Category Archives: Competition

Quartararo fastest on day one of Valencia MotoGP test

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It was a Yamaha 1-2-3 on day one of the Valencia test at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, but one man was ahead of the rest: Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT).

The Frenchman ended the day top of the pile after 82 laps, the fastest of which was two tenths off his pole: a 1m30.163s. Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) was second and 0.164s off after 66 laps, with Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) completing the top three but a few more tenths in arrears.

At Yamaha, 2020 therefore began with a bang. Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP riders Vinales and Valentino Rossi – who was ninth – had a new chassis, engine and notably different air intake. Rossi’s new Crew Chief, David Munoz, was on hand as well as the team enjoyed an addition of a slightly different sort.

Petronas Yamaha SRT’s Quartararo and Morbidelli, meanwhile, tried the carbon swingarm, and Quartararo tried some aero new to him, but not to Yamaha.

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was fourth quickest and only 0.015s off Morbidelli after 58 laps, with the biggest headline from the Borgo Panigale factory proving a new chassis. Danilo Petrucci also stole some limelight for tougher reasons, with the Italian only putting in 10 laps due to pain in his shoulder exacerbated by his crash during the grand prix.

Nevertheless, he was 12th overall. Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) was tenth after an apt 43 laps, trying some new parts but the full package is expected by the Jerez test. Ducati test rider Michele Pirro was on the other side of the Pramac garage, with Francesco Bagnaia remaining sidelined following his crash during the GP weekend.

Honda, meanwhile, were fifth with reigning champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). He put in 60 laps although one was cut short as the number 93 crashed, scattering a few parts through the gravel. The biggest news at Honda was a new chassis though, as well, of course, as the arrival of Alex Marquez.

The number 73 was at LCR Honda and had an early crash later replicated by test rider Stefan Bradl at turn 10, although Alex completed 53 laps by the end of the day. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) was 11th and did 69 laps working towards 2020.

Suzuki locked out sixth and seventh on day one with Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) leading teammate Alex Rins. The former did 63 laps and the latter 76. The Hamamatsu factory had a new engine previously tested by test rider Sylvain Guintoli, and that’s what Alex Rins set his fastest lap with.

KTM were all hands on deck: a new chassis, different engine spec, a new steering damper and work focusing on electronics, fairing, winglets, seats kept them busy. The new chassis – still a tubular steel frame – is aimed at improved adaptability. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was 10th and did 58 laps. New teammate Brad Binder was also a big addition for the Austrian factory and he put in 70 laps as a new era in his career begins.

Red Bull KTM Tech 3 also had a new kid on the block, although he’s taken part in his first grand prix: Iker Lecuona. The Spaniard was impressive once again, despite a crash, and ended the day in 13th after 57 laps. Dani Pedrosa was on track for KTM too, putting in 52 laps and based in the Tech 3 garage as Miguel Oliveira remains absent through injury.

At Aprilia Racing Team Gresini, there was nothing new as yet, with work focused on improving electronics and engine braking. Andrea Iannone did 54 laps and was 14th, Aleix Espargaro did 45 laps and was 16th. Test rider Bradley Smith was also on track and caused a red flag with a crash, rider ok, but he did complete 50 laps for the Noale factory. Riders are back on track on Wednesday to continue testing.


Zarco escapes with minor injury in bizarre Lecuona incident

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LCR Honda fill-in Johann Zarco has escaped a major leg injury following a bizarre incident at Valencia, which saw the Frenchman wiped off his feet by Iker Lecuona’s stray KTM RC16.

Zarco crashed at turn six moments after Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) fell, however once the number five returned to his feet and walked off the sand trap, Lecuona also crashed at the turn, with his motorcycle cleaning up an oblivious Zarco from behind in the process.

The former Moto2 world champion will undergo further medical evaluation left ankle, although initial scans have determined there are no broken bones.

“I’m okay, I think the injury could have been worse,” Zarco stated. “It was a difficult race – I knew it was going to be a long race, so I thought that with a used tyre maybe I would have the right pace. Thankfully I was around the 10th position which was good.

“After overtaking Pol Espargaro I tried to get a better pace, I saw [Danilo] Petrucci crash and I don’t know if I lost a bit of focus because a little bit later I also crashed in the corner. I was sliding and thinking it was a shame I’d lost the race, and I didn’t check on the bike and then the bike of [Iker] Lecuona totally took me away.

“I had big pain on the left ankle and I was scared, but now it’s not so bad as there are no broken bones. We’ll have to do some more tests tomorrow, but it’s ok I think. It’s a shame to finish the season in that way.”

Zarco’s future remains uncertain after he exited his two-year deal with Red Bull KTM Factory Racing in September, later scoring a guest ride with LCR Honda for the final three rounds.


American plans on the agenda for Clout to open 2020

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New Australian SX1 championship points-leader Luke Clout has revealed he has plans to contest the opening portion of the 2020 Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship in the United States.

It’s been rumoured throughout the current supercross series that 25-year-old Clout will depart CDR Yamaha Monster Energy following AUS-X Open Melbourne and he’s been linked to a high-profile switch to Penrite Honda Racing.

While Penrite Honda Racing owner Yarrive Konsky has been working on launching a US-based 250SX West program for next season, speculation is mounting that the team will separately enter Clout in 450SX as part of a deal that would lure him away from Yamaha to rejoin Honda for the first time since 2017 when he rode with the now-defunct Motologic-run factory team.

“It’s a little hush-hush at the moment [laughs], but there is some stuff in the works,” Clout confirmed in New Zealand. “You should see me there in the first six rounds or so, but the details are confidential at the moment. I can’t wait to get over there and I really think that I can do some good things, so I’m excited.”

If a deal does eventuate between Clout and Penrite Honda Racing, it would see him return to Australia and focus on the MX Nationals and Australian Supercross Championship following the brief stint overseas. Honda’s local effort will expand to two 450 riders – potentially Clout and Brett Metcalfe – and a 250 with Kyle Webster tipped to be joining the official team next season.

The opportunity to try his hand in America again is an attractive one for Clout, who spent a large chunk of 2016 over there with the MAD Racing Suzuki team prior to its closure. On that occasion, he finished 14th on debut at Anaheim 2 as a replacement rider in 250SX West, before breaking his femur in Oakland. He returned during Pro Motocross to score points at a number of rounds.

With Clout expected to exit the powerhouse CDR Yamaha Monster Energy team, it is Hayden Mellross who has emerged as the favourite to take over the vacated factory YZ450F following a single term at Raceline KTM. Like Clout, Mellross – who is sitting out supercross after injuring his knee at the Moree national – is one of the current few who are capable of challenging for 450 wins outdoors and in supercross domestically.

Clout delivered a special performance among a host of the world’s best at the weekend’s Monster Energy S-X Open in Auckland, claiming second behind former world champion Jason Anderson (Rockstar Energy Husqvarna) and winning the second of three finals in Saturday night’s triple crown. He said that was exactly the goal going in.

“I work really hard on and off the bike, but you don’t really know how you’re going to stack up against the American guys because you just watch them on TV and you watch them on Instagram,” he explained. “You see how good they’re riding, so kind of base yourself off that and hope that you can do well.

“I’m confident in my ability, which I think is a big thing because my mental aspect is a lot better now. I’d said to my family at the dinner table – it was my birthday on Tuesday – that if I could get second behind Jason that’d be awesome. You know, he was the only guy that I wanted to beat me… To be leading the championship, I wanted that to happen, but didn’t know if it would.”

With just one round remaining in the Australian Supercross Championship as part of the Monster Energy AUS-X Open Melbourne at Marvel Stadium on Saturday, 30 November, Clout leads three-time defending champion Justin Brayton (Penrite Honda Racing) by one point after the latter claimed fourth in Auckland.


Suzuki addresses decision to drop factory ASBK team

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Suzuki Motorcycles Australia has addressed its decision to withdraw factory involvement with Team Suzuki Ecstar in the Australian Superbike Championship (ASBK) from 2020.

The decision was initially revealed by ASBK number three Maxwell via social media last week before team owner Dale Brede later confirmed the information in a statement of his own.

Suzuki has since released a statement regarding the decision to step away from the ASBK paddock with a factory presence, indicating a change in marketing strategy will see it focus on a broader range of motorcycle sectors.

“The racing program was created just days after the world launch of the all-new GSX-R1000 in February 2017 at Phillip Island to reinforce Suzuki’s philosophy of ‘Own the Racetrack’,” part of the statement read. “A challenge was set to win the Australian Superbike Championship.”

“Fast-track [to] 2020, Suzuki Australia will look at new marketing programs that reach our customers. Australia and global western markets show two key growth segments for Suzuki’s large capacity road motorcycles being naked bikes and adventure bikes, thus Suzuki Motor Corporation is producing exciting new models such as the KATANA and V-Strom 1050.”

Team Suzuki Ecstar debuted in 2017 as a single bike program with Josh Waters aboard the then-new GSX-R1000, going on to clinch his third-career championship that season. Last year saw the team expand to two riders with Waters joined by Mark Chiodo, before this year it was Maxwell, Waters and satellite rider Alex Phillis who formed the squad.

Waters and Maxwell initially signed two-year deals with Suzuki at the beginning of this season, however, the pair will now be seeking new seats to remain in the championship for 2020.


Head-knock denies Webster of Auckland main event start

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A head-knock from a heat race crash is what denied Kyle Webster of starting in the SX2 main events at the 2019 Monster Energy S-X Open Auckland, as Racesafe declared him unfit to continue.

It looked to be a promising night for the Penrite Pirelli CRF Honda Racing rider, who qualified second fastest and led majority of his heat race before crashing heavily in a rhythm section.

He remounted and finished the outing in sixth, however a medical evaluation post-race deemed the impact too severe to continue racing.

“Qualifying in the afternoon was really good and I posted second fastest time, just 0.02 seconds behind Chris Blose,” said Webster.

“The heat race was going great and I was leading, but then I came up short on one of the jumps in a rhythm section and I hit my head hard enough that Racesafe said I had to sit out the rest of the night.”

It’s been a tough month for Webster, who was forced to miss round two of the Australian Supercross Championship in Port Adelaide after suffering partially collapsed lungs in a training crash.


Emotional send-off for Lorenzo in final MotoGP race

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It was an emotional send-off for Repsol Honda’s Jorge Lorenzo at Valencia’s final round of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship yesterday, the Spaniard completing his last race in the sport with a P13 result.

After 297 grand prix starts, Lorenzo’s marked the end of his legendary MotoGP career with his best finish since returning from injury.

The five-time world champion completes his career 68 wins, 152 podiums and 69 poles, and bows out with some the most impressive stats to his name in grand prix history.

“Today was a special day,” Lorenzo reflected. “On the grid I had a very different feeling to all my other races and certainly in the opening laps I was more cautious than other races because the conditions were very difficult and I wanted to finish my last race.

“I focused mostly on myself in the race and I am pleased to end with some points certainly. It is great to help the Repsol Honda Team win the Team Championship after an unbelievable season from Marc. I want to say thank you to all of Honda as they have treated me with the utmost respect and professionalism. I wish them all the best for the future.”

It’s still unclear who will take up Lorenzo’s vacant seat at Repsol Honda in 2020, with Moto2 world champion Alex Marquez tipped as the favourite, while Johann Zarco and Cal Crutchlow have been linked to the role.


Valencia podium ‘best race to date’ declares Miller

Pramac Racing contender records fifth podium of the season in Spain.

Image: Supplied.

Australian Jack Miller has declared his podium result at Valencia’s MotoGP World Championship finale as his ‘best race to date’.

The Pramac Racing ace, who started on the front row in P3, charged to a thrilling third in the 27-lap encounter for his fifth appearance on the rostrum this year.

“I think I made up for last week in Malaysia when I faded to the back,” said Miller post-race. “I think this is my best race to date – [I was] consistent and stayed there. I was chasing Fabio, I had a few mistakes in the centre part of the race, and then I started coming back towards him.

“I felt like I got a second wind there for a bit as I had more grip on the tyres. It was an amazing race by both those two- flawless – all of us just out there hammering along. It was a long but fun race, they go quickly when you’re constantly chasing someone. It was awesome.”

It’s been an incredible 2019 season for Miller, earning his first podium in three years, making five for the year and six in his career following the final round in Spain yesterday.


Miller on the podium while Marquez captures Valencia win

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Marc Marquez claimed victory number 12 of the season at Valencia’s MotoGP finale, making Repsol Honda Team Champions to add to his rider title and the constructors’ championship – the triple crown.

Teammate Jorge Lorenzo also scored points in his final MotoGP rider, with the five-time world champion bidding an emotional farewell to the sport. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT), meanwhile, signed off with another impressive podium in second, and he pipped Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) to the title of top Independent Team rider as the Aussie followed him home in third.

Miller launched his Pramac Racing machine into the holeshot, with Marquez getting a sluggish getaway from the middle of the front row to drop down to P6, having run slightly wide at turn one. Polesitter Quartararo then grabbed the lead from Miller as the Australian ran wide at turn two, with the Frenchman quickly creating a small gap to his rivals.

Heading into turn one on lap two, Marquez was into P3 past the fast-starting duo of Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), however, and it wouldn’t take the 2019 Champion long to pick off Miller as he locked his radar onto Quartararo.

The Rookie of the Year’s lead was 0.7s over Marquez, with the latter racing to an eight-tenths advantage over Miller. Marquez was creeping up to the back of the leading M1 slowly but surely, and on Lap 8 a surprise, late but super fine move at turn 11 saw the number 93 lead.

Suddenly third place Miller – with Dovizioso and Rins in tow – had closed the gap to less than half a second, the top five covered by 1.7s. However, Marquez was in the groove and the eight-time Champion had pulled to over half a second clear of Quartararo, with the gap hovering between 0.6s and 0.8s for a number of laps after.

Miller wasn’t letting Quartararo have P2 all his own way either, that margin was remaining at a second – enough to keep the number 20 on his toes. Everyone held firm before a tenth here and a tenth there saw Marquez stretch his advantage to one and a half seconds with six laps remaining, with Miller cutting the gap to Quartararo down by four tenths.

It was 0.6s, but was there a late twist for P2 inbound? Not quite, Miller didn’t have enough speed to catch the back of the M1 by the time the chequered flag was waved, with Marquez taking another 25-point haul to land Repsol Honda team the 2019 triple crown, Quartararo taking another podium and beating Miller to top Independent Team rider.

Dovizioso and Ducati’s aims of picking up the Teams title didn’t materialise in Valencia, but P4 was a solid result for the Italian who was comfortably best of the rest in 2019. Rins capped off a fine season by claiming P5 at his home Grand Prix, however it wasn’t enough to grab P3 in the championship from sixth place finisher Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) – the Malaysian GP winner having a quiet final round of the season before jumping onto the 2020 Yamaha on Tuesday.

Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) in seventh was a great way to round off a very solid rookie MotoGP campaign, the Spaniard ending 2019 with five consecutive top 10s after an impressive comeback from his testing crash at Brno. Valentino Rossi’s (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) P8 sees the nine-time world champion end the season P7 in the overall standings, with Aleix coming out on top in the battle of the Espargaro brothers – P9 for Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), P10 for Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing). That makes it all factories in the top 10.

Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team), Johann Zarco (LCR Honda Idemitsu) and Iker Lecuona (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) all crashed at turn six, on lap 14, in separate incidents, although Lecuona was close behind Zarco and the Frenchman got flipped by the KTM. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol), Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) also crashed – all riders ok.

On his final ever MotoGP ride, five-time world champion and future MotoGP Legend Jorge Lorenzo finished P13. It was an emotional day for the Spaniard who arrived back into pitlane to rapturous applause, with the Valencia fans paying their full respects to one of the sport’s greatest ever riders on his cool-down lap.

Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) leaves the intermediate class on a high after taking his fifth win of the year, and third in a row. The South African played his cards to perfection to out-duel his main rival for second overall, Tom Luthi (Dynavolt Intact GP), with the Swiss rider forced to settle for second on the day and third in the standings.

Jorge Navarro (MB Conveyors Speed Up) completed the podium on true home turf, the Valencian taking his eighth podium of the year. Australian Remy Gardner (SAG Racing) was 15th.

Rookie Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) took a stunning maiden Moto3 victory on home turf, returning to a top step he knows well from the FIM CEV Repsol Moto3 Junior World Championship thanks to a last corner pass on Andrea Migno (Mugen Race).

A breakaway group of seven riders battled for victory after an initial red-flagged lightweight class race as wildcard Xavier Artigas claimed a phenomenal debut rostrum on board his Leopard Impala Junior Team machine.

After an incredible first season in the FIM Enel MotoE World Cup, we have our inaugural Cup winner: Matteo Ferrari (Trentino Gresini MotoE). After taking P5 in race two at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo, the Italian lifted the crown with an 11-point advantage over Bradley Smith (One Energy Racing), bringing an impressive season to a close with two wins out of six.

In the race on the day, Eric Granado (Avintia Esponsorama Racing) came out on top after a duel with the very same Smith, with Hector Garzo (Tech 3 E-Racing) completing the podium.

Detailed results


Lorenzo announces retirement from MotoGP

Five-time world champion calls time on an illustrious career.

Image: Supplied.

Five-time world champion Jorge Lorenzo has announced he’ll retire from MotoGP following this weekend’s season-finale at Valencia in Spain.

The Repsol Honda rider, who will make his 297th grand prix start on Sunday, exits the sport with a pair of 250cc championships and three premier class title earned in 2010, 2012 and 2015.

Lorenzo’s career boasts a number of incredible achievements, including the second most podium finishes in the premier class (114), the second-highest amount of pole positions across all classes (69), the fifth most successful rider in terms of wins in the premier class (47), and the third-highest point scorer of all time (2896) in the premier class.

A number of injuries in 2019, such as fracturing multiple vertebrae at Assen, has prompted the Spaniard to call time on his career.

“I want to announce this will be my last race in MotoGP, and that at the end of this race I will retire from professional racing,” Lorenzo stated in a press conference. “I was three years old when everything started. Almost 30 years of complete dedication to this sport.

“Everyone who has worked with me knows how much of a perfectionist I am, how much hard work and intensity I put into this. Being like this requires a high level of motivation, when I signed for Honda I had an incredible feeling of motivation, achieving one of the dreams of every rider – to be an official HRC factory rider.

“Unfortunately, injuries came to play an important role in my season, being unable to ride in a normal way. I started to see some light but I had this bad crash in the Montmelo test, and some weeks later that ugly one in Assen. The truth is from that crash, the hill became too high for me, and even if I tried, I couldn’t find the motivation and patience to be able to keep climbing it.

“I’m disappointed with that, I want to say sorry to Alberto Puig, to Takeo, Kuwata, Nomura and all my team, who I have to say have always treated me in an exceptional way. I would like to sincerely thank everyone at Honda for their support and understanding and also extend my thanks and gratitude to everyone who has been there through my career.”

Honda is yet to announce who will take Lorenzo’s position in the factory squad for the 2020 MotoGP World Championship.


Strong Valencia result crucial for Ducati’s Petrucci

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Danilo Petrucci has expressed the importance of finishing strongly this weekend at Valencia’s MotoGP World Championship finale, the Ducati Team rider admitting to a ‘complicated’ second half of the season.

Petrucci has endured a challenging campaign in the back half of 2019, with the Italian recently recovering from a heavy crash at the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix last month.

“For me this race is very important, because after a rather complicated second half of the season I want to finish the year with a good result,” Petrucci explained. “I don’t think we are that far away, but we still have to resolve a few details to be more competitive in the race.

“Valencia is a circuit that I like, and in the last few days I’ve managed to recover well from the consequences of the crash in Australia, so I think we can do a good race.”

The number nine currently holds down fifth in the championship standings, with rookie Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) just four points behind him.