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Episode 108 of the Paddock Pass Podcast is out, and this one is a WorldSBK show. As such, this means that we see Steve English joined by Gordon Ritchie on the mics, as they are now our WorldSBK reporting duo for the 2019 season.

Recording straight from the United Kingdom, the guys talk about the on-track action at Donington Park, where we saw some big movement in the championship standings, after a miserable weekend of riding for Alvaro Bautista.

Coming weekend, history will be made. For the first time, Grand Prix racing will welcome vehicles not powered by internal combustion engines, as the MotoE series makes its debut at the Sachsenring. It is the very first step on the long path toward a future where batteries replace burning hydrocarbons.

But the series got off to a rocky start, even before the first race. At the second test of the electric bike racing series, a fire started in the special tent containing all of the bikes, batteries, and chargers, destroying everything and wiping out the entire series in one fell swoop.

Since March, Nicolas Goubert, director of the MotoE series for Dorna, Energica, who build the spec electric bikes to be raced in the series, and Enel, who supply the charging technology to maintain the bikes, have worked at double speed to rebuild everything needed for the series, and get it ready for the inaugural race at the Sachsenring.

In Le Mans, I spoke at length to Goubert about the progress made in preparing the series, the challenges they had faced, and the lessons learned from the fire in Jerez. The fire highlighted some of the difficulties of an electric bike series, but just staging the series raises logistical and technical issues which nobody had foreseen.

Here is part 2 of the interview. If you want to read part 1, catch it here.

Coming weekend, history will be made. For the first time, Grand Prix racing will welcome vehicles not powered by internal combustion engines, as the MotoE series makes its debut at the Sachsenring. It is the very first step on the long path toward a future where batteries replace burning hydrocarbons.

But the series got off to a rocky start, even before the first race. At the second test of the electric bike racing series, a fire started in the special tent containing all of the bikes, batteries, and chargers, destroying everything and wiping out the entire series in one fell swoop.

Since March, Nicolas Goubert, director of the MotoE series for Dorna; Energica, who build the spec electric bikes to be raced in the series; and Enel, who supply the charging technology to maintain the bikes, have worked at double speed to rebuild everything needed for the series, and get it ready for the inaugural race at the Sachsenring.

In Le Mans, I spoke at length to Goubert about the progress made in preparing the series, the challenges they had faced, and the lessons learned from the fire in Jerez.

The fire highlighted some of the difficulties of an electric bike series, but just staging the series raises logistical and technical issues which nobody had foreseen.

Here is part 1 of the interview. Part 2 will follow tomorrow:

Six races into the season gives everyone a chance to size up where the riders, and more importantly, the manufacturers all stand.

Teams have had a few races to analyze and optimize the setup of the 2019 bikes, plus a test at Jerez to find upgrades and solutions to problems which only emerge during race.

Mugello is the third European race, meaning the paddock is back at tracks that they know like the back of their hand. There may still be a long way to go until the title is settled, but the shape of the championship is starting to shake out.

That leads to frustration for the riders who feel their manufacturers are not making progress. At Mugello, the frustration felt by factory Aprilia rider Aleix Espargaro boiled over into outright criticism of the Italian factory over the lack of progress being made.

Lee Johnston claimed the first Isle of Man TT victory of his career in Monday's Supersport TT Race 1. Having won the class at the North West 200, the Northern Irishman was expected to be a contender on his Yamaha YZF-R6, but after finally breaking his duck, it was clear just how special this was for The General.

“I’m so emotional,” said Johnston afterwards. “This place is so weird, and I feel like I haven’t done anything different, but it just clicked. In one way it’s frustrating, but in another it’s amazing. I’m absolutely over the moon."

"I probably haven’t been the easiest person to live with because of all the stress, but this is what we do it for. It’s something I always wanted to do, and there’s one person [my dad] I wish was here to see that. He won’t be, but hopefully he’s looking down.”

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David “Davo” Johnson is back at the TT, and the Australian keeps learning and keeps improving. The Honda rider has spent ten years keeping a lid on expectations, and he’s now keen to put his lessons to good use

The Isle of Man TT is sink or swim. Some riders take to it like a duck to water, and others realize that it is just not for them.

It is the most unique race on the motorcycle calendar. It is you against the track. It is you against the clock. It is you against yourself.

For David Johnson though, this year is different. He is a factory Honda rider for the first time, and the Australian is doing all he can to make sure that he keeps the pressure to a minimum.

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There is nothing quite like the Isle of Man TT. It is the most spectacular race on the motorsport calendar. The Senior TT is the Superbowl and Indy 500 combined. It is a national holiday where the race track takes center stage.

It is also one of the most dangerous races in the world. For every rider that swings their leg over their bikes at the TT, they know the risks and they accept them.

But what is it that makes a rider willing to take those risks? The “buzz” is obviously high on the list but another factor for some is a simple basic fact of life; they need to work.

Last year he broke the lap record and claimed the Senior TT, and while Peter Hickman might start this year’s TT as the firm favorite for overall honors, the 32-year-old faces the end of his career unless he was willing to race on the roads.

On Saturday 15th December, Barcelona-based daily newspaper La Vanguardia published a lengthy interview with Alberto Puig.

That is in itself mildly surprising: despite being team manager of the Repsol Honda squad, Puig has little time for the media, and little interest in speaking to them.

What is even more surprising is that it is a truly insightful and fascinating interview, revealing a lot about how Puig views running a MotoGP team, and what makes Marc Márquez tick.

So it is a shame that the discussion the interview has generated has centered around two of the briefest subjects Puig mentioned: his views of Dani Pedrosa, whom Puig thought had not been fully committed in recent years, and his thoughts on Valentino Rossi, whom he believed had seen his moment pass.

“When the music stops you need to grab a seat,” is a kids game, but in the grown-up business of the paddock, it is still just as relevant as if you were at a birthday party.

Unfortunately for Eugene Laverty, he’s been left as one of the last riders chasing a seat for 2019, and with Marco Melandri, Loris Baz, Jordi Torres, and Xavi Fores all also running in circles, the clock is ticking until the music stops for good.

Having thought that he’d be sticking with Shaun Muir Racing for next year, as the team switches to BMW machinery, the Irishman now finds himself on the outside looking in. From feeling secure that he would have a good ride for 2019, he suddenly finds himself staring at limited opportunities.

Over the course of 228 races, Tom Sykes made himself into a Kawasaki legend. It's easy to look at the last four years and to only see the success that Jonathan Rea has achieved on the green machine, but before 2010 the Japanese firm was struggling. Chris Walker's win in the wet at Assen was a bright spot that punctuated ten years of failure.

From the turn of the millennium, until Sykes joined, the team had three wins, a home double at Sugo in 2010 by wildcard rider Hitoyasu Izutsu and Walker's famous result. These weren't lean times for Kawasaki - this was a famine. With only 19 podiums in the ten years prior to his arrival, it's remarkable what the Englishman has achieved with the team.

“It’s the end of a great era,” reflected Sykes. “It’s been a great time, and I feel that we’ve done a great job together. We've all grown up a lot together. We had the chance to be three-times world champions and I’m very, very fortunate to be able to say that I’m a world champion.”

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