Times are hard for American racers in the Grand Prix paddock. The series has seen a dearth of riders from the USA, since Nicky Hayden left for the WorldSBK paddock after holding the fort for fourteen season, winning a MotoGP title along the way.
Motorcycle racing in the US is clearly in a rebuilding phase, the MotoAmerica series focused on producing and encouraging new talent.
There are signs that it is working. Cameron Beaubier is taking on multiple champion and veteran racer Josh Hayes and winning. Jake Gagne, JD Beach, and Garrett Gerloff are all promising young racers capable of going places.
But few have taken the leap of faith required to come racing in Europe. Josh Herrin tried in 2014, but never found his feet in the tough Moto2 class.
Now, there is Joe Roberts. The 20-year-old Californian moved to Europe this year after spending three years in MotoAmerica, winning the Superstock 600 title in 2015. He already had some experience, having raced in the Red Bull Rookies for a couple of seasons.
He started the 2017 season racing in the FIM CEV Moto2 championship for the AGR team, alongside fellow American Jayson Uribe. When AGR parted ways with Yonny Hernandez in July, after the Sachsenring, the team asked Roberts to step up the Moto2 world championship.
It was not a particularly hard choice, as that was precisely the reason Roberts had come to Europe in the first place.
Yamaha Motor Europe has begun its teaser campaign for what we expect to be a new adventure bike in the company’s lineup.
Debuting the Yamaha T7 Concept at the 2016 EIMCA Show, the 689cc, twin-cylinder, ADV motorcycle is the prime suspect for the unseen motorcycle in this teaser video.
Yamaha hasn’t been bashful about the T7 Concept either, with prototype versions of the bike being caught out testing, and even loaned out the bike for a special photo shoot with Italian publication DueRoute.
Even in Milan, it was widely known that the concept on stage would be headed into production. So, here we are.
The Brno round of MotoGP turned out to be a veritable bonanza of aerodynamic developments. Honda turned up with their previously homologated fairing, and Yamaha debuted a new fairing with a modified upper half at the test on Monday.
But it was Ducati who stole the show, with a radical new design featuring a large side pod that looked remarkably like a set of wings with a cover connecting them.
That fairing triggered howls of outrage from fans. How, they asked, was this legal? The fairing appeared to have two ducts that came out at the top at right angles, then return to the fairing at right angles.
That turned out not to be the full shape of the fairing, when Danilo Petrucci sported one where the bottom half of the side duct extended lower. It seemed to be a blatant breach of the rules.
The problem, MotoGP Technical Director Danny Aldridge explained, lay in part with framing of the rules.
When Dorna demanded a ban of the original winglets, they sat with the manufacturers to draw up a set of regulations that would limit aerodynamics and eliminate the risks, yet at the same time would allow some amount of development.
That proved impossible to do with the manufacturers so split among themselves, and so Dorna had to try to come up with a set themselves.
If you are going to race at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, you might want to bring something a little bit more peppy than a stock Ducati Hypermotard – not that the Italian street bike isn’t tons of fun, but its now-rated 110hp is going to be robbed blind at it approaches the 14,000+ foot summit.
That is where Michael Woolaway’s latest project for Deus Ex Machina comes into play, as Woolie has taken the Hypermotard, dropped massive amounts of power into its chassis, and then stripped every last bit of unnecessary weight off the machine.
With 200hp on tap, and a paltry 345 lbs measured when fully fueled and on the scales, Woolie’s Pikes Peak Hypermotard is the ultimate in function before form. Of course, the minimalist technical requirements play into Woolie’s bare-bones design as well.
The great experiment that is Marco Melandri’s return to motorcycle racing has apparently paid off, with the Italian rider re-signing with the Aruba.it Racing – Ducati team for the 2018 World Superbike Championship season.
The contract renewal is for only one year, with Melandri continuing to ride alongside Chaz Davies on the Ducati Panigale R superbike. Of course for the 2019 season, Ducati Corse will race in WorldSBK with its new V4 superbike, at which time both its riders’ contracts will be up for renewal.
Just in case you have been living under a rock, or been the victim of a massive coma, Ducati is set to debut a new superbike with a V4 engine. The news is a pretty big deal in Ducati circles – the Italian brand finally abandoning the v-twin format for its superbike offering.
Although…this isn’t the first Ducati superbike with a V4 engine, nor is Ducati unfamiliar with making four-cylinder machines.
Since 2003, Ducati has been using a V4 engine to power its MotoGP program, starting first with a “twin pulse” engine design, which operated essentially by having two v-twin engines mated together, and firing in near-unison.
Ducati Corse now uses a “big bang” firing for its MotoGP program. The separation between the engine pulses helps to translate the power from the engine, through the tire, and down to the pavement.
The engine design has also become a GP favorite, with Honda switching from a “screamer” format to a “big bang” format for the 2017, and KTM Racing basing its new MotoGP program around a “big bang” V4 engine design as well.
All of this work on the racing side of Ducati’s Bologna factory ultimately lead to the production of a street model, the Ducati Desmosedici RR. Not a race bike with lights, like we have seen with the Honda RC213V-S, the Desmosedici RR was an all new design that shared very few parts with its racing counterpart.
A limited edition machine, the Ducati Desmosedici RR was bred as an exclusive street bike, with obvious inspirations coming from the MotoGP machine, including its “twin pulse” firing order.
What does this all have to do with the here and now though? Ducati is about to repeat the process, albeit with a superbike that is more fit for mass production.
Aprilia has today confirmed another of the worst-kept secrets in the paddock, announcing that they have signed Scott Redding to replace Sam Lowes in the Gresini Aprilia MotoGP team for the 2018 season.
The news came as no surprise, after it became apparent that Aprilia had decide to break Lowes’ contract at the end of this season.
Lowes had been contracted for two seasons in MotoGP, but Aprilia decided to invoke an escape clause, after the Englishman had struggled at the start of the season. For the full background to the story, read the Friday MotoGP round up from Austria.
All the old certainties about MotoGP are gone. A few short years ago, MotoGP had a consistent, simple internal logic that made it easy to explain. All that is now gone.
The things we believed were universal truths about racing have turned out to be mere mirages, disguising an ever-shifting reality. And that has made racing mind-bogglingly good.
A case in point. The Red Bull Ring at Spielberg in Austria has a pretty simple layout. Straight, corner, straight, corner, straight, corner, long loop which comes back on itself, straight, corner, short straight, corner, and we’re back at the beginning.
The track is all about horsepower and the ability to accelerate hard, then brake hard. The racing here should be rubbish. The rider with the fastest bike should be able to escape and cruise to victory by tens rather than tenths of seconds.
Yet on Sunday, we saw three gripping races, where the results were long in doubt. The winner of the Moto3 race may have been well clear, but the freight train behind it scrapping over second made for compulsive watching.
Moto2 cooked up another cracker – the fourth in a row, a sign the class is changing – which only really settled in the last four laps. And the MotoGP race became an instant classic, one which make any collection of top ten races of any era.
It truly had everything: a large group battling for the lead, then a smaller group slugging it out, three abreast heading towards a corner. There were hard passes, missed passes, and a wild last-corner lunge to attempt to snatch victory.