Fellow proven quantities Jakub Gurecky (JRT Brno Circuit), Tibor Varga (Forty Racing Team), Stepan Zuda (Motoracing23 Klub V ACR), Niklas Kitzbichler (Racing-Team-Kitzbichler) and Jonas Kocourek (JRT Brno Circuit) were also back in the top ten as had become customary throughout 2020, and if testing at Oschersleben translates into similar close competition in France, there will likely be an almighty fight for the podium.
Since his debut in 2018, AndrewZh has consistently been among the top gamers in the Championship: in his first season, Andrea finished third overall and became eSport Champion in 2019 the following year using the virtual Desmosedici GP. In 2020, Saveri, a native of Bologna and a lifelong Ducati fan, was able to wear the official colors of the Borgo Panigale manufacturer for the first time and will continue to do so this season. Fifth last year, at the end of a hard-fought and competitive Championship, the 20-year-old is aiming to bring the trophy back to Bologna in 2021.
If the two days in Mugello are a success, the rumours surrounding Dovizioso’s MotoGP™ return this year will surely grow stronger with a wildcard appearance looking even more likely. However, poor weather on Tuesday and Wednesday could have a serious impact on the two days with rain forecast to disrupt both days of testing.
Imagine making that 22,000km six-week sea journey from Australia to Europe to compete in the very first World Championship event at the 1949 TT races in the Isle of Man. That four-hour crossing from Liverpool to the Isle of Man across the bumpy Irish Sea must have seemed like a doddle for the three Australian riders, Eric McPherson, Harry Hinton and George Morrison, who flew the Australian flag 73 years ago not only at the TT but in that historic first season. Growing up I always thought how romantic it sounded. Far from home, travelling around Europe in a van to race motorcycle at legendary venues but it was a hand to mouth existence, especially for the non-European riders, but they continued to arrive.
Takuma Matsuyama is set to make his Moto3™ debut in the SHARK Grand Prix de France. Matsuyama, who currently competes with the Junior Talent Team in the FIM Moto3™ Junior World Championship, will form part of an extended Honda Team Asia Moto3™ line-up at the event.
Matsuyama began his international career competing in the Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup, where he was runner up in 2019 following three race wins and a further four podiums. For 2020, he moved up the Road to MotoGP™ into the FIM Moto3™ JWCh as part of Dorna’s Junior Talent Team, racing in Asia Talent Team colours. Scoring points at every track on the calendar bar one, he put together an impressive rookie season including a first front row start in Valencia and a best result of fourth place.
The Japanese rider began the 2021 FIM Moto3™ JWCh fighting at the front from the off, battling for the win in Estoril and ultimately taking sixth place. In Round 2 at Valencia, Matsuyama was once again a key presence at the front and fought for victory right to the line – coming home second by mere hundredths to celebrate his first ever FIM Moto3™ JWCh podium in style.
He will now line up in the Moto3™ World Championship for the first time at Le Mans with Honda Team Asia, running an Asia Talent Team livery.
After making its return in Jerez, MotoE™ is back for the second round of the FIM Enel World Cup, and the riders from the electric class kick off proceedings with their press conference at 12:00 (CET) Thursday. Then, later in the afternoon, the MotoGP™ riders will take to the stage to field some questions from the press at 17:00 (CET). Spanish GP race winner Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) will be joined by the aforementioned Bagnaia, Quartararo and Zarco as well as Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu).
As is the usual case, HETC provided more intense action as the class took the track in the morning for their first race, and it was a third different winner in as many races as 12-year-old Brian Uriarte (Team Estrella Galicia 0,0) stunned everyone from 14th on the grid. The Spanish sensation picked his way through the order to eventually hit the front, seizing his opportunity to take Race 1 honours. Second place went to pole-sitter Hugo Millan (Cuna de Campeones) who grabbed the Championship lead, whilst third place belonged to his teammate Xabi Zurutuza, after Maximo Martinez (Team Honda Laglisse) received a post-race penalty for a previous infringement. It was a disaster for Alvaro Carpe (MT-Foundation 77), who after leading most of the race and starting third, retired with mechanical issues.
HETC Race 2 was another titanic duel as Adrian Cruces (Cuna de Campeones) and teammate Millan eased away at the front, ahead of Alvaro Carpe and a charging Angel Piqueras (Team Estrella Galicia 0,0). With the battle between the Cuna de Campeones teammates igniting, Carpe and Piqueras closed in and Carpe pounced on the final lap at the last corner, hitting the front to take a career-first race victory. Cruces and Millan followed their fellow countryman home whilst it was disaster for Piqueras, who crashed on the exit of the final corner on the last lap. Cruces lead the title ahead of Millan by a single point after Round 2, with Xabi Zurutuza third. Carpe’s win elevates him to eighth.
For all the results from the past, present and future and more news regarding the Championship, visit www.fimcevrepsol.com
At Honda, there was plenty, plenty to see in the test. A brand-new air intake, chassis, exhaust and more added to five different aero combinations made quite the impression, although last time out it was someone reverting to their 2020 chassis that made the biggest dent in the race: Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu). The Japanese rider equalled his best ever result in fourth and will be looking to keep that rolling, and he had a solid Le Mans last year. His teammate Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol), meanwhile, is still looking to get back to where he left off last year… but last year, the then-rookie put in an absolute stunner for his first premier class podium in France. Will good memories see him take a step forward? And has the Jerez test helped Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team) do the same?
From there and the five fastest riders so far, there’s a small gap back to those on the chase, so who can break the stranglehold near the top? So far, only Aron Canet (Inde Aspar Team) has done so; the Spaniard taking second place in Portugal. Can he find that form again and iron out his ups and downs? Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team) is actually ahead of Canet overall though, the American with one DNF but some solid consistency otherwise, and he’s been close – rubbing-is-racingly close – to the podium this season. Never having found Jerez the best match, will Le Mans bring the American further into the fray? Augusto Fernandez (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) is another looking for a step forward and he has podium form at Le Mans, as well as having come close to it again last season, and Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) is now in the groove after a tougher first race. The Japanese rookie has made a few waves of late getting in the mix near the front…
That said, there are a few riders who’ll be ignoring that and heading into Le Mans looking to depose the new ruler. Niccolo Antonelli (Avintia Esponsorama Moto3) arrives closest on the chase thanks to his consistency – and a Doha podium – followed by Andrea Migno (Rivacold Snipers Team), who has one 0 but two fourths and a third. Their ability to stay out of trouble, in terms of either causing it or getting tangled in it, has paid dividends and they’ve both been quick to boot. Migno also took a top five in France last season, and the year before, prefaced by a podium in 2018. On both past and current form, the Italian has arguably the best CV at Le Mans.