Rossi, Marquez and Pedrosa Talk Malaysia

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


Pedrosa Wins; Rossi in Trouble in Malaysia

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


MotoGP at Phillip Island: One for the ages

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


First Ride: MV Agusta Turismo Veloce 800 Lusso

MV Agusta has an enviable reputation for building bikes that are true to the company’s hardcore, pure sport bike roots. 

Monday, 12 October 2015 22:47


2016 Ducati Monster 1200 R Spanish Launch Report

Ducati invited the world’s press to visit the Ascari Country Club road course in the south of Spain near Ronda at the end of September to sample their new 2016 Monster 1200 R.  This latest Desmo twin-powered streetfighter is now the top-of-the-line Monster, and this naked offering is not short on top-of-the-line components.

Friday, 02 October 2015 23:40


Breaking news: Riedmann ready to rock at Bol D'Or in France!

Reigning and two-time Hindle Pro Sport Bike CSBK national champion Kenny Riedmann will compete aboard an Atomic Motorsport Suzuki GSX-R1000 this weekend in the Superstock class at the famed 24 Hour Bol D’Or event at Circuit Paul Ricard in the south of France.

Riedmann’s best lap in the second qualifying session put his team 21st overall, and 11th in class, for the start of the race on Saturday, September 19. His effort is considered a strong debut since Riedmann is new to this type of racing, as well as the bike, team and venue.

Riedmann is expected to be the “clean-up hitter,” riding third in the three-man rotation, usually with worn tires. Each stint is expected to last in the 45 minute range, the fuel range poor at Circuit Paul Richard thanks to the mandated 24 litre gas tank and very high speed straightaway. Regular Riedmann tuner Scott Cameron is on hand from Canada to assist with the Atomic Suzuki program.

Riedmann indicated through his father, former racer Roland, that the bike is detuned compared to his regular Mopar CSBK Superbike Kawasaki, no surprise given the demanding nature of the day and night event. The two-time Hindle Pro Sport Bike Champ for Triumph also had to adjust to starting each session with the machine fully loaded with fuel.

This year’s event marks the 79th running of the Bol D'Or, a French classic, returning to the Mediterranean coast near Le Castellet. Originally held at Le Mans, the event moved to Circuit Paul Richard in the 1970s, then more recent to Mangy-Cours. This is the first time the Bol has run at its most famous host venue, Paul Richard, in 15 years.

The venue is 5.861 kms in length, including a famously long Mistral straight than covers 1.3 km and allows the big bikes to run on full throttle for 13 seconds. The track is famous for warm weather and a crazy party atmosphere.

Riedmann’s team, listed on the score sheets as “Atomic 68,” includes regular FIM Endurance World Championship competitors Stephane Egea and Giovanni Bussei. In qualifying, the three turned best laps within a few tenth of each other: Riedmann at 2:02.6, Egea at 2:02.9 and Bussei with a lap at 2:03 flat.

At the front of the 51-team field is the works Kawasaki SRC Superbike class squad of famous veterans Gregory Leblanc/Mathieu Lagrive/Fabian Foret took pole at 1:58.2, followed by the Yamaha factory entry of Yamaha Monster YART, ridden by Broc Parkes/Max Neukirchner/Sheridan Morais at 1:58.490, Yamaha GMT94 third overall with a lap at 1:58.8. Honda Endurance Racing will start fourth while the factory Suzuki is fifth, followed by two BMWs, the second the top Superstock entry at seventh overall.

Friday, 18 September 2015 13:43


Szoke Struggles on Sunday in MotoAmerica New Jersey

A slightly sore Mopar CSBK Canadian National Champ Jordan Szoke is heading home from the final 2015 MotoAmerica at New Jersey Motorsport Park September 13, following a frustrating return to the American National tour.   Both Szoke and his 2015 BMW S1000RR, sponsored by Express Lane, Joe Rocket and BMW Motorrad, are a little the worse for wear.

Szoke earned 15th overall in the opening, shortened, combined Superbike/Superstock Feature race, twice interrupted by rain and incidents.  In the second, 26 lap Feature on Sunday afternoon, Szoke was eliminated in a first turn crash when he was collected by the Suzuki GSX-R1000 of Elena Myers.

“Race one didn’t go very well,” explained Szoke.  “We didn’t really have the speed I thought we should have had, all weekend.  With the rain in Q, and various issues, we just never seemed to get things going.”

“The first race was going OK, but I still had some issues with the front end.  Then they stopped things because of the rain, and then I didn’t get a good start on the restart.  I got around Elena, then I started after all the Superstock guys, they were mainly in a group, not far in front of me.”  Szoke’s Canadian spec BMW was competing in the Superstock class.

“Then it started to rain a bit, and I rolled out of it, I was there to have fun, and didn’t want to take to many chances when it was slippery,” continued the ten time Canadian Superbike Champ.  “But this time they waited a while to Red Flag it, and Elena got past again.”

Between the two Feature races, Ohlins suspension guru Jon Cornwell discovered that Szoke’s BMW had a problem with his front suspension.
“Jon found a blown O-ring in our fork, so I had no compression damping in my fork, probably since the start of the weekend,” confirmed Szoke.  “So we were really excited for race two, looking forward to seeing what difference a good fork could make!”

“We ended up going about half a second faster than Jodi (outgoing CSBK Champ Christie, a front runner at NJ 2014) did when he got that good sixth here last year, and it shows how deep the field is now – the fork fix could have made a real difference.”

“So I got a good start in race two, I was on the outside of Chris Fillmore’s KTM Superbike into turn one, my knees on the ground, and I got hit so hard from behind – I was in the air and there was no bike under me!”

“Elena hit me from behind, I don’t know what she was thinking, there was no room between Chris and me.  She got the tail section and exhaust, since I was already leaned over, and I was lucky not to get run over.  Now I’m bruised up, hurt my elbow, wrecked my leathers and made a mess of my beautiful motorcycle.”

“This was one of my worst AMA Nationals ever, my first crash on the 2015, in fact it was my first crash since I fell in a Q session in Canada back in 2012!  That crash was my fault, but this one wasn’t.  But that’s racing – that’s the way it goes sometimes.”

Overall, Szoke still views the tip south on a constructive note: “I enjoyed the track, I loved the competition, the MotoAmerica people were awesome.  Wayne Rainey and all of his people were so friendly, it was almost like a family reunion.”   

Monday, 14 September 2015 13:25


Beaubier wins MotoAmerica SBK Championship in New Jersey

The 2015 MotoAmerica National Championship Series came to its conclusion at New Jersey Motorsport Park on September 13, and Josh Hayes won the battle while his Monster Energy Yamaha YZF-R1M team mate Cameron Beaubier won the war.  Hayes took a dramatic final race victory after a thrilling last lap fight with the runner-up Yoshimura-Suzuki GSX-R1000 of Roger Lee Hayden.

Meanwhile, Beaubier played it cool, earned a conservative sixth overall and third in the Feature Superbike category, good enough for his first overall National Feature race crown.  Yamaha took ever win in every class in the debut season for MotoAmerica, only KTM breaking the streak with the spec singles class!  The top works Yamaha racers used matching yellow and black “bumble bee” paint scheme for Sunday’s events only, celebrating the firms’ 60th race anniversary.

“I’m just speechless,” explained Beaubier from the podium.  “My R1 has been rippin’ all year, it’s so fun to ride, and I can’t wait until next year.”

“Riding alongside Josh is awesome – he is the first guy I want to beat, and he is a true Champion,” said Beaubier of his 40 year old team-mate and outgoing Champion Hayes.

“I talked a lot of trash before these races about how I was gonna win them, and I thought I might have to eat some crow,” smiled double victor Hayes.  “I found myself in the right place again, even with all that pressure from Roger.  I am so proud to win ten races on the year, that is more than half of them, and I’m going to kick Cam’s butt so bad next year.”

The Superstock class title already belonged to Red Bull Roadrace Factory Yamaha R1 pilot Jake Gagne, and Gagne confirmed his star status with a solid third overall, taking the Superstock victory.  Next on the road was third overall Taylor Knapp, second in Superstock, battling with third Superstock finisher Joshua Day.  Yamaha swept the Supersport podium with their new-in-2015 R1.

Earlier in the day, Hayes had won the red flag interrupted penultimate race in the Feature class, in a day interrupted by some rain and very high winds.   In an event that wound up getting scored after 14 of a scheduled 25 laps, fast starter Hayes held off Beaubier for victory, although neither racer knew it was the final lap!

Hayden was third overall in the opener, while Gagne was just four seconds back to win the Superstock division. Kyle Wyman was fifth on his Yamaha, second in Superstock, with Day going 6th overall, third in class.

Reigning Mopar CSBK overall Canadian National Champion Jordan Szoke was 15th overall in the first Feature race, placing Szoke 9th in the Superstock division, after a hectic race.  Szoke retired on the first lap of race two, a frustrating end to his record-setting 2015 campaign with the Express Lane/Joe Rocket/BMW Motorrad S1000RR.

In support race action, former American Superbike Champion Josh Herrin won the Supersport closer on a dry track for the Wheels in Motion Yamaha squad, coming on top of a wild battle with team-mate Joe Roberts and Garrett Gerloff’s works Yamalube Yamaha YZF-R6. J.D. Beach, who had already clinched the Supersport title for Yamaha, wound up fourth, at the back of the fight for first.  Canadian rising star Ben Young was ninth on a Hindle-backed Yamaha.  

In Bazzaz Superstock 600 race two, Bryce Prince took victory by more than 12 seconds from Travis Wyman, both on Yamaha YZF-R6s.  Ruthless Racing’s B.C. based Darren James retired his Yamaha mid-race, while Quebec-based rookie Pro Stacey Nesbitt did not start with her Honda.

Sunday, 13 September 2015 17:14


Szoke Moves Up in Wet New Jersey Superpole

Reigning Mopar CSBK Canadian Superbike Champion Jordan Szoke moved up to 13th overall in sodden Superpole action for the MotoAmerica Feasture events at New Jersey Motorsport Park, Saturday, September 12.  Aboard his Mopar Express Lane/Shoei/BMW Motorrad S1000RR, Szoke was fastest for much of the opening, rainy session, but was shuffled down to third overall in the final minute of the first SuperPole.

With the top two riders moving on to the second session and the overall battle for Pole Position in both of tomorrow’s 25 lap combined Superbike/Superstock 1000, Szoke was held back to 13th overall.  The sessions combine both the full blown Superbike and lesser-spec Superstock classes, with Szoke’s regular Canadian, CSBK rules machines (two BMWs) eligible for the Superstock category.

Szoke’s best lap was a 1:42.222, while the quickest in the same session was Sheridan Morais on an Aprilia at 1:40.8.  The second best lap belonged to the Yamaha of Shane Narbonne at 1:42.164.

“I gave it a real try, and then I lost out by a tenth of second to one of the Aprilias,” smiled Szoke, drying off in his team tent.  “I ended up giving Morais a tow, he faked me into the pits and then tucked in behind.  I didn’t know I was fastest at that point, but it is a bit frustrating to miss the final session like that.”

“I really needed to make a change at the rear,” continued Szoke, who rode his 2014 machine, last used to win in the rain at Autodrome St-Eustache in round two of the 2015 Mopar CSBK National tour.  “I was nervous with the back end, and I was learning the track in the wet for the first time – there are these little seam/patches, and they can be slick.”

“The throttle control is a little more to my liking with the 2014 bike, and that only really gets noticeable when it is slippery.  I also would have liked a little change in the electronics, and with the rear end too.  It caused a little delay getting it back up onto the wide part of the tire exiting the corners.” 

“So I’m 13th, I moved up a little,” finished Szoke.  “Things went well, and they could have been even better.  It’s been really good seeing everyone, hanging out a little with the guys – I’ve missed it.”

Meanwhile, in the second, less wet portion of SuperPole, reigning Superbike Champ Josh Hayes put his Monster Graves Yamaha YZF-R1 on pole for both of tomorrow’s races, the final events of the 2015 American National Championship.  Hayes lapped at 1:39.4, four tenths of a second clear of the second placed Yoshimura Suzuki of Roger Lee Hayden.

Top Superstock bike was the Yamaha YZF-R1 of Jake Gagne, third best for a spot on the front row of tomorrow’s grids.

Hayes is currently chasing team-mate Cameron Beaubier in the points, setting up a pair of Sunday races that will likely yield plenty of drama.

“There are a lot of fast Superstock guys running that class here, and Cam is back on row two, and his starts haven’t been that good this year,” started pole man Hayes.  “There are so many things to consider, and I know what it can be like with the pressure of a title lead.  I am just going to concentrate on my issues, get the most from my Yamaha.  There is still a lot of racing to go.”              `

Saturday, 12 September 2015 15:36


Szoke Ready for SuperPole in New Jersey

Jordan Szoke was 17th quickest this morning at New Jersey Motorsport Park in the final practice for tomorrow’s two races in the MotoAmerica Superbike/Superstock category. Aboard his regular, Mopar CSBK Canadian National crown winning Mopar Express Lane/Joe Rocket/BMW Motorrad S1000RR, Szoke was again ninth quickest in the supporting Superstock section of the Feature class.

Next up for Brantford, ON based Szoke is the split SuperPole sessions, scheduled for mid-afternoon, when rain is expected at the New Jersey shore’s facility.

“My comfort level is getting there,” explained Szoke of the busy, 27 rider session.  “The goal of comfort is to make things less work.  We made some ride height changes to the chassis, and that helped make things easier to do physically.”

As Ohlins suspension guru Jon Cornwell made electronic adjustments to the wheelie control portion of the BMW, Szoke continued:  “We also put in some new brakes, and it took me a few laps to get my head around that.  Then I just needed a few clear laps, but that somehow didn’t work out!”

“Traffic was really bad for me that session, and the track is narrow in some sections, you have to be careful.  I was out with Cameron (Beaubier, second quickest overall for Yamaha) in the middle of the session, and the Chris Fillmore (works KTM rider) crashed right in front of us.  After that red flag, I was going to go out with Danny Eslick on that quick Aprilia, but then he had some kind of a mechanical problem.”

“Right now I’m not too concerned about our laps times, I just want to see what we can do with the bike; we haven’t played with the Traction Control feature much in Canada this year, our tracks are so point and shoot, but we’ll see what we can come up with.”

While unwilling to speculate about possible weather conditions, most of the regular MotoAmerica racers expect Szoke to do well if it is wet for final qualifying in the two SuperPoles sessions. 

Saturday, 12 September 2015 13:21


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