The MotoGP 2020 season is set to excite us once again in its latest season which starts in March. A total of 20 Grand Prix races will be held under the MotoGP calendar and riders and followers of the sport would be gearing up for the new season.
MotoGP action starts on 8 March 2020 at the Losail International Circuit. The season ends on 15 November at the Comunitat Valenciana-Ricardo Tormo, Spain.
Marc Marquez, Valentino Rossi and Andrea Dovizioso are the usual suspects to finish near the top come the end of the season.
Marquez had surgery on his right shoulder in the off season and would be looking to get over the recent falls as soon as possible. Luckily, Marc managed to avoid any major injuries.
Fabio Quartararo to shine
Fabio Quartararo finished the Sepang MotoGP pre-season at the top. He recorded the fastest lap on each of the three days in the pre-season at the Sepang test circuit in Malaysia.
The Yamaha rider is one of the brightest talents in the sport and he even managed to record a best lap time of 1 minute, 58.349 seconds in his 17thlap. He managed to pull an impressive 57 laps on the track’s final day.
Jorge Lorenzo back in action
The former world champion Jorge Lorenzo is set to grace the MotoGP once again after Yamaha announced that Lorenzo would be their number one test driver in 2020.
The former world champion had announced his retirement just a couple of months ago and the news has come as a welcome surprise for his fans.
After a turbulent season with Honda, he had called it quits at the end of the 2019 season. He has spent nine seasons with Yamaha Motor Racing and would look to impress fans and rivals alike.
The Spaniard would look to add to his three world championship titles that he won with Yamaha. He last raced for Yamaha in Valencia 2017.
Lorenzo has a lot of fans all over the world and Valentino Rossi is one of them. Rossi has revealed that he forced Yamaha to bring back the former world champion Lorenzo back to Yamaha as a test rider.
The two have shared a cold relationship in the past but all seems forgotten as Rossi has stated that Lorenzo would be a perfect addition to the team.
* About the author’s: CharlotteHallam is a freelance writer specialising in topics such casino and sports betting. She’s 30 years old and lives in Manchester (UK).
However, he hasn’t raced on two wheels. In fact, he crashed the previous weekend at Jerez preparing for the Rossi duel and there are reports he may have thrown the bike away on Monday.
4 Congratulatory comments
The few congratulatory comments from Rossi and Hamilton give little away.
Hamilton said: “It’s so awesome to see a legend like Valentino in the car.”
Rossi said: “I was a big fan of Lewis’s before but now I am even more.”
But it’s this Rossi comment that seems to indicate the elements were against the bikes.
“Technically, Valencia is a hard track and today was windy so, at one point, I thought it would be difficult for Lewis to continue, but he was brilliant on the bike and his position on the M1 was great. I think he had loads of fun, which is the main thing.”
Sounds like he had fun but lost!
5 It’s Rossi!
After all, it’s Rossi, the nine-time world champion!
Rossi has long wanted to get into four-wheeled racing, especially rallying where he has already had some success.
After winning nine world titles, Rossi has little to prove on two wheels, but a lot to prove to sponsors on four.
Six-time F1 champion Lewis, who switches from Mercedes to Ferrari in 2021, has not expressed any interest in switching to motorcycle racing.
We expect the official video from Monster Energy to appear in the next couple of weeks but don’t expect it will be any clearer on who won!
While the 5.821km Suzuka circuit itself was opened in the September of 1962, the Suzuka 8 Hour first came about in 1978.
It quickly became the most important race for production based bikes in the world.
American duo Wes Cooley and Mike Baldwin won that inaugural duel on July 30, 1978, on a Yoshimura backed GS1000 Suzuki.
Australia planted its flag at Suzuka in 1979 when a Team Honda Australia squad consisting of Tony Hatton and Mick Cole rode a CB900 to victory.
New Zealand took their first top step on the rostrum the following year when Kiwi Graeme Crosby partnered with American Wes Cooley to win the race on a Yoshimura GS1000 Suzuki.
While the race was a Japanese affair largely contested between Nippon manufacturers, it was not untiul 1982 that Japanese riders themselves tasted the champagne. That year the race was reduced to six hours due to an incoming typhoon and standing atop the podium were Shigeo Iijima and Shinji Hagiwara.
Wayne Gardner won the first of his quartet of Suzuka 8 Hour victories in 1985 while sharing the riding duties on the RVF750 Honda with Masaki Tokuno. Gardner went on to win again the next year, 1986, while partnered with Dominique Sarron.
1987 was the first time Yamaha took top honours and it came thanks to the talents of Kevin Magee, who became the fourth Australian to win a Suzuka 8 Hour. Magee won in partnership with German Martin Wimmer in 1987, the following year, 1988, the Horsham Hurricane’s victory was taken in conjunction with a then 28-year-old Wayne Rainey. The American also won his first 500cc GP race victory that year.
Wayne Gardner and Mick Doohan won in 1991 on an RVF750 Honda.
Daryl Beattie then shared the victory podium with Gardner in 1992 on the Oki Honda Racing Team RVF750.
New Zealand’s Aaron Slight then won three on the trot with a different partner each time. The first victory in 1993 coming on a Kawasaki with Scott Russell, followed by two wins on the RC45, the first with Doug Polen and the second with Tadayuki Okada.
1993 also signalled the change from F1 or TT style motorcycles as the premier category at the Suzuka 8 Hour to ‘Superbikes’.
Colin Edwards and Noriyuki Haga put Yamaha back on top in 1996 before Honda then went on a ten-year winning streak that stretched all the way from 1997 through to 2006.
The first three of that decade long Honda winning streak were won on RC45s, the next four on VTR-SP twins, including Valentino Rossi’s 2001 victory with Colin Edwards on the Cabin Honda VTR-SP1, while the Fireblade took top honours in 2004/05/06.
Yukio Kagayama and Kousuke Akiyoshi broke Suzuki’s 24-year drought in 2007.
Carlos Checa and Ryuichi Kiyonari put the Fireblade back on top in 2008.
2009 saw the introduction of three-rider teams and another all-Japanese victory for Yoshimura Suzuki.
2010 saw Honda’s Fireblade kicked off another winning streak that carried right through to 2014.
Winners for Honda in this period included Leon Haslam, Takumi Takahashi, Jonathan Rea, Takaaki Nakagami, Tadayuki Okada and Michael Van der Mark.
2015 marked a new era of domination by the Yamaha Factory Racing Team and the YZF-R1M.
Japanese hotshot Katsuyuki Nakasuga has been part of all those victories while Pol Espargaro (2015/16) helped him to two, as did Alex Lowes (2016/17), while Bradley Smith (2015) and Michael Van der Mark (2017) played their parts in Yamaha’s recent string of success also.
In 2018, Nakasuga again partnered with Alex Lowes and Michael Van der Mark and the trio went on to claim Yamaha’s fourth successive victory.
Suzuka 8 Hour Most Successful Riders
Only five riders have taken four victories at the prestigious race. Wayne Gardner (1985-1986-1991-1992), Ryuichi Kiyonari (2005-2008-2010-2011), Shinichi Itoh (1997-1998-2006-2011), Katsuyuki Nakasuga (2015-2016-2017-2018), Michael Van der Mark (2013-2014-2017-2018).
The most successful rider at the Suzuka 8 Hour is Tohru Ukawa. The Japanese rider has five victories to his name (1997-1998-2000-2004-2005). All five were won on Honda machinery, two on the RC45, one on the VTR1000 and two more on Fireblades.
Suzuka 8 Hour Most Successful Manufacturers
Honda are the leading manufacturer with 27 wins. Next best is Yamaha with eight victories while Suzuki have five wins.
Kawasaki has only ever won the prestigious event once and that was some 25 years ago when Aaron Slight and Scott Russell piloted a ZXR750R to victory.
Valentino Rossi won his 100th Grand Prix, took his second triumph in succession and became the undisputed leader of the FIM MotoGP World Championship with a stellar performance at the Alice TT Assen ten years ago today.
We look back on that day with the quote from Rossi taken on that day in 2009, and the race report from the 2009 Assen MotoGP race.
While it was ten years ago today that Rossi carded that 100th GP victory, in the ten years since the Italian legend has only added 15 more to his tally, with his last victory also coming at Assen two years ago.
Valentino Rossi – 100 GP victories
“This is a very emotional moment and for sure I will remember this 100th victory for the rest of my life. When I reached 70, 100 seemed a long way away but here I am and it has been great, great fun getting here. It is down to so many people, like Jeremy and my guys who have been with me for ten years and all of the team who always give 100 per cent and always give me the best bike possible. Especially however I have to thank the friends who have been with me my whole life and my father Graziano, who won here in Assen 30 years ago when I was a baby, and my mother Stefania, because they have always supported me. It’s great to reach this moment here at Assen because it’s the ‘Cathedral’ of motorcycle racing and the most historic track we go to. Today was a perfect race – I got a great start and my bike was incredible which meant that my pace was very strong. In fact I think it was better for everyone’s hearts not to have another last-lap battle like in Barcelona! I had a good advantage from Lorenzo in some parts of the track and it was a great ride for me. Now I have 100 wins and I’m only the second rider to arrive at this number, but Agostini still has 22 more and for me he is still the greatest. 100 is a great result but the atmosphere in our team is wonderful and the motivation is still as high as ever – we want to win a few more races together yet!”
2009 Assen MotoGP Race Report
A vintage Rossi performance was celebrated with his unraveling a backdrop and posing for a classic photo with antiquated cameras, the Italian’s latest post-race show with his faithful fan club.
Team-mate Jorge Lorenzo was once again forced to settle for second place, his third on the bounce. The Spaniard got off to a bad start from third on the grid and, although he was able to fight back up to the front, could not provide Rossi with the same challenge that he had done at the previous round.
Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner completed the podium with a solitary ride chasing Lorenzo. The trio had all been on equal points before the Assen race.
Colin Edwards took fourth place, at the head of an enthralling battle between the ‘best of the rest’.
Rizla Suzuki’s Chris Vermeulen and Edwards’ Monster Yamaha Tech 3 teammate James Toseland were also in the top six with their best finishes of the season to date.
Repsol Honda riders Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso had been in with a shout at the rostrum, but both took tumbles before the race took its full shape. There was also a late fall for Pramac Racing’s Mika Kallio when the Finn was challenging for sixth on the final lap.
Fabio Quartararo made history on Saturday setting a record for youngest pole setter, however Sunday wasn’t to be his day with a mechanical issue putting an early end to his race, while fighting for the podium. Further proving his speed, Quartararo topped the Jerez Monday test, half a second faster than his pole winning lap time.
The 1’36.379, set near the end of play, put him 0.418 ahead of Cal Crutchlow and 0.714 ahead of Franco Morbidelli at the Official Test.
Fabio Quartararo – P1
“All the frustration from yesterday was compensated for by the excellent day of testing we had today. We tried several different setups and a new front fork. The results were very positive, and it’s something that we will continue investigating in the future. We also managed to find a very good pace with used tyres and we worked with the hard compound for many laps. At the end of the day we tried a time attack and it went very well. This was the first time that the grip has been so good at this track. On my last three laps I was on the limit and I saw that I could not improve much more, with us putting in three times in the 1m 36s. I am very happy with the work that we’ve done and I want to thank the whole team. I can’t wait to get to Le Mans, my home Grand Prix, and to carry on enjoying riding the bike.”
Quartararo did 73 laps on Monday and left it late to put in his fastest on Lap 70, following it up with another not far off the same pace. He had internal fork updates to try, the same as the factory Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP team, but set his fastest lap with the previous regardless.
Teammate Morbidelli was also late mover up the timesheets into third and his best of a 1’37.093 was set on his penultimate lap of 82. He had a Yamaha aero update to try.
Franco Morbidelli – P3
“We worked on a few very specific areas during this test, with the aim of improving the setup of the bike. We found some new solutions that I believe will be useful at upcoming rounds this season. During the race I never felt comfortable with the front end, and today we were able to improve that feeling. We also worked on rear grip, something that we lacked a little during the weekend. We have found solutions and this is important on days like today. We have pace and the feeling is pretty good now.”
Meanwhile, Maverick Viñales was the fastest Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP rider in fifth, 0.847 off the top after an impressive workload of 94 laps, with teammate Valentino Rossi ending the day in P17 after 74 laps.
Maverick Vinales – P5
“We tested many items today. I did a lot of laps on race tyres, which wasn’t bad. I was riding quite well over a race distance, but anyway we need to keep improving. Le Mans is a track where the grip level is quite good, so I’m not too worried about it. It’s a good track for me, so my mind is already there at the French GP. We have found some positives and negatives in today’s test, as always, but nothing special. There are still some things to improve, especially on my side, my riding style, and we need to find something to improve the traction. But I’m not worried because my race pace was there, I was feeling close to the top.”
Valentino Rossi – P17
“We had a programme for today. We had some things to try to improve the package, especially working on the acceleration, on the grip, all these things. The test wasn’t too bad. We didn’t find something that will change our lives, but there were some details that, if you put them all together in the package, maybe we can be stronger. I also had to try the two tyres for Michelin. These are two tyres we will use in Austria and Buriram. They are harder and stronger, but I wanted to try them, because usually we suffer a little bit with that type of tyre, but it wasn’t a time attack.”
They were working on some chassis settings but mainly electronics, aimed at improving throttle connection. Petronas Yamaha SRT also had throttle connection updates but the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP riders were working on further versions.
At Honda, one big focus for Crutchlow was the start; clutch feel and electronics. He did 78 laps, was the man deposed by Quartararo’s late lunge, and did his fastest lap on a new rear medium compound tyre from Michelin featuring new technology for improved grip and consistency.
Cal Crutchlow – P2
“It was a good day. I had no real complaints throughout the day, we just tried the setting of the bike, we didn’t try anything new. Our programme wasn’t to try anything new, we needed to concentrate on set-up. I went to a more drastic setting than I did over the race weekend and I felt maybe a bit more comfortable. I was definitely a lot faster than yesterday, consistently, and we put that down to also using the hard rear tyre and not being able to in the race. I spent a lot of time evaluating that hard rear tyre and I felt good with it. The team is pleased and I’m pleased with how the day went, but as I said yesterday I can’t be pleased with how the race panned out. I finished eighth and there’s no reward for going fast on a Monday in Jerez, but I felt good and it shows that yesterday I should have been faster and should have chosen the hard rear tyre.”
The tyre was one of two additions to the race weekend allocation – the other being a medium rear with a different casing especially for Spielberg and Buriram, to be assessed further – and it will now be used in the allocation.
A little further down the timesheets, Jerez winner Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) ended the day in seventh after 75 laps, and set his quickest on the bike that wildcard and test rider Stefan Bradl rode in the race with carbon fibre chassis additions.
Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team) had a slightly modified seat and ended the day in P9 after 93 laps, and the five-time World Champion had two crashes.
Marc Marquez – P7
“We tried many things today and it was a really positive test as we were able to focus on the concept of a few things, not the details. When we finished with everything I stopped a bit early because the feeling was good with the bike and sometimes it’s best to stop when you’re feeling good. I tried Bradl’s bike to understand the concept, it was positive and we are ready for the next round.”
Jorge Lorenzo – P9
“Today we were able to do a lot of laps and try many things. This was important for us as we are still trying to catch up on the time we missed testing at the start of the season. We found some interesting things for races to come. The day was upset by two crashes. It isn’t how we wanted to end the test with a crash. I am OK, sore but OK. Thank you to the Repsol Honda Team and HRC engineers for working hard all weekend and today during the test.”
Takaaki Nakagami was another late crasher and he ended the day in tenth, an infinitesimal 0.002 off Lorenzo.
Takaaki Nakagami – P10
“The test was going well, but unfortunately I had a crash in the last few minutes. I’m ok though and it was a really important test for us. We tested some small things back-to-back and the bike is working well, like the weekend. We didn’t focus on our performance on the first lap, but the lap time was really consistent and I had a better feeling on the bike than over the weekend. I’m pretty happy with how we worked today, so we’re ready for the next race in Le Mans. We just need to keep going.”
For KTM the timesheets made for good reading with Pol Espargaro as he ended the day in fourth, 0.735 off P1 after 63 laps, with teammate Johann Zarco in P16 after 71. They tested chassis parts, chassis settings and some engine parts.
Pol Espargaro – P4
“Tiring day but happy with the result. KTM have worked very hard in the winter and delivered some things that we could not test until Le Mans and here because of the overseas races. We improved on some areas of the engine and also the chassis and found a good balance. We tried different configurations and I think with what we did on the engine we have more room to play, which is good. I’m happy we keep developing and keep improving.”
Johann Zarco – P16
“I expected to have a good day and after a race it is useful to be on track again and have a reference from the weekend: after just three laps you are ready to start the work. We tried things looking for confirmation for the technicians and that means a bit of up-and-down and it can be hard to have a consistent feeling. Fabio did an amazing lap-time with that new rear Michelin and I tried it too and had a small improvement over qualifying. Anyway, many laps done and lots of information for the team. We made a little step to let me have more feeling on the front into the fast corners, and from that we tried to improve the rear and could work there.”
Red Bull KTM Tech 3, meanwhile, ended the test in P21 for Miguel Oliveira and P22 for Hafizh Syahrin. They had 2019 KTM tail and exhausts to test.
Miguel Oliveira – P21
“Today was quite long, as we had many things to test. But finally, it has been positive because I was much faster with the ‘race condition bike’ than yesterday. I just missed the fast lap at the end. I used a medium front tyre with a soft rear, which was not the best choice, so I had to stop and change the front tyre, therefore I reused the soft rear and was not able to get this ideal lap in. I’m a bit disappointed for this, but we tested things here, which we think have great potential to help me in the future.”
Hafizh Syahrin – P22
“Today has been a very positive day, because we did a big step compared to last weekend as during the Grand Prix I was struggling, the condition of my body was not good and on the last day, I just found a good feeling with the bike and also my body was better. In the race I set my fastest time. During the test today, we tried some new parts, which were better for me. But so far, we are not able to use the advantage of the new tyre for the corner speed. We found a very small improvement, so we still need to get better with the bike. At the moment this is not easy, but I hope it’s getting better and better in the future and I give my best to improve at the next round.”
At Suzuki, Joan Mir was working on setting the bike up more for his style and he ended the day in sixth after more than 80 laps.
Joan Mir – P6
“I’m really happy with today, especially as I did so many laps. I found I was able to increase my pace and build on the lap times I set during the weekend. I feel that my settings for Le Mans will be good as we tried a lot of different things here. I had a crash today, but it was without consequences and I’m happy to have been back on my bike and always learning.”
Suzuki had a new swingarm, and a new swingarm attachment was also spotted in the Hamamatsu factory’s garage as it broke cover for the first time, but Alex Rins ran on and damaged it soon after. He nevertheless did 69 laps with a best of 1’37.275 to put him in P8. Test rider Sylvain Guintoli was also out on track and he put in 79 laps.
Alex Rins – P8
“Today we’ve done a full day of work, testing a lot of things and completing a lot of laps. We found a lot of positive things, and I liked the settings that we tried. Now we head to Le Mans with a really strong package and I’m happy with what we’ve done. I ran off when trying the new swingarm device, so I didn’t get to try it much. Instead we went back to our original plan of testing a new swingarm and focusing on electronics.”
Ducati weren’t inside the top ten by the end of the day. Andrea Dovizioso was P11 after 52 laps with a best of 1’37.601, but he wasn’t trying any particular new parts, instead focusing on big setup changes they’d not use time for during a race weekend.
Andrea Dovizioso – P11
“Post-race tests are always useful, because they allow you to work without pressure and evaluate some modifications that you usually don’t have the time to try during a race weekend, where track time is limited. Despite not having anything new, we were able to work on several details, both in terms of setup and electronics, to have a better understanding of how the bike reacts. We gathered some important data, which we’ll be able to use in all tracks from now on. Also, we tested a new medium-spec tyre, with positive outcomes. There is always room for improvement, both for the rider and the bike, and we’ll go to Le Mans with clearer ideas about how to do it.”
Dovizioso’s teammate Danilo Petrucci was P14, focused on working on setup and “some new parts” and spending the majority of his time on the hard tyre. The two were split by Pramac Racing duo Francesco Bagnaia and Jack Miller.
Danilo Petrucci – P14
“In these tests, we focused on preparing for the next round without going for a ‘time attack’. I tried some different components and several setup changes, only using hard tyres and taking them over the race distance to understand how to improve our pace. In particular, we worked to maximize both stability under braking and corner speed, finding some solutions that should work well in Le Mans. I’m quite happy with what we tried and the feeling with the bike is good, so I hope to be able to make another step forward in France.”
All four were covered by just over a tenth, and the gap from Bagnaia back to Miller was only 0.003. Another tiny gap put Tito Rabat in P17, just 0.005 off Rossi, with teammate Karel Abraham only 0.014 in further arrears. Finally, Aprilia were out on track with Aleix Espargaro and test rider Bradley Smith as Andrea Iannone missed the test due to the after effects of his Saturday crash.
Espargaro did 80 laps and was just 0.038 off Petrucci to take P15, testing rear suspension setups, traction control configurations, weight distribution and torque delivery, and Smith was only 0.002 off Abraham after 82 laps. He had some new parts and was also working on setups and tyre evaluation.
Aleix Espargaro’ – P15
“This day of testing was very important for us. In fact, I was the first one out on the track. We worked non-stop, both in anticipation of Le Mans and to continue development on the RS-GP. As always when testing, some solutions return better results than others. It will be essential to carefully analyse the data collected today to decide which line to follow in the upcoming rounds.”
Bradley Smith – P20
“It was a rather busy day. We worked on three fronts: the hard front tyre, which we confirmed as the right choice for our bike on this track, weight distribution and some components we needed to evaluate in terms of performance and reliability. Since I got close to Andrea’s and Aleix’s performance, the feeling is that I can contribute to overcoming the limits that the factory riders are highlighting. It is not an easy process. It takes time, but we have a structure capable of doing it. I think that in the coming months we’ll be able to make some targeted changes in our weaker areas.”
Andrea Iannone – NC
“I tried, but I was lacking strength in my foot to shift gears. It’s a pity because I would have liked to use the day of testing to confirm the positive note on which we had begun to work in FP4 where, before the crash, I was doing rather well. We received some confirmation from Aleix in the race and that is definitely positive. From tomorrow I’ll begin my recovery, but I am sure that I’ll be able to be at 100% for the Le Mans weekend.”
That’s it from Jerez for the one-day Official Test for the premier class, although Moto and Moto3 will be back out on track on Tuesday.
“This race was a mental race, more than a physical one. After the mistake in Austin it wasn’t easy to lead the race like that from beginning to end, but I knew I had the pace to do it and the bike to do it. I wanted to do a race like in Argentina and at the start in Austin to prove it was a mistake there. I felt good all weekend, smooth, comfortable and able to ride how I want. Thanks to the Repsol Honda Team, they’ve done an amazing job over the last few weeks and here this weekend. It’s great to be leading the championship again.”
Alex Rins – P2
“It’s incredible to get a win and then a 2nd place. I feel very happy; this race was really difficult and starting on the third row made it harder. I gave 100% and I knew that my race pace could be close to Marc’s, so I planned to try and get a good start and go towards the front. The Spanish fans were amazing today, I could see Peluqui corner full of fans and it gives me a real boost every lap. I want to keep up this consistency and I hope for another good finish in Le Mans.”
Maverick Viñales – P3
“To be on the podium feels like a victory to me. I saw that Dovi and Petrucci were behind me, together, so I thought “Woah, Dovi is going to push, so it‘s going to be difficult”, so I just tried to do my best laps and ride the best sectors I could. Honestly, it was difficult because I had just a little bit of tyre left at the end. I don‘t know if I could have done more laps like that last lap, but I‘m happy because the bike was good at the end. It was very important to demonstrate that we could be there. We recovered a lot of confidence, especially with the front tyre. We‘ve done something different on the bike, that gives me more consistency at the start so I can be much more precise. I‘m really happy because we didn‘t lose any positions at the start, we even gained one, and then another during the race. We‘ve been working really good during the whole weekend. After FP3 we were out of Q2, which means that, since then, we‘ve improved the bike quite a lot. Today was a good test to see where we are. It‘s important that we weren‘t so far from the front in the end. The most important thing is to be on the podium consistently. If we give our best, I think I can arrive at the top, but honestly there‘s no time to relax. Especially tomorrow, we need to do a good test. It‘s very important tomorrow to get everything done and go to Le Mans with a good mindset.”
Andrea Dovizioso – P4
“If we consider the issues we’ve always had in the past at Jerez, we can be satisfied with both our pace and the gap from the front at the end of the race. That said, it’s a pity we couldn’t step on the podium, which was our goal. The race was faster than what we expected, and I lost too much ground at the start. In the final phases, I took quite a few risks to cut the gap from Viñales, but I was still losing too much ground in the faster corners to be able to attack him under braking. We knew that on fast-flowing tracks such as this one we would have struggled a bit more. We need to improve our corner speed, we have done that to some extent already and we’re not far from our rivals, so tomorrow we’ll keep working in this direction.”
Danilo Petrucci – P5
“Overall, I’m happy with the way we managed a race that proved to be a bit trickier than what we expected. Early on, I simply tried to stay calm and collected to preserve the tyres for the final laps, and honestly I thought the podium was within our reach, but unfortunately it wasn’t the case despite the fact that both Andrea and I gave our 100 percent until the very end. I lacked a bit of corner speed and I couldn’t be as efficient as I would have liked under braking. To finish in the top-three, this year, it’s necessary to iron out every single detail and, in my case, to start from a better position on the grid. That said, it’s been a positive weekend. We collected important points for our championship and, starting tomorrow, we’ll keep working as hard as ever to get closer to the front.”
Valentino Rossi – P6
“We made the choice of the tyre at the very last moment. I wanted to race with the medium, but later the temperature rose a lot and we thought “Medium or hard? Medium or hard? Medium or hard?”. In the end we put in the hard, and I think this is the big thing we could have changed. I’m very curious to try the race with the medium, because at the end Maverick was good. I did a good start, but at the beginning I didn’t have enough pace to overtake, but on the second half of the race I was good. I was stronger and my pace wasn’t too bad, good enough to overtake, go, and take some points, which are good for the championship. I think that if I had started more towards the front I could have stayed with the front group, around where Maverick was. The pace of today’s race was very, very fast. I was like 25 seconds faster than my race last year, the gap to first position is less, I felt more comfortable on the bike, and especially on the last lap I was fast. Now we have to concentrate on the next few races.”
Franco Morbidelli – P7
“With this seventh position we have rounded off a good weekend for us. We were very quick at the start of the race and I was feeling good and comfortable with the pace of the front runners. I also felt comfortable with the tyres, although as the laps went by I lowered my speed because that changed. In the end, we managed the tyre wear well, so that on the last few laps we would have the ability to fight for the top Independent Team Rider honour with Cal Crutchlow. It’s the first time we have achieved this, so it’s a positive thing that we should repeat many more times. This is a good result for us and it shows that we are improving every day. Now we will try to do a good job at tomorrow’s test, which is also here at Jerez, to be as prepared as possible for Le Mans.”
Cal Crutchlow – P8
“I never really found a good setting all weekend, I think if I’d been able to find a better setting I would have been able to use the hard rear tyre. This morning I was quite fast on the hard rear tyre, but I wasn’t confident enough to use it in the race because I didn’t know if I was going to have a bad feeling with it like the last couple of days. So I opted to go with the medium and it was the wrong choice – it’s as simple as that. But I tried my best and eighth place was better than not finishing today, for sure. We need to work on the setting of the bike, that’s the main thing, as I don’t feel very comfortable at the moment, as you saw in the race.”
Takaaki Nakagami – P9
“At the end of the race we were quite competitive and the lap time was consistent, in the low 38s and on the last lap I did very close to the best time, but it was too late. The first lap was much better than at the other circuits, but we are still missing a bit of aggression on the riding and I lost a few positions at the start of the race. We have to focus on that point because during the race and at the end of the race we were quite strong. It’s another top 10, P9 is not too bad but we can improve a lot for the next race and keep improving.”
Stefan Bradl – P10
“I am very happy with the result because we have done a good job over the last months testing. We found positive things and turn it into a result which is important to me, reinforcing in myself that I have the speed. It’s also important for the team around me, the guys work a lot away from the races so these points and the positive feedback is a reward for them. The work we are doing now will be important for the future. Thanks to my team and to HRC for all their efforts.”
Aleix Espargaro – P11
“In the very early stages of the race, I struggled to find traction, but after just five or six laps I began to feel more at ease, and I was lapping with a good pace. The situation got even better in the last ten laps, where I was decidedly consistent. I began to make up ground on the group of riders ahead of me and I knew I could battle with Nakagami and Crutchlow, who I was getting closer to. Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible because Miller hit me as I was overtaking him. I was already all the way on the inside of the turn and it was a rather violent blow. Fortunately, I was able to keep it upright. However, that made me lose a position to Bradl. The race was our best track session of the weekend and that makes me happy. Right now, obtaining the maximum result and not making mistakes is the important thing, and today we were able to do that. Tomorrow will be another very important day of testing. I’ll be the first one out on the track, and we will keep working hard to improve.”
Jorge Lorenzo – P12
“It has been a difficult end to the weekend, we wanted to be stronger but I am still not comfortable on the bike. We are still lacking kilometers compared to the other Honda riders. Today especially I was not comfortable on the bike and it was a very difficult race. Tomorrow’s test will be important for us to try and improve my feeling, especially on corner entry where I think I am losing the most. We have to keep working.”
Pol Espargaro – P13
“I did a good race. I suffered with the grip in the beginning but caught Lorenzo and passed him. I then just misread my pitboard and eased off a lap earlier. It was one of the biggest mistakes in my career. I was so focussed and so on the limit that I was not thinking about anything else except that Jorge would not pass me back. In the end we lost one position and also I would have been closer to the winner in terms of race time. I know we also had good lap-time speed today. We have a lot to do tomorrow now and to compare what we had in Le Mans and also this weekend.”
Johann Zarco – P14
“Tough today. I wanted to overtake more riders but I was on the limit for a lot of the race and losing in acceleration, so it was complicated to pass people on the brakes. I could keep some pace and kept with Pol but in the second half of the race I had to set the target of just finishing. I think we will take some good information in the Monday test. We had some improvement during the weekend but we need to take the general feeling on the bike higher.”
Tito Rabat – P15
“Well, after a complicated weekend we have understood a lot of things, we have improved the grip. Now the objective is to make the bike a bit more agile during the race so that we can reach with more strength at the end of the race, catch a slightly higher pace with less effort. But hey, it has been for me super important this point, at least one point goes well. Looking forward to the test tomorrow, we will work on the bike, continue working on braking and level up.”
Karel Abraham – P16
“I am very angry. There are already two races in a row in the same position, 16th. It is a pity. I made a mistake at the beginning and I hate to start like this the second year, it was very bad and it is impossible to go back. Anyway, the first lap was good, the first part of the race was good, so Tito overtook me, it was still good, but unfortunately I started to lose the lead and I made two mistakes in turn 6. Then Tito opened quite a distance when I made a mistake and then squeezed but I was left with the same gap behind Tito, but I could not cut him, it was very hard.”
Bradley Smith – P17
“At the start of the race I was a bit rusty, but then things improved. Unfortunately, the medium front tyre did not help me to be incisive in braking, but I haven’t been able to try the hard compound much on the RS-GP and that is one of the things I intend to do in the tests tomorrow. This morning I felt good, but the high temperatures in the afternoon changed things. In the finale, I managed to ride better and be more decisive in the battle against the other riders. Overall, it was a positive weekend for the type of work that we are doing.”
Miguel Oliveira – P18
“It has been a difficult race, I couldn’t manage to stay up with the riders in front of me. So I just kept my rhythm, pushed every lap and took home 18th position. The team tried many things to help me but it seems like this weekend with the new parts, it was hard to find our balance with the bike again that we built through the tests and the first races. Now with the new material, I think we need a bit more time to find solutions to help me being comfortable and fast on the bike.”
Hafizh Syahrin – P19
“We tried some different things in the warm-up this morning and I have to admit that I didn’t think it was a big improvement but the feeling was a bit better. In the race I did my fastest laps of the weekend and caught up with [Bradley] Smith and Miguel until eight laps to go I couldn’t keep the pace anymore because the rear was sliding quite a lot and I couldn’t open the gas like I wanted to. Anyway, I keep believing in myself, stay positive and we for sure keep working hard for the next round in order to be better for the home Grand Prix for my team.”
Jack Miller – DNF
“I am very sorry because it is always a shame to fall with a few laps to go. I am especially sorry for the team that did a great job in these three days in Jerez. I tried to stay with the group fighting for the podium then I felt that I no longer have feeling. I’ll be back stronger at Le Mans.”
Pecco Bagnaia – DNF
“It was a difficult race because I didn’t get off to a good start. My race pace was not bad but when I tried to overtake Espargaro I made a small mistake and crashed. It’s a shame because we worked well this weekend. I can’t wait to be at Le Man, a track I really like.”
Joan Mir – DNF
“I’m disappointed that I didn’t finish the race, because I had good potential this weekend, but racing is like this. I was happy with my feeling, and when I was catching the group in front I felt good. I really like Le Mans and I hope I can do a great race there and get the result that I know I’m capable of.”
Fabio Quartararo – DNF
“You could say that I am both disappointed and happy. The race was very good; I felt very good on the bike and it was fantastic to ride with the top riders. That was until we suffered a small mechanical problem with the gear shifter. It’s something very small but it affected us a lot, forcing us to abandon the race. Despite this, I’m happy with the work that we’ve done during the weekend and we will continue in the same way at the coming races. The whole team have done an exceptional job, but in this sport there are things that you can’t control. As we did in Qatar, we will take away the positives – there were many of those at this GP. Before the season began, none of us expected to be fighting for the podium and to get a pole position in the fourth race of the year, so we should be happy with the work that is being done. I’m looking forward to the next race, which is the only home GP I have – I hope to do my best.”
Andrea Iannone – DNS
“I am sorry that I wasn’t able to be out there on the track. Yesterday in FP4 it seemed like we had found a positive direction for the weekend, but unfortunately the crash kept us from continuing our work. I hope to be at full fitness and back in the saddle as soon as possible. I am staying positive and confident.”
Team Managers talk Jerez MotoGP
Davide Brivio – Suzuki Ecstar Team Manager
“Alex did a great job, starting 9th in Jerez and recovering to 2nd is not easy at all, it’s one of the most difficult tracks to make up places. He did a great race, and his pace was very fast until the end. So, I want to congratulate him, and also to say thank you to all the team. I’m happy about Joan’s race, because despite the crash with 3 laps to go, he had good pace and was very close to the top in terms of lap times. So overall it’s been a positive day.”
Massimo Meregalli – Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
“Considering where we were at after FP3, we welcome today‘s results with open arms. A lot of work has been done this weekend. We found a good set-up for Maverick in FP4. He had a really good start and positioned himself at the back of the front group, that was a key factor for today‘s podium. Also, he kept a really good pace the entire race and fended off Dovizioso, setting a 1‘38.1s on the last lap. We‘re very pleased with this third place, because it‘s a great confidence booster after a couple of tough races for him. Valentino‘s race had been compromised by the Q1 session and, at a track like this, starting from the fifth row is a huge set-back. The beginning of his race wasn‘t as good as usual, and he wasn‘t feeling comfortable with the hard front tyre for most of the race. Still, there are some positives to take away from this round. We arrived here with some doubts, because the last two years we have struggled here, so today‘s third place is a testimony to the hard work we have done and improvements we have made over the winter. Tomorrow we have a few things that we would like to try, especially concerning the electronics settings. If we find positive results, then we will use this new solution in Le Mans.”
Mike Leitner – Red Bull KTM Team Manager
“A weekend with some problems and it looks like we struggle more with rear grip here compared to some other places. The riders pushed to the maximum and Pol made a great race. In the end a small mistake led to a big consequence and I feel very sorry for him. He could have been 12th but did well anyway. Johann was also in this group. Pol’s fastest lap-time was just 0.5 slower than the race winner and we are twenty seconds behind Marquez: these are not horrible figures but we know we have to help the riders more and we will work hard in the company to make the bike better.”
2019 MotoGP – Round Four Results
2019 MotoGP – Round Four MotoGP Championship Points Standings
MotoGP lands in Latin America this weekend for round two at Argentina’s Termas de Rio Hondo. Andrea Dovizioso leads the field into South America ahead of Marc Marquez and Cal Crutchlow. Suzuki’s Alex Rins and Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi fill out the top five in the standings after round one.
It’s more than simply a change of scenery too, with the 4,806m circuit a severe test of riders, machinery and especially tyres. Its abrasive surface, mixed with high temperatures, and increased loads that are created throughout the five left and nine right-hand turns, plus its long straight in excess of one kilometre, means the Michelin rubber faces one of its most stringent tests of the whole season.
The surface at Termas underwent changes last year, due to the resurfacing of most of the layout, but many of the sessions in 2018 were interrupted by wet weather, meaning riders never had the chance to fully exploit the range of tyres at last year’s event, so tyre provider Michelin will be hoping for improved conditions to give it the chance to demonstrate its ability at a track where it hasn’t had a fully dry event since its return to MotoGP in 2016. The track is also generally very dirty for the earlier sessions, and times drop markedly during the weekend as the surface cleans up.
With heat partnered by humidity, the floodlights of Losail are a distant memory and the record books see a switch around, for Termas de Rio Hondo traditionally has one man setting the pace: Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team). But pace, history shows, is not always the winning ingredient.
From 2014 to 2017, Marquez started from pole in Argentina, and in both 2014 and 2016 the reigning Champion took the win. But in 2015 the number 93 clashed with Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) and also crashed in 2017, both he and then team-mate Dani Pedrosa both slid out of contention – Marquez from the lead.
Last season amped up the drama even further as Marquez’ race went from disaster on the grid to failing to score after three penalties and another clash with Rossi – this one seeing the ‘Doctor’ hit the deck.
It’s not just Marquez who has shown good pace at Termas de Rio Hondo for Honda, however. The aforementioned Pedrosa took some top results and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) took two podiums even before his stunning win in the chaos of the 2018 event.
That bodes well for both him and new arrival at Repsol Honda Jorge Lorenzo, himself a podium finisher at the track previously, as the number 99 battles to improve upon a tough season opener in Qatar after a huge highside left him bruised for race day. That’s without remembering the five-time World Champion remains in recovery from a broken scaphoid.
After said Qatar race day, Yamaha will also be looking to improve upon Round 1 but their record in Argentina makes for good reading. Rossi won that 2015 event, who could forget, and teammate Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) took victory in Argentina in 2017 as part of a triple threat of wins to begin the season. Yamaha will be hoping for more of that and less of the struggles they encountered last year.
With Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and team-mate Fabio Quartararo also on 2019 machines it’s a big push, and in Qatar certainly the two Independent Team riders kept them more than honest at times. Quartararo, forced into a pitlane start after stalling on the grid, was the fastest man on track for much of the Qatar GP – the rookie has most definitely arrived, and impressed.
Meanwhile at Ducati, it was 25-points to begin the year in style for Andrea Dovizioso (Mission Winnow Ducati Team) as the Italian once again outwitted Marquez at a final corner. Last season it was a similar story in Round 1, but then it was two more difficult weekends for the Borgo Panigale factory rider. Will that remain true in 2019 and see ‘DesmoDovi’ racing for damage limitation before we head into the meat of the season in Europe? Or was Qatar not quite the whole picture?
New teammate Danilo Petrucci will be hoping it wasn’t but for different reasons as the Italian was left disappointed in sixth, so a push to reassert some of his preseason pace can be expected too.
Likewise Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing), who had seat trouble that took him out of the Qatar season opener, and was P4 from pole in Argentina last year, and his new rookie teammate Francesco Bagnaia, whose pace from the Sepang test went a bit AWOL in the season opener. Argentina has been a tough venue at times for ‘Pecco’, but MotoGP is a different ball game.
Despite the longer track records of others, Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) could actually prove the biggest threat to Honda in Argentina though. Fast in testing, fast at Losail and only just off the podium, it was a good start to the season – and Termas de Rio Hondo is where the Suzuki rider took his first ever premier class podium.
On a streak of top six finishes in the last eight races, do not count out Rins as the former Championship contender in the smaller classes continues coming of age in MotoGP – and some speed from rookie teammate Joan Mir can likely be expected too. Mir shone in his first premier class race and he’s won at the venue before in Moto3, from 16th on the grid no less.
The cast of riders fighting within that top ten doesn’t stop there. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) will be gunning to tame Termas and take a few more points than his tenth place in Qatar, new teammate Andrea Iannone was nearly on the podium there previously although on a different bike, and Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) has rostrum form.
Zarco took a point on his KTM debut at Losail, but he’ll be pushing to get more on a par with teammate Pol Espargaro as he gains more experience.
Espargaro was P11 last year in Argentina and started this season with a P12 in Qatar, but the gap to the front was smaller again. So what can he do? And can rookie Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) keep the KTM veteran honest as he threatened to do in an impressive season opener?
After the closest ever top 15 in Qatar, tune in for the Gran Premio Motul de la Republica Argentina at Termas de Rio Hondo on the 31st of March as MotoGP tango to the beat of a different drum and history saddles up to be made once again.