It is hard to keep secrets in the MotoGP paddock (though not impossible, as Jorge Lorenzo’s move to Repsol Honda conclusively proves). One of the worst kept secrets has been the news that the Sepang International Circuit, or SIC, is to expand its current operation to include a MotoGP team.
Over the months since rumors first started circulating, that Sepang was interested in running a MotoGP team, details have slowly dripped out, until we now have an almost complete picture. The whole picture is to be formally announced at Silverstone, at a press conference at 6pm BST on Friday.
Here’s what we already know: the team is to be an extension of the current Petronas Sprinta Racing team, which currently runs Adam Norrodin and Ayumi Sasaki in Moto3, and Niki Tuuli in Moto2.
The Petronas SIC Yamaha team, as it will almost certainly be called, will be the showcase team for the Petronas-backed structure run by the Sepang International Circuit.
The objective is to have two riders in each of the three Grand Prix classes, from Moto3 to MotoGP, as well as a team in the FIM CEV Junior World Moto3 Championship.
Our favorite motorcycle charity is about to have its biggest event of the year, as Two Wheels for Life will be hosting its Day of Champions event ahead of the British GP at Silverstone in just under two weeks’ time.
Held on the Thursday before racing action begins, the Day of Champions offers a number of fun motorcycle events for the whole family, and it culminates with a live auction that is hosted by Randy Mamola, and offers some very cool MotoGP paraphernalia to bid on.
Other events of note include the opportunity to have access to the MotoGP paddock on Thursday and to meet some GP riders. There is also a ride that participants can join, which includes two laps around the Silverstone track (you can buy tickets here).
Of course, all the money raised goes towards a good cause, as Two Wheels for Life provides funding to programs in Africa that ensure life-saving healthcare gets to rural communities using reliable transport (i.e. motorcycles).
2017 has been a strange year in motorcycle racing. We have had one of the best ever seasons of racing in MotoGP, with close finishes and a surprise title challenger.
We have seen one of the best ever WorldSBK riders stamp his authority on the series, though that has also seen the championship suffer partly as a result.
We have seen young talent come through in the support classes, and older talent recognized and appreciated. There has been much to celebrate.
But there has also been much to mourn. 2017 saw two of the most iconic names in motorcycle racing lose their lives, ironically, both in traffic accidents and not on motorcycles.
Nicky Hayden was killed while out training on his bicycle, hit by a car as he crossed a road at a treacherous crossroads. Angel Nieto suffered head injuries when he was hit by a car while out riding a quad bike on Ibiza.
In a somewhat surprising development, Silverstone has signed up to host the British round of MotoGP for three more years. The Northamptonshire circuit is to hold the race through 2020.
Since the British round was held earlier this year, it looked like the race would go to Donington Park. The Leicestershire track had shown renewed interest in the race, after the circuit had been bought by MSV, who also run the BSB series and own several other British tracks.
Hosting the series at Donington would have required upgrades in a number of areas, however, and making those in time for August next year would have been difficult.
Episode 58 of the Paddock Pass Podcast sees David Emmett, Neil Morrison, and Steve English on the mics, as they cover both the Austrian and British GP rounds.
At the end of the racing in Silverstone, we saw a new leader in the MotoGP Championship standings, and according the show discuss how Andrea Dovizioso has risen to the top of the MotoGP riders.
The conversation then turns to the Movistar Yamaha garage, and the rivalry that is brewing between Valentino Rossi and Maverick Vinales. It should be noted that this episode was recorded before Valentino Rossi broke his right leg enduro riding.
The last MotoGP topics covers Marc Marquez, his exploding engine, and what’s happening the HRC side of the paddock. The guys also talk about Bradley Smith, and the trouble he is having with the KTM RC16.
After a quick talk about Moto2 and Moto3, the conversation turns to the big winners and losers of the last two rounds. It’s another great show from the Paddock Pass crew, and you won’t want to miss it.
As always, be sure to follow the Paddock Pass Podcast on Facebook, Twitter 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!
If there is one thing that makes real life much more interesting than fiction, it is that real life is no respecter of plausible plot lines. If you were to take a script of the 2017 MotoGP season so far to a movie producer or a fiction publisher, they would reject it 30 seconds into your pitch. It is all a little too implausible.
Five riders battling for the championship after 12 rounds? Never happens. A championship leader with a record low number of points? A ridiculous notion. Riders winning races one weekend, then struggling to make the top five, or even top ten the next?
A horribly transparent plot device to create tension. Championship leaders conveniently crashing, struggling with tires, or suffering bike problems? A little too convenient to be credible.
How about the supposedly colorless second rider in a team suddenly blossoming into a championship contender? The most trite of clichés, like the mousy librarian who transforms into a babe once she takes her glasses off.
The struggle of a rider swapping bikes to become competitive, making up and down progress, and a big step forward when handed a technological MacGuffin? So blatant it’s obscene. No professional writer of fiction would stoop to such depths.
Is it going to be Argentina or Austin on Sunday at Silverstone? Two of the bumpiest circuits of the first half of the season had very different outcomes.
At the Termas De Rio Hondo circuit, Marc Márquez took off like a scalded cat to try to take the win, and claw back the valuable points from Maverick Viñales he had handed him at Qatar.
In undulating Austin, Márquez rode his usual imperious race to take victory, while it was Viñales’ turn to make a silly mistake.
The perils of a American bumps were rather bike-specific. It wasn’t just Marc Márquez who crashed out of the lead in Argentina, Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa managed the same feat.
Cal Crutchlow rode cautiously to finish third, while there were four Yamahas in the top six. At Austin, Márquez won, Pedrosa finished third, Crutchlow fourth. Valentino Rossi’s charge came too late, and he finished well behind Márquez. A year earlier, it had been Rossi making a silly mistake in Texas, and slipping off.
So how does Silverstone compare to the two American tracks (North and South)? In Austin, the bumps were on corner exit, Maverick Viñales explained, whereas at Silverstone, the bumps are on corner entry.
“So it seems more difficult to ride,” the Movistar Yamaha rider said. In Argentina, it wasn’t so much bumps as massive undulations which were causing the problems.