Episode 238 of the Paddock Pass Podcast is out, and this show covers the MotoGP action from the San Marino GP at the Misano World Circuit
It has been an open secret for some time, but now finally Yamaha have confirmed it officially. In a flurry of press releases, Yamaha announced it reshuffling of the factory Yamaha team, and laid the first stone in its satellite operation.
Starting immediately, Franco Morbidelli will be joining the factory team, and has signed a contract for the next two seasons, 2022 and 2023.
Taking his place in the Petronas Yamaha SRT team effective immediately will be Andrea Dovizioso, and the Italian veteran will race in Yamaha’s satellite team for 2022.
Though most of the news was already out in public, there were still a few details in the announcements that hadn’t been confirmed.
It is a truism to point out that it is just Friday, and too early to be getting excited about who is where on the timesheets. But the reason it is a truism is because (the clue is in the name) it’s true.
Friday is just the first day of the weekend, and not everybody is up to speed right away. Things change over a weekend, especially once the engineers have had an evening to examine the data.
The weather and the track changes too. The tail end of storm Lola has just passed over Jerez de la Frontera, and temperatures are slowly returning to normal after an unseasonally cold and wet period.
The mercury is creeping higher once again, and with every degree of temperature and every ray of direct Andalusian sunlight, track temperatures are increasing, bringing more grip.
In addition, every bike that laps the track lays down a little rubber, creating more and more grip. And there are a lot of bikes turning laps at Jerez: in addition to the usual three Grand Prix classes of Moto3, Moto2, and MotoGP, there are also the Red Bull Rookies and MotoE.
The MotoE bikes, in particular, help the MotoGP teams. Like MotoGP, MotoE uses Michelin tires, and the big, heavy machines lay down a lot of Michelin rubber which helps create grip for everyone, and especially MotoGP.
Four months after getting off the Ducati, with no contracts signed for 2021, Andrea Dovizioso is riding again.
On Wednesday afternoon, the final day of Dovizioso’s test with Aprilia, the Italian spoke to the media about the test, his motivation for testing the RS-GP, his plans for the immediate future, and what he thought of the test so far.
He was very cagey in his responses, not wanting to give away too much, but reading between the lines he still had plenty to say.
He did not want to enter into detail about how the bike felt, insisting that the first thing he had to do was to find the right riding position before he could be comfortable trying to push the bike to its limit.
Monday sees the start of three days of activity at the Jerez ciruit, as first the MotoE teams, and then the MotoGP test teams get to work at the Andalusian circuit.
Alongside the full MotoE grid – it is an official MotoE test – the test teams of Aprilia, Honda, KTM, and Yamaha will be present at the track.
Fresh off its news that it will continue as the MotoE bike supplier through 2022, Energica announces today that it has taken some of that knowledge from racing, and brought it to its electric motorcycle lineup.
Giving its models all an “RS” designation (standing for “Reparto Sportivo”), the Energica EGO+RS, Energica EVA EsseEsse9+ RS, and Energica EVA Ribelle RS feature new VMU software protocols that increase performance.
The COVID-19 pandemic has once again reshaped the 2020 MotoGP calendar, though this change had long been expected.
Today, Dorna and the FIM announced that the three races outside Europe still on the calendar – in Argentina, Malaysia, and Thailand – have all been canceled. Taking their place at the end of the season is one extra race, officially unspecified as yet.
It is hard to believe, but it is here at last. After a layoff of over four months due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, Grand Prix racing motorcycles will be back on track in just a few hours time.
At first it seemed like there would be no racing at all in MotoGP, as race after race was canceled, but as the pandemic started to burn itself out in Spain and Italy, Dorna and the FIM started searching for a way ahead.
As the weeks passed, the cancellations ceased, and plans were laid for a new season. Hugely curtailed, and limited to just a handful of tracks, and with the way the series would be run radically reconfigured to make it as safe as possible.
13 races to be held over 18 weekends, teams limited to a much smaller presence, a limited number of TV crews, and journalists excluded entirely. Everything to avoid MotoGP becoming a catalyst for the further spread of the disease, and races having to be canceled once again.
So on Wednesday, bikes take the track again for a day of testing for all four classes – MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3, and MotoE – before the season kicks off in earnest again on Friday. On Sunday, we should be racing again, at last.
There is a plan for the 2020 MotoGP season. With the COVID-19 outbreak receding all across Europe, Dorna has been given a second chance at setting a calendar for the 2020 MotoGP season.
The newly published calendar will see 13 races held at circuits in Europe in the first instance, with the possibility of four overseas races being tacked on at the end of the year, if conditions permit.
The calendar is explictly still provisional, subject to local rules and regulations concerning the COVID-19 pandemic.
If there is one thing that we learned from the Sepang test, it is that the field is even closer this year. In Malaysia, 18 riders finished within a second of one another. That pattern has continued at Qatar, Pol Espargaro in fourteenth just 0.987 second behind the fastest man, Alex Rins.
As comparison, the KTM rider was the last rider within a second of the fastest man after the first day of this test in 2019, but then, there were just eight riders ahead of him, rather than thirteen. And there was a gap of nearly four tenths of a second between the riders in second and third last year. Not so in 2020.
But if the single lap times were close, the race pace was a lot less so. Maverick Viñales towered over the rest in terms of consistent pace, with only the Suzukis of Alex Rins and Joan Mir getting anywhere near the pace of the Monster Energy Yamaha rider.
Viñales laid down a real benchmark, with ten of his 47 laps in the 1’54s, which is under the race lap record. That included a run of ten laps, seven of which were 1’54s, five of which were consecutive. That is a rather terrifying race pace for the Spaniard to lay down, just two weeks ahead of the first race.
Viñales has a reputation for being the winter testing champion, frequently topping the timesheets, yet never quite able to convert that into a consistent championship challenge once the season gets underway.
But there is reason to think things are a little different this time: not only is the Yamaha M1 a good bit faster than it was last year, but Viñales himself has a different attitude.
2020 sees the start of a new decade (convention has it that decades are zero-based, going from 0-9, so please, numerical pedants, just play along here), and if there is one thing we have learned from the period between 2010 and 2019, it is that a lot can change.
Not just politically and socially, but in racing too. So now seems a good time to take a look back at the start of the previous decade, and ponder what lessons might be learned for the decade to come.
It is hard to remember just how tough a place MotoGP was in 2010. The world was still reeling from the impact of the Global Financial Crisis caused when the banking system collapsed at the end of 2008.
That led to a shrinking grid, with Kawasaki pulling out at the end of 2008 (though the Japanese factory was forced to continue for one more season under the Hayate banner, with one rider, Marco Melandri), and emergency measures aimed at cutting costs.
That meant that in 2010, MotoGP had only 17 permanent riders on the grid, from four different manufacturers. Hondas filled the grid, supplying six of the riders with RC212Vs, while Ducati were providing five riders, including one to the newly joined Aspar team.
Yamaha supplied four bikes then, as now, though the Tech3 Yamaha team received satellite bikes, rather than the factory spec M1s the Petronas team has now. And Suzuki still had two bikes on the grid, though 2010 was the last year that happened. A year later, they were down to a single bike, and in 2012, they were gone.