2018 Valencia MotoGP Saturday News

Michael Scott | November 17, 2018

2018 Valencia MotoGP Saturday News

Photos by Gold & Goose

Jarvis’ Frank Assessment of Yamaha’s Challenges

Yamaha racing boss Lin Jarvis
Yamaha racing boss Lin Jarvis

Yamaha’s difficult season was more to do with 2017 than 2018. “It has been tough also at the back end of last year,” explained Yamaha Racing director Lin Jarvis.

He was speaking at the high table alongside all his rivals, at the annual team managers’ debrief hosted by Dorna every season at Valencia.

“I would say that there was no single mistake – just not getting to grips to understand the problems two years ago,” he continued, a clear reference to the development of the unified software introduced in 2016.

“This year has been the consequence of wrong decisions in the past. Mid-season it became clear what we needed to do. Since the Thai GP, things have turned around.” It had not been a single breakthrough, he said, but “small incremental steps”.

But upcoming tests were very important to make the improvements needed. “We really need dry tests to decide on basic things on the bike,” he said.

Two races after the Thailand race, where Vinales and Rossi finished third and fourth still right with the leaders, Vinales broke the company’s xxx-race-long streak without a victory, when he won in Australia.

One reason for Yamaha missing the boat is thought to be adopting an over-light crankshaft for this year’s engine. This gives an abrupt throttle response that spoils the M1’s good cornering balance and leads to wheelspin and poor exit acceleration. With engine design frozen they have been unable to change it, while the simpler electronics (or their lack of engagement with them) has meant they were unable to use software intervention to ameliorate the problem.

Marquez Favors Bradl Over Stoner

Marquez, Valencia MotoGP 2018
Marquez, Valencia MotoGP 2018

The rumour that Stoner might be recruited as a test rider for HRC left one person cold, as the Australian’s latest successor as a Honda champion responded to questions with something approaching disdain.

Marc Marquez cast aspersions on Stoner’s availability for work, when he was Honda’s tester in 2013, before switching to the same role with Ducati.

Stoner’s talent was not in any doubt, but to be successful in the role, he said, you have to be available whenever you are needed.

A factory test rider “needs to test many, many days during a season. And you need to be available when the factory wants you. From what I heard, this was not the case.

“We have a very good test rider that is Stefan Bradl. I would like to keep him.”

Injuries Hamper KTM Development

Pol Espargaro, Valencia MotoGP 2018
Pol Espargaro, Valencia MotoGP 2018

KTM’s development plans this season had been so frequently thwarted by injury that obtaining Johann Zarco’s signature for next year was a most welcome show of faith, and doubling up on numbers should avoid the same problems in 2019.

So said motorsport chief Pit Beirer, speaking at the team managers’ briefing on the eve of qualifying for the last race of the year, referring to an apparent slowing of development in the Austrian marque’s second season.

“We had so many new parts, and we couldn’t bring them,” he said. This was because of injury to full-time tester Mika Kallio at the Sachsenring before the summer break, keeping him out of the saddle for the rest of the year, and repeated injuries to Pol Espargaro meant he missed five races, one way or another.

“If you have three riders, and two are injured …

“So we look forward to the next step, with more riders – with Dani Pedrosa as well testing with Kallio.

“We need to see this as a long term project, and I think we have proved in the first two years we are very serious,” he said.

Aprilia: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Aleix Espargaro, Valencia MotoGP 2018
Aleix Espargaro, Valencia MotoGP 2018

Aprilia’s disappointing fifth season had been something of a backward step, admitted race chief Romano Albesiano, who added that his twin role as team manager and technical boss meant he was spread a little thin.

“Personally I would prefer to be able to concentrate on the technical side,” he said.

They had expected by now to be challenging for the top five, but “we lost something in the balance of the bike compared with last year, and we didn’t understand at first,” he said.

“Now we think we have found the right way.”

They brought two of the development “lab bikes” that Aleix Espargaro had used since Phillip Island, where he finished a strong ninth.

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Michael Scott | MotoGP Editor Scott has been covering MotoGP since long before it was MotoGP. Remember two-strokes? Scott does. He’s also a best-selling author of biographies on the lives of legendary racers such as Wayne Rainey and Barry Sheene.