MotoGP

  • Aussie Miller Wins Moto GP, Dutch TT

    Australia's Jack Miller has won his first MotoGP race, triumphing in treacherous conditions at a restarted Dutch TT race in Assen where torrential rain forced the riders off the track after 14 laps.

    With the restarted race on Sunday cut to 12 laps, the three leading riders - including seven-time Assen winner Valentino Rossi - all fell on the slick track, allowing Miller on his Honda to take a shock lead and hold on to pop a wheelie as he crossed the finish line.

    The win for Miller's Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS team was the first MotoGP victory for an independent team since 2006.

    Miller also became the first Australian to win in MotoGP since Casey Stoner's victory at the Phillip Island track in 2012.

    Speaking after Sunday's race, which puts Miller 13th in the overall standings, the 21-year-old was clearly emotional.

    "I don't know what to feel at the moment," CycleNews quoted Miller as saying.

    "A lot of people have bad-mouthed us and everything like that and said that this project wouldn't work.

    "I just hope that we've showed them wrong and that I can ride a bike, I'm not an idiot.

    "Thank you to Honda for taking this risk on me. It's amazing."

    Marc Marquez of Spain finished second to stretch his lead atop the world championship standings, while Scott Redding was third.

    Jorge Lorenzo, second in the championship, carefully nursed his Yamaha around the wet track to finish 10th.

    Before the race was stopped, riders largely managed to stay on board their bikes despite starting on a wet track, but after the restart the conditions caused carnage among the leaders.

    The three riders on the front row for the 12-lap sprint - Andrea Dovizioso, Rossi and Danilo Petrucci - all fell and did not finish the race.

    The Moto2 race was cut short by two laps because of the rain, with Takaaki Nakagami on his Honda profiting from the red flag to take his first win ahead of Johann Zarco of France, whose second place put him joint top in the season's standings with Alex Rins. Franco Morbidelli of Italy was third.

    Earlier, in dry conditions, Francesco Bagnaia won his first Moto3 race in a photo finish and registered the first victory for his Aspar Mahindra team.

  • Forward MotoGP Racing In Financial Trouble

    Forward Racing, which competes in MotoGP with Stefan Bradl, will not take part in the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix on Aug. 9 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, after team owner Giovanni Cuzari was arrested and the team’s finances were compromised.

    Forward Racing confirmed the decision Monday in a release on the team’s website. Cuzari was arrested earlier in July for bribery, fraud and money laundering in Switzerland. Forward also operates a Moto2 team with Simone Corsi, which will also sit out Indianapolis.

    “Unfortunately, the reaction of the sponsors, the main source of income of an independent team, was immediate and resolute,” the team’s release said. “Inevitably, some of them cancelled the existing contracts and interrupted payments, creating further financial troubles that could completely jeopardize the surviving of the team … The concrete possibility to start again and the hope to protect the interests of our riders, engineers, contractors and suppliers, led us to agree with IRTA, the International Racing Teams Ass’n, not to deploy our riders at the start of the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix on Aug. 9, in order to gather all the resources and to better organize the upcoming trips.

    “This painful decision was necessary in order to try to ensure our participation to the World Championship until the end of the season. The work of the team will continue with the aim to get back on track at Brno for the Czech Republic Grand Prix on Aug. 16.”

    Marco Curioni, the team’s managing director, also commented on the decision to skip the next grand prix.

    “It was a very difficult week for the Forward Racing team,” he said in the release. “Only in the last hours we have glimpsed the real possibility of overcoming this situation. I hope to have Giovanni – who until proven to the contrary he is correct to assume innocent – soon with us and available to find a solution.

    “In this dark moment, several partners and friends have understandably distanced himself from the team and then for this reason I want to thank those who are helping us: Dorna and IRTA gave us full support from the beginning, all members of the team that they gave their unconditional support and those sponsors and the new companies – that despite the objective concerns – gave us confidence and are interpreting the meaning of sponsorship in the original reason: financial aid to allow the athlete to realize his talent.”

  • Honda open to Casey Stoner MotoGP wildcard

    Repsol Honda has left open the possibility of fielding a wildcard for Casey Stoner later this year despite overlooking the Australian as a substitute for the injured Dani Pedrosa.

    Team manager Livio Suppo has confirmed to Italian media that the team discussed the possibility of Stoner standing in for the Spaniard, who underwent arm surgery last week.

    Citing Stoner’s lack of recent competition and unfamiliarity with the upcoming circuits, Honda has instead elected to use its test rider Hiroshi Aoyama to fill the role.

    Stoner has tested with the team on several occasions since walking away from full-time racing and retiring to Australia at the end of 2012.

    Although disenchanted with the sport upon his exit, Stoner recently announced a one-off return to competition with Honda in the Suzuka 8 Hour production bike race, to be held on July 26.

    The 29-year-old tweeted “it would have been an honour” to ride in place of Pedrosa, before adding the tag #NotMeantToBe.

    “There were some pros, but more cons, so we decided it would be better to leave it,” Suppo told Italian newspaper Gazzetta de la Sport of Stoner substituting for Pedrosa.

    “People don’t realise how high the level is, so having won a lot doesn’t mean one is immediately quick on his return.”

    Suppo drew comparison with Stoner’s fellow Australian Troy Bayliss, who scored a best result of just ninth in a four-race return to the World Superbike Championship earlier this year.

    Despite throwing doubt on whether Stoner could compete against current Honda hot-shoe Marc Marquez, Suppo left open the possibility of facilitating a return via a wildcard at a later date.

    “If he seriously wants to return, he must prepare,” said Suppo.

    “Entering a one-off race would be more of a disadvantage, for us and for him, with the added risk of getting hurt. And anyway, I keep on believing that he doesn’t want to race full time.

    “(But) a wild card entry at the end of the season? He can ask us and we’ll think about it.”

    Stoner had been scheduled to appear on a MotoGP-spec Honda at Sydney Motorsport Park’s Top Gear Festival later this month, before the event’s change of venue and date, which now clashes with Suzuka.

  • Iannone delights Italian fans as Marquez provides the drama

    Andrea Iannone claimed Ducati’s first pole at Mugello since 2007, while Marc Marquez experienced his worst ever MotoGP™ Qualifying.

    It was a day of contrasts at the Gran Premio D’Italia as Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone sent the Italian fans at the Autodromo del Mugello into rapture as he claimed his first career MotoGP™ pole position in near perfect conditions.

    Countering that was the dramatic action involving the reigning MotoGP™ World Champion Marc Marquez, as he failed to make it through to Q2 for the first time in his career and will start Sunday’s race from the head of the fifth row in thirteenth.

    Iannone, riding with a fractured humerus sustained during a testing crash at the Tuscany Circuit, took advantage of the softer option tyre available to Ducati to set a 1’46.489, which was almost seven-tenths quicker than Dani Pedrosa’s pole record from 2013: “I am very pleased with how things went today! For sure in my condition this result was in no way expected, but in the end me and my team did a great job and we managed to improve. The only problem I have at the moment is my shoulder condition, because it needs more time to get back to 100%: tomorrow will be a tough race but I will not give in”

    Marquez struggled throughout the day, getting caught out in FP3 and finishing down in eleventh on the combined timesheets. It was only the second time the Spaniard has failed to automatically qualify for Q2, the first being at Mugello in 2013.

    A crash in FP4 only compounded matters and as Marquez attempted to make it through from Q1 he set a time good enough for second on the timesheets with 2 minutes to go in the session. Thinking that the job was done, it was then that disaster struck for him and his team. Yonny Hernandez on the Octo Pramac Racing Ducati displaced him in the final seconds, securing the Columbians progress through to Q2 at Marquez’ expense. This means that Marquez will have to start Sunday’s race from the front of the fourth row in 13th, his worst ever MotoGP™ Qualifying performance: “We can't be happy about today, because this was the worst qualifying result that we have had in MotoGP. Starting in the morning, we didn't use the new tyre and that took us into Q1 – in which we had a problem that prevented us from progressing to Q2. Nevertheless, I think we have a good pace for tomorrow, although it is clear that starting from so far back we will suffer a lot.”

    Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo will be a force to be reckoned with come Sunday’s race, as he demonstrated an incredibly consistent race pace throughout Free Practice. The double MotoGP™ World Champion was only 0.095s behind Dovizioso in Q2 and will start from second on the grid, a feat made all the more impressive as Lorenzo does not have the softer option tyre available to him: “We must be proud of our performance, because we improved the bike, which has been our goal for today. We had to improve our pace by half a second and maybe we didn‘t do that but we did shave off three-tenths. Today has been a great day. We couldn‘t get the pole position, but second place is great.”

    Andrea Dovizioso followed up Iannone’s amazing pole lap by securing third on the grid, making it two Ducati GP15’s on the front row, and the team will be pushing hard for their first win since Stoner’s victory in Australia in 2010: “It was a great qualifying session for our team, because there are two Ducati GP15 bikes on the front row. I had a good feeling with the bike when I did my lap, and this is very important in view of the race because it means that we have the speed to be able to fight for the leading positions.”

    CWM LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow won the battle of the Satellite riders, as he once again impressed during Q2 to finish fourth as the fastest Honda on the grid: “Overall I was happy, because I tried a hard front tyre and I was happy with that, so much so I even qualified with it. I just missed out on the front row again, but I made a small mistake which was my own fault.”

    Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Aleix Espargaro was another rider who had to grit his teeth as he was suffering from the injury to his right thumb sustained during his Free Practice crash at Le Mans. The Spaniard was impressive after making through as the second fastest rider from Q1, and will start the race from the middle of the second row in fifth, although he has concerns about the affect his injury might have on his pace over race distance.

    To top off an almost perfect day for Ducati, their test rider Michele Pirro managed to set a time good enough for sixth in Q2 and will complete the second row for Sunday’s race, an effort which was the best qualifying performance from a wild card rider since Ben Spies claimed fifth in 2008 at Indianapolis.

    Dani Pedrosa on the second Factory Repsol Honda RC213V showed he is recovering from his arm pump surgery by setting the seventh fastest time. The Spaniard will start from the head of the third row, ahead of nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi.

    Rossi, once again, could not perform as he wanted during qualifying, although he wont be too disappointed to start the race from eighth on the grid as his last three victories have been achieved after he qualified in that position: “I improved a lot and my lap time was not so bad, but it wasn‘t enough. All the top riders were able to improve their pace a lot, so apart from my starting position on the third row, which is not fantastic, I‘m quite happy about today.”

    Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Maverick Viñales will start the race from ninth on the grid, with Monster Yamaha Tech 3 teammates Pol Espargaro & Bradley Smith in tenth and eleventh respectively.

    Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera was the leading Open class rider in fifteenth, with the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Factory spec Honda of Scott Redding down in 17th.

  • Laverty Q&A: “I knew I had a lot to learn in the first year”

    Eugene Laverty chats about his debut season in MotoGP™, his recovery from injury and his aims for 2016.

    Aspar MotoGP Team’s Eugene Laverty finished in 22nd in the 2015 MotoGP™ championship standings with 9 points. In 2016 the team have switched to Ducati machinery and Eugene will be riding a GP14.2:

    Eugene, first up, how is your left wrist after you broke it at the private test in Jerez at the end of last year and, of course, your right wrist injury from Sepang?

    “That was the nice thing about the first few laps in Sepang, we tested out the left wrist and it felt okay. I did some supermoto in January and there was still a bit of pain there, but once I got on the Ducati there was no problem at all. There is still a little bit to come from the right shoulder. It is improving bit by bit, but should be fine for Phillip Island. Obviously it didn’t help that I injured my right wrist in Sepang. It was a bit confusing with the right wrist injury, as it was a similar injury to one I received 10 years ago. It seems that perhaps the old injury actually saved me, because all of the damage looked the same and the bruising was huge but I hadn’t broken it…well we think so. The Clinica Mobile were convinced it was fractured due to the bruising, as there was a lot, but it is moving again and it is what it is. The main thing is to get back on the bike again.”

    How would you summarise your first full season in MotoGP™ last year?

    “In some aspects it was positive, but what we had aimed for when I first signed the contract was far from what we achieved. The team did a great job but we were on under-par machinery I guess. It was tough; MotoGP has never been as tough. Sometimes we were within 1-1.5s and myself and Nicky were riding the wheels off the bike, so to only get four point-scoring finishes was disappointing and was definitely not our target at the start of the year. I ended up with nine points and I would like to have got that in one race rather than across the whole season! In that respect I am positive that on the Ducati we can step up to where we should be.”

    So would you say your team’s switch to Ducati machinery was a positive one for you?

    “It definitely was! I worked with Luigi (Dall’Igna) in WorldSBK’s and he has carried across the same mentality and approach to Ducati in MotoGP. He is very involved, loves racing in his heart and he wants the best for me. He listens to what I have to say about the bike too, which is positive because we are not a factory team, yet he personally comes by to see how things are going.”

    How important is that kind of support from a manufacturer?

    “That is why they are ahead with the electronics. They got the jump on their rivals with the electronics because they were on the case last year. Where as with Honda, because we were down the pecking order our comments weren’t going to be listened to, which is a shame as my teammate Nicky (Hayden) was obviously a former MotoGP World Champion. When I worked with Luigi in WorldSBK he was key to developing a bike that could win races every weekend. I think we know what we are capable of and given the right machinery we can be aiming for points scoring finishes regularly.”

    Having come from the Open class last year, how excited are you about the technical changes for 2016?

    “I am excited, and that’s the reason I came to MotoGP. I signed a two-year contract with this change in mind. I knew I had a lot to learn in the first year. Despite the bike last year not being what we had hoped for, it was still enough for me to learn. Obviously I was never going to be able to fight at the front in my first year in MotoGP, it takes time to learn a different category. Now, with a year under my belt the roles have been switched, as now everyone has to learn the new tyres and electronics. I think it was a good time to move and definitely this year will be a much more even playing field.”

    With so much to adapt to in 2016, the new bike, tyres and electronics, the Sepang test must have been frustrating for you…

    “It was frustrating as I didn’t really get to test at all. At the Valencia test I had an initial run on the bike with last years Open electronics. My first real go on the 2016 software with the Michelin tyres was at the private test in Jerez. We were just starting to work our way few some small gremlins with the new ECU when I had my crash and got injured. Then again in Sepang we had the same thing. We did a few laps to work out some electronic issues, then there was the mechanical problem that caused the crash and I didn’t really get to ride. On the final day I just tried to get out there to “get back on the horse,” but the pain was too much and I wasn’t able to ride, which was frustrating. I think you can say I am looking forward to Phillip Island!”

    Despite your woes in Sepang, how encouraging was it for you to see Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) on the same bike as you (GP14.2) in third on the combined timesheets?

    “That was the biggest positive point for me and it was why I was able to smile on the second day despite not being able to ride. That is because I knew that no matter what happened last year, unless it snowed or something crazy happened with the weather, we weren’t going to be able to be up there. So to see Hector put in that time on the same level of equipment that we have, it gives us reason for optimism and means that we can get stuck in. Okay we are not on the factory Ducati, but it isn’t a big gap. The bike is still a great bike and it is not that far behind, as you can see by what the Pramac team achieved last year on the GP14.2.”

    Bearing in mind what happened in Sepang, what are your aims for the Phillip Island test?

    “I need to get comfortable on the bike, get some laps in and put in some decent runs. In the last two tests I was trying to fix some little teething problems before my crashes happened, so I was in and out of the pits trying to get them sorted. Now I am just looking forward to being able to ride the bike and stay out on track for 6-8 laps and feel comfortable on it as it still hasn’t felt like my bike. In Valencia it started to feel like my bike, but since we switched to the 2016 electronics, I haven’t been able to make much progress, so I am just keen to get out there, put a handful of laps together and try and feel at home.”

    What are you aims for the season?

    “It is so difficult to know, because the Pramac guys did such a great job on the bike last year. I definitely want to reduce the gap to the guys at the front. Last year we were often 1.5-2s off pole position, and we have to reduce that substantially. It may sound crazy, but as I mentioned earlier, last year I scored nine points over the course of the season, I would like to achieve that in one race this season. That’s a seventh position finish in a race, so to be in and around there is the aim.”

  • Le Mans, MotoGP Style

    The French round is one of the most illustrious in the MotoGP calendar - here we look back at the history of the French GP.

    Since the start of the World Championship in 1949, the Grand Prix of France has taken place 52 times, the first one on the 8895-meter Albi track in 1953.

    Since then, the gala round of the World Championship was held on eight different track layouts, including Rouen, Reins, Clermont-Ferrand, Le Mans, Paul Ricard, Nogaro and Magny-Cours.

    In the modern GP era, the Grand Prix has hosted some fantastic races, such as the battle in 1988 between Paul Ricard, Wayne Gardner, Eddie Lawson, Christian Sarron and Kevin Schwantz.

    After a race full of overtaking, a few corners from the end the Australian was ahead and was almost in sight of the finish line, but the engine of his Honda NSR 500 suffered a threat of seizure and he lost all chance of victory, although he could cross the finish line in fourth position ahead of Wayne Rainey.

    1991 was unique in that were two rounds of the World Championship in the same season on French soil; one GP at Paul Ricard in France and a second round, where Brazil was replaced by Le Mans with two races remaining, in which Rainey earned the second of his three world titles with Yamaha.

    Grands Prix in France have often proved favourable for Spanish riders. Carlos Cardus (uncle of the current Moto2 ™ rider Ricky Cardus) achieved his first victory at Le Mans in 1989 in the 250cc class and the next year he would do the same after beating his main rival for the title, John Kocinski, who was pushing too hard to catch the Spaniard and crashed.

    Alex Crivillé won the 1998 French GP at Paul Ricard to become the first Spanish rider to lead the provisional standings of the 500cc World Championship. The following year, he finally won the title.

    In the French GP in 2001 Max Biaggi took his first victory in 500cc as a Yamaha rider and in the following year, in the MotoGP era, Le Mans was the setting for the first front row composed entirely of machines with four-stroke engines.

    Later in 2003, Le Mans witnessed the first ‘triple’ domination from Spanish riders in the World Championship, with Dani Pedrosa achieving victory in 125cc, Toni Elias in 250 and Sete Gibernau in MotoGP™.

    During the 2007 season, at the French GP at Le Mans Suzuki achieved their only win in the MotoGP class, beating Australian Chris Vermeulen in an epic race in the rain. That was also the first victory for Bridgestone tyres in the wet.

    In 2009 Jorge Lorenzo achieved the second of his four victories in the French Grand Prix at Le Mans, in a chaotic "Flag to Flag" race in which his teammate Valentino Rossi suffered a fall.

    Since the arrival of MotoGP™ in 2002, the most successful riders in Le Mans have been Rossi (2002, 2005 and 2008) and Lorenzo (2009, 2010 and 2012) with three wins each. They are followed by Sete Gibernau with two wins in 2003 and 2004. Behind them, Marco Melandri, Chris Vermeulen, Dani Pedrosa, Casey Stoner and Marc Márquez have one victory each.

    Who will be the next winner of the French GP? Will a Ducati finally win at Le Mans?

  • Marquez pulls off sensational lap to claim pole in Austin

    Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez claimed his 23rd MotoGP™ pole position with an incredible final lap during a tense Q2 in Austin.

    The lap was made even more remarkable by the fact the reigning MotoGP™ World Champion had to stop on track with 3 minutes remaining after a technical fault and run back down the pit lane to retrieve his second bike with just seconds to spare.

    Not even this could stop the Spaniard as he went back out on track to set the fastest ever time on two-wheels around CoTA, a 2’02.135, over sixth-tenths quicker than his previous lap record set in Qualifying last year. It was a fitting end to a thrilling Q2, which saw the lead change hands a number of times in the dying seconds.

    Despite overcast skies, track conditions were actually ideal for the fifteen-minute session, with Marquez finishing an impressive 0.339s ahead of his nearest rival, the pole sitter from Qatar, Andrea Dovizioso on the Ducati Team GP15. The Spaniard explaining: “It was rather different to what we are used to, because when I crossed the line for the first time with the second tyre I saw a warning light on the bike. When that happens, we are normally advised to shut off the engine. I was able to get out again on the second bike and cross the line right at the cut-off point to put in a final lap, which worked out well for us.”

    Dovizioso will start from 2nd place after just missing out on his second pole of the season in the dying moments of the session: “I am so happy to be on the front row, as I knew it would be hard. I was able to push really hard during qualifying, and I am very happy at how much we have improved the feeling over the weekend.”

    Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo (+0.405s) took the final front row spot after completing a remarkable comeback from a bout of bronchitis that saw him down in 11th after FP2: “The antibiotics are doing their job, but I need to be in a perfect condition for tomorrow.”

    The double MotoGP™ World Champion seemed pleased with how he had turned things around: “I was really satisfied with this time and position, I didn‘t expect to make the top five. Let‘s see what the weather is like tomorrow. Personally I prefer a dry race, but a wet race would be better for my physical condition. I am very happy that the Yamaha is becoming better in this track.”

    Lorenzo's teammate and winner in Qatar Valentino Rossi (+0.428s) will start from the front of the second row and feels it will be a close race: “Last year there was a bigger difference to Marc‘s pace, this is very positive, but he remains the favourite for the race tomorrow. After him there‘s me, Jorge and Dovi very close in terms of rhythm.”

    The leading Satellite rider was once again Cal Crutchlow (+0.478s) in 5th place on the CWM LCR Honda, who has impressed throughout the weekend. His compatriot Scott Redding (+0.539s) seems to be making rapid progress on his Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Racing Honda RC213V and will start from 6th: “Finally we’re finding our way with this bike. We struggled a lot in Qatar, but at least we left there with an idea of which direction we needed to go in and I think the lap times here show that it’s the right one. Each session we’ve improved, gone a little bit faster and closed the gap just a little bit more to the guys in front, while my race pace over the longer runs has also been good.”

    The second factory Ducati of Andrea Iannone will start from 7th with the Team Suzuki Ecstar of Aleix Espargaro (8th) finishing ahead of his brother Pol (Monster Tech 3 Yamaha) in 9th. Pol admitting that he was frustrated afterwards: “I made a mistake on my fast lap and ran straight on. After that, I was able to improve my lap time but the tyre wasn't fresh anymore and that unfortunately makes a huge difference at this track. I have nobody to blame as it was my own fault, but for sure starting from the back of the third row won't make things any easier tomorrow.”

    Pol’s teammate Bradley Smith was disappointed to be starting from 10th on the grid after more bad luck for the British rider: “We had some technical troubles during FP4 and we couldn't fix them in time for QP2. Unfortunately, this meant that I had to stop to change the bike, which is far from ideal in a 15-minute session on such a long circuit. Furthermore, we didn’t have time to swap the front tyre on the second bike, so I did my laps with a used one. It was a session where nothing went our way, so it’s disappointing to start from the fourth row.”

    Danilo Petrucci on the Pramac Racing Ducati and the second Team Suzuki Ecstar GSX-RR of Maverick Viñales will complete the 4th row on the grid for Sundays race.

    Earlier on, it was Andrea Iannone and Maverick Viñales who made it through from Q1. Hector Barbera missed out on taking part in Q2 by less than five-hundredths of a second, but won the battle of the Open class riders and will start from the front of the 5th row in 13th place, ahead of Athina Forward Racing’s Stefan Bradl and Yonny Hernandez on the second Pramac Racing Ducati.

  • Marquez to start on pole in Argentina

    World champion Marc Marquez will start the Grand Prix of Argentina from pole position following a stunning display in qualifying.

    The Honda rider once again showed his class at the Termas Rio Hondo circuit by posting a session best time of 1:37.802s, which proved to be more than 0.5s quicker than his nearest rival.

    Such was Marquez’s dominance, the 22-year-old had time to switch bikes during the session before going on to increase his pole position margin.

    The battle for second proved to be hard fought with Suzuki’s Aleix Espargaro emerging on top just three events into the Japanese manufacturer’s return to grand prix motorcycle racing.

    Second on the grid confirmed Espargaro and Suzuki’s pace after the Spaniard had topped the times in both practice sessions on Friday.

    Ducati’s Andrea Iannone secured the final place on the front row of the grid as he pipped LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow by the slimmest of margins.

    It proved to be a difficult session for Yamaha with two-time world champion Jorge Lorenzo fifth, while team-mate Valentino Rossi could only manage eighth, behind the Ducati’s of Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci.

    Meanwhile, Suzuki’s sister bike of Maverick Vinales and Tech 3 Yamaha rounded out the top 10.

    Dani Pedrosa’s replacement Hiroshi Aoyama was a lowly 15th on the factory Honda.

    Australia’s Jack Miller will start from 21st on the grid aboard the Open class LCR Honda.

  • MOTOGP - Rossi: “I‘m very happy to come back to Europe”

    Valentino Rossi is excited to be heading to the Circuito de Jerez with a six-point at the top of the MotoGP™ World Championship standings.

    "The Doctor" arrives in Spain excited to add another top finish to his list of successes achieved in Argentina, Texas and Doha. Over the first three races he scored two sensational wins and a third place. He currently leads the championship by six points and is confident he can continue his momentum in Jerez. Rossi has claimed six premier class wins at this circuit in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009, two second places in 2008 and 2014, and a third place in 2010.

    Valentino Rossi:

    “I‘m very happy to come back to Europe! These first three races have been very positive, although some of these circuits are not my favourites nor of the Yamaha! Yet my YZR-M1 has behaved very well and we rode nice races! To go to Jerez, after the victory in Argentina and holding first place in the championship, is certainly very positive. However the most important thing is that we're doing a great job with the guys of the team. We must continue to work well together.

    The championship is still very long! I feel good and returning to Europe is nice. I really like the Jerez GP. The track is beautiful and also the atmosphere is fantastic. It also has very fast turns and I like that a lot.

    I did good races at this circuit in the past and I'll try to have a good race also this year!”

  • Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas: Can it get any better?

    The 2015 MotoGP™ World Championship continues with the Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas, after a thrilling opening race in Qatar.

    As the paddock prepares for the race at the 5.5 km Circuit of the Americas, there are a number of talking points on everyone’s lips with fans wondering if it could possibly get any better after an incredible opening round under the floodlights in Qatar. It is the third year in a row that the MotoGP™ World Championship returns to COTA, with Honda having completed a 1-2 (Marquez and Pedrosa) at each previous race.

    Ducati confirmed that they are “back” in Qatar, completing the reversal in the Italian manufacturers fortunes since Luigi Dall’Igna joined the factory team as Sporting Director from Aprilia at the end of the 2013 season. The new GP15 showed that it was not just a “one-lap wonder” on the softer tyre option and Dovizioso will fancy his chances after he claimed his first podium for Ducati in Austin last season. One change for the Ducati Team and Pramac Racing, is that they will now have to make do with 22 litres of fuel as opposed to 24, after achieving three podiums in the last two seasons.

    Valentino Rossi was the focus of the world’s media after taking a spectacular race win under the floodlights at the Losail International Circuit. Can Rossi produce the same in Austin? There is no doubt that the nine-time World Champion still has the same hunger for success as when he made his World Championship debut 20 years ago, although his best finish in Austin is a 6th place back in 2013. His teammate Jorge Lorenzo had to make do with 4th in Qatar, after he experienced an issue with his helmet that ruined his chances for the win. The Spaniard had actually led the race at times and was dicing with the Ducati’s until the problem, but believes he can be battling it out for the race win in Austin where he has a best place finish of 3rd.

    Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez got his title defence off to the worst possible start in Qatar, when he ran wide at the very first corner, eventually finishing the race in 5th. Marquez will be confident he can respond in Austin having won the previous two races held at the circuit. In fact the Spanish rider actually left COTA last year having topped every practice session, qualified on pole, and led every lap of the race on the way to his win, setting a new Circuit Record in the process.

    Dani Pedrosa confirmed he will miss the Americas & Argentina rounds due to the arm pump issue that he revealed after the Qatar race, which  has been affecting him for the past year. The Spaniard will be replaced by Hiroshi Aoyama, who has filled in for Pedrosa before at the Dutch TT in Assen in 2011. Aoyama has 64 races under his belt in the MotoGP™ class, and finished 12th last year in Austin on the Aspar Honda RCV1000R.

    Suzuki made their return to MotoGP™ in Qatar, and as to be expected there were some teething problems for the Japanese manufacturer, with both Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales down on power compared to their rivals. Team Suzuki Ecstar have never raced at COTA before, as the track was added to the MotoGP™ calendar after the Japanese manufacturer left the class in 2011.

    CWM LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow won the battle of the satellite riders during the first round, finishing 0.5s ahead of his compatriot Bradley Smith on the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha. Crutchlow crashed out of the Austin race last year, but in 2013 he managed a creditable 4th place. These two look set for a season long battle and it should be close once again as Smith also seems to like the track, finishing 5th at COTA last season as the leading Yamaha. His teammate Pol Espargaro should also be in the mix having only lost out to the British rider by just 0.1s in Qatar.

    Expect to see more from Scott Redding on the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda RC213V after he crashed out on the 2nd lap of the Austin GP last year, plus don't forget the Pramac Racing bikes of Yonny Hernandez and Danilo Petrucci which once again could perform well in qualifying as they make use of their softer tyre option.

    Avintia Ducati’s Hector Barbera was the top Open class rider at Losail, although he should face a tougher fight from German Stefan Bradl on the Athina Forward Racing bike this time around, with the German taking 4th at COTA in 2014.

    CWM LCR Honda’s Jack Miller will be hoping to improve his fortunes after he crashed out of his MotoGP™ debut in Qatar, and he has tasted success at COTA before having won the 2014 Moto3™ race in Austin from pole position.

    One man who will be looking for a good result in Austin is Aspar MotoGP Team’s Nicky Hayden who will be his starting 200th MotoGP™ race in front of his home fans, with his previous best finish at the circuit being a 9th place two seasons ago.

    The Red Bull Grand Prix of the Americas takes place between 10-12 April, with practice on the Friday, qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday.