2018 Czech Republic MotoGP News Wrap—Yamaha Gets A Test Team
Yamaha is to follow its rivals introducing a Europe-based MotoGP test team next year, with former Monster Yamaha rider Jonas Folger penciled in as test rider.
The other Japanese manufacturers already have teams based full-time in Europe, with Honda employing former Moto2 champion Stefan Bradl in 2018 in this role; and Suzuki having employed former World Superbike Champion Sylvain Guintoli last year and this.
Europe-based Ducati has long employed Michele Pirro as their official tester; KTM runs a full-time team around Mika Kallio. Aprilia has a lower-profile test squad currently concentrating on endurance-testing of components but is also anxious to move up to a faster rider to add a more meaningful chassis and suspension development role to supplement the feedback from the racing riders, as project leader Romano Albesiano explained.
“You need to find a fast rider; we need to make this step, and we are looking and hope to find a real MotoGP rider,” he said.
Current team rider Scott Redding is earmarked for the role, although the Englishman would prefer to continue racing, and is contemplating a return to the Moto2 class, where he was a strong championship challenger in 2013.
Strong rumors surfaced before the Brno race linking the retiring Dani Pedrosa with a possible KTM testing role next year.
More Boxed Wings On The Ducati
On a day when Ducati debuted its latest box-winged fairing, aerodynamics remain a thorny topic for Ducati Corse chief Gigi Dall’Igna, the pioneer of winglets and the doctor of downforce.
The bearded Italian technical giant is still clearly peeved at the limitations put on aerodynamic development by restrictive cost-saving and safety-promoting rules introduced last year.
He made a waspish comment at Brno’s annual mid-year joint technical conference, where delegates from all MotoGP manufacturers do their best to avoid answering questions.
“We have talked too much about aerodynamics, and we have changed the rules too much. We change them every single year from 2016, so it is difficult to speak again.
“For sure, on the safety level, aerodynamics are really important. For example, the accident of Pirro in Mugello with proper aerodynamics doesn’t happen” [the Ducati tester was thrown over the handlebars at more than 300 km/h at Mugello].
Other delegates had a different view of safety, espousing the view that banned 2016’s projecting blade-wings on the grounds that (as Dani Pedrosa once said) “we have these kind of knives sticking out from the bikes”.
HRC technical director Takeo Yokoyama said: “Safety for us means what is outside the fairing, which can be dangerous, so we discussed reducing this for next year. What you do inside the fairing – perhaps with a double skin – is fine with us.”
Aprilia’s Romano Albesiano said aerodynamic development was very positive, but saw the greatest risk as “a cost explosion”, and the advantage of stricter rules as potentially limiting that.
With each aero design individually approved by Dorna’s technical director, the details confidential, and all manufacturers sailing very close to the win, the driest comment came from KTM technical chief Sebastian Risse, whose MotoGP bikes sometimes sport side-mounted box-kites.
“I think if we sitting here, if you had shown us photos of the bikes as they are now, when the current rules were announced, we would have said, 80 percent, that they are not within the rules. The current interpretation of the rules is very wide, and for us it was very important to narrow this down, so we can be sure in development if something is correct or not.
Current rules allow one update a year for each rider, and permit the removal of sections of homologated bodywork, allowing Ducati, in particular, a considerable variety of different internal configurations within the square add-on “box kites” on the sides of their fairing; although other manufacturers also take advantage of these permitted variations on a theme.
Next year only one “aero-body” will be allowed, including those homologated for this year, but these sectional modifications within the basic outline will be banned.
Ducati’s newly homologated second 2018 fairing, to be offered to both factory riders tomorrow, made an impressive debut, with Pramac Ducati rider Danilo Petrucci giving a favorable report after placing second-fastest on the first day.
The bodywork has two box sections, one high up on the handlebar cowling, and another lower on the fairing flank.
Factory pair Dovizioso and Lorenzo will try it tomorrow. “I haven’t spoken to Danilo, but I know he was happy,” said Dovi.
Jorge’s New Honda
Honda will be ready to build Jorge Lorenzo a different bike from that used by current star rider Marc Marquez, but technical chief Takeo Yokoyama was not convinced that much change would be necessary.
“We are aware that Lorenzo’s riding style is quite different, but until he tries our package, we don’t know what we will need to do.
“I am confident that we can make what he will require, but I can’t say how much different it will be until he starts to ride it.”
But Cal Crutchlow, the only other rider to win a race on this year’s much-improved RC213V, asserts that Lorenzo will have to change to suit the bike, rather than the other way round.
He agreed that the bike responds best to an aggressive style, with both him and Marquez riding it quite violently, but says it is not by choice.
“We are taking advantage of the strong points of the bike,” he said.
“But when you see how many times we end up on our head, maybe we are trying to take too much advantage.
“Any rider would prefer something that is easy to ride, that is nice and smooth. But that doesn’t work for the Honda. The bike dictates how you have to ride it.”
Muscling it around over a weekend meant that he puts on weight over each GP, he revealed. “Before I leave for the weekend, I weigh around 66.8 kg, but when I get home afterwards it’s up to 69.”
Kallio’s Reverse KTM
KTM remained as cagey as they could be about their reverse-spin crankshaft engine that Mika Kallio raced to a top-ten wild-card finish at Jerez at the start of this year’s European season.
The other riders Smith and Espargaro would like to have the engine for this season, and the Spaniard was full of enthusiasm after testing it following the Jerez race. But it has not appeared in public again, and technical chief Sebastian Risse wouldn’t reveal any details.
“I can’t confirm anything about the specs,” he said, at the joint press conference.
“We knew some parts were not ready for racing, for reliability. This is what we need to work on. It is the rider that says when something is ready, and the reliability.”
KTM was late switching from screamer to big-bang close firing intervals last season, in the bike’s debut year; and is alone in using a crankshaft that spins forward, in the same direction as the wheels.
A reverse-spin crankshaft requires an extra gear in the primary-drive train, which saps a little power, but confers several torque-reaction and gyroscopic advantages.
Who Cares About MotoE?
Next year’s electric-powered MotoE series had sparked the interest of all manufacturers, but motorcycling is not ready – and probably never will be – to follow F1 cars into hybrid power.
According to Ducati’s Gigi Dall’Igna, “I don’t know if electric bikes are the only option for the future but for sure they are one option, so we follow it. But I don’t have a clear vision about the future.
“But hybrid power? I think it is too expensive for this world at the moment.”
Other delegates to the conference, including Yamaha and KTM, said they were working already in the electric bike area, but eschewed the potential of a hybrid future.
KTM’s Sebastian Risse expanded. “Perhaps in ten years we need to talk about an alternative to MotoGP – but in a motorcycle simplicity is important, and we need to keep that, so I don’t think there is a case for hybrid power.”
Jorge Martin Dealt A Title Blow
Moto3 championship leader Jorge Martin’s season took a serious knock in the first free practice at Brno, the Del Conca Honda rider suffering a broken arm that will rule him out of this race, and very likely at least one more.
With the Austrian GP next weekend and Martin flying home to Spain for surgery to repair his broken radius bone, today, the chances of recovery are clearly slender.
“It was not a big crash, but the landing on my hand was very heavy,” he said.
Martin has won five of the first nine races, but also no-scored three times with race crashes, two of them not his fault; and regain the points lead from KTM rider Marco Bezzecchi two races ago at Assen. His lead is just seven points.
Just over a year ago he also ruined a strong season with a crash at the Sachsenring. Martin is bound for Moto2 next year, so this the Spaniard’s last chance of a Moto3 title.
For more MotoGP news and results, click here
The official MotoGP website can be found here