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Episode 120 of the Paddock Pass Podcast is out, and this one is a WorldSBK show, as the production championship comes to us from Argentina.

As such, this means that we see Steve English joined by Gordon Ritchie on the mics, as they are our World Superbike reporting duo for the 2019 season.

Recording straight from trackside at the Argentinean track, the guys give some conversation about the on-track action at San Juan, including the issues with the track surface.

Saturday’s WorldSBK race saw only 12 riders on the grid, as six riders (Chaz Davies, Sandro Cortese, Marco Melandri, Leon Camier, Ryuichi Kiyonari, and Eugene Laverty) sat out the race in protest over the conditions.

Just 20 minutes before the start of Race 1 though, as many as 14 riders seemed set to sit out the day’s events, citing issues with the track’s surface, which had just been recently laid, and was still seeping oil to the surface, and was also dusty from lack of use.

However, with pressure being exerted on the riders to race, reportedly by their teams and Dorna, a number of riders lined up on the grid, despite their agreements with their colleagues. 

A sense of dread must fill the hearts of senior MotoGP staff as they head to Argentina each year. There is so much to love about the round – one of the best race track layouts in the world, and probably the best atmosphere at any race – and yet somehow, the Fates always find a way to cause controversy, filling the media and fan chatter with debate about rules, regulations, and anything but the actual racing.

Since MotoGP first returned to Argentina in 2014, we have had customs hold ups, a collision between Valentino Rossi and Marc Márquez, rear tires blistering and shedding rubber, compulsory pit stops, complaints about bumps causing riders to crash out, start line chaos, another collision between Marc Márquez and Valentino Rossi (and between Marc Márquez and a whole bunch of other riders), just to mention a few things in no particular order.

On more than one occasion, the Argentina round of MotoGP has forced adjustments to the rules, or clarification on how the rules are applied. As sure as night follows day, intense criticism (whether deserved or not) of Race Direction follows a MotoGP race at Termas de Rio Hondo.

Qualifying in MotoGP is always important, but at the Termas de Rio Hondo track in Argentina, it matters just that little bit more. That would seem odd at such a fast and flowing track, but the problem is that the circuit doesn’t get used much.

That leaves the surface dusty, and without much rubber on the track to provide grip. Over the three days of the Grand Prix weekend, the three classes gradually clean up the track and put down a layer of rubber, adding to the grip.

The trouble is, because it is practice and qualifying, most of that rubber gets laid down on the racing line, as everyone tries to find the quickest line around the circuit. Stray from that line, and you are quickly back in green, dusty tarmac, with nary a hint of rubber on it.

The grip is gone. “That’s an important thing, because if you go 1 meter wide, you feel the bike like it is floating,” is how Danilo Petrucci describes it.

That’s why qualifying matters so much. If you start from the first couple of rows, you stand a chance of getting in the leading group, and biding your time until a safe opportunity presents itself. But if you don’t qualify up front, or you mess up the start, then you have to take your chances out on the dirty part of the track, and hope your luck holds.

WorldSBK’s South American adventure saw the history books once again rewritten by Jonathan Rea with the Northern Irishman claiming a tenth consecutive victory.

The world champion claimed a comfortable win on Saturday, the series first ever race in Argentina, but after weekend of cleaning a dirty and dusty track it was the temperature that caused problems on Sunday.

With over 110F temperatures on the asphalt, it was as slick a surface as many riders could remember with overnight rain also washing away any rubber that had been put down on the surface. It was easy to make a mistake, and coming from the third row of the grid, Rea certainly made his fair share in the early laps.

Once on clear track however, he was imperious, and comfortably the fastest man on track. He used this advantage to charge down Xavi Fores, and claim a historic double that broke the long-standing record of Colin Edwards (2002) and Neil Hodgson (2003) for most consecutive victories in WorldSBK.

The Circuit San Juan Villicum surprised everyone in the WorldSBK paddock this past weekend. With the Andes Mountain range offering one of the most picturesque backgrounds in all of racing, this brand new facility has instantly offered a unique circuit to the championship.

The 2.6-mile circuit has received positive feedback from the riders and teams, and Milwaukee Aprilia’s Eugene Laverty offered us his perspective of the track.

Race officials for the Dakar Rally have just released their initial plans for the 2019 edition of the grueling off-road race, and next year Dakar competitors will compete in only one country: Peru.

The news is a bit of a shock, since in the past The Dakar has found hosts in multiple South American countries (Argentina, Bolivia, & Chile). But, South America’s hospitality has been on the wane, which leads us to our next bit of news…

There is a growing idea that the Dakar Rally could be headed back to Africa for the 2020 edition and onward. Boom goes the dynamite.

Episode 71 of the Paddock Pass Podcast is fresh from Austin, where the Grand Prix of the Americas produced some predictable results on the track, though less predictable results off the track.

On the mics were Jensen BeelerDavid Emmett,Neil Morrison, and we talked about the three podium-men, in turn.

First up and at the center of the pre-event hurricane, Marc Marquez shutout the paddock chatter, and put in another stunning display of two-wheel racecraft in Austin – remaining undefeated on American soil.

Now under the microscope, Marquez’s on-track actions and off-track words launch us into a long discussion about Race Direction, penalties, and the rule of law inside the MotoGP paddock.

For Maverick Viñales, a second-place finish was perhaps the most that a Movistar Yamaha rider could hope for, and as such we discuss the state of the Movistar Yamaha squad. Was Austin the start of new day for Yamaha, or a false dawn?

Our last segment focuses on Andrea Iannone, with the ECSTAR Suzuki rider showing a new maturity in Texas. Will the Italian remain at Suzuki for the 2019 season? Or is his new-found civility too little too late? With that in mind, we speculate on where some riders will be next season.

Of course the show ends with the guys picking their biggest winners and losers from the weekend’s events, which isn’t as obvious this week as one would think.

We think you will enjoy the show. It is packed with behind-the-scenes info, and insights from teams and riders in the paddock.

As always, be sure to follow the Paddock Pass Podcast on FacebookTwitter and subscribe to the show on iTunes and SoundCloud – we even have an RSS feed for you. If you like the show, we would really appreciate you giving it a review on iTunes. Thanks for listening!

Episode 70 of the Paddock Pass Podcast is hot off the presses, and it is the episode that you surely have all been waiting for, as the Argentina GP was in no shortage of action, drama, and consequences for the 2018 MotoGP Championship season.

As such, we have gathered around the microphones David Emmett, Neil Morrison (who calls in from Argentina), and Steve English.

The guy obviously talk about the incident between Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi, and examine the words said in the aftermath in the larger perspective of MotoGP’s political arena.

Words are also spent talking about Cal Crutchlow’s performance, both on and off the track, as well as the fortunes of riders like Dani Pedrosa, Johann Zarco, and Jorge Lorenzo, the latter being tipped to take Andrea Iannone’s ride inside the ECSTAR Suzuki garage.

Of course the show ends with the guys picking their biggest winners and losers from the weekend’s events, which isn’t as obvious this week as one would think.

We think you will enjoy the show. It is packed with behind-the-scenes info, and insights from teams and riders in the paddock.

As always, be sure to follow the Paddock Pass Podcast on FacebookTwitter and subscribe to the show on iTunes and SoundCloud – we even have an RSS feed for you. If you like the show, we would really appreciate you giving it a review on iTunes. Thanks for listening!