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THE HOT OIL NEWS

Updated 7 October 2018

Thailand MotoGP: Marquez prevails in last-lap Dovizioso duel

Thailand MotoGP: Marquez prevails in last-lap Dovizioso duel

Marc Marquez took victory in MotoGP's inaugural Thailand Grand Prix, passing chief rival Andrea Dovizioso on the final lap to take a step closer to the 2018 championship crown.

In a reversal of their memorable Austrian GP duel from last year, Dovizioso attempted to pass Marquez at the final corner on the last lap, after the Honda rider muscled his way by on Turn 5 at Buriram.

But the Ducati rider could not get the traction on exit, with Marquez cutting back to the inside to reach the chequered flag 0.115s clear of Dovizioso and register his seventh win of the 2018 campaign.

It gives him a championship lead of 77 points with only 100 left to play for in the final four rounds.

Marquez led the opening four laps from pole, but Yamaha's Valentino Rossi tracked him and managed to slipstream his way past the defending champion on the run down to Turn 3 on lap five of 26.

The Italian seemed comfortable enough in the lead with the top riders all moderating their pace in the opening half of the race in the blisteringly hot conditions, but got a poor drive out of the first corner on Lap 11 and dropped to third.

Dovizioso hung on to the lead from there as he and Marquez began to up the pace, although it wasn't until the last five laps that the latter really started to go on to the attack.

On lap 23, Marquez tried to pass Dovizioso at Turn 3, only to run wide, and the following lap the duo swapped places twice, allowing the Yamahas of Maverick Vinales and Rossi, who dropped behind his teammate on lap 20, to close in.

It was the same story on the penultimate lap, with Dovizioso retaining the advantage heading into the decisive final lap.

But after repelling Marquez at Turn 3 with a defensive line, he left an opening heading into Turn 5, and his last-corner attempt at seizing back the advantage failed to pay off.

Vinales was not close enough to capitalise on the two leaders running wide, but still secured his first podium finish since July's German Grand Prix in third, ahead of Rossi, who picked up his best result since Brno in August.

Johann Zarco underlined Yamaha's improved form with a strong run to fifth on the satellite Tech 3 machine, passing the Suzuki of Alex Rins and the fading LCR Honda of Cal Crutchlow to take the place.

The Frenchman was also helped by Dani Pedrosa crashing out of fifth on lap 19 at Turn 5.

Completing the top 10 were a trio of satellite Ducati riders, with Nieto's Alvaro Bautista leading Pramac pair Danilo Petrucci and Jack Miller.

Hafizh Syahrin (Tech 3) was the top rookie in 12th, a place behind the second Suzuki of Andrea Iannone, while the remaining points went to Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia), Franco Morbidelli (Marc VDS Honda) and Bradley Smith (KTM).

The only crasher besides Pedrosa of a relatively incident-free race was the second LCR bike of Takaaki Nakagami, who remounted to finish two laps down in 22nd.

Race results:

Pos. # Rider Bike Time/Gap
1 93 Spain Marc Marquez  Honda 39'55.722
2 4 Italy Andrea Dovizioso  Ducati 0.115
3 25 Spain Maverick Viñales  Yamaha 0.270
4 46 Italy Valentino Rossi  Yamaha 1.564
5 5 France Johann Zarco  Yamaha 2.747
6 42 Spain Alex Rins  Suzuki 3.023
7 35 United Kingdom Cal Crutchlow  Honda 6.520
8 19 Spain Alvaro Bautista  Ducati 6.691
9 9 Italy Danilo Petrucci  Ducati 9.944
10 43 Australia Jack Miller  Ducati 11.077
11 29 Italy Andrea Iannone  Suzuki 15.488
12 55 Malaysia Hafizh Syahrin  Yamaha 17.691
13 41 Spain Aleix Espargaro  Aprilia 21.413
14 21 Italy Franco Morbidelli  Honda 22.802
15 38 United Kingdom Bradley Smith  KTM 23.628
16 45 United Kingdom Scott Redding  Aprilia 23.804
17 17 Czech Republic Karel Abraham  Ducati 32.507
18 10 Belgium Xavier Simeon  Ducati 37.216
19 81 Spain Jordi Torres  Ducati 39.204
20 12 Switzerland Thomas Luthi  Honda 39.421
21 44 Spain Pol Espargaro  KTM 53.388
22 30 Japan Takaaki Nakagami  Honda 2 Laps
Ret 26 Spain Dani Pedrosa  Honda 8 Laps
Austria MotoGP: Marquez beats Dovizioso to pole by 0.002s

Marc Marquez secured pole position for MotoGP's Austrian Grand Prix, beating Andrea Dovizioso by 0.002s, as Valentino Rossi only took 14th.

At a track where top speed and acceleration, Ducati's strongest suits, are crucial, the Italian manufacturer entered the 15-minute Q2 shootout as favourite.

However it was Honda rider Marquez that led the way for most of the way, with Dovizioso narrowly missing out at the end of both runs.

He was only 0.03s behind Marquez during the mid-session break but it was Dovizioso's teammate Jorge Lorenzo who moved into the lead temporarily.

But Marquez fought back, setting a time 0.02s faster than Lorenzo before going one-and-a-half tenths clear.

While he couldn't improve on the 1m23.241s he set with three minutes to go, he still ended up ahead as Dovizioso's late effort fell two thousandths of a second short.

Lorenzo will line up third on the grid, 0.135s off the pace, while the third Ducati GP18 of Danilo Petrucci took fourth.

LCR Honda's Cal Crutchlow was best of the rest, nearly six tenths slower than Marquez.

Johann Zarco was the top Yamaha on his two-year-old Tech 3 machine in sixth, followed by Avintia Ducati's Tito Rabat.

Suzuki duo Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins were eighth and 10th respectively, sandwiching Dani Pedrosa's Honda.

Maverick Vinales had a subdued pre-qualifying FP4 and also wasn't a factor in qualifying as he only took 11th, more than a second adrift, only beating Alvaro Bautista's year-old Nieto Ducati.

Q1: Rossi eliminated

Bautista and Rins were first and second in the first part of qualifying, while Valentino Rossi could only manage fourth.

The Yamaha rider, struggling with his bike's acceleration woes, was fifth during the mid-session pitstops and could only temporarily improve to second before he dropped behind again, his last flyer not good enough to move into the top two.

Rossi's 14th grid position is his worst since the 2016 Australian Grand Prix, when he was 15th.

Bautista led Bradley Smith at halfway point, and the Spaniard improved twice late on to end up first with a 1m24.195s.

KTM's sole rider Smith however had to settle for 13th on the grid as he was edged out by Rins by 0.015s, the Briton missing out on a final lap by pitting before the chequered flag fell.

Behind Rossi, Aleix Espargaro will line up 15th on the grid on the lead Aprilia with Franco Morbidelli ending Q1 sixth but only starting the race 19th due to a three-place grid penalty for impeding Espargaro in practice.

Jack Miller's first run was ruined by a gearbox problem and will only start 16th, ahead of Tech 3 Yamaha's Hafizh Syahrin and Avintia Ducati's Xavier Simeon.

Qualifying results:

Pos. # Rider Bike Time Gap
1 93 Spain Marc Marquez  Honda 1'23.241  
2 4 Italy Andrea Dovizioso  Ducati 1'23.243 0.002
3 99 Spain Jorge Lorenzo  Ducati 1'23.376 0.135
4 9 Italy Danilo Petrucci  Ducati 1'23.503 0.262
5 35 United Kingdom Cal Crutchlow  Honda 1'23.812 0.571
6 5 France Johann Zarco  Yamaha 1'23.887 0.646
7 53 Spain Tito Rabat  Ducati 1'23.922 0.681
8 29 Italy Andrea Iannone  Suzuki 1'24.091 0.850
9 26 Spain Dani Pedrosa  Honda 1'24.124 0.883
10 42 Spain Alex Rins  Suzuki 1'24.227 0.986
11 25 Spain Maverick Viñales  Yamaha 1'24.284 1.043
12 19 Spain Alvaro Bautista  Ducati 1'24.342 1.101
Q2 cut-off: 1'24.230
13 38 United Kingdom Bradley Smith  KTM 1'24.245 1.004
14 46 Italy Valentino Rossi  Yamaha 1'24.309 1.068
15 41 Spain Aleix Espargaro  Aprilia 1'24.762 1.521
16 43 Australia Jack Miller  Ducati 1'24.805 1.564
17 55 Malaysia Hafizh Syahrin  Yamaha 1'24.834 1.593
18 10 Belgium Xavier Simeon  Ducati 1'24.868 1.627
19 21 Italy Franco Morbidelli  Honda 1'24.767 1.526
20 45 United Kingdom Scott Redding  Aprilia 1'25.067 1.826
21 30 Japan Takaaki Nakagami  Honda 1'25.178 1.937
22 12 Switzerland Thomas Luthi  Honda 1'25.310 2.069
23 17 Czech Republic Karel Abraham  Ducati 1'25.339 2.098
Le Mans MotoGP: Marquez wins, Dovizioso and Zarco crash
Marc Marquez extended his MotoGP points lead with a relatively straightforward victory in the French Grand Prix at Le Mans, helped by crashes for Andrea Dovizioso and Johann Zarco.

Honda rider Marquez now has a healthy advantage of 36 points at the head of the table following a victory that looked in little doubt after his two main rivals dropped out of the running.

Marquez had slumped as low as sixth at the start of a tough opening lap, as Jorge Lorenzo vaulted from sixth on the grid into an early lead over poleman Zarco and Dovizioso.

By the end of the second lap, Marquez had recovered to fourth, joining a four-rider lead group.

Dovizioso picked off home favourite Zarco for second place at the downhill La Chapelle right-hander on the third lap, and had just passed Lorenzo to take the lead at the start of the fifth lap.

But as the lead group plunged into La Chapelle once more, Dovizioso lost the front end of his factory Ducati and slid into the gravel, forcing his second retirement in as many races.

Three laps later, while defending second from Marquez, Zarco suffered a similar fate to Dovizioso as he fell at the Garage Vert double right-hander, ending his hopes of a maiden MotoGP win.

That left Lorenzo with a narrow lead over Marquez, but it was clear that Marquez had superior pace to the sole remaining works Ducati man, and the inevitable pass came at La Chapelle on the 10th lap.

Danilo Petrucci, promoted to third by the demise of Dovizioso and Zarco, managed to follow Marquez past Lorenzo on the next lap at the Musee left-hander, but couldn't mount a challenge for the lead.

Marquez was able to reel off the remaining laps and claim victory by a final margin of 2.310 seconds.

After being passed by Petrucci's Pramac machine, Lorenzo couldn't stave off Yamaha's Valentino Rossi, who moved ahead at La Chapelle to claim his first podium finish since the Qatar opener in third place.

Lorenzo then surrendered further places to the second Pramac Ducati of Jack Miller and Dani Pedrosa on the second works Honda, ending up sixth, 10 seconds down on Marquez.

Maverick Vinales had been running as low as 13th in the early laps on his works Yamaha but managed to recover to seventh, a further 13 seconds back, while Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) passed Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) on the last lap to grab eighth after his huge qualifying crash left him in doubt for the race.

Completing the top 10 was the surviving Suzuki of Alex Rins, whose teammate Andrea Iannone crashed out on the opening lap at La Chapelle.

Pol Espargaro led the KTM charge in 11th, while top rookie Hafizh Syahrin (Tech 3 Yamaha), Franco Morbidelli (Marc VDS Honda), Bradley Smith (KTM) and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) rounded off the scorers.

The remaining crashers were Scott Redding on the second Aprilia, Tito Rabat (Avintia Ducati) and Alvaro Bautista (Nieto Ducati).

Race results:

Pos. # Rider Bike Gap
1 93 spain Marc Marquez Honda 41'49.773
2 9 italy Danilo Petrucci Ducati 2.310
3 46 italy Valentino Rossi Yamaha 5.350
4 43 australia Jack Miller Ducati 6.314
5 26 spain Dani Pedrosa Honda 7.419
6 99 spain Jorge Lorenzo Ducati 10.355
7 25 spain Maverick Viñales Yamaha 23.758
8 35 united_kingdom Cal Crutchlow Honda 25.795
9 41 spain Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 26.206
10 42 spain Alex Rins Suzuki 27.937
11 44 spain Pol Espargaro KTM 32.304
12 55 malaysia Hafizh Syahrin Yamaha 34.962
13 21 italy Franco Morbidelli Honda 37.881
14 38 united_kingdom Bradley Smith KTM 38.299
15 30 japan Takaaki Nakagami Honda 41.986
16 12 switzerland Thomas Luthi Honda 45.260
17 17 czech_republic Karel Abraham Ducati 56.872
18 10 belgium Xavier Simeon Ducati 1'12.117
Ret 45 united_kingdom Scott Redding Aprilia 17 laps
Ret  53 spain Tito Rabat Ducati 17 laps
Ret  5 france Johann Zarco Yamaha 19 laps
Ret  4 italy Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 23 laps
Ret  19 spain Alvaro Bautista Ducati 26 laps
Ret  29 italy Andrea Iannone Suzuki -
Jerez MotoGP: Marquez wins, Pedrosa and Ducati duo in big crash

Honda rider Marc Marquez dominated the MotoGP race at Jerez, as teammate Dani Pedrosa and Ducati works riders Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo came together in a huge crash.

With Marquez breaking away out front, Dovizioso and Lorenzo were battling for second place towards the closing stages of the race, with the incident triggered by the Italian diving down the inside of Lorenzo at the Turn 6 right-hander.

He looked to have completed the pass but ran wide, with Lorenzo cutting back to the inside to retake position.

Yet as Lorenzo moved to the right, he clashed with the Honda of Pedrosa, who had tried to pass the battling Ducatis in one fell swoop.

The contact threw Pedrosa high into the air off his bike and sent Lorenzo's GP18 right into the path of Dovizioso, with all three retiring on the spot but managing to walk away seemingly unhurt.

Lorenzo had been the only frontrunner to pick the soft front tyre, and used it to great effect initially, making a lightning getaway from fourth to lead into Turn 1.

He kept Pedrosa at bay in the early going, and then fought off Marquez for several laps after the reigning champion had slid down the inside of his teammate at the fast Turn 11 right-hander.

By lap eight, however, Lorenzo's defensive resolve weakened, and he finally ceded the lead to Marquez – while, right behind them, Dovizioso worked his way past Pedrosa.

The top four, having already broken away from the rest of the pack, remained close for a couple of more laps, but Marquez soon began to stretch his legs, undeterred by a massive slide through the gravel at Turn 12, left there by Tom Luthi's crash.

As the leader began to disappear into the distance, Dovizioso was growing impatient behind Lorenzo and had to back out of a move at the final corner that briefly dropped him behind Pedrosa.

When all three were collected by the crash later on, Tech 3 Yamaha's Johann Zarco was promoted into a comfortable second, despite having seemingly struggled in the early going.

He finished five seconds behind Marquez, who showboated through much of the final lap.

The incident also meant that the four-bike group of Pramac Ducati's Danilo Petrucci, Suzuki's Andrea Iannone, Pramac Ducati's Jack Miller and Yamaha's Valentino Rossi were suddenly battling for third – with Iannone finally coming out on top.

The Suzuki rider, whose teammate Alex Rins crashed out of fifth at Turn 11 early on, finished a few tenths ahead of Petrucci and Rossi to clinch his second consecutive third-place finish.

Behind Miller, Vinales worked his way past Nieto Ducati's Alvaro Bautista to claim a seventh-place finish, having dropped well outside of the top 10 in the initial running.

Marc VDS Honda rookie Franco Morbidelli posted his best MotoGP finish yet in ninth, while wildcard Mika Kallio, running a KTM 2019 prototype, was 10th ahead of the marque's regular rider Pol Espargaro.

Poleman Cal Crutchlow dropped back to fourth with a slow getaway, and the LCR Honda rider held that position until he fell at the Turn 1 right-hander, retiring from a second consecutive grand prix.

Nieto Ducati's Karel Abraham crashed at the same corner later on, while Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro had pulled up shortly after the start with what looked like a mechanical problem.

Race results:

Pos. # Rider Bike Time/Gap
1 93 spain Marc Marquez Honda 41'39.678
2 5 france Johann Zarco Yamaha 5.241
3 29 italy Andrea Iannone Suzuki 8.214
4 9 italy Danilo Petrucci Ducati 8.617
5 46 italy Valentino Rossi Yamaha 8.743
6 43 australia Jack Miller Ducati 9.768
7 25 spain Maverick Viñales Yamaha 13.543
8 19 spain Alvaro Bautista Ducati 14.076
9 21 italy Franco Morbidelli Honda 16.822
10 36 finland Mika Kallio KTM 19.405
11 44 spain Pol Espargaro KTM 21.149
12 30 japan Takaaki Nakagami Honda 21.174
13 38 united_kingdom Bradley Smith KTM 21.765
14 53 spain Tito Rabat Ducati 22.103
15 45 united_kingdom Scott Redding Aprilia 36.755
16 55 malaysia Hafizh Syahrin Yamaha 41.861
17 10 belgium Xavier Simeon Ducati 49.241
18 17 czech_republic Karel Abraham Ducati 1 lap
Ret 99 spain Jorge Lorenzo Ducati 8 laps
Ret  4 italy Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 8 laps
Ret  26 spain Dani Pedrosa Honda 8 laps
Ret  35 united_kingdom Cal Crutchlow Honda 9 laps
Ret  12 switzerland Thomas Luthi Honda 14 laps
Ret  42 spain Alex Rins Suzuki 20 laps
Ret  41 spain Aleix Espargaro Aprilia -
Miller urges Rossi and Marquez to end "immature" feud

Jack Miller says the "silly and immature" feud between Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez needs to end, as it threatens the safety of MotoGP riders.

The rivalry between Rossi and Marquez, which had subsided after the pair's infamous clash during the 2015 Malaysian Grand Prix, was reignited after the reigning champion hit the Italian and caused him to crash in Argentina.

The incident was followed by Rossi, as well as others, heavily criticising Marquez, who was accused of "destroying our sport" and "not respecting his rivals".

However, during the Thursday MotoGP press conference at Austin, Miller urged Rossi and Marquez to stop their feud, which he branded "silly and immature", and said could also be dangerous on-track.

Miller referenced the rivalry between Dani Pedrosa and the late Marco Simoncelli, which led to a crash between them during the 2011 French Grand Prix and left Pedrosa with a broken collarbone.

"We are all here racing and risking our lives and I think for these fans and also riders to fight against each other, I think is quite silly and immature," said Miller.

"They are quite old and they have to remember life is short and we are risking our lives here.

"I have seen this situation unfolding with a lot of people and people picking sides, and I just want to refresh people's memory of Marco Simoncelli and Dani Pedrosa and how that ended."

When asked what changes he wants to discuss at Friday's Safety Commission, during which the events of the Argentine Grand Prix will be discussed, Miller said the fighting inside the paddock needs to be "controlled" more.

"I think they need to control it a little bit better the fighting inside the paddock," he said. "We are here to race motorcycles and we are here to fight but the fight should generally try to stay on track and not try to fight so much in the media.

"I think that is one of the clearest things. There are a lot of people coming, the journalists especially, coming at you trying to get you to say something to mess up and I think it is not the correct way.

"The fighting I think should stay more on the track and of course us riders we have to be careful with what we say because words can be twisted as we've seen many times before."

Zarco: MotoGP caught between "two gods"

Zarco reckons conflicts should be sorted between the riders themselves, remarking that MotoGP is currently stuck between "two gods" in the form of Rossi and Marquez.

"We are touching two gods, we have Vale that is the first god and now Marc is becoming this other god because he is doing incredible things," said the Tech 3 Yamaha rider.

"It is between riders that we must almost speak together and find a solution together.

"We have someone that can tell us you must do that but then we are free to decide and just need to control that. We have good guys in the race direction and they tried their best for everybody."

Rossi: Marquez apology attempt a PR-motivated "joke"

Valentino Rossi says Marc Marquez's attempt to apologise after their clash in the Argentina MotoGP race was “a joke” made for the sake of PR.

Marquez speared Rossi off the track at the Turn 13 right-hander while battling for sixth place late in the race – with Rossi crashing on the wet grass and Marquez subsequently assessed a 30-second penalty.

The reigning champion slowed and gestured towards Rossi immediately following the crash, and after the race he was seen walking down the pitlane to Yamaha's garage to talk to the Italian – but was turned away by Rossi's right-hand man Uccio Salucci.

Asked about Marquez visiting his garage, Rossi said: “It is a joke, it is PR.

“First of all, he doesn't have the balls to come to my office alone but he come like always with his manager [Emilio Alzamora], with Honda, in front of all the cameras.

“Because what is important for him is this, he don't care about you, he don't care.

“I don't want to speak with him, because I know that it is not true what he says to me.”

Pressed on whether he'd accept Marquez's apology if the Spaniard came up to him, Rossi said: “No, he don't come. He don't come.

“I hope that he is clever enough that he don't come.”

Team boss Alberto Puig, who was among the three Honda employees to follow Marquez and Alzamora to Rossi's garage, said it was the rider's idea to try to apologise.

“After the race, when Marc come to the pit, the first thing he said, by himself, was that he wanted to apologise, just to explain,” Puig said. “It was Marc's decision to go there. It says a lot about the rider.

“We went there, of course, and they were not happy, and they asked us to leave - which I can understand, believe me, because if this happens to your rider, you are not happy.

“But once again, this is racing, and what more can we do? We went to apologise, we feel sorry - but if they don't want to, there's nothing more we can do.

“And I think there's no more meaning to keep talking about it.”

While Puig stressed that he trusted Marquez's explanation and felt the clash was “a racing incident”, he hoped Rossi and Yamaha will eventually “understand” their rivals' point of view.

He said: “We just hope that they can understand and accept our apology - for something that we believe it was not a real mistake of the rider, but of course the consequence was that Valentino crashed, this we understand.”

Dovizioso admits Qatar win was an "obligation"

Andrea Dovizioso has admitted it was an “obligation” for him to win the opening round of the 2018 MotoGP season in Qatar after taking a narrow victory over Marc Marquez.

Ducati rider Dovizioso went into the season opener as favourite based on his pace in both pre-season testing and in practice, despite the fact he qualified only fifth. 

But the Italian had to win the hard way, after becoming embroiled in a late scrap with 2017 title adversary Marquez in the closing stages – winning by just 0.027s after repelling an assault by the Honda rider at the last corner.

Dovizioso conceded the pressure was on him going into the race, and said the fact the finish with Marquez was such a close-run thing was the “bad part” of his triumph.

“I did three second positions [in previous years in Qatar], so before I came here it was like an obligation to win here,” he told BT Sport.

“The bike worked very well so it was easier than in the past. Our front [tyre] worked very well, our bike and my riding style worked really good for the tyre.

“But the rear was very soft, softer than the softest last year. That’s why we didn’t push for three quarters of the race; that’s why when [Johann] Zarco was in front, nobody pushed.

“In the last laps when I wanted to make the difference, because I was controlling the race, I didn’t have the grip. I did a laptime, a low [1m]55s, but it wasn’t enough to create a gap.

“That is the bad part of the race, because it confirms Honda has improved the bike and Marc is there.”

Dovizioso remained cautious on his championship prospects, highlighting the need to back up his Qatar win with strong showings in the next two races in Argentina and the US.

“We just confirmed the feeling I had before the race, so it’s not news,” he added. “The next rounds will be very important for us to make a good result because I think it will be very difficult.

"It will be important to understand our level for the championship. For sure we have a little bit better bike than last year, we confirmed this winter and this weekend, but it’s not enough when there are so many fast riders.”

Marquez “wouldn’t have slept” without Dovizioso lunge

Marc Marquez said he wouldn't have been able to sleep on Sunday night if he hadn't made his ultimately unsuccessful last-corner move on Andrea Dovizioso in MotoGP's season opener in Qatar.

With five laps to go in the Qatar Grand Prix, Dovizioso passed Johann Zarco for the lead and Marquez quickly followed suit.

The reigning champion managed to keep up with his main 2017 title rival until the finish but was unable to make a move on Dovizioso until the very final corner of the race.

The move was reminiscent of his attempts in last year's Red Bull Ring and Motegi races and, just like on both of those occasions, Marquez had to settle for second.

Marquez said he had no regrets over his move, saying he wouldn't have slept if he hadn't tried to win.

"If [I don't try], I cannot sleep. I tried, was not possible. Now I can sleep well this night," said Marquez.

"Looks like we started the season like we finished [the previous one], it's like a deja vu. Last corner with Andrea, go in, go wide, he goes in, and wins the race.

"This will change in the future I hope but anyway I am very happy because today he deserved the victory, he was faster than us, he had more.

"My target was trying to control Andrea because he was the fastest one and my plan was when he passed Zarco I go behind, doesn't matter when and where.

"He overtook Zarco I just was behind him. I was in the limit, all in, sliding around the track but I was able to stay there.

"I was able to try in the last corner, happy for that and happy for these 20 points."

Marquez added that he is not worried about losing a late-race battle against Dovizioso for the third time as these duels have happened on the Spaniard's weaker tracks.

"I lost these last-lap last-corner [battles] in the worst circuits for us, Red Bull Ring, Motegi, here," he said.

"We struggled a lot this weekend with the front tyre, but anyway I chose the hard one. A lot of risk on the left corners but able to manage during the race.

"It is like a victory. It is not 25 points, but it is 20 points in a very difficult track for us. [If] it is like this in the future will be okay.

"On the strong circuits, on my favourite circuits, I need to attack there."

Dovizioso "glad" to be considered Qatar favourite

Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso says he’s “glad” to be considered the favourite for victory in the opening round of the new MotoGP season in Qatar.

Although Dovizioso did not top of any of the nine days of pre-season testing, his long run pace in last week’s final pre-season test at the Losail track has marked him out as one of the main contenders ahead of the curtain raiser on March 18. 

Reigning champion Marc Marquez estimated Dovizioso to be “six or seven tenths” faster after the second day of Qatar testing, expressing concern at the apparent ease with which his rival was able to set competitive laptimes.

“I’m glad so many people think that, and I’m very happy with how the test went,” said Dovizioso when asked about his perceived status as Qatar favourite.

“I knew we would be strong, but it went better than expected. All three days, in slightly different conditions, the times came easily, which is something that doesn’t happen often.

“We are certainly helped by the bike, which works well on this track and this year even a bit more, so we are more competitive than last year.”

New Suzuki "100 times better" than last year - Rins

Suzuki rider Alex Rins says the 2018 specification of the GSX-RR MotoGP bike is already “100 times better” than last year's version.

The Hamamatsu brand endured a torrid premier-class campaign in 2017, losing ground to MotoGP's leading manufacturers and failing to score a single podium with its all-new line-up of Andrea Iannone and rookie Rins.

Its new bike has looked a stronger proposition in pre-season testing thus far, in particular in the hands of Rins during the second test at Thailand's Buriram venue.

“We're leaving with a good base for the bike,” said Rins, who was no lower than seventh on all three Buriram test days and came up just 0.012s short of pace-setter Cal Crutchlow on the opening day.

“In this second test, we tried many things, and some of them we discarded because we are sure they do not work.

“Both in [the first test in] Malaysia and here [at Buriram] we have done a great job. We are taking lots of positives, and you can see that in both the rhythm and the laptimes we've achieved.

“We're never satisfied, so I can ask for a little more power, a little more acceleration. But I think we have a good bike, a bike that is 100 times better than last year.”

A perennial frontrunner in Moto3 and Moto2, Rins was handed a Suzuki factory ride for his graduation to the premier class in 2017, but could only finish 16th overall after injuries disrupted both his preparation for the season and the campaign itself.

He found strong form towards the end of the year, however, and has felt a further boost from his efforts the off-season.

“This has been the pre-season that I've worked the hardest,” Rins said. “Last year I was inactive throughout December and part of January.

“This winter, I was getting up early to go to the gym to train, and thanks to that I feel more prepared.

“Last year was really difficult for me, I suffer a lot with the injuries and everything. But now I'm on a good performance."

Honda settled on more "aggressive" engine, says Marquez

Marc Marquez has indicated that Honda has settled on continuing with its latest-spec MotoGP engine despite worries the new unit is overly "aggressive".

Both Marquez and teammate Dani Pedrosa had expressed concern over the new engine's characteristics despite setting the pace on the second and third days of testing in Thailand respectively.

Satellite LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow made it a clean sweep for the Japanese marque after topping the timesheets on the opening day of running at Buriram.

One pre-season test remains in Qatar later this month ahead of the first grand prix of the season at the same venue, and Marquez says it will be important to ensure the chosen engine also performs as well in cooler conditions as it has done in the heat of Malaysia and Thailand.

“[It] looks like we already decided the engine, it is the one we use here [at Buriram]," said reigning champion Marquez. "The latest spec that Honda brought to Malaysia [for the opening test].

“We wait for Qatar, because it will be a circuit we struggle more than this one. Here [at Buriram] and Malaysia we were working well, but I repeat the same.

“Engine character is still something we need to improve. We cannot forget we are at a very warm circuit and in Qatar in the night it's quite cold.

“There we will see how the character of the engine is, because it is still in some areas too aggressive, but we are working on that area.”

Pedrosa added: "Obviously it is a little bit different on the next track [Qatar] because it is the first time going into cooler conditions.

"So it will be the first time for us with the engine to go with this and it will be very interesting because we have the first experience with the engine in this hot place and now we need to set up for different situation."

Different atmosphere at Honda

Despite his reservations about the latest-spec engine, Marquez said he was satisfied with how well the Honda factory has reacted to his requests.

“The good thing, and [what] makes me happy, is the factory is working really quick this year," said the 25-year-old. "I feel the atmosphere is different and this is something important.”

Pedrosa also complimented the “positive” development inside the Honda team and the decision to bring in top management from Japan to the test.

“The feeling goes direct, the reaction timings are much better, you can understand a lot more of the things and you can have quicker answers as well," he explained.

"Honda is developing, and I think we are all working good in the team.”

Kawasaki will be even stronger in 2018, say riders

Kawasaki World Superbike riders Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes both reckon that their bike has improved for 2018, despite regulation changes intended to bunch up the field.

Following three years of domination by Rea, the series has made rules changes, addressing engine rev limits and concession parts in order to make the competition closer in the championship.

However, all of the four pre-season test days at Jerez and Portimao were topped by Kawasaki riders and Rea reckons the team "has taken a step forward".

Sykes claimed that, "unfortunately for the competition", the Kawasaki ZX-10R is now even quicker.

"We've really found a good set-up and I feel the winter testing has been really great and I found a little bit of my mojo," said the 2013 champion.

"Unfortunately for the competition, it seems we have enhanced our laptimes.

"This year we're getting slightly different technical regulations. Kawasaki, all the team and the technical sponsors have done a very good job of anticipating this.

"They've switched around the nature of the beast so to speak, we've lowered the RPM but Kawasaki compensated for this in other areas.

"I feel very much prepared for this new season."

Rea, who is gunning for his fourth successive title with Kawasaki this season, added: "We have taken a step forward with the bike even under the new regulations so I feel good.

"I probably had the best winter I've had for a long time, away from the bike as well, I am just really excited to get stuck in."

The 2018 WSBK season will kick off at Phillip Island, where Rea has failed to win only once as a Kawasaki rider, on 24th February.

Espargaro to sit out Thailand test after Sepang crash

KTM rider Pol Espargaro will not take part in this week's Thailand MotoGP test following his high-speed crash during the opening test of the year at Sepang.

Espargaro sat out the third day of the Sepang test last month following his 250km/h collision with the barriers on the outside at Turn 4 the previous day.

Although nothing was found to be broken in x-ray tests trackside and in Kuala Lumpur, subsequent examinations found that the Spaniard had developed a spinal disc herniation.

 

KTM said this was "probably" a result of the crash in Malaysia and that Espargaro underwent successful surgery on Monday night at the Hospital Universitari Dexeus in Barcelona.

As such, Espargaro will not take part in the upcoming test at the Buriram circuit starting on Friday, meaning KTM will have to rely on Bradley Smith and regular tester Mika Kallio at the Thai venue.

Pedrosa working on eliminating cold tyre weakness

Honda's Dani Pedrosa says he has been trying to replicate the cold and wet conditions he struggled with in MotoGP last season over the winter.

Pedrosa's small stature has often resulted in him struggling to warm up the tyres in the wet or in particularly cool conditions, as well as being unable to use the hardest tyre compounds.

This proved fatal to the Spaniard's title ambitions last year: although he took nine podiums (including wins at Jerez and Valencia), his best tally since 2014, he could still only finish fourth in the standings, 88 points behind Repsol Honda teammate Marc Marquez.

At Assen, Misano and Phillip Island Pedrosa scored a total of just nine points, although the low point of the year came at Motegi, where he retired after circulating several seconds a lap off the pace.

As such, the 32-year-old has been working hard to try and address this weakness over the winter.

“Dani has been working a lot this winter to try to improve his feelings in those difficult conditions," explained a source close to Pedrosa.

"He has recreated those conditions to get used to it and to avoid feeling unsafe or uncertain. These tyres are very sensitive and if the temperatures decrease, his performance does as well."

Pedrosa himself told Motorsport.com: “Last year I did some good races and I had moments where I got on the podium. I had some consistency to try to fight for the title.

"But then, because at some tracks I finished 12th or 14th, I ended up out of the fight.

“This winter we’ve been working on trying to get used to those conditions that are difficult. You will never have a MotoGP bike to train, or the same feelings that a bike like that can give you, but at least you try to find a solution.

"The key will be to see how we adapt to a difficult situation like that along with the team."

Pedrosa was fastest in the opening day of Sepang testing last month, and ended up second-fastest across the three days, less than two tenths slower than Ducati's Jorge Lorenzo.

Aprilia must focus on new engine, says Espargaro

Aprilia must turn its attention to updating its MotoGP engine after improving its chassis for the first winter test at Sepang, says Aleix Espargaro.

The Spanish rider finished up 13th-fastest on the final day of the test, 1.132 seconds behind pace-setter Jorge Lorenzo but eight tenths up on new teammate Scott Redding.

While praising Aprilia for the work it has put in the RS-GP chassis over the winter, Espargaro revealed the engine used for the opening test of 2018 was the same one he had at Valencia for post-season testing last year.

He added he expects a new, more powerful unit to be ready in time for the final test in Qatar.

“In terms of the chassis the bike has improved,” Espargaro told Motorsport.com.

“The bike from last year was good on braking, but when you released the brakes, you couldn’t put more weight on the front end and the only thing we did was destroy the front tyre carcass.

“With the current bike, we’ve changed a bit my position and when I release the brakes it turns more. That allows me to be more aggressive.

“This is an important year. I’m in the most mature moment of my career, I’m giving my 100 percent and I expect the same from Aprilia.

“They’ve done very well with the chassis and the new bike is exactly what I needed, but the engine is the same I had in Valencia.

“I expect them to bring to Qatar [testing] the new engine and I expect it to be more powerful.”

Espargaro said last year that Aprilia must “give everything” to improve its competitiveness or abandon its MotoGP project, following a spate of non-finishes caused by both unreliability and rider errors.

The former Suzuki rider said that while he accepts his part in what team boss Romano Albesiano described as a “depressing” 2017 points tally, any further mechanical drama would be “unacceptable”.

“I admit my fault after crashing so many times, but this season we have to fight to be in the top six or top eight at the end of the year,” he added.

“Any engine breakdown is no longer acceptable.”

Video: MotoGP's newest winglet controversy explained

Despite a ban implemented ahead of 2017, winglets remain a hot topic in MotoGP - and the newest specs of winged aero fairings introduced by the manufacturers have created fresh controversy.

New winglets were trialled by Ducati, Honda and Yamaha in the recent Sepang MotoGP test as the teams built up the mileage on their 2018 bikes.

In this clip from Motorsport.tv’s The Flying Lap, technical expert Craig Scarborough explains why a “wooly and unenforceable regulation” that could ban such aerodynamic devices does not do so.

Scarborough looks at the Ducati and Honda designs, which were accepted, and the Yamaha version that MotoGP technical director Danny Aldridge was unhappy with.

“They’ve got an ever-so slightly different set-up and it’s much more elongated along the length of the bike,” says Scarborough.

“Danny Aldridge was a little unhappy with this design and has asked Yamaha to make some changes.

“So, Yamaha have got a bit of work to do just to make sure that they are meeting exactly what they are expecting from these regulations.”

Lorenzo: Ducati still has "big margin" to improve

Jorge Lorenzo reckons that the Ducati GP18 can still be significantly improved despite the Spaniard topping the Sepang MotoGP pre-season test.

Lorenzo set an unofficial new lap record at the Malaysian circuit on the final day of the test with a time of 1m58.830s.

The Spaniard previously said that the new bike is closer to his riding style as the GP18 is improved in cornering, which has been the Ducati's weak point traditionally.

However, Lorenzo reckons the bike can still get a lot better, saying: "I think we still have quite a big margin to arrive to our maximum potential.

"This is a good sign because we finished first today and we still have some margin.

"This time as I told you the chassis improved, the engine is more smooth in the corners, probably still we have to improve in the high RPM but we will keep working, we will find a way.

"For this track [Sepang], new bike is better, [we can] be fast for one lap.

"We have to see for the race because we didn't have the chance to make a completely full simulation but feelings are very good.

"This bike gives more confidence and it is more to my riding."

Dovizioso: Ducati stronger than after first 2017 test

Andrea Dovizioso, who had a crash but still took fourth on Day 3 at Sepang, echoed Lorenzo's claim over the bike's improved cornering.

In addition, he said that the team is in a better position than after the first test of the previous season, which ended with Dovizioso only missing the title at the final round.

"For sure [we are in a better position] for a lot of reasons, first because we fought for the championship last year and this created in my mind and in the mind of my team a different approach of everything," he said.

"This is for sure positive but also the new bike is better than last year. Last year we were quite fast but we weren't the fastest these three days. The feeling was really good."

Espargaro "lucky" to escape 250 km/h wall crash unharmed

KTM rider Pol Espargaro feels "lucky" to have avoided a serious injury following a crash on Day 2 of the Sepang MotoGP pre-season test, which saw him hit the wall at over 250 km/h.

The Spaniard locked up while entering Turn 4 and fell from his bike. He hit the wall on the outside of the straight before rolling several times and ending up in the gravel.

Espargaro had x-ray tests in both the track clinic and in Kuala Lumpur and, while nothing was found to be broken, the Spaniard opted not to ride on the final day of the test.

"I feel lucky because I had a big crash yesterday," he said.

"I had a big locking on the straight. Just when I touched the brake I made a big lock and I went into the outside wall.

"It was really close, I hit with a speed more than 250 km/h and nothing really big happened and no broken bones or something like that.

"It's just physical pain everywhere, especially in the feet because I did many flips in the front and in the back.

"Honestly, I feel really lucky and even if today I cannot ride I feel lucky to be here and to be working."

Espargaro revealed that he still has some pain, and will go for further check-ups after the test in Barcelona.

In his absence, KTM test rider Mika Kallio took over Espargaro's testing duties for the final day of the test.

Espargaro said he was grateful to have Kallio as a test rider, who he "trusts 100 percent".

"I don't like that I cannot test the things that there is ready for the bike," he added.

"Anyway, KTM did very good strategy test here in Sepang, Mika was here already to ride and he was riding together with Bradley [Smith] and me.

"He [Kallio] is really sensitive, he is riding with my bike, testing my things and I trust him 100 percent.

"Honestly, I feel lucky because I'm healthy but also because I have good guys on the pitbox, working with my bike and checking what I couldn't so I am grateful for them."

Espargaro had had a promising start to the three-day Sepang test, finishing 10th on the first day.

Rossi open to one-year Yamaha MotoGP extension

Valentino Rossi is "optimistic" about signing a new MotoGP deal with Yamaha, but admits it could end up just being a one-year deal.

The Italian's contract will expire at the end of the 2018 season, as is the case for the majority of the MotoGP field - although his teammate Maverick Vinales has already committed to an extension until 2020.

Rossi, 38, has reiterated his previous claim that he wants to wait until the first few races of the season before making a decision on his future, but said that he is "positive" about signing a new contract - which could be for one or two years.

"Usually we speak always about two years, but it can be also one. Yamaha is open," Rossi said. "We will think and we will speak together to try to understand, but it can be one or two.

"I want to wait [to re-sign], especially for the test and maybe the first three races of the season.

"We are quite ready and I think we don't have to discuss a lot about the contract, so we are positive, optimistic.

"We are not in a rush and I think that we will say something after the test days."

Rossi said the main thing he has to decide is whether he still has the motivation to continue competing.

"The point is that I have to decide if I am still there, I have enough motivation to give 100 percent, to keep concentration and train every day.

"Or, I prefer to stay at home on the sofa to see the races on the television, or to work with the young riders. This is the decision that I have to make if I want to continue or not."

Following the Valencia post-season test at the end of last year, Yamaha also held a private test at Sepang, which it used to compare the 2016 and 2017 chassis and find solutions to the bike's notorious tyre wear issues.

Rossi added: "They were important tests, Valencia and especially Sepang because we could concentrate and compare the bikes '17 and '16, but also another two chassis that we use during the season.

"I am happy because me and also Maverick had the same idea and I think that we have good information to Yamaha for making the development. Now we have to see if we can have a better feeling.

"I think that will be important, the first test, because with the old bike in the first test I didn't feel very comfortable so I'm very curious to understand my feeling in Sepang."


Two-time MotoGP world champion Casey Stoner will return to action when he tests for Ducati at the Sepang circuit later this month.

The Australian, who last rode the Italian manufacturer's bike at Valencia in September last year, will join fellow test rider Michele Pirro in the three-day test, which takes place on January 24-26.

Although Ducati is yet to reveal its plans for the test, Stoner's programme could include riding the team's 2018 bike before Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo do so in the first official pre-season test that starts in Malaysia two days later.

Stoner, who claimed his first world title with Ducati in 2007, took part in the first test with the Italian maker's new bike last year.

Yamaha will also be present at the test with Katsuyuki Nakasuga and Kohta Nozane, while Honda could field former MotoGP star Stefan Bradl alongside test riders Hiroshi Aoyama and Takumi Takahashi.

Sylvain Guintoli will ride for Suzuki, Mika Kallio will be on testing duties for KTM and Matteo Baiocco rides for Aprilia.

Fitzgerald has Superbike podium in his sights

Fitzgerald has Superbike podium in his sights


Taranaki man Hayden Fitzgerald again has the superbike podium in his sights this season and, with the nationals set to kick off in Canterbury this weekend, he won’t have to wait long to see if that ambition is a realistic one.

There’s no reason to suggest that the Yamaha rider won’t be among the pace-setters at this year’s four-round New Zealand Superbike Championships, especially after his warm-up rides at the recent Motul Six-Hour at Hampton Downs and the just-completed three-round pre-nationals Suzuki Series.

The 34-year-old Fitzgerald teamed with fellow Yamaha stars Rogan Chandler, of Upper Hutt, and Hastings’ Jamie Maindonald to finish fifth overall, ahead of 25 other teams, at the third annual Motul Six-Hour in November.

Fitzgerald then finished fourth overall in the Formula One/Superbike class at the Suzuki Series, which wrapped up with the Cemetery Circuit races in Whanganui on Boxing Day. He finished third in each of the two F1 races on Boxing Day.

“This new Yamaha YZFR1 is a great bike and is very stable,” said father-of-one Fitzgerald, a kitchen joiner by trade.

“The front end of the bike feels very strong. I’ve been following other riders and I see them skittering all over the place as they head into corners at high speed. There’s nothing like that happening with me and I can put the bike anywhere I want to in corners. It’s very confidence-inspiring.

“I like the Christchurch track and I actually qualified on pole the last time I raced there, in 2014 I think. I took a couple of years off racing for personal, family reasons, but I remember the place well and I like it,” he said.

Fitzgerald rode the same bike in the Superstock class at last year’s nationals, finishing runner-up in the class despite contesting only half the series, on that occasion skipping both the South Island rounds.

“The bike is a year old, still stock standard and the engine has never even been opened up. That’s a real testimony to the reliability of it.”

After this weekend’s nationals series opener in Christchurch, the riders head to Timaru’s Levels International Raceway the following weekend, on January 13-14, before crossing Cook Strait and arriving at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park near Meremere for round three on March 3-4. The series wraps up at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park in Taupo on March 17-18.

Fitzgerald also has a liking for the Timaru track, although, he says, “there is one part of Levels I need to work on”.

“I think the characteristics of the bike will suit Levels though. I can position the bike wherever I want to mid-corner and that’s what you need to set up for the exit.

“I’m really starting to gel with this bike and I’m feeling confident for the season ahead.”

Superbike nationals kick off this weekend

Superbike nationals kick off this weekend

The 2018 New Zealand Superbike Championships kick off in Christchurch this weekend and so will begin the battle to find the nation’s best motorcycle road racers across half a dozen separate bike categories.

The nationals kick off at Mike Pero Motorsport Park, Christchurch, on January 6-7, with rounds to follow at Timaru’s Levels International Raceway on January 13-14 and at Hampton Downs Motorsport Park near Meremere on March 3-4, before wrapping up at Bruce McLaren Motorsport Park in Taupo on March 17-18.

Most eyes will no doubt focus on the premier superbikes class, where the winner of the recent Suzuki Series, Taupo’s Scott Moir, could be favoured, especially with 2017 superbike champion Tony Rees, of Whakatane, sidelined with injury.

Other frontrunners are likely to include Wellington’s 2016 national superbike champion Sloan Frost, Glen Eden’s Daniel Mettam, Whakatane’s rising star Mitchell Rees, Christchurch’s Alastair Hoogenboezem, Invercargill’s Jeremy Holmes, New Plymouth’s Hayden Fitzgerald and Tauranga’s Jay Lawrence, among others, but it will be equally intense in the other bike classes too.

Perhaps of prime interest will be to see if Christchurch’s Dennis Charlett can succeed in his bid to clinch the Superlites (Formula Three) title.

If he can win this class he will be the first rider to become a New Zealand champion in all the various bike classes.

He was national Lightweights champion in 2016, superbike champion in 2014 and 600cc supersports champion in 2012, adding to his 600cc sports production, 125GP, 250cc production class titles before that. He won the 650 Pro Twins class last season and all that remains for him to be New Zealand’s most successful all-around racer is to win the Superlites trophy.

But it won’t be easy for the 49-year-old Kiwi legend, with 23-year-old Aucklander Nathanael Diprose a first-timer in the Superlites class but already a proven title contender.

Diprose dominated the F3 class in the Suzuki Series in December, winning five out of six races, fending off attacks from equally-talented riders Gavin Veltmeyer, of Auckland, Whanganui’s Ashley Payne and Hamilton’s Jacob Stroud, and any of these men are also capable of taking the national crown.

Both Charlett and Diprose will be campaigning similar machines – basically they will be on Suzuki GSX-R600 bikes, with one of the four cylinders closed off to make them 450cc triples – and so it will all come down to pure riding talent and perhaps just a little luck.

Canterbury’s Charlett and Huia resident Diprose have not raced against one another before, so this weekend’s first showdown in Christchurch could set the tone for the series.

“Dennis will be on his home turf and I’m not so familiar with the place, but I think I’ll do okay,” said Diprose.

“I haven’t done much riding in the South Island before. I’ll certainly be happier on the North Island tracks. I set a lap record at Taupo (during the Suzuki Series) and I always feel good at Hampton Downs too.

“I raced this same machines as a 600cc bike last season and so I do feel comfortable on it. I’m familiar with the suspension, brakes and handling … it’s just got a little less power now and that’s not such a bad thing.”

All the various other classes – 600cc supersport, supersport 300 (previously known as lightweight production), 650 pro twins, 250cc production, 125GP and 250 Mono and sidecars – are overflowing with talent and it is almost impossible to pick a winner and perhaps even less so in the newly-created GIXXER Cup class, reserved for riders aged between 14 and 21 and all on identical Suzuki GSX150F bikes.

Also included as support classes in 2018 will be Formula One (basically last season’s superbike-spec bikes on harder-compound tyres), supersport 600 B, Superlite B, supersport 150 (at the Christchurch round only) and the Carl Cox Motorsport Hyosung Cup (at rounds three and four only).

Redding felt no emotional attachment to Pramac

Scott Redding admits he has had no emotional attachment to the Pramac Ducati team he has raced with for the last two MotoGP seasons.

The British rider moves to Aprilia for next year in place of his countryman Sam Lowes, having been pushed out of Pramac by Jack Miller, who switches from Marc VDS Honda.

Asked if he would miss riding for Pramac ahead of his final race for the Italian squad, Redding said: “I’m done, if I’m honest.

“I’ve had a great time here, the whole team has been really great to me, but there’s not really an emotional attachment like there was at [Marc] VDS.

“I’ve had two years here, two different crew chiefs [Giacomo Guidotti and Christian Pupulin], it’s been harder this year and I feel a little bit of love lost. It’s been harder for the guys to keep the spirit.

“Maybe a couple of guys [in the team] I’ve bonded with a bit more, but honestly I’m not really attached to them. I’m looking on to bigger, better things.”

Redding, who thought his MotoGP his career was finished before being approached by Aprilia to replace Lowes, added that he struggled with the handling of the Ducati GP16 from the early part of the season, making for an inconsistent year.
 

“I feel like I’ve been in a fight most of the year with the bike, with my hands tied behind my back and I’m just getting punched left, right and centre,” he said.

“At the beginning of this season I already struggled a lot with the bike. Then we came back a bit, had some good races then we struggled again then we come back a bit again and I struggled a lot with consistency with the bike.

“It’s not just me, it’s with a lot of riders. You’ll see some races they’re there then they disappear, but the team worked hard all year.

“There were moments we fought a little bit because a bit of motivation to continue when you don’t get a result is hard, and for us it was every weekend.”

Redding scored a best finish of seventh this season in the opening round in Qatar, matching it at the San Marino Grand Prix.

Finishing 14th in the riders’ championship, he failed to achieve his pre-season goal of being the top rider on the year-old GP16 Ducati, ending up behind Aspar rider Alvaro Bautista.

 

Yamaha: We would have had same issues with Lorenzo

Yamaha MotoGP team boss Lin Jarvis says the team would have still encountered the same problems that hobbled its title challenge this season even if it had kept Jorge Lorenzo as a rider.

After nine seasons at Yamaha, three-time premier class champion Lorenzo left to join Ducati at the start of the season, and was replaced by Suzuki convert Maverick Vinales.

However, Vinales and teammate Valentino Rossi struggled to overcome the rear grip issues of the 2017 bike, and ultimately could only finish third and fifth in the championship standings between them.

It marked the first time in 10 years that neither factory Yamaha rider finished inside the top two of the points.

Asked whether his team was "missing" Lorenzo in light of its struggles, Jarvis said keeping the Mallorcan rider on board would not have dramatically altered its fortunes.

"Do we miss him [Lorenzo] as such? No," said Jarvis. "Of course we had a long relationship with Jorge, he won three titles with us, so we have a lot of fond memories of Jorge and we still see him around the paddock.

"I think we would have encountered the same problems that we encountered with or without Jorge. I miss him on a social level, but I don’t think in terms of performance.

"Maverick has had a very good season with us, finished third, he’s making a step forward. Potentially he could have done better if we’d given him a better tool.

What we did with Jorge was great, but now we’re on a different path and that’s also fine."

Rossi: Lorenzo departure timing "a coincidence"

Likewise, Rossi said that he believes the problems of the 2017 M1 would have remained the same regardless of who his teammate was, despite the disparity to Vinales in the early part of the season.

"I thought about this, but I think it's a coincidence," said Rossi.

"Last year [in Valencia], Lorenzo went off [to Ducati] on Sunday and I got on the [new] bike on Tuesday, and I told him that I didn't think the bike was for me. However, Vinales was very fast.

"Perhaps if Lorenzo rode it, he would have agreed with me. But I don't think that it was for this reason [that we struggled].

"In my opinion, the original error was that this bike was made to solve problems which it did not solve."

 


Motegi MotoGP: Dovizioso snatches last-lap victory from Marquez

Andrea Dovizioso closed the gap on MotoGP points leader Marc Marquez after coming out on top against the reigning champion in an epic dice for glory in the wet at Motegi.

The race devolved into a two-way fight between this year's title protagonists, a reprise of their pulsating Red Bull Ring duel earlier the year that was won by Dovizioso.

Marquez looked to have the edge until suffering a major wobble at Turn 8 on the final lap, allowing Dovizioso to close and ultimately make the race-winning pass at Turn 11.

As in Austria, Marquez tried to fight back at the very last corner, but ran wide, allowing Dovizioso to score his fifth victory of the season by 0.249s from the reigning champion.

Danilo Petrucci enjoyed a lengthy spell in the lead early on, and held a lead as big as 1.9 seconds by the end of the fourth lap with the help of the extra-soft rear tyre.

But the Pramac Ducati rider couldn't keep up the pace, and after being reeled in, the Italian was passed in quick succession by Marquez and Dovizioso on laps 13 and 14 respectively.

With Petrucci now out of the picture, the gap between Marquez and Dovizioso hovered around the half-second mark until the latter made his first attack on lap 19, grabbing the lead at Turn 5.

Dovizioso led by eight tenths at the end of that lap, but Marquez rapidly closed in and took the lead back with three laps to go to set up another thrilling showdown.

The pair traded the lead twice more on the same lap, with Dovizioso making a bold move at Turn 6 only to lose the advantage three turns later, after which Marquez appeared to have the win sealed.

That was until his final-lap error, which allowed Dovizioso to close and pass to take the win, closing his deficit to Marquez in the standings to just 11 points.

Petrucci held on to third place, 10.308s down on Ducati stablemate Dovizioso at the chequered flag.

Suzuki pair Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins delivered the Hamamatsu marque its best result of the season in fourth and fifth, both passing Johann Zarco's Tech 3 Yamaha late on.

Jorge Lorenzo, who led the opening lap but soon found himself shuffled back to the lower end of the top 10 after being pushed out wide by Zarco, passed the Frenchman to take sixth, with Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) following through for seventh.

Zarco ended up eighth ahead of the factory Yamaha of Maverick Vinales. Valentino Rossi crashed out of ninth place on the sixth lap to complete a disappointing day for the Iwata brand.

Loris Baz (Avintia Ducati) scored the final top 10 place - overtaking Honda's Dani Pedrosa, who would retire from the race late on - ahead of Pol Espargaro on the best of the KTMs.

Katsuyuki Nakasuga was the best of the local contingent in 12th on his wildcard Yamaha, as Hiroshi Aoyama (Marc VDS) struggled to 18th and Kohta Nozane (Tech 3 Yamaha) was an early crasher.

Cal Crutchlow's nightmare weekend continued with two crashes in the race on his LCR Honda, while Aspar duo Alvaro Bautista and Karel Abraham were the remaining retirees, both falling.

Race results

Pos. # Rider Bike Laps Time/Gap
1 4 italy Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 24 47'14.236
2 93 spain Marc Marquez Honda 24 0.249
3 9 italy Danilo Petrucci Ducati 24 10.557
4 29 italy Andrea Iannone Suzuki 24 18.845
5 42 spain Alex Rins Suzuki 24 22.982
6 99 spain Jorge Lorenzo Ducati 24 24.464
7 41 spain Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 24 28.010
8 5 france Johann Zarco Yamaha 24 29.475
9 25 spain Maverick Viñales Yamaha 24 36.575
10 76 france Loris Baz Ducati 24 48.506
11 44 spain Pol Espargaro KTM 24 56.357
12 21 japan Katsuyuki Nakasuga Yamaha 24 1'00.181
13 22 united_kingdom Sam Lowes Aprilia 24 1'00.980
14 8 spain Hector Barbera Ducati 24 1'03.118
15 53 spain Tito Rabat Honda 24 1'03.514
16 45 united_kingdom Scott Redding Ducati 24 1'04.162
17 38 united_kingdom Bradley Smith KTM 24 1'06.271
18 7 japan Hiroshi Aoyama Honda 24 1'13.250
  19 spain Alvaro Bautista Ducati 21 3 laps
  26 spain Dani Pedrosa Honda 20 4 laps
  17 czech_republic Karel Abraham Ducati 19 5 laps
  35 united_kingdom Cal Crutchlow Honda 14 10 laps
  46 italy Valentino Rossi Yamaha 5 19 laps
  31 japan Kohta Nozane Yamaha 3 21 laps

Portimao WSBK: Rea closes on title with another win

Portimao WSBK: Rea closes on title with another win

Jonathan Rea has closed in on the 2017 World Superbike title after taking a second dominant victory of the weekend at Portimao, as Chaz Davies crashed from second.

Rea scythed through the field from ninth on the grid, running third by the end of the first lap and then passing Michael van der Mark and Leon Camier in five corners to grab the lead.

Aprilia's Eugene Laverty had a similarly strong start to jump into second and temporarily hold off Davies.

It took the Welshman four laps to get past Laverty and, by the time he made a move, Rea was leading by over three seconds.

Just like in Race 1, Davies was unable to make up ground on the leader, and eventually crashed at Turn 3 with three laps remaining.

Rea then extended an already-comfortable lead to win by 5.8s.

Another similarity to Saturday's race was Laverty losing pace in the closing stages, as he was passed by Van der Mark and, after a lengthy battle, Marco Melandri as well.

The aforementioned duo completed the podium, the former securing his maiden top-three finish with Yamaha, and the latter repeating his Race 1 result.

Laverty took fourth as Althea BMW's Jordi Torres was a further three seconds adrift in fifth.

Aprilia duo Lorenzo Savadori and Leandro Mercado were sixth and seventh respectively, with Puccetti Kawasaki stand-in Anthony West and Grillini Kawasaki's Ayrton Badovini next up.

WSBK debutant Takumi Takahashi finished 10th as the sole Honda rider in the race, as Stefan Bradl was declared unfit after injuring his wrist in his Race 1 crash.

Yamaha's Alex Lowes was also taken to the medical centre after a heavy crash in the Sunday race, while Barni Ducati rider Xavi Fores also fell from fifth early on.

Polesitter Camier (MV Agusta) dropped down to sixth in two laps before pulling over with a mechanical failure.

Rea has extended his championship lead to 145 points over Sykes with 150 available in the remaining three rounds.

Race results:

Pos. Rider Bike Time
1 united_kingdom Jonathan Rea Kawasaki -
2 netherlands Michael van der Mark Yamaha 5.834
3 italy Marco Melandri Ducati 9.201
4 ireland Eugene Laverty Aprilia 12.792
5 spain Jordi Torres BMW 15.943
6 italy Lorenzo Savadori Aprilia 19.359
7 argentina Leandro Mercado Aprilia 23.286
8 australia Anthony West Kawasaki 36.982
9 italy Ayrton Badovini Kawasaki 48.544
10 japan Takumi Takahashi Honda 50.000
11 czech_republic Ondrej Jezek Kawasaki 51.944
12 italy Alessandro Andreozzi Yamaha 56.705
13 spain Xavi Fores Ducati 1'07.518
14 italy Riccardo Russo Yamaha 1 lap
15 spain Roman Ramos Kawasaki 4 laps
Ret united_kingdom Chaz Davies Ducati -
Ret  united_kingdom Leon Camier MV Agusta
Ret  united_kingdom Alex Lowes Yamaha
Ret  italy Raffaele De Rosa BMW

 

Yamaha: Rossi-Vinales relationship "no problem" to manage


Yamaha: Rossi-Vinales relationship "no problem" to manage

Valentino Rossi’s relationship with Maverick Vinales is “completely different” to his fractious partnership with Jorge Lorenzo, says Yamaha team boss Lin Jarvis.

Vinales replaced Lorenzo alongside Rossi at the factory Yamaha squad at the start of this season, immediately proving to be on the pace during winter testing and the early rounds.

But, despite his competitiveness, the atmosphere between he and Rossi has remained largely cordial, with their only major on-track scrap this year coming for victory at Le Mans.

By contrast, Rossi and Lorenzo famously had a strained relationship during their first stint at Yamaha together in 2008-10, their respective crews operating either side of a dividing wall in the centre of the Japanese manufacturer’s pitbox.

Tensions flared up again in 2015 when the pair bitterly fought it out for the title, with Lorenzo coming out on top before signing to join Ducati for this season early in the following year.

Asked about the state of the relationship between Rossi and Vinales, Jarvis described it as being “very different” to the one the Italian had with Lorenzo.

“It’s very different compared to in the past, because they don’t have that experience of being in too many conflict situations together,” said Jarvis. “So it really is completely different.

“So far, it’s really been no problem at all to manage the two of them co-existing. The relationship is very good, we’ve not had any issues.

“We’ve seen a couple of times that they’ve been on the same line in training [practice], but this is part of every day in MotoGP.”

"One bullet left in the gun"

Vinales is now Yamaha’s only realistic hope for this year’s MotoGP title, after a motocross crash left Rossi on the sidelines for last weekend’s Misano race with a broken leg.

While the situation means the Iwata firm can now focus all its energies on one rider, like rivals Honda and Ducati with Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso respectively, Jarvis does not see this as a boost to Yamaha’s chances.

“I can’t see any advantage,” said Jarvis when asked being able to focus on a single rider was an advantage. “It’s better to have two bullets than one bullet.

“If something happens to Marc, Honda are in difficulty. Now we’ve seen something has happened to Vale. Imagine if Vale was our only bullet, we would be in difficulty.

“We’ve never doubted having two in the fight is better than one. A lot of people talk about one rider stealing points from the other… rubbish.

"Each rider is competing [against] each other, and for a manufacturer it’s better to have two bullets in the gun. That’s it. I don’t see, frankly, any real positive.”

Rossi will also miss next weekend's race at Aragon as his leg continues to heal, with Yamaha choosing Michael van der Mark as a stand-in.

 

Marc Marquez notched up his fourth victory of the MotoGP season after beating Danilo Petrucci in a pulsating wet-weather duel at Misano, drawing level with Andrea Dovizioso at the top of the standings.

Pramac Ducati rider Petrucci inherited the lead of the race on lap 7 of 28, as Ducati's Jorge Lorenzo - who made a lightning start from fifth on the grid to lead the opening lap - crashed out at Turn 6 while holding a comfortable lead.

Petrucci was never able to shake off Marquez, who managed to cling to the Italian's tail until the closing laps before passing for the lead into Turn 1 at the start of the final lap to seal victory.

Lorenzo was the class of the field in the early laps when conditions were at their worst, streaking away from the field with a succession of fastest laps, with Marquez's Honda slotting behind, with the second works Ducati of Dovizioso in third.

Petrucci meanwhile had worked his way up from eighth on the grid to fourth by the end of the third lap, passing struggling poleman Maverick Vinales for the place.

Two laps later, he'd picked off Dovizioso for third, and the following tour dispatched Marquez to move into second, albeit more than three seconds behind Lorenzo until the Spaniard's demise.

Dovizioso faded from the picture as the race entered its final phase, as Marquez upped the pressure on Petrucci - helped by a small moment for the Italian rider with five laps to go - before taking the lead on the last lap to deny Petrucci his maiden MotoGP win.

With Dovizioso coming home third, 10.5 seconds behind Marquez, it means the pair are now tied on 199 points - with Vinales 16 behind after taking fourth place.

Vinales had to contend with privateer Honda pairing of Jack Miller and Cal Crutchlow in the early laps, until the British rider crashed out at Turn 3 on the same lap as Lorenzo.

Miller couldn't live with Vinales' pace thereafter, and was eventually passed for fifth by Ducati wildcard Michele Pirro.

Tech 3 Yamaha rider Johann Zarco had been on course for seventh, only to run out of fuel on the final corner.

The Frenchman heroically pushed his satellite Yamaha down the length of the start/finish straight and over the line, but not before dropping down to 15th place.

That promoted Pramac Ducati's Scott Redding to seventh, ahead of Suzuki novice Alex Rins and the second Tech 3 bike of Jonas Folger. KTM's Bradley Smith picked up his best result of the season in 10th.

Crutchlow finished 13th after remounting his LCR Honda, one place ahead of the second works Honda of Dani Pedrosa, who struggled for tyre temperature and dropped towards the rear of the pack early on.

Aprilia duo Aleix Espargaro and Sam Lowes both crashed out of top 10 places, as did Avintia pair Loris Baz and Hector Barbera, while Suzuki's Andrea Iannone pulled into the pits with a reported case of arm pump.

Race results

Pos Rider Team Laps Gap
1 Marc Marquez Honda 28 50m41.565s
2 Danilo Petrucci Pramac Ducati 28 1.192s
3 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 28 11.706s
4 Maverick Vinales Yamaha 28 16.559s
5 Michele Pirro Ducati 28 19.499s
6 Jack Miller MVDS Honda 28 24.882s
7 Scott Redding Pramac Ducati 28 33.872s
8 Alex Rins Suzuki 28 34.662s
9 Jonas Folger Tech3 Yamaha 28 54.082s
10 Bradley Smith KTM 28 57.964s
11 Pol Espargaro KTM 28 1m00.440s
12 Alvaro Bautista Aspar Ducati 28 1m17.356s
13 Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda 28 1m35.588s
14 Dani Pedrosa Honda 28 1m38.857s
15 Johann Zarco Tech3 Yamaha 28 2m02.212s
16 Loris Baz Avintia Ducati 27 1 Lap
17 Karel Abraham Aspar Ducati 27 1 Lap
- Tito Rabat MVDS Honda 19 Retirement
- Andrea Iannone Suzuki 16 Retirement
- Sam Lowes Aprilia 15 Retirement
- Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 13 Retirement
- Hector Barbera Avintia Ducati 11 Retirement
- Jorge Lorenzo Ducati 6 Retirement

Misano MotoGP: Yamaha's Maverick Vinales takes pole



Yamaha rider Maverick Vinales took pole for MotoGP's San Marino Grand Prix after topping an intense final qualifying session at Misano in which Marc Marquez crashed.

Marquez had been the man to beat for much of the Misano weekend so far, and while he had to abort his first two hot laps in Q2, the Honda rider surged to the top of the times on his third attempt with a 1m32.636s.

Vinales, Yamaha's only factory rider this weekend in Valentino Rossi's absence, slotted into second, just 0.016s behind, the pair more than four tenths clear of the rest of the pack at the halfway point.

Ducati's Jorge Lorenzo managed to close that gap to just over a tenth when he went third at the start of his second run, but teammate and points leader Andrea Dovizioso knocked Marquez off the top spot when he posted a 1m32.616s with less than two minutes left on the clock.

Marquez looked set to retake provisional pole on his final lap, only to lose the front-end of his works RC213V at the fast Turn 13 right-hander and crash out, escaping injury.

Vinales, on the other hand, managed to eclipse Dovizioso's time by 0.173s on his last run with a 1m32.439s, enough to give him his fourth career MotoGP pole and his first since Mugello.

Marquez was forced to be content with a slot on the front row behind Dovizioso, the Italian impoving on his final run to finish 0.162s down on Vinales.

LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow heads the second row after narrowly beating Lorenzo to fourth, with Tech 3 Yamaha's Johann Zarco completing the top half-dozen.

Last year's Misano winner Dani Pedrosa could do no more than seventh, ahead of Pramac Ducati's Danilo Petrucci and the leading Aprilia of Aleix Espargaro.

Completing the top 10 was Q1 pacesetter Alvaro Bautista (Aspar Ducati), ahead of Ducati wildcard Michele Pirro and the second Aspar machine of Karel Abraham.

Folger and Miller get times scrapped

While it was Aspar duo Bautista and Abraham who progressed out of Q1, the two fastest times were set by Tech 3 Yamaha's Jonas Folger and Marc VDS Honda man Jack Miller.

Miller had grabbed the top spot off Bautista with a 1m33.548s, but this was deleted as the Australian exceeded track limits at Turn 11.

Moments later, Folger improved to a 1m33.287s to provisionally top the session, but he too was caught out by track limits, running wide at the final corner.

It means Miller and Folger will start 14th and 16th on the grid respectively for Sunday's race, with Avintia Ducati duo Hector Barbera and Loris Baz moving up to 13th and 15th places.

Pol Espargaro was KTM's top qualifier in 17th, despite a late crash at Turn 2, while Suzuki had to make do with 20th and 21st for Alex Rins and Andrea Iannone, who both lost laps to track limits violations.

Aprilia's Sam Lowes lines up 23rd and last after crashing early in the session at Turn 16.

Starting grid

Pos Rider Team Bike Time Gap
1 Maverick Vinales Yamaha Yamaha 1m32.439s -
2 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Ducati 1m32.601s 0.162s
3 Marc Marquez Honda Honda 1m32.636s 0.197s
4 Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda Honda 1m32.768s 0.329s
5 Jorge Lorenzo Ducati Ducati 1m32.792s 0.353s
6 Johann Zarco Tech3 Yamaha Yamaha 1m32.885s 0.446s
7 Dani Pedrosa Honda Honda 1m32.992s 0.553s
8 Danilo Petrucci Pramac Ducati Ducati 1m32.997s 0.558s
9 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia Aprilia 1m33.149s 0.710s
10 Alvaro Bautista Aspar Ducati Ducati 1m33.417s 0.978s
11 Michele Pirro Ducati Ducati 1m33.491s 1.052s
12 Karel Abraham Aspar Ducati Ducati 1m34.374s 1.935s
13 Hector Barbera Avintia Ducati Ducati 1m33.920s 1.481s
14 Jack Miller MVDS Honda Honda 1m33.933s 1.494s
15 Loris Baz Avintia Ducati Ducati 1m33.946s 1.507s
16 Jonas Folger Tech3 Yamaha Yamaha 1m33.987s 1.548s
17 Pol Espargaro KTM KTM 1m34.080s 1.641s
18 Tito Rabat MVDS Honda Honda 1m34.095s 1.656s
19 Scott Redding Pramac Ducati Ducati 1m34.132s 1.693s
20 Alex Rins Suzuki Suzuki 1m34.138s 1.699s
21 Andrea Iannone Suzuki Suzuki 1m34.148s 1.709s
22 Bradley Smith KTM KTM 1m34.507s 2.068s
23 Sam Lowes Aprilia Aprilia 1m35.659s 3.220s
Lausitz WSBK: Davies does the double from ninth

Ducati works rider Chaz Davies completed a clean sweep of the World Superbike round at Lausitzring, fighting his way through from ninth on the grid in the Sunday race.

Davies beat Kawasaki's Jonathan Rea for his second double victory of the season, having previously taken maximum points at Imola.

Starting eighth and ninth on the series' reshuffled Race 2 grid after their battle on Saturday, Rea and Davies needed little time to charge through the order, with the reigning champion third at the end of the opening lap.

On the second lap, Rea picked off the Barni Ducati of Xavi Fores for second and set out after Davies' factory teammate Marco Melandri, who had lined up on pole and maintained his lead off the line.

Rea reeled in Melandri and made the move for the lead at Turn 10 on the fifth lap, with Davies already following the pair close at that point.

Three laps later, Davies was through on Melandri on the inside of the sweeping Turn 9 right-hander, immediately setting out after Rea, who had not managed to break away.

Rea managed to defend successfully until lap 11, when Davies finally found a way past down the inside of Turn 4.

The Welshman's win looked in little doubt from that point on, despite spots of rain emerging late on.

Having slipped behind Davies, Rea was initially under pressure from Melandri, but the reigning champion saw off the challenge from the Italian to finish runner-up, 2.3s behind Davies.

Rea's teammate Tom Sykes was forced to settle for fourth after getting bogged down in the pack early in the race.

Sykes had started seventh and it took him until around halfway point to find his way past the battling group of Leon Camier, Lorenzo Savadori and Fores.

Once in clean air, he coasted home to finish fourth, 14s behind Davies.

Yamaha's Alex Lowes overtook MV Agusta rider Camier on the final lap to finish fifth, with Savadori a tenth off Camier in seventh.

Jordi Torres took eighth, right ahead of former Althea BMW teammate Markus Reiterberger, who was making his return to the series as a wildcard entry.

Fores slumped to 10th at the chequered flag, but did see off Yamaha's Michael van der Mark.

Honda works rider Stefan Bradl, who had skipped Saturday's race due to arm pain, was 13th.

In the standings, Rea leads Sykes by 70 points with four rounds to go, with Davies a further 35 back.

Race results:

Pos. # Rider Bike Gap
1 7 united_kingdom Chaz Davies Ducati 34'05.220
2 1 united_kingdom Jonathan Rea Kawasaki 2.290
3 33 italy Marco Melandri Ducati 4.388
4 66 united_kingdom Tom Sykes Kawasaki 14.167
5 22 united_kingdom Alex Lowes Yamaha 15.786
6 2 united_kingdom Leon Camier MV Agusta 16.023
7 32 italy Lorenzo Savadori Aprilia 16.138
8 81 spain Jordi Torres BMW 16.900
9 21 germany Markus Reiterberger BMW 20.355
10 12 spain Xavi Fores Ducati 24.066
11 60 netherlands Michael van der Mark Yamaha 24.885
12 36 argentina Leandro Mercado Aprilia 35.566
13 6 germany Stefan Bradl Honda 36.772
14 40 spain Roman Ramos Kawasaki 38.508
15 35 italy Raffaele De Rosa BMW 39.613
16 37 czech_republic Ondrej Jezek Kawasaki 1'00.744
17 34 italy Davide Giugliano Honda 1'01.401
18 86 italy Ayrton Badovini Kawasaki 1'01.531
19 55 italy Massimo Roccoli Yamaha 1'27.642
Ret 88 switzerland Randy Krummenacher Kawasaki -
Ret 84 italy Riccardo Russo Yamaha -
Ret 19 poland Pawel Szkopek Yamaha -
Ret 50 ireland Eugene Laverty Aprilia -

 

Rossi released from hospital after surgery

MotoGP star Valentino Rossi has been discharged from hospital and will continue his rehabilitation from injury at home.

Rossi had suffered tibia and fibula fractures in his right leg on Thursday as a result of a motocross training accident.

His leg was successfully operated on at the Ospedali Riuniti in Ancona, and after staying at the hospital for a further day, the Italian was released on Friday morning.

“I spent a good night, I slept, and this morning I felt good. The doctors visited me and they gave me the OK to go home, where I'll be able to rest even better,” Rossi said.

“I will begin the rehabilitation as soon as possible and we‘ll see how my body reacts before making any decisions.

“I will do everything I can to get back as soon as possible.”

Dr Raffaele Pascarella, who operated on the MotoGP legend, said Rossi will require a rest period of “30 to 40 days”, which covers the next two races at Misano and Aragon.

Rossi is currently fourth in the MotoGP standings, 26 points behind Ducati's championship leader Andrea Dovizioso.

 

Andrea Dovizioso scored his and Ducati's third win of the MotoGP season at the Red Bull Ring, seeing off Honda's Marc Marquez after a tense head-to-head duel.

The pair emerged as the leading contenders for victory after a frantic start to the Austrian Grand Prix, with Dovizioso ultimately prevailing by 0.176 seconds despite a desperate last-corner lunge from Marquez.

Marquez converted his pole position into a lead at the start, but the reigning champion had no answer to the straightline speed of Jorge Lorenzo's Ducati.

Lorenzo cleared team-mate Dovizioso at Turn 1 and passed Marquez on the next straight, assuming control of the race.

As Marquez fended off Dovizioso, Lorenzo extended an early lead of a second, but was soon reeled in by Marquez when the order stabilised.

Marquez was close enough to challenge for the lead by the eighth lap, but as he ran wide in Lorenzo's wheeltracks into the Remus right-hander at the top of the hill, Dovizioso relegated him to third.

That proved only a temporary setback though as Marquez quickly reclaimed second before forcing compatriot Lorenzo wide at Remus.

Dovizioso made it three-wide for the lead on the following straight and was briefly ahead at Turn 4, but subsequently ran wide and handed first back to Marquez.

Lorenzo faded thereafter, but Dovizioso managed to stick within a couple of tenths of Marquez and coasted past again when the reigning champion erred at Remus on lap 18 of 28.

Marquez retook the spot shortly thereafter at Turn 7, but again couldn't shake Dovizioso - who slipstreamed past on the main straight with seven laps to go.

The pair traded the lead several times on that lap, with Marquez unable to make a move stick and easing the pressure on the Ducati for a few laps afterwards.

With Dovizioso repeatedly blocking off Marquez's favoured overtaking spot - Turn 7 - in the final minutes, their battle came down to the very last corner of the last lap.

Marquez lunged down the inside of the Italian, forcing both wide, but Dovizioso managed a better exit and clung on to win.

The podium was completed by Marquez's team-mate Dani Pedrosa, who fought his way through the pack and picked off Valentino Rossi and Johann Zarco in one move before finding his way past Lorenzo.

The Marquez-Dovizioso duel briefly allowed Pedrosa to join the scrap, but he was unable to maintain that pace and finished 2.485s off.

Lorenzo held on to fourth from Tech3's Zarco and the Yamaha works pair of Maverick Vinales and Rossi, whose both had costly off-track excursions at Turn 1.

Alvaro Bautista was a lonely eighth for Aspar Ducati, with Avintia Ducati's Loris Baz ninth.

KTM wildcard Mika Kallio was a standout performer, beating Suzuki's Andrea Iannone to 10th and very nearly passing Baz as well.

The other KTMs did not pick up any points, with Pol Espargaro ruled out early after a startline collision.

Petrucci was another to retire, with he and Tech3 Yamaha rider Jonas Folger returning early to the pits, while Marc VDS Honda's Jack Miller crashed out at Turn 9.

Result - 28 laps

Pos Rider Team Bike Gap
1 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Ducati 39m43.323s
2 Marc Marquez Honda Honda 0.176s
3 Dani Pedrosa Honda Honda 2.661s
4 Jorge Lorenzo Ducati Ducati 6.663s
5 Johann Zarco Tech3 Yamaha Yamaha 7.262s
6 Maverick Vinales Yamaha Yamaha 7.447s
7 Valentino Rossi Yamaha Yamaha 8.995s
8 Alvaro Bautista Aspar Ducati Ducati 14.515s
9 Loris Baz Avintia Ducati Ducati 19.620s
10 Mika Kallio KTM KTM 19.766s
11 Andrea Iannone Suzuki Suzuki 20.101s
12 Scott Redding Pramac Ducati Ducati 25.523s
13 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia Aprilia 26.700s
14 Karel Abraham Aspar Ducati Ducati 27.321s
15 Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda Honda 28.096s
16 Alex Rins Suzuki Suzuki 32.912s
17 Hector Barbera Avintia Ducati Ducati 34.112s
18 Bradley Smith KTM KTM 36.423s
19 Tito Rabat MVDS Honda Honda 42.404s
20 Sam Lowes Aprilia Aprilia 52.492s
- Jack Miller MVDS Honda Honda Retirement
- Danilo Petrucci Pramac Ducati Ducati Retirement
- Jonas Folger Tech3 Yamaha Yamaha Retirement
- Pol Espargaro KTM KTM Retirement
Laguna Seca WSBK: Davies beats the Kawasakis for comeback win

Ducati rider Chaz Davies took victory on his World Superbike comeback from injury in the first race of the weekend at Laguna Seca, overcoming Kawasaki duo Jonathan Rea and Tom Sykes.

Davies missed the second race of the previous round at Misano three weeks ago, having suffered a back injury in a crash with points leader Rea, and was only cleared to race at Laguna Seca on Thursday.

But the Welshman suffered no ill effects at the Californian track, qualifying second to Sykes and holding the same position behind the Kawasaki rider in the early laps of the race, with Rea forming a breakaway trio just behind.

What turned out to be the decisive move of the race arrived on lap 12 of 25 at the Corkscrew, as Davies muscled his way by Sykes to grab the lead.

Rea didn't require a second opportunity to pass his teammate either, taking advantage of Davies' aggressive move to slip into second at Rainey Curve.

From there, the race boiled down to a two-way contest between Davies and Rea, with the latter coming very close to making a pass with seven laps left.
 

But then Davies was able to find the pace he needed to stretch a small gap, and went on to take his fourth win of the season by 1.2 seconds.

Sykes completed the podium in third, another five seconds behind the lead duo and some 12 seconds ahead of the second Ducati of Marco Melandri, who lost touch with the top three early on.

Milwaukee Aprilia's Eugene Laverty held fifth for the opening part of the race, but a crash at Turn 3 on the 11th lap gave Barni Ducati rider Xavi Fores a clear run to the place.

Leon Camier (MV Agusta) was sixth, followed by Jordi Torres (Althea BMW) and the best of the Yamaha riders, Michael van der Mark. The Dutchman's teammate Alex Lowes was an early crasher.

Leandro Mercardo (Ioda Aprilia) and Lorenzo Savadori (Milwaukee Aprilia) completed the 10, ahead of lead Honda rider Stefan Bradl.

On his World Superbike debut, local man Jake Gagne - replacing late compatriot Nicky Hayden - completed the points scorers on the second works Honda in 15th place.

Race results:

Pos. # Rider Bike Time/Gap
1 7 united_kingdom Chaz Davies Ducati 35'14.812
2 1 united_kingdom Jonathan Rea Kawasaki 1.202
3 66 united_kingdom Tom Sykes Kawasaki 5.798
4 33 italy Marco Melandri Ducati 17.574
5 12 spain Xavi Fores Ducati 21.159
6 2 united_kingdom Leon Camier MV Agusta 23.016
7 81 spain Jordi Torres BMW 31.986
8 60 netherlands Michael van der Mark Yamaha 32.933
9 36 argentina Leandro Mercado Aprilia 35.936
10 32 italy Lorenzo Savadori Aprilia 36.912
11 6 germany Stefan Bradl Honda 44.961
12 40 spain Roman Ramos Kawasaki 45.203
13 35 italy Raffaele De Rosa BMW 45.901
14 15 san_marino Alex de Angelis Kawasaki 46.043
15 45  Jake Gagne Honda 46.805
16 86 italy Ayrton Badovini Kawasaki 54.463
17 88 switzerland Randy Krummenacher Kawasaki 56.989
18 96  Jakub Smrz Yamaha 1'06.108
19 37 czech_republic Ondrej Jezek Kawasaki 1'11.766
Ret 50 ireland Eugene Laverty Aprilia 15 laps
Ret 22 united_kingdom Alex Lowes Yamaha 19 laps

 

Davies “intent” on Laguna Seca comeback after crash

World Superbike star Chaz Davies has been declared fit to race in this weekend's Laguna Seca round after his injuries in a crash with Jonathan Rea at Misano.

Ducati rider Davies was leading the Saturday race at Misano, defending from Rea, until the Welshman fell off his bike on the final lap.

He slid in front of Rea's Kawasaki, who was unable to avoid him and hit him in the back, causing Davies a fracture of the transverse process of the third lumbar vertebra and a contusion of the left thumb.

Davies sat out the Sunday race at Misano but visited a specialist after the weekend and announced his plan to return for the following Laguna Seca round.

He has been undergoing physiotherapy since then, and was cleared to race by the Californian track's medical staff on Thursday.

Davies is currently the best non-Kawasaki rider in the WSBK standings, albeit 111 points behind Rea.


Gagne joins Honda for Laguna Seca WSBK debut  

Gagne joins Honda for Laguna Seca WSBK debut

MotoAmerica rider Jake Gagne will make his World Superbike debut this weekend at Laguna Seca, taking the place of his late compatriot Nicky Hayden at the works Honda squad.

As previously reported by Motorsport.com, 24-year-old Gagne will ride the Ten Kate-run Honda team's second Fireblade, the same machine he rides in MotoAmerica, at the Californian track.

It will mark the first occasion Honda has entered a second bike since Hayden's passing, with Stefan Bradl having competed in the most recent races at Donington Park and Misano as the team's sole rider.

“For me this is a dream come true and a huge honour to get an opportunity to race in the World Superbike Championship with such a prestigious team," said Gagne.
 

"This is a huge opportunity and I am going to do everything I can to do the best job possible and learn as much as I can.

"The loss of Nicky was very difficult for us all but I know he will be watching over us and I hope I can make him proud.

"Laguna Seca will always be a very special track for him and I’m honoured to get out there in front of our home crowd and show what I can do."

Honda team boss Ronald ten Kate added: “Jake is a young and talented racer who already knows the Fireblade quite well from racing in MotoAmerica and has raced – and won – many times at Laguna Seca.

"We are looking forward to welcoming him within the team and giving him the best possible support for his World Superbike debut. I’m confident he will enjoy the experience and will do his very best in front of his home crowd."

 

Sachsenring MotoGP: Marquez wins as home hero Folger stars



Marc Marquez retook the MotoGP points lead with his second win of the season in the German Grand Prix, but he was made to work for it by local hero Jonas Folger, who took a sensational second place.

Marquez led from pole early on, but had to play second fiddle to a charging Folger on his Tech 3 Yamaha for a handful of laps early on, until the German outbraked himself and allowed him back in front.

Another mistake at Turn 1 from Folger looked to have settled the lead battle, but Folger continued to hound Marquez until the Honda rider got the hammer down with three laps to go.

Story of the race

From pole position – the eighth of his career here – Marquez led the race to Turn 1 ahead of Dani Pedrosa’s Honda, the fast-starting Ducati of Jorge Lorenzo, Folger and Danilo Petrucci (Pramac Ducati). Valentino Rossi was up to sixth from ninth on the grid on the best of the works Yamahas.

Folger grabbed third from Lorenzo on lap three, with Petrucci following suit a tour later.

The fastest man on the track, Folger then passed Pedrosa for second, and set his sights on leader Marquez – slicing past him on lap five and lead much to the home crowd’s delight.

But his lead didn’t last for too long, as he ran wide at Turn 1 and Marquez repassed him on lap 10.

Further back, Rossi snatched fifth from Lorenzo, with erstwhile points leader Andrea Dovizioso – from 10th on the grid – doing likewise. Rossi then outbraked Petrucci for fourth at Turn 1 on lap nine.

Following his lacklustre qualifying, which resulting in him starting 11th, Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales rose into the top six just before half distance.

At the front, Folger shadowed Marquez, while Pedrosa followed at a distance. Rossi led the chasing pack, with Dovizioso and Vinales on his tail.

Folger made another mistake under braking at Turn 1, giving Marquez a brief respite, but came back at Marquez again in the closing stages.

But Folger couldn't keep up the pace in the final few laps, and ended up 3.3 seconds behind Marquez at the flag - with Pedrosa another eight behind in third place.

Behind the leading three, the canny Vinales picked off Dovizioso and then Rossi to take fourth with 11 laps to go, while an impressive Alvaro Bautista (Aspar Ducati) grabbed sixth from Dovizioso with eight laps to go.

Aleix Espargaro also passed Dovizioso to finish seventh for Aprilia, with a surprisingly vapid Johann Zarco (Tech 3 Yamaha) and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) ninth and 10th respectively.

Lorenzo, who gambled on soft tyres all around, slumped outside the top 10 by half distance. He finished 11th, a spot ahead of Petrucci, who also faded badly.

KTM duo Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith, along with Marc VDS Honda's Jack Miller, completed the points.

Sam Lowes crashed his Aprilia at Turn 7, and Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone suffered a nasty fall at Turn 12 while fighting Lorenzo for 11th.

Hector Barbera (Avintia Ducati) was disqualified for failing to serve a ride-through penalty after jumping the start.

Race results:

Pos. No. Rider Bike Time/Gap
1 93 spain Marc Marquez Honda 40'59.525
2 94 germany Jonas Folger Yamaha 3.310
3 26 spain Dani Pedrosa Honda 11.546
4 25 spain Maverick Viñales Yamaha 14.253
5 46 italy Valentino Rossi Yamaha 14.980
6 19 spain Alvaro Bautista Ducati 16.534
7 41 spain Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 19.736
8 4 italy Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 20.188
9 5 france Johann Zarco Yamaha 21.138
10 35 united_kingdom Cal Crutchlow Honda 24.210
11 99 spain Jorge Lorenzo Ducati 25.659
12 9 italy Danilo Petrucci Ducati 31.540
13 44 spain Pol Espargaro KTM 32.179
14 38 united_kingdom Bradley Smith KTM 36.453
15 43 australia Jack Miller Honda 37.771
16 36 finland Mika Kallio KTM 37.852
17 17 czech_republic Karel Abraham Ducati 39.323
18 53 spain Tito Rabat Honda 41.190
19 76 france Loris Baz Ducati 59.850
20 45 united_kingdom Scott Redding Ducati 1'01.664
21 42 spain Alex Rins Suzuki 1'01.695
Ret 29 italy Andrea Iannone Suzuki 6 laps
Ret  22 united_kingdom Sam Lowes Aprilia 18 laps
DQ 8 spain Hector Barbera Ducati  

Marquez grabs pole after Vinales clash

Honda’s Marc Marquez will start the German Grand Prix from pole position, despite a bizarre on-track spat with Yamaha rival Maverick Vinales.

The Q2 shootout began on a soaking-wet track surface, but the heavy clouds that preceded it quickly broke up – allowing the times to tumble as the session progressed.

Danilo Petrucci was the early pacesetter, having progressed from Q1 with extra laps under his belt and being boosted by re-signing for Pramac Ducati for 2018.

Marquez topped him with two minutes to go, by just 0.019s. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) was best of the rest at this stage, but half a second shy.

Marquez extended his P1 advantage on his final lap, a 1m27.302s putting him 0.16s faster than Petrucci.

Pedrosa stayed third, 0.647s off the pace, ahead of Cal Crutchlow’s LCR Honda, home hero Jonas Folger (Tech 3 Yamaha) and Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo.

On the third row, Pol Espargaro grabbed seventh for KTM, ahead of brother Aleix on his Aprilia. Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi’s last lap was only good enough for ninth, 1.2s off the pace.
 

Points leader Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) will start 10th, one place ahead of Maverick Vinales, who suffered another poor qualifying session on his Yamaha.

Marquez and Vinales had an on-track spat midway through the session, where Vinales dived under him through one corner, and Marquez made hefty contact into the side of his rival at the next bend.  

The two then had a heated discussion after the session as they prepared for practice starts, with Vinales appearing to be the more angry of the two about it.

Petrucci tops Q1

Petrucci managed to produce a 1m27.688s to top Q1 just before the rain poured heavily, ahead of a last-gasp flyer from Pol Espargaro, just 0.007s slower.

Jack Miller will start 13th, having been in the Marc VDS Honda pits when Espargaro toppled him, ahead of Loris Baz (Ducati), KTM’s Bradley Smith, Andrea Iannone (whose Suzuki ended its session in the Turn 1 gravel) and KTM tester Mika Kallio.

Assen poleman Zarco was nowhere near progressing from Q1, and will start down in 19th on his Tech 3 Yamaha.

Q2 results

Pos. # Rider Bike Laps Time Gap
1 93 spain Marc Marquez Honda 10 1'27.302  
2 9 italy Danilo Petrucci Ducati 10 1'27.462 0.160
3 26 spain Dani Pedrosa Honda 10 1'27.949 0.647
4 35 united_kingdom Cal Crutchlow Honda 10 1'28.089 0.787
5 94 germany Jonas Folger Yamaha 10 1'28.210 0.908
6 99 spain Jorge Lorenzo Ducati 11 1'28.383 1.081
7 44 spain Pol Espargaro KTM 10 1'28.402 1.100
8 41 spain Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 10 1'28.526 1.224
9 46 italy Valentino Rossi Yamaha 9 1'28.669 1.367
10 4 italy Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 10 1'28.703 1.401
11 25 spain Maverick Viñales Yamaha 10 1'28.823 1.521
12 19 spain Alvaro Bautista Ducati 10 1'28.968 1.666

Q1 results

Pos. # Rider Bike Laps Time Gap
1 9 italy Danilo Petrucci Ducati 10 1'27.688  
2 44 spain Pol Espargaro KTM 10 1'27.695 0.007
3 43 australia Jack Miller Honda 8 1'27.967 0.279
4 76 france Loris Baz Ducati 10 1'27.979 0.291
5 38 united_kingdom Bradley Smith KTM 10 1'28.015 0.327
6 29 italy Andrea Iannone Suzuki 10 1'28.103 0.415
7 36 finland Mika Kallio KTM 10 1'28.285 0.597
8 8 spain Hector Barbera Ducati 10 1'28.404 0.716
9 5 france Johann Zarco Yamaha 9 1'28.444 0.756
10 17 czech_republic Karel Abraham Ducati 10 1'28.625 0.937
11 22 united_kingdom Sam Lowes Aprilia 9 1'28.659 0.971
12 42 spain Alex Rins Suzuki 10 1'29.504 1.816
13 45 united_kingdom Scott Redding Ducati 10 1'29.578 1.890
14 53 spain Tito Rabat Honda 10 1'30.028 2.340

 

MotoAmerica rider Jake Gagne is set to replace the late Nicky Hayden in the Honda World Superbike team for the upcoming Laguna Seca round, Motorsport.com has learned.

The Ten Kate squad has only run a single bike for Stefan Bradl at the most recent Donington Park and Misano rounds, following Hayden’s passing in a cycling accident last month.

However, sources within the Dutch-based team have indicated it will be back at full strength for July’s Laguna Seca races, where 24-year-old Californian Gagne is poised to make his World Superbike debut on a works Honda Fireblade.

Gagne, who made a brace of Moto2 starts in 2011, is no stranger to Honda Superbike machinery, as he campaigns an American Honda-backed CBR1000RR with backing from Genuine Broaster Chicken in the MotoAmerica series.

The former Red Bull Rookies Cup and AMA Superstock 1000 champion lies 10th in the MotoAmerica standings after eight races, 109 points behind series leader and former MotoGP race winner Toni Elias.

MotoGP tyre supplier Michelin will bring an extra tyre compound to this weekend's German Grand Prix at the recently-resurfaced Sachsenring.

The French firm wanted to offer riders a maximum of three options of both rear and front tyres in the majority of the races of this season, but the fact the German venue was resurfaced over the winter has forced a change of plans.

Local noise restrictions mean a MotoGP bike cannot be tested at the Sachsenring outside of a GP weekend, and because of that Michelin will arrive there without any grip data or tyre wear information.

Therefore, riders will have four different compounds to choose from this weekend for the front and rear: a soft compound, two slightly different types of medium and a hard.

To cope with the requirements of the track, all of them will feature the same construction and will be asymmetric, with the left-hand side having a considerably harder compound.

Michelin will also bring it compulsory 'safety tyre' to Germany, which is demanded by the rules and is harder than the four it intends to race with. This will only be used in an extreme situation.

MotoGP points leader Andrea Dovizioso says the risk of going for a third straight win at Assen was too high, admitting to backing off in the closing stages.

The Italian rider, who finished fifth in the Netherlands, now leads the championship by four points from Maverick Vinales, who crashed out for the second time this year.

Following back-to-back wins at Mugello and Barcelona, Dovizioso appeared to be in a position to fight for a third victory on the trot late in the race, surging from ninth on the grid to join the leading group with 10 laps remaining. 

But the arrival of light rain in the closing stages meant the 31-year-old started to take fewer risks, and he was ultimately beaten by Honda duo Marc Marquez and Cal Crutchlow in an extremely tight battle for the final podium spot.

“Four laps to the end it started to rain, and I started to think about the championship,” said Dovizioso, the first Ducati rider to lead the championship since Casey Stoner in 2009.

“It was impossible to understand if the corners were wet, and which corners were more wet, so the risk was too high.

“It’s normal Valentino [Rossi] and Danilo [Petrucci] were able to take more risks because of the situation they have in the championship, I had to slow down and I couldn’t fight for the victory.”

Asked if he now considered the championship to be a realistic aim, Dovizioso said: “Like I said before this weekend, I always race thinking about the championship.

“For sure after the last two races, we confirmed we can fight, so this is a good motivation to bring on the next races. But like today, it was really tricky conditions and there was no reason to crash.

“In this championship, it’s so important to not make a zero. Unfortunately we already did it [in Argentina], it wasn’t my fault, and this will affect the championship.

“Sometimes, like today, you don’t take all the risks you could take.”

Marquez would have “signed” for result

Reigning champion Marquez also admitted he was not pushing to the maximum, eager to avoid a third non-finish of the campaign, but was delighted to leave Assen only 11 points behind new leader Dovizioso.

“I was risking a lot, but when Valentino passed me I was comfortable enough behind him until the rain came,” said Marquez.

“I knew Vinales was out of the race. I could have risked it all, but I hedged my bets and risked it only in the key moments.

“We only think about the leader [of the championship], and if on Thursday I was told I would leave here only 11 points behind, I would have signed.

“The championship is very long, we are not even halfway and look at all that has happened. I’ve already played two ‘jokers’ this year and this weighs heavily.”

Valentino Rossi scored his first victory of the 2017 MotoGP season in the Dutch TT at Assen by the narrowest of margins after a thrilling battle in tricky weather conditions.

Yamaha's Rossi scored his first win in over a year by beating the Pramac Ducati of Danilo Petrucci by just 0.063s - but it wasn't all good news for Yamaha, as Maverick Vinales crashed out spectacularly.

From his first-ever pole position, Tech 3 Yamaha's Johann Zarco led the quicker-starting Honda of Marc Marquez into Turn 1, with Rossi third from Petrucci and Alvaro Bautista (Aspar Ducati). Zarco's teammate Jonas Folger dropped to the back after straight-lining the Esses on the opening tour.

Zarco was on soft tyres front and rear, as opposed to Marquez on mediums all round, while Rossi had a hard rear to go with a medium front. Marquez had a huge moment in the early stages but stayed upright.

The top four of Zarco, Marquez, Rossi and Petrucci pulled clear of the rest of the field, with another four-bike battle developing for fifth between Pramac's Scott Redding, points leader Vinales, who started down in 11th, Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso and Bautista.

Rossi moved past Marquez, and then overtook Zarco just before half distance for second. Zarco fought back as Rossi ran slightly wide, touching the rear of Rossi at the apex – which dropped Zarco back behind Marquez and Petrucci.

Shortly after his teammate took the lead, Vinales crashed out at the final chicane. That handed fifth to Dovizioso – now poised to take the championship lead after Vinales's exit – ahead of LCR Honda's Cal Crutchlow, Bautista and Redding. Bautista crashed out at Turn 5.

Petrucci caught Marquez napping for second with 10 laps remaining – as light rain began to fall two laps later.

Dovizioso charged past a struggling Zarco and Marquez to take third, as Petrucci put pressure on Rossi out front. Dovizioso and Petrucci swapped second repeatedly as a snarling, four-bike battle for the lead unfolded in moist and tricky conditions.

Petrucci grabbed the lead from Rossi with five laps to go, as Marquez retook third from Dovizioso after the Italian ran wide at Turn 1. That split the pack into two battles: Petrucci versus Rossi, and Dovizioso versus Marquez, with Crutchlow making it a three-way battle for the final podium spot.

Rossi grabbed the lead back with three laps to go, and was helped when the chasing Petrucci was delayed by backmarkers Hector Barbara and Alex Rins over the remaining laps. Despite this, Petrucci was only denied by 0.063s.

A charging Crutchlow picked off Dovizioso and Marquez ahead of the final lap. Marquez battled back, just beating Crutchlow by a whisker on the line.

Dovizioso finished fifth, some 18 seconds ahead of last year's winner Jack Miller (Marc VDS Honda) in sixth, while Karel Abraham took seventh on the surviving Aspar Ducati.

Loris Baz (Avintia Ducati), Andrea Iannone (Suzuki) and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) completed the top 10.

Zarco bailed out of the lead group and pitted for his wet bike with seven laps to go, but was caught speeding in the pits. The Frenchman eventually ended up a lowly 14th.

Starting from 21st, Ducati's Jorge Lorenzo picked up four places on the opening lap and was running 12 when the rain arrived, and he pitted for his wet bike. He finished 15th.

Aprilia's Sam Lowes, one of the stars of qualifying, crashed out at Turn 9. Folger fell at Turn 1, and Bradley Smith did likewise off his KTM. Redding was also a late crasher.

Race results:

Pos. Rider Bike Gap
1 italy Valentino Rossi Yamaha 41'41.149
2 italy Danilo Petrucci Ducati 0.063
3 spain Marc Marquez Honda 5.201
4 united_kingdom Cal Crutchlow Honda 5.243
5 italy Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 5.327
6 australia Jack Miller Honda 23.390
7 czech_republic Karel Abraham Ducati 36.982
8 france Loris Baz Ducati 37.058
9 italy Andrea Iannone Suzuki 37.166
10 spain Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 1'01.929
11 spain Pol Espargaro KTM 1'09.384
12 spain Tito Rabat Honda 1'10.121
13 spain Dani Pedrosa Honda 1'10.344
14 france Johann Zarco Yamaha 1'35.655
15 spain Jorge Lorenzo Ducati 1 lap
16 spain Hector Barbera Ducati 1 lap
17 spain Alex Rins Suzuki 1 lap
Ret united_kingdom Scott Redding Ducati 2 laps
Ret  spain Alvaro Bautista Ducati 9 laps
Ret  united_kingdom Bradley Smith KTM 13 laps
Ret  spain Maverick Viñales Yamaha 15 laps
Ret  germany Jonas Folger Yamaha 17 laps
Ret  united_kingdom Sam Lowes Aprilia 18 laps
Yamaha hits 500th Grand Prix racing victory milestone

Yamaha is celebrating a momentous landmark in its successful motorcycle racing history with  Maverick Viñales having secured their 500th race win at the Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix race circuit in France. 



The Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM, the global governing body of motorcycle racing) has officially declared that, according to their statistical records, Yamaha has enjoyed victories in the 125cc (47 wins), 250cc (165 wins), 350cc (63 wins), 500cc (120 wins) and MotoGP class (105 wins), adding up to a sensational 500 Grand Prix wins in total.
Out of all Yamaha riders, current MotoGP class racer Valentino Rossi is the biggest achiever. His love story with the YZR-M1 has been going strong for many years and has resulted in 55 wins to date. Teammate Viñales has only been competing as part of the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team for five races, but has established an impressive 60% victory rate on the Yamaha, thanks to his wins in Qatar, Argentina and France.
Yamaha‘s list of Grand Prix victors is full of legends - Jorge Lorenzo (44 wins), Phil Read (39 wins), Eddie Lawson (26 wins), Wayne Rainey (24 wins), Kenny Roberts Sr. (24 wins), Bill Ivy (21 wins), Carlos Lavado (19 wins), Luca Cadalora (13 wins), Giacomo Agostini (12 wins), and many more.
To give an overview of the magnitude of the effort put in by all its Grand Prix riders, Yamaha has created a micro website, which features a special 500th victory video, an infograph, some of the best historical photographs of Yamaha‘s 56-year Grand Prix racing run, as well as overviews of all the victories, riders and bikes that made this massive achievement possible.
www.yamahamotogp.com/500-victories

MotoGP championship leader Maverick Vinales beat Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi to pole position for the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, topping qualifying for the second round in a row.

After progressing from the first phase of qualifying, Pramac Ducati's Danilo Petrucci threatened to spring a surprise on home soil at Mugello, leading the way into the closing stages with a lap of 1m47.266s.

Vinales, though, was only 0.005 seconds behind Petrucci and after Dani Pedrosa grabbed top spot briefly, the Yamaha rider vaulted to the top inside the final two minutes.

His 1m46.575s was not bettered, even as Petrucci improved to a 1m46.714s on his penultimate lap to get within 0.139s.

However Petrucci's time was scrapped for exceeding track limits at Borgo San Lorenzo and he fell from second to ninth.

Rossi was the main beneficiary, having been 11th of the 12 riders entering the final 60 seconds of Q2 before turning the 1m46.814s that put him into third place and then second.

The Italian is riding nine days after sustaining chest injuries in a motocross training accident and spending a night in hospital, and also fell in the fourth practice session that preceded qualifying.

Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso will start from the front row of the grid for the first time in 2017 in third place alongside the Yamahas.

Five Ducatis were in action in Q2, with test rider and wildcard Michele Pirro qualifying fourth, Jorge Lorenzo seventh and Aspar satellite rider Alvaro Bautista eighth ahead of Petrucci.

Honda pair Pedrosa and Marc Marquez will start fifth and sixth, Marquez after improving on his final lap.

Tito Rabat qualified a career-best 10th for Marc VDS Honda, one spot ahead of Tech3 Yamaha's Johann Zarco - who joined Petrucci in progressing from Q1.

Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro crashed at Arrabbiata 2 on his first flying lap, but got back out his second RS-GP for the second half of the session and will start 12th.

Friday pacesetter Cal Crutchlow was the biggest casualty of Q1, contesting the session after falling out of the combined practice top 10 in Saturday morning's third practice.

Crutchlow moved to the top of the times briefly with two minutes remaining, but was then pipped by Zarco and Petrucci, missed out on a Q2 spot by 0.079s and will start 13th.

Zarco's Tech3 team-mate Jonas Folger also spent time in the top two, only to crash at Palagio on his final run.

Folger will line up 15th, one spot ahead of Suzuki's Andrea Iannone, while Pol Espargaro was the best of the KTMs in 18th.

STARTING GRID:

Pos Rider Team Time Gap
1 Maverick Vinales Yamaha 1m46.575s -
2 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1m46.814s 0.239s
3 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 1m46.835s 0.260s
4 Michele Pirro Ducati 1m46.878s 0.303s
5 Dani Pedrosa Honda 1m46.999s 0.424s
6 Marc Marquez Honda 1m47.050s 0.475s
7 Jorge Lorenzo Ducati 1m47.152s 0.577s
8 Alvaro Bautista Aspar Ducati 1m47.167s 0.592s
9 Danilo Petrucci Pramac Ducati 1m47.266s 0.691s
10 Tito Rabat MVDS Honda 1m47.282s 0.707s
11 Johann Zarco Tech3 Yamaha 1m47.319s 0.744s
12 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 1m47.475s 0.900s
13 Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda 1m47.220s -
14 Hector Barbera Avintia Ducati 1m47.272s -
15 Jonas Folger Tech3 Yamaha 1m47.305s -
16 Andrea Iannone Suzuki 1m47.625s -
17 Loris Baz Avintia Ducati 1m47.809s -
18 Pol Espargaro KTM 1m47.940s -
19 Jack Miller MVDS Honda 1m47.961s -
20 Scott Redding Pramac Ducati 1m47.975s -
21 Karel Abraham Aspar Ducati 1m48.361s -
22 Sam Lowes Aprilia 1m48.416s -
23 Bradley Smith KTM 1m48.594s -
24 Sylvain Guintoli Suzuki 1m48.892s -

Ducati factory rider Chaz Davies pulled off a double victory in the World Superbikes round at Imola, charging through from ninth on the grid in the Sunday race.

Davies, who likewise won both races at Imola in 2016, had struggled to make much progress during the initial start – but made the restart after a 40-minute red flag delay.

The first getaway was controlled by Tom Sykes, who had taken pole by finishing fourth in the Saturday race.

As he began to pull away from Barni Ducati rider Xavi Fores in second, Kawasaki teammate and points leader Jonathan Rea had moved up to fifth from eighth on the grid – with Davies running in ninth after a slow start.

But that part of the race wound up counting for naught, as an engine blow-out on the Grillini Kawasaki of Ayrton Badovini dropped oil all over the run-down to Turn 16, bringing out the red flags.

After a lengthy clean-up, the riders retook their original positions on the grid, but the start played out differently this time. Sykes managed another stellar getaway, but now had the MV Agusta of Leon Camier as his closest rival, while Davies harried Rea as they made their way up the order.

Battling Ducati works rider Marco Melandri for fourth place, Rea overshot his entry into Variante Bassa, slipping not only behind the Italian but also Davies and Fores.

Davies then cleared teammate Melandri when the latter made a mistake – and soon the Welshman only had Sykes ahead of him as Camier crashed out.

What at one point was a solid lead for the poleman soon evaporated, Davies finally catching up and overtaking Sykes with a forceful move down the inside of Variante Bassa.

Rea, having cleared Fores and Melandri, was soon with Sykes as well, and followed in tow for a couple of laps before finally picking off his teammate at the Tosa hairpin.

But Davies was three-and-a-half seconds ahead by that point and the status quo would be maintained until the chequered flag.

Sykes ran close behind Rea for the rest of the race but couldn't stop the reigning champion from recording his 10th top-two finish in 10 races in 2017 so far.

Fores held off Melandri to take fourth, with Yamaha's Alex Lowes sixth and Aprilia's Eugene Laverty seventh, the latter having exited Saturday's race in a fiery crash.

Having started last, Althea BMW rider Jordi Torres picked off Yamaha's Michael van der Mark in the end to claim eighth, with Ioda's Leandro Mercado making up the top 10.

Race results

Pos. # Driver Bike Time Gap
1 7 united_kingdom Chaz Davies Ducati 32'12.36  
2 1 united_kingdom Jonathan Rea Kawasaki 32'16.10 3.74
3 66 united_kingdom Tom Sykes Kawasaki 32'16.70 4.34
4 12 spain Xavi Fores Ducati 32'26.80 14.44
5 33 italy Marco Melandri Ducati 32'26.96 14.60
6 22 united_kingdom Alex Lowes Yamaha 32'44.57 32.21
7 50 ireland Eugene Laverty Aprilia 32'46.28 33.92
8 81 spain Jordi Torres BMW 32'48.29 35.93
9 60 netherlands Michael van der Mark Yamaha 32'48.46 36.10
10 36 argentina Leandro Mercado Aprilia 32'49.98 37.62
11 40 spain Roman Ramos Kawasaki 32'52.75 40.39
12 69 united_states Nicky Hayden Honda 32'56.10 43.74
13 32 italy Lorenzo Savadori Aprilia 33'00.95 48.59
14 6 germany Stefan Bradl Honda 33'07.01 54.65
15 88 switzerland Randy Krummenacher Kawasaki 33'07.28 54.92
16 35 italy Raffaele De Rosa BMW 33'08.79 56.43
17 37 czech_republic Ondrej Jezek Kawasaki 33'27.67 1'15.31
  84 italy Riccardo Russo Yamaha 9 laps  
  15 san_marino Alex de Angelis Kawasaki 16 laps  
  2 united_kingdom Leon Camier MV Agusta 16 laps  
  86 italy Ayrton Badovini Kawasaki 18 laps  

Dani Pedrosa became the third winner in four MotoGP races as he beat Honda teammate Marc Marquez to victory in a tense Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez.

The Spaniard led from start to finish to win for the first time since last September’s race at Misano, while Jorge Lorenzo recorded his maiden podium with Ducati and championship leader Valentino Rossi laboured to a distant 10th.

Pedrosa made the most of starting from pole for the first time in 18 months, getting away cleanly at Jerez and slotting into a convincing lead.

Using the medium-compound rear tyre compared to the harder rubber on the other Hondas of Marquez and Cal Crutchlow on the front row, Pedrosa skipped away to build a solid early advantage.

Johann Zarco (Tech 3 Yamaha) again charged in the early stages, passing Rossi on the opening lap and then Maverick Vinales on their Yamahas, Crutchlow (LCR Honda) and Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone the next time around to slot into third place.

Zarco threatened Marquez briefly, but could not run with the Hondas at the front.

Marquez goes on the attack

Pedrosa’s lead got up to one-and-a-half seconds and stayed there for the first half of the race, before Marquez chipped several tenths away during the next phase.

With 10 laps to go, the gap was nearly exactly one second, and the pair traded sector times but Pedrosa maintained his pace in the 1m40s bracket.

The gap grew again for a number of laps, before Marquez got it under one second with three laps remaining, when Pedrosa responded again with a lap four tenths quicker.

That signalled the end of the Marquez fight, the reigning world champion backing off and Pedrosa claiming his 30th MotoGP victory by 6.136 seconds.

It continues Pedrosa’s streak of winning a race in each season he has raced in the premier class, dating back to 2006.

Lorenzo charges to third

Zarco and Lorenzo were two of the four riders racing on the medium front tyre, rather than the hard, and the Tech3 Yamaha rookie was reeled in by Lorenzo, who had started eighth.

Moves on Vinales and Rossi and Suzuki’s Iannone were part of Lorenzo’s rise, and the Ducati rider made his way past Zarco down the back straight on lap 12.

Zarco was able to stay with Lorenzo for a while, but the Spaniard ultimately flexed his muscle to claim the final podium position, his first since leaving Yamaha.

Ducati shines as Yamaha struggles

Vinales faded from the lead riders early, as Andrea Dovizioso followed teammate Lorenzo in passing both Yamaha riders as part of his move from 14th to fifth in the opening 10 laps.

But Vinales bought back into the battle between Dovizioso and Rossi, and overtook them both in one hit at Turn 5 on lap 13, by which time he was the best part of 10 seconds behind Pedrosa.

Dovizioso got back past Vinales, though, and ensured both Ducatis finished inside the top five at a circuit where it has regularly struggled.

Rossi then fell further back, passed for seventh by Pramac Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci for seventh on lap 15, and then Jonas Folger for eighth on lap 21.

There was more pain to come, with Rossi also losing ninth to Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro in the closing laps, as his times ballooned out to the 1m44s and even 1m45s bracket.

The Italian eventually crossed the line 38.682s after Pedrosa, and leaves Jerez with a two-point championship lead over Vinales, with Marquez now just a further two behind.

Half a dozen crash out

Six riders crashed out of the race, a run started by Alvaro Bautista and Jack Miller tangling at Turn 1 on lap six, prompting a visibly frustrated Miller to push the Spaniard after their bikes came to a rest in the gravel trap.

Separate crashes 10 corners later then accounted for Crutchlow, who had settled into fourth place but admitted to “making a mistake” on his LCR Honda, and KTM’s Pol Espargaro.

Iannone also came unstuck at Turn 11, four laps later, having fallen to ninth in the order after his fast start.

Results 

Pos Rider Bike Laps Time Gap
1 spain  Dani Pedrosa Honda 27 45'26.827  
2 spain  Marc Marquez Honda 27 45'32.963 6.136
3 spain  Jorge Lorenzo Ducati 27 45'41.594 14.767
4 france  Johann Zarco Yamaha 27 45'44.428 17.601
5 italy  Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 27 45'49.740 22.913
6 spain  Maverick Viñales Yamaha 27 45'51.383 24.556
7 italy  Danilo Petrucci Ducati 27 45'51.786 24.959
8 germany  Jonas Folger Yamaha 27 45'54.548 27.721
9 spain  Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 27 45'58.060 31.233
10 italy  Valentino Rossi Yamaha 27 46'05.509 38.682
11 united_kingdom  Scott Redding Ducati 27 46'07.806 40.979
12 spain  Hector Barbera Ducati 27 46'10.026 43.199
13 france  Loris Baz Ducati 27 46'10.038 43.211
14 united_kingdom  Bradley Smith KTM 27 46'14.791 47.964
15 czech_republic  Karel Abraham Ducati 27 46'18.106 51.279
16 united_kingdom  Sam Lowes Aprilia 27 46'35.712 1'08.885
17 japan  Takuya Tsuda Suzuki 27 46'54.277 1'27.450
  italy  Andrea Iannone Suzuki 9 15'19.450 18 laps 
  spain  Tito Rabat Honda 9 15'24.810 18 laps 
  united_kingdom  Cal Crutchlow Honda 5 8'29.685 22 laps 
  australia  Jack Miller Honda 5 8'33.241 22 laps 
  spain  Alvaro Bautista Ducati 5 8'33.277 22 laps 
  spain  Pol Espargaro KTM 5 8'35.892 22 laps 

Assen WSBK: Rea beats Sykes by 0.025s to complete double

Jonathan Rea took his seventh victory of the 2017 World Superbike season in Assen, beating Kawasaki teammate Tom Sykes in a photo finish.

Victory on Saturday meant Rea would start Sunday's second Assen race from ninth place on the grid, one place behind Sykes, who inherited the runner-up spot when Chaz Davies' Ducati broke down.

Barni Ducati rider Xavi Fores started from pole, and led the opening lap, but was passed by the fast-starting Milwaukee Aprilia of Eugene Laverty on the second lap.

MotoGP convert Laverty's spell in the lead was to prove short-lived however, as Rea - who vaulted from ninth to fourth on the opening lap and then made short work of Sykes and Fores - seized the advantage on the third lap.

It took Sykes another two laps to clear Laverty, by which time Rea had built a lead of one second.

Rea seemed to be on course for a comfortable win until he ran wide on Lap 11, which brought Sykes within striking distance of his teammate.

The 2013 champion stayed in Rea's wheeltracks for the remainder, and was right on his tail starting the final lap - but despite getting a strong run out of the final chicane, Sykes lost out on a first win of the season by a mere 0.025s.

Davies completed the podium in third, but lost any chance of challenging the Kawasaki duo losing crucial time behind Fores in the early stages. He was four seconds adrift of Rea by the time he cleared Laverty for third, and ended up five seconds down at the flag.

Yamaha's Michael van der Mark finished fourth, scything his way through the order from outside the top 10, but was never close enough to Davies to challenge for a podium on home turf.

Alex Lowes made it two Yamahas in the top five with a late charge, ahead of Leon Camier's MV Agusta, Jordi Torres' Althea BMW and a fading Laverty.

The Hondas of Nicky Hayden and Stefan Bradl - who made a poor start from the front row of the grid - took the final two spots in the top 10.

Fores slipped to an eventual 13th, having earlier lost ground when he was delayed by factory Ducati man Marco Melandri crashing directly ahead of him.

The second Milwaukee Aprilia of Lorenzo Savadori was another non-finisher, as the Italian youngster crashed out of a top-10 finish at half-distance.

Race results:

Pos. # Driver Bike Gap
1 1 united_kingdom Jonathan Rea Kawasaki 21 laps
2 66 united_kingdom Tom Sykes Kawasaki 0.025
3 7 united_kingdom Chaz Davies Ducati 5.077
4 60 netherlands Michael van der Mark Yamaha 8.739
5 22 united_kingdom Alex Lowes Yamaha 16.244
6 2 united_kingdom Leon Camier MV Agusta 17.899
7 81 spain Jordi Torres BMW 19.026
8 50 ireland Eugene Laverty Aprilia 19.184
9 69 united_states Nicky Hayden Honda 21.475
10 6 germany Stefan Bradl Honda 24.693
11 40 spain Roman Ramos Kawasaki 26.751
12 36 argentina Leandro Mercado Aprilia 26.924
13 12 spain Xavi Fores Ducati 36.611
14 88 switzerland Randy Krummenacher Kawasaki 40.597
15 15 san_marino Alex de Angelis Kawasaki 49.140
16 86 italy Ayrton Badovini Kawasaki 51.241
17 35 italy Raffaele De Rosa BMW  
18 37 czech_republic Ondrej Jezek Kawasaki  
Ret 32 italy Lorenzo Savadori Aprilia  
Ret  84 italy Riccardo Russo Yamaha  
Ret  33 italy Marco Melandri Ducati  

Austin MotoGP: Marquez stays unbeaten at COTA, Vinales crashes


Honda's Marc Marquez claimed a fifth successive MotoGP victory at the Circuit of the Americas, as points leader Maverick Vinales crashed out early on.

It was Dani Pedrosa who commanded the early stages after a lightning getaway from fourth on the grid, with Marquez slotting into second ahead of the two factory Yamahas of Valentino Rossi and Vinales.

But Vinales fell out of contention on the second lap of 21 with a low-side crash at Turn 18, ending the Spaniard's winning streak after his victories in Qatar and Argentina.

That left Rossi alone against the Repsol Honda duo at the head of the field, with Pedrosa keeping Marquez bottled up until the eighth lap, when Marquez made an unsuccessful attempt to pass Pedrosa at Turn 11.

The following lap Marquez was able to make the move stick, with Pedrosa - who unlike Marquez opted for a medium front tyre instead of a hard - initially staying close to his teammate.

But by the end of the 14th lap, Marquez had pulled a second clear, and from there he steadily increased the gap out front to win by 3.069s - scoring his first win of the year, his 30th in the premier class, and keeping his perfect record of MotoGP wins in the USA intact.

Behind, Pedrosa soon came under pressure from Rossi in the battle for second, with the Italian having earlier been handed a 0.3s time penalty for cutting the track and gaining an advantage on Lap 7.

The sanction came when Tech 3 rider Johann Zarco tried to force his way by Rossi at Turn 4, which resulted in the seven-time premier class champion gaining ground on Marquez ahead.

Rossi's penalty didn't affect his result though, as he passed Pedrosa at Turn 19 with three laps remaining and pulled away from the Honda rider to the tune of two seconds.

With 56 points from the first three races, Rossi now leads the championship by six from Vinales, with Marquez moving up to third on 38 points.

Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) passed Zarco on the penultimate lap to claim fourth, a further 2.5s back, while Andrea Dovizioso was the top Ducati rider in sixth.

His teammate Jorge Lorenzo ran seventh for much of the race, but faded late to ninth behind Andrea Iannone (Suzuki) and Danilo Petrucci (Pramac Ducati) in the closing stages.

Jack Miller (Marc VDS Honda) completed the top 10 ahead of the second Tech 3 Yamaha of Jonas Folger and Scott Redding's Pramac Ducati.

Besides Vinales, Karel Abraham (Aspar Ducati), Loris Baz (Avintia Ducati), Sam Lowes (Aprilia) and Alvaro Bautista (Aspar Ducati) all crashed, although the last-named was able to remount to beat Bradley Smith's KTM to the final point.

The sister KTM of Pol Espargaro was an early retirement with a clutch problem.

Aleix Espargaro's Aprilia also made a mid-race visit to the pits with an apparent front tyre problem, and resumed to come home 17th and last of the finishers.

Race results:

Pos. # Rider Bike Time/Gap km/h
1 93 spain Marc Marquez Honda 43'58.770 157.9
2 46 italy Valentino Rossi Yamaha 3.069 157.7
3 26 spain Dani Pedrosa Honda 5.112 157.6
4 35 united_kingdom Cal Crutchlow Honda 7.638 157.4
5 5 france Johann Zarco Yamaha 7.957 157.4
6 4 italy Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 14.058 157.1
7 29 italy Andrea Iannone Suzuki 15.491 157.0
8 9 italy Danilo Petrucci Ducati 16.772 156.9
9 99 spain Jorge Lorenzo Ducati 17.979 156.8
10 43 australia Jack Miller Honda 18.494 156.8
11 94 germany Jonas Folger Yamaha 18.903 156.8
12 45 united_kingdom Scott Redding Ducati 28.735 156.2
13 53 spain Tito Rabat Honda 30.041 156.1
14 8 spain Hector Barbera Ducati 31.364 156.0
15 19 spain Alvaro Bautista Ducati 1'06.547 154.0
16 38 united_kingdom Bradley Smith KTM 1'22.090 153.1
17 41 spain Aleix Espargaro Aprilia 2 laps 137.4
Ret 22 united_kingdom Sam Lowes Aprilia 10 laps 153.9
Ret  44 spain Pol Espargaro KTM 12 laps 150.1
Ret  76 france Loris Baz Ducati 13 laps 155.8
Ret  25 spain Maverick Viñales Yamaha 20 laps 155.7
Ret  17 czech_republic Karel Abraham Ducati 20 laps 150.6

KTM's Bradley Smith reckons the Austrian manufacturer needs to find a few tenths in next weekend's Qatar MotoGP opener to be able to challenge for points.

The Briton completed the final pre-season test in Qatar in 21st, only beating his teammate Pol Espargaro and KTM test rider Mika Kallio.

His time of 1m56.351s was less than two tenths off Aprilia rookie Sam Lowes and the injured Tito Rabat, but Smith admitted there is a bigger gap to the next group, which will be in the fight for points.

"I think we are close to the two guys in front, and then there is a bigger gap in the next area, and that next area is where we need to be if we want to fight for points," Smith explained.

"Looking at the laptimes, we need to find probably another half a second from somewhere. If we can be in the 1m55s in qualifying, that would be quite positive but then again we have to see the track conditions.

"It would be nice to come here and fight for points, maybe that's a little bit optimistic from my side, but let's set the bar a little bit high and see if we can chase that."

He added: "I think we are about half a second away from [15th place] at the moment in terms of one lap and probably only about a quarter of a second, two or three tenths away from that on the race pace."

"From my feeling the bike is quite consistent over race distance and I know the guys will be struggling with one lap with some of the bikes out there.

"It's possible but they drop quite a lot. Let's see, 15th would be nice but the most important thing is finish, gain that information and give all of the knowledge to the team."

2.5s improvement in Qatar

Despite the KTM bikes taking the last three places in the classification, Smith was satisfied with the Qatar test, where the team trialled a new specification of engine.

"I'm pleased with the improvements today and over the three days," the 26-year-old said on Sunday. "I think we were able to improve another two-and-a-half seconds over the three days.

"Just working with the mapping, especially on the electronics side, we made some good progress, we now have something that's a lot more consistent.

"[It's] good over a race distance even with an old tyre, so a really good job by everybody and we wait and see what happens when we are here for the race."

Rossi "not fast enough" to beat Iannone to podium finish

Valentino Rossi concedes he was “not fast enough” at Valencia to beat Andrea Iannone to the bottom step of the podium in the MotoGP season finale.

The Italian duo were embroiled in a fierce scrap for third place at the Spanish circuit, having both dropped behind Marc Marquez in the fight for second behind Jorge Lorenzo with 10 laps remaining.

Rossi and Iannone swapped places on numerous occasions throughout the race, with the Ducati rider enjoying a straight-line speed advantage that allowed him to immediately counter-act the moves Rossi put on him.

In the closing stages, the seven-time premier class champion's pace began to ebb with tyre wear, and he ultimately was forced to settle for fourth place behind fellow countryman Iannone.

"For sure I'm not happy to lose the podium, it was a very tough race but also a good race and I enjoyed a lot the battles," said Rossi.

"I was able to overtake Iannone and stay some laps in second place, but I was not fast enough to take some margin. So after we started to fight, and Marquez in the second half of the race was a lot faster, no way [to keep up] with him.

"After we continue the battle with Iannone, it was a very hard fight, it was good. I tried everything, but unfortunately Iannone was faster, and on the last lap he did a very good time, better than me.

"I suffered a bit, unfortunately at the end I just finish fourth. We try everything, but not enough for the podium."

Asked why he was unable to match Yamaha teammate Lorenzo's pace in the Valencia race, Rossi replied: "Jorge at this track is better than me, he's faster.

"I think at the end, most of all is that I suffer a lot with the tyre, especially for me the front tyre, I don't have the right tyre for me.

"I wanted to race with the hard, but I didn't have enough grip on the left [side]. Today with a bit more temperature I suffered a bit with the soft."

Marquez: Poor start cost me chance to fight Lorenzo

Marc Marquez says his poor start in the Valencia MotoGP season finale was what ultimately cost him the chance to fight Jorge Lorenzo for victory.

Starting second on the grid behind poleman Lorenzo, Marquez plummeted to sixth on the opening lap with a sluggish getaway off the line.

Marquez then spent much of the first half of the race battling with Valentino Rossi, Andrea Iannone and Maverick Vinales, in which time Lorenzo was able to make good his escape at the front.

The Repsol Honda rider ultimately forced his way through into second, but says the time spent behind Rossi and Iannone – as a result of his bad start – was what cost him a chance of fighting Lorenzo for the win.

“It was the biggest mistake of the race,” said Marquez of the start. “I don’t know why, the clutch started spinning and there was nothing I could do.

“I was there waiting to find again the power, but it was too late. I lost many positions, and then I lost a lot of time behind Valentino [Rossi] and Iannone.

"If you are much faster than the rider in front, it’s easy to overtake; but if you are only two tenths, three tenths [a lap faster], it’s so difficult.”

In the closing stages of the race, Lorenzo seemed to be struggling with front tyre graining and began to drop back towards Marquez once the Honda rider had cleared Rossi and Iannone in the fight for second.

Marquez reduced a gap of nearly five seconds to 1.185s at the flag, helped by running the hard-compound front tyre as opposed to the medium chosen by his rivals.

“In the end, I was really comfortable,” said Marquez. “The tyres started sliding a lot, but this gives me the same feeling like dirt track, motocross and like it.

“I was on the limit, I was pushing like I had nothing to lose, and for that reason I was able to catch Lorenzo. But the race is 30 laps, so no excuse!”

Lorenzo says farewell win a "present" to Yamaha

Jorge Lorenzo says his victory in the MotoGP season finale at Valencia is a “present” to his Yamaha team, as he brought to a closed his nine-season tenure with the Japanese manufacturer.

On his final race weekend for Yamaha before his switch to Ducati in 2017, Lorenzo took a dominant pole position and led for much of the race, although he had to contend with a charging Marc Marquez in the closing stages.

Having led by as much as five seconds, Lorenzo finished 1.185s ahead of Marquez at the finish, struggling with tyre wear in the closing stages – having opted for a softer compound of front tyre than his nearest rival.

However, Lorenzo said he was fortunate that Marquez was stuck behind the slower bikes of Valentino Rossi and Andrea Iannone in the early stages of the race, giving him a cushion at the end of the race.

“I couldn’t have a better end to my career at Yamaha,” said Lorenzo. “I’m lucky to be able to give this last present to the factory, who supported me so much these years.

“The first laps were amazing. I was lucky Marquez stayed behind in the first laps, because if not it would have been very difficult to win, because he had a better pace at the end.

“He probably had a better tyre because my tyre on the left [side] was completely destroyed. I needed to push so much because I knew Marc in second place would attack at the maximum."

He added: “The problem was from the middle of the race the left side of the rear tyre started to drop so much.

“I had to be very smooth to avoid this hard slide. The last five laps were very difficult; especially at the last corner, the bike was going away.”

Lorenzo's Valencia win was the 44th in 156 starts, all made with Yamaha.

Yamaha MotoGP boss Lin Jarvis says Valentino Rossi is not viewing his next two seasons as his last, and he believes the Italian could continue to race when he's 40.

A month after turning 37, Rossi signed a new, two-year deal with Yamaha on the eve of the 2016 season opener at Qatar.

The seven-time MotoGP champion said during that weekend the 2017-18 contract would "90%" be his last on two wheels, "because after that, [you get] white hair".

Rossi has gone on to show increased competitiveness this year - his haul of three poles matching his total between 2010-15 - and he has not closed the door on racing into '19, when he will turn 40.

When asked about Rossi sticking around beyond 2018, Jarvis told Gazzetta Dello Sport: "At the moment, I believe in it.

"He doesn't see the next two years as the final ones, but he will figure it out when the time comes.

"He is a leader, he starts every season with the belief he can be the champion - as for myself, I have no doubts about that."

Rossi is second in the championship with Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo third, however the pair dropped out of title contention earlier this month when Marc Marquez sealed the 2016 title in Japan with three races to spare.

Between them, Rossi and Lorenzo won five of the year's first seven grands prix, but neither Yamaha rider has been victorious since the Catalunya Grand Prix in June.

JARVIS HOPING FOR EASIER TIME WITH VINALES

After nine seasons with Yamaha - including seven, often-rocky years alongside Rossi - Lorenzo is leaving for Ducati after the current campaign.

In his place, Yamaha has signed Suzuki youngster Maverick Vinales, who took his first MotoGP victory at Silverstone earlier this year and looks to have a closer relationship with Rossi.

"I hope it will be easier," Jarvis said.

"Jorge arrived as a promising young rider while Vale was the king.

"Nowadays there is a big age difference between Maverick and Valentino, but I know that from the moment Vinales closes the gap on Rossi, the dynamics will change."

Rossi cut corner to avoid 'disaster' clash with team-mate Lorenzo

 

Jorge Lorenzo, Valentino Rossi, Yamaha, MotoGP Aragon 2016

Valentino Rossi said he decided to go off track in his Aragon Grand Prix battle with Jorge Lorenzo to avoid the potential 'disaster' of a collision with his MotoGP team-mate.

The Yamaha riders - who argued after the last race at Misano about Rossi's pass on Lorenzo - were fighting for second in the closing laps when Rossi outbraked himself at Turn 11.

The Italian dived to the inside of the track, passing Lorenzo but heading straight on and into the run-off area, ending the fight two laps from home.

"I gave the maximum, but Lorenzo in the second half of the race was stronger," said Rossi, who recovered to finish third.

"He overtook me and got in front, but I was still there.

"From behind I could stay with him, and I wanted to try to make the fight on the last lap but unfortunately I did a mistake in braking.

"I braked, it was a little bit too fast and it was too dangerous so I decided to cut the corner and go wide [on the exit].

"If not we can touch or it is a disaster."

Lorenzo believes he was lucky that Rossi made the mistake, as he knew he would not have been able to pull away from his team-mate before the finish.

"When I passed Rossi I started to lose the pace, so Rossi was able to stay behind me and I knew he wanted to try on the last lap," said Lorenzo.

"I was lucky this time he made the mistake under braking, because I'm sure our fight would last until the last corner."

Lorenzo said he had fun in the early laps where an eight-rider battle developed at the front, and Marquez apologised for misjudging an aggressive pass on his fellow Spaniard on the opening lap.

Explaining why he held his hand up exiting Turn 15 after lunging past Lorenzo, Marquez said: "It was the first lap, and it was the first overtake in Turn 15, which was a strong point for me.

"I didn't calculate well and it was a little bit too tight for the first lap.

"So I said 'excuse me', but fortunately nothing happened."

 

Marc Marquez leads Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo Aragon MotoGP 2016

Honda's Marc Marquez extended his MotoGP championship lead with a commanding Aragon Grand Prix victory ahead of Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi.

Marquez started from pole and regrouped from an early mistake to continue the form he has shown all weekend and take his fourth win of the campaign.

He now leads the championship by 52 points over Rossi with four grands prix and a maximum of 100 points remaining.

Maverick Vinales took the lead at the second corner, sweeping through from third as Marquez passed Lorenzo for the first of two times on the opening lap.

Marquez overtook Vinales on the second lap at Turn 15, but his time at the front was fleeting, making a mistake at Turn 7 on the following lap and dropping to fifth.

While Marquez recovered with a string of passes at Turn 15, Rossi moved past Lorenzo and then quickly cut Vinales' margin, which had grown to 0.825 seconds.

In a battle of the 2017 Yamaha team-mates, Rossi grabbed the lead at Turn 4 on lap nine, which triggered the end of Vinales' fight for victory.

The next time around, Vinales overshot the first corner and relinquished second place to the recovering Marquez, and was then passed by Lorenzo at Turn 12.

Vinales Rossi Lorenzo Aragon MotoGP

At the front, Marquez slashed Rossi's six-tenths advantage and then found his way past with another move at Turn 15, with 11 laps remaining.

From there, the race was Marquez's.

He pulled away a couple of tenths at a time, before delivering the key blow on lap 15, turning the fastest lap of the race, a 1m48.694s, nearly a full second faster than what Rossi managed.

Marquez continued his charge at the front, his lead getting out to 3.5s before he backed off on the final lap to finish 2.7s clear.

The victory is Marquez's first since the German Grand Prix in July, and his first on home soil since the 2014 season finale at Valencia.

After Marquez pulled clear, Rossi fell back into the clutches of Lorenzo, who eventually shook off the challenge from Vinales when the Suzuki rider ran wide at Turn 12.

Lorenzo got past Rossi with five laps remaining, but then he could not pull away from the Italian.

With two laps remaining, Rossi had a look down the inside at Turn 12 but had braked too late as he sailed past Lorenzo and wide onto the escape road.

That gave Lorenzo a smooth run to the flag to finish in the top two in a race for the first time since his last win, at Mugello in May, and he moves back to within 14 points of Rossi in the standings.

Rossi was three seconds adrift at the end, with Vinales settling for fourth a further two seconds behind.

Cal Crutchlow fell from fifth to eighth on the first lap, but he fought back to pass Andrea Dovizioso, Aleix Espargaro and finally Dani Pedrosa.

Pedrosa Crutchlow MotoGP Aragon 2016

In finishing fifth for LCR Honda, Crutchlow was the top satellite rider, while Pedrosa reclaimed sixth from from Espargaro on the second Suzuki two laps from home.

Tech3 Yamaha's Pol Espargaro was eighth, while the Aprilias of Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl completed the top 10.

Ducati had a tough day. Andrea Dovizioso lined up fourth and was considered the best chance of a ninth different winner in as many races.

He was in the lead pack early, but faded dramatically to eventually finish 11th, one spot ahead of Michele Pirro standing in for the injured Andrea Iannone.

Making a one-off return to deputise for Marc VDS Honda's Jack Miller, 2006 world champion Nicky Hayden grabbed the final point with 15th.

It was a day to forget for Pramac Ducati, with Danilo Petrucci and Scott Redding coming home in 17th and 19th.

Petrucci was given a ride-through penalty for contact with Redding on the opening lap, which sent Redding down.

RACE RESULT

Pos Rider Team Laps Gap
1 Marc Marquez Honda 23 41m57.678s
2 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 23 2.740s
3 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 23 5.983s
4 Maverick Vinales Suzuki 23 8.238s
5 Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda 23 13.221s
6 Dani Pedrosa Honda 23 17.072s
7 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki 23 18.522s
8 Pol Espargaro Tech3 Yamaha 23 19.432s
9 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia 23 23.071s
10 Stefan Bradl Aprilia 23 27.898s
11 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 23 32.448s
12 Michele Pirro Ducati 23 35.033s
13 Hector Barbera Avintia Ducati 23 36.224s
14 Eugene Laverty Aspar Ducati 23 37.621s
15 Nicky Hayden Marc VDS Honda 23 40.509s
16 Yonny Hernandez Aspar Ducati 23 43.906s
17 Danilo Petrucci Pramac Ducati 23 56.740s
18 Loris Baz Avintia Ducati 23 59.681s
19 Scott Redding Pramac Ducati 23 1m34.126s
- Tito Rabat Marc VDS Honda 16 Retirement
- Alex Lowes Tech3 Yamaha 0 Withdrawn
- Andrea Iannone Ducati 0 Withdrawn

RIDERS' STANDINGS

Pos Rider Points
1 Marc Marquez 248
2 Valentino Rossi 196
3 Jorge Lorenzo 182
4 Dani Pedrosa 155
5 Maverick Vinales 149
6 Cal Crutchlow 105
7 Andrea Dovizioso 104
8 Andrea Iannone 96
9 Pol Espargaro 96
10 Hector Barbera 84
11 Eugene Laverty 71
12 Aleix Espargaro 69
13 Scott Redding 55
14 Alvaro Bautista 54
15 Danilo Petrucci 50
16 Stefan Bradl 49
17 Jack Miller 42
18 Bradley Smith 42
19 Michele Pirro 36
20 Tito Rabat 27
21 Loris Baz 24
22 Yonny Hernandez 13
23 Alex Lowes 3
24 Nicky Hayden 1

Maverick Vinales says he had given up on being able to win a MotoGP race for Suzuki this season prior to his dominant triumph in the British Grand Prix.

The Spaniard, who moves on to Yamaha for the 2017 season, was a class apart in Sunday’s Silverstone race, as he broke away from the pack in the early stages to secure a historic victory.

As well as being his first in the premier class, it was the first win for Suzuki since 2007 and the Japanese manufacturer’s first in dry conditions since 2001.

Speaking afterwards, Vinales nevertheless admitted he was already thinking his first MotoGP win would have to wait until he had joined Yamaha.

“It is an awesome feeling,” said the Spaniard. “For sure, it is the best moment [of my career].

“Also I didn’t think this year I could do it, I was thinking on next year to do it.

“[I’m] so happy for the team, because they deserve it. They worked so hard, and [even though] I’m leaving Suzuki, this is one of the best things I could do to give to them.”

Cool conditions helped

One of the Suzuki’s GSX-RR’s chief weaknesses this season has been a lack of grip at the rear late in the race, and particularly in hot conditions.

However, Vinales said the cooler weather at Silverstone helped him to protect the rear tyre, which had the team had been working to be able to conserve in the race since Friday.

“Today it was cold, so I was fast,” said Vinales. “We worked so hard on Friday to have a bike that conserved the tyres, and also in Brno we made a step in that way.

“I was feeling great, I was so confident on the front and not using so much the gas like in other races.

“The bike was keeping really good the tyre, I hope this continues even when the ground is hot.”


Avon Tyres celebrates Classic TT victories ahead of Goodwood Revival
 
MELKSHAM, UK, 31 August, 2016 –Avon Tyres is a British brand widely acknowledged as the master of classic race tyres. This status has been underlined once again in the Isle of Man with victories for Avon in both the Senior and Junior Classic TT races, for John McGuinness and Michael Dunlop respectively.
 
At this year’s Classic TT (27-29 August) Avon dominated the podium with top riders, including Dean Harrison, Maria Costello, Michael Rutter and Alan Oversby using Avon race rubber.
 
Avon Tyres Motorsport Manager, Steve Smith, said, "The script writers couldn’t have come up with a better story! John McGuinness wins the Senior Classic on Saturday and Michael Dunlop wins the Junior Classic on Sunday, both on Avon tyres."
 
The Avon Motorsport department remains in the Isle of Man this week, as the Manx Grand Prix immediately follows on from the Classic TT. Avon Tyres has high hopes of further success with riders using the Avon Xtreme race tyres to compete in the Lightweight, Junior and Senior races.
 
From the Manx Grand Prix, Avon will be heading across the Irish Sea, and down south, for the Goodwood Revival meeting in Chichester, West Sussex, where the Classic TT stars will be back in action.
 
"The Goodwood Revival is always a fantastic event and it's shaping up to be a real cracker this year with John McGuinness and Michael Dunlop riding on Avon race tyres," said Steve Smith. "We also have Kevin Schwantz, Troy Corser and Maria Costello competing, as well as a host of race legends and television personalities such as Steve Plater and Steve Parrish. Virtually all of the bikes at Goodwood will be running Avons, the majority of them on our special race versions of the AM26 Roadrider."
 
The Goodwood Revival takes place on 9-11 September, and is a magical step back in time, celebrating the halcyon days of racing. For further information on the world’s largest and most authentic historic racing event, visit www.goodwood.com.
 
For more information on Avon Tyres go to www.avon-tyres.co.uk.
 
You can also keep up-to-date with Avon on Facebookand Twitter.

 

Ducati’s Andrea Iannone will start the Austrian MotoGP round from pole position after an epic qualifying duel with Valentino Rossi, Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo.

Iannone only took pole as the chequered flag waved, grabbing the top spot from Rossi’s Yamaha with a lap of 1m23.142s.

Dovizioso had to settle for third on the second works Ducati, while Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo qualified on the inside of the second row, having held pole with just a few minutes remaining.

Points leader Marc Marquez, who dislocated his shoulder this morning in practice, will start fifth. He lost the front-end of his Honda at Turn 10 early in Q2, but just managed to save it.

Story of the session

Dovizioso set the early benchmark on 1m23.668s, topped by Iannone on 1m23.623s – but Lorenzo split the Ducatis, just 0.016s off provisional pole.

Dovizioso retook pole with 1m23.598s, restoring the Ducati 1-2 at the halfway point of the session. But Lorenzo lurked just 0.041s off the fastest time.

Lorenzo slammed in 1m23.361s, a whacking 0.237s faster at that point as the track evolved quickly. Dovizioso responded, but fell 0.035s short, as did Iannone on 1m23.396s, who was 0.043s away.

Dovizioso then grabbed P1 with his very last lap, that was topped by Rossi and then Iannone, who managed a session-topping 1m23.142s.

Lorenzo tumbled to fourth, two tenths off pole position. His bike appeared to run out of fuel on his in-lap too.

After an early scare at Turn 10, when he just managed to regain control of the front wheel of his bike as it folded underneath him, Marquez will start fifth – lapping a third of a second off the pace.

Maverick Vinales will start sixth for Suzuki, ahead of Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), Scott Redding (Pramac Ducati), Suzuki’s Aleix Espargaro and Hector Barbera (Avintia Ducati).

Eugene Laverty (Aspar Ducati) and the second works Honda of Dani Pedrosa rounded out the top 12.

Laverty produces Q1 shock

Crutchlow, who was P2 after the first Q1 run, had his fastest lap deleted due to track limits at Turn 10, so had to try again. He unleashed a 1m24.176s, which was then beaten by Danilo Petrucci on 1m24.123s.

Crutchlow went faster again, reducing the top time to 1m23.970s, but then Laverty set a stunning 1m23.961s to grasp away the top time and progressed to Q2 for the first time in his career.

Petrucci will start 13th from Bradley Smith, who qualified ahead of Tech 3 Yamaha teammate Pol Espargaro. Yonny Hernandez and Michele Pirro were next up.

Jack Miller crashed at Turn 4 early on in Q1, and qualified on his second bike. He will start 20th.

Q2 results:

Cla Driver Bike Time Gap
1  Andrea Iannone Ducati 1'23.142  
2  Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1'23.289 0.147
3  Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 1'23.298 0.156
4  Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1'23.361 0.219
5  Marc Marquez Honda 1'23.475 0.333
6  Maverick Viñales Suzuki 1'23.584 0.442
7  Cal Crutchlow Honda 1'23.597 0.455
8  Scott Redding Ducati 1'23.777 0.635
9  Aleix Espargaro Suzuki 1'23.813 0.671
10  Hector Barbera Ducati 1'23.822 0.680
11  Eugene Laverty Ducati 1'24.218 1.076
12  Dani Pedrosa Honda 1'24.263 1.121

Q1 results:

Cla Driver Bike Time Gap
1  Eugene Laverty Ducati 1'23.961  
2  Cal Crutchlow Honda 1'23.970 0.009
3  Danilo Petrucci Ducati 1'24.123 0.162
4  Bradley Smith Yamaha 1'24.126 0.165
5  Pol Espargaro Yamaha 1'24.265 0.304
6  Yonny Hernandez Ducati 1'24.472 0.511
7  Michele Pirro Ducati 1'24.593 0.632
8  Tito Rabat Honda 1'24.665 0.704
9  Alvaro Bautista Aprilia 1'24.673 0.712
10  Jack Miller Honda 1'24.852 0.891
11  Stefan Bradl Aprilia 1'24.895 0.934
12  Loris Baz Ducati 1'25.192 1.231

Reigning MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo has admitted he considered pulling into the pits midway through the Dutch TT because he was struggling for speed and did not feel "safe".

Lorenzo had a miserable time of it at Assen, tumbling down the order to 19th place in the first part of the race before it was red-flagged for heavy rain.

The Spaniard would wind up salvaging 10th after the restart as riders ahead of him crashed out en masse.

"I was more competitive [after the restart] - but it was not very difficult to be more competitive than the first race," Lorenzo conceded.

"Because I was... probably slower than ever. Especially when all the big water came, I was slower and slower. I was not safe, I did not see well - and to not crash I had to slow down.

"I was last one, very far from the next riders even. I thought to enter the pits because I was P19 and I wouldn't get any points. And I was taking risks.

"I even thought to stop in the pits. But luckily I keep on the track, they stop the race so I could restart again.

"In the second race, with the soft rear tyre and less water on the track, I was better, but still, one of the slowest riders - or the slowest one."

Lorenzo insisted, however, that he was going as fast as he could in the early stages of the race, even though his pace was obviously lacking.

"It's not that I was just going quiet, I was pushing, pushing on the braking, pushing in the middle of the corner, pushing on the acceleration.

"But the bike was giving me warnings - 'if you push more, you'll crash'. So even if I was slow, I wasn't safe."

Front tyre woes

Lorenzo attributed his Assen struggles to a lack of feeling with the front tyre, which he believes affected him more than any other rider on the grid.

He explained: "I think it's maybe the front - when I don't feel the front, I feel that the front doesn't have grip on braking and in the middle of the corner, with the style I have, with the position of my body on the bike, I just suffer more than the other riders and I'm not able to suddenly change my riding.

"Especially to gain the time on braking, on entry into corners - normally I sacrifice a bit the entry into corners to have corner speed, but if you don't have grip in the front, you cannot gain, but you lose on braking. So that's the only way.

"When I have front feeling, like in Motegi [2015], for example, in the rain, I've been able to be the fastest one.

"But when I don't have front grip, I can be the last one. I suffer more than the others and that's what happened today."

Marc Marquez says his second place in the Dutch TT at Assen feels like a victory after he extended his MotoGP points lead on a disastrous day for his main rivals.

Marquez lost out in the closing stages of the wet, two-part thriller to a charging Jack Miller, who went on to record a first-ever premier class win for himself and his Marc VDS Honda team.

Meanwhile, factory Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo both had a race to forget, the former crashing out of the lead not long after the restart and the latter struggling to a dismal 10th in the tricky conditions.

After being passed by Miller, Marquez admitted he was happy to just bank the points for second, extending his lead over Lorenzo to 24 points and pulling 42 clear of Rossi.

“Today was the race to lose points,” said the two-time champion. “All the team was saying, 40 times or more, ‘please finish the race!’

“In the second [part of the] race Valentino pushed a lot, I said 'okay, I cannot follow him'.  I did my own race, no stress or panic.

“Valentino pushed really hard, in two laps he opened [a lead of] two or three seconds. He was incredibly fast. I was pushing also, but inside my limit.

“But when I saw that he crashed, and Lorenzo was [far] behind, I saw that Miller was behind me and when he passed me, I just follow him.

“This second place is like a victory, because it was really critical conditions and these 20 points will be really important at the end of the championship.”

For his part, Miller revealed Marquez told him he had backed off to protect his points lead in the wake of Rossi and Lorenzo’s problems.

“I almost rolled off [the pace],” said the Australian. “He’d seen where Lorenzo was and where Valentino was, so he’d rolled off not to take any risks chasing down some stupid Australian.

“He left me out the front there, and I could see on the TV at Turn 5 how big the gap was. Even rolling off, you can’t go to sleep, so I just tried to keep focused.”


Jack Miller scored his maiden MotoGP race victory in a sensational wet Dutch TT at Assen, beating Marc Marquez in a restarted race.

The race started wet but drying, with Yonny Hernandez surging through to the lead on soft-compound tyres, before he crashed out.

Renowned wet-weather ace Danilo Petrucci was the next unlikely leader, and he was out front when the race was red flagged due to a biblical rainstorm.

The early laps of the 12-lap restart were remarkable, as second-placed Andrea Dovizioso – who twice started from pole – crashed out from second and then Valentino Rossi tumbled out of a handsome lead.

This handed the race to Honda, and it was Miller’s satellite Marc VDS machine that burst past two-time champion Marquez’s works version in a brave move at the chicane. Miller had restarted down in eighth, but starred when it truly mattered.

Scott Redding finished third on his Pramac Ducati, passing Pol Espargaro with two laps to go.

Reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo, who admits he struggles in wet conditions, struggled throughout but managed to salvage an important points finish in 10th.

Story of the race

At the start, Redding jumped into the lead briefly on his Pramac Ducati from Rossi and Dovizioso, but Redding ran wide at Turn 1 and dropped to seventh.

Rossi led Dovizioso, Suzuki’s Aleix Espargaro, Marquez and Lorenzo – up to fifth from 10th.

Hernandez was the man on the move early on, the fastest man on track, surging up to third by Turn 1 on lap two, as Pedrosa pushed Lorenzo down to seventh.

Marquez retook fourth from Aleix Espargaro, with Iannone also on the march from his back-of-the-grid start. He was up to seventh by lap two.

Hernadez’s Aspar Ducati, which was running soft tyres all round unlike the frontrunners, hit the front on lap three, surging past Dovizioso and Rossi to lead.

Lorenzo tumbled down the order as his rivals improved their laptimes. He was soon down to 17th, and out of the points.

Petrucci also came into his own at this stage on his Pramac Ducati, having starred at a wet Silverstone last year. He too was on soft/soft compounds and rose to fourth by lap five as the track continued to dry.

Hernandez managed the gap like a veteran once out front, holding a 2s buffer to Rossi, who still had Dovizioso for company. Behind Petrucci, Iannone passed Marquez for fifth after a fierce battle. Redding who was on a soft front, ran seventh.

Rain comes again

Just as the track seemed certain to dry, a rain shower hit the track after nine laps.

Dovizioso passed Rossi for second as the rain intensified, but was 2.6s behind Hernandez.

But the Hernandez fairytale story ended when he crashed at Turn 1 just before half distance, falling to 16th.

The field was reset with Dovizioso leading by 1.4s over Rossi, who had Petrucci right with him. Redding jumped up to fourth, ahead of Iannone and Marquez as rain bucketed down, making the track full wet again.

Iannone crashed out next, from fifth position. This promoted Cal Crutchlow to sixth, ahead of Pedrosa.

Petrucci and Rossi battled hard, bringing them right up to leader Dovizioso. Redding – by far the fastest man on track – joined the party too.

Petrucci and Redding passed Rossi, and then Petrucci hit the front with 12 laps remaining.

The red flag was then thrown, with the order Petrucci leading Dovizioso.

But both Petrucci’s pass on Dovizioso and Redding’s pass on Rossi were reversed (as results were taken from the lap before), so the race would restart in the order Dovizioso, Petrucci, Rossi, Redding, ahead of Pedrosa, Marquez, Crutchlow, Miller, and the Aprilias of Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl.

“After seven laps, it was getting dry,” said Petrucci during the break. “Then it rained heavy, heavy – and it was quite difficult with spinning in fifth and sixth gear on the back straight. There was too much water to see the track, it was a safety decision.”

Redding reported: “It was terrible, I couldn’t see. The rain was so hard it was sticking to the visor, I had to look under the gap, it was quite scary. I was getting a lot of spinning on the rear tyre.”

Dash to the flag restart

With the storm passed, the race restarted in still-wet conditions.

From his second pole of the day, Dovizioso led Rossi, Marquez, Petrucci, Crutchlow, Redding and Pedrosa. Marquez briefly hit the front at Turn 1, but overshot.

Miller then surged up to fourth, as Pedrosa dropped his Honda at Turn 9. Crutchlow followed suit at Turn 12 a few turns later.

Rossi then hit the front before the end of the opening lap, leading Dovizioso, Marquez and Miller. The Tech 3 Yamahas burst into the top six, Pol Espargaro ahead of Bradley Smith as the star of race one, Petrucci, ground to a halt. Smith crashed at Turn 15.

Dovizioso tumbled out of second place in spectacular style at Turn 12 on lap two, and Rossi did likewise – falling from a convincing lead over Marquez. The front-end of his Yamaha folded underneath him at just 80kph. Aleix Espargaro was the next to fall.

The race was now a straight fight between Marquez and Miller, and Miller hit the front at the chicane with nine laps to go. Pol Espargaro ran third, ahead of Redding and Iannone.

Redding passed Espargaro for the bottom step of the podium on the penultimate lap, but this was a race that was all about Miller’s breakthrough first victory in the most sensational of circumstances.

Race results:

Pos. # Driver Bike Time
1 43  Jack Miller Honda 22'17.447
2 93  Marc Marquez Honda 22'19.438
3 45  Scott Redding Ducati 22'23.353
4 44  Pol Espargaro Yamaha 22'27.259
5 29  Andrea Iannone Ducati 22'35.282
6 8  Hector Barbera Ducati 22'36.139
7 50  Eugene Laverty Ducati 22'40.052
8 6  Stefan Bradl Aprilia 22'41.050
9 25  Maverick Viñales Suzuki 22'43.595
10 99  Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 22'45.051
11 53  Tito Rabat Honda 23'39.277
12 26  Dani Pedrosa Honda 24'11.816
13 38  Bradley Smith Yamaha  
Ret 19  Alvaro Bautista Aprilia  
Ret 51  Michele Pirro Ducati  
Ret  46  Valentino Rossi Yamaha  
Ret  41  Aleix Espargaro Suzuki  
Ret  4  Andrea Dovizioso Ducati  
Ret  9  Danilo Petrucci Ducati  
Ret  35  Cal Crutchlow Honda  
Ret  68  Yonny Hernandez Ducati  

Dutch MotoGP pole winner Andrea Dovizioso admitted he was “lucky” to get track position behind Valentino Rossi on his final lap of the session, which allowed him to judge his pace in tricky damp conditions.

Dovizioso took pole by seven tenths of a second over Rossi, and he said his qualifying strategy worked out perfectly – having also topped FP3 in the dry.

He followed Rossi on the crucial final lap of the session, during which all the top times were set.

“This afternoon it was really easy to make a mistake, but we were very good in analysing the situation,” said Dovizioso. "In the middle of [qualifying] the track became more dry so I understood to change the strategy and to put another set [of wet tyres] and make just one lap.

"I was lucky to start behind Valentino and I did a good laptime. My feeling on the bike is much better than the last few races.”

Rossi content with front-row start

Rossi rued a missed opportunity of taking his third pole of the season, but was happy enough with a front-row start.

“I stop because my rear tyre was already too hot,” said Rossi of his mid-session pitstop. “And because some places of the track were dry – but for me it was too early for the intermediate. Three or four corners were completely wet.

“So we put another rain tyre and it was the right solution. It's a shame for me not to be on pole position for sure, but I'm more than happy to be starting from the first line tomorrow."


Andrea Dovizioso took a dramatic pole position in damp conditions for the Dutch MotoGP at Assen’s famous TT track.

After rain during FP4, in which a number of riders fell, Q1 started wet but the track dried throughout Q2, although the majority stayed on full-wet tyres.

The works Ducati rider took the top spot on the final lap of the session as the track improved, lapping in 1m45.246s.

He was seven tenths clear of Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi, Pramac Ducati’s Scott Redding (his first-ever MotoGP front row) and Honda’s Marc Marquez – who bounced back after falling at the start of Q2.

Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo will start 10th, as his bad memories of Assen in the wet apparently came back to haunt him.

Story of the session

To prove how tricky the conditions were, Maverick Vinales crashed on his out lap at Turn 5 at very slow speed. He had to abandon his bike and run back to the pits.

Pol Espargaro and Yonny Hernandez had progressed from Q1 and already had a feel for the conditions. Espargaro topped the early going on his Tech 3 Yamaha.

Dovizioso then led the way on 1m47.638s, as the track dried towards the end of the session.

Pol retook the top spot with 1m46.997s, ahead of renowned wet-weather ace Danilo Petrucci.

With seconds to go, the screens lit up with fastest sector times.

As the chequered flag fell, Dovizioso grabbed P1 with a clear advantage, ahead of Rossi in P2 (whom Dovizioso had followed on his pole lap), Redding and Cal Crutchlow.

Marquez had crashed on his outlap with 9 minutes to go, sprinting away from his wrecked bike just moments after falling off it.

He grabbed a photographer’s scooter – belonging to the official Honda snapper – and raced back to his pit, where his mechanics toiled to change his second bike from dry to wet settings.

That meant he only had four minutes to set a time, and in the closing seconds he went P4 to demote Crutchlow, finishing as the top Honda after losing time in the third sector.

Hernandez will start from the outside of the second, with the third row comprising the Espargaro brothers (Pol ahead of Aleix) and Petrucci.

Iannone tried intermediates, destined to a back of the grid start after taking out Jorge Lorenzo last time out in Barcelona. He qualified ninth, but his demotion promoted Lorenzo to 10th, ahead of Vinales.

Honda’s Dani Pedrosa was only sixth fastest in Q1, following a crash in FP4. He will start from 15th on the grid.

Race grid

Pos. Driver Bike Time
1 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 1'45.246
2 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1'45.961
3 Scott Redding Ducati 1'46.312
4 Marc Marquez Honda 1'46.430
5 Cal Crutchlow Honda 1'46.568
6 Yonny Hernandez Ducati 1'46.828
7 Pol Espargaro Yamaha 1'46.997
8 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki 1'47.118
9 Danilo Petrucci Ducati 1'47.601
10 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1'47.897
11 Maverick Viñales Suzuki 1'48.415
12 Hector Barbera Ducati 1'48.830
13 Bradley Smith Yamaha 1'48.909
14 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia 1'49.163
15 Dani Pedrosa Honda 1'49.364
16 Eugene Laverty Ducati 1'49.678
17 Stefan Bradl Aprilia 1'49.685
18 Jack Miller Honda 1'49.775
19 Tito Rabat Honda 1'49.779
20 Michele Pirro Ducati 1'50.204
21 Andrea Iannone Ducati 1'47.567

Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo have both stated they will attend Friday’s MotoGP Safety Commission meeting, having controversially skipped the previous meeting at Barcelona.

The factory Yamaha riders were criticised for failing to attend the regular Friday evening slot in the wake of Moto2 rider Luis Salom’s death in a practice crash at the Catalunya track’s high-speed Turn 12.

The 10 riders that did attend the Barcelona meeting unanimously supported the decision to switch to the Formula 1 layout of the Spanish venue for the remainder of the weekend.

Rossi in particular was slammed by Tech 3 rider Bradley Smith for not having attended a single Safety Commission meeting since his clash with Marc Marquez at Sepang last season.

Asked in the pre-event press conference if he was planning to attend the meeting at Assen after the tragic events of Barcelona, Rossi said that he intends to be present.

“I think that tomorrow I will go,” said the Italian, “because we will speak about Barcelona all together to understand what we can do for the future, which I think is important.”

Meanwhile, Lorenzo said that while his crowded schedule usually doesn’t allow him the opportunity to attend Safety Commission meetings, he will make an exception in Assen.

“Normally my schedule is very tight and I prefer not go, and trust the other riders,” he said.

“But I think tomorrow will be very important to stay there because we will decide what to do in Montmelo [Barcelona].”

More run-off needed

With the future of the Barcelona layout likely to be high on the agenda at Assen, Rossi said the run-off area of both the corners bypassed by the F1 track – Turns 10 and 12 – would need to be extended to be able to revert to the usual MotoGP layout in future years.

“We need to understand if there is a chance to use the normal MotoGP layout, because it’s better,” said Rossi.

“But it’s not enough for me to have a gravel bed where Luis crashed. If we want to use that corner, we need more run-off area, and move the stand [back].

“About Turn 10, it’s also difficult to understand the best way. The normal layout is safer, because you have less risk when a rider makes a mistake in braking, like Iannone [when he hit Lorenzo].

“But also the run-off area is not enough. I don’t know, we will see tomorrow.”


Cal Crutchlow has confirmed he will be staying at the LCR Honda MotoGP team next year, ending speculation about his future at the Monegasque squad.

The British rider joined LCR from the factory Ducati team for 2015, and later in the campaign signed a two-year extension to his deal covering the 2016 and 2017 seasons.

Crutchlow's place at the team was dependent on the team choosing not to take up an option to end the deal a year early, as had been rumoured when it was believed LCR was in negotiations to run a satellite Suzuki for Johann Zarco.

Speaking in the pre-event press conference at Assen, the 30-year-old put such speculation to bed - and added he hopes to stay with the satellite Honda squad in 2018.

"Obviously I will be with LCR next year," said Crutchlow. "Lucio [Cecchinello, team owner] had a clause in the contract [to part ways], which he didn't exercise, so I'm staying there next year.

"And then I will discuss a whole new contract with him for 2018, it seems."

Espargaro announcement delayed

There was also expected to be another rider announcement in the pre-race press conference, that of Aleix Espargaro confirming a two-year deal with Aprilia.

However, a delayed flight for the Spaniard, who missed the conference, means that official confirmation of the move has been postponed.

2017 MotoGP grid so far:

Team Riders
Yamaha

 Valentino Rossi

 Maverick Vinales

Honda

 Marc Marquez

 Dani Pedrosa

Ducati

 Jorge Lorenzo

 Andrea Dovizioso

Suzuki

 Andrea Iannone

 Alex Rins

Aprilia

 Sam Lowes

 Aleix Espargaro

KTM

 Bradley Smith

 Pol Espargaro

Tech 3 Yamaha

 Jonas Folger

TBA

LCR Honda  Cal Crutchlow
Marc VDS Honda TBA
Pramac Ducati TBA
Avintia Ducati TBA
Aspar Ducati TBA

Pata Yamaha has drafted in local rider Niccolo Canepa to stand in for the injured Sylvain Guintoli for this weekend's World Superbike races at Misano.

Guintoli is still out of action as he recovers from injuries sustained during his severe qualifying crash at Imola, having already sat out the Sepang and Donington Park rounds.

The Crescent-run Pata Yamaha squad chose MotoAmerica champion Cameron Beaubier to stand in for the Frenchman at Donington, the Californian ending up as the team's sole representative when Alex Lowes was declared unfit to race.

Lowes however is ready to return to action at Misano, where he will be paired with his third teammate of the season in the form of Canepa, who has appeared in two rounds of the Superstock 1000 Cup this season as well as racing in the Endurance World Championship for the GMT94 Yamaha team.

The 28-year-old Italian previously contested a season of MotoGP for the Pramac squad in 2009, and has been a regular competitor in World Superbike for the last two seasons.

"I'm really happy to be back in WorldSBK and with the Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team," said Canepa. "It is also great to have this opportunity in Italy and to race in front of the Italian fans.

"After completing the test with the Pata Yamaha team 10 days ago I feel ready to ride the WorldSBK-spec YZF-R1. For sure the level in the championship is very high but I will fight as usual to do my best."

Smith's

Bradley Smith reckons continuing to work alongside his current teammate MotoGP Pol Espargaro at KTM next year will help the team's development in the future.

Smith, who has spent all four of his premier class seasons with Tech 3, was announced as KTM's first rider for 2017 in March.

Espargaro was recently named as Smith's partner at the Austrian manufacturer, and the Briton believes their competitive relationship will help KTM make swift progress.

"We have respect for each other after working together for three years," said Smith. "It's a respectful hatred.

"I wouldn't pick him up on the side of the road if he'd broke down. I'd just give him the middle finger and carry on, but I wouldn't put him in the ditch!

"There was a story at Suzuka [8 Hours] where we've been trying to outdo each other the whole time we were there, if it rained it was about who could to the fastest lap in the rain and the same in the dry.

"Then it got dark so we were told we can only do three laps so I went out I did my three laps, funnily enough Pol got traffic in two of his three laps so he stayed out for five until he went faster than my lap.

"It's just how we work and we keep it as a positive."

KTM picked two fastest non-factory riders

Smith also praised KTM's decision to pick Espargaro, due to the fact their similar riding style will help the team to take in the right direction.

"If I was a team manager, I would choose Pol, because you're basically taking the two fastest non-factory riders that are available at the moment," said Smith.

"We've ridden a Yamaha together for the last three years and pretty much put it on the same piece of tarmac week in, week out.

"When you actually build a chassis, you don't have to build one for one rider and one for another, so one bike goes like this and the other like that because they are working in parallel with each other, which can only lead to good success."

Tech 3 has "difficult" task

Satellite Yamaha team Tech 3 will take on the 2017 season with an all-new lineup and, despite having already signed Moto2 rider Jonas Folger, the team has beenstruggling to find a second rider.

Asked how he felt about the situation by Motorsport.com, Smith showed little sympathy towards his team's apparent issues.

"I got told in February I didn't have a job, so maybe if he [Herve Poncharal, Tech 3 team boss] had thought about this scenario six months ago, then things would be different," said Smith.

"But he didn't, and he put himself in this situation, and they need to find a way to do it. Replacing two of the fastest non-factory riders is going to be difficult, but it's their job to do so."


Pole-sitter Tom Sykes recovered from a sluggish opening lap to win the first World Superbike race at Donington Park, as early leader Chaz Davies fell twice.

Despite dominating qualifying, Sykes dropped down to fourth over the duration of a single lap to run behind his Kawasaki teammate Jonathan Rea and the two Ducatis of Davies and Davide Giugliano.

Davies, second on the grid, stole the lead at Turn 1 and the Welshman was joined by teammate Giugliano, who made a forceful move on Sykes.

Having lost momentum after the overtake, Sykes was demoted by points leader Rea and spent the early stages in fourth.

While Giugliano put some pressure on his teammate initially, he started to lose ground, only to inherit the lead on Lap 6 when Davies fell at the final turn, dropping to 16th.

He was on course to finish within the top 10, having recovered to ninth in the space of 10 laps, but crashed again and retired in the gravel.

Now second, Rea copied Davies in making a mistake at the same spot, the championship leader running wide and falling behind Sykes, although he was able to rejoin.

That allowed Giugliano and Sykes to spend the rest of the race separated from the rest of the field, with the latter slowly putting increasing pressure on the Italian.

Despite successfully holding off the first couple of overtaking attempts, Giugliano eventually had to give up the lead as Sykes went past him at the hairpin.

Sykes then shook off Giugliano and took the chequered flag first, denying the Ducati rider his maiden WSBK win.

Rea completed the podium seven seconds adrift, having made the same mistake one more time.

Although front-row starter Lorenzo Savadori (Ioda Aprilia) spent the majority of the race in fourth, he ran wide in the final stages and had to settle for sixth.

Leon Camier (MV Agusta) was overtaken by Nicky Hayden early on, but the Briton fought back to secure fourth, with the Honda rider completing the top five.

Hayden's teammate Michael Van der Mark recovered to eighth from 13th on the grid, unable to pass Jordi Torres (Althea BMW) in the end.

Karel Abraham (Milwaukee BMW) and Anthony West (Pedercini Kawasaki) took ninth and 10th respectively, the latter making a visit into the gravel after contact with Alex de Angelis.

WSBK debutant and Yamaha's sole factory representative, Cameron Beaubier, retired in the early stages of the race.

Full results:

Pos Rider Team Bike Time/Gap
1 United KingdomTom Sykes Kawasaki Racing Kawasaki ZX-10R 34:04.276
2 ItalyDavide Giugliano Ducati Team Ducati 1199 Panigale R +2.869
3 United KingdomJonathan Rea Kawasaki Racing Kawasaki ZX-10R +9.808
4 United KingdomLeon Camier MV Agusta MV Agusta 1000 F4 +13.747
5 United StatesNicky Hayden Honda Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR SP +14.007
6 ItalyLorenzo Savadori Ioda Racing Project Aprilia RSV4 RF +14.640
7 SpainJordi Torres Althea Racing BMW S1000 RR +16.337
8 NetherlandsMichael van der Mark Honda Ten Kata Honda CBR1000RR SP +16.535
9 Czech RepublicKarel Abraham Team Milwaukee BMW S1000 RR +36.874
10 AustraliaAnthony West Team Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R +39.074
11 GermanyMarkus Reiterberger Althea Racing BMW S1000 RR +41.144
12 SpainXavi Fores Barni Racing Team Ducati 1199 Panigale R +41.275
13 SpainRoman Ramos Team Go Eleven Kawasaki ZX-10R +48.094
14 AustraliaJosh Brookes Team Milwaukee BMW S1000 RR +50.125
15 SwitzerlandDominic Schmitter Grillini SBK Team Kawasaki ZX-10R +1:18.008
16 PolandPawel Szkopek Team Toth Yamaha YZF-R1 +1:29.605
17 QatarSaeed Al Sulaiti Team Pedercini Kawasaki ZX-10R +1 lap
18 HungaryImre Toth Team Toth Yamaha YZF-R1 +2 laps
R Luca Scassa VFT Racing Ducati 1199 Panigale R  
R Chaz Davies Ducati Team Ducati 1199 Panigale R  
R Alex de Angelis Ioda Racing Project Aprilia RSV4 RF  
R  Mathieu Lussiana  Team Aspi BMW S1000 RR  
R United StatesCameron Beaubier  Pata Yamaha Yamaha YZF-R1  
Rossi: Points situation “very bad” after Mugello retirement

Valentino Rossi says his situation in the MotoGP points standings looks "very bad” after he recorded his second retirement of the year with an engine failure at Mugello.

After taking pole position on home turf on Saturday, Rossi was locked in battle with Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo during the early part of the race before he was ruled out of contention.

With Lorenzo going on to win the race, beating Marc Marquez by a hair’s breadth, it means Rossi now lags by 37 points in the title chase.

The Italian said that he felt he had the pace to beat Lorenzo in a straight fight before his engine wilted.

“It’s always a great shame when you have a technical failure in the race, but this race even more because I was very strong all weekend," Rossi told the media afterwards.

“For sure I could fight for victory. I was behind Lorenzo, but sincerely I think I had a little bit more pace compared to him, so for sure I could have attacked.

“But unfortunately the engine broke, I think it’s the same problem that happened to him in warm-up. We were a little bit worried, because usually [this kind of problem] doesn’t happen.”

He added: “It’s a great shame for the championship, because I scored zero and Lorenzo and Marquez arrived first and second.

“So now the distance to the top [of the standings] is 37 points, which is very bad, quite a big gap.”

First race failure since 2007

Having already suffered one DNF after crashing out of the third round of the season at Austin, Rossi now has one more non-score to his name than chief rivals Lorenzo and Marquez.

“Unfortunately I did a mistake in Austin, Lorenzo and Marquez also did a mistake in these six races, but this [retirement] is very heavy,” continued the 37-year-old.

“It hasn’t been since Misano 2007 that my bike broke in the race, nine years. I think there was something wrong with both engines, for me and Lorenzo.

“The difference is his [failed] in warm-up, and mine in the race. But this can happen. You can’t do anything but take the good things from the weekend and try next time.”

Mugello podium finisher Andrea Iannone was left to rue his poor start to his home race that he believes cost him a chance of a maiden MotoGP victory.

Starting from the front row, the Ducati rider had a poor getaway, and was only 12th at the end of the opening lap.

Although he recovered to cross the finish line in third place, the Italian said he had the pace to fight with leaders Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez, as shown by setting the fastest lap of the race on the very last lap.

"I'm very happy because it's very important for us, especially in this place," said Iannone, who will join Suzuki next year. "A podium is always a good performance.

"I'm very disappointed about my start, it was very bad and after the first lap I was in 12th.

"After three or four laps, step-by-step I improved my pace and I'm very happy for this because, in the last lap, I got my best lap of 1m46.6s, and it is very important for us.

"For sure we had a good possibility to fight for the victory, and this for me is very important. I wanted it, but for sure we try in the next race."

Bad starts an issue since the start of the season

Iannone said he has been struggling with starts all season and, although he felt he made a breakthrough before the weekend, it was once again the weak point of his race.

"In general this year in every race my start is very bad, I don't have a good feeling with the clutch," explained the Italian.

"We have been trying to adjust this problem and change the setting of the clutch, my team works a lot to improve the situation but for me it's always very difficult.

"This weekend I had a little bit more tranquility because before the weekend I tried the start and it went well, but in the race it did not, unfortunately."

Iannone secured the second podium finish of his 2016 campaign, and is currently ninth in the standings.


Italian Grand Prix winner Jorge Lorenzo admitted he thought he had lost out to Marc Marquez as he exited the final corner of a thrilling Mugello race.

After an intense final-lap duel, Lorenzo edged Marquez by a mere 0.019s at the chequered flag, the reigning MotoGP champion outdragging his rival having left the last turn in second place.

Speaking afterwards, Lorenzo said he had already accepted defeat in his mind when he pulled alongside and passed Marquez in the final metres.

“It was a very difficult race because the track in these conditions has not been very grippy, so the pace has not been very fast,” said the Spaniard.

“I pushed 100 percent all race but I used a lot of energy, maybe Marquez behind had a little bit more energy to attack at the end.

“When he passed me on the last lap, I thought maybe I have to save the points.”

He added: “On the last lap I try the inside [at the final corner] but Marquez closed the door very well, so the only chance was the straight. I thought [at this point] ‘Jorge, you’ve lost the race’.

“My bike was very fast, I was recovering metres quickly, so finally I win the race unexpectedly.”

Biondetti pass inspired by history

Immediately before the final corner, Lorenzo attempted to pass Marquez at the unusual location of the Biondetti chicane - diving in front of the Honda rider, only to be repassed exiting the complex.

Lorenzo revealed that the move was inspired by a successful manoeuvre on 250cc rival Alex de Angelis at the same corner during the intermediate class race at Mugello in 2005.

“I remember at the last chicane that I overtook de Angelis in 2005 for second place,” said Lorenzo. “I thought I could do the same [to Marquez].

“So I tried an aggressive move, and it was ok, but then Marquez went through again.”

Pedrosa to stay with Honda MotoGP team until 2018

Dani Pedrosa will stay on with the Honda MotoGP squad for another two years, the Spaniard set to extend his deal with the team until 2018.

Maverick Vinales' move to Yamaha means the rest of the pieces of the puzzle will now start falling in place quickly.

Pedrosa will be the next man to sign a new deal with Honda, meaning he will stay with the Japanese team at least until he is 33 years old.

The Catalan approved the deal last Friday, and Honda's intention is to announce it officially before Yamaha confirms Vinales next Thursday.

This way, Honda secures its second rider before it has signed its first one, although both the team and Marc Marquez are aware they will end up reaching a deal.

Suzuki looks to Ducati riders

Vinales' arrival at Yamaha means one of the two Suzuki bikes will be available in 2017.

Given how much the GSX-RR bike has improved over the past months - and its potential to get even better - that seat will be the most coveted from now on.

As of today, Suzuki is considering two options: signing one of the two Andreas, Iannone or Dovizioso - the one Ducati lets go - or go for a riskier approach and hire a young and less experienced rider, probably from Moto2.

In this case, the favourites would be Johann Zarco, the reigning Moto2 champion, and Alex Rins, winner of the most recent race at Le Mans.

Le Mans MotoGP: Lorenzo dominates crash-filled French GP

Jorge Lorenzo scored his second MotoGP win of the season at Le Mans, as erstwhile points leader Marc Marquez was one of eight riders to crash out.

Honda’s Marquez and Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso both fell simultaneously in a bizarre incident as they turned into the Chemin aux Boeufs chicane while placed third and fourth.

The star of the race was Rossi, who made a good start but was shuffled down to seventh on the opening lap. He battled through to second, but could do nothing about Yamaha teammate Lorenzo, who won by 10s – and takes the points lead from Marquez.

Story of the race

From pole position, Lorenzo rocketed away to lead Dovizioso, Pol Espargaro (Tech 3 Yamaha) and Andrea Iannone (Ducati). Rossi was up to sixth off the startline behind Marquez, who made a poor start.

Iannone passed Pol, with Marquez following him through, but Pol briefly got him back – until Marquez bullied past him again at Garage Vert.

The recovering Pol delayed Rossi at the following chicane, allowing Bradley Smith and Aleix Espargaro past.

Rossi quickly pushed Smith back behind him, and then overtook Aleix into the Dunlop chicane.

Rossi quickly caught Pol for fifth and passed him into the Dunlop chicane on lap three, but was already 3.3s off Lorenzo’s lead. He then set the fastest lap of the race as he chased down Marquez in fourth.

Near the front, Iannone bullied past his teammate Dovizioso for second, without skittling him down like he had done in Argentina, but the Italian was 1s behind Lorenzo after he did so.

A lap later, however, Iannone crashed out all on his own in the middle of the double-apex Garage Vert – losing the front end, just after he’d taken a couple of tenths out of Lorenzo’s lead.

Instead, Lorenzo was gifted a 2s lead over Dovizioso which he extended with metronomic excellence.

The true battle was for second, as Marquez and Rossi closed in on Dovizioso.

Rossi made his move straight away, lunging past Marquez for third at Garage Vert just before half distance. A lap later, he did likewise to Dovizioso at Le Musee.

Amazing double crash

Amazingly, a few laps later, Dovizioso and Marquez then fell simultaneously into the Chemin aux Boeufs chicane.

Lorenzo had a 5s lead by this point over Rossi, with Vinales up to third. Dani Pedrosa battled up to fourth from 11th on the grid on the second works Honda, ahead of the Espargaro brothers – Pol ahead of Aleix.

Bradley Smith crashed out of seventh position, promoting comeback kid Danilo Petrucci, despite his damaged right hand, just ahead of Hector Barbera and the Aprilias of Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl.

Cal Crutchlow shunted out of 10th place, with other fallers including Tito Rabat, Yonny Hernandez and Jack Miller.

Pos Rider Bike Time
SpainJorge Lorenzo Yamaha YZR-M1  43:51.290 
ItalyValentino Rossi Yamaha YZR-M1  +10.654 
SpainMaverick Viñales Suzuki GSX-RR  +14.177 
SpainDani Pedrosa Honda RC213V  +18.719 
SpainPol Espargaro Yamaha YZR-M1  +24.931 
SpainAleix Espargaro Suzuki GSX-RR  +32.921 
ItalyDanilo Petrucci Ducati GP15  +38.251 
SpainHector Barbera Ducati GP14  +38.504 
SpainAlvaro Bautista Aprilia RS-GP  +48.536 
10  GermanyStefan Bradl Aprilia RS-GP  +54.502 
11  IrelandEugene Laverty Ducati GP14  +1:02.677 
12  FranceLoris Baz Ducati GP14  +1:07.658 
13  SpainMarc Marquez Honda RC213V  +1 lap 
R Bradley Smith Yamaha YZR-M1  
R Jack Miller Honda RC213V  
R Andrea Dovizioso Ducati GP16  
R Andrea Iannone Ducati GP16  
R Tito Rabat Honda RC213V  
R Cal Crutchlow Honda RC213V  
R Yonny Hernandez Ducati GP14  
R Scott Redding Ducati GP15  

Jorge Lorenzo scored his first-ever pole around the Le Mans Bugatti circuit for Sunday’s French Grand Prix, as Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi struggled badly and will start from the third row of the grid.

Lorenzo set the fastest-ever lap of the short version of the classic French venue, taking pole position by 0.441s ahead of Honda’s Marc Marquez.

Andrea Iannone will start third for Ducati, despite falling on his out lap ahead of his second run.

Rossi – who dominated at Jerez – has struggled this weekend and will start from the third row, as the Tech 3 Yamahas both beat him.

Story of the session

Lorenzo was not hanging around from the start, setting 1m32.437s on his first flying lap – the fastest of the weekend so far.

His main rival early on emerged as Iannone, who was on a faster lap but lost time in final sector, setting a 1m32.469s that was a few hundredths shy. Rossi was third-fastest at this point.

Lorenzo continued his run to bang in a 1m32.236s – just before Honda’s Dani Pedrosa crashed at Dunlop Chicane, losing the front end as he touched the throttle.

That incident split the session into two, with the final five minutes ending up quite frantic.

The drama happened straight away, as Iannone fell on his out lap due to a water pump issue – running to his second bike with less than three minutes on the clock.

First, Pol Espargaro’s Tech 3 Yamaha bumped Rossi off the front row, and then Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso did likewise to Espargaro moments later.

Dovizioso set an overall fastest first sector, but then lost any outside chance of snatching pole.

On his second run, Lorenzo improved to 1m31.975s, giving him pole by 0.441s.

Marquez produced a stunning lap to go P2, with Iannone unable to improve after his tumble - albeit the Ducati man did hold on to his third place.

Pol Espargaro produced a stellar effort to grab P4 with his final lap, pushing Dovizioso down to fifth.

Bradley Smith will start sixth on the second Tech 3 Yamaha, having demoted Rossi down to the third row.

Suzuki’s Maverick Vinales starts eighth, ahead of Cal Crutchlow, who complained of a huge vibration on his LCR Honda.

The returning Danilo Petrucci will start 10th, despite crashing out late on.

Pedrosa will start 11th, with Aleix Espargaro 12th.

Pos Rider Bike Time
SpainJorge Lorenzo Yamaha YZR-M1  1:31.975 
SpainMarc Marquez Honda RC213V  1:32.416 
ItalyAndrea Iannone Ducati GP16  1:32.469 
SpainPol Espargaro Yamaha YZR-M1  1:32.502 
ItalyAndrea Dovizioso Ducati GP16  1:32.587 
United KingdomBradley Smith Yamaha YZR-M1  1:32.820 
ItalyValentino Rossi Yamaha YZR-M1  1:32.829 
SpainMaverick Viñales Suzuki GSX-RR  1:32.933 
United KingdomCal Crutchlow Honda RC213V  1:32.963 
10  ItalyDanilo Petrucci Ducati GP15  1:33.102 
11  SpainDani Pedrosa Honda RC213V  1:33.109 
12  SpainAleix Espargaro Suzuki GSX-RR  1:33.115 
13  SpainHector Barbera Ducati GP14  1:33.291 
14  United KingdomScott Redding Ducati GP15  1:33.310 
15  ColombiaYonny Hernandez Ducati GP14  1:33.360 
16  IrelandEugene Laverty Ducati GP14  1:33.452 
17  GermanyStefan Bradl Aprilia RS-GP  1:34.003 
18  AustraliaJack Miller Honda RC213V  1:34.049 
19  SpainAlvaro Bautista Aprilia RS-GP  1:34.333 
20  SpainTito Rabat Honda RC213V  1:34.348 
21  FranceLoris Baz Ducati GP14  1:34.455
Rossi: Top five was possible if not for mistake

Yamaha's Valentino Rossi believes he could have done better in qualifying at Le Mans if not for a wrong strategy call and a mistake on his final flying lap.

The Italian will head row three on the grid tomorrow, having lapped eight tenths off his teammate and poleman Jorge Lorenzo.

Speaking about his day, Rossi said: "Today, fortunately, we improve a lot our speed, our potential - this is important, the most important. And I was more competitive. But still not enough.

"Unfortunately, with my speed, with my potential, I could've started more in front, but we did some mistakes in qualifying. We did a wrong strategy and unfortunately I was stuck in the traffic, I lose a lot of time."

The Italian believes he was on course for a top-five finish with his final lap at the chequered flag, before dropping seven tenths in the third sector.

"I had another chance for make one good lap and it was not so bad, but I made a mistake in section three and I lose a lot, unfortunately.

"If not [for that], my potential, I think, is to start in the top five.

"But I have to start from the third row, for sure is more difficult. The race pace is not so bad, but from the third row everything is more difficult."

Baulked by Pedrosa fall

Rossi also said his qualifying strategy was compromised by Dani Pedrosa dropping his Honda on exit of the Dunlop Chicane.

"For me, the problem is that I have a different strategy, but unfortunately Pedrosa crashed in front of me and I have to stop the lap," Rossi said.

"In that moment I come back into the box - and after is not very easy because if you push, they push, if you slow down, they slow down. So after my exit, I had traffic, it was very difficult.

Despite a difficult weekend so far, Rossi has not ruled out taking the fight to leaders Lorenzo and Marc Marquez on race day if he is able to find a couple more tenths per lap.

He did, however, concede: "Anyway, starting from the third row, the podium is already a good target."

Three-time MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo will leave Yamaha and move to Ducati from 2017 in a
two-year deal.

Lorenzo entered MotoGP with Yamaha in 2008 and has won 41 races along with his 2010, '12 and '15 titles,
but this
year will mark the end of that relationship.

Talk that the Spaniard would move to Ducati had intensified in the last month, since team-mate Valentino Rossi
announced his new cotract extension during the Qatar Grand Prix weekend.

Lorenzo was offered his own new deal at the same time but elected not to sign, with Yamaha team boss Lin
Jarvis admitting he believed Lorenzo was waiting on an offer from Ducati.

Having remained tight-lipped about his future, Lorenzo's 2017 decision was confirmed by press releases from
Yamaha
and Ducati in quick succession on Monday afternoon.

Ducati will have to make a call on who lines up alongside Lorenzo, with Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone
both out of contract at the end of 2016.

Lorenzo is not expected to be able to discuss the move for the balance of his days as a Yamaha rider, with Jarvis
listed to join him in this Thursday's press conference before the Jerez race, in Rossi's regular place.

Jarvis said last month that Yamaha already had "ideas" on who to sign if it had to replace Lorenzo, with Suzuki's
Maverick Vinales believed to be at the top of the list.

Marc Marquez took pole position for the third round of MotoGP at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas, but only just from Jorge Lorenzo.

Championship leader Marquez – who has won here every time he’s raced at COTA – lapped his Honda in 2m03.188s. This was his fourth successive Austin pole.

"Really happy with pole position, we are working hard for tomorrow and it looks like my pace is good – both Yamahas are closer," said Marquez.

Although this is far from Yamaha’s best circuit, Lorenzo threw everything at Marquez, and got within 0.069s at his second attempt, but it just wasn’t enough to snatch pole.

“We made a great job to improve the bike in every session, so I did a very good lap time and I’m very proud of it,” said Lorenzo.

Lorenzo’s teammate Valentino Rossi will start third, getting to within half a second of pole.

“It’s crucial for the race,” said Rossi. “From this morning we improved the bike a lot. I did some good laps.”

Penalised Iannone best of the rest

Andrea Iannone qualified fourth, but will drop three places for his last-corner crash with Ducati teammate Andrea Dovizioso in Argentina.

That promotes Maverick Vinales (Suzuki), Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) and Dovizioso to the second row.

Behind Iannone, Honda’s Dani Pedrosa will start eighth, ahead of Aleix Espargaro’s Suzuki, Scott Redding’s Pramac Ducati, Bradley Smith (Tech 3 Yamaha) and Loris Baz (Avintia Ducati) in a best-ever 12th.

Smith topped Q1 with a late flying lap, beating Aleix Espargaro by a tenth. Smith’s teammate Pol Espargaro had to poor final sector on his last lap, restricting him to 13th position overall.

Hector Barbera had one final tilt at getting into Q2, but encountering Alvaro Bautista ruined his final effort, and he will start 14th.

Only 20 bikes will start as Jack Miller has been forced to withdraw through injury.

Qualifying results

Pos Rider Bike Time
SpainMarc Marquez Honda RC213V  2:03.188 
SpainJorge Lorenzo Yamaha YZR-M1  2:03.257 
ItalyValentino Rossi Yamaha YZR-M1  2:03.644 
SpainMaverick Viñales Suzuki GSX-RR  2:04.247 
United KingdomCal Crutchlow Honda RC213V  2:04.265 
ItalyAndrea Dovizioso Ducati Desmosedici GP16  2:04.339 
ItalyAndrea Iannone Ducati Desmosedici GP16  2:03.913* 
SpainDani Pedrosa Honda RC213V  2:04.379 
SpainAleix Espargaro Suzuki GSX-RR  2:04.408 
10  United KingdomScott Redding Ducati Desmosedici GP15  2:04.485 
11  United KingdomBradley Smith Yamaha YZR-M1  2:04.988 
12  FranceLoris Baz Ducati Desmosedici GP14  2:05.159 
13  SpainPol Espargaro Yamaha YZR-M1  2:04.867 
14  SpainHector Barbera Ducati Desmosedici GP14  2:04.944 
15  IrelandEugene Laverty Ducati Desmosedici GP14  2:05.425 
16  GermanyStefan Bradl Aprilia RS-GP  2:05.625 
17  ItalyMichele Pirro Ducati Desmosedici GP15  2:05.702 
18  ColombiaYonny Hernandez Ducati Desmosedici GP14  2:06.029 
19  SpainAlvaro Bautista Aprilia RS-GP  2:06.049 
20  SpainTito Rabat Honda RC213V  2:06.562

* – Includes 3-place grid penalty

Marc Marquez stayed on top in second practice for Austin's MotoGP round, finishing seven tenths clear of the field despite crashing his Honda.

Jorge Lorenzo was the first rider to dip below the 2m05s barrier on Friday afternoon with a 2m04.966s lap to take top spot just under 20 minutes into the session, but his time there lasted mere seconds.

Having set the pace in first practice, Marquez displaced him almost immediately with a lap of 2m04.560s, 0.406 seconds up on Lorenzo.

Marquez was set to go faster again the following lap - by nearly six tenths and projected to dip into the 2m03s - but lost the front end at the final corner and crashed, having to push his bike back to Honda's garage.

When he rejoined the track about 10 minutes later, Marquez lowered the benchmark to a 2m04.034s on his second flying lap, 0.825s clear of Andrea Iannone, who had jumped from 14th to eighth and then to second on consecutive laps.

While Ducati rider Iannone improved twice on his final two laps, Marquez's advantage at the end of the 45 minutes was 0.706s over the rest of the field.

The same margin covered the balance of the top 10.

Maverick Vinales was third for Suzuki, ahead of Scott Redding, who jumped up the order just before the chequered flag was shown.

Yamaha pair Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi wound up fifth and sixth, 0.867s and 0.940s down on Marquez, while Loris Baz was seventh.

Dani Pedrosa was more than one second off his factory Honda team-mate's pace in eighth, while Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow completed the top 10.

Aleix Espargaro crashed his Suzuki after the chequered flag was shown and finished 14th, two spots ahead of Avintia Ducati rider Eugene Laverty, who went down at Turn 2 with five minutes to go.

Following his heavy crash in the morning session, Jack Miller rode but visibly struggled with his right leg, and finished 20th in the order.

PRACTICE TWO TIMES

Pos Rider Team Bike Time Gap Laps
1 Marc Marquez Honda Honda 2m04.034s - 14
2 Andrea Iannone Ducati Ducati 2m04.740s 0.706s 14
3 Maverick Vinales Suzuki Suzuki 2m04.895s 0.861s 16
4 Scott Redding Pramac Ducati Ducati 2m04.899s 0.865s 14
5 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Yamaha 2m04.901s 0.867s 16
6 Valentino Rossi Yamaha Yamaha 2m04.974s 0.940s 16
7 Loris Baz Avintia Ducati Ducati 2m05.190s 1.156s 13
8 Daniel Pedrosa Honda Honda 2m05.194s 1.160s 16
9 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Ducati 2m05.195s 1.161s 11
10 Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda Honda 2m05.393s 1.359s 15
11 Hector Barbera Avintia Ducati Ducati 2m05.488s 1.454s 15
12 Michele Pirro Pramac Ducati Ducati 2m05.597s 1.563s 15
13 Pol Espargaro Tech3 Yamaha Yamaha 2m05.616s 1.582s 15
14 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki Suzuki 2m05.662s 1.628s 14
15 Yonny Hernandez Aspar Ducati Ducati 2m05.761s 1.727s 14
16 Eugene Laverty Aspar Ducati Ducati 2m05.891s 1.857s 13
17 Stefan Bradl Aprilia Aprilia 2m05.922s 1.888s 14
18 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia Aprilia 2m06.157s 2.123s 16
19 Bradley Smith Tech3 Yamaha Yamaha 2m06.479s 2.445s 17
20 Jack Miller Marc VDS Honda Honda 2m06.777s 2.743s 11
21 Tito Rabat Marc VDS Honda Honda 2m07.044s 3.010s 17

Argentina MotoGP: Motorsport.com's rider ratings


Jorge Lorenzo – 3

Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing
Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo by: Mirco Lazzari

In the reigning champion’s own words, a “weekend to forget.” Yamaha was particularly disadvantaged by the grubby track surface, but Rossi adapted to it better than Lorenzo, who had already slipped to sixth when he crashed out on a damp patch – which will only supply ammunition to his critics who argue he can only win when everything is perfect.

Valentino Rossi – 8

Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing

Photo by: Yamaha MotoGP

A late crash for Vinales and Ducati’s self-destruction meant Rossi was fortunate to come away with second, but ‘The Doctor’ deserves plaudits for outqualifying Lorenzo – something he doesn’t manage often these days – and for simply keeping everything together in a difficult race and extracting the best possible result behind a rampant Marquez.

Marc Marquez – 10

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team race winner
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team race winner

Photo by: Repsol Media

The circumstances were admittedly peculiar, but this was Marquez back to his brilliant best. Always had a clear margin over the field in practice, and while this was reduced in qualifying as the track cleaned up, the race largely seemed a question of whether the Spaniard could stay attached to his Honda. He did, and 25 points were a just reward.

Dani Pedrosa – 5

Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team
Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda Team

Photo by: Repsol Media

As per in Qatar, the contrast with Marquez was unflattering in Argentina for Pedrosa, particularly in race trim. Luckily for him, late exits for Vinales, Dovizioso, Iannone and Redding promoted him from what would have been seventh to a fortuitous third place, but the extra points do nothing to mask another sub-par weekend for the diminutive 30-year-old.

Andrea Dovizioso – 9

Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati Team pushes his bike across the line
Andrea Dovizioso, Ducati Team pushes his bike across the line

Photo by: Ducati Corse

Following an emphatic return to form at Qatar, it was a crying shame to see all Dovizioso’s efforts go to waste courtesy of teammate Iannone’s clumsy overtaking attempt at the final corner. Prior to that, the elder Andrea had done everything that could have been asked, qualifying as top Ducati and passing both Rossi and Iannone in one wonderfully opportunistic move.

Andrea Iannone – 4

Andrea Iannone, Ducati Team
Andrea Iannone, Ducati Team

Photo by: Ducati Corse

Two races, zero points for the man that looked on the verge of joining the elite ‘alien’ club towards the end of 2015. His last corner crash was especially calamitous, turning a certain double Ducati podium into a scant three points, and earning himself a three-place grid penalty for Austin to boot. Simply finishing has to be his priority at COTA.

Maverick Vinales – 6

Maverick Viñales, Team Suzuki Ecstar MotoGP
Maverick Viñales, Team Suzuki Ecstar MotoGP

Photo by: Suzuki MotoGP

Another anti-climactic race for Suzuki’s number one, albeit for different reasons than in Qatar. There, he was spectacular in qualifying but less so on Sunday; in Argentina, he made up for a somewhat underwhelming grid slot by charging up to Rossi’s back wheel late on in the race – only to lose the front on a damp patch. His time will come.

Aleix Espargaro – 4

Aleix Espargaro, Team Suzuki MotoGP
Aleix Espargaro, Team Suzuki MotoGP

Photo by: Mirco Lazzari

Once again outclassed by his upstart teammate Vinales, crashing at Turn 1 early on and hurting his left arm. That set the tone for the rest of the race, as the elder Espargaro slackened his pace accordingly in order just to reach the chequered flag and at least bank a few more valuable points for finishing 11th on a day of high attrition.

Cal Crutchlow – 4

Cal Crutchlow, Team LCR Honda
Cal Crutchlow, Team LCR Honda

Photo by: Mirco Lazzari

The LCR Honda was once again left fuming at himself for squandering another opportunity at big points – in Qatar, he felt his early fall had cost him a likely fifth, but in Argentina he could easily have found the bottom step on the podium given the drama that would ensue ahead, if not for crashing not once but twice.

Scott Redding – 7

Scott Redding, Pramac Racing
Scott Redding, Pramac Racing

Photo by: Mirco Lazzari

It was impossible not to feel for Redding after the dramas of Saturday, which had left a nasty-looking mark on his back, when his Pramac Ducati gave up the ghost shortly after the Briton had passed an out-of-sorts Pedrosa. At least he could take satisfaction in his strong race pace after overcoming the fuel consumption woes that held him back in Qatar.

Pol Espargaro – 7

Pol Espargaro, Monster Yamaha Tech 3
Pol Espargaro, Monster Yamaha Tech 3

Photo by: Mirco Lazzari

Was left unhappy to be battling the satellite Ducatis of Barbera and Laverty in the closing stages, their three-way scrap ultimately becoming the battle for fourth after casualties further up the field. Some last-lap grass-tracking didn’t exactly help his cause, but sixth place on a weekend that looked unpromising for Tech 3 was a job well done in the end.

Bradley Smith – 5

Bradley Smith, Monster Yamaha Tech 3
Bradley Smith, Monster Yamaha Tech 3

Photo by: Michelin Sport

While Smith was only pipped by Espargaro by a tiny margin Qatar, the KTM-bound Brit always seemed to be a step behind for much of the weekend in Argentina, struggling to find a set-up that worked on the satellite Yamaha. After a dismal start, stuck at it to gradually salvage an eighth place finish as others’ challenges fell apart.

Hector Barbera – 9

Hector Barbera, Avintia Racing
Hector Barbera, Avintia Racing

Photo by: Avintia Racing

His pre-season form had always suggested an imminent breakthrough for the Avintia Ducati rider, and Argentina provided the perfect conditions for Barbera to show his class – qualifying in the middle of the third row and taking a superb fifth in the race. Only misses out on full marks for allowing Laverty through to clinch fourth on the final lap.

Eugene Laverty – 8

Eugene Laverty, Aspar Racing Team
Eugene Laverty, Aspar Racing Team

Photo by: Mirco Lazzari

The Ulsterman scored only nine points all season on last year’s Open class Honda, and after just two races on Ducati machinery has already scored almost double that. Was already on course for a top 10 after the bike swaps, but some superb racecraft combined with a healthy dose of good fortune meant that became fourth place at the chequered flag.

Chaz Davies (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) secured his second win of the Motorland Aragon WorldSBK weekend, by 6.471 seconds from Tom Sykes (Kawasaki Racing Team).

Jonathan Rea (Kawasaki Racing Team) was third but looked to be on course for second place until he ran wide and Sykes pounced on his chance.

Sykes had made his usual fast start but Davies made a hard push in the first two laps to lead. Just after the halfway point Rea passed Sykes for second, as Sykes ran wide into the final corner, but it was not to last.

Behind the podium places Xavi Fores (Barni Racing Team Ducati) had another storming ride for his second fourth place of the weekend, just 2.2 seconds from Rea.

Michael van der Mark (Honda World Superbike Team) was having a top five ride until Jordi Torres (Althea BMW Racing Team) passed him. VDM would eventually slow to finish seventh.

Davide Giugliano (Aruba.it Racing - Ducati) had a disappointing race, with a mid-race hiccup dropping him back, although he rallied to finish sixth.

Alex De Angelis (IodaRacing Team Aprilia) was eighth, only a few days after arm surgery. Alex Lowes (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team) was ninth, winning a late battle with his team-mate Sylvain Guintoli (Pata Yamaha Official WorldSBK Team).

Josh Brookes (Milwaukee BMW) was 13th. Just out of the points, Leon Camier (MV Agusta Reparto Corse) went 16th.

Nicky Hayden (Honda World Superbike Team) was in trouble from the start and slowed dramatically, looking at the front end of his machine on lap 15, then pitting.

In the championship points Rea leads with 131, Davies is second on 105 and Sykes is third with 102.

Ducati will hold discussions with riders Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizoso this week after Iannone cost it a double MotoGP podium finish in Argentina on Sunday.

Dovizioso and Iannone looked set to finish second and third in Termas de Rio Hondo having dispatched Yamaha's Valentino Rossi late in the shortened flag-to-flag race.

However, entering the final complex of corners on the last lap, Iannone collided with Dovizioso, handing Rossi and Dani Pedrosa unexpected podium positions.

Dovizioso managed to push his Ducati over the finish line in 13th, while Iannone retired and has been handed a three-place grid penalty for this weekend's Grand Prix of the Americas.

Ducati sporting director Paolo Ciabatti said there would be further discussions with the riders when they arrive in Texas.

"Obviously it's a big disappointment," he told MotoGP.com.

"We know that Iannone was trying to get a better position and he didn't do it on purpose.

"Riders must consider the interest of Ducati and the championship, we are just at the second race and this podium would have been very important for us.

"Now we have to look forward to the next race, luckily it is only in one week.

"We will talk to both riders on Thursday in Austin and give them our point of view on what we expect between them in the race.

The result would have been Ducati's first double podium in 12 months, and put a "very disappointed" Dovizioso second in the championship, one point behind Marquez.

"When I arrived at the penultimate corner, I lost the front and brought down Dovizioso in the crash," Iannone said.

"Unfortunately that's the way it went and I am really sorry for my team, for Andrea and for everyone in Ducati because a podium today with both riders would have been an exceptional result."

Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo admits he did not feel comfortable in MotoGP's Argentinian Grand Prix before crashing out of the race early.

Lorenzo struggled in practice on a dirty circuit on Friday, but made inroads to qualify on the front row of the grid.

Wet patches from overnight rain were still on the circuit during Sunday's shortened, flag-to-flag race with the rain also washing away rubber that had built up on the rarely-used Termas de Rio Hondo circuit.

The reigning world champion took the lead off the line, but relinquished it on the first lap and fell out of the lead pack, before crashing at Turn 1 on lap six.

Having won the season opener at Qatar a fortnight earlier, Lorenzo labelled it "a weekend to forget".

"We had problems during the practice sessions and finally we got a first row in qualifying and a good start, but with these conditions and wet patches in some corners I wasn't comfortable," he said.

"I think it was my fault. As a rider I didn't feel comfortable enough to stay in the first group and I saw them risking so much.

"I made a mistake in the first corner, which was more complicated, it was the corner with more wet patches and I went in a little bit too wide on this particular lap and just lost the front and couldn't continue.

"This is racing; sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

"You have to accept it and think positive, just forget this race and think about the future."

The first corner caught riders out all weekend - Lorenzo and eventual race winner Marc Marquez having also crashed there on Saturday - and accounted for several falls in the race.

Among them, Suzuki's Maverick Vinales caught one of the wet patches while challenging Valentino Rossi for second and closing on his maiden MotoGP podium, with three laps to go.

"I'm both very sad and very happy," Vinales admitted.

"Of course I'm sad with the final result, but I must be very, very proud of what we did.

"The race was going very well and it's a pity I couldn't finalise it.

"Unfortunately I hit a wet spot, going just a very little wider than the ideal line, and I paid the biggest price.

"It's hard to accept the crash when you feel so good and feel you can really get onto the podium.

"But at the same time this is the proof that we have made a huge progress and we are now ready to fight for the top."

Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo insists he heads to Argentina for this weekend's second MotoGP round with his "feet on the ground" despite his imposing start to the year.

Lorenzo topped four of the nine days of pre-season testing, then won the opener at Qatar from pole position, also setting the fastest lap of the race.

It came after he saw off a stern challenge from Ducati, whose riders Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso enjoyed a straight-line speed advantage, and as 2.387 seconds covered the top four at the chequered flag.

However, given MotoGP's off-season change to a control ECU and Michelin tyres, Lorenzo says his Qatar form counts for nothing at Termas de Rio Hondo, where he finished third in 2014 and fifth last year while ill.

"After the victory in Qatar and the good feelings on track, I now want to race at a circuit where in the past we struggled a bit," he said.

"We started the championship in a perfect manner but we still need to understand what the behaviour of the bike is like for different track layouts.

"I want to check if the bike with these electronics and tyres works well everywhere.

"To kick off the season like we did in Qatar is a good way to get confidence and work even harder to try to fight again for the victory here."

Team-mate Valentino Rossi won the first two races of 2015 in Qatar and Argentina and was at the tail of the lead pack at the new campaign started.

Yamaha team director Massimo Meregalli believes the this weekend's circuit "suits our YZR-M1 well", but admits that tyres will be the big question mark.

Lorenzo credited his Qatar victory to a late tyre change, but that was helped by the fact MotoGP had completed three days of pre-season testing at the circuit a fortnight earlier.

"We have already gained more knowledge on how well Michelin's tyre life lasts over long distance from the first race," Meregalli said.

"It will be interesting to see how the tyres will perform at this circuit where we haven't done any testing yet."

Andrea Iannone believes Ducati heads to Argentina this weekend "really close" to Yamaha and Honda at the top of the MotoGP field.

Iannone and team-mate Andrea Dovizioso qualified fourth and sixth for the season opener in Qatar, but used the Ducati's noted engine power to move into first and second on lap two.

While Iannone crashed out of the race on lap six and Dovizioso was no match for Jorge Lorenzo, he could at least fight off Honda's Marc Marquez and secure second.

Dovizioso and Iannone finished second and fourth at Termas de Rio Hondo last year, and Iannone is expecting to feature at the front of the pack again.

"I think this year, especially, the engine improved one more time," he said.

"In Argentina, last year I fought at the top and I think also this year I have this potential, because I am really close with other manufacturers.

"We work in a good way, and sure I'll try another time to try to stay on the top."

Test rider Casey Stoner sampled Ducati's 2016 Desmosedici in Qatar after the season opener, classing it as "very different".

Dovizioso agreed that the manufacturer had made progress, given how it trailed off following a strong start to 2015.

"The reality is we have to remember how we finished the season and the feeling was not so good," he said.

"We did a great job I am so happy about that, step by step we improved the feeling during the tests.

"The bike is better, more balanced.

"Yes there are different rules so we have to wait for a different track to understand our potential.

"But I feel really good and what I saw in the [Qatar] race was really interesting.

"I understood a lot of important things to try and do in the next race."

Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo started his MotoGP title defence in the best possible fashion, withstanding an early Ducati challenge to win the Qatar Grand Prix.

Polesitter Lorenzo changed from a medium-compound rear tyre to a soft on the grid and kept the lead off the line, only for the Ducatis of Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso to blast past on the main straight at the end of the first lap.

With Lorenzo lacking the straightline speed to get back past them, Iannone led a five-rider pack before he and his team-mate started to fight with each other.

Dovizioso got down the inside of Iannone at Turn 1 on lap six, but Iannone went for a switchback and the pair made light contact at the apex.

Iannone reclaimed the lead but was passed again by Dovizioso, before Iannone's race ended when he fell at Turn 6 later in the lap.

Dovizioso kept Ducati in front for another three laps, until Lorenzo reclaimed top spot with a bold move around the outside of the Italian.

Crucially, Lorenzo stayed ahead down the long straight the next time around and was not headed again over the remaining 14 laps.

He was initially at the front of a closely-matched quartet, with Dovizioso followed by Honda's Marc Marquez and the second Yamaha of Valentino Rossi.

Lorenzo gradually built a lead of half a second and when Marquez forced his way past Dovizioso with three laps to go, Lorenzo was 1.159 seconds clear.

The race leader then immediately quashed any thoughts of Marquez mounting a challenge for the win by setting the fastest lap of the race, and he eventually crossed the line two seconds clear.

Dovizioso got back ahead of Marquez, who then challenged again for second at the last corner, but the Ducati had enough to secure second.

Rossi nearly pipped Marquez to take the final podium finish, falling just 0.100s short.

Dani Pedrosa and Maverick Vinales had quiet races to finish fifth and sixth, a further 12 seconds behind, Suzuki rider Vinales falling from the front row of the grid down to seventh early, due to a slow start.

Cal Crutchlow was the leading satellite rider in the early stages, despite LCR Honda's engine-braking issues, but crashed at Turn 4 on lap seven.

That paved the way for Pol Espargaro to finish seventh for Tech3 Yamaha, holding out a late challenge from team-mate Bradley Smith, who flew in the closing laps.

Hector Barbera was ninth, while Scott Redding completed the top 10.

Aprilia took 13th on the debut of its new RS-GP with Alvaro Bautista, while team-mate Stefan Bradl crashed out.

RESULTS - 22 LAPS:

Pos Rider Team Laps Gap
1 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 22 42m28.452s
2 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 22 2.019s
3 Marc Marquez Honda 22 2.287s
4 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 22 2.387s
5 Daniel Pedrosa Honda 22 14.083s
6 Maverick Vinales Suzuki 22 15.423s
7 Pol Espargaro Tech3 Yamaha 22 18.629s
8 Bradley Smith Tech3 Yamaha 22 18.652s
9 Hector Barbera Avintia Ducati 22 21.160s
10 Scott Redding Pramac Ducati 22 24.435s
11 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki 22 35.847s
12 Eugene Laverty Aspar Ducati 22 41.756s
13 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia 22 41.932s
14 Jack Miller Marc VDS Honda 22 41.982s
15 Tito Rabat Marc VDS Honda 22 54.953s
- Stefan Bradl Aprilia 11 Retirement
- Loris Baz Avintia Ducati 8 Retirement
- Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda 6 Retirement
- Andrea Iannone Ducati 5 Retirement
- Yonny Hernandez Aspar Ducati 1 Retirement
- Danilo Petrucci Pramac Ducati 0 Withdrawn
 

Marc Marquez, Honda, MotoGP testing

MotoGP's top factory riders could find themselves in the bottom half of the top 10 if they are not on the money this year, Honda's Marc Marquez believes.

The two-time world champion struggled with Honda's aggressive engine in its 2015 frame last year, but never dropped below fifth in the standings.

Following a switch back to the 2014 Honda with the updated engine, Marquez won four races in the second half of the season on his way to third in the championship behind Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi.

With Ducati and Suzuki having made significant progress over the off-season, Marquez believes similar struggles this year could be more costly.

"Last year, two years ago, when maybe on Sunday you didn't feel well, you didn't have the correct set-up, you finished fourth or fifth," he told MotoGP.com.

"This year it will be different. This year, you must be ready because if not you could finish eighth, ninth, 10th, because you have many riders.

"We anyway have Ducati riders, Suzuki riders that did a big step and it will be really nice, I think, especially the first race."

Following a long period of stability with the core regulations, a switch from Bridgestone to Michelin tyres in 2016 coincides with the introduction of a control ECU.

Aspar Ducati rider Eugene Laverty believes those changes will result in surprises, in his second season in MotoGP.

"For me it is the most exciting time for MotoGP probably in the last 15 years," the World Superbike race winner said.

"The change from two-stroke to four-stroke was the last big shake-up and I think these regulations should shake things up again because really every track will be something different.

"We are going to see one bike strong at one track, one bike stronger at another because the teams and manufacturers don't have a lot of data with which to work, in terms of the tyres and electronics.

"Every racetrack needs to be learned again on Friday and Saturday so I expect every weekend to be different to the last."

Eugene Laverty, Aspar Ducati, MotoGP testing

 

Maverick Vinales, Suzuki, Losail MotoGP test 2016

Maverick Vinales hopes he will be able to use Suzuki's fully-seamless MotoGP gearbox from the start of the new season.

Having previously sampled an upshift-only version of the transmission, as Suzuki addressed one of its weaknesses from its MotoGP return, Vinales and team-mate Aleix Espargaro tried the new unit during this week's Qatar test.

After topping a day of running at Phillip Island last month, Vinales was fastest again on the second day of Losail's final pre season test.

With Vinales second and third on the other two days, Suzuki has cemented itself as a potential big mover in 2016, and the fully-seamless gearbox is part of that equation.

"In the last two runs I tested the full seamless for the first time and this is another big improvement," he said.

"I couldn't try a time attack with it but my feeling is that it has a lot of potential, we need to work on it for the finalisation and I hope we can use it in the race.

"We have worked a lot this winter, the Suzuki factory delivered us huge improvements and the results so far are positive.

"We look positively towards the race, where I hope I'll be able to make even further steps forward."

Following the Phillip Island test, Vinales said Suzuki had to "keep your feet on the ground" ahead of its second season back in the premier class.

A fortnight out from the first grand prix of the new campaign in Qatar, he did at least admit the manufacturer had "finished the winter test in a very good position".

"I'm happy because with used tyres I could keep a pace around 1m55.5s, which is a pace that in the race could lead to the podium," Vinales, whose best result in his rookie campaign was sixth, said.

"I am happy about the team, the work we have done, we all improved and also, so has the bike.

"In Qatar it wasn't easy, the straight is long and our engine still has some room for improvement, but this makes me confident for the first race."

 

Electronics technology has overtaken the 'gladiatorial' element of riders doing battle in MotoGP, 500cc world champion Wayne Gardner believes.

Gardner won his 1987 title with Honda during the two-stroke era of motorcycle grand prix racing, which featured bikes he describes as "vicious things, difficult to ride and aggressive".

With four-stroke engines having been the norm since 2002 and constant development from manufacturers, the Australian feels modern riders are not able to bring as much to the table.

"I raced two-strokes and four-strokes, I did the Suzuka Eight Hour race and a few things like that," Gardner told Autosport.

"And when you raced the four-strokes compared to the two-strokes, it was 70 per cent easier.

"So straight away, that's an easy way to go racing, and safer.

"Then you add in the electronics, which brings the safety aspect up a lot higher, but also takes away a lot of the thrill.

"I think it's lost a little bit of its touch with the public, and the thrill and the excitement, and seeing the gladiators out there, fighting."

MotoGP's new-for-2016 ECU has been dubbed a "step backwards" by some riders, but Gardner - who has been reunited with 500cc bikes in the World GP Bike Legends series - feels more could still be done.

However, he concedes that is unlikely, based on the manufacturers' interests.

"In my opinion, take all of the electronics off them," Gardner said.

"They've got electronics, anti-wheelie and clutch and launch control, all of the other gizmos.

"We have no control over it, because it's what the manufacturers want, but it'd be nice if they threw the electronics off all of the four-strokes.

"They're pretty easy to ride as it is, without having to have all of that stuff on them.

"I understand why all of that happens, because manufacturers want to work on technology and to extract that from the racing and put it in their road cars or road bikes.

"But I think sometimes it probably goes too far, because they are at the pointy edge of technology that is actually killing the earthiness, the essence of it.

"I think that there should be a balance of the two."

 

Valentino Rossi, Yamaha, Phillip Island MotoGP test, 2016

Valentino Rossi will stick with a Yamaha YZR-M1 based on the brand's 2015 MotoGP challenger this year, rather than developing the '16 version.

Yamaha headed to Phillip Island's second pre-season test with the aim that Rossi and team-mate Jorge Lorenzo would choose between the 2015-based bike or a different chassis it dubbed an 'alternative edition'.

While a considerable amount of time was lost due to rain across the three days, back-to-back comparisons on Friday gave Rossi enough insight to select the established model.

"In the end we only had one good day and that was yesterday, but it's better than nothing," Rossi said after recording the fifth-fastest time on Friday.

"Today we continued our job for a bit, especially we compared the two different bikes and I think we will use the bike that's more similar to last year's model.

"It was a positive test, especially yesterday, but also today.

"I feel good with the bike and with the tyres and my pace was not so bad, so I'm quite satisfied."

Having dominated the Sepang test, Lorenzo was quiet by comparison at Phillip Island.

He set the third-fastest time on Thursday, but was ninth on the final day, having completed the majority of his running on used tyres.

Lorenzo's day included a fall at Turn 10 as he looked to start a race simulation, and the world champion is reported to be also preferring the 2015-based Yamaha.

"I've been riding with old tyres all day because we only had one more new tyre," he said.

"When we finally got a dry track and time to try that last new rear tyre to set a decent laptime, [Eugene] Laverty crashed and I had to cancel that lap.

"I then decided to try a race simulation, but I crashed on the first lap because the track was very cold.

"There were a lot of crashes during this time of the day.

"I was very dedicated and braked a little bit too hard for the grip of the front tyre and I crashed, so I ended the test and I'm going home.

"Sepang, for us, has been an unbelievable test.

"Here things changed completely because the layout of the track is the opposite. Let's see what happens in Qatar."

The venue for the MotoGP season opener, Qatar will host the final pre-season test on March 2-4.

 

Marc Marquez, Honda, Phillip Island MotoGP test 2016

Marc Marquez has declared Honda took "a big step forward" on the final day of MotoGP's latest pre-season test at Phillip Island.

Honda struggled during the opening test at Sepang in early February, but the double champion suggested progress was made after Thursday's second day in Australia.

Marquez finished that session second, before topping the final day, despite falling at Turn 9 in the closing stages.

"Overall, these three days have been very good," he said.

"I'm especially happy with today, because we have taken a big step forward.

"In the afternoon I managed to maintain a consistently fast pace, and this was the first time this pre-season that I've started to feel good with the bike and the new tyres.

"The work we've done has been positive.

"Yesterday we focused on adjusting the electronics and finding a good base, and today I think we did a good job looking for balance in the set-up of the bike."

Team-mate Dani Pedrosa, seventh on a day littered with crashes and delayed by a heavy rain shower, agreed that Honda had made progress in understanding MotoGP's new control electronics.

"Today it's been a bit difficult," he admitted.

"In the morning it was hard to improve on the set-up we found yesterday morning and lower our times.

"In the afternoon, after the rain fell, we improved a bit in some places, but I think we still have some work to do.

"The positive thing is that since the test in Malaysia we have improved with the electronics, and we hope to take an important step forward in the set-up of the bike at the Qatar test."

 

Cal Crutchlow, MotoGP 2015

Honda must stay patient as it works to pair its engine with MotoGP's new control ECU despite being "a long way off", LCR satellite rider Cal Crutchlow believes.

A transition to the new control electronics has been complicated by Honda's existing power delivery problems.

Crutchlow, who remained on the 2015 chassis during the first pre-season test at Sepang but sampled an interim version of this year's engine, said it will be the focus of this week's second test at Phillip Island.

"We need to make the electronics work with the engine," Crutchlow said in a motogp.com interview.

"Even with last year's engine the new electronics were not working so well.

"So the priorities will be to evaluate the engine and also try and dial these electronics in as all of us on the Honda were a long way off in Sepang.

"There is some stuff we didn't even get to test [post-season] last year, plus we haven't even touched our chassis or anything else yet as Honda haven't changed that yet, as it's not a priority at the moment.

"That is why I think the potential of the Honda is a lot more, because if you look at what we have actually focused on, when we can bring it all together as one and also make a change a little into the season with regard to the swingarm or chassis or something else, then the combination could work really well.

"We just have to be patient, patience at the moment is one of the main things."

Given Honda's lack of Magneti Marelli experience, compared to other teams that are "quite ready compared to us", Crutchlow said the extent of the process was not a major surprise.

"Ducati have an advantage as they were the ones using Magneti Marelli before and maybe Yamaha too," Crutchlow added.

"We as Honda are suffering more with the electronics at the moment, but I believe they can get a hold on it. It just takes time.

"Honda had their own complete system so it is taking a lot longer to transfer everything over, but I also think that when some of the manufacturers were agreeing to some of the things that were put in place they knew Honda would take a bit more time.

"What we are seeing at the moment is maybe one or two manufacturers having an advantage over the others because they already know what to put in.

"Whether that is because they worked with the electronics manufacturer before or whatever, they have some knowledge of it, where I don't believe there are many people that were working with the old Honda system that do."

 

Cal Crutchlow, LCR Honda, Valencia MotoGP testing 2015

Cal Crutchlow says Honda's 2015 MotoGP challenger was "probably the most-difficult bike I've ridden" in the class.

After finishing fifth in the 2013 standings on a Tech 3 Yamaha, the Brit moved to Ducati in '14, then LCR Honda last year.

While his factory Ducati experience only lasted one season and he finished five places higher as a satellite rider with LCR, in eighth in the standings, Crutchlow says Honda's 2015 RC213V was not an easy fit.

"It was probably the most-difficult bike I've ridden in MotoGP," he told Autosport.

"It's a completely different animal to what people think. Some think you jump on a Honda and ride like Marc [Marquez] and Dani [Pedrosa].

"But Marc is a freak of nature and he can ride the Honda because it's the only thing he's ever ridden, and Dani has ridden the thing for 10 years.

"But I think they know which way to go in the end, it's just time.

"They have won many championships, the riders they have had have been special, so I think it has masked a lot of problems.

"But I'm really looking forward to 2016, they have some fantastic engineers and they are very, very clever, so I think we have to put our trust, as riders, in them and look forward to what's to come."

The factory riders ultimately reverted to the 2014 frame with the '15 engine and enjoyed improved fortunes, while Marquez has since acknowledged that the new ECU could hurt Honda's recovery.

Even with the problems, Crutchlow says 2015 provided a "good base" for his second year on a Honda.

Crutchlow finished last week's test at Sepang with the fourth-fastest time on the third day.

"Obviously early on in the year, we were on similar machinery," he said of the factory riders.

"After it started to change, it started to change quite a lot.

Cal Crutchlow

"They can obviously move to whatever they wanted, so the gap got quite big, which normally happens, so it was hard to come out of that phase we were in.

"We needed rear grip and the engine performance was so strong that it was giving us even less rear grip than the year before.

"It was a different year, it was a difficult learning year for me on the Honda bike, and one that's going to be a good base going into 2016 with."

 

Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo blitzed the final day of MotoGP's opening pre-season test at Sepang, as Casey Stoner starred for Ducati.

Reigning world champion Lorenzo topped the first day of the three-day test on Monday, and after setting the second-fastest time on Tuesday reasserted his dominance on Wednesday.

With one hour remaining, Lorenzo was 0.540 seconds clear of team-mate Valentino Rossi with a 2m00.016s effort, but there was more to come.

Lorenzo improved to 1m59.966s, the week's first lap beneath the two-minute barrier, and then underlined his dominance when he logged a 1m59.595s with 15 minutes remaining.

For good measure, he then recorded a 1m59.580s lap inside the final 90 seconds.

The lap was quicker than Lorenzo's fastest time during last October's Malaysian Grand Prix at the circuit, and just over half a second off Dani Pedrosa's pole lap, as the field was confined to Michelin's hard compound following Loris Baz's Tuesday crash.

More importantly, Lorenzo's time was 0.976s clear of Rossi, who did not improve in the afternoon after a rain shower interrupted running, while the first 90 minutes were also lost to inclement weather.

Honda's Marc Marquez slotted into third in the closing stages, but finished the day 1.303s behind Lorenzo.

LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow was another late improver and finished the day a strong fourth, while Marquez's team-mate Dani Pedrosa was sixth.

Between them was Stoner.

The two-time world champion shared the track with the MotoGP field for the first time since 2012 on Tuesday, and continued that programme on the final day.

Riding Ducati's 2015 machine, Stoner set his lap of 2m01.096s on his first run, to go second at the time, and he finished the day fifth.

Tuesday pacesetter Danilo Petrucci was seventh, ahead of factory Ducati rider Andrea Iannone.

The Italian crashed early on his 2015 Ducati, before setting his fastest time on the 2016 Desmosedici, with team-mate Andrea Dovizioso 13th.

Scott Redding and Maverick Vinales completed the top 10, ahead of Hector Barbera and Aleix Espargaro.

Tech 3 Yamaha rider Bradley Smith was the busiest man of the day, logging 65 laps on his way to 16th, including a mammoth stint late in the day.

After sitting out Tuesday's running following his crash on Monday, Eugene Laverty returned to action and was 22nd fastest.

Phillip Island will host the next test on February 17-19.

Pos Rider Team Bike Gap Laps
1 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Yamaha 1m59.580s 36
2 Valentino Rossi Yamaha Yamaha 0.976s 38
3 Marc Marquez Honda Honda 1.303s 45
4 Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda 1.412s 42
5 Casey Stoner Ducati Ducati 1.490s 30
6 Daniel Pedrosa Honda Honda 1.581s 48
7 Danilo Petrucci Pramac Racing Ducati 1.637s 18
8 Andrea Iannone Ducati Ducati 1.643s 38
9 Scott Redding Pramac Racing Ducati 1.649s 42
10 Maverick Vinales Suzuki Suzuki 1.664s 51
11 Hector Barbera Avintia Racing Ducati 1.854s 30
12 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki Suzuki 2.043s 44
13 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Ducati 2.095s 34
14 Yonny Hernandez Aspar Ducati 2.194s 40
15 Pol Espargaro Tech 3 Yamaha 2.290s 44
16 Bradley Smith Tech 3 Yamaha 2.338s 65
17 Loris Baz Avintia Racing Ducati 2.961s 33
18 Stefan Bradl Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 3.212s 44
19 Katsuyuki Nakasuga Yamaha Yamaha 3.360s 27
20 Esteve Rabat Marc VDS Honda 3.432s 57
21 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 3.603s 46
22 Eugene Laverty Aspar Ducati 3.939s 25
 

Marquez, Pedrosa, Honda Sepang test 2016

Honda faces a tough MotoGP pre-season after a difficult start to testing at Sepang, reckons Marc Marquez.

The 2013/14 champion was only seventh on day one of winter running at the Malaysian Grand Prix venue, 1.6 seconds off the pace set by Jorge Lorenzo's Yamaha up front.

Marquez's team-mate Dani Pedrosa was third quickest, 1.096s down on the dominant Lorenzo but within 0.063s of second-placed Valentino Rossi on the other Yamaha.

"We still have a lot of work to do, as we have new electronics, a new engine and a few different engine specs to what we used in Valencia and Jerez back in November," Marquez said.

"It's true that neither my place on the timesheet or laptime today are great, but this is going to be a long pre-season in which we will have to work hard on many different things. We'll see if we can improve tomorrow."

One of Honda's main issues in the 2015 season was its engine's aggressive power delivery, and the team's options for managing this have been reduced with the change to control electronics for this year.

Pedrosa added: "Today we had to work very hard on several things. The positive part is that Honda know this and are working on things in Japan.

"Using my experience I am giving my all to try to provide them with as much information as possible, and advance in every area possible.

"We shall see if we can finish the test with a better feeling than when we started."

'EASY' START FOR LORENZO

Lorenzo was delighted with the Yamaha's performance on the latest iteration of the Michelin tyres that replace Bridgestone for 2016.

"I'm very happy and surprised about the feeling I had today with the Michelin tyres," he said.

"The laptimes were relatively easy to achieve and every time we exited pitlane we improved something on the bike to understand the electronics better and they adapted very well to the Michelin tyres.

"I'm very happy with the change, because Sepang, for me, is always difficult."

His performance was achieved despite illness limiting his running.

"Today I only slept two hours because of the jetlag and I have a sore throat so I'm taking antibiotics," he added.

"My physical condition is not perfect, but to ride two or three laps, I can do that very well. If I was fitter I could do longer stints."

Though he admitted the one-second gap to Lorenzo was "too big", Rossi was encouraged by his affinity with the Michelins and electronics after being concerned in late 2015.

"I'm quite happy because the electronics already work quite well," he said,

"We're not at the same level as last year, but it's already good to ride the bike and especially the Michelin front tyre improved a lot, so the feeling when you ride the bike is more similar to last year."

 

Bradley Smith, Tech 3 Yamaha, MotoGP Valencia test 2015

Tech 3 Yamaha rider Bradley Smith says he is keeping an open mind about MotoGP's new electronics, before testing with them for the first time in Malaysia next week.

The satellite rider did not try the new Magneti Marelli control ECU during the post-season testing last November at Valencia, instead focusing on the other 2016 change, to Michelin tyres.

Armed with that knowledge, Smith will get his first taste of the electronics at Sepang in the February 1-3 test.

"As a team we decided that we just wanted to try the one thing at a time, because we didn't want to confuse anything," Smith told Autosport of the Valencia test.

"Now we just tested the tyres, we believe that we have a good base, and then from Malaysia we will start to ride with the new electronics."

The new software has been one of the major talking points over the MotoGP off-season, dubbed as "a step backwards" bt several riders during the Valencia test.

Smith said he had tried to ignore those comments, and instead approach the test with a clean slate.

"Obviously within the factory there is a lot that I listen to," the British rider said.

"I listen to Jorge [Lorenzo] and Valentino [Rossi] and hear their point of view, but in terms of the other riders, it just completely depends on which bike they have.

"The Honda reacts differently to Ducati and Ducati to the Suzuki and Suzuki to the Aprilia, so I try not to muddy the water too much or get any preconceived ideas.

"I just really try to focus on my own feedback and work, if I'm struggling a little bit, maybe lean towards the factory boys for a bit of help.

"I think its my hands, my butt and my feet that are feeling all of these sensations, I need to just make sure they are the right ones for me to go fast."

 

Aprilia's new MotoGP bike will not join the rest of the field until the third and final pre-season test in Qatar in March.

The Gresini-run factory team has built an all-new machine for 2016 as it ramps up its programme after what was effectively a development season last year using an upgraded version of the ART bike designed for the Open class.

MotoGP winter testing kicks off at Sepang next week, but works Aprilia riders Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl will continue to use the 'lab' development bike for the three days at the Malaysian Grand Prix venue.

The 2016 bike is set for a shakedown run with test rider Mike di Meglio at Aragon on February 10-11, before making its full debut in a private test at Losail in Qatar during the following week.

Aprilia will therefore skip the full-field Phillip Island test before going up against its rivals for the first time in the last winter test at Losail on March 2-4.

 

Lorenzo, Rossi, Yamaha MotoGP launch 2015

Jorge Lorenzo wants another MotoGP title fight with team-mate Valentino Rossi in 2016, even for the simple reason that it means Yamaha is still at the front of the field.

Yamaha emerged as the dominant manufacturer in the 2015 season, with champion Lorenzo winning seven races and runner-up Rossi four from the 18 grands prix.

While Honda won the other seven races, only one came with its 2015 bike, with Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa reverting to the '14 frame after early-season struggles.

Rossi led the standings from the first round, but was overhauled by Lorenzo in the Valencia finale.

When asked if he fancied another battle with the Italian, Lorenzo said: "I hope, and we hope, because this would mean that our competitors are still behind.

"Hopefully it is like this again, because it would mean that Valentino or myself will become world champion again.

"In general the bike is very complete. Now the problem is that with the new regulations of electronics, and also the new brand of tyres, it changes so many things.

"Apart from the challenge, to keep the same more or less, if the electronics change and the tyres change, it changes so much of the feeling that you feel on the bike."

Lorenzo admitted a clearer picture would emerge following the first pre-season test in Valencia next week.

"It's difficult to know at this moment, because just made one practice, that was in Valencia after the race," he said.

"So we didn't check how the new electronics and tyres are working on other tracks.

"Especially also the factories have been improving their bikes and electronics in this time, from Valencia.

"Soon we will discover how all of the factories and all of the bikes and all of the riders are in this moment, in this new situation.

"At this moment I cannot tell you the performance of the riders, how it is going to change."

 

Marc Marquez, Honda, races Valentino Rossi, Yamaha, Sepang MotoGP 2015

MotoGP officials, manufacturers and teams are discussing changes following the fall-out from last year's row between Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez.

The championship attracted controversy over the final month of the season, sparked by Rossi's accusation that Marquez was working to help countryman Jorge Lorenzo beat him to the title.

Rossi and Marquez then clashed during the Malaysian Grand Prix, with the Italian forced to start Valencia's season finale from the rear of the grid, as Lorenzo beat his team-mate to championship by five points.

The president of motorcycling racing's governing body, Vito Ippolito said the row "poisoned" MotoGP, while the riders were summoned to an extraordinary meeting at the expense of the traditional Thursday press conference at Valencia.

Yamaha's MotoGP boss Lin Jarvis had to manage tensions between Rossi and Lorenzo within his team's garage, and is involved in discussions aimed at avoiding a repeat.

"If you ask me what I'd like to see this year, I'd like to see the same results at the end of the year with a different story," he said.

"I think the season was magnificent for the majority of last year, but unfortunately at the end there were a few issues that arose that exposed maybe a couple of things that we need to work on as a championship and as a sport.

"We are in this sport as much as Dorna, the FIM and the riders. It's all of us together, it's our sport, so we have to work together to find new solutions.

"While it's not our decision to make any changes, we are certainly talking to Dorna, talking to the FIM, and we await to see the changes that will come.

"But I am confident that everybody has experienced last year and we all know the things we need to work on, and I'm sure we will work on that and have another great season."

Jarvis refused to be drawn on details of the talks, or indeed what the manufacturers were putting on the table, emphasising that the ball was in the FIM and Dorna's court.

"I can't really explain details," he said.

"We have some suggestions for some things that we could improve to make things better.

"I think at the moment it's important that these discussions are going on. It's not just Yamaha and the FIM and Dorna, other manufactures are engaged.

"There are many people involved, many teams and manufacturers. Everybody is sharing their input together.

"Until the FIM and Dorna come with their new proposals, I don't think it's appropriate to really discuss such details."

 

Valentino Rossi, MotoGP 2015

Valentino Rossi does not believe 2015 will have been his last chance to win another MotoGP world championship even though he will turn 37 next season.

The Yamaha rider missed out on an opportunity to win his 10th grand prix motorcycle world crown - his seven in 500cc/MotoGP having followed one in each of 125cc and 250cc - when team-mate Jorge Lorenzo pipped him amid the extraordinary drama of the final grands prix of 2015.

Asked if the fact he would be 37 by the time the 2016 season starts in Qatar next March, on top of the draining intensity of the '15 campaign, concerned him, Rossi replied: "If you check the history of human beings, between 36 and 37 is not a big difference.

"I'm not very worried".

His runner-up spots in the last two championships already marked a late-career resurgence following his fallow period at Ducati and in the first season of his Yamaha return.

At the end of 2013, Rossi gave himself a deadline of the 2014 Mugello race to prove to himself he was still competitive enough to race on.

His subsequent upturn in form persuaded Rossi to commit to a new two-year contract with Yamaha that takes him to the end of 2016.

Rossi won six grands prix across 2014 and '15, having taken just three wins over the previous four seasons combined - none at all during his two-year Ducati stint in 2011/12.

He sees no reason why his 2015 form cannot simply continue into next year.

"Next year I can go more or else at the same pace," he said.

"But it depends a lot on the motivation, the match of the Yamaha with the Michelins, our work and everything else.

"Next year will be another story, and I will try as always."

Yamaha team managing director Lin Jarvis said the squad was well aware how tough the manner of Rossi's last-gasp defeat to team-mate Jorge Lorenzo would have felt for him.

"To lose the championship by only five points must be very tough when he'd been leading it from the beginning," Jarvis acknowledged.

"We knew only one could win. This is a problem of having two great riders in a team - even when you win everything, somebody's unhappy.

"It was going to go one way or the other, and it went the way that it did for all of the reasons it did.

"You can't turn back the clock. You have to focus only on the future."

 

Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo, MotoGP

Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo expects dual world champion Casey Stoner to make a handful of MotoGP wildcard appearances with Ducati next year.

Since retiring at the end of 2012, Stoner has worked with Honda as a test rider, but he split with the manufacturer last month to take up a similar role with Ducati.

Scope for the Australian to make wildcardMotoGP starts on a third factory Ducati alongside Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone has been mooted, and it is something 2015 world champion Lorenzo is expecting.

Stoner was keen to stand-in for the injured Dani Pedrosa earlier this year, but Honda opted against it.

"Surely he will be encouraged to run as a wildcard in some races; I think that is their intention," Lorenzo said in a MotoGP.com interview.

"I thought last [season] he would be out in a race, but at the end, due to circumstances, he wasn't.

"He will want to go out on Phillip Island or some other tracks, surely we will see him fighting with us, I think for victory."

Stoner won 38 MotoGP races with Ducati and Honda between 2007 and '12, however his only race since then was the Suzuka 8 Hours in July, in which he was injured in a crash.

Ducati has not won a race since Stoner left the Italian manufacturer at the end of 2010, but Lorenzo feels the 30-year-old would be strong if he returned.

"I have seen very few, if any, riders with the natural talent of Casey, to be fast right away with any bike and in all weather conditions," he said.

"It would be great news for everyone if Casey were to decide to come compete again.

"MotoGP is very difficult, many riders are fighting for victory, but having Casey back would be amazing.

"Hopefully he decides to return."

 

Marc Marquez, Honda, races Valentino Rossi, Yamaha, Sepang MotoGP 2015

MotoGP needs more of the controversy that surrounded Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez at the end of the 2015 season, reckons Australian rider Jack Miller.

A conflict Miller joked he was "too slow" to see from his Open class LCR Honda, Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo's title fight was hijacked by a high-profile row between Rossi and Marquez in the final rounds of the season.

While the chief of motorcycle racing's governing body said the row had "poisoned" MotoGP and riders were summoned to an extraordinary meeting before the Valencia finale, Miller feels motorcycle racing needs more of it.

"I think it was good," Miller, who did not shy away from controversy during a fight with Marquez's brother Alex for the 2014 Moto3 title, said.

"That's what the sport needs. Everybody thinks it's a disaster, but the sport needs that.

"If you look at how many people were at Valencia watching, that's the busiest paddock and race I've ever seen in my life.

"It was unreal. I think they sold out three times, because they kept on printing more tickets.

"It's going to continue on to next year and definitely a lot of people are going to be watching Qatar."

OPEN ECU EXPERIENCE TO HELP ON FACTORY MACHINERY

The 20-year-old will switch to an outright MotoGP bike in 2016, joining Honda squad Marc VDS alongside Moto2 champion Tito Rabat.

Miller feels his year spent on Magneti Marelli's control ECU for the Open class will help, with factory teams currently struggling to come to grips with new-for-2016 software some riders have dubbed "a step backwards".

"Jumping from Moto3 to MotoGP, no-one said it was going to be easy," he said during last weekend's Perth Speed Fest event in Australia.

"But we were top with our bike in the championship, not quite top of the Open class.

"Next year's going to be a big step, onto a lot better machine and hopefully on the Honda we can fight inside the top 10 all of the time.

"It's going to be a good year, in terms of everybody now coming to the Magneti Marelli software that we already did one year on.

"Having the same bike as Cal [Crutchlow, 2015 LCR team-mate], or Marc [Marquez] or Dani [Pedrosa] is going to also help us as well."


Josh Brookes and Karel Abraham will join the World Superbikes grid in 2016 as part of the Milwaukee squad, which is to run the BMW S1000RR bikes with backing from the German manufacturer.

Aussie Brookes, 32, won this year's British Superbikes title for the Shaun Muir Racing-run Milwaukee squad, riding a Yamaha YZF-R1.

The Australian has 34 BSB victories under his belt and had a number of part-time campaigns in WSBK, recording a best finish of seventh in Valencia in 2007.

"I’m excited to be back in World Superbikes and to go there with the same team I won the BSB title with is perfect,” Brookes said. “I haven’t raced a BMW before, but the bike and factory are proven and I am certain it will be competitive."

Brookes will be joined by Abraham, 25, who spent the last five seasons riding for the family-run AB Motoracing squad in MotoGP and was a Moto2 race winner in 2010.

"Moving to WorldSBK with a team like Milwaukee BMW is hugely exciting,” Abraham said. “It will also be a challenge as I haven’t ridden a Superbike and a lot of the tracks will be new, but I am sure that we will be able to get up to speed quickly.”

The outfit will enjoy the support of BMW Motorrad Motorsport and is the second team to announce its presence aboard the German manufacturer's bikes, lining up alongside Althea Racing and their line-up of Jordi Torres and Markus Reiterberger.

Abraham's move means that the rumours tying him and his AB team to the takeover of the Aprilia factory operation have not come to fruition - and the latter squad is now expected to pull out altogether.

 

Lorenzo, Rossi, Marquez

The bitterness and feuds with Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo that characterised the end of the 2015 MotoGP season will not linger into '16, believes Valentino Rossi.

The Italian's on- and off-track clashes with Marquez set him at odds with both the Honda rider and Lorenzo through the last two 2015 grands prix, and contributed to Rossi losing the title to his Yamaha team-mate at the Valencia finale having led the championship all season.

But Rossi thinks the tension will fade over the winter.

"Now the story is very hot," he acknowledged.

"But next season other things will be important, especially the motivation to continue and to try another time.

"I'm not very worried about next year."

He reckons it will be up to Marquez whether their rivalry flares up again.

"About the future with Marquez, I don't know," he said.

"What can I say? What can I do?

"Do I have to stop because I'm 'scared'...?

"I just try to explain my point of view and to explain what's happened. The rest is not my job."

Rossi expects considering whether to continue in MotoGP into 2017 to be one of his primary focuses next year, as he approaches the end of the deal he signed with Yamaha last summer.

"This story doesn't change my plan," he said of how the Marquez rows might affect his longer-term intentions.

"I already have the contract signed with Yamaha. When I signed the contract, it's because I planned to race for a minimum of two seasons.

"This year I was competitive, I did a good job, so I can try to continue next year.

"After, I will decide what will happen."
 

Jorge Lorenzo wins 2015 MotoGP title

Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo soaked up late pressure from the Honda riders to win the Valencia Grand Prix and the 2015 MotoGP title, with championship rival Valentino Rossi a beaten fourth.

Starting from pole, Lorenzo produced a faultless display to resist Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa and claim a lights to flag win.

Rossi charged from the back row of the grid after his Sepang penalty to finish a distant fourth, missing out on a 10th world title by five points to his Yamaha team-mate.

Lorenzo converted pole into an early lead from Marquez, as a fired-up Rossi carved his way through the order, taking 19th into Turn 1 and ending the second lap in 11th.

As Lorenzo and Marquez attempted to break clear of Pedrosa in third, a fall for fourth-place runner Andrea Iannone promoted Rossi into ninth.

The Italian quickly dispatched Bradley Smith and Danilo Petrucci to take seventh, before setting off after Andrea Dovizioso and the Espargaro brothers.

Rossi muscled his way past the two brothers, before sweeping past Dovizioso's Ducati for fourth, where his charge stalled, 11s behind Pedrosa in third.

Unable to match the pace of the frontrunners, Rossi settled for fourth on the road, leaving the Hondas to fight race leader Lorenzo.

With Lorenzo battling tyre wear, the two Honda riders closed on him into the closing stages, with Pedrosa reeling in his team-mate and the Yamaha.

Pedrosa briefly passed Marquez for second, only to concede the position back to his team-mate, which offered Lorenzo the respite needed to cross the line and win.

Pol Espargaro ended his season with a fifth place finish, 3s clear of Tech 3 team-mate Smith and Dovizioso.

Aleix Espargaro was five seconds back, beating the charging Cal Crutchlow - the LCR Honda rider having started from the back after mechanical problems on the grid - and Petrucci to eighth.

Maverick Vinales rounded out his season with an 11th place finish for Suzuki, one spot ahead of Michele Pirro, riding a wildcard factory Ducati.

Nicky Hayden closed out his MotoGP career with a 17th place finish, while Hector Barbera claimed the Open class title ahead of his 2016 Avintia Ducati team-mate Loris Baz.

RESULTS - 30 LAPS:

Pos Rider Team Bike Gap
1 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Yamaha 45m59.364s
2 Marc Marquez Honda Honda 0.263s
3 Daniel Pedrosa Honda Honda 0.654s
4 Valentino Rossi Yamaha Yamaha 19.789s
5 Pol Espargaro Tech 3 Yamaha 26.004s
6 Bradley Smith Tech 3 Yamaha 28.835s
7 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Ducati 28.886s
8 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki Suzuki 34.222s
9 Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda 35.924s
10 Danilo Petrucci Pramac Racing Ducati 39.579s
11 Maverick Vinales Suzuki Suzuki 39.746s
12 Michele Pirro Ducati Ducati 47.053s
13 Yonny Hernandez Pramac Racing Ducati 54.081s
14 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 56.646s
15 Scott Redding Marc VDS Honda 57.278s
16 Hector Barbera Avintia Racing Ducati 57.363s
17 Nicky Hayden Aspar Honda 58.742s
18 Stefan Bradl Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 59.086s
19 Loris Baz Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 1m04.339s
20 Toni Elias Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 1m04.413s
21 Jack Miller LCR Honda 1m05.212s
22 Anthony West AB Motoracing Honda 1m27.281s
- Mike Di Meglio Avintia Racing Ducati Retirement
- Eugene Laverty Aspar Honda Retirement
- Broc Parkes IodaRacing Project ART/Aprilia Retirement
- Andrea Iannone Ducati Ducati Retirement

FINAL CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:

Pos Rider Points
1 Jorge Lorenzo 330
2 Valentino Rossi 325
3 Marc Marquez 242
4 Daniel Pedrosa 206
5 Andrea Iannone 188
6 Bradley Smith 181
7 Andrea Dovizioso 162
8 Cal Crutchlow 125
9 Pol Espargaro 114
10 Danilo Petrucci 113
11 Aleix Espargaro 105
12 Maverick Vinales 97
13 Scott Redding 84
14 Yonny Hernandez 56
15 Hector Barbera 33
16 Alvaro Bautista 31
17 Loris Baz 28
18 Stefan Bradl 17
19 Jack Miller 17
20 Nicky Hayden 16
21 Michele Pirro 12
22 Eugene Laverty 9
23 Katsuyuki Nakasuga 8
24 Mike Di Meglio 8
25 Hiroshi Aoyama 5
26 Takumi Takahashi 4
27 Toni Elias 2
28 Alex de Angelis 2

Jorge Lorenzo went fastest in the second Friday practice session for the MotoGP finale at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia.

Lorenzo, seven points behind championship leader Valentino Rossi, set the quickest time of the day with a lap of 1:31.111, outpacing Honda's Dani Pedrosa by 0.266 seconds.

Ducati's Andrea Iannone was third fastest, with Rossi down in fourth position, over three tenths of a second behind Lorenzo.

Marc Marquez, quickest in the morning for Honda, had to settle for fifth place after failing to improve to on his FP1 best.

Pramac's Danilo Petrucci went sixth fastest ahead of the Espargaro brothers, with Pol leading Aleix.

LCR's Cal Crutchlow and Suzuki's Maverick Vinales completed the top 10.

Rossi was the first man to lap in the 1:31s in the session, but was still far from the best times set in the morning, before Marquez regained the top spot with a lap still around half a second off his best from FP1 in what was his first run in FP2.

Rossi bettered his morning time with 25 minutes to go to jump to the head of the timesheets, albeit with a lap still slower than Marquez's best.

The Spaniard then relegated his rival with the fastest lap of the session, a 1:31.492, in his second run on the Honda.

Lorenzo and Pedrosa also lapped in the 1:31s as the session passed the halfway mark to slot themselves in third and fourth respectively, but were split by the Tech 3 Yamaha of Pal Espargaro minutes later.

With 10 minutes to go, Marquez made a slight improvement on his third run to increase his gap to Rossi to just 0.076s.

But less than two minutes later, Lorenzo set a new benchmark on the Yamaha, the Spaniard posting the quickest time of the weekend at that point, 1:31.111, with a new set of tyres.

Pedrosa improved with three minutes left on the clock, the Honda rider jumping up to second place ahead of Rossi, who also went quicker in the dying moments of the session.

Iannone, however, moved into third with the Ducati, relegating Rossi to fourth as the championship leader failed to improve in his final run.

Follow the MotoGP finale live with Motorsport.com on Sunday from 12:50 GMT.

Pos Rider Team Time Gap Laps
1 Jorge Lorenzo Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1:31.111   19
2 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda Team 1:31.377 +0.266 21
3 Andrea Iannone Ducati Team 1:31.444 +0.333 22
4 Valentino Rossi Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1:31.475 +0.364 20
5 Marc Marquez Repsol Honda Team 1:31.481 +0.370 20
6 Danilo Petrucci Pramac Racing 1:31.575 +0.464 19
7 Pol Espargaro Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1:31.674 +0.563 17
8 Aleix Espargaro Team Suzuki ECSTAR 1:31.678 +0.567 18
9 Cal Crutchlow CWM LCR Honda 1:31.803 +0.692 19
10 Maverick Viñales Team Suzuki ECSTAR 1:31.986 +0.875 19
11 Hector Barbera Avintia Racing 1:32.044 +0.933 16
12 Michele Pirro Ducati Team 1:32.399 +1.288 16
13 Yonny Hernandez Pramac Racing 1:32.464 +1.353 18
14 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Team 1:32.494 +1.383 18
15 Bradley Smith Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1:32.508 +1.397 22
16 Nicky Hayden Aspar MotoGP Team 1:32.595 +1.484 18
17 Loris Baz Athinà Forward Racing 1:32.597 +1.486 16
18 Jack Miller CWM LCR Honda 1:32.599 +1.488 21
19 Stefan Bradl Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1:32.842 +1.731 20
20 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1:32.945 +1.834 20
21 Scott Redding Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS 1:33.238 +2.127 19
22 Mike di Meglio Avintia Racing 1:33.268 +2.157 18
23 Toni Elias Athinà Forward Racing 1:33.411 +2.300 18
24 Eugene Laverty Aspar MotoGP Team 1:33.415 +2.304 20
25 Anthony West AB Motoracing 1:33.838 +2.727 20
26 Broc Parkes  E-Motion IodaRacing Team 1:34.839 +3.728 15
 

Marc Marquez, Honda, races Valentino Rossi, Yamaha, Sepang MotoGP 2015

Valentino Rossi says he regrets the controversial move that triggered his clash with Marc Marquez in the Sepang MotoGP race.

The championship leader must start last for the title decider at Valencia this weekend, as the three penalty points he was given for taking Marquez out of the Malaysian Grand Prix triggered a grid penalty.

Asked at Valencia on Thursday if there was anything he regretted, Rossi replied: "Unfortunately I don't have any other choice.

"I just regret going wide and not to follow my normal line.

"Except for that, it's better that we speak about this weekend."

Rossi and Marquez have been at the centre of a huge furore since the events of Sepang, which began when the Italian accused the Spaniard of deliberately interfering with his race in the previous round at Phillip Island as revenge for earlier collisions between them.

The seven-time premier class champion has one more year to run on his Yamaha contract, and said he would not let the controversy have an influence on his longer-term future.

Valentino Rossi, Yamaha, Jerez MotoGP 2014

Instead he will focus on how the MotoGP landscape will look in 2017 as new technical rules come into effect and most factory riders' current contracts expire.

"This situation doesn't modify my passion or my thinking about the future," he said.

"I will race next year, because I already have a contract, and during next year a lot of things will change.

"After that I will decide if I will continue or not."

Although he will start at the back of the grid, Rossi said he will work as usual in practice and will compete in the pole position-deciding Q2 session if he makes the cut.

"When you start last, it's very difficult to prepare strategies," he said.

"You have to work well in practice and be competitive and have good pace.

"Sure, when you start last, the risks are a lot more.

"[The title] depends on me and if I'm strong and fast enough to be able to recover."

The Court of Arbitration for Sport rejected Rossi's bid for a stay of execution over his grid penalty.

Although it has yet to deliver a full verdict on whether Rossi's penalty was just, this will now be academic as it will come after Valencia.

"The answer of the CAS has not arrived yet, today it was just that I have to start last in this race because they need time to decide," said Rossi.

"We have to wait and see, but the important thing is I have to start last."

The entire MotoGP field and all team managers were addressed by FIM president Vito Ippolito and Dorna chief Carmelo Ezpeleta earlier on Thursday in an attempt to calm the situation ahead of the race.

Rossi confirmed that they had been asked not to further stoke the controversy, and said he agreed with that stance.

"Carmelo and the FIM said to us to say nothing more about the past and Sepang, and I agree," he said.

 

Jorge Lorenzo, Valentino Rossi, MotoGP 2015

Jorge Lorenzo has apologised for making a 'thumbs down' gesture at Valentino Rossi on the Sepang MotoGP podium after his Yamaha team-mate's clash with Marc Marquez.

Following the Malaysian Grand Prix, Lorenzo declared that the three penalty points given to his title rival - which earned Rossi a back of the grid start for the Valencia title decider - was adequate punishment.

He also tried to become involved in the Court of Arbitration for Sport's hearing into Rossi's appeal against the penalty, though he was limited to submitting a written statement.

In a press conference at Valencia on Thursday, Lorenzo said the only element of the controversy he was willing to discuss was the thrumbs down he made at Rossi as the Italian received his third-place trophy on the Sepang podium.

"About the past, I just want to say the gesture I made on the podium was a mistake," said Lorenzo.

"I regret that. It's not a sporting example, especially for young people watching MotoGP around the world.

"Apart from this, I don't have anything more to say. I only want to speak about what will happen in the future on the racetrack."

Lorenzo said he "respected" the CAS decision to maintain Rossi's penalty, and that where his team-mate started would make no difference to how he approached a weekend in which he must overturn a seven-point deficit in the championship.

"The decision that they made today doesn't matter," he said.

"They said the penalty is the same, but if they'd changed the sanction, I would still race completely the same on Sunday.

Jorge Lorenzo, Valentino Rossi, MotoGP 2015

"I'll always try to get the maximum out of me and the bike and this is what I'll do on Sunday - try to make the best race of my career."

Despite suggestions that the Rossi/Lorenzo pairing at Yamaha would now become untenable following the friction events at Sepang had created, Lorenzo said his desire to stay at the team for his entire career had not diminished.

"My intention is to continue at Yamaha forever," said Lorenzo, who has been with Yamaha since moving up to MotoGP in 2008.

"I always said I want to stay with Yamaha not only until I retire, but also later. This is staying in my mind.

"Naturally all marriages have some moments of disagreement, and these things can happen.

"Our relationship in the future will be the same.

"Valentino and myself form one of the best teams in the world."

 

Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo, MotoGP 2015

Dani Pedrosa led Jorge Lorenzo home in a Malaysian Grand Prix dominated by MotoGP championship leader Valentino Rossi's apparently deliberate clash with Marc Marquez.

The once friendly relationship between Marquez and Rossi had turned sour prior to the Sepang race when Rossi vehemently criticised Marquez's riding in the preceding Phillip Island event, accusing the Spaniard of helping Lorenzo's title bid and bearing grudges from clashes earlier in the 2015 season.

They then became embroiled in a ferocious battle for third place in the opening laps in Malaysia, repeatedly passing and repassing each other in a series of tight moves.

Rossi gesticulated at Marquez in frustration after one pass, and then after the Honda went around the Yamaha's outside at Turn 13, Rossi appeared to slow, look towards his rival and drift wide into him.

An incensed Marquez fell to the ground and then retired in the pits, while Rossi continued to finish third.

MotoGP race direction immediately announced that it would investigate the incident after the grand prix.

Lorenzo has already reduced Rossi's championship lead to seven points by finishing second.

The Spaniard dropped from fourth to sixth behind the Ducatis off the line, but outbraked both Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso into Turn 4 on the opening lap.

He then passed Rossi next time around before catching Marquez and taking his second place when the Honda ran slightly wide at Turn 4.

Lorenzo attempted to catch Pedrosa, but the polesitter always had the race under control, leading every lap and inching away to take his second win in the last three races and his third from the last four Malaysian GPs.

Neither Ducati reached the finish: Iannone slowed early on with a mechanical problem, and Dovizioso crashed out in an incident with Cal Crutchlow.

Bradley Smith charged from ninth to fourth place for Tech 3 Yamaha, ahead of Crutchlow's LCR Honda, with Pramac Ducati rider Danilo Petrucci also making good progress to beat the battling Suzukis of Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales to sixth.

Pol Espargaro was ninth despite sustaining a back injury when he was taken out by Hector Barbera in a warm-up collision.

Barbera received a penalty point for the clash, which added to his tally from the earlier in the season meant he was demoted from 10th to the back of the grid. He recovered to 13th.

Stefan Bradl completed the top 10 in a strong performance for Aprilia.

RESULTS - 20 LAPS:

Pos Rider Team Bike Gap
1 Daniel Pedrosa Honda Honda 40m37.691s
2 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Yamaha 3.612s
3 Valentino Rossi Yamaha Yamaha 13.724s
4 Bradley Smith Tech 3 Yamaha 23.995s
5 Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda 28.721s
6 Danilo Petrucci Pramac Racing Ducati 36.372s
7 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki Suzuki 39.290s
8 Maverick Vinales Suzuki Suzuki 39.436s
9 Pol Espargaro Tech 3 Yamaha 42.462s
10 Stefan Bradl Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 44.601s
11 Scott Redding Marc VDS Honda 47.690s
12 Yonny Hernandez Pramac Racing Ducati 52.112s
13 Hector Barbera Avintia Racing Ducati 52.360s
14 Toni Elias Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 53.619s
15 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 53.631s
16 Nicky Hayden Aspar Honda 1m01.431s
17 Jack Miller LCR Honda 1m02.828s
18 Mike Di Meglio Avintia Racing Ducati 1m05.075s
19 Eugene Laverty Aspar Honda 1m09.877s
20 Anthony West AB Motoracing Honda 1m24.749s
- Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Ducati Retirement
- Marc Marquez Honda Honda Retirement
- Loris Baz Forward Racing Yamaha Forward Retirement
- Andrea Iannone Ducati Ducati Retirement
- Damian Cudlin IodaRacing Project ART/Aprilia Retirement

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:

Pos Rider Points
1 Valentino Rossi 312
2 Jorge Lorenzo 305
3 Marc Marquez 222
4 Daniel Pedrosa 190
5 Andrea Iannone 188
6 Bradley Smith 171
7 Andrea Dovizioso 153
8 Cal Crutchlow 118
9 Danilo Petrucci 107
10 Pol Espargaro 103
11 Aleix Espargaro 97
12 Maverick Vinales 92
13 Scott Redding 83
14 Yonny Hernandez 53
15 Hector Barbera 33
16 Alvaro Bautista 29
17 Loris Baz 28
18 Stefan Bradl 17
19 Jack Miller 17
20 Nicky Hayden 16
21 Eugene Laverty 9
22 Katsuyuki Nakasuga 8
22 Michele Pirro 8
24 Mike Di Meglio 8
25 Hiroshi Aoyama 5
26 Takumi Takahashi 4
27 Toni Elias 2
28 Alex de Angelis 2
 

Dani Pedrosa

Honda MotoGP rider Dani Pedrosa set the pace in the opening practice session for the penultimate race of the season, the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang.

Pedrosa, who won at the circuit in 2012 and '13, set his best lap of 2m00.412s inside the first 10 minutes.

Title protagonist Jorge Lorenzo ended up second fastest, 0.210 seconds down on Pedrosa, moving up above the other Honda rider Marc Marquez with just under 18 minutes left.

Championship leader Valentino Rossi completed the top four, half a second down on Pedrosa.

The two British Honda riders were next up, with Scott Redding moving into fifth for the Marc VDS team with five minutes remaining and LCR's Cal Crutchlow taking sixth before the end.

Crutchlow had crashed at Turn 5 with just 12 minutes left on the clock but went straight back out on his second bike to set his best time.

Andrea Iannone was seventh as the leading Ducati rider, in front of Open class Ducati man Hector Barbera, Suzuki's Aleix Espargaro and his own team-mate Andrea Dovizioso.

Bradley Smith had a quiet session on his Tech 3 Yamaha, 1.9s down in 15th place.

Alvaro Bautista joined Crutchlow in crashing during the session, going down at Turn 15 on his Aprilia at around the same time.

 

Marc Marquez, Honda, leads Jorge Lorenzo, Yamaha, Phillip Island MotoGP 2015

Honda's Marc Marquez staged a sensational late comeback to snatch victory from Jorge Lorenzo in a frenetic MotoGP race at Phillip Island.

Lorenzo had led for the majority of the Australian Grand Prix, but with second still cut into Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi's lead in the championship, the Italian deposed from a podium on the final lap by Andrea Iannone.

Ducati rider Iannone shot into the lead off the line, as Lorenzo jumped past Marquez for second on his Yamaha at Doohan.

Lorenzo then muscled his way past Iannone for the lead, and began to pull a gap after a brief exchange with the Italian.

That escape was aided by a colossal scrap between Iannone, Marquez and Rossi, the latter having picked off Maverick Vinales, Cal Crutchlow and Dani Pedrosa in the opening laps.

Marquez eventually broke away in second in the middle part of the race and began to reel Lorenzo in, before perfecting a pass up the inside at Honda four laps later.

Their scrap for the lead became a four-way one once more though as Iannone and Rossi clawed their way back to the front, and Marquez was shuffled back down to fourth.

Victory looked all but sealed for Lorenzo with the Spaniard again allowed to escape, but after regaining second on the run to Doohan on the final lap, Marquez clawed back ground on his compatriot before stuffing his Honda down the inside at MG to snatch the lead, and the win.

Iannone perfected a similar pass on Rossi at the same turn to complete the podium.

Pedrosa came out on top of another race-long scrap between himself, Vinales and Crutchlow, the Honda man eventually claiming fifth after pulling clear in the final laps.

Pol Espargaro beat brother Aleix to eighth, with a subdued Bradley Smith completing the top 10 on his Tech 3 Yamaha.

RESULTS - 27 LAPS:

Pos Rider Team Bike Gap
1 Marc Marquez Honda Honda 40m33.849s
2 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Yamaha 0.249s
3 Andrea Iannone Ducati Ducati 0.930s
4 Valentino Rossi Yamaha Yamaha 1.058s
5 Daniel Pedrosa Honda Honda 5.062s
6 Maverick Vinales Suzuki Suzuki 6.800s
7 Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda 9.375s
8 Pol Espargaro Tech 3 Yamaha 18.401s
9 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki Suzuki 20.039s
10 Bradley Smith Tech 3 Yamaha 20.657s
11 Scott Redding Marc VDS Honda 21.846s
12 Danilo Petrucci Pramac Racing Ducati 22.840s
13 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Ducati 29.168s
14 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 37.244s
15 Jack Miller LCR Honda 40.192s
16 Hector Barbera Avintia Racing Ducati 48.263s
17 Yonny Hernandez Pramac Racing Ducati 48.572s
18 Loris Baz Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 48.677s
19 Eugene Laverty Aspar Honda 50.201s
20 Mike Di Meglio Avintia Racing Ducati 50.262s
21 Stefan Bradl Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 50.277s
22 Toni Elias Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 1m20.942s
23 Anthony West AB Motoracing Honda 1m23.454s
- Nicky Hayden Aspar Honda Retirement
- Damian Cudlin IodaRacing Project ART/Aprilia Retirement

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:

Pos Rider Points
1 Valentino Rossi 296
2 Jorge Lorenzo 285
3 Marc Marquez 222
4 Andrea Iannone 188
5 Daniel Pedrosa 165
6 Bradley Smith 158
7 Andrea Dovizioso 153
8 Cal Crutchlow 107
9 Danilo Petrucci 97
10 Pol Espargaro 96
11 Aleix Espargaro 88
12 Maverick Vinales 84
13 Scott Redding 78
14 Yonny Hernandez 49
15 Hector Barbera 30
16 Loris Baz 28
17 Alvaro Bautista 28
18 Jack Miller 17
19 Nicky Hayden 16
20 Stefan Bradl 11
21 Eugene Laverty 9
22 Michele Pirro 8
22 Katsuyuki Nakasuga 8
24 Mike Di Meglio 8
25 Hiroshi Aoyama 5
26 Takumi Takahashi 4
27 Alex de Angelis 2
 

Marc Marquez, Honda, Phillip Island MotoGP 2015

Honda's Marc Marquez stormed to pole position for MotoGP's Australia Grand Prix at Phillip Island, with Andrea Iannone and Jorge Lorenzo setting identical times to complete the front row.

Marquez had earlier been fastest in third practice, having also led Friday's second practice session, and proved to be unbeatable over one lap around the 2.7-mile circuit.

The Spaniard's opening gambit, a 1m28.731s, left him three tenths of a second clear of the rest.

Though his opposition improved, Marquez held the same advantage at the end of the session after going faster himself with a 1m28.364s.

Iannone and Lorenzo's matching times came right at the death, as the pair crossed the line in tandem.

Lorenzo had been unhappy with the Ducati rider, but will start behind the Italian on Sunday's grid.

The Yamaha rider's starting position is a boost to his championship hopes, however, with team-mate and championship leader Valentino Rossi four spots behind.

The Italian's seventh place was an accurate reflection of his pace so far this weekend relative to Lorenzo and leaves him with work to do to in Sunday's race to get on terms with his rival.

He was beaten by the second Honda of Dani Pedrosa in fourth and the impressive duo of Cal Crutchlow and Maverick Vinales in fifth and sixth respectively, the pair continuing the strong form they have shown since Friday.

Both Espargaros came through the earlier Q1 session and Suzuki's Aleix ended the session with the bragging rights after securing eighth on the grid, narrowly ahead of brother Pol.

Australian Jack Miller will start his home event from 15th after missing out on advancing to the second session.

STARTING GRID:

Pos Rider Team Bike Time Gap
1 Marc Marquez Honda Honda 1m28.364s -
2 Andrea Iannone Ducati Ducati 1m28.680s 0.316s
3 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Yamaha 1m28.680s 0.316s
4 Daniel Pedrosa Honda Honda 1m28.712s 0.348s
5 Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda 1m28.912s 0.548s
6 Maverick Vinales Suzuki Suzuki 1m28.932s 0.568s
7 Valentino Rossi Yamaha Yamaha 1m29.014s 0.650s
8 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki Suzuki 1m29.015s 0.651s
9 Pol Espargaro Tech 3 Yamaha 1m29.222s 0.858s
10 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Ducati 1m29.267s 0.903s
11 Scott Redding Marc VDS Honda 1m29.499s 1.135s
12 Bradley Smith Tech 3 Yamaha 1m29.626s 1.262s
13 Danilo Petrucci Pramac Racing Ducati 1m29.918s -
14 Hector Barbera Avintia Racing Ducati 1m30.064s -
15 Jack Miller LCR Honda 1m30.104s -
16 Eugene Laverty Aspar Honda 1m30.105s -
17 Yonny Hernandez Pramac Racing Ducati 1m30.135s -
18 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 1m30.147s -
19 Loris Baz Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 1m30.173s -
20 Nicky Hayden Aspar Honda 1m30.376s -
21 Stefan Bradl Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 1m30.634s -
22 Mike Di Meglio Avintia Racing Ducati 1m30.959s -
23 Anthony West AB Motoracing Honda 1m31.205s -
24 Toni Elias Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 1m31.837s -
25 Damian Cudlin IodaRacing Project ART/Aprilia 1m33.884s -
 

Marc Marquez, MotoGP 2015

Honda's Marc Marquez was quickest in second practice for MotoGP's Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island, edging out first practice pacesetter Jorge Lorenzo as Valentino Rossi struggled to ninth.

Rain had made improvements hard to come by for the Moto3 riders immediately prior to the MotoGP session but while the track was damp in places at the start of second practice, a combination of strong winds and clearing skies quickly dried the circuit.

Most riders were consequently able to improve on their efforts from first practice relative early on in the session, with Marquez fastest on a 1m30.238s.

Lorenzo quickly moved to the top of the times on his opening run, though, with two swift improvements nudging him clear of Marquez, before increasing his advantage ever so slightly with another marginal gain midway through the session.

That changed in the final five minutes though as Cal Crutchlow became the first man to dip below the 1m30s barrier, the Briton posting a 1m29.579s in the first of a late flurry of laps.

Lorenzo soon regained the top spot with another personal best, but he was eventually beaten to the fastest lap of the weekend so far by his compatriot Marquez, who recorded a 1m29.383s.

Maverick Vinales set an impressive pace aboard his Suzuki to claim third in the session, while a late improvement from Andrea Iannone meant the Italian nabbed fourth ahead of erstwhile leader Crutchlow.

Dani Pedrosa was sixth, followed by Danilo Petrucci, while Bradley Smith, who spent much of the session in the lower half of the order, jumped up to eighth with his final lap.

Rossi appeared to struggle in the final sector and finished the session 0.658 seconds slower than Marquez in ninth, with Aleix Espargaro rounding out the top 10.

PRACTICE TWO TIMES:

Pos Rider Team Bike Time Gap Laps
1 Marc Marquez Honda Honda 1m29.383s - 19
2 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Yamaha 1m29.433s 0.050s 18
3 Maverick Vinales Suzuki Suzuki 1m29.518s 0.135s 20
4 Andrea Iannone Ducati Ducati 1m29.544s 0.161s 19
5 Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda 1m29.579s 0.196s 20
6 Daniel Pedrosa Honda Honda 1m29.876s 0.493s 19
7 Danilo Petrucci Pramac Racing Ducati 1m30.021s 0.638s 21
8 Bradley Smith Tech 3 Yamaha 1m30.032s 0.649s 20
9 Valentino Rossi Yamaha Yamaha 1m30.041s 0.658s 21
10 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki Suzuki 1m30.113s 0.730s 20
11 Jack Miller LCR Honda 1m30.127s 0.744s 20
12 Nicky Hayden Aspar Honda 1m30.184s 0.801s 21
13 Hector Barbera Avintia Racing Ducati 1m30.278s 0.895s 20
14 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Ducati 1m30.451s 1.068s 19
15 Pol Espargaro Tech 3 Yamaha 1m30.552s 1.169s 20
16 Yonny Hernandez Pramac Racing Ducati 1m30.660s 1.277s 19
17 Scott Redding Marc VDS Honda 1m30.773s 1.390s 19
18 Eugene Laverty Aspar Honda 1m30.910s 1.527s 20
19 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 1m31.260s 1.877s 21
20 Mike Di Meglio Avintia Racing Ducati 1m31.339s 1.956s 18
21 Stefan Bradl Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 1m31.577s 2.194s 21
22 Toni Elias Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 1m32.122s 2.739s 21
23 Loris Baz Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 1m32.309s 2.926s 16
24 Anthony West AB Motoracing Honda 1m32.592s 3.209s 19
25 Damian Cudlin IodaRacing Project ART/Aprilia 1m34.479s 5.096s 15
 

Lorenzo, Yamaha, Motegi

Jorge Lorenzo denied Yamaha team-mate and title rival Valentino Rossi pole position for the Japanese MotoGP in a qualifying shootout.

Lorenzo maintained his perfect record of topping every session at Motegi this weekend, but had to secure his fourth pole position of the season after the chequered flag was shown.

The two-time world champion set the pace from the outset, and became the first MotoGP rider to record a sub-1m44s lap at the circuit, with a 1m43.990s.

Entering the final minute, that was 0.232 seconds ahead of Rossi, but the Italian improved to a 1m43.871s after the chequered flag to take top spot by 0.119s.

However, Rossi's advantage was fleeting, with Lorenzo improving to 1m43.790s moments later to snatch pole by just 0.081s.

Lorenzo's final run was completed after a change to the soft-compound option front tyre.

Honda's Marc Marquez improved late but was still 0.426s behind Lorenzo.

He will start third, ahead of Ducati pair Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone, Dani Pedrosa, Suzuki's Aleix Espargaro and Cal Crutchlow.

Bradley Smith will start ninth, despite crashing twice in the 15-minute session - once at Turn 5, then at Turn 12 - to take his tally to three for the day.

Maverick Vinales and Scott Redding advanced from Q1 and will start 10th and 12th, while Honda wildcard Takumi Takahashi will line-up 19th for his MotoGP debut.

DE ANGELIS HOSPITALISED

Alex de Angelis was taken to Dokkyo Hospital in Mibu after crashing heavily during the fourth practice session.

The San Marino rider was reported to be conscious and breathing before being airlifted away for further examination and treatment.

QUALIFYING RESULTS:

Pos Rider Team Bike Time Gap
1 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Yamaha 1m43.790s -
2 Valentino Rossi Yamaha Yamaha 1m43.871s 0.081s
3 Marc Marquez Honda Honda 1m44.216s 0.426s
4 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Ducati 1m44.322s 0.532s
5 Andrea Iannone Ducati Ducati 1m44.436s 0.646s
6 Daniel Pedrosa Honda Honda 1m44.582s 0.792s
7 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki Suzuki 1m44.809s 1.019s
8 Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda 1m44.932s 1.142s
9 Bradley Smith Tech 3 Yamaha 1m45.067s 1.277s
10 Maverick Vinales Suzuki Suzuki 1m45.081s 1.291s
11 Pol Espargaro Tech 3 Yamaha 1m45.219s 1.429s
12 Scott Redding Marc VDS Honda 1m45.333s 1.543s
13 Stefan Bradl Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 1m45.432s 1.642s
14 Yonny Hernandez Pramac Racing Ducati 1m45.438s 1.648s
15 Katsuyuki Nakasuga Yamaha Yamaha 1m45.496s 1.706s
16 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 1m45.608s 1.818s
17 Danilo Petrucci Pramac Racing Ducati 1m45.691s 1.901s
18 Hector Barbera Avintia Racing Ducati 1m45.724s 1.934s
19 Takumi Takahashi Honda Honda 1m45.743s 1.953s
20 Eugene Laverty Aspar Honda 1m45.751s 1.961s
21 Nicky Hayden Aspar Honda 1m45.843s 2.053s
22 Jack Miller LCR Honda 1m46.039s 2.249s
23 Loris Baz Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 1m46.048s 2.258s
24 Mike Di Meglio Avintia Racing Ducati 1m46.179s 2.389s
25 Toni Elias Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 1m46.256s 2.466s
26 Kosuke Akiyoshi AB Motoracing Honda 1m47.760s 3.970s
27 Alex de Angelis IodaRacing Project ART/Aprilia 1m48.192s 4.402s
 

Lorenzo, Yamaha, Motegi

Jorge Lorenzo continued his strong start to the Japanese MotoGP at Motegi, topping Friday's second practice session, while title rival Valentino Rossi was only eighth.

The Yamaha rider led the way in the morning, and was on top for the majority of the afternoon running.

Having set a time of 1m45.535s early, he improved to 1m45.426s, which was one-tenth clear of the field entering the final five minutes.

With four minutes remaining, running a soft-compound option rear tyre, Bradley Smith jumped to the top with a lap of 1m45.250s.

He only stayed there for 90 seconds, though, as three-time Motegi winner Lorenzo became the first rider to dip below the 1m45s barrier with a 1m44.731s effort.

It was good enough to top the session, 0.128 seconds clear of Honda's Dani Pedrosa, who jumped up from 10th in the order with 30 seconds remaining.

Ducati riders Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso also improved in the closing stages to finish third and fourth, relegating Smith to fifth.

Aleix Espargaro was sixth for Suzuki, ahead of Marc Marquez and Rossi.

Marquez survived a wild moment at Turn 8 with 15 minutes remaining, while Loris Baz and Yamaha wildcard rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga both crashed at Turn 11 in separate incidents.

PRACTICE TWO TIMES:

Pos Rider Team Bike Time Gap Laps
1 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Yamaha 1m44.731s - 15
2 Daniel Pedrosa Honda Honda 1m44.859s 0.128s 20
3 Andrea Iannone Ducati Ducati 1m45.043s 0.312s 19
4 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Ducati 1m45.059s 0.328s 18
5 Bradley Smith Tech 3 Yamaha 1m45.250s 0.519s 19
6 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki Suzuki 1m45.348s 0.617s 16
7 Marc Marquez Honda Honda 1m45.492s 0.761s 15
8 Valentino Rossi Yamaha Yamaha 1m45.554s 0.823s 19
9 Pol Espargaro Tech 3 Yamaha 1m45.597s 0.866s 19
10 Hector Barbera Avintia Racing Ducati 1m45.645s 0.914s 19
11 Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda 1m45.846s 1.115s 17
12 Scott Redding Marc VDS Honda 1m46.074s 1.343s 20
13 Maverick Vinales Suzuki Suzuki 1m46.464s 1.733s 17
14 Jack Miller LCR Honda 1m46.477s 1.746s 17
15 Yonny Hernandez Pramac Racing Ducati 1m46.563s 1.832s 16
16 Danilo Petrucci Pramac Racing Ducati 1m46.648s 1.917s 18
17 Stefan Bradl Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 1m46.649s 1.918s 16
18 Takumi Takahashi Honda Honda 1m46.650s 1.919s 20
19 Eugene Laverty Aspar Honda 1m46.770s 2.039s 18
20 Nicky Hayden Aspar Honda 1m46.827s 2.096s 16
21 Mike Di Meglio Avintia Racing Ducati 1m46.934s 2.203s 15
22 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 1m46.974s 2.243s 19
23 Katsuyuki Nakasuga Yamaha Yamaha 1m47.096s 2.365s 14
24 Loris Baz Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 1m47.219s 2.488s 17
25 Toni Elias Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 1m47.689s 2.958s 18
26 Alex de Angelis IodaRacing Project ART/Aprilia 1m48.572s 3.841s 14
27 Kosuke Akiyoshi AB Motoracing Honda 1m48.769s 4.038s 15
 

Jorge Lorenzo wins Aragon MotoGP 2015

Jorge Lorenzo trimmed nine points from Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi's MotoGP lead by dominating the Aragon Grand Prix, as Marc Marquez crashed out for a fifth time in 2015.

Rossi had to settle for third place, with countless efforts to pass a dogged Dani Pedrosa's Honda in a thrilling battle not paying off.

The race was plain sailing from the outset for Lorenzo, who thrust his way to the front from second on the grid at the start.

Marquez dropped from pole to third behind Andrea Iannone, and although he swiftly repassed the Ducati and then caught Lorenzo, no sooner had he arrived on the Yamaha's tail then he was sliding through the gravel on his side.

The reigning champion lost control going into the downhill Turn 12 left-hander, and though he was unhurt in the low-side fall, he kept his helmet on as he walked angrily back through the paddock.

Lorenzo kept his lead over the rest between 2.5 and 3.5 seconds for the rest of the race.

Iannone - racing with a dislocated shoulder after a stumble in training caused a repeat of the injury from his test crash in May - could not hold off Pedrosa and Rossi for long, falling out of the podium battle into fourth.

Rossi stalked Pedrosa until the closing laps, then mounted attack after attack.

But even though Rossi repeatedly outbraked Pedrosa and moved into second, each time the Honda was able to either capitalise as the Yamaha ran wide or instantly dive back past into the next turn.

Pedrosa ultimately denied Rossi by 0.09s at the line after four more position swaps on the last lap.

Andrea Dovizioso surged through from his disappointing 13th on the grid to fifth, though he was 16.4s behind team-mate Iannone as he fended off Aleix Espargaro, Cal Crutchlow, Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro to the finish.

Both Tech 3 riders had led that pack at different times only to run wide and drop down the queue.

Yonny Hernandez defeated Maverick Vinales in a battle for the final top 10 spot, having gained the place when Pramac team-mate Danilo Petrucci crashed.

RESULT

Pos Rider Team Bike Laps Gap
1 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Yamaha 23 41m44.933s
2 Daniel Pedrosa Honda Honda 23 2.683s
3 Valentino Rossi Yamaha Yamaha 23 2.773s
4 Andrea Iannone Ducati Ducati 23 7.858s
5 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Ducati 23 24.322s
6 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki Suzuki 23 24.829s
7 Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda 23 25.367s
8 Bradley Smith Tech 3 Yamaha 23 25.503s
9 Pol Espargaro Tech 3 Yamaha 23 26.452s
10 Yonny Hernandez Pramac Racing Ducati 23 43.889s
11 Maverick Vinales Suzuki Suzuki 23 44.255s
12 Scott Redding Marc VDS Honda 23 48.176s
13 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 23 49.755s
14 Eugene Laverty Aspar Honda 23 50.271s
15 Nicky Hayden Aspar Honda 23 50.364s
16 Hector Barbera Avintia Racing Ducati 23 50.722s
17 Loris Baz Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 23 51.997s
18 Stefan Bradl Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 23 53.406s
19 Jack Miller LCR Honda 23 56.859s
20 Mike Di Meglio Avintia Racing Ducati 23 59.607s
21 Toni Elias Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 23 1m15.237s
- Karel Abraham AB Motoracing Honda 11 Retirement
- Danilo Petrucci Pramac Racing Ducati 9 Retirement
- Alex de Angelis IodaRacing Project ART/Aprilia 5 Retirement
- Marc Marquez Honda Honda 1 Retirement

CHAMPIONSHIP POINTS

Pos Rider Points
1 Valentino Rossi 263
2 Jorge Lorenzo 249
3 Marc Marquez 184
4 Andrea Iannone 172
5 Bradley Smith 143
6 Andrea Dovizioso 139
7 Daniel Pedrosa 129
8 Danilo Petrucci 93
9 Cal Crutchlow 88
10 Pol Espargaro 88
11 Aleix Espargaro 76
12 Maverick Vinales 74
13 Scott Redding 67
14 Yonny Hernandez 47
15 Loris Baz 28
16 Alvaro Bautista 26
17 Hector Barbera 23
18 Jack Miller 16
19 Nicky Hayden 13
20 Stefan Bradl 11
21 Eugene Laverty 9
22 Michele Pirro 8
23 Mike Di Meglio 7
24 Hiroshi Aoyama 5
25 Alex de Angelis 2
 

Marc Marquez, MotoGP 2015

Marc Marquez claimed pole position for Sunday's MotoGP round at Aragon Motorland, despite a crash late in qualifying.

The reigning champion immediately set the pace in the pole shootout, posting a 1m46.635s on his first run in the session to lead the way by a tenth of a second from Jorge Lorenzo.

Marquez's best lap smashed his own pole record from 2014 by half a second.

His performance was only dampened by a late fall at Turn 2 while trying to improve on his final time, but he was able to walk away uninjured.

Andrea Iannone, nursing an left shoulder, hauled the Ducati onto the front row of the grid with a late lap to snatch third from Tech 3 rider Pol Espargaro.

Honda's Dani Pedrosa failed to reproduce his form from final practice, and he will start from fifth, one spot ahead of current points leader Valentino Rossi.

Aleix Espargaro will line up seventh on the grid, and will be joined by Cal Crutchlow and Danilo Petrucci, the latter progressing through Q1 on the satellite Ducati, on the third row.

Bradley Smith recorded his worst qualifying result since Assen in 10th, while Yonny Hernandez and Maverick Vinales rounded out the top 12.

Ducati factory rider Andrea Dovizioso was eliminated in the opening phase of qualifying, unable to match Pramac team-mates Petrucci and Hernandez on the satellite Ducatis.

Eugene Laverty was the best of the open class riders in 15th.

STARTING GRID

Pos Rider Team Bike Time Gap
1 Marc Marquez Honda Honda 1m46.635s -
2 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Yamaha 1m46.743s 0.108s
3 Andrea Iannone Ducati Ducati 1m47.178s 0.543s
4 Pol Espargaro Tech 3 Yamaha 1m47.334s 0.699s
5 Daniel Pedrosa Honda Honda 1m47.357s 0.722s
6 Valentino Rossi Yamaha Yamaha 1m47.492s 0.857s
7 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki Suzuki 1m47.573s 0.938s
8 Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda 1m47.574s 0.939s
9 Danilo Petrucci Pramac Racing Ducati 1m47.775s 1.140s
10 Bradley Smith Tech 3 Yamaha 1m47.830s 1.195s
11 Yonny Hernandez Pramac Racing Ducati 1m48.556s 1.921s
12 Maverick Vinales Suzuki Suzuki 1m48.648s 2.013s
13 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Ducati 1m48.294s 1.659s
14 Scott Redding Marc VDS Honda 1m48.674s 2.039s
15 Eugene Laverty Aspar Honda 1m49.035s 2.400s
16 Nicky Hayden Aspar Honda 1m49.102s 2.467s
17 Stefan Bradl Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 1m49.109s 2.474s
18 Mike Di Meglio Avintia Racing Ducati 1m49.253s 2.618s
19 Hector Barbera Avintia Racing Ducati 1m49.426s 2.791s
20 Jack Miller LCR Honda 1m49.436s 2.801s
21 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 1m49.437s 2.802s
22 Loris Baz Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 1m49.496s 2.861s
23 Karel Abraham AB Motoracing Honda 1m49.761s 3.126s
24 Alex de Angelis IodaRacing Project ART/Aprilia 1m50.134s 3.499s
25 Toni Elias Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 1m50.755s 4.120s
 

Jorge Lorenzo, MotoGP 2015

Jorge Lorenzo was fastest again in the second MotoGP practice session of the weekend at the Aragon circuit.

Honda's Dani Pedrosa established himself at the top of the leaderboard with an early banker, before the Yamaha riders switched to the softer option tyres in the closing stages.

Points leader Valentino Rossi posted a 1m48.200s to briefly go fastest, only for Lorenzo to smash his best time, lapping the Spanish circuit in 1m47.517s, seven tenths clear of his team-mate and title rival.

Bradley Smith made it a 1-2-3 for Yamaha on the satellite Tech 3 bike, ahead of the factory Hondas of Pedrosa and Marquez in fourth and fifth, the pair having opted not to run the softer tyre.

Pol Espargaro was sixth on the second Tech 3 Yamaha, a tenth clear of his brother Aleix on the lead Suzuki and Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone on the factory Ducatis.

Scott Redding, fifth in the morning session, slipped to 12th on the timesheets, one spot ahead of LCR Honda's Cal Crutchlow.

FREE PRACTICE 2 TIMES

Pos Rider Team Bike Gap Laps
1 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Yamaha 1m47.517s 15
2 Valentino Rossi Yamaha Yamaha 0.683s 19
3 Bradley Smith Tech 3 Yamaha 0.801s 20
4 Daniel Pedrosa Honda Honda 0.841s 17
5 Marc Marquez Honda Honda 0.884s 19
6 Pol Espargaro Tech 3 Yamaha 0.928s 18
7 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki Suzuki 1.007s 15
8 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Ducati 1.058s 16
9 Andrea Iannone Ducati Ducati 1.098s 18
10 Danilo Petrucci Pramac Racing Ducati 1.312s 19
11 Yonny Hernandez Pramac Racing Ducati 1.438s 17
12 Scott Redding Marc VDS Honda 1.490s 18
13 Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda 1.547s 17
14 Hector Barbera Avintia Racing Ducati 1.708s 16
15 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 2.059s 19
16 Maverick Vinales Suzuki Suzuki 2.163s 15
17 Loris Baz Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 2.183s 14
18 Eugene Laverty Aspar Honda 2.252s 18
19 Stefan Bradl Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 2.463s 18
20 Mike Di Meglio Avintia Racing Ducati 2.522s 14
21 Jack Miller LCR Honda 2.640s 17
22 Nicky Hayden Aspar Honda 2.945s 17
23 Alex de Angelis IodaRacing Project ART/Aprilia 3.202s 15
24 Toni Elias Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 3.645s 18
25 Karel Abraham AB Motoracing Honda 4.121s 14
 

Smith, MotoGP

Bradley Smith feels he "didn't do a very good job" in the first part of his MotoGP career and was fortunate to keep the support of his Tech 3 Yamaha team.

The British rider is enjoying a breakthrough 2015 season, currently holding fifth in the championship between the factory Ducatis.

He achieved a career-best second place in the last grand prix at Misano.

Smith will stay on at Tech 3 for 2016, but believes he was "lucky" the team stuck by him after his rookie campaign three years ago, when he feels he underperformed and was overshadowed by more experienced team-mate Cal Crutchlow.

"I've only shown my true potential this season," Smith said.

"I was lucky that I got the opportunity for three years to be able to show it.

"I didn't do a very good job in, let's say, the first 10 months of my career in MotoGP."

The 24-year-old recently told AUTOSPORT that a radical rethink of his career was sparked last season, following the German GP where he crashed five times over the course of the weekend.

Smith, MotoGP

"The Sachsenring was a complete disaster and I knew had to turn that around," he said.

"In the summer break I had a lot of time to think about how I was going to go into my second half of the year and I needed to change something radically otherwise I wasn't going to keep my job.

"I worked on me and then I worked on the team."

Smith has achieved his 2015 results despite being on a lower specification Yamaha than team-mate Pol Espargaro, a situation he was determined to change for '16 before agreeing his new deal with the team.

"I think anyone has to be confident in their position if they're the top satellite rider and fifth in the championship," said Smith, who is 54 points and four places ahead of Espargaro in the standings.

"It's the first time in a long time that I've actually had that position to maybe dictate what I would like - and I didn't feel that anything was unreasonable.

"At the end of the day, I was just looking for equality within the team.

"I still believe that if something's new then it's better.

"With next year being so important with factory contracts up for grabs, I wanted to make sure I was in a fair position because my team-mate's a talented guy.

"I wouldn't want to go up against him giving him any form of advantage."

The majority of factory MotoGP riders are out of contract after 2016, and Smith believes next season could therefore be his best opportunity to earn a chance with a top team.

"We'll see what happens and which people think of me when it's contract time next year," he said.

 

Marc Marquez, Honda, Misano MotoGP 2015

Marc Marquez judged changing weather perfectly to win MotoGP's Misano race ahead of shock podium finishers Bradley Smith and Scott Redding, with Valentino Rossi only fifth and Jorge Lorenzo crashing.

Most of the field made two pitstops to change bikes as a shower hit the race early on but departed in time for the track to dry before the finish.

Lorenzo, Marquez and Rossi were tied together for much of the race, pitting in unison for wet-shod tyres when the drizzle intensified early on.

Marquez handled the conditions better and slipped ahead of Lorenzo, only to run wide and hand the lead back.

There then followed a long tense period of Lorenzo fending off constant passing attempts from Marquez as Rossi probed at both.

It was Rossi who finally broke the deadlock, overtaking his rivals in quick succession and getting away.

But by that time the track was almost dry and riders on slicks in the midfield were flying.

Forward Racing rider Loris Baz was foremost among them, while Tech 3's Smith had bravely stayed on slicks right through the first shower - tumbling outside the top 20 and a minute from the lead, but rapidly regaining the ground as the rain passed.

Redding was also quick to retake slicks, having been running at the back after an early crash from sixth place.

The three leaders were among the last to go back to slicks, with the Yamaha pair hanging on even longer than Marquez and Rossi the final man to pit.

While Marquez made his change in time to still get back out ahead of Smith, Baz and Redding, Lorenzo and Rossi emerged behind them.

Worse followed for Lorenzo, as he had a high-speed crash on his first flying lap on slicks, ending his race and damaging his title bid.

The only consolation for Lorenzo was that Rossi was not in podium contention.

The best the championship leader could manage was to hold Danilo Petrucci - who starred in the wet again - off for fifth.

While Marquez cruised home with a 7s cushion over the euphoric Smith, Redding made a late move on Baz to claim his first MotoGP podium in third.

The rest of the order was shuffled by timing of bike changes, with Andrea Iannone ending up seventh ahead of Ducati team-mate Andrea Dovizioso.

Dani Pedrosa was only ninth on the second works Honda, with Aleix Espargaro's Suzuki completing the top 10.

After his superb fifth in qualifying, Ducati wildcard Michele Pirro's bike developed a problem on the grid.

He started from the pits on a wet-shod spare but soon retired.

RESULTS - 28 LAPS:

Pos Rider Team Bike Gap
1 Marc Marquez Honda Honda 48m23.819s
2 Bradley Smith Tech 3 Yamaha 7.288s
3 Scott Redding Marc VDS Honda 18.793s
4 Loris Baz Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 26.427s
5 Valentino Rossi Yamaha Yamaha 33.196s
6 Danilo Petrucci Pramac Racing Ducati 35.087s
7 Andrea Iannone Ducati Ducati 36.527s
8 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Ducati 37.434s
9 Daniel Pedrosa Honda Honda 39.516s
10 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki Suzuki 39.692s
11 Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda 41.995s
12 Jack Miller LCR Honda 46.075s
13 Mike Di Meglio Avintia Racing Ducati 48.381s
14 Maverick Vinales Suzuki Suzuki 52.325s
15 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 53.348s
16 Stefan Bradl Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 58.828s
17 Nicky Hayden Aspar Honda 1m02.649s
18 Hector Barbera Avintia Racing Ducati 1m04.768s
19 Eugene Laverty Aspar Honda 1m05.677s
20 Claudio Corti Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 1 Lap
21 Karel Abraham AB Motoracing Honda 1 Lap
- Pol Espargaro Tech 3 Yamaha Retirement
- Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Yamaha Retirement
- Yonny Hernandez Pramac Racing Ducati Retirement
- Alex de Angelis IodaRacing Project ART/Aprilia Retirement
- Michele Pirro Ducati Ducati Retirement

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:

Pos Rider Points
1 Valentino Rossi 247
2 Jorge Lorenzo 224
3 Marc Marquez 184
4 Andrea Iannone 159
5 Bradley Smith 135
6 Andrea Dovizioso 128
7 Daniel Pedrosa 109
8 Danilo Petrucci 93
9 Pol Espargaro 81
10 Cal Crutchlow 79
11 Maverick Vinales 69
12 Aleix Espargaro 66
13 Scott Redding 63
14 Yonny Hernandez 41
15 Loris Baz 28
16 Alvaro Bautista 23
17 Hector Barbera 23
18 Jack Miller 16
19 Nicky Hayden 12
20 Stefan Bradl 11
21 Michele Pirro 8
22 Eugene Laverty 7
23 Mike Di Meglio 7
24 Hiroshi Aoyama 5
25 Alex de Angelis 2
 

Valentino Rossi, Silverstone MotoGP 2015

Valentino Rossi re-established his MotoGP lead by holding off underdog Danilo Petrucci to win a wet British Grand Prix, as Marc Marquez crashed out and Jorge Lorenzo was only fourth.

Andrea Dovizioso made it two Ducati riders on the podium in a remarkable race turned upside down by rain before the start.

The shower had prompted the entire field to head into the pitlane for their wet-weather bikes at the end of for the formation lap, with race direction opting to delay the start by 25 minutes rather than allowing the whole grid to try to start from the pit exit.

Although Lorenzo initially burst into the lead ahead of a huge battle between Marquez and Rossi when the race eventually began, his pace was not a match for his main rivals in the wet and he began to slip back.

Rossi assumed the lead, with Marquez glued to his tail through the first half of the race and looking poised to make a late challenge in the ever worse conditions.

But Marquez didn't get that far, having a high-speed crash at Copse just after half-distance. He was unhurt, but his title defence is now surely all but over.

His exit handed Rossi a six-second advantage, which rapidly began to come down.

Pramac Ducati rider Petrucci - always quick in the wet - had stormed through from 18th on the grid and was in a huge battle for second with works counterpart Dovizioso when Marquez crashed.

Both Desmosedicis then began rapidly gaining on Rossi, with the Yamaha's lead reducing to just 1.6s before a late spurt pulled him clear again.

The seven-time champion eventually won by three seconds, while Petrucci came out on top of his spectacular dice with Dovizioso to claim a maiden MotoGP podium in second.

Dovizioso briefly came under pressure from Lorenzo but was able to hold on to third, having risen from 12th on the grid.

Although Lorenzo's result could've been worse as he drifted right back to fourth at one stage, he still lost 12 points to title rival Rossi.

Dani Pedrosa finished a lonely fifth on the leading Honda, having dropped away from the podium battle in the closing laps.

Other underdog podium contenders' hopes were ended by crashes.

Cal Crutchlow had worked his way up to third on home ground when he was taken out by LCR Honda team-mate Jack Miller at Vale. The young Australian had impressively surged through the field from 16th, then undid his good work by outbraking himself and clattering into his team-mate.

Miller was out on the spot, while Crutchlow changed bikes and rejoined, before parking after a second crash.

Pol Espargaro spent a short spell in second following a great start, lost ground with a trip off track triggered by a clash with Lorenzo, then battled back from ninth to sixth before a heavy crash at Becketts ended his race.

Scott Redding was the leading Briton, beating Bradley Smith to sixth place.

Andrea Iannone chased them home on the second works Ducati.

Aleix Espargaro escaped a first-corner clash that ended Yonny Hernandez's race and sent his Suzuki team-mate Maverick Vinales wide to take ninth, with Alvaro Bautista getting the Gresini Aprilia into the top 10 again in 10th.

RESULTS - 20 LAPS:

Pos Rider Team Bike Gap
1 Valentino Rossi Yamaha Yamaha 46m15.617s
2 Danilo Petrucci Pramac Racing Ducati 3.010s
3 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Ducati 4.117s
4 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Yamaha 5.726s
5 Daniel Pedrosa Honda Honda 11.132s
6 Scott Redding Marc VDS Honda 25.467s
7 Bradley Smith Tech 3 Yamaha 26.717s
8 Andrea Iannone Ducati Ducati 29.393s
9 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki Suzuki 38.815s
10 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 41.712s
11 Maverick Vinales Suzuki Suzuki 44.776s
12 Nicky Hayden Aspar Honda 52.489s
13 Hector Barbera Avintia Racing Ducati 1m11.211s
14 Mike Di Meglio Avintia Racing Ducati 1m15.292s
15 Alex de Angelis IodaRacing Project ART/Aprilia 1m17.863s
16 Loris Baz Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 1m19.310s
17 Eugene Laverty Aspar Honda 1m19.735s
18 Claudio Corti Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 1m58.086s
19 Karel Abraham AB Motoracing Honda 1 Lap
- Pol Espargaro Tech 3 Yamaha Retirement
- Marc Marquez Honda Honda Retirement
- Stefan Bradl Aprilia Gresini Aprilia Retirement
- Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda Retirement
- Jack Miller LCR Honda Retirement
- Yonny Hernandez Pramac Racing Ducati Retirement

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:

Pos Rider Points
1 Valentino Rossi 236
2 Jorge Lorenzo 224
3 Marc Marquez 159
4 Andrea Iannone 150
5 Andrea Dovizioso 120
6 Bradley Smith 115
7 Daniel Pedrosa 102
8 Danilo Petrucci 83
9 Pol Espargaro 81
10 Cal Crutchlow 74
11 Maverick Vinales 67
12 Aleix Espargaro 60
13 Scott Redding 47
14 Yonny Hernandez 41
15 Hector Barbera 23
16 Alvaro Bautista 22
17 Loris Baz 15
18 Nicky Hayden 12
19 Jack Miller 12
20 Stefan Bradl 11
21 Michele Pirro 8
22 Eugene Laverty 7
23 Hiroshi Aoyama 5
24 Mike Di Meglio 4
25 Alex de Angelis 2
 

Marc Marquez, Honda, Silverstone MotoGP 2015

Marc Marquez claimed pole position for MotoGP's British Grand Prix with a blistering performance in Silverstone qualifying.

Having been a touch behind Yamaha rival Jorge Lorenzo for much of the weekend, Marquez and Honda found a step forward ahead of the fourth practice session immediately before qualifying, topping that half-hour by eight tenths of a second.

Marquez then began Q2 with a record 2m00.564s lap, a quarter of a second ahead of Lorenzo at that point.

There was still more pace to come, with Marquez improving to a final pole time of 2m00.234s on his last run.

Championship leader Lorenzo had to settle for getting between the Hondas as he took second, 0.288s off Marquez and 0.194s ahead of Dani Pedrosa.

Valentino Rossi couldn't quite find front row pace but qualified fourth to lead an all-Yamaha second row ahead of Tech 3 pair Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith, the latter heading a trio of Brits as Scott Redding and Cal Crutchlow claimed seventh and eighth.

It was a disappointing qualifying session for Ducati - Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso only able to qualify ninth and 12th.

There was frustration at Suzuki too. Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales both had to go through Q1, where their first flying laps were nearly seven tenths of a second clear of the rest.

They therefore chose not to run again, but were upstaged by Pramac Ducati rider Yonny Hernandez, who threw in a last-gasp lap to beat both of them, meaning Vinales failed to make it to Q2.

QUALIFYING RESULT:

Pos Rider Team Bike Time Gap
1 Marc Marquez Honda Honda 2m00.234s -
2 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Yamaha 2m00.522s 0.288s
3 Daniel Pedrosa Honda Honda 2m00.716s 0.482s
4 Valentino Rossi Yamaha Yamaha 2m00.947s 0.713s
5 Pol Espargaro Tech 3 Yamaha 2m01.031s 0.797s
6 Bradley Smith Tech 3 Yamaha 2m01.140s 0.906s
7 Scott Redding Marc VDS Honda 2m01.329s 1.095s
8 Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda 2m01.376s 1.142s
9 Andrea Iannone Ducati Ducati 2m01.874s 1.640s
10 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki Suzuki 2m01.880s 1.646s
11 Yonny Hernandez Pramac Racing Ducati 2m01.894s 1.660s
12 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Ducati 2m01.979s 1.745s
13 Maverick Vinales Suzuki Suzuki 2m02.016s -
14 Stefan Bradl Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 2m02.657s -
15 Loris Baz Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 2m02.677s -
16 Jack Miller LCR Honda 2m02.697s -
17 Hector Barbera Avintia Racing Ducati 2m02.784s -
18 Danilo Petrucci Pramac Racing Ducati 2m02.800s -
19 Eugene Laverty Aspar Honda 2m02.894s -
20 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 2m02.908s -
21 Nicky Hayden Aspar Honda 2m02.946s -
22 Mike Di Meglio Avintia Racing Ducati 2m03.641s -
23 Claudio Corti Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 2m03.789s -
24 Karel Abraham AB Motoracing Honda 2m04.133s -
25 Alex de Angelis IodaRacing Project ART/Aprilia 2m04.304s -
 

Jorge Lorenzo, MotoGP 2015

Jorge Lorenzo fended off Marc Marquez for the top spot in MotoGP's Friday afternoon British Grand Prix practice session at Silverstone.

After fruitlessly chasing Marquez's time in practice one, Lorenzo took charge in the second session with an early 2m02.338s lap.

Honda rider Marquez got within 0.033 seconds of the Yamaha's mark, but could get no closer.

The world champion pair were nearly upstaged by top home rider Bradley Smith in the final seconds, as the Tech 3 Yamaha man set the pace in the first three quarters of the lap before falling short and remaining in third place.

Joint points leader Valentino Rossi was only 10th on the second works Yamaha, just under a second behind team-mate Lorenzo.

Dani Pedrosa improved on his morning form to take fourth place for Honda ahead of leading Ducati man Andrea Dovizioso, whose team-mate Andrea Iannone disrupted his session with a crash at Stowe.

Suzuki was struggling for a top-10 presence until Aleix Espargaro shot up the order to sixth late on.

That put him just ahead of brother Pol's Tech 3 Yamaha, Iannone, morning star Scott Redding and Rossi.

PRACTICE TWO TIMES:

Pos Rider Team Bike Time Gap Laps
1 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Yamaha 2m02.338s - 13
2 Marc Marquez Honda Honda 2m02.371s 0.033s 17
3 Bradley Smith Tech 3 Yamaha 2m02.531s 0.193s 17
4 Daniel Pedrosa Honda Honda 2m02.573s 0.235s 15
5 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Ducati 2m02.761s 0.423s 15
6 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki Suzuki 2m02.872s 0.534s 14
7 Pol Espargaro Tech 3 Yamaha 2m02.972s 0.634s 17
8 Andrea Iannone Ducati Ducati 2m03.219s 0.881s 15
9 Scott Redding Marc VDS Honda 2m03.284s 0.946s 17
10 Valentino Rossi Yamaha Yamaha 2m03.327s 0.989s 16
11 Danilo Petrucci Pramac Racing Ducati 2m03.339s 1.001s 17
12 Maverick Vinales Suzuki Suzuki 2m03.391s 1.053s 15
13 Hector Barbera Avintia Racing Ducati 2m03.618s 1.280s 13
14 Jack Miller LCR Honda 2m03.656s 1.318s 15
15 Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda 2m03.748s 1.410s 14
16 Eugene Laverty Aspar Honda 2m03.877s 1.539s 17
17 Yonny Hernandez Pramac Racing Ducati 2m03.878s 1.540s 16
18 Loris Baz Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 2m03.977s 1.639s 15
19 Mike Di Meglio Avintia Racing Ducati 2m04.216s 1.878s 13
20 Stefan Bradl Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 2m04.416s 2.078s 16
21 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 2m04.885s 2.547s 15
22 Nicky Hayden Aspar Honda 2m05.295s 2.957s 15
23 Karel Abraham AB Motoracing Honda 2m05.396s 3.058s 15
24 Alex de Angelis IodaRacing Project ART/Aprilia 2m05.820s 3.482s 13
25 Claudio Corti Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 2m06.275s 3.937s 16
 

Jorge Lorenzo, Valentino Rossi, MotoGP Brno 2015

Jorge Lorenzo says he and Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi now respect each other in a way they did not during their fractious first stint sharing a MotoGP garage.

A wall was famously put up dividing the Yamaha garage into two separate teams when Lorenzo first came to MotoGP as a double 250cc world champion in 2008 alongside Rossi, who had won five top-class titles at that point.

The pair spent three years together before Rossi's unsucessful 2011-12 stint at Ducati, after which they were reunited at Yamaha.

They are currently engaged in their first head-to-head title battle since 2009 - when Rossi came out on top - having drawn level at the top of the championship when Lorenzo won at Brno earlier this month.

"For the moment our relationship is better than ever," said Lorenzo at a press conference in London ahead of this weekend's British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

"Before, it was not so good. But after a long time, changing so many circumstances over the years, now there is more respect between us.

"We each know that the other is so good and so strong. Our power is very similar and very equal, that's why I think the championship in these last seven races will be so interesting.

"At this point, we've not had a big, big fight on the track or a situation where one of us has thought the other has made a dirty move in some corner.

"At the moment we respect each other on track and outside the track too."

Lorenzo thinks it was inevitable that they clashed first time around given their respective career positions in 2008.

"When I arrived in MotoGP, I was 20 years old, I was very ambitious and he was in the best period of his career and was protecting his space a little bit and his position in the team," he said.

"I wanted to get close to him or beat him as soon as possible.

"For this reason we had this little tension, but now I think it's disappeared quite a bit."

He admitted that the pressure of an intra-team title fight could revive hostilities, but doubted they would ever return to their previous level.

"For sure if in the future some situation happens that can create some friction between us, that relationship could change," Lorenzo said.

"But I don't believe it will be as bad as it was in the past."

Bradley Smith will remain at the Tech 3 Yamaha MotoGP squad next season, it has been officially announced.

The 24-year-old Brit was expected to be retained by the French team off the back of a strong third season in the premier class, sitting fifth in the riders' standings having not finished lower than eighth all year.

Pol Espargaro, who is 25 points behind teammate Smith heading into this weekend's Silverstone race, had already had his deal to remain at the team extended by one season, meaning Tech 3 heads into the 2016 season with an unchanged line-up.

"I am really pleased to be able to continue this journey with the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team and it's fantastic news to resign for another season," said Smith.

"We will be going into our sixth year together and I must say that it is certainly nice to be giving the guys the results and performances that they deserve at the moment. 

"Everyone in the team has put their faith in me again and we know that 2016 will be tricky due to the changes in regulations, however, I am optimistic that this will give the satellite riders more of a chance to be competitive."

Smith has been part of the Tech 3 set-up since joining the team's Moto2 arm in 2011, graduating to the premier class two years later.

"I am super happy and proud to finally announce that Bradley Smith will remain with our team for one more year," said Tech 3 boss Herve Poncharal.

"Of course, he deserves to be given the opportunity by the team together with Factory Yamaha to ride an M1 for another season after having had a fantastic first part of the year. 

"We hope that the fact that his future is sorted will give him a big boost for his upcoming home GP and I am sure that he is going to be even stronger in the final rounds of the 2015 season compared to what we have seen so far."

 

Brno MotoGP 2015

Reigning world champion Marc Marquez is resigned to his Honda losing ground to his Yamaha title rivals off the line for the remainder of the MotoGP season.

While his slow getaway not as pronounced as Valentino Rossi's drop from third on the grid to fifth at the start of the Czech Grand Prix last Sunday, Marquez could not match Jorge Lorenzo's Brno start.

A week earlier at Indianapolis, polesitter Marquez was jumped at the start by Lorenzo, and had to wait until three laps from home to retake the lead.

The Spaniard says that it is a problem the team is aware of, but that any solution would be for Honda's 2016 bike.

"I think we are losing on acceleration and on the start [itself]," he said.

"With first gear, we start well, but when we [go up through] the gears, also with acceleration, we have a lot of wheel [spin].

"This is basically one of the biggest problems. With this wheelie, the bike is very physical.

"We are trying to work on this, but for next season. This season it will be like this."

With seven races to go, Marquez is 52 points behind Yamaha team-mates Lorenzo and Rossi.

While Lorenzo dominated the Brno weekend, Marquez split the pair in the race and was content to look ahead to more favourable circuits.

"It's really difficult to catch 52 points from one rider and it's even more difficult to catch 52 points from two riders," he said.

"Both of them have really good pace, like we saw [at Brno], both of them were on the podium at Indianapolis again.

"So it will be really difficult, but we will try our best.

"Brno was one of the most difficult for Honda and our problems and my riding style and now it's coming to circuits that should be better.

"But also Silverstone will be difficult because Jorge is strong there every year."

 

Lorenzo, Yamaha, Brno

Jorge Lorenzo capped a dominant weekend at Brno with victory in the Czech MotoGP, drawing level with Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi in the riders' championship.

With the pair and fellow championship contender Marc Marquez sharing the front row, hopes of a memorable battle didn't eventuate, with Lorenzo controlling the race from start to finish.

The polesitter got the best start and shook off early pressure from Marquez, edging further and further away from the Honda rider during the 22 laps to eventually win by more than four seconds.

With his fifth victory of the season, Lorenzo draws level with Rossi atop the standings, with reigning world champion Marquez 52 points behind them.

Rossi's chances were dashed off the line, dropping from third to fifth following a slow start.

By the time he was back in the top three, after passing Andrea Dovizioso on the second lap, Lorenzo and Marquez were more than two seconds up the road.

That grew to nearly eight seconds by the midway point of the race, and while the Italian ran at a similar pace to Marquez, he had settle for a lonely third.

Dovizioso led the Ducati battle early, but was passed by team-mate Andrea Iannone who took fourth.

In the closing laps, Dovizioso had to defend fifth heavily from Dani Pedrosa, who advanced from ninth on the grid, battling the left ankle injury he sustained in a practice crash on Friday.

In one of the race's few on-track fights, Pedrosa eventually got past the Ducati rider at Turn 8 on the final lap to take fifth.

Bradley Smith leapt into third place off the line, but faded to finish seventh, ahead of Tech 3 team-mate Pol Espargaro, Suzuki's Aleix Espargaro and Pramac Ducati rider Danilo Petrucci.

Maverick Vinales and Cal Crutchlow ran ninth and 10th for the bulk of the race, but both fell at Turn 11 in separate incidents.

RESULTS - 22 LAPS:

Pos Rider Team Bike Gap
1 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Yamaha 42m53.042s
2 Marc Marquez Honda Honda 4.462s
3 Valentino Rossi Yamaha Yamaha 10.397s
4 Andrea Iannone Ducati Ducati 13.071s
5 Daniel Pedrosa Honda Honda 15.650s
6 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Ducati 15.725s
7 Bradley Smith Tech 3 Yamaha 21.821s
8 Pol Espargaro Tech 3 Yamaha 23.240s
9 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki Suzuki 43.784s
10 Danilo Petrucci Pramac Racing Ducati 45.261s
11 Yonny Hernandez Pramac Racing Ducati 49.973s
12 Scott Redding Marc VDS Honda 50.174s
13 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 54.437s
14 Stefan Bradl Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 54.624s
15 Loris Baz Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 1m00.316s
16 Hector Barbera Avintia Racing Ducati 1m01.595s
17 Nicky Hayden Aspar Honda 1m02.388s
18 Mike Di Meglio Avintia Racing Ducati 1m05.944s
19 Jack Miller LCR Honda 1m11.407s
20 Claudio Corti Forward Racing Yamaha Forward 1m50.033s
21 Karel Abraham AB Motoracing Honda 2m02.655s
- Maverick Vinales Suzuki Suzuki Retirement
- Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda Retirement
- Eugene Laverty Aspar Honda Retirement
- Alex de Angelis IodaRacing Project ART/Aprilia Retirement

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:

Pos Rider Points
1 Jorge Lorenzo 211
2 Valentino Rossi 211
3 Marc Marquez 159
4 Andrea Iannone 142
5 Bradley Smith 106
6 Andrea Dovizioso 104
7 Daniel Pedrosa 91
8 Pol Espargaro 81
9 Cal Crutchlow 74
10 Danilo Petrucci 63
11 Maverick Vinales 62
12 Aleix Espargaro 53
13 Yonny Hernandez 41
14 Scott Redding 37
15 Hector Barbera 20
16 Alvaro Bautista 16
17 Loris Baz 15
18 Jack Miller 12
19 Stefan Bradl 11
20 Michele Pirro 8
21 Nicky Hayden 8
22 Eugene Laverty 7
23 Hiroshi Aoyama 5
24 Mike Di Meglio 2
25 Alex de Angelis 1
 

Marquez, Lorenzo, Indy

Indianapolis MotoGP winner Marc Marquez says he was not expecting such a tough battle for victory with Jorge Lorenzo ahead of the race.

Reigning world champion Marquez fell behind a fast-starting Lorenzo at the start, and he followed the Yamaha rider until taking the lead with three laps to go.


Marquez believed his practice pace, where he was four tenths faster than Lorenzo in FP3, would mean he'd be able to control the race from the front, but instead he had to settle in behind Lorenzo.

"I expected another race," said the winner. "In practice it looked like Jorge was able to do high 1m32s and low 33s, but for the race he improved a lot.

"In the beginning I was able to follow him well, then in the middle of the race I was struggling to follow.

"I knew my only chance was to attack at the end, with three or two laps to go, to try to surprise him."

Marquez said he decided to sit behind Lorenzo after losing the lead at the start because he didn't believe he could pull away from the Yamaha rider if he took the lead.

"During the race you can see where you can attack, and when," he said.

"I saw immediately that Jorge was strong and I was not able to go in front and open a gap.

"So I decided to stay behind him and wait to attack at the end."

Lorenzo said he and Yamaha made improvements to his bike for the race, but he had nothing left to respond to Marquez's attack.

Lorenzo, Marquez, Indy"We improved the grip of the bike and we could be very fast and consistent all race," said Lorenzo.

"I tried with all my energy to escape from Marc, who demonstrated all weekend that he was very strong.

"I knew that even at my best I probably couldn't escape from him - and even going much better than practice was not enough to pull away.

"My lack of energy at the end of the race was the key - when he passed me I made some mistakes trying to ride with a guy in front."

 

Marc Marquez, Jorge Lorenzo, MotoGP Indianapolis 2015

Marc Marquez snatched victory from Jorge Lorenzo three laps from home to take another Indianapolis MotoGP triumph.

The reigning world champion relinquished the lead to Lorenzo at the start, as the Yamaha rider beat both Marquez and his Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa away to hit the front from third on the grid.

Marquez then sat on Lorenzo's tail lap after lap, waiting until three laps from the end to finally attempt a pass.

He made a move stick into Turn 1, and while Lorenzo stayed on his case, Marquez had the pace to prevent his fellow Spaniard from coming back through.

Behind the leaders, their team-mates played out a more eventful battle for third, with Valentino Rossi getting the better of Pedrosa.

Rossi stormed from eighth to fourth in the opening laps, and he then set about hunting Pedrosa as the second Honda gradually lost touch with the lead battle.

When the Yamaha eventually got through it seemed unlikely Pedrosa could fight back, but he showed some fight when a few spots of rain started to fall and re-passed the championship leader.

Pedrosa spent the next few laps preparing for an attack into Turn 1 and eventually made it stick, but half a lap later he handed the place back to Rossi by going wide at the end of the backstraight.

He made another pass into Turn 1 at the start of the final lap, but Rossi was quick to respond, pouncing at the next corner and holding onto the position to the end.

Behind the Hondas and Yamahas, Ducati's Andrea Iannone came home fifth, resisting a late surge from Bradley Smith's Tech 3 Yamaha.

They ended up comfortably clear of Smith's team-mate Pol Espargaro, who eventually got the better of a slow-starting Cal Crutchlow.

Crutchlow fell to the bottom of the top 10 from fourth on the grid early on, but he fought back to seventh until losing out to Espargaro.

Andrea Dovizioso, who went off at Turn 2 on the opening lap and plummeted down the order, recovered all the way to ninth, just ahead of the satellite Ducati of Danilo Petrucci, who came home 10th from fifth on the grid.

RESULTS - 27 LAPS:

Pos Rider Team Bike Gap
1 Marc Marquez Honda Honda 41m55.371s
2 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Yamaha 0.688s
3 Valentino Rossi Yamaha Yamaha 5.966s
4 Daniel Pedrosa Honda Honda 6.147s
5 Andrea Iannone Ducati Ducati 21.528s
6 Bradley Smith Tech 3 Yamaha 21.751s
7 Pol Espargaro Tech 3 Yamaha 30.378s
8 Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda 31.607s
9 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Ducati 32.821s
10 Danilo Petrucci Pramac Racing Ducati 34.517s
11 Maverick Vinales Suzuki Suzuki 39.010s
12 Yonny Hernandez Pramac Racing Ducati 41.815s
13 Scott Redding Marc VDS Honda 50.209s
14 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki Suzuki 1m00.465s
15 Hector Barbera Avintia Racing Ducati 1m04.147s
16 Nicky Hayden Aspar Honda 1m05.066s
17 Mike Di Meglio Avintia Racing Ducati 1m06.941s
18 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 1m13.862s
19 Eugene Laverty Aspar Honda 1m18.706s
20 Stefan Bradl Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 1m19.730s
21 Alex de Angelis IodaRacing Project ART/Aprilia 1m19.882s
22 Toni Elias AB Motoracing Honda 1m19.934s
- Jack Miller LCR Honda Retirement

CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS:

Pos Rider Points
1 Valentino Rossi 195
2 Jorge Lorenzo 186
3 Marc Marquez 139
4 Andrea Iannone 129
5 Bradley Smith 97
6 Andrea Dovizioso 94
7 Daniel Pedrosa 80
8 Cal Crutchlow 74
9 Pol Espargaro 73
10 Maverick Vinales 62
11 Danilo Petrucci 57
12 Aleix Espargaro 46
13 Yonny Hernandez 36
14 Scott Redding 33
15 Hector Barbera 20
16 Loris Baz 14
17 Alvaro Bautista 13
18 Jack Miller 12
19 Stefan Bradl 9
20 Michele Pirro 8
21 Nicky Hayden 8
22 Eugene Laverty 7
23 Hiroshi Aoyama 5
24 Mike Di Meglio 2
25 Alex de Angelis 1
 

Marc Marquez, Honda, Indianapolis MotoGP 2015

Marc Marquez topped MotoGP's third free practice session at Indianapolis, comfortably outpacing the factory Yamaha riders he is chasing in the championship.

The reigning world champion went fastest with his first flying lap of the session early on, and with seven minutes remaining he extended his advantage over the field to four tenths of a second.

At that point, Friday pacesetter Jorge Lorenzo was second fastest on his factory Yamaha, but by the end of the session he had been pushed down to fifth by Bradley Smith, Andrea Iannone and Dani Pedrosa.

Lorenzo's session was much more convincing than his team-mate Valentino Rossi's though, as the championship leader spent much of the session outside of the top 10 cut-off to automatically pass through to Q2 later today.

Rossi used a medium rear tyre to briefly get as high as fourth, but he was shuffled back to ninth.

While Rossi eventually made the Q2 cut, Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso was a high-profile casualty as he failed to improve on his best time from Friday and dropped to 11th in the combined classification.

Both Ducatis appeared to be in trouble in the closing stages, with Iannone's first lap of his final run only good enough for 10th (and knocking Dovizioso out of a Q2 berth), but Iannone found more time on his next effort to move up to third as the flag came out.

Yamaha-contracted Tech 3 rider Pol Espargaro suffered his second crash of the weekend in the closing minutes, falling on the approach to Turn 2 shortly after setting a time good enough for eighth by the time FP3 concluded.

FP3 TIMES:

Pos Rider Team Bike Time Gap Laps
1 Marc Marquez Honda Honda 1m32.392s - 21
2 Bradley Smith Tech 3 Yamaha 1m32.421s 0.029s 23
3 Andrea Iannone Ducati Ducati 1m32.718s 0.326s 21
4 Daniel Pedrosa Honda Honda 1m32.759s 0.367s 19
5 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Yamaha 1m32.819s 0.427s 23
6 Cal Crutchlow LCR Honda 1m32.851s 0.459s 21
7 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki Suzuki 1m32.914s 0.522s 19
8 Pol Espargaro Tech 3 Yamaha 1m32.945s 0.553s 17
9 Valentino Rossi Yamaha Yamaha 1m32.981s 0.589s 22
10 Maverick Vinales Suzuki Suzuki 1m32.998s 0.606s 18
11 Yonny Hernandez Pramac Racing Ducati 1m33.290s 0.898s 20
12 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati Ducati 1m33.293s 0.901s 17
13 Scott Redding Marc VDS Honda 1m33.300s 0.908s 19
14 Hector Barbera Avintia Racing Ducati 1m33.503s 1.111s 20
15 Danilo Petrucci Pramac Racing Ducati 1m33.570s 1.178s 18
16 Jack Miller LCR Honda 1m34.021s 1.629s 17
17 Eugene Laverty Aspar Honda 1m34.036s 1.644s 19
18 Nicky Hayden Aspar Honda 1m34.053s 1.661s 18
19 Mike Di Meglio Avintia Racing Ducati 1m34.332s 1.940s 19
20 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 1m34.348s 1.956s 22
21 Stefan Bradl Aprilia Gresini Aprilia 1m34.608s 2.216s 20
22 Alex de Angelis IodaRacing Project ART/Aprilia 1m35.188s 2.796s 18
23 Toni Elias AB Motoracing Honda 1m36.412s 4.020s 16

Stefan Bradl, MotoGP 2015

Stefan Bradl has been given medical clearance to return to MotoGP at Indianapolis, where he will make his debut with Aprilia this weekend, after his recent wrist injury.

The German sat out his home race at the Sachsenring last month having fractured his scaphoid in a crash at Assen, but his return was approved by doctors on Monday.

"The situation is good," said Bradl. "I am very pleased.

"My hand is no longer giving me problems and lately I have been able to do the same training programme that I did before my injury.

"During the summer break the healing process went well and on Monday the doctors gave me the all-clear to race at Indy.

"Recently I have also been motocross training to check my sensations on a bike.

"I still don't know how I'll feel on a MotoGP bike, but I think that by the time I arrive at Indianapolis I'll already be close to 100 per cent fitness."

While Bradl was sidelined, his Forward Racing team's chief Giovanni Cuzari was arrested on corruption charges.

The squad will not race at Indy and it released Bradl from his contract, allowing him to join the Gresini-run works Aprilia team as Marco Melandri's full-time replacement.

"I can't wait to get to Indianapolis and start this new, great adventure," said Bradl, who joins Alvaro Bautista at the team.

"It obviously won't be easy at the beginning, I'll need to get used to a new team and a new bike.

"So my main goal in this first grand prix is to begin getting to know my mechanics and familiarising myself with the way the bike performs."

Team manager Romano Albesiano added: "Stefan is a young rider with a lot of important experience and he's fast, having won the Moto2 title and taken home some good places in MotoGP in recent years.

"We are expecting an important contribution from him in developing the RS-GP."

 

Casey Stoner, Suzuka 8 Hours 2015

Casey Stoner suffered a broken right shoulder blade and fractured tibia in his left leg after crashing out of the Suzuka 8 Hours when his throttle stuck open.

The former MotoGP star was in the early stages of his first stint of the race in the second hour when his Honda's throttle stuck open on the approach to the hairpin.

Stoner went off through the right-hand kink ahead of the hairpin, crashing heavily through the grass and coming to a stop while his bike slid back onto the track.

"I'm really disappointed that the race has ended like this," said Stoner.

"We really felt the race was going as planned, we were very relaxed and comfortable.

"I didn't have enough time to engage the clutch [when the throttle stuck].

"I picked the bike up to try to slow down but I was heading towards the wall so I decided to lay it over and hit the barrier.

"Unfortunately the barriers were a lot harder then they looked and we came out of it with broken bones.
 

"Sorry to my team, they have worked too hard for it to end like that. I had a lot of fun hanging out with those guys.

"Not the way we wanted the day to go, but at least I have plenty of time to heal."

A Honda statement added: "The team checked the machine, and confirmed from the data the throttle was 26 degrees open before the crash.

"It wasn't clear why this happened and now the bike will be sent to HRC for a full inspection."

 

 

Forward Racing MotoGP 2015

The Forward Racing MotoGP team will miss the next round at Indianapolis following the arrest of team owner Giovanni Cuzari.

Cuzari was arrested in Switzerland on corruption, money laundering and bribery charges earlier this month.

A Forward statement said while every effort had been made to continue operating as usual, sponsors had withheld payments in response to Cuzari's arrest and the situation could not be resolved in time.

"Unfortunately, the reaction of the sponsors, the main source of income of an independent team, was immediate and resolute," said the statement.

"Inevitably some of them cancelled the existing contracts and interrupted payments, creating further financial troubles that could jeopardise completely the survival of the team.

"The activity of these last days was therefore focused on rebuilding sponsor relationships.

"The team was able to reach a consensus to regain some vital economic aid to cover the costs of the upcoming races.

"New processes of collection and payment were activated, the economic admin was rebuilt and new operational modalities were agreed with the Public Prosecutor of Lugano."

Forward has agreed with MotoGP teams' body IRTA that it will skip the Indy event on August 9 "in order to gather all the resources and to better organise the upcoming trips" but it intends to return at Brno a week later.

The decision affects both Forward's MotoGP and Moto2 programmes.

It fields Open class Yamahas for Stefan Bradl - who missed the last round at the Sachsenring due to injury - and Loris Baz, plus Moto2 bikes for Simone Corsi and Lorenzo Baldassarri.

Rossi, Yamaha, Marquez, Honda, Assen

MotoGP championship leader Valentino Rossi says rivals would be "stupid" to rule out Marc Marquez in the 2015 title fight, despite what has been a difficult start to the season.

Honda's Marquez, who sits fourth in the riders' standings, currently trails Rossi by 65 points and only has two victories so far this year, seven less than he had amassed by the same stage in 2014.

The Spaniard ended a six-race winless run by scoring maximum points at the German GP earlier this month, and Yamaha rider Rossi believes that it would be foolish to discount the two-time world champion just yet.

"We don't want to make the stupid mistake of thinking that Marquez can't win the championship," said Rossi, who has recorded three victories this season.

"Now he is quite far behind, but he will be very strong.

"I think there are three tracks coming up after the break where Marc is particularly strong; Indianapolis, Brno and Silverstone."

Rossi hopes to add an eighth MotoGP world championship to his repertoire and currently has 179 points, 13 clear of second-placed Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.

With the season to resume at Indianapolis on August 7-9 after the summer break, the Italian says he remains confident heading into the final nine rounds.

"I know that the battle will be very hard in the second half of the season, but we have some tracks left where we will be very competitive, where we can fight for more wins," Rossi said.

"Last year I had a very strong second part of the season, and this year we are in an even stronger position."

 

Dovizioso, Ducati

The Ducati MotoGP team has lost a little confidence over recent grands prix, admits its general manager Gigi Dall'Igna.

Still attempting to end a win drought stretching back to the 2010 Australian GP, Ducati started 2015 strongly and had at least one rider on the podium in five of the first six races.

But since Andrea Iannone's runner-up spot at Mugello at the end of May, the Italian team has drifted away from Honda and Yamaha.

"I'd say that up to Mugello it was extremely positive, then there have been a few more problems that have not allowed us to get the results we had hoped for in the latter races, and a bit of confidence and feeling inside the garage has gone missing," Dall'Igna told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"But the balance is satisfactory. We have a rider in third place in the championship and we have scored several podiums."

Asked if he was worried by the decline in confidence, Dall'Igna replied: "Absolutely not. It's clear that when you believe you can reach certain results and then you don't, you are not happy, you see things less positively."

He denied that Ducati benefited from the likes of Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo having problems and Dani Pedrosa missing several races after arm surgery.

"I don't think [the podiums] came from particularly favourable circumstances," said Dall'Igna.

"OK, Pedrosa wasn't around, but besides positions, our gap to the leader was small. That means that the rider-bike package was competitive.

"At Austin, Marquez dominated, but [Andrea] Dovizioso finished a little more than two seconds behind; in Argentina Marc crashed, but we stayed with [Valentino] Rossi for almost the entire race."

Dall'Igna also believes that some of the recent tracks have hurt the GP15's remaining weak points.

"With the GP15 we have solved the most negative points in the GP14, now the bike runs a lot better than last year," he said.

"There's still a problem with managing sideslips and with grip at maximum leaning angles.

"It was a weak point with the 2014 bike too, but not as bad as the fact that the GP14 wouldn't turn, and we had to pick priorities in order to adapt the new Ducati to most tracks.

"At Barcelona and the Sachsenring, where there are many long curves, you lean for a long time, and with the gas open we have suffered."

 

Marc Marquez, Honda, Sachsenring MotoGP

Marc Marquez finally took his second win of the 2015 MotoGP season by dominating the German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring for Honda.

Reigning champion Marquez had won from pole at the track every year since his 125cc title-winning campaign in 2010, and that streak looked safe when he topped every practice session and claimed pole this weekend.

It wasn't totally straightforward for Marquez, who was jumped by Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa at the lights and ended up in third as Jorge Lorenzo swept around the outside of them both on his Yamaha.

Honda made a unique choice of standard hard front Bridgestones on a day when everyone else chose the softer 'Sachsenring special' asymmetric front, potentially setting up a battle of tyre strategies.

In the event, the Hondas were simply faster in the race as they had been for much of the weekend.

Marquez quickly demoted Pedrosa to third and by the end of lap five he was through on Lorenzo into the lead.

From there Marquez quickly escaped, leaving the Yamahas to fight over second.

It took repeated attempts before Rossi was able to overtake Lorenzo, and even once clear he did not have the pace to keep up with Marquez.

Instead he had to focus on Pedrosa, who also passed Lorenzo and then made it a Honda one-two by passing Rossi at half-distance.

Rossi clung on behind Pedrosa until the final laps before settling for third, which still increased his championship lead to 13 points as Lorenzo drifted away in fourth.

Andrea Iannone completed the top five after a lonely race on the best of the Ducatis.

His team-mate Andrea Dovizioso crashed out of eighth, while underdog qualifying star Yonny Hernandez tumbled back from fifth to 12th on the Pramac Ducati.

Britons Bradley Smith and Cal Crutchlow were sixth and seventh.

The biggest dice of the race was over eighth place, a battle involving six bikes in the middle stages.

Pol Espargaro eventually won it ahead of Danilo Petrucci.

The Suzukis were left squabbling over 10th place, a battle Aleix Espargaro by just 0.021 seconds over Maverick Vinales at the line.

RESULTS - 30 LAPS:

Pos Rider Team Bike</