Author

David Emmett

Browsing

Pecco Bagnaia has been involved in a car crash while vacationing on the Spanish island of Ibiza, which occurred while he was under the influence of alcohol.

According to local Spanish media, Bagnaia crashed the car he was driving at a roundabout, losing control when he caught a wheel in a ditch.

Though no other vehicles were involved, when the police arrived, Bagnaia failed a breath test, showing a blood alcohol level of 0.87g/l. Spanish law states that the legal limit in a breath test is 0.25 g/l, while the limit for a blood test is 0.5 g/l.

In many ways, Ducati’s MotoE project is the opposite of all the electric motorcycle projects which have gone before.

Up until very recently, conventional motorcycle manufacturers have mostly stayed well away from electric motorcycles, preferring to wait and see how the technology, and the political and legislative framework in which this all takes place, will play out.

Exceptions have been few and far between: beyond electric scooters, KTM have the Freeride, an electric enduro machine, and Honda worked with Mugen on their bike which dominated the TT Zero race on the Isle of Man.

That has left the field open for a host of new companies, which have operated with varying success. Silicon Valley produced a large swathe of start ups, mostly run by motorcycle enthusiasts from the area’s electric vehicle and technology industries, and funded with VC money.

A few others, such as Energica, are engineering start ups producing electric vehicles and based in areas with strong automotive industry links. Small companies with limited manufacturing and engineering facilities which relied on widely available components and techniques for a large part of their bikes.

So when Energica won the first contract to produce the MotoE racer, they were competing against other specialist electric motorcycle manufacturers, sometimes no bigger than a handful of people based in of small workshops.

But all had the same philosophy: to take their existing products and turn it into a race bike, by stripping unnecessary ballast and upgrading suspension, braking, and various chassis components.

Their race bikes, and the Energica Ego Corsa which became the MotoE bike when the series first started in 2019, are basically the electric bike version of Superstock spec machines: production bikes which have been turned into racing machines by upgrading existing components to racing spec.

At the technical presentation of their MotoE machine on Thursday, the contrast between what has gone before and Ducati’s approach couldn’t be greater.

Is the 2022 Yamaha M1 a good MotoGP bike? It is a simple question with a simple answer: it depends. If Fabio Quartararo is riding it, it is good enough to have won two races, get on the podium in three others, and lead the 2022 MotoGP championship by 22 points.

But if anyone other than Fabio Quartararo is riding it, it is not quite so good. The best result by the trio of Franco Morbidelli, Andrea Dovizioso, and Darryn Binder is a seventh place, by Morbidelli at Mandalika. That seventh place is one of only two top tens for the other Yamahas, Darryn Binder being the other at the same race.

Together, Morbidelli, Dovizioso, and Binder have scored a grand total of 40 points. Fabio Quartararo has 147, over three times as many. And he has never finished behind any of the other Yamahas throughout the season.

In fact, the closest any other Yamaha rider has gotten to Quartararo is Franco Morbidelli’s eleventh place, two places behind his teammate, at the season opener at Qatar. Since then, Quartararo and the other Yamaha riders have been operating on different planets.

The next piece of the 2023 puzzle has fallen into place. Today, KTM and Ducati announced that Jack Miller would be leaving the factory Ducati squad at the end of 2022, and joining KTM for the 2023 and 2024 season to race in the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing squad.

Miller is no stranger to KTM. The Australian raced for KTM in his final year in Moto3, before making the move to MotoGP. He is managed by Aki Ajo, the veteran team manager of KTM’s Moto2 and Moto3 squads.

So a return to KTM is no surprise, and had been the subject of rumors for several weeks now.

The WithU RNF team is to switch from Yamaha to Aprilia for the coming seasons. An agreement was reached with Aprilia between the Le Mans and Mugello rounds for the team to become a satellite team for the Noale factory, and field two more Aprilia RS-GP MotoGP machines from 2023 and beyond.

The deal came about after talks with Yamaha failed to yield satisfactory results for RNF. The Malaysian team had long been hoping to play a role as a junior team to the factory, in the mold of Pramac at Ducati and Tech3 at KTM. But RNF never felt they got the support from Yamaha which they had wanted.

A switch from Yamaha to Aprilia allows them to make that step forward. Though details are sparse in the press release, it is clear that RNF will get much stronger support from Aprilia than they did from Yamaha, with the team to serve as a conduit for talent into the factory team.


The deal was announced just before MotoGP FP1, a surprising moment to choose. But that was a result of factory rider Aleix Espargaro prematurely tweeting and then deleting a welcome to RNF to Aprilia. But by then, it was too late to retract.

The original plan had been for an announcement to be made in the afternoon, but Espargaro’s over-eager thumbs forced Aprilia and RNF to announce earlier.

The move by RNF leaves Yamaha with just two bikes on the grid for 2023. The Japanese factory had been in talks with the VR46 Mooney team to race Yamahas next season, but the team is currently still set to race Ducatis.

RNF’s departure is the second time a satellite team have left for greener pastures. Tech3 dropped Yamaha and switched to KTM at the end of 2018.

Source: RNF; Photo: Aprilia

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past month or so, you will have heard the criticism of MotoGP. Though the field is close, it has become harder and harder to overtake the riders in front.

The Le Mans race was a case in point: the 27-lap race featured only a handful of overtakes, most of which were made possible only by a mistake by the rider ahead.

The problem was brought into stark relief by last weekend’s WorldSBK races at Estoril.

Alvaro Bautista, Jonathan Rea, and Toprak Razgatlioglu put on a dazzling display of passing in all three races on Saturday and Sunday, finding ways to jam their bikes ahead of each other into the first corner, the fourth corner, the Parabolica Interior, and the tight, awkward uphill chicane.

They produced three glorious races.

The Lusail International Circuit is to undergo major renovation work at the end of 2022 and into 2023, to upgrade the facilities and paddock.

As a result, it will relinquish its position as the first race of the MotoGP season, instead being moved back to the end of the year.

With Qatar out of the frame as the first race of 2023, this hugely increases the chances of Phillip Island as the first race of the season.

There is a MotoGP race at Le Mans this weekend, but to be honest, it is hard to concentrate on the race. A lot has happened in the past couple of weeks, which has shaken up MotoGP to a degree we hadn’t expected even as late as two weeks ago.

Suzuki’s withdrawal blows the MotoGP silly season right open, with not just rider seats up in the air, but grid slots and bikes too.

Then there’s the controversy over tire pressures being routinely under the minimum allowed, and whether that is even an issue or not, given the MSMA have agreed not to do anything about it.

The role of tire pressures, and especially for the front tire, has grown in importance in recent years, as aerodynamics and ride-height devices have made the front ever more sensitive to pressure and temperature changes.

It is common to hear riders complain of temperatures and pressures skyrocketing after getting stuck behind other bikes, and kept out of the cooling air.

It is therefore not surprising that factories and teams try to manage tire pressures as carefully as possible.