2018 Czech Republic MotoGP Saturday News Wrap—
Casey Stoner Done With Ducati Test Role
More test team news came on Saturday, with a report in Crash.net that Ducati factory tester Casey Stoner was “unlikely to continue” in the role for the factory for whom he won its first World Championship in 2007, before moving to Honda and another title in 2011.
After his retirement at the end of 2012, Stoner did some testing for Honda and the suffered shoulder injuries racing in the Suzuka 8 Hours, where his throttle jammed open.
Then he switched allegiance back to Ducati, with a three-year contract as a test rider. He took part in official Dorna tests at Sepang in 2016, 2017 and 2018, setting the fastest time in the middle year; but required surgery for his Suzuka injuries after this year’s tests, and has not been back on track since.
Vinales Splits With Crew Chief
It’s partly personal disquiet, partly a reshuffle occasioned by circumstances … but changes are afoot at Yamaha, and they tend to center on unhappy teamster Maverick Vinales.
In his second year with the factory team, the Spaniard’s results have never really recovered from the slump he ran into in the middle of last season, and his comments to the media have reflected an increasing desire to shift the blame.
One target has been his crew chief Ramon Forcada, a respected figure who performed the same duties for Jorge Lorenzo during his Yamaha years. But growing friction between the Spanish technician and his rider have come to a head over the last few races.
Now news has broken that the pair will split.
Forcada is expected to move to the new Petronas Yamaha satellite team planned for next year, where Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo are on the slate as riders.
Vinales will take another Spaniard, Esteban Garcia, currently crew chief for Bradley Smith at KTM.
At the same time, Vinales’s rider coach, former 250 GP winner Wilco Zeelenberg, is also set to leave—to manage the new Petronas squad. The team is to take over Jorge “Aspar” Martinez’s Angel Nieto Ducati Team grid slot, and take over from the current Tech3 satellite team, which is switching to KTM.
In another highly visible change, Tech3 sponsors Monster will take over title sponsorship of the factory team from Movistar. Moving to KTM with Tech3 was ruled out because of the Austrian company’s connection with rival energy drink Red Bull.
Marc Marquez’s Centenary
Marc Marquez is set to make his 100th MotoGP start at Brno, making the arithmetic easy for some percentage statistics.
Presently he has won 40 out of 99 premier-class races, which is 40.4 percent, and considerably the highest in the four-stroke MotoGP era.
The next-best is Casey Stoner, at 33.04 percent, although to be fair his statistics are spoiled by his first year on a non-factory LCR Honda, while Marquez went straight into the factory team.
Next up, Rossi has won 89 out of 314 starts, or 28.3 percent, and Lorenzo 46 of 183 – 25.1 percent.
2019 Test Dates
Test dates for the 2019 season have been announced, reduced by one compared with last year but with three extra days at Sepang, described as a “shakedown”, three days before the official session at the Malaysian circuit.
As well as the two days at Valencia on November 20-21, after the final race of 2018, there is an outing at Jerez on November 28-29 before the winter shut-down.
Sepang hosts the shakedown from February 1-3 and three days of testing February 6-8; then the final test at Qatar on February 23-25.
The smaller classes will test alongside MotoE at Jerez on November 23-25; then at the same track on February 20-22; then Qatar, March 1-3.
No More Rossi Flares
Plumes of yellow smoke from small armies of Rossi fans will become a thing of the past if Dorna has its way.
A statement released today blamed “comments by riders in previous races concerning the lack of visibility due to the smoke from flares being ignited during the races”.
Dorna would be starting a campaign from race day at Brno “asking fans to respect the safety of the riders and refrain from igniting flares during the races.”
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