If the Movistar Yamaha launch at Barcelona made one thing clear, it is that the feud between Valentino Rossi and Marc Márquez will be just as bitter in 2016 as it was in 2015.
In Barcelona, Rossi once again repeated the litany of charges he leveled against Marc Márquez at the end of last season. Márquez had decided early in the season he would try to stop Rossi from winning the title, had played with Rossi at Phillip Island, done far worse at Sepang, then stayed behind Lorenzo at Valencia to hand him the title. For Valentino Rossi, nothing has changed since Valencia 2015.
Is this a problem for MotoGP? Those in senior positions in the sport certainly think so. At the Movistar launch, Yamaha Racing boss Lin Jarvis spoke of the need for respect from all parties.
On Friday, the FIM issued a press release containing an interview with FIM President Vito Ippolito, in which he said the FIM had asked Honda not to release the data from Márquez’s bike at Sepang, which Márquez claims shows evidence of a kick by Rossi, to prevent throwing more fuel on the fire.
Entirely predictably, neither strategy worked. When asked about Jarvis’ comment on respect, Rossi retorted that neither Márquez nor Jorge Lorenzo had shown him any respect at the end of last year.
Ippolito’s statement that the FIM had asked Honda not to release the data led to a host of news stories in the media, and more outpourings of rage among fans on social media and forums. This was a conspiracy, to hide the facts from the fans, they said. The controversy was back, and strong as ever.
BMW Motorrad set another record year of sales in 2015, seemingly along with all the European motorcycle manufacturers (Husqvarna, Ducati, & KTM). BMW quotes that 136,963 motorcycles and maxi-scooters were sold last year, and thankfully the Bavarian brand is fairly forthright with its sales data.
This allows us to make some interesting points of observation about BMW Motorrad, the most potent of which is the brand’s success in the sport bike market, which accounts for 16% of all BMW motorcycles sold last year.
Equally interesting is the fact that BMW’s boxer-engine machines, the R-Series, accounts for over half of BMW Motorrad’s sales (see the chart above) – a strong signal to the power of BMW’s iconic past.
Electronics are to take a further step in the world of motorcycle racing this season. In addition to being abundant throughout engine and chassis, Moto2 and Moto3 official tire supplier Dunlop is to introduce them into the tires. In an official press release issued today, Dunlop announced that they will be using RFID chips in the spec-tires used in Moto2 and Moto3, to keep precise track of the tires used in both classes.
For the moment, the technology will be used solely to track tire usage in Moto2 and Moto3. Tiny RFID chips will be built into the official Dunlop tires during the manufacturing process, each programmed with a unique identifying code.
Sensors in pit lane (shown in the photo here on the Dunlop website) will monitor when each tire leaves pit lane, and when they return. Using the database which maps which tires have been allocated to which riders, Dunlop can keep precise track of which tires have been used when, and for how long.
Pirelli’s Cyber Tire will provide real-time tire performance information via a chip/transponder setup embedded in the tire tread. The system will send and store a myriad of information such as: operating temperature, pressure, road conditions, and vertical load. The system will work in conjunction with another Pirelli invention, the Cyber Wheel, which will convey wheel information such as hub loads in a similar fashion. While the naming is gruesome, the potential for data logging and analysis could be extremely useful to racing and enthusiasts.
Pirelli has also partnered with Brembo and Magnetti Marelli on the Cyber Tire project. While details are not certain, we’d suspect the partnership would mean a system that quickly transfers information from the tire to the driver, car, and brakes, and allows for more informed and instantaneous performance changes based on driving conditions.
The technology’s use is centered around automobiles, but the mechanics and application could easily be carried-over into motorcycles. Just don’t hold you breath on seeing it soon though. The car version is expected in 2010, with no details on whether there will be a motorcycle version. As we are all well aware, motorcycle tires already cost considerably more than car/truck tires, and last an even shorter amount of time. Presumably the decreased longevity and added costs of the Cyber Tire/Cyber Wheel system would make the technology a bit harder to justify cost-wise in a motorcycle application outside of racing.