Bradley Smith has finally found a home for the 2019 MotoGP season, taking on the role of Aprilia Racing’s test rider.
Before even a lap has been turned at the San Marino GP, there is already plenty of action in Misano, as much was said during the pre-event press conference.
It is a busy schedule for the MotoGP teams since coming back from their all-too-brief summer break. After back-to-back weekends at Brno and Spielberg, five teams headed to Misano, for a private test this weekend.
For Ducati (the only team to issue a press release after the test, the test was mainly about preparing for their second home race at Misano in three weeks’ time. Misano is a huge race for Ducati, and a good result there is an absolute necessity.
If the times released by Ducati are accurate, then a good result is almost assured: Jorge Lorenzo lapped at just about the circuit pole record, while Andrea Dovizioso was six tenths slower than his teammate.
Riders, teams, journalists, fans, almost everyone likes to complain about the layout of the Red Bull Ring at Spielberg. Three fast straights connected by hairpins, with a long left hand corner thrown in for the sake of variety.
The facilities and setting may be magnificent, but the track layout is pretty dire. Coming from the spectacular, flowing layout of Brno, the contrast could hardly be greater.
And yet the Red Bull Ring consistently manages to produce fantastic racing. The combined gap between first and second place across all three classes on Sunday was 0.867 seconds, and nearly half a second of that was down to Moto3.
The MotoGP race was decided on the last lap again, just as it had been in 2017, though the race was decided at Turn 3, rather than the final corner. Spielberg once again served up a breathtaking battle for MotoGP fans, with a deserved winner, and the rest of the podium riders losing with valor and honor.
If we were to be picky about it, it would be to complain that the protagonists of the MotoGP race were rather predictable.
It is no surprise that the factory Ducatis would play a role at the front of the race: a Ducati had won in Austria in the previous two races, and the long straights from slow corners are almost made to measure for the Desmosedici’s balance of power, mechanical grip, acceleration, and braking stability.
Nor was it a surprise that Marc Márquez should be involved, the gains made by Honda in acceleration giving the RC213V the tools to tackle the Ducatis.
Naturally, the show starts with a look at Ducati’s third-straight victory at the Red Bull Ring, and how it came to be that Jorge Lorenzo stood on the top podium step, come Sunday afternoon.
Part of Lorenzo’s victory can be credited to his tire choice, which creates some discussion as well about the Michelin rear tire selection.
The conversation then turns to Marquez’s increasing lead in the MotoGP Championship standings, as he continues to gain on Valentino Rossi, who is making the best of a lackluster year on the Movistar Yamaha YZR-M1.
Lastly, the show takes a look at Aprilia Racing, which seems to be making little progress on its MotoGP program. The show covers the various reasons why Aprilia is struggling, and how the factory team can turnaround its fortunes.
Of course, the show finishes with out winners and losers from the weekend, which you won’t want to miss.
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The return of WorldSBK to the Czech Republic proved to be a race weekend to remember. Tensions between Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes overflowed, Alex Lowes delivered on his long-held promise, and we saw flashes of brilliance from else on the World Superbike grid.
Mark this day, because today is the day that Aprilia Racing signed Andrea Iannone to its factory MotoGP – the Italian motorcycle brand sealing its fate to the Italian rider for the next two seasons.
The news had been expected, for quite some time, and today when we saw Suzuki Racing formally ending its relationship with Iannone, we knew it was only a matter of time before Aprilia announced its contract.
Iannone’s third factory team in the MotoGP paddock, it will be interesting to see what he can accomplish with his teammate Aleix Espargaró at Aprilia – a team that is still struggling for results in the MotoGP Championship.
Breaking up with Suzuki before he could be dumped, Andrea Iannone has already made it clear that he would not be returning to the ECSTAR Suzuki team for the 2019 MotoGP Championship season, but now the break up is official.
Issuing a press release today, Suzuki Motor Corporation announced that the Japanese factory and the Italian rider would not be collaborating further, into 2019.
Though Suzuki won’t mention it, it is widely held that Joan Mir will be taking Iannone’s seat at ECSTAR Suzuki, and as such he will partner Alex Rins inside the factory team next year.
In its press release, Suzuki thanked Iannone for his help and positive results during their time together, but the reality is that Iannone never gelled with the team, with considerable friction existing between him and the Suzuki squad.
The French GP is seeing a number of announcements being made for the coming seasons, and one of the less surprising pieces in the silly season puzzle is finally in place, as Aleix Espargaró has renewed his contract with Aprilia Racing.
As such, Espargaró will ride with the factory Aprilia team through the 2020 MotoGP Championship season, as the Spaniard has shown himself not only capable of helping to develop the Aprilia RS-GP race bike, but also as a strong competitor on the machine.
Of course, the big question is who will be Espargaró’s teammate for the next season or two? As it seems increasingly likely that Scott Redding will not be returning to the Italian squad, after a number of poor results on the Aprilia.
Soon Aprilia dealers in the United States will begin flexing their racing prowess, with a new certification program from Aprilia Racing. The certification program hopes to leverage Aprilia’s racing experience on the international stage, and thus turn Aprilia dealerships into performance shops capable of honing Aprilia’s motorcycles for track use. As such, Aprilia Racing certified dealerships will have access to a host of performance parts that Aprilia Racing has developed back in Italy, during the course of their racing programs in MotoGP and WorldSBK. In order to obtain certification though, dealership technicians will have to participate in a specific training program with Aprilia Racing, which will focus on setting up motorcycle electronics, chassis, and engines.
Imola is one of the most historic circuits in the world. Tamburello, Acque Minerali, and Rivazza are corner names etched into the fiber of the sport, and with the circuit named after Enzo Ferrari’s son, the emotion of Imola is always bubbling away just under the surface.
For a long time, Eugene Laverty didn’t feel at home at this twisting and technical circuit, but over the last ten years he has been able to scratch at the surface and unlock the key to a fast time around this 4.936km circuit.
“Imola is a very technical circuit and it’s a real challenge to learn it,” said Laverty. “It took me a long time to figure out some of the secrets of it, and even when I was racing here on the Yamaha Superbike, after a few years of Supersport, I was still struggling.”
“The most important thing is to be white line to white line because there’s no ‘natural corners.’ The straights are so short that everything leads into one another and it’s a real challenge to learn the details of Imola.”
With two Supersport podiums and a WorldSBK rostrum, Laverty understands what’s needed, but for this weekend, recovering from an injury, he’ll face an uphill task.