MotoGP: Cal Crutchlow signs two year HRC deal to stay at LCR

Cal Crutchlow will remain at LCR Honda for at least the next two MotoGP seasons. 

However, in a change from his previous three years at Lucio Cecchinello’s team, the double MotoGP race winner will now be contracted directly to HRC. 
The new agreement also makes Crutchlow the first rider to be signed for the 2019 World Championship. The official Repsol Honda line-up of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa, like all current factory riders (performance clauses aside), have contracts that expire at the end of 2018. 
Since switching to LCR Honda in 2015, Crutchlow has taken two MotoGP victories, two second places and two third places. 
“I am very happy to confirm that I will be riding for HRC with the LCR Team again for two more seasons,” Crutchlow said. “We have worked extremely hard over the last three seasons together and I am positive that we will enjoy more great results together. 
“I would like to thank HRC for the great support they offer me and our team, and I look forward to giving my hundred percent to this project as always.” 
Today’s announcement also confirms that the LCR team will continue its partnership with Honda until at least the end of 2019, ending any speculation of a change in manufacturer. 
“Cal is undoubtedly one of the most competitive and talented riders in MotoGP, and thanks to HRC’s support, we are honoured to work with him again for the next two years,” Cecchinello said. “Cal gave us our first ever victory in the premier class of MotoGP and further important results. I want to thank all those who worked and supported this project so far, first and foremost HRC.” 
HRC’s general manager of race operations Tetsuhiro Kuwata confirmed that the Crutchlow-Honda-LCR relationship has been ‘elevated’. 
“We’re very happy to continue working with the LCR Team and with Cal for the next two seasons,” Kuwata said. “We really appreciate the work they’re doing, and we decided to confirm our relationship and even elevate it by having Cal under contract directly with HRC. We wish Cal and Lucio all the best for the remainder of this season and those to come!” 
Crutchlow is known to have been pursuing such a ‘factory contract’ since April, with Honda perhaps prompted to conclude negotiations swiftly following recent rumours of factory vacancies at Suzuki and Aprilia. 
Crutchlow would have been a prime candidate for any such seats given his mix of success and experience. The 31-year-old has claimed MotoGP podiums on three different brands of bike – Yamaha, Ducati and Honda – in addition to his historic 2016 wins. 
HRC team manager Livio Suppo also recently highlighted that Crutchlow is the only current Honda rider to have raced another brand of MotoGP bike and as such plays an important role in development. 
That would have made it would be harder for Honda to let Crutchlow go, but – without knowing the content of the contract – exactly what practical difference the move to a direct HRC deal will make is unclear. 
Crutchlow’s development input means he is already running a machine spec comparable to the official Repsol team of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa. Meanwhile Jack Miller, on a HRC contract at Marc VDS, is lower down the new-parts pipeline. 
Currently LCR’s only rider, Crutchlow is tipped to have a team-mate next season in the form of Moto2 race winner Takaaki Nakagami, running an IDEMITSU-backed bike.


MotoGP: Aprilia convinced of fairing gains

Aprilia Racing boss Romano Albesiano is convinced that the new breed of MotoGP fairings with ‘integrated winglets’ offer a performance advantage, as the factory works on its remaining update for the 2017 season. 

With external wings now banned, manufacturers have been forced to incorporate downforce devices within a ‘normal’ fairing profile. An initial design was allowed alongside a standard fairing for the start of the season, with one further upgrade available. 
Aprilia, Suzuki, Yamaha and KTM (exempt from the upgrade limit) have already used a special fairing during a grand prix weekend, but the reception from the riders has generally been lukewarm at best. 
Maverick Vinales took victory with the Yamaha device at Le Mans, but the other races have all been won with standard fairings. Honda and Ducati are yet to even homologate a ‘downforce’ design for use in a GP. 
“It looks like now the fairing is not of so much interest to anybody. But from a theoretical point of view, it’s surely a good point. An advantage,” said Albesiano, who worked as a aerodynamicist earlier in his career. “So we have to make this thing accepted by the riders, like [the wings] were last year. I believe in this concept and we will keep working on it.” 
Of the RS-GP riders, only rookie Sam Lowes has put in serious track time with Aprilia’s special fairing. Team leader Aleix Espargaro is yet to be convinced the extra stability is worth a potential loss of top speed (which canned Ducati’s radical design) and ‘heavier’ feeling. 
Asked if the Aprilia upgrade would be an evolution of the current design or a step in a different direction, now that other manufacturers have unveiled their concepts, Albesiano replied: 
“We believe [our] concept is very good. The results in the wind tunnel are very good, also when Sam tested back-to-back this device he always wanted to keep it. 
“So we need to work. Of course the priority has been reduced because only one rider of the two uses it, so we push less, but we have something to test [in Catalunya] in order to understand more about the concept and we will keep working on it.” 
“I’ve used it since Jerez at every track,” Lowes confirmed. “Maybe we will have something to try at the test, the same principle, but not affect the top speed as much. It’s only maybe 1-1.5km/h anyway. 
“I feel the benefit on the exit of corners, especially long corners. It’s a little bit heavier to enter the corners, which is what Aleix doesn’t like. But Mugello you need to get into all the corners and it wasn’t too bad. I think that shows we can use it everywhere. Maybe not Phillip Island, with the wind. We’ll see. It might look a lot different by [October] anyway…” 
Albesiano also confirmed that creating efficient downforce is much more complicated under the new rules. 
“Before you could just design a couple of winglets, wing profiles, and once you had understood a little bit the flow in the front of the fairing… it was cheap and easy. Now you have to make CFD [Computational Fluid Dynamics, software that simulates air flow] calculations in a quite complicated way,” he said. 
“Honestly the wings that we had last year were quite dangerous. I agree. Because it was so easy to ‘hang’ another bike. That could have been fixed in another way. But anyway…” 
Aprilia has a best finish of sixth so far this season, but the team felt Espargaro had the pace to fight Lorenzo for fourth (the RS-GP’s best ever result) without an engine failure in the Catalunya race. 
It was a bitter disappointment to both team and rider, but Albesiano managed some humour when asked what had gone wrong: 
“It was an electrical problem! You know the story? Many years ago when the conrod exited the crankcase and cut the wire, it was an ‘electrical problem’! 
“No, it was a problem with the pneumatic system for the valve spring. We’ve had this problem a couple of times before so we have to fix it definitely. 
“It’s not a matter of re-designing, it’s a matter of small points in the valve train that we have to maybe re-consider. These parts have worked for a long time, so now something new is happening that we have to understand. 
“The system is the same as last year and we never had this problem.” 


The 2016 MOTOGP World Championships’ light went off today at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar under the lamination of the Desert Floodlights with Jorge Lorenzo maintaining his lead over the rest of the field 

After a successful completion of runs for both the Moto2™ and Moto3™, MotoGP™ riders went for their on run on the desert track before the desert wind blew sands on the track to change smooth running on the asphalt. The Intermediate and Junior classes left rubber on the asphalt to further hinder the premier class but some riders were still able to notch in their speed to claim spots in the table.
World Champion and Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider Jorge Lorenzo rode the fastest lap in the first ten minutes clocking a best time of 1’55.440 on his 15th lap to take the lead as he did during the Tests last month.

 Valentino Rossi after 17 laps was able to work his way to second and lapped 1’55.707, just 0.267s back on his teammate Lorenzo. Both Rossi and Lorenzo looked comfortable throughout testing and have continued their rapid pace into the race weekend.

Andrea Iannone of the Ducati Team rode a 1’55.736 aboard the Desmo16GP bike followed by Avintia Racing Ducati GP14.2 of Hector Barbera, the Spaniard clearly benefitting from the more level field created with the introduction of the spec ECU and unified software. Barbera, known for his ability to produce a single flying lap, ending fourth with a 1’55.810.

Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) completed the top five. Tech3 Yamaha’s Pol Espargaro was sixth fastest and behind him were the both factory Honda machines of Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez in seventh and eighth respectively in FP1. The Spaniard set a 1’56.051 while his teammate, Bradley Smith, ended down in 11th. Smith also suffered a crash at Turn 13, the Brit unhurt in the fall but forced to end his session early.

Teams were able to make several adjustments between the Qatar Test and Free Practice 1, the Repsol Honda Team bringing a larger set of winglets for the opening round. Dani Pedrosa led the Repsol Honda Team charge in seventh, no Honda machines inside the top five as they continue to struggle with the RC213V, especially in Qatar. Marc Marquez was 0.160s back on his teammate, ending the session eighth and 0.810s back on Lorenzo’s time.

Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) finished the session in tenth and led a trio of British riders with Smith and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) just behind.

LORIS BAZ SEPANG CRASH TELEMETRY RELEASED BY MOTOGP has released the telemetry data from Loris Baz’s 290km/h crash at IRTA Sepang tests. 

Loris Baz crashed at a speed of around 290 km/h during the morning session of the second day of the MotoGP™ test at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, on February 2nd.The accident happened on the second day of the MotoGP IRTA tests at the circuit’s main straight after a technical failure attributed to the Soft Michelin rear tyre caused a loss of control causing the Avintia Racing rider to crash at 290Km/Hr. The French got separated from his Ducati after a period of around 1.9 seconds. further revealed that the Alpinestars Tech-Air Race airbag system, housed within his leather suit, deployed when Loris was launched and then the first impact with the track took place 60 milliseconds later with the highest energy impact recorded at 29.9g’s on his left shoulder.
From the moment that Loris impacted the track, the duration of the slide lasted for 6.6 seconds. Despite the speed and level of impact force associated with the crash, Loris was able to walk away with just a bruised elbow and resume testing later that same day.


Awesome Milestone


Nine Times MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi is set for his 300th Grand Prix appearance at Mugello – having achieved his 150th premier class podium last time out at Le Mans.
Following the race in France, in which Rossi finished second to the victorious Marc Marquez, he was already looking forward to the Gran Premio d’Italia TIM and another chance to battle with the in-form World Champion and standings leader, this time in front of the passionate Italian crowd.

With his victory at the French GP Marquez became first rider to win the opening five races of the year, all from pole position, since Giacomo Agostini in the 500 class in 1971.

Marquez leads the standings by 42 points from Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa and will aim to extend his winning run at round six – at a venue where he crashed out last year.

Marquez will know, however…

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Yamaha lift covers off 2014 YZ range

Saturday evening at the historic Maggiora circuit for the Italian Grand Prix saw the brand new 2014 YZ450F and 250F unveiled to the international press and many local fans with the factory Monster Energy team given the honours of uncovering the progressive new technology for the first time in Europe.

Joel Roelants, Dean Ferris, Christophe Charlier, Mel Pocock, Maxime Desprey as well as Yamaha Motor Europe representatives stood side-by-side for one of the most important Yamaha photo opportunities of the year, at the midway point of the FIM Motocross World Championship.

The feeling of nostalgia at Maggiora – back on the Grand Prix calendar for the first time this century and one of the special sites for motocross in Italy – was increased at the Yamaha event with the presence of Andrea Bartolini’s remarkable 1999 500cc World Championship winning YZ400f.

“It’s cool to see the new 450F for the first time and it definitely looks the part,” commented Ferris, scorer of two podium results this year with his works YZ250F, “I’ve heard good things about the engine and although I haven’t ridden it yet just seeing it now really makes me want to have a go.”

The 2014 YZ250F features a brand new rear-slanted fuel injected motor with ‘snaking’ exhaust pipe system while the larger brother boasts a new chassis and further mass centralisation with Yamaha’s most useable and tractable engine yet.