by Silverstone, though it will be less than the Circuit of Wales would have paid.
A new bike swap procedure is to be tested at Silverstone for flag-to-flag races. After the riders failed to reach agreement on a single procedure at the Safety Commission meeting in Austria, Race Direction met with the teams to agree a new procedure.
That procedure is to be tested on Friday, after FP2 at Silverstone. French Eurosport reporter Vanessa Guerra tweeted out the diagram of the new procedure shared with the teams:
Hello from Los Angeles, where today I will be “riding” the Polaris Slingshot three-wheeled “motorcycle” (it says so right next to the driver’s seat).
Polaris’s three-wheeled car-type thing is a bit of mystery when it comes to definitions and legal distinctions – though we are fond of the autocycle designation – but it competes with motorcycles on the dollars-for-grins category, so here we are.
Polaris has a fun route planned up the California coast line for us today, so we should have a good opportunity to see if you should empty out your garage full of bikes, and fit this Miata-sized three-wheeler into your stable.
Per our new review format, we will be giving you a live assessment of the 2018 Polaris Slingshot models right here in this article (down in the comments section), and there we will try to answer any questions you might have.
So, here is your chance to learn what it’s like to “ride” this interesting vehicle from Polaris, before even my own proper reviews are posted. As always, if I don’t know an answer, I will try to get a response from the Polaris personnel. So, pepper away.
You can follow our thoughts on the bike live via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
One more jigsaw piece has been slotted into place in the 2018 MotoGP line up. This morning, the Marc VDS team confirmed that Tom Lüthi is to take the second Honda RC213V alongside Franco Morbidelli for the 2018 season.
Lüthi was reckoned to be the outsider for the open seat at Marc VDS, with both Sam Lowes and Stefan Bradl in the running.
But the Swiss rider’s maturity and previous – albeit brief – experience aboard a MotoGP bike was what swung the deal. Having a rider of Lüthi’s experience alongside Franco Morbidelli also helps lessen the risk of running two rookies in MotoGP.
Episode 60 of the Two Enthusiasts Podcast is out, and in it we cover some of the newsy items from the motorcycle industry that have caught our eyes recently.
But before we get to the news, Quentin and I break a pretty big story concerning a certain turbocharged motorcycle, which you won’t want to miss.
We then turn our attention to the plethora of recalls that have beseeched BMW Motorrad, and we also talk about the company’s halo bike, the BMW HP4 Race, and its 3,100-mile engine life.
We also talk about Triumph’s partnership with Bajaj, and how that will affect both brands’ futures, before we talk about Ducati’s software performance upgrade for the 2015/2016 Ducati 1299 Panigale owners.
Before the show ends, Quentin also gives a really insightful talk about plug chops, which unless you have ridden an older two-stroke machine, you have probably never heard of, until now.
There is a lot going on in this episode of the podcast, so you don’t want to miss it. And, if we have and Diet Pepsi and milk drinkers in the audience, please identify yourselves and explain this madness.
You can listen to the show via the embedded SoundCloud player, after the jump, or you can find the show on iTunes (please leave a review) or this RSS feed. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter as well.
Our Belgian friends at MaxxMoto continue to have the pulse on the upcoming Ducati V4 Superbike, posting today what appears to be th first sounds of the four-cylinder machine as it’s being ridden around a test track.
The sound of the V4 engine can be clearly distinguished from that of Ducati’s v-twin platform, with the bike sounding very similar to the Aprilia RSV4 – a nod that Ducati will be using a “big bang” or “long bang” cylinder firing order, rather than a “screamer” or “twin pulse” arrangement.
We do know that Ducati’s V4 will be a hybrid design of Superquadro and Desmosedici engine designs, and it will of course feature desmodromic valve technology.
We expect to get more details about the V4 superbike’s engine technology at a media event in two weeks’ time (the Thursday before the San Marino GP at the Misano World Circuit), and of course we expect the bike itself to debut at this year’s EICMA show in Milan, Italy.
Until then, keep checking back to Asphalt & Rubber for the latest news on Ducati’s V4 superbike project.
If you are one of those motorcycle enthusiasts that longs for the days back when men were men, and bikes were carbureted, then vintage endurance racing at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps should be right up your alley.
Throw in a superb-looking Katana race bike, with Guy Martin at the helm, and well…you’ve got some YouTube gold right there, that’s what you’ve got.
Such is the case with Suzuki and its Team Classic Suzuki Racing squad, which came out to Belgium for the second round of the European Classic Endurance Championship, at the Spa Four-Hour endurance race.
There are so many iconic names at play here, it’s amazing that the event didn’t get more coverage. Thankfully, Suzuki made a video to help share the experience, which we think you will find highly enjoyable.
BMW Motorrad continues to catch the scrutiny of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, issuing today its fourth recall in less than one month’s time (see #1, #2, and #3).
This round affects 37 units from BMW’s scooter lineup, specifically the 2017 BMW C650 GT and BMW C Evolution models, for issues regarding their front wheels.
The first round after the summer break is always one that fans and paddock personnel get excited about. The German round of the WorldSBK calendar though hasn’t captured the imagination, because of it’s remote setting and, for the riders, the bumpy track surface.
With Jonathan Rea easing his way towards the history books, as the first rider in history to win the championship three years in a row, there was a feeling from some quarters that it was merely time for marking cards rather than making a mark.
That being so, once the weekend got underway, it did throw up plenty of excitement in what appears to be the final race at the Lausitzring.