Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo took the upper hand in the epic 2015 MotoGP™ World Championship battle against his teammate and title rival Valentino Rossi after claiming his fifth pole position of the season. The Mallorcan set the fastest ever MotoGP™ lap around the Comunitat Valenciana – Ricardo Tormo in near perfect conditions (Track temp. 30˚C), a 1’31.011. In the process he smashed Marc Marquez’s Pole Record (1’30.237) from 2013 by over two-tenths of a second. Lorenzo said afterwards it was the most important lap of his life as he aims to overturn the seven-point advantage Rossi holds in the championship standings in #TheGrandFinale on Sunday. it was his 61st career GP pole position, and his 35th in MotoGP™.
Lorenzo set his fastest time on the second of his three runs as he made use of a two-stop strategy. The Spaniard is brilliant at managing races from the front and by starting on pole he has made the task of winning the Championship that much easier, as he aims to make it four wins out of four in Spain for 2015 after winning in Jerez, Barcelona and Aragon. Although don’t write Rossi off yet.
The ‘Doctor’ (+1.460s), who has to start from the back of the grid after the CAS denied his stay of execution on his penalty from Sepang, ended the session in 12th after crashing out on his last flying lap at turn 8 but walked away unhurt. It was only Rossi’s second crash of the season, and served notice to anyone that thought the Italian would not be pushing hard in Q2.
The only man who looked like he might displace Lorenzo at the top was Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez (+0.488s). The Spaniard rode his RC213V to the absolute limit, having a number of huge moments, but even he could not deny Lorenzo in the end. Marquez was the only rider to get within half a second of Lorenzo, as he was another to utilise a two-stop strategy, recording his 16th front row start of the season in the process.
Dani Pedrosa made it two Repsol Honda’s on the front row as he qualified in third, but he was +0.505s off the pace of Lorenzo. Pedrosa holds a two-point advantage over Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) in the battle for fourth in the standings, after winning two of the last three races. The Spaniard also has an excellent record at Valencia having won six races across all classes and should be a threat during Sunday’s race.
Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Aleix Espargaro (+0.906s) will start from the head of the front row in fourth in his best qualifying performance since Assen. The Spaniard’s feat was made even more impressive by the fact he was forced to progress through Q1 after ending practice in 11th on the combined timesheets.
LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow (+0.937s) qualified in fifth for the third race in a row as he was one of only five riders the break the 1’31 barrier in Q2. The Brit had been struggling with grip on Friday but improved to put in his best lap time on his final flying run to start as the leading Satellite rider.
Just 0.064s behind Crutchlow was his compatriot Bradley Smith (+1.001s) on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 M1 in sixth. The British rider secured his first second row start since Misano as he aims to secure sixth in the standings from Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso.
Iannone (+1.045) heads up the third row after he failed to improve on his best time from Practice that had seen him top the combined timesheets after FP3. Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) will start from eighth, with Dovizioso in ninth and Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) completing the top ten.
Maverick Viñales will start from 11th after he also made it through from Q1 alongside his teamate despite a nasty looking highside during that session, with Rossi completing the fourth row in 12th and Ducati Team wildcard Michele Pirro in 13th.
Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera will start as the leading Satellite rider in 15th, ahead of the man he leads in the standings by five points, Forward Racing’s Loris Baz, in 16th. American Nicky Hayden qualified in 17th as the leading Open class Honda in his last MotoGP™ race before he moves to WorldSBK in 2016, after he was inducted into the MotoGP™ Hall of Fame on Friday in Valencia.
EG 0,0 Marc VDS’s Scott Redding continued his struggles from practice and could only qualify in 20th, ahead of Australian Jack Miller (LCR Honda) in 21st and Eugene Laverty (Aspar MotoGP Team) in 24th.
Anthony West (AB Motoracing) filling in for the injured Karel Abraham was in 23rd, while Alex De Angelis’ replacement Broc Parkes (E-Motion IodaRacing Team) finished the session in 26th.
Saturday, 07 November 2015 12:10 Published in Reports, Results & Points
Four days from now, we should know who has won the 2015 MotoGP World Championship. I say “should" since protests and ongoing legal wrangling might delay the official results.
This type of behavior is rare in bike racing, more likely in automotive competition. However the days following October 25 and the penultimate 2015 season round in Malaysia have confirmed that we live in interesting times.
Thursday, 05 November 2015 11:57 Published in Colin Fraser
MI ES, 29 October - Open letter from FIM President Vito Ippolito:
The recent events arising in connection with the competition for the 2015 FIM MotoGP world title have had a damaging effect on the staging of our competitions and poisoned the atmosphere around the sport. We are moving away from the tradition of pride in sportsmanship that is part of the heritage of motorcycling.
Everyone has the right to express his or her own ideas. But words and actions always have consequences. Every individual has to take responsibility for those consequences. The riders, first of all, must be aware of this. Each one of them has thousands of fans who follow their exploits on the track and listen to what they say off the track. For that reason, we look to them, not just in this Championship but in all our disciplines, to set the best example of what our sport should and aspires to be.
This responsibility is also shared by the people who form their entourage, beginning with their teams and sponsors. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the matter, if some of those people unnecessarily fuel polemics about events or decisions in a wrongheaded way, they are doing a great disservice to the sport, to the detriment of our entire community and all the good things it offers to everyone.
Riders, teams, manufacturers and sponsors should not only respect the rules but they should accept the decisions of the officials, whatever they may be. Otherwise, they are contributing to anarchy and undermining the future development of our sport.
On behalf of the FIM and all those who are doing their best to bring about a happy conclusion to this Championship, I express the hope that at the next and final round in Valencia the riders will fight it out on the track and in a way that fully respects the spirit of fair play.
Thursday, 29 October 2015 13:40 Published in Reports, Results & Points
A controversial bumping incident during lap seven of the Malaysian Grand Prix on October 25 caused Repsol Honda’s World Champ Marc Marquez to fall from third, while Movistar Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi continued on to net that spot at the finish, holding his points lead in the MotoGP World Championship.
Dani Pedrosa won the race for Honda, while Rossi’s arch-rival and teammate Jorge Lorenzo netted second.
Following the event, race control reviewed multiple-camera video footage of the incident and spoke to both racers, and then Race Director Mike Webb gave Rossi three penalty points against his licence due to his actions.
This decision gave 36-year-old Rossi a total of four of a possible seven per-season penalty points against his status, and means he will start the final event of the season at Valencia from the back of the MotoGP feature race grid. His initial point was awarded due to a qualifying incident earlier in the season at Misano involving Jorge Lorenzo.
This decision means that Rossi, although seven points ahead of teammate Lorenzo in the 2015 championship standings, is unlikely to hang on to his championship lead. Rossi has 312 points while Lorenzo trails at 305, Marquez out of contention with a total of 222 points in third spot.
“I don’t know if I have lost the championship,” stated Rossi after the race direction ruling. “This will be very difficult now. I am very disappointed in the three points. He (Marquez) won. He decided the championship and he made me lose the championship. I think that he will be very happy.”
“I don’t want to make Marquez crash and I didn’t kick him,” continued Rossi, still very aggressive while on defence. “From the helicopter shot, you see, in slow motion, it is quite clear that I go wide. I don’t want to say I do the normal corner – I want to go to him, slow down and make him loose time.”
“When I go to slow down, slow down, slow down, and I go to cut his line, and we touch. He touched me with his handlebar on my left leg and it is for that reason he crash. If you kick a MotoGP rider he don’t crash, because the bike is heavy, it has a lot of grip.”
Following the post-race review and penalty, 22-year-old double MotoGP Champ Marquez spoke out regarding his crash, saying: “I didn’t expect that he (Rossi) would take off the leg and push my handlebars and my front brake. Then I lost my front and when I was on the floor I saw him (Rossi) look behind again.
“For me, it does not matter if you are Valentino or another racer, in this type of incident you are out of control. When you are a rider you know what is going on – to take a leg off and push another rider out, it is difficult to see how you can think this on your bike.”
Meanwhile, forgotten victor Dani Pedrosa, age 30, spoke about the incident at the delayed post-race press conference, an event Rossi opted not to attend.
“I had the chance to watch this incident just now, and this is not good,” said the Repsol Honda rider. “It is not good for the championship, it is not good for Rossi, and for Marc, Jorge and me – even though I was not involved.”
“This is not a good thing, happening so late in the fight for our championship. The manoeuvres were okay, for sure Valentino wanted to have a more calm race, to try and catch Jorge for second. But in their last manoeuvre, yes you can go as wide as you want if you are on the inside (Rossi), you have the line for that corner. The guy on the inside has the preference always, so normally the guy on the outside would shut the throttle.
“But the speed was very, very slow, and Marquez understood this and close the throttle completely, waiting for Valentino to turn. Then there is the moment when I can see Valentino’s leg moving and we see Marquez crash. Unfortunately, not a good thing, and I am really disappointed about this. I started out front from the beginning and stayed in front, and I am really happy to escape out front and be unaware of all the problems behind,” stated the Malaysian victor.
Sunday, 25 October 2015 14:39 Published in Reports, Results & Points
The penultimate round of the 2015 MotoGP Championship might not have had a dramatic last lap in the fashion of the previous event in Australia, but it was an equally big deal. Unfortunately, the 17th Grand Prix of the season on October 25th at in Kuala Lumpur will not be remembered as a feel-good story, unlike Philip Island down under last weekend.
Polesitter Dani Pedrosa was in near-perfect form on the second works Repsol Honda RC213V, leading from the start to take his third career MotoGP win at Sepang international in hot, humid and overcast conditions.
Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo, doing his best to make up points in the battle for the 2015 MotoGP title against his Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi, was second, just over three seconds back. Rossi netted a distant third, and is now under real pressure from Lorenzo with the final round slated for Valencia, Spain in two weeks’ time.
Huge controversy erupted on lap seven of 22, after Rossi and Honda team leader Marc Marquez had traded third spot often, in increasingly aggressive and risky fashion. After an incredible number of overtaking maneuvers, including a bump or two, sideways moments and some Rossi gestures, the two interacted in turn 14 with Marquez crashing out of contention.
Video reviews did not make the circumstances of the incident clear, although Rossi certainly ran way wide in the tightening right hander and looked over at Marquez on his outside, away from the line, as the two were inches apart. Rossi seemed to bobble and then Marquez tucked the front end, seemingly on the brakes, and fell.
Earlier in the weekend, Rossi had lashed out at Marquez through the media, claiming that the reigning and two-time World Champ was trying to help fellow Spaniard Lorenzo in the title battle. Formerly friendly, Rossi and Marquez have been on the outs since incidents while battling for first in Argentina and Holland earlier in the season. Malaysia was apparently strike three.
A beyond-angry Marquez refused to comment, although his team was outspoken in their criticism, waiting for race control to review the incident, post-race, and make an official ruling.
The stewards decided to penalize Rossi at the upcoming final event, where he will be required to start from the back of the grid regardless of his qualifying performance. Rossi was allowed to keep his third place on the day, but this F1 style judgement will put Rossi in a tough spot in terms of the title battle.
With 25 points available in Valencia, Rossi heads the standings with 312 points, Lorenzo second with a total of 305. Lorenzo seems to have the best chance given recent performances and the Rossi grid penalty. Marquez keeps third overall, but is not in contention for the title after two straight World crowns.
Rossi did not directly comment on the Marquez crash, saying post-race that “I lost a lot of time with Marc, then in turn 14 I tried to go a bit wide to get a better line and make him slow, because he was riding to cause me problems. Unfortunately, I don’t know, he come up to me and crash at that moment.”
Some Rossi supporters claimed that Marquez tried to head but Rossi’s left knee as they leaned into the turn, side by side.
Amazingly, Lorenzo opted not to take the high road concerning events involving his teammate, even though he was in front of the action and didn’t know about the accident until after the race.
“It was huge, I don’t know what to say,” commented new championship favorite Lorenzo. “It is clear that he (Rossi) took Marquez off and the regulation is fair.
“This time they need to give him a big penalty,” continued the two-time MotoGP champ. “For example with Danny Kent in (support class) qualifying, they demote him many positions on the grid. So for this action the penalty should be much harsher.”
Behind the controversy, Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha) had a strong run, earning his best dry track result while out-duelling Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) for fourth and best satellite team result. Crutchlow was fifth, but might be in trouble with the stewards after an early race incident that caused Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso to fall.
Top Ducati was the Pramac entry of Danilo Petrucci, earning sixth after pulling away from the battling works Ecstar Suzukis of Aleix Espargaro (seventh) and Maverick Vinales (eighth). Pol Espargaro netted ninth on the second Tech 3 Yamaha, while Gresini Aprilia finally had a solid result, Stefan Bradl placing a close tenth, right behind the GSX-RRs.
Top privateer was the Forward Yamaha of Toni Elias in 14th, while American Nicky Hayden, in his penultimate career GP, wound up just out of the points in 16th aboard the Aspar Honda RC213V-RS.
- By Colin Fraser
Sunday, 25 October 2015 06:15 Published in Reports, Results & Points
Repsol Honda’s current MotoGP World Champ Marc Marquez came out on top of a wild four-bike fight for first to win the MotoGP round at Phillip Island, Australia on Sunday, October 18. With one lap of the 28 left to run at the daunting down under venue, Jorge Lorenzo held a miniscule edge with the works Movistar Yamaha from a wheel-to-wheel trio: early leader Andrea Iannone’s factory Ducati, Marquez and the other “A” Yamaha of World Championship series points leader Valentino Rossi.
Monday, 19 October 2015 12:08 Published in Reports, Results & Points
@MotoGP • (September 30, 2015)- Reigning MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez was operated on this morning at the Universitario Dexeus Hospital in Barcelona, to treat a fracture to the fifth metacarpal of his left hand.
Wednesday, 30 September 2015 08:26 Published in News
@MotoGP • (September 28, 2015)- Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo rode brilliantly to secure his 60th career GP victory in front of 67,000 fans at the Gran Premio Movistar de Aragón.
Monday, 28 September 2015 14:15 Published in Reports, Results & Points
With just a handful of rounds remaining in this year's MotoGP World Championship, it's almost certain that the championship will go to either Valentino Rossi or Jorge Lorenzo. The two Movistar Yamaha riders are atop the standings, both with more than a race worth of points in hand over Marc Marquez in third place. It's an enviable position for Yamaha to be in, but at the same time I'm sure it's causing plenty of angst in the team and at company headquarters.
Update after the Aragon round on September 27: It is even more certain the championship will go to Rossi or Lorenzo, as Marquez crashed at Aragon and dropped even further behind in the points but remains in third.
Obviously, sitting 1-2 in the standings with such a lead is good for Yamaha and the team because, almost no matter what happens, a Yamaha rider will win the title. All eyes are on the title chase, there's plenty of drama, and the company and team sponsors get plenty of TV time and exposure out of it. From now to the end of the season, more people will be concerned with where Rossi and Lorenzo finish in each race, rather than who wins or is on the podium.
On the downside, because it's a two-horse race now, it's a safe bet that the two riders are not working together as you would expect from teammates - no sharing of setup notes, data, thoughts on tire selection or the track surface, and so on. This makes it very difficult for Yamaha and the team to move forward with development or testing, as the workload cannot be shared between the two riders: each will be trying to find the best solutions, and keeping the results to himself. At Misano, for example, Lorenzo tested small winglets on the side of his M1 during the first day's practice, whereas Rossi tested them at a private test earlier.
In the last few rounds, it's clear that the focus in the Movistar Yamaha garage has been the riders' personal battle. At Misano, both riders were so concerned with what the other was doing in the tricky dry/wet/dry conditions that both suffered as a result, mistiming their bike changes to match the changing track. At the end of the day, Rossi finished fifth while Lorenzo crashed out. Rossi even confessed after that he was more concerned with beating Lorenzo than anything else: "It’s true that the championship is a lot more important that winning this race, it’s the main target." Yamaha cannot be happy that a potential race win for the brand was forfeit.
None of this is atypical for a race team. It's all wine and roses when there is an obvious No. 1 and No. 2 rider: plenty of information is shared between the riders, the development work carries on at a steady pace, and there is no secrecy. But when the two riders end up battling for the championship title (or position), the walls go up fast. A similar situation came to a head last year in World Superbike, with team orders being issued in both the Kawasaki and Aprilia camps and riders on both teams unhappy.
Hopefully Rossi and Lorenzo will not have any more miscues as they did in Misano, and that the title fight continues on to the finale in Valencia to close out a fantastic season. While their points lead over Marquez is comfortable, it is not unassailable by any means, and they cannot afford many more similar errors as a team.
Saturday, 26 September 2015 17:22 Published in Andrew Trevitt