QUESTIONS ARE NOW CLOSED
One of the best things about running MotoMatters.com (apart from the opportunity to get so close and learn so much about racing motorcycles and the people who are involved with them) is the interaction I have had with readers. I am regularly complimented by people in the paddock on the intelligence and thoughtful tone of the comments on the website. Indeed, I am sometimes put to shame by them, the comments being far more interesting and insightful than the story which appears above them.
It is not just on the website itself. There is also social media, and interacting with race fans via Twitter or Facebook gives me a real sense of what fans think and what they want to know. From time to time, I will also try to arrange a meet up with fans at a racetrack itself, and talk to people directly, although that is too often very hard to fit in to the hectic schedule of a race weekend.
That proves to be the hardest thing for me. So many of the comments and questions come during a race weekend that I never have time to answer them with the attention they deserve. Questions that come in via Twitter are often interesting, but with only 140 characters to play with, giving a full and clear response is often very difficult.
So today, I will be hosting an Ask Me Anything session. If you have a question, about MotoGP, World Superbikes, about which circuit or race is the best, about a particular rider, about the website, about me and my background in bikes, or anything else, I will answer it for you. Send me your questions, either by posting them in the comments section below, sending them by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by using the contact form on this page, checking that Ask Me Anything is selected in the dropdown list. I shall answer them below, either in the comments section, or for email questions, in this section here. Check back throughout the day to see the comments and questions, and the answers they receive, as they are added.
One final word: though this is an Ask Me Anything session, and I will endeavor to answer any question you pose, the usual MotoMatters.com rules of decorum still apply. We need to keep this place as great a forum for debate and discussion as always, which means that we need to make sure that we need to ensure that the level of debate is kept as high as possible. Feel free to disagree with me, or other posters, but make sure you do so respectfully, and with solid arguments. If you want to tell me I suck, that's fine, as long as you tell me exactly why.
Questions sent by email:
Why was Forward Racing in such a hurry to sack Edwards this season? His replacement seemed to get about the same results. Was it an issue of money?
Without wanting to get involved in a series of claims which I have not checked as I should, it does appear to have been a question of money. The rumor around the paddock – a very unreliable source, often completely wrong, and therefore not to be trusted – is that there was a financial dispute between Edwards and Forward racing, and Edwards pulled the plug. There were allegations that money was owed, though I have no proof of that, nor can I substantiate it, so I have no idea if there is any truth to it.
Will Honda put forth a serious effort for the Open class bikes next season, or will it still be filler for the back half of the grid?
The new Honda RC213V-RS Open class bike is a much more competitive machine than the RCV1000R ever was. It is basically the bike which Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista were racing in 2014, but without the seamless gearbox (though this, too, is available for teams which are very, very rich), and it has to use the championship software (ie. the spec software from Magneti Marelli). At the Valencia test, it turned out that the RC213V-RS is much more different to the RCV1000R than the teams expected, and they had a lot of work to do getting the bike set up. It was clearly more powerful, and accelerated harder, but it was still down on top speed compared to the satellite bikes.
The RC213V-RS will give the Open class Honda riders a much better chance of competing. They should be much closer to the satellite bikes than they were last year, but they will still have a lot of trouble actually beating them. Top 10 finishes should be achievable, but the top 5 will remain out of sight, especially as the factory bikes will be much more competitive next year, with Ducati likely to be a good deal quicker, and the Suzuki already looking impressive. So they won't be grid filler, but they won't be winning races any time soon.
Does there seem to be any concern at Dorna about the loss of American riders and the impact that could have on the popularity of the two US rounds? Edwards has retired, Spies is gone, and former champion Hayden is spending his last years on totally inferior equipment and surely will leave the series soon under these circumstances.
There is a huge concern at Dorna about the lack of US riders (and Australian riders for that matter, as well as other key markets). This is one of the main reasons Dorna is so tightly involved in MotoAmerica, the organization which will be taking over the running of the AMA Superbike series from 2015. This is absolutely key to the future of US racing, and a US presence in world championship racing.
The problem is that this is a long term strategy, and won't fix the lack of US riders in the next year or so. The aim of MotoAmerica is to provide a top-flight domestic racing series which provides a natural stepping stone onto the world stage. The idea is to bring young talent on to a point where they are ready to step up to either World Superbikes or MotoGP. Having Americans racing at the world championship level should then raise the popularity of the sport, and bring more young racers into the sport, and provide them with more support.
It is an ambitious plan, and has a very solid foundation. The people involved are some of the best people you could wish to have running a racing series. They have the support of Dorna to help make it work. If this doesn't succeed, then I don't know what would.
From Albert Cheng
1. What do you see as the future for Moto2? Could the series become a cheaper alternative for exposure compared to MotoGP if they open it up to other factory engines? Would Honda be open to such a move?
I always believed it could be a great exposure platform for factories (come on Kawasaki!) to come back in some form to GP without the crazy investment that MotoGP requires. I really believe Dorna has something going here with different factories participating from Moto3 to GP. If Mahindra can do it in Moto3 then they should try to open up Moto2.
2. Do you believe Dorna is making the right moves to grow the sport fiscally? The product has definitely improved and the Asia scene is growing but I feel as if Dorna has not been able to capitalize on the growth on their bottom line.
They seem to only try to earn more money from their current revenue streams (online price increases, TV coverage, race events, asking for more factory support) instead of looking for NEW avenues of income (such developing better sponsorship programs). What are your overall thoughts on this and what do you think they should try?
Question 1, Moto2:
This is a something which we are constantly debating in the paddock. The Grand Prix purists regard Moto2 as entirely illegitimate, and unworthy of Grand Prix racing. They have a point, though as always, there are counter arguments.
There is certainly no reason why Moto2 couldn't be set up along the lines of Moto3, with cost caps in place to control expenses. The problem is that at the moment, Moto3 is more expensive than Moto2. Despite the fact that the class has a cost cap on almost everything, the two factories have still found a way to make the class incredibly expensive. A competitive Moto3 bike costs in the region of €400,000, whilst a Moto2 bike is €200,000 or less.
This means that the teams love Moto2 as it is now. It's a cheap class for them to race in, yet important enough for them to be able to find the sponsorship to cover their costs. Any opposition to change comes from them, and each time the manufacturers or Dorna suggest a change, the teams throw up their hands in horror. This is the biggest obstacle to change at the moment.
There is certainly interest in a different form of Moto2 racing. KTM have said they'd like to get involved, and there is an argument to be made for 500cc twins using the same 81mm bore as Moto3 and MotoGP. With the first signs of a supercharging revival, perhaps supercharged 500cc twins, rev limited to 14,000 rpm, would be a viable class.
Question 2, Money:
As I wrote recently, money is the biggest problem in MotoGP at the moment, and the place where Dorna is underperforming. As a promoter, it is their job to find the money to fund the racing, and it is precisely in this area where they are falling short. There is a general lack of professionalism in the search for sponsorship, among both teams and Dorna, and this is the area which needs the most urgent attention.
For a fuller answer, read this piece on sponsorship which I wrote before Valencia.
One question I always wanted to know.... which riders in MotoGP are actually paying for their rides?
We see certain names that continue getting rides year after year, and one can only conclude that must be paying or at least riding for free ?
This isn't as easy to answer as it might appear. In MotoGP, there aren't very many riders which actually have to pay for their rides – my best guess is that of the current field, none have to pay – but there are a few who ride for free, or for a very low salary. There are others who have the backing of Dorna, because they are important for either TV rights or the sanctioning fee from a particular circuit. There are also a few who have a decent salary, but who are also expected to bring sponsorship to the team, which begs the question of whether that makes them a paying rider or not.
Of the 2015 field, I believe that Loris Baz has strong backing from Dorna, though he will probably be receiving a salary from Forward as well. Hector Barbera always manages to bring a lot of sponsorship, and I believe he too is paid. Mike Di Meglio will not be pulling in much of a salary at Avintia Ducati. Eugene Laverty's salary will not be particularly overwhelming either. Danilo Petrucci is also likely to be on a fairly low salary. All of these riders will also have some income from personal sponsorship, which often pays surprisingly well.
Then there's Karel Abraham. He is surely paid, but he rides in a team set up by his father, and financed in part by his father's company, and the circuit owned by his father. As a Moto2 race winner, there is no doubt Abraham has the talent to be in MotoGP. And as a big star in the Czech Republic, Abraham helps to sell the Brno race to the locals, making him very valuable to Dorna. So it is not as simple as it looks.
The riders who have to actively pay for their seats are to be found in Moto2 and Moto3. In Moto2, about half of the field probably pays, and a little more in Moto3.
Of course, all of these riders will be on a bonus scheme for good results, so even a paying rider could end up earning back some of the money they gave to the team if they secure a few podiums or wins.
From Pete Williams:
If you could call the shots for next season's Moto GP schedule, what would it be?
How many races - & why?
No limitations - doesn't matter how many rounds in a single country.
Unlimited funds available to bring ANY circuit up to current safety standards.
Good question! And like all good questions, almost impossible to answer...
I think 18 races is about the right length for a calendar. With the risk of injury at each race, 18 races offers the right compromise between having enough races and not exhausting the riders by the end of the season.
I would start the season Australia at Phillip Island (impossible, as the Australian GP organization which runs both MotoGP and F1 want F1 to happen in Melbourne at the start of the year).
I would drop Qatar – there is no reason to go there, no reason to race at night, and the region is too heavily dependent on oil for its wealth to be sustainable.
I would add a race in Brazil, and one in Indonesia, but both of those would require heavy investment.
I would move the race in France to Paul Ricard, and I would bring back Spa Francorchamps (arguably the greatest race track on earth). I would rebuild Assen to reinstate the North Loop, the section which was demolished in 2006. I would add another kilometer to the Sachsenring.
I would lose Misano, and two of the Spanish races (even though I love all of the tracks, and all of the places), probably Valencia and Aragon. They are the least interesting race tracks.
I would leave MotoGP at Silverstone, but try to improve viewing options for the fans. Donington is great too, but the Melbourne Loop is terrible. The Circuit of Wales looks very interesting.
I would keep Indianapolis, but build a completely new circuit. The Indy GP is a fantastic weekend, it's just a shame that it's spoiled by the track. I would probably move the Austin GP, maybe to Barber, but only after significantly lengthening it. Would I bring Laguna Seca back? The west coast deserves its own race, and Laguna has a lot of charm, but it needs to be much, much longer and much, much faster. Add on another mile and a couple of sweepers. Turn 1 at Laguna Seca is one of the greatest corners in the world, the rest of the track is less interesting.
I would keep Sepang, but move MotoGP from Motegi to Suzuka. And I would end the season at Jerez, it has the right kind of party atmosphere.
From Agus Santoso:
How much tire pressure for Front and Rear Tire of MotoGP ?
And how they affected the race and tire ?
Did riders play with tire pressure to affect the lap times ?
I don't know the exact tire pressures for MotoGP, as Bridgestone says this information is confidential. All they will say is that tire pressures are 'considerably lower than you'd use on a road motorcycle. There is a small operating range that the teams can work with during a race weekend, and of course Bridgestone monitor this to make sure teams don't go crazy high or low with their pressures. 'I believe they start somewhere around 1.4 Bar, and work from there.
Tire pressure is one factor of bike set up, like suspension preload and damping, which is used to help bike performance. The teams raise and lower tire pressures to provide damping, to reduce chatter, to increase grip or decrease tire wear. The reason you always see a Bridgestone shirt in each garage is because they have staff on hand to assist with every rider, to advise them on tire choice and on tire pressure.
In my opinion, tires are the second most important part of a motorcycle, after the rider.
From Ammar Sakarwala:
1. How do electronics affect chassis feel ?
From what I understand, electronics help improve traction control by sensing the grip. But some riders in the past have mentioned that by sorting out the electronics, the feeling with the bike improved. So can electronics actually improve something like say front end feel ?
Or bluntly, what all parameters do electronics control or affect ?
2. Yamaha updates during the second half
Yamaha was a lot stronger in the second half of the season. Vale mentioned something about Silvano and Ramon sorting out the telemetries. What exactly did they sort out ? From what I read, other than the exhaust which was a partial improvement, no other parts were actually positive. Most received mixed feelings. So is this again just electronics ?
3. Honda - Difficult or easy to ride ?
From what I have observed, Marquez manages to push the bike to the very limit coming into the corner. Say if he brakes too late, he just misses the apex but can still make the corner. Crutchlow mentioned that this bike is more forgiving and allows a few mistakes.
But then there is Alvaro and Stefan who havent had any great results. Pedrosa too has only managed to fight for the top 3 when everything is perfect for him. So what exactly do you make out of it all ? Is it that the Honda has a higher potential than the Yamaha but it needs to be ridden like Marc to actually use that potential ? If yes, then why has'nt Dani tried to change his style ?
4. Honda - tyre wear
If you compare the Honda and the Yamaha, we both know which one requires a smoother style. This year, I have noticed Vale being a lot more Jorge like in many corners. No jumping of the rear wheel, nice and smooth while braking. So shouldnt their tire wear less than the Honda ? If Marc pushes the front so much into corners, why didnt his tires wear more than Vale's at Sepang ?
5. Lorenzo Fridays vs Rossi Sundays
How is it that Lorenzo is so fast out of the box on fridays while Rossi is always struggling ? And come sundays, Rossi finds something which puts him on par or sometimes better than Lorenzo ? Is it because Rossi has a new crew chief,so Lorenzo has a better base referring last year's data ? If yes, why cant Silvano refer Rossi's last year's data ? And does this mean Rossi too could be fast on Fridays next year with one year exp. for Silvano ? Or is there some other reason for this speed difference ?
6. Factory riders - long hours
Crutchlow mentioned sometime this year that at Tech 3, they used to pack up at 5pm or so. At Ducati, everyone works till late at night. So what is the reason for this ? From what I know, the factory data is available to satellite teams. So why dont the satellite teams try to sort their issues too and aim for say a top 5 position every time ?
7. Yamaha - Seamless Downshits
Yamaha plan to bring a new gearbox at Sepang next year I guess. Is this part itself the solution to their braking / corner entry problems ? Or will they require more effort on their chassis as well ? Basically what all parameters could seamless downshifts affect ?
1. Electronics and chassis feel:
The electronics of a modern motorcycle are incredibly powerful. They affect every aspect of bike performance. And perhaps the most important and overlooked aspect of the electronics is engine braking, which plays a huge factor. By changing engine braking strategies, teams can change how weight is transferred under braking, and therefore how the front is loaded. This, in turn, can have a massive effect on corner entry, which then has an effect on how much feel a rider has going into the corner.
Basically, electronics can have a big impact on how power is transmitted to the tarmac, and that in turn has a massive effect on how the chassis is stressed and how the bike feels.
2. Yamaha second half of season
Firstly, you say that new parts received a mixed response. This is true, but this is true of almost every new part brought to the race track. MotoGP bikes are already highly refined, and so each improvement is always incremental, and small. Sometimes it's hard to find a real difference, and usually, each change brings yet more compromise, sacrificing in one area to gain in another. If, for example, a new swingarm provides better grip mid corner, but slightly less grip on corner exit, the factory has to assess whether what they gain mid corner outweighs what they lose on exit. So a new part may still be used, despite having received mixed reviews from the riders.
Secondly, the biggest improvements from Yamaha came in rideability. It took Yamaha about half the season to sort out a better fuel saving strategy to deal with a liter less fuel. The bike was much easier to ride at the end of the year than it was at the beginning. That came a lot from electronics, but there may have been some improvements in the inlet tract (e.g. airbox and throttle bodies) which we could not see. Add in small changes to bike set up, chassis and swingarm to help calm the bike down, and you see a big step forward. As always, it was a lot of small changes adding up to a much faster lap.
3. Honda – difficult or easy to ride
The Honda is certainly more forgiving, but that is not the same as being easy to ride. It is certainly the bike I would choose to ride if I was given the choice. But given the fact that my lap times are probably 2 minutes down on those of a top MotoGP rider, that is meaningless.
Extracting the final part of the performance is the hardest thing to do. I suspect that the Yamaha is the easiest bike to find the limit with, but the Honda is the bike which is easiest to correct your mistakes on. That makes it inherently more unstable, making it easier to make a mistake in the first place. If you look at Marquez (or Stoner before him), he is constantly threading the line between staying on and crashing. His reflexes and balance are what make the difference, and the bike is maneuverable enough that it allows him to keep skating along the edge of disaster without coming off.
One common misconception, however: these bikes may be easier to ride than the 500s, but that merely means that the riders can get the bikes to the limit more easily, and can keep them there for longer. The risk profile has changed, but it is just as difficult to maintain as it was for the old 500 riders.
4. Tire wear
There are a lot of factors involved in tire wear. I believe that although the Honda appears to jump around a lot on corner entry, the engine braking system is much more sophisticated, and that stresses the tire much less. Tire wear is governed to a large degree by temperature, and so if you can create less stress through friction, you can keep tires cooler. This, to me, is where Honda gains most.
5. Lorenzo Friday vs Rossi Sunday
Yes, in part, this is down to experience with the bike, though it is more about the fact that Rossi is missing two years of experience with the Yamaha while he was at Ducati. Lorenzo and his crew have much more data from previous years which is more directly applicable. The difference between the 2013 and the 2010 machines is much bigger, meaning that Rossi only had data from this year.
However, I believe a big part of the equation is also down to the way the sport has changed. Rossi spent his career gradually working towards a set up on Sunday, with less of a sense of urgency. Through the years, practice has been reduced, and now a different qualifying system is in use, and this affects how quickly riders have to get up to speed. Young riders are blindingly fast right from the outset, where Rossi is used to having a little more time to find his feet. The end result is the same, as the race results show. But the paths to the race are different. It will be interesting to see the difference next year, with the bikes virtually the same and a year of experience under the belts of Galbusera and Rossi.
6. Factory riders – long hours
It would be a mistake to think that the satellite teams don't work long hours as well. They are not done by 5pm (despite what Cal Crutchlow says), but they keep working till about 8 or 9pm. In my experience, the factory mechanics leave the paddock an hour or so later than the satellite mechanics, on average, but that is purely anecdotal, I have never timed it.
The difference is mainly down to the amount of control which the teams have over the bikes. The satellite teams have fewer parts they can use, and less control over the engines (each satellite bike comes with an engineer from HRC, Yamaha or Ducati, who manages the engine). So they have less choice of swingarms, shock linkages, triple clamps and other bits of hardware, and less data on those parts to look over. They also have far fewer options in terms of electronics, which the factory teams do have. The factory teams have direct access to functionality, and so more options to consider.
Both satellite and factory teams work as hard as they possibly can to be successful. But the satellite teams run out of options earlier than the factory teams do, and so have less to do.
7. Yamaha – seamless downshifts
A seamless downshift will allow for smoother corner entry and more control over engine braking. If successful, it should allow them to brake later and still get into the corner with enough speed, and in good shape, without the bike flapping around wildly. It will make them better able to compete with Honda.
Like all changes, it will immediately have a knock-on effect. Smoother corner entry means the parameters of bike geometry can be altered, to make for either a faster or a slower turn in, depending on rider preference. It will require a slightly different chassis stiffness, and alter the feel through the swingarm. A seamless downshift will be an immediate small improvement, but offer a much bigger improvement once the rest of the bike has been refined to extract the maximum performance which the gearbox offers.
Like all new parts, each improvement merely uncovers a new set of problems to solve...
In a bit of a grid shakeup, which 6 riders would you remove from the MotoGP grid and who would you replace them with?
Another tough one! And hard to answer without getting a hard time from a lot of riders when I return to the paddock...
Firstly, let me say I believe that everyone on the grid deserves their slot. There is nobody who lucked into their position, they have all proved their worth in the support classes. Secondly, there seem to me to be three groups of riders in MotoGP: the top 4 (Marquez, Pedrosa, Rossi, Lorenzo); the group battling for 5th (Dovizioso, Crutchlow, the Espargaro brothers, Smith, Redding, Iannone), and the rest. The latter group is a little more interchangeable than the first two.
Riders I would replace would be Hector Barbera, Karel Abraham, Alex De Angelis, Mike Di Meglio, Marco Melandri, Danilo Petrucci. There are several riders there it would break my heart to replace, though. Barbera is clearly still very fast, Petrucci deserves the chance to prove himself, Melandri, on his day, is utterly brilliant. The rest are all very fast.
Who I would bring in? Jonathan Rea deserves a proper shot on a competitive bike. I want to see the Alexes (Rins and Marquez) in MotoGP as soon as possible. It would be interesting to see what Sylvain Guintoli could do on the MotoGP Aprilia. I feel Leon Camier deserves another shot, after an impressive period subbing for Hayden. I'd like to see Sam Lowes move up. And I think Jonas Folger has the talent to impress.
If you were TAGOR - The Almighty God Of Racing, what specific qualities from which motogp riders would you use to create The One?
Another good one!
Using only current (or recent) MotoGP riders:
The raw talent of Marquez. The racecraft, charisma and ambition of Rossi. The fierce inner determination of Stoner. The precision of Lorenzo. The intelligence of Dovizioso. The wit and attitude of Crutchlow. The work ethic of Tito Rabat. The hunger of Scott Redding.
From Adam Kress:
If you could only pick one?
From Paul Wood:
Do you think Rossi has a chance of winning a 10th world title in his remaining 2 years?
If you would have asked me this at the end of last year, I would have said no. But Rossi has been so impressive in 2014, has learned so much, and adapted so much that I have changed my mind. Yes, he has a chance. Unfortunately, he has to beat Marc Marquez, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa to actually win a championship, and that is going to be very hard. Right now, I would put the odds of Rossi winning a tenth world title at about 40%. Last year, I would have said 4%. I misjudged Valentino Rossi, just as so many others did.
From Paul Wood:
If Stoner was to come back racing next year how do you think he'd fair against the current top 4?
A tough question. I believe that he would need a few races to get back up to speed, to hone his skills to a razor's edge again. But by the second half of the championship, he would be up among the top 4 again. It would not be easy for him, it would be the toughest group he faced, but he would be capable of regular podiums and wins. The championship? He'd have to beat Marc Marquez first, and that's not easy.
However, I also believe that the question is moot, as Casey Stoner will never return to world championship racing. He missed out on a childhood, on growing up, and he is only now starting to live a normal life. The impression I get from people who know him is that he values that more than he values the thrill of racing, and what he would have to give up to compete at MotoGP level, he is just not willing to sacrifice. He hated everything but the actual riding and racing.
From Ben Shreeves:
One criticism that is often leveled at Moto 2 is that the lack of variety in technology (especially the single engine supplier) detracts from the interest levels for some fans. I am interested to know whether the technology in Moto 2 has evolved and improved much since the introduction of the class? Are the bikes getting any quicker? How do lap times compare now versus the first year of Moto 2?
The chassis of the Moto2 bikes have certainly made major steps forward in the time they have been racing them. Lap times have dropped by between one and two seconds since 2010: at Brno, Tito Rabat's fastest race lap this year was 2 seconds quicker than Toni Elias in the first year of Moto2. To compare, Dani Pedrosa's record lap in 2014 was just 0.6 faster than Jorge Lorenzo's record from 2009.
A big chunk of the improvement has come from the tires, but a lot of work has also been done on aerodynamics, and on optimizing airflow into and through the airbox. The impression I get is that there is little genuine innovation, but quite a lot of refinement going on. The Moto2 bikes are being perfected, rather than brand new solutions being created.
But then again, the teams themselves are incredibly resistant to change and innovation. What they really want is a slightly better version of what they have, rather than something radically different which they have no experience with, and which may or may not give a big gain.
Who invented the skip?
Someone with a rope and a lighthearted nature.
The riders in the open class bikes, Baz, Laverty, Bradl, etc. are they bringing money and if not, are they earning a wage or just expenses?
See the answer to Kevin above. Of the three names you mention, I believe Bradl is the highest earner, with Baz and Laverty earning less. But they will make money from their personal sponsorship deals.
1 Motor racing is changed from people who are just having fun to race each other to the multi million business it is today.
What do you think is the most important thing for manufactures? It is selling bike`s? (obvious) (like SBK: racing Sunday, selling Monday) or is it more research and development?( like MotoGP: prototypes)
2 Why do they al keep spending millions to gain seconds? The public just love racing. I don`t care if they will do a 1.50,067 or a 1.49,985 on qualifying. I just want to see close racing.
I remember a tweet from Chaz Davies that he rode a street legal BMW HP4 ( € 25000) only 4 or 5 seconds a lap slower than his BMW superbike that year.
And even in MotoGP the small Moto3 ( € 50000?) machines just lap 10 seconds slower than a MotoGP prototype worth millions.
3 What do you think about sportbikes getting more expensive every year? The numbers sold are dropping every year but still they adding money.
Why do they make bikes like the Superleggera, HP4, H2 while the people want a affordable good looking sportsbike for less then € 15000.
Naked bikes are getting popular al over the world not only because they look good but also because they are cheap in comparison with sportbikes.
Sorry for my English but I think you will understand my questions.
First of all, like most Dutch people, your English is excellent. Not quite perfect, but more than clear enough to ask some excellent questions.
1. What is more important to factories?
This is a question I have been trying to get an official answer to for a very long time. So far, without much luck, the factories telling me they can't give any figures on their returns.
Clearly, it's a mixture. There is an obvious R&D benefit. For example, the engine limits of 5 engines a year have created real direct benefits for road consumers. The factories have found ways to make high performance engines run much more reliably. The low fuel limit is also very good for R&D, as it means factories explore strategies for making an engine run lean, but still offer very good throttle response. These things transfer directly to road bikes, as does knowledge about how to build a neutral bike which handles well straight out of the box.
The marketing exposure is, in my opinion, just as important. Being seen is really important, especially in major markets in Southeast Asia, where Honda and Yamaha sell millions of small bikes on the strength of their brand. Taking part in either MotoGP or World Superbikes gives a brand an aura of success, of high performance, which they can sell to their customers. The prestige rubs off, and that prestige transfers to high prices.
For the Japanese factories, one of the most important reasons to go racing is because it is a great place to train engineers, to force them to think quickly and solve problems methodically, and to a tight deadline. It is a great way to prevent engineers from becoming complacent, they have to solve problems by the next race, they can't be too cautious, but they can't go crazy either and risk the bike blowing up or failing in a spectacular way. Motorcycle racing is an excellent training ground for engineers.
2. Why do they all keep spending millions to gain seconds?
They keep spending millions to gain seconds because they have to beat their competitors. That is the nature of competition. The public don't care as much about exact lap times (the number of people who know lap records off the top of their heads is very limited indeed), but lap records serve as the target to beat. If Jorge Lorenzo's lap record at Misano is 1'33.906, then that is the target which Honda knows it must beat if they are to win there. Yamaha and Ducati know that Honda are trying to beat that target, and so they too must try to beat it.
Ultimately, factories will spend as much money as they can raise to go racing. Performance in racing is determined almost entirely by the amount of money available to the teams.
3. What do you think about sportbikes getting more expensive every year?
Sports bikes are becoming a niche product. The proliferation of speed cameras, the alterations of roads to add roundabouts and speed bumps, increased traffic on the roads, all these have made sports bikes increasingly impractical. The general public have turned to naked bikes, and adventure bikes. The average age of motorcyclists has also gone up, and 45-year-olds find it much harder to hold a racing crouch than a 25-year-old. They are also much less willing to accept discomfort.
Sports bikes still have a very loyal following, but they have become a smaller, more focused audience. They have become a niche, and therefore, their fans are willing to pay more for them. There is usually much more profit to be made on a prestige or luxury vehicle than on a mid-level vehicle. So factories would rather make €10,000 profit on a €75,000 machine, than €1,000 on a €13,000 machine. They won't sell ten times fewer bikes, and the prestige of the bikes rubs off onto their other bikes. The Superleggera makes Ducati a more desirable brand, and helps them sell Ducati Monsters...
From Evan Kaplan:
If you could reorganize all of the riders/teams, but not add any additional bikes to the grid or change a bike's make or model, how would you reorganize the teams? Are there any factory riders that you think are currently on the wrong bike/? Are there any riders in WSBK or Moto2 that you would prefer to see line up on the grid over any current riders?
I answered this in part above, so I won't go over who I would like to move in from WSBK or Moto2.
As for who would I like to reshuffle, there are a few. I would love to see Marc Marquez on a Ducati, I'd love to see what he could do with the bike, how he could adapt his style to ride it. I have a sneaking feeling Dani Pedrosa would be pretty good on the Ducati as well, though it may be too physically demanding for him. I think he'd do better than most people would expect, though.
I would love to see Pol Espargaro and Andrea Iannone on Honda RC213Vs, as I think they would suit their styles much better than their current bikes. I think Pol on a Honda would be a very formidable sight indeed. I'd like to see Stefan Bradl on a satellite Yamaha, as I think he would suit that bike a bit better than the Forward machine. I'd love to see both Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales on the satellite or factory Yamahas as well.
I think Jorge Lorenzo has to stay with Yamaha. The bike suits his style, and his attitude. He wants a bike to be as smooth as possible, and neither the Honda nor the Ducati can do that. Those bikes move around too much. I'd leave Rossi where he is, simply because that's where he is happiest, and he's ridden the rest of the bikes...
Although I think the line up of Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales at Suzuki is a brilliant one, I would be interested to see what either Andrea Dovizioso or Bradley Smith could bring. Both are extremely intelligent, thoughtful riders, who give great feedback, and could help develop a bike. That, I feel, is the only thing which is missing from the current Suzuki line up.
1. In my country, Indonesia. There are many fans who want MotoGP comeback there (including me) which i believe you may already know that. but some complex political condition make it hard to be happen, they just keep planning to make a new circuit but it never actually being made and big circuit we already have, sentul, had a very bad condition and the track surface is really bad. So can you give me (and million other fans here) any ideas about how to make MotoGP come here very soon? Because i believe it'll make provit for both side.
2. Can you give us your prediction about 2015 season? Who can probably beat Marc?
Everyone in Dorna says they really want to go to Indonesia as soon as possible. They know (and everyone in MotoGP knows) that Indonesia is completely crazy about MotoGP. It's also a very important country for the manufacturers, as it is a very big market for scooters and motorcycles. As soon as it is possible, there will be a MotoGP race.
What is needed for MotoGP to go to Indonesia is a circuit. Either Sentul needs to have major upgrades, for safety and for the standard of the facilities such as the garages etc, or a new circuit needs to be built. I have heard rumors of a few new projects, but has yet come to fruition. Once Indonesia has a new circuit, near a major population center, and as long as the political situation is stable and corruption can be kept to a minimum (the bikes and equipment has to get into and out of the country as easily as possible), then MotoGP will go there.
2. Prediction for 2015.
In my book, Marquez is still favorite, but it will be much, much harder for him than in 2014. Rossi is much stronger now than he was a year ago, and Lorenzo wants to make amends for a bad 2014. The Yamaha is much better than it was at the start of the season, so it should be more competitive. Then there's Dani Pedrosa, who has two more seasons to win a championship, but he needs everything to go his way.
My prediction is that it will be 1. Marquez, 2. Rossi, 3. Lorenzo, 4. Pedrosa, but I expect to be wrong.
1. What is it that draws you to motorcycle racing? You seem to be the sort of guy who eschews pageantry and silliness everywhere else, and yet you indulge in what amounts to (to the outsider) a bunch of brightly colored machines circulating a closed road. What causes the exception?
2. Is there still a point to a prototype championship? It seems as if the riddle of fast, four-stroke racing motorcycles has been solved about as thoroughly as it ever will be. Aside from the show, and the enormous amounts of money changing hands, is there still a technological point to MotoGP?
3. Why let fast riders wane? As an example, after his championship in 2006, it seems like Nicky Hayden was never given truly competitive equipment again. Given his demonstrated talent and work ethic, why do you think he never got another shot after Ducati? And more, do you think, if he was given a factory Honda or Yamaha tomorrow, he could find the pointy end of the field again in short time?
1. What is it that draws you to motorcycle racing?
Two things: first and foremost, motorcycles. I love motorcycles, and have done since I was a small child. So much do I love motorcycles that I do not even own a car. Riding a motorcycle is the most natural form of motion a human can experience, like flying, only better.
Secondly, watching someone able to push a motorcycle to the limit of its capability is a fantastic spectacle. Watching two people try to figure out how to go faster than the other guy is what makes it thrilling, it is close quarters combat.
It is true that I am no great fan of the pageantry, but it is that pageantry which pays for the sport I love. I have a great deal of sympathy for the viewpoint of Casey Stoner, who only wanted to ride fast and race, and had no interest in any of the rest of it. One of the great joys of racing for me is a very selfish one, standing at Turn 10 at Jerez for the test, and watching the riders come by. There, you are close enough to see almost everything they do, and gain an understanding of just what it takes to ride a racing motorcycle at full speed. A magical experience, and one for which I am deeply grateful to my readers, the people who make it possible by paying for me.
2. Is there still a point to a prototype championship?
Of course. Yes, a lot has been learned about motorcycle designs, but we keep a relatively open set of rules because someone might come up with a radical new idea which changes the way bikes work. And of course, progress is not just made through one giant leap, but mostly through a whole lot of small steps. Each season sees a host of small improvements, which teach engineers valuable lessons about motorcycle design and integrating particular concepts or materials.
3. Why let fast riders wane?
The explanation for that is found in the comparison between Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden. Hayden is clearly still a fast rider (hopefully, once his wrist heals fully and he gets some movement into it), but he is top 10 fast, not top 3 fast. Once upon a time, he was top 3 fast, but the game moves on, new riders come into the sport, and the sport changes. You have to adapt quickly, and perhaps Hayden hasn't adapted as quickly as he should have (of course, it doesn't help that he spent so long at Ducati, when the Italian factory was on a downward spiral).
Fast young riders take the place of fast old riders because fast and young has more potential to get faster than fast and old. Fast and young generates more excitement, and fast and young represents hope. If the choice is between fast and young and fast and old, the young rider always gets the call. The only way to survive is to be very, very fast and old.
From Jeroen Stas:
1. Is there a gap between the 'new generation' riders and the 'older generation' concerning electronics. I mean is it an advantage for the new generation that they grew up with all the electronics while with the older generation all those electronic stuff was/is new(er)?
2. Which way should the motogp take in the future concerning all those electronics? Should they cut some of them or should they go with the technology and keep going further? What will that effects the racing costs?
1. You have to remember that a lot of the young riders coming into MotoGP came in through Moto2, where they have almost no electronics. All the teams can do is optimize fuel maps, there is no TC, no launch control, no wheelie control. Of the riders who raced in 2006, the era before electronics truly took off, only Valentino Rossi, Nicky Hayden, and now Marco Melandri remain. The rest are all 800 era riders, who have known nothing else. So perhaps your comparison should be that the older riders are the ones like Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa, who have always raced with electronics, while the younger generation, riders like Marc Marquez and Pol Espargaro, come from Moto2, were there is no electronics...
2. What Dorna wants is to restrict the role of electronics. Reduce the performance side, while retaining the safety side. A lot of electronics now goes to controlling the rear wheel on corner entry, and on reducing the stress on the tires, the aim being to be just as fast at the end of the race as at the beginning. That would be good for the riders, as it will come down more to the ability of the rider to control the bike, rather than the electronics.
What we lose when that happens is the opportunity to explore the capabilities of electronic control systems. The more the factories are allowed to explore what the electronics can do, the more they can advance their use in road bikes. The trouble with electronics is that they are a money pit, with marginal gains always available the more you spend.
From Dylan Tilbury:
1. If you had to choose between Ben Spies, Colin Edwards, and Nicky Hayden, which was the best rider? I was a person who thought Ben Spies would be the next great American rider, and he lived up to that through his win at Assen before the wheels came off.
2. Realistically, is there any hope for Aprilia and Suzuki? I would love to see both teams become competitive, and I'm not crazy enough to expect wins next year, but as the regulations evolve I would hope those two teams enter the ranks of the competitive manufacturers, because it would be nice to have more than four winning riders. Ducati looked lost until the middle of this season, but now they look like they'll one day win.
3, Last thought, speaking of Ducati. How big of error did Cruchlow make in leaving? I mean the results were dreadful in the first half of the season, but by the end he was as good as anyone on that bike despite less upgrades than his teammates. Seems a shame to throw that away for a satellite ride, Honda or not.
1. Spies, Edwards, Hayden
I agree with you, I believe Ben Spies is the best rider the US has produced since the Golden Era. That's not to knock Hayden and Edwards, both amazing riders and world champions in their own right, but I think Spies has the edge, in mentality, and above all, in intelligence. His second year at the Factory Yamaha team was total disaster, and he never recovered from that. The crash at Sepang was the final straw.
2. Realistically, is there any hope for Aprilia and Suzuki?
That depends on what you mean by "any hope"... For Suzuki, there is real hope that they can be competitive with Ducati, and fight for top 6 positions. They will need a lot more horsepower, but that should be possible. For Aprilia, 2015 is a development year, nothing more. They will be aiming for top 10s, but above all, to be a lot faster at Valencia than they will be at Qatar.
Can Suzuki or Aprilia win a race? That's a whole different kettle of fish. Right now, their only hope is to sign a rider of the caliber of Marquez, Rossi, Pedrosa or Lorenzo. Maybe Maverick Viñales is that rider. But the series is dominated by four riders who are head and shoulders better than the rest of the field. That is the biggest problem for any manufacturer other than Honda and Yamaha.
3. Crutchlow leaving Ducati
Motorcycle racing is all about confidence. I think Crutchlow lost confidence both with the bike and with the factory. From that perspective, his move makes sense. His performance at the end of 2014 was all about Crutchlow, not about the Ducati. He proved his point to himself. I think he believes he can get better results with the satellite Honda than he would be able to with the GP15. And remember, we won't see that bike until Sepang 2, so that's a lot of faith he would need to have.
From Jacko Rijzenga:
1. Are Dorna or the FIM worried about the fact that some European countries with a proud racing history (such as Austria, the Scandinavian countries or Holland) have lost contact with MotoGP?
2. Will Russia play a greater role in the future?
1. Yes, Dorna and the FIM are concerned about the smaller countries who have lost contact with GP racing. Dorna's collaboration with the national bodies in the US and Australia is a start, and the fact that Dorna subsidize riders from specific countries (such as Holland), shows that they are doing what they can. But the real answer is that the national federations need to work to grow the sport in those countries. It's not easy, and it may well be that Dorna get involved more deeply there. It will be interesting to see if the Spanish CEV championship expands to be even more international, to include more rounds outside of Spain. What is really needed is the return of the European championship.
2. About Russia, I think that is hard to say. The problem with Russia at the moment is a lack of political stability, and the fact that races are dependent on the good will of a particular individual politician. If that politician is removed (which happens in Russia), then the event collapses. I think that Russia will only play a bigger role once there is greater stability.
From Harkamal Singh:
1. I am familiar with the fact that MotoGP bikes are more about function than form and aesthetics might be the last thing they work upon while they design new bikes or bring new parts for next year but i would still like to know that why do not we see major changes in aesthetics of a bike over the years. Their basic design remains pretty much same if we look at Yamaha M1 or Ducati Desmosedici ( while knowing that from the inside they are totally different bikes each year).
2. In which direction Ducati is moving? If we talk about World Superbike racing then they are representing their Street Superbike Panigale with a Monocoque Chassis but still using a Twin spar frame in MotoGP. Ain't they walking on a path where they are contradicting themselves( As Frame less design was not a success in GP) . Would not it be better for them if they go into one direction ?
1. MotoGP bike design:
The aesthetics may not change, but there are subtle differences between the bikes all the time, often rendered hard to see because of the sponsorship liveries. The shapes change slightly, optimizing air flow both into the airbox, and around the rider. But the main factor is that aerodynamics is still a relatively unexplored part of motorcycle racing, but also an area where this is not that much to be gained. The rider makes a bike completely unaerodynamic braking into, turning through and accelerating out of the corner. That's most of the lap, and so the gains are small.
Ducati is moving in the direction of winning. The GP bike is there to try to be successful, rather than explore chassis technologies. The MotoGP bike may provide useful lessons in chassis dynamics, but it does not need to be a monocoque like the Panigale. Ducati's lack of success has limited their options for exploring new technology, right now, they need to win, and to be successful.
From Faliq Mohd Latif:
1. Is there any slightly chance that factory arrange their riders the result of the race due to market their bikes?
2. Why Bridgestone brings compound during the season and not been introduced in beginning of the season?
3. Honda have mega bucks for their R&D.Why there were no limit for money spend on R&D?
4. In Argentina if im not mistaken,there several attempts to bring gp.Repsol Honda if im not mistaken have strong words against it.it sound like Repsol make a decision for Dorna.Why Repsol seems can do the decision for gp?
1. Absolutely not. Firstly, the riders would never accept it (see the World Superbike final at Qatar, where people were completely ignoring team orders). Secondly, the factories believe that a win is a win, no matter who gets it. And thirdly, if they try to arrange for one rider to win a race, they risk allowing one of their rivals taking the win instead.
2. Bridgestone compounds: Firstly, Bridgestone are in racing to develop technology as much as Honda and Yamaha are. They bring new compounds and construction because they believe they have a better solution. Sometimes, it's also because the plan they put together works out differently, if Europe has an exceptionally hot or an exceptionally cold summer, for example, where their tires don't work as expected. Circumstances can change, and Bridgestone need to adapt.
3. A limit on spending: this is a great question, and for many, the holy grail of racing. The problem is it is much more difficult to police than technical regulations. To check whether a MotoGP bike is legal, you can weight it and strip it down, check for example that the cylinder bore is only 81mm, as defined by the rules. Budgets are much easier to manipulate, shifting costs around between departments to hide investment.
A simple example: If Honda fly a new chassis from Japan to Europe for a race, then that cost should come out of the race budget. However, if they put the chassis in with a shipment of other materials being flown to Europe for the marketing department, then have the race truck pick it up there, the cost is very small. The marketing department just has to invent a reason why they should cover the costs (e.g. to show to dealer meeting as a demonstration of Honda's fantastic technology). Actually ensuring the teams and factories don't cheat would be very, very hard if there were a budget cap.
4. Repsol and MotoGP
Repsol has a major say in MotoGP, because they back the most powerful team, and back the most important riders. Repsol put a lot of money into the sport, and they expect to get something back. Sometimes what they want back is political influence, the ability to make decisions about where to race, etc. They do not use that influence very often, and Dorna is still free to ignore what Repsol say, but they are always sympathetic to their concerns.
From Tony Pagliaroli:
1. Is Marquez the best you've ever seen?
2. Why not keep all factory bikes and just pass down last years models to lesser riders? It can't be cost right?
3. What do you want for Christmas?
1. Hard to say. Right now, probably. He has moved the game on in the same way that Rossi did, that Stoner did, that Doohan did, that Lawson, Rainey and Freddie Spencer did. But it's so hard to make valid comparisons. Is Marquez better than the 21-year-old Rossi? We don't know, because he is racing the 35-year-old Rossi...
2. Correct. To an extent, that's what happens, it's certainly what Yamaha does. It is also the aim of Dorna for the period beyond 2016, once we are back on a single set of rules.
I think the biggest problem is the fact that those old bikes need support and spares. If a chassis is cracked, a new chassis has to be built, and that requires support back in the factory. The factories have their engineers working on their current bikes, and can't spare the capacity to also work on the old bikes as well.
3. Some time off, and more money!
Q1 – How did you get into motorcycle journalism? What is your background in bikes? Did you make a leap of faith to start mottomatters? You get the gist! ;-)
Q2 – Can you see Marquez getting bored of winning championships for Honda (let’s say he wins the next 2 seasons) and making a move to another factory ala Rossi post 2003?
1: I got into motorcycle journalism by accident. I started a blog, intending it to be about politics, my life, and more general concerns, didn't write anything for a year, then wrote a preview for the 2006 MotoGP season. 2006 was a good year to be writing about MotoGP, it turned into one of the best seasons ever. The site grew more popular, and just before the financial crisis in 2008, I thought I could make it financially viable. It's much harder than I thought, but I manage.
I have no training in journalism, so I try to be as thorough as possible. This is why I always include links to stories on other sites, if some of my information comes from there, to demonstrate that I am not just making things up. I do have a background as a translator and a technical editor, so I always had the language skills.
And yes, I did take a leap of faith. I'll let you know how it works out!
2. Yes, I can see Marquez getting bored. However, first he has to face the switch to Michelins and the new rules for 2016. That is going to have a much greater impact than many of us suspect, and so he will have a new challenge anyway. I think that Marquez will be more inclined to move once HRC boss Shuhei Nakamoto is forced to either retire, or move to another position inside Honda. That could come quickly.
Marquez seems like a racer who thrives on a challenge, and if winning on a Honda becomes too easy, he will seek his challenge elsewhere. Then again, maybe he will have his hands full trying to beat his brother Alex, and Jack Miller, and Alex Rins, and Fabio Quartararo, and Maverick Viñales, so maybe he won't need to move.
From Suzy Fans:
1. If you are a rider who developing a bike on factory team? which one you would choose?
a. fast, full of your characteristic but not able for everyone (teammate, satellite)
b. average, but able for everyone (teammate, satellite)
and tell me why?
2. Suzuki expectation is high on next season and they are ready to make seamless gearbox, but you know, until this December, Suzuki yet got a title sponsor, is that a big problem for factory team?
and your prediction for this team, can them beat satellite team or they just playing with open class team?
1. That's easy: you always want fast. The faster a bike, the better. Faster will win you races. A slower bike which suits everyone will get you a lot of top 10 places, but a faster bike, more difficult to ride, can win you championships if you can find the right rider.
2. I don't think a lack of title sponsor will be a problem for Suzuki. Suzuki have made a commitment to come back to MotoGP, and it is a long term project. The first year, they will have to race without a sponsor, but if they can show promise, and generate some excitement, and get some good results, it will be easier to find sponsors.
I think Suzuki will be regular top 10 finishers, and maybe top 6 by the end of the year. They have a lot of work to do, though. First they need more horsepower.
From Mathys te Wierik:
When checking out the triple clamps of the MotoGP machines, I saw that the ones of Yamaha and Ducati have slots milled in the top plate. My theory is that this is done with the idea of reducing the lateral stiffness of the chassis. I was wondering what your opinion is regarding this subject?
You are correct, they are used to moderate flex, provide feedback and feel, and reduce chatter. They are often different between riders on the same team: Marquez has a thinner top plate, Pedrosa has a solid top plate.
From Duncan Laidlaw:
My question concerns the damage sustained by a MotoGP bike following a "typical" highside crash and the subsequent damage repair. Is the machine stripped to the frame, checked and rebuilt or is it a case of the bodywork, footrests, etc. (aka crash parts) are replaced and the machine made rideable as quickly as possible?
It depends when the crash happens. The first priority is to put the rider back on and get him back out again. That means a fast and basic check to see that everything is aligned, and then replace everything that is needed for riding. If the bike is visibly more damaged, they will strip the bike down as far as needed, then replace the parts.
Every evening, the bikes are stripped down completely, and fully checked over. So frames will be given a more thorough check during the evening, after practice, to ensure there is no hidden damage.
From Carryl Haynes:
1) Marc said in an interview that tito is doing something special at corner entry. I've noticed him taking the foot opposite to the corner direction off the peg when he tips the bike in? Is that what marc was alluding too? and if so how does it help?
2) Talent wise is Maverick really on par with Marc? Similarly is Alex as talented and skilled as Marc suggests?
3) What is your prediction for next years championships top 3 in each class?
1. I don't know what Marquez was alluding to, but perhaps you are right. In theory, taking your foot off the outside peg would allow you to move your body further off the bike, and to put more pressure on the inside peg. You do lose some stability, though, as you are having to grip the bike with your thigh, not rely on your foot for contact. And you have to find the footpeg again with your foot. I think I need to watch Tito more carefully!
2. Maverick Viñales is exceptionally talented, that's for sure. As good as Marc Marquez? Too early to say. Maybe in talent, but I am not sure about his ability to keep his cool and stay focused. We shall see. About Alex Marquez, who am I to doubt the word of Marc? ;-) Yes, Alex is extremely talented, but I think Alex Rins might be even better. Rins is hampered by not having the support structure and solid management which Marquez does, though.
3. Very hard one. A completely wild, and probably completely wrong guess:
MotoGP: Marquez, Rossi, Lorenzo
Moto2: Rabat, Folger, Zarco
Moto3: Bastianini, Binder, Oliveira
From Mika Kamei:
Q1. If you choose the best 3 of exciting corners to watch the race,
Which corners would you choose?
Q2. Which rider will you recommend your daughter to marry ? (If you have ;) )
Q3. Do you race by your self?
Q1: A really great question. The trouble is, the best corners aren't necessarily the best places to watch the race. The best corners are the really fast corners, where overtaking other riders is really, really hard.
My three favorite corners?
Turn 3 at Phillip Island (Stoner Corner)
The Ramshoek at Assen
Turn 13 at Valencia, but you have to watch from the inside of the track, which is closed to the public.
Or possibly, Casanova Savelli at Mugello.
Best corners to watch the race?
Ramshoek / GT chicane at Assen
Lukey Heights at Phillip Island
Turn 12 at the Sachsenring
Q2: Luckily, I don't have a daughter!
More seriously, riders are very focused, closed, selfish people during their careers. They are only focused on one thing, which is trying to compete and win as much as possible. That doesn't make them great husbands (or wives, with young women coming through to race). It is only after they race they have time to look at the world, and spend time with their families.
Q3: I do not race, and I have never raced. I never had the money. My uncle raced grass track in his youth, and was British champion. That's as close as I ever got.
From Eduard Shannon:
1. How much do Factory MotoGP Bikes cost, not just the lease price often provided for Satellite Teams but the real cost of a bike from factory teams like Repsol Honda and Movistar Yamaha?
2. Two Race Tracks are often praised by MotoGP riders, Mugello and Phillip Island Circuit. Which among the two is really considered as the best if riders are to choose among them?
3. Is the Serpentine Exhaust System of the RC213V really made by Termignoni? Or it is still Akrapovic made with Termignoni Branding for sponsorship purposes?
4. If given the opportunity that Marc Marquez will ride Rossi's '01 NSR500 against Jorge Lorenzo using Biaggi's '01 YZR500, who do you think will prevail in a season using those 2-stroke GP Bikes?
1. How much do Factory MotoGP bikes cost?
It's hard to answer this question. Do you have to include all of the money spent on development? Is it just the parts? The real cost in a factory bike is the knowledge of the people involved in designing and building it. Making that possible is very expensive indeed.
What we can say is that when bikes are auctioned off (e.g. such as what Ducati does), then they sell for around €1 million a piece. But that's just the bike, with a sealed engine, and a contract forbidding you from riding it. When you look at an active factory MotoGP bike, it comes in a package of two bikes, plus lots of spares, lots of staff to support it, and lots of upgrades during the year. Hard to put a price on that.
I think ultimately, you have to look at a Repsol Honda RC213V like you would look at a Picasso. What does it cost? However much it costs to persuade the seller to part with it.
2. Which is best, Mugello and Phillip Island?
It really depends on which rider you ask. I think Phillip Island would just win a vote of all riders.
3. Is the Serpentine Exhaust System of the RC213V really made by Termignoni?
I believe that the exhaust is not made by Termignoni, but they sponsor the team. But I'm not sure.
4. Marquez vs Lorenzo on two-strokes
What a great question! Really hard to say. I think the most interesting part of that equation is that despite nearly 15 years of development, the Honda and Yamaha have retained very similar characteristics. The Honda is still wild, the Yamaha still smooth. I suspect that Marquez would still win, but it would be close.
From Everest Grant:
Let's say all the current premier class riders get an absolutely stock Kawasaki 1000 (I chose this bike because no factory affiliations) straight off the showroom floor and taken to a track NONE of them have ever seen or ridden. No modifications allowed. No team engineers allowed. Put gas in and go. Who wins and why?
Good question. I think the rider who wins is the rider who learns tracks fastest. That favors the young, as they adapt more quickly, and are less set in their ways. So I think Marquez wins, as he has shown that he learns extremely quickly.
My guide here is his race at Le Mans in 2013. He had never ridden a MotoGP bike in the full wet before. He took 6 laps to figure it out, and then still managed to end up on the podium. Laguna Seca, he'd never ridden the track, and still ended up winning. I'd put my money on Marquez.
From Eikka Karjalainen:
Are you a journalist by education or previous experience? Have you worked for newspaper or news channel or what so ever? You seem quite professional!
If you don't mind me asking, how did you choose this career? I mean in very basic level, how did you find your passion to motorcycle racing and have you ever raced yourself and things like that.
For part of the answers to these questions, see my answer to Adam West. I never worked as a journalist previously, but had experience writing as a translator and as a technical editor. I try to be extra professional because I know I am not a professional by training.
How did I choose this career? Again, see some of my answers above, especially to Pete Hitzeman. I love motorcycles, I love racing, and I started writing. I saw an opportunity to try to make a living from it, and I've been doing it ever since then.
So here’s my question. Perhaps less of a question and more of a rally call. Currently, I race and SV650 in America’s CCS series. I’m very pleased to see the formation of MotoAmerica and I was REALLY excited to see the KTM 390 Cup race come into formation. Sadly, you have to be on the young side to participate. How can we get a senior cup 390 series going? I’m a 39-year old. I have a lot of friends that race and most all of us operate under the belief that corner speed is sex, not much more matters. the 390 seems to be a lightweight bike with a true, trellis chassis. We’d love to rip on those in a spec series. Best way forward? Do we need to march?
Best way forward is to organize it yourself, with help from an organization like WERA or CCS, depending on where you live. If you can provide them with a framework straight off the bat, and a set of technical regulations, then I'm sure they can help you organize the practical side of it. First port of call is contact your regional racing body.
1. Who do you think will be the best Satellite rider next year and what can we, the fans. expect from next season??
2. Do you think Scott Redding can get to podium al least once next season or at least top 5 result??
3. What was the best memory you have from MotoGP??
1. Who will be the best satellite rider? I expect a great battle between Cal Crutchlow and Pol Espargaro. Espargaro will have a year of experience under his belt, and has already shown flashes of brilliance. Crutchlow proved in the last races on the Ducati that he still has the hunger, and the willingness to push. He signed for LCR with the intention of aiming for podiums. I think that's going to be a great duel.
What the fans can expect from 2015 is a season of great racing. It's going to be much closer than this year, and the latter part of this year was already great. The Yamahas will be much closer to the Hondas, Ducati will (hopefully) have caught up, Suzuki are on the right path, and there are some great riders on Open class bikes and satellite bikes. It's going to be a good year.
2. He has to aim for the top 5, and he will be disappointed if he doesn't get a podium. I think he has a good chance of at least one podium, but so far, he has found adapting to the Honda RC213V tougher than expected. It's not just an RCV1000R, but then faster.
3. Really good question. My best memories are the 2006 season, which had so many great races. Laguna Seca at 2008, that was such a great race. And on a personal note, my first meeting with Dennis Noyes, who has been a friend and mentor to me since I arrived in MotoGP.
1. How did motomatters even get started? Did you have a journalism degree, or did the idea of starting a world class motorcycle website just pop into your head one day?
2. Do you participate in track days or race motorcycles yourself?
3. Can you name your favorite thing about MotoGP and WSBK and name one thing you absolutely hate about them both?
4. How many millimeters wide are the Bridgestone front and rear tires?
5. Every rider in the MotoGP paddock works very hard and I believe they all want to win. They all have experience so what exactly in your opinion makes Marc Marquez so good? I sincerely do not believe he his training harder than anyone else so what is it?
3. My favorite thing about both MotoGP and WSBK is the people involved, especially the technical staff and the team managers. I learn so much every time I talk to people like Cristian Gabarrini, Tom Jojic, Guy Coulon, Mike Webb, and that is a pleasure.
What I hate about them? The fact that they start so early in the morning. I hate mornings!
4. Bridgestone tire sizes:
Front tyre size: 125/600R16.5
Rear tyre size: 190/650R16.5
5. Very good question. It is part talent, part ambition, part mental strength. He is clearly an exceptional talent, and has exceptional finesse on the bike. You can see it in the way he manhandles the Honda around, he is pushing with his feet to help get the rear to slide, helping to control it. That requires exceptional feel. That, in turn, comes from having exceptionally good motor skills at the most fine grained level. He'd make a great surgeon.
Most of all, though, it is his ability to focus, and to remain calm. He shares this with Valentino Rossi, I believe. If he makes a mistake, he learns from it, but he has forgotten all about the mistake by the time he reaches the next corner. He approaches each corner with optimism, doesn't get dragged into a negative circle, which a lot of riders can do. You watch some riders, and you can see them trying to compensate for one mistake for the next half a lap. That just makes them more likely to make another mistake. They are riding with anger and frustration. Marquez, like Rossi, seems to discard the negative feelings which everyone has when they make a mistake, and approach the next corner as if nothing has ever happened. His ability to ignore stress, to compartmentalize and just focus on what he is doing is his greatest strength.
Aside from now being a job. What is it about motorcycle racing that makes you watch?
See my answer to Pete Hitzeman above for that answer. Above all, motorcycles, and the men and women who ride them. I love motorcycles, and I love watching athletes extract the very last gram of performance from those motorcycles. I enjoy the combat aspect, watching racers use the tools at their disposal to achieve a goal, and attempting to invent different ways of doing so. It is a compelling spectacle.
Question 1: Production Liter Bikes for the street and the track... what direction do you see them going in, design-wise?
Question 2: What do you make of the Honda CBR1000rr-SP, the 1-off prototype rcv213s and the new Yamaha R1-M?
Question 3: What is taking Honda so long to produce the v-4 production street bike? Will Honda replace the CBR inline-4 engines with something else for the 600cc and the 1000cc machines? Are the WSB rules playing a factor or is Honda just being conservative as usual?
Question 4: the non-Japanese (Aprilia/Ducati/BMW/KTM) bike makers seem to be pushing the envelope of the (200hp capped) Horsepower Wars for liter production street bikes, why is it taking a long time for the Japanese bike makers to catch up?
1: Production liter bikes for the street and track
See my answer to Rob for part of that answer. I see factories producing more exclusive, very high cost specialist bikes for the track. Some of these will be road-homologated, others track only. They will be things of beauty, but they will be so-called halo bikes, machines meant to give the manufacturer an aura of exclusivity. For the road, there will be fewer dedicated race replicas, as that segment is declining in sales.
2. See my answer above. Halo bikes, meant to exude luxury and quality, and help sell cheaper bikes. Very crudely put, it's a bit like Ferrari t-shirts: it may only be a t-shirt, but the aura of the brand rubs off on a modest product.
3. Cost. V4s are more expensive to produce, and the returns on a modestly-priced road-going V4 are limited. Honda will not replace the CBR1000RR with a V4, and will continue to race in WSBK with an inline 4.
4. The Japanese manufacturers are more conservative, as a rule. Also, it is slightly easier for European manufacturers to judge the mood of the legislature in Europe, to see how national governments and the EU might react to high horsepower figures, making it slightly easier for them to break through crucial limits. However, given the Kawasaki H2R, I suspect that the Japanese manufacturers are quickly catching up.
One word of caution. Although I keep an eye on trends in road bikes, I am a long way from being a subject matter specialist. Better to follow my friend and collaborator Jensen Beeler over at Asphalt & Rubber. He has his finger on the pulse of the industry far more than I do. I just steal my ideas from him...
From Steve Hutt:
What would be your best all time motogp grid? Anyone from any period and 24 grid slots to fill, kind of like a motogp grid made in heaven! Oh and they would all be riding the same machines of the now era.
Another great question. In no particular order:
Geoff Duke, John Surtees, Jarno Saarinen
Phil Read, Mike Hailwood, Giacomo Agostini
Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey, Kevin Schwantz
Mick Doohan, Kenny Roberts Sr., Freddie Spencer,
Valentino Rossi, Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo,
Marc Marquez, Angel Nieto, Max Biaggi
Daijiro Kato, Jim Redman, Kork Ballington
I'm sure that if you asked me in a month's time, you'd see a few different names in there...
You refer to multiple sources for news, some Italian, German, etc sources…
How many languages do you speak ?
I speak a few. English is my first language, but having spent over thirty years in Holland, I am also fluent in Dutch. I speak passable German, can manage in French, Spanish and Italian. Reading is much easier, and I read Spanish and Italian reasonably well, missing only the subtleties. Reading those languages on subjects other than motorcycle racing is much more difficult, however. I can read a bit of Catalan as well, but not enough. I have a passing interest in various Scandinavian languages, and can read a little bit of Swedish, Norwegian and Danish, but not very much at all.
There are many people in the paddock who put me to shame, however, speaking more languages than me, and fluently.
From Joshua Melanson:
With Honda having moved to a full factory moto3 effort in 2014 and developed a new 81mm bore engine to win the championship with the NSF250RW, have you head if they are going back to the smaller 78mm bore with the new rev limit cap of 13,500rpm for 2015? I am curious if the old NSF250R engine might see a comeback or if there was talk of any teams going back to that engine for 2015.
I don't know about Honda, but KTM will be building a new engine with a narrower bore. It certainly makes sense to do so. We will find out soon enough, however, as the factories have to publish a list of approved parts, which will appear on the FIM website at some point.
From Tom Taggart:
My question: Why aren't there more manufacturers in Moto 3? Aprilia, Ducati, Bmw for example. It would seem to be ideal for a competitive factory and just imagine how exciting it would be!
A good question, and one which is hard to answer. Firstly, the only manufacturers who would be interested are those who build and sell small capacity bikes. That rules out BMW and Ducati, they have nothing to gain by racing in Moto3. Certainly, Aprilia, Suzuki, Yamaha and Kawasaki could benefit from competing.
I suspect that the problem is simply one of cost. Designing and building a Moto3 bike is not cheap, and supporting them would require a serious investment. Possibly, the other factories have seen what has happened to KTM and Honda, both factories spending a lot of money in the class, and decided it's not worth it.
For Aprilia, there is also the question of pride. They are still angry at the scrapping of the 125s and 250s, and so are not particularly inclined to support the classes which replaced them.
Question 1: Rossi v Gibernau Jerez 2005. Who was at fault or racing incident?
Question 2: You previously wrote about Toni Elias being extremely unlucky in his career with rides etc (paraphrasing an old article of yours). Hypothetically, what could he have been capable of? He is brilliant to watch!
Question 3: Marco Melandri's power slide at PI in 2006 - is that one of the greatest race celebrations?
Question 4: Thoughts on flag to flag races - is their a better solution you can think of?
1. Rossi vs Gibernau 2005
Racing incident. There was a gap, Rossi took it, Gibernau tried to close the door, and paid the price. It wasn't a particularly clean pass by Rossi, but it was just within the boundaries of the acceptable.
2. Toni Elias
It's really hard to say. Elias' very peculiar riding style worked for him, but it needed a special kind of tire. His career was doomed once spec tires arrived, I believe. He is having more success in World Superbikes, where the tires are much softer, and provide him with the feedback he needs. I think he will do better as he adapts to the category.
3. Marco Melandri, PI 2006: Totally agree! Just spectacular!
4. Flag-to-Flag races
Honestly, within the constraints of a television slot, flag-to-flag is the least worst solution. If we accept that a MotoGP race must be completed within the one hour designated, to fit TV schedules, then there is no other arrangement which allows the races to continue. There are points for improvement – much stricter policing of the pit lane, for starters, perhaps placing responsibility on team members to ensure a safe ingress and egress from bike swap slots, and punishing dangerous exits very harshly – but as a whole, there isn't a better solution. Flag-to-flag racing is not ideal, but it's not as bad as any of the alternatives.
Of course, if we let go of the TV slot, then there are much better solutions, including restarting races once conditions improve. But without TV, there is a lot less money in the sport, and less money in the sport means less safe racing all round: fewer marshals, fewer medical staff, less medical support, fewer cameras around the track to keep track of crashes, etc.
I'd be fascinated to hear alternative solutions. I don't think that enforcing a set time in the pits, or holding riders at pit exit will improve matters, as you will still have a lot of riders in the pits at the same time, which is the main source of danger. Very severe penalties for dangerous behavior in pit lane – either exclusion, or a big time penalty, 30 seconds or more – is the only improvement I can think of, and that is already allowed inside the rules.