MotoGP news From Qatar Test
Rossi likely to stay in MotoGP
Valentino Rossi came a step closer to confirming a renewal of his MotoGP contract with Yamaha for 2019 and 2020, telling Dorna’s TV cameras that “we are still speaking, but I think yes. We will make an announcement when we are ready.”
His decision to stay on to the age of 41 does leave Yamaha with some difficulties, with the other factory seat already committed to Maverick Vinales until the end of 2020.
The shock announcement that the satellite Tech 3 team is to break a 20-year association with Yamaha – confidently expected to switch to full factory bikes with KTM, and keeping current rider Johan Zarco on the books – leaves the Iwata factory seeking a new partner for their “junior” squad, but with no tempting spot in the factory team to attack quality management or riders.
Tech3 and KTM
In the wake of the surprise news that the French Tech3 team is to end an 18-year association with Yamaha at the end of this season, expected to move to KTM, star rider Johann Zarco was keeping his lips zipped on his own and the team’s future.
“I am only thinking about this year,” concentrating on a title attack in his second season in the premier class, he told Dorna’s reporters at Qatar.
The announcement of the split came on February 22.
Team chief Herve Poncharal explained that “we were offered a deal that includes something we’ve been waiting for almost since we started Tech 3. I couldn’t say no.”
There has been no official confirmation, but informed paddock sources confirm the obvious – that the respected French team and the hot-shot rider have been snaffled by KTM from next year, which will be the Austrian marque’s third in MotoGP.
New fairings for Marquez
Honda produced yet another fairing design for testing today, for Marquez only, with larger boxes on the sides of the nose, in yet another tribute to Ducati.
Final decisions on fairing design will have to be made before practice starts for the Qatar GP in a fortnight.
Apart from the trout-pout Suzukis, the fashion is for bolted (or riveted) add-on sections rather than the styled-in ducting seen in several cases last year. Under the year-two design-freeze rules, items (including half of or the entire boxes) can be removed from homologated fairings) as required.
Teams are allowed one update during the season, and the bodywork is homologated rider by the rider so that similar bikes can have different aero bodywork.
Has the threat of rain spoiling the opening round of the GP season been spiked?
There have been several occasions when desert rain has played havoc, none worse than in 2009 when the MotoGP race was postponed by one day after an ill-timed shower. Last year, flooding disrupted practice, and the main event was shortened and delayed by 40 minutes because of further rain.
The question does not concern grip, but the floodlights. Reflections both from the track surface and in the spray were thought to make racing impossible. However, a rethink saw a brief test last year on street bikes by Dorna staffers Franco Uncini and Loris Capirossi; and this year there will be a full-scale test.
It is not mandatory, but it is unlikely that any teams or riders will want to miss the opportunity. Michelin has brought a selection of three rain tires front and rear for the test.