It is no secret that FP4 is my favorite part of a MotoGP weekend. Every Saturday afternoon I watch the live timing carefully for signs of which MotoGP rider has the best race pace, usually pinging comments back and forth with Neil Morrison over WhatsApp.
Once the results PDF is published, I pore over the Analysis timesheets(link is external), showing times and sector times for each lap, as well as which tires were used, and how fresh or used they were.
Based on that information, plus the outcome of qualifying, listening to what riders have to say and discussing the day with others, I try to make as informed a guess as possible of what might happen in the race.
I try to estimate who looks to have the best race pace, based on lap times set in longer runs on very used tires. And if a rider hasn’t used older tires – switching between two different rear tires, for example – I try to estimate whether their pace on used tires drops off more than the times in FP4 show.
Is all this effort worth it, or am I wasting my time? I felt it was time to put my hypothesis that FP4 is the most important and instructive session to the test. Is the outcome of the race closely correlated to the results of FP4? Or is there another session which is more useful to that extent.
Last week, the debate over the role of rider weight was reignited by a post on Instagram by BMW WorldSBK rider Scott Redding, comparing his own weight to that of Aruba.it Ducati’s Alvaro Bautista, and asking whether there needs to be a minimum combined rider/bike weight in WorldSBK.
To back up his claim, he posted some video clips and sector analysis from the San Juan Villicum circuit in Argentina. “I just think it should be as fair as possible for all of the riders,” Redding wrote.
Though the sentiment is admirable, the thing about motorcycle racing is it is fundamentally unfair.
Somebody else’s bike will always be better than yours. Some other rider will be lighter, stronger, have it easier than you in one way or another. That is of little comfort to those racing in a particular class at a specific event, but it remains true nonetheless.
The way this has traditionally been dealt with is through what is usually called “the package”. The combination of bike, team, and rider is different for each competitor, and rule makers have attempted to create space in each class to allow riders and teams to find multiple ways to be competitive.
Spanish petroleum giant Repsol has announced that they have extended their sponsorship of Honda’s factory team for two more seasons.
The Spanish corporation will continue to sponsor the Repsol Honda team through 2024, which will mark the 30th anniversary of their deal, the longest running sponsorship backing in history.
The Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Cheste, a short drive past an endless array of industrial estates heading west out of Valencia, is fairly unloved in the MotoGP paddock.
Unfairly, perhaps: the race is (barring pandemics and other disasters) the last of the season, and comes after the flyaways, a period in which much of the paddock has spent 8 weeks away from home.
The various titles are usually already wrapped up, so the last round feels very much like going through the motions.
With barely a moment to catch its collective breath, the MotoGP paddock alights at Buriram, in the east of Thailand.
The heavy rain which lashed the paddock in Motegi has followed them across the South China Sea, with heavy rain and flooding in many parts of Thailand.
Some who chose to drive rather than fly from Bangkok to Buriram reported flooded roads at several points along the way, and fields around the track are also flooded.
Nor is the rain done with MotoGP just yet. Thursday’s media duties took place in heavy rain, marshals and circuit workers doing their best to rid the track of the worst of its surface water.
The MotoGP calendar continues to expand. Today, Dorna announced in an unusually brief press release that the Sokol International Racetrack, 50 kilometers north east of Almaty in Kazakhstan, is to be added to the MotoGP calendar for 2023 for a five-year period.
The Kazakh track is still in the process of being built, and so will face homologation and safety checks before the race will be confirmed as happening in 2023.
The race in Kazakhstan will take the slot vacated by the now defunct Kymiring in Finland, which failed due to its business case collapsing when Russia invaded Ukraine.
We are entering the four most important weekends of the season. Important for a lot of reasons: there are five races to go and just 17 points separate the championship leaders.
But above all, important because we are heading to three tracks where MotoGP hasn’t been since 2019, and Sepang, where MotoGP has only tested in 2020 and 2022. We are heading into the unknown, just as the championship is coming to a head.
So much has changed since MotoGP was on its last Pacific tour. Valentino Rossi was still in the Monster Energy Yamaha team. A young rookie called Fabio Quartararo was making a massive impression on fans.
Andrea Dovizioso was doing his best to win a championship for Ducati, against an unstoppable Marc Marquez. Marquez was having perhaps the best season in grand prix racing since Giacomo Agostini crushed the opposition in the late 1960s on the MV Agusta.
2019 saw the ride-height devices first start to make an appearance, Jack Miller using the system in Thailand. It was the last year of the old Michelin rear casing, the new tire introduced in 2020 effectively killing off Andrea Dovizioso’s career.
The recent spate of official rider announcements means that the MotoGP rider line up for 2023 is nearly complete.
The official confirmation by Aprilia that Miguel Oliveira and Raul Fernandez would be racing in the RNF Aprilia squad brings the total of confirmed riders signed to 18. All of the factory seats are now occupied, and just four of the satellite seats remain open.
With seven races left in the 2022 MotoGP season, we are approaching the final stretch. There are 175 points left to play for, and Fabio Quartararo has a lead of 32 points over Aleix Espargaro.
That means that Espargaro still has his fate in his own hands: he can become 2022 MotoGP champion by the simple expedient of winning every MotoGP race left, and if Quartararo finishes second in all seven races, the Aprilia rider would take his first championship by a slim margin of 3 points.
Enea Bastianini has won the battle for the second seat in the factory Ducati Lenovo Team.
The leaders of Ducati Corse’s MotoGP project have now picked the Italian over his Spanish rival, Jorge Martin, for the seat alongside Pecco Bagnaia. Bastianini and Bagnaia will form the factory Ducati team for the next two seasons, through 2024.
GasGas, the iconic Spanish motorcycle brand, bought by the Pierer Mobility Group and KTM, is to enter MotoGP with the Tech3 team.
From 2023, Tech3 will become the GasGas Factory Racing Team, with Pol Espargaro confirmed as one of their riders. The team will compete with factory-backed KTM RC16s branded under the GasGas name.