The Spaniard leads Quartararo and Morbidelli on Wednesday as the Valencia test wraps up



Wednesday, 20 November 2019 Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) topped Day 2 of the Valencia test and it was once again a Yamaha 1-2-3, with the trio at the top within three tenths. Viñales was the only rider in the 1:29s – true of Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) at the weekend – and the number 12 narrowly beat the Frenchman’s pole time on Wednesday. Quartararo was 0.164 in arrears, with Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) within 0.265 of the top. Honda’s Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) was the only other man within half a second…

Viñales fastest was set on the ‘new’ bike – with a different chassis and new engine – and the Spaniard put in 67 laps on the final day of testing, topping the timesheets with his 56th. Teammate Valentino Rossi was once again ninth, and ‘The Doctor’ did 68 laps on Wednesday. He was within 0.968 of the top and suffered a mechanical problem in the afternoon, but got back out.

Quartararo and Morbidelli, meanwhile, didn’t say much about what they were working on – “some small things” and the Frenchman said it was more a day of riding than testing as yet. For a man only just starting his second season, the 64 laps were doubtlessly useful, however, and Morbidelli added another 52 to the team’s count.

For Crutchlow it was a mammoth day of work. The Brit headed out on the ‘2020’ bike, suffered a crash but managed to prove Yamaha’s closest competitor on the timesheets and improve his laptime from the weekend after 73 laps. Speaking of the number 73, Alex Marquez, on the other side of the LCR Honda garage, was the only man to do more laps. The rookie did 79 on his second day as an HRC MotoGP™ rider, shaving six tenths off his time from Tuesday.

Reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) made some more Honda headlines, however. The number 93 rode around with his brother AND premiered the aero seen on Crutchlow yesterday, with the all-black Honda breaking cover bearing a 93 in the afternoon, and he ended the day in seventh after 71 laps. He also suffered a failed getaway earlier in the day, and his teammate for the test – in the garage at least – also suffered an issue on Wednesday as Stefan Bradl ground to a halt. Nevertheless the German was able to complete 53 laps by the end of play.

Team Suzuki Ecstar were fifth and sixth on Wednesday. The new engine previously having been put through its paces by test rider Sylvain Guintoli was a big focus for the Hamamatsu factory as they look for a step forward in terms of outright speed, and Joan Mir was the quickest Suzuki on Day 2. He put in a 1:30.427 and did 61 laps, but teammate Alex Rins was just 0.076 off and did 47 laps. They plan to continue testing the engine at Jerez.

KTM stole a few headlines on Day 2. For their speed – Pol Espargaro’s (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) impressive showing and that of Red Bull KTM Tech 3’s Iker Lecuona – and they had the new kids on the block, Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Lecuona, taking some tips from the veterans. But there were also a few crashes, with each of the three racers all going down. Espargaro first, Lecuona later and Binder even later in the day. Espargaro’s crash, however, led to his fastest lap as he was then forced to switch bike to another new chassis – and found immediate positives. He was eighth and did 46 laps, Pedrosa 14th after 48 laps and Lecuona just 0.045 off the three-time World Champion by the end of play. Binder did 66 laps on Day 2.

The Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso, meanwhile, was focused on gathering more information on what they tested on Day 1, one big thing of note being a new chassis. Some sensors were spotted on the rear of the Borgo Panigale machine too on Wednesday, and the ‘salad box’ was back. Danilo Petrucci, however, was not back. The Italian remained sidelined by his bothersome shoulder, although Michele Pirro was once again on track to put the laps in – 40 of them – and Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) was all action stations too. The Aussie explained he’d been doing back to back comparisons with the first version of the 2020 machines because the number 09 was ruled out. Miller was fastest Ducati in 10th, just ahead of Dovizioso. Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) was 12th, ahead of Pirro.

For Aprilia, it was another day of track action working with their 2019 machines. Aleix Espargaro was 16th after 43 laps, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini teammate Andrea Iannone in 19th. Espargaro crashed at the final corner, and Iannone ran on at Turn 1 with the RS-GP then catching alight – rider ok. Test rider Bradley Smith was also on track and did another 32 laps to add to the information-gathering tally.

That’s it from Valencia and the first test of 2020 – with Jerez up next as a two-day test takes place on Monday and Tuesday. Who will reign there? Will we see more engines, chassis updates, more aero and even more tech on show? And can Yamaha keep their dominion so far? Check out motogp.com for coverage, interviews and more.
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High-speed chess in Q2 sees the reigning Champion emerge ahead in the final dash for the line

Saturday, 24 August 2019
Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez took pole number 60 of his career to steal P1 in a Q2 Silverstone stunner, with everything going down to the wire and a three-man freight train of Marquez, Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) fighting it out in the final seconds of the session. Over the line it was Marquez who took the upper hand, with Rossi set to start P2 after taking his first front row since Austin and Miller alongside the two men on the front row in third. Turn 1 is going to be a stunner.

It was Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) who made it through from Q1 after finding themselves outside the top ten on Saturday morning, with the number 04 ultimately topping the session by 0.246 to set himself up for an assault on Q2. That Q2 didn’t disappoint, with the grid in the air until the final few seconds.

After the first run it was Free Practice pacesetter Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) who was on provisional pole, but the Frenchman came under threat once the final assault began. Rossi needed a lap time after having his maiden lap cancelled for track limits and ‘The Doctor’, Marquez and Miller came out of pitlane at the same time as a cat and mouse game proceeded on the out-lap, with no one wanting to lead. 

After they’d almost ground to a halt on the Wellington Straight, it had to be go-time and needing a lap time the most, Rossi had to bolt. Marquez and Miller slotted into the tow, and all three were up in the first sector. And the second…and then the third – but Marquez was the man with the biggest margin, the reigning Champion a few tenths under Quartararo’s time by the final sector.

As the three barrelled round the final corner, Rossi was first over the line to take over at the top, before being deposed by Marquez just behind him. A split second later Miller stole third, leaving Quartararo relegated to fourth and a Marquez-Rossi-Miller front row.

As it transpired, an alarm on the dash had caused the Frenchman to switch to his number two bike and there wasn’t time to change the front tyre. So Q2 may have been out of reach, but El Diablo’s FP4 pace says he’ll be guns blazing on Sunday afternoon…

Alongside Quartararo on the second row is Rins after a solid session despite the Suzuki rider’s journey through Q1, with Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) slotting into sixth after he’s shown good speed all weekend at the track that saw him take his first premier class win. Dovizioso, who topped Q1, will line up seventh and will be gunning for another characteristic stunner of a start, although the Italian’s fastest laptime was identical to that of Viñales.

Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) was eighth fastest and starts just ahead of Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) after the home hero suffered a crash in Q2, with his teammate Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) completing the top ten.

Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) had a tough day at the track where he took his first podium and was P11, ahead of Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and the Red Bull KTM Factory racing duo of Pol Espargaro and Johann Zarco. Red Bull KTM Tech 3’s Miguel Oliveira was only just off the factory duo in P15.

A Q2 treat sees Marquez vs Rossi take centre stage, but there’s plenty of challengers waiting in the wings. The man who set the pace all weekend is certainly one of them, but a good eight riders will fancy their chances of a win or assault on the podium, so it looks like we’re set up for another Silverstone stunner. Tune in for the race LIVE at 13:00 local time (GMT+1) on Sunday afternoon.
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Friday, 23 August 2019
Fabio Quartararo’s (Petronas Yamaha SRT) savage 1:59.225 was allowed to stand to give the rookie phenomenon the advantage on Friday at the GoPro British Grand Prix with a brilliant new lap record, after the lap was initially disallowed before a photo review. The Frenchman was also fastest in FP1 to make it a full house on Friday, with a significant advantage in both sessions. Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) sits as Quartararo’s closest challenger, 0.251 back, with Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) completing the top three as Yamaha stormed the timesheets. 

FP1 started under cloudy Silverstone skies as the MotoGP™ riders got their first taste of the new asphalt, and it was Quartararo who came into FP2 with a half-second advantage over the rest. Marquez was again his nearest rival in the opening session and it was the number 93 who instantly led FP2, cutting Quartararo’s advantage to two-tenths on the overall timesheets. Other early improvers were home hero Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol), the British rider dipping into the 2:00s, while Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) and Crutchlow’s teammate Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) climbed into the top 10 as well.

Temperatures in England – believe it or not – were soaring and it seemed the riders were struggling to improve their times from FP1 at first, with Marquez’ benchmark putting him over seven tenths clear of the field for the first half of FP2. However, it wasn’t plain sailing for the seven-time Champion as at the Vale complex, Marquez crashed for the first time since Le Mans Q2 – but rider instantly up and ok. FP1 P4 finisher Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) then moved into second in the session, but then came Quartararo to cut the gap.

With eight minutes left, the timesheets lit up as fresh Michelin rubber was slotted in for a thrilling time attack. Riders like Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) – 10th in FP1 – had slipped down to the lower ends of the timing screens, but the Australian soon jumped up to fourth overall and the two Yamahas were on barnstormers. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) looked set to go top overall and he did so with a new lap record, but ‘The Doctor’ didn’t stay there long as rookie Quartararo then hammered in his stunning 1:59.225: the quickest ever lap we’ve seen around Silverstone.

Viñales then got overhauled by Marquez as he beat his compatriot with a 1:59.476, with Rossi’s time putting him in fourth. Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) moved up into fifth and sixth respectively, with Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) strong on fresh tyres to end the day seventh on the combined times.

Oliveira once again impressed to lead the KTM charge in P8, the Portuguese rider improving from P16 in the opening 45 minutes, with Miller’s aforementioned time enough to give him ninth overall. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) took tenth. 

Takaaki Nakagami, another who had their laptime reinstated, ended the day in P11, just ahead of Aleix Espargaro. Espargaro just missed out after the laptime reinstatements despite managing to get back out on his Aprilia Racing Team Gresini machine after first one completely cut out heading into Brooklands corner, and he ends the day in P12. Pol Espargaro, teammate Johann Zarco and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) completed the fastest fifteen.

A fast and furious couple of sessions on Friday now sets us up nicely for Saturday. FP3 should be dry, so there’s still time for the top 10 to change ahead of qualifying. Tune in for a crucial session at 09:55 local time (GMT+1).
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The pre-event Press Conference and the Day of Champions kick off the GoPro British Grand Prix

Thursday, 22 August 2019
Before go-time for the GoPro British Grand Prix, we had a full house of seven riders in the pre-event Press Conference, with reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) joined by Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT), Jack Miller (Pramac Racing), Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) and the returning Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team). The new surface, the competitive field and what to expect in the weekend ahead meant there was plenty to talk about.

Marquez spoke first. “Yeah of course, looking forward to the Silverstone GP and this weekend because as you know I have some good luck, and I was unlucky some years. Anyway, we’ve had great races, it’s a circuit I like, one of our weak points on this race track was the bumps but looks like they’ve resurfaced in a good way, it looks nice from a bicycle! But tomorrow we will check on the bike and yeah apart from that try to concentrate, stay focused and try to fight on Sunday for the best position.”

And is the number 93 expecting tough competition? Most definitely. “Especially here, we saw last year in practice Viñales was fast, all the Yamaha riders were fast, but we weren’t far away. I think this year with the new surface it will be different, we need to understand the tyres, the grip, the level of our bike…we have a better engine this year and here it will be a small help. Of course Dovi will be there, he’s second in the Championship and will try to push, but our target is to finish on the podium and get points for the championship. The forecast looks nice so we’ll keep going!”

Dovizioso was next on the mic, with the Italian actually the most recent winner at Silverstone given his victory in 2017. And he’s the most recent winner overall after that stunner in Spielberg.

“Yes for sure the last race was amazing, a really nice battle from the first lap to the end with Marc, so we are so happy about that, we needed that victory. I’m happy to be here, I think it’s one of the best races in the Championship, the track is really nice. Hopefully without bumps it will be even nicer so I’m excited to try the new asphalt.”

So is it the British weather that Dovizioso has had on his side in the UK? His first premier class win came at Donington and since he’s had a fair few successes…

“I don’t like the weather so much! But I have always had good luck in this country, I’ve been pretty fast in England most of the time, I don’t know why. Donington was a special track and a special first victory but in Silverstone I’ve always felt good, it’s a really difficult track but I enjoy riding here.”

Rossi is another of the long list of previous winners at Silverstone. Incidentally, he also took his first premier class win in the UK at Donington as well, and after a tougher run of things in 2019, the ‘Doctor’ seems to be back on track.

“Yeah for us in the last two races from Brno we start in a better way. After we did another step, we worked well and we were quite competitive in the race. Considering Austria on paper is one of the worst tracks for us, it was quite good. We arrive here, hope to continue in that way because anyway Austria was not so bad, but I wasn’t fast enough to find the podium so we need to continue to work. Silverstone is a fantastic track. It’s great track, it’s a big track, everything is very fast and technical. Everybody is waiting for the asphalt tomorrow. If they’ve done a good job with less bumps and good grip, it will be very fun to ride here. And also we wait for the weather because in 2017 it was a fantastic weekend, a great weekend. Last year, unfortunately, it was a lot more difficult. We hope it’s similar to 2017!

“In the past I had good races and arrived on the podium, so this is the target. About the top speed we know we’re not fantastic but on paper in Austria it’s more important than here. The important thing is to find a good feeling with the bike, a good balance, and be ready for Sunday.”

Rookie Fabio Quartararo, meanwhile, also showed there’s more to Austria than just being the fastest in a straight line. After his podium there, the vibes are good on the way into Silverstone.

“I’m really happy about arriving here at a track that I really like. Like Valentino said, I think everybody is waiting for the new tarmac, I think it should be a good track for us. Suits us better than Austria so I can’t wait for tomorrow.

“The goal is to be top Rookie, we’re leading but the Championship isn’t over. Now we’re improving every race, we’re learning, so that’s still the main goal for this year. But in Austria the goal was to be in front but we didn’t expect to be on the podium, so if we have the opportunity to be on the podium we’ll fight for it.”

Quartararo is top rookie and he’s also leading the Independent Team rider standings at the moment, ahead of the next man to talk: Jack Miller. The Australian spoke about the weekend ahead, and how it feels to arrive with a new contract in his pocket.

“I’m definitely coming into this weekend with a different mindset that’s for sure. This Thursday has been easier, let’s just say that. It’s been nice you know, the Day of Champions has been really nice to see all the fans but no it’s good to be back, like you say I had a chance to make it back to back podiums last weekend, I had really strong pace all weekend but threw it away a bit too early. Had a good feeling this weekend last year, hopefully this year is a lot better and as the boys said the asphalt should be amazing, we’ve heard some decent reviews about the asphalt so I’m looking forward to getting out there tomorrow and I think it’s shaping up to be a great weekend.”

It has sometimes been a more difficult track for the Australian, however, including a high-profile crash with then-teammate Cal Crutchlow a few years ago. But this year Miller is positive ahead of the weekend.

“As long as I don’t have any British road blocks in my way I should be alright! It’s not the best track for me to be honest, I always hated it until last year, with the new asphalt it was like a different track and I loved it. And I’m looking forward to it now with the reviews it’s had, I can’t wait to get out there. Should be a good weekend.”

Home hero Crutchlow was the next man on the mic, and the weekend is a fitting landmark: it’ll be his 150th Grand Prix start on Sunday. 

“I only got told at the last race that it would be my 150th Grand Prix start – I didn’t think I’d done 150 Grands Prix and I definitely haven’t finished 150! I’m looking forward to it, Silverstone is a good race for me, I’ll give my all for the 20-lap race.”

Crutchlow was also asked about the visit he paid to Chelsea F.C. on Wednesday, and dabbled a bit in the beautiful game before.

“It was was good! I’ve been to a few football stadiums in my time so to go back when I wasn’t playing or watching a game…it was nice to go round Stamford Bridge and get taken round by Kepa…he’s a big MotoGP fan, obviously he supports the Spaniards but it was a really good day.”

Finally, it was time to welcome back Jorge Lorenzo. After a long period of recovery after his crash in which he cracked vertebrae and got sidelined, he’s ready to race.

“I’m happy to be back. Finally, after long time. A very long time, no? I’ve never spent so long out of racing competition for about the 17 years I’ve been here. I’m back. What was very difficult at the beginning, the first two weeks was very difficult, I wasn’t recovering fast, it was slow. Luckily after three weeks the recovery has been faster, I have been able to do some physical training again. With some pain after the work during the night, every time the pain was less and less. I think this is the right moment to come back to the bike because you can lose a lot of speed, a lot of pace if you stay so much time out of competition.
 
“Honestly with my injury theoretically you need three months to recover completely, I’m about two months on now from the crash and obviously I still have some pain, but I feel ready to ride again and to try. I’m not here to fight for the win or podium or top five, but as soon as I go on the bike I want to start getting the pace I need to get good performances again, like I started to show before the crash.”

That he did, and it’s a good venue for the number 99 to return to. He’s got three wins at Silverstone and was on pole last season, and although it’s about getting back up to speed, the venue is certainly one the five-time World Champion knows his way around.

Lorenzo rejoins the field on track from Friday morning, with the race on Sunday at 13:00 (GMT +1).

Top photo L-R: Crutchlow, Quartararo, Dovizioso, Marquez, Rossi, Miller, Lorenzo

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Bradl, Pirro, Folger, Guintoli, Smith and local hero Mika Kallio to inaugurate the stunning new track
 
Sunday, 18 August 2019
After a full gas back-to-back, MotoGP™ has headed north for a two-day test to inaugurate the new KymiRing in Finland on the 19th and 20th of August. All six manufacturers’ Test Teams have now arrived at the northernmost track on this year’s itinerary to get acquainted with the ‪new venue ahead of its planned inclusion on the MotoGP™ ‪calendar.
 
During the test, the track will be open ‪from 10:00 to 17:00 local time (GMT +3), with a final slot ‪from 17:00 to 18:00 for local heroes to take to the track for some laps of their new World Championship venue. 
 
2011 Moto2™ World Champion Stefan Bradl is on test duty for Honda, with test rider and ever-impressive wildcard performer Michele Pirro on track for Ducati. Former WorldSBK Champion Sylvain Guintoli represents Suzuki, with premier class podium finisher and recent Moto2™ runner Jonas Folger putting the laps in for Yamaha.
 
Local hero Mika Kallio will be on track for KTM as he gets a first taste of his new home track, with the high calibre line-up completed by Bradley Smith testing for Aprilia, fresh from making a little history as a podium finisher in the opening two races for the FIM Enel MotoE™ World Cup – and ahead of his Moto2™ appearance at Silverstone.
 
On Sunday the six riders walked and studied the track with their teams ahead of getting on the asphalt on two wheels on Monday, before later lining up for the first photo opportunity at the brand new track. With the kerbs flying the colors of the Finnish flag and the background a stunning slew of giant conifer trees and clear northern summer skies, it was a moment to remember for the track.
 
The test will also include two press conferences. ‪On Monday at 13:00 representatives from the FIM, Dorna and local authorities will talk to the media, with FIM President Jorge Viegas, Timo Pohjola, KymiRing Circuit Director, Tapio Nevala, President of the Finnish Motorcycle Federation, Aki Ajo from Ajo Motorsport, and Carlos Ezpeleta, Sporting Director from Dorna Sports all present.
 
‪On Monday evening at 18:00, the six riders will then take part in a second press conference to give their first impressions of the track.
 
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