Mugello, Italy

MotoGP Expands to 21 Rounds, Adds India And Kazakhstan, Drops Aragon

As predicted earlier this month, the MotoGP calendar is to expand even further for 2023. Next year, there are to be 21 races in total, with two new circuits being added to the calendar.

The news that Sokol in Kazakhstan is being added had been expected, given the announcement on Tuesday. The surprise is that India is to have a MotoGP round next year, with the expectation in the paddock that it would not happen until 2024. But MotoGP is to race at the Buddh International circuit at the end of September in 2023. There had been concerns over customs and tax issues importing equipment and bikes into India, but paddock sources indicate these issues have been settled.

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Silverstone MotoGP Notes: Aerodynamics, Enea Bastianini, And Why Losing A Wing Doesn't Always End In Disaster

It is no secret that aerodynamics is a big deal in MotoGP. The winglets, aerodynamics packages, and various scoops, spoons, and other attachments aimed at modifying the behavior of the modern generation of MotoGP bikes have become increasingly important.

Aero has now reached the point where it is such a major part of bike setup that it is getting hard to change without needing a lot of work to balance out the rest of the behavior of the bike. As Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rider Brad Binder explained when asked about the two different versions of KTM's aero package he has available. "I think the most important thing is to really choose one and really stick with it. Because when you do play with the aero, it has such a massive impact that your whole setup really has to change completely. So it's not so simple to say, OK, one race we'll use them and one race we won't."

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Lin Jarvis Interview, Part 1: "People Have No Idea The Factories Talk To Each Other All The Time"

Timing press releases is always something of an art. You want to maximize the publicity value, while paying due care to the feelings and pride of all those involved. So they are usually only released after long discussions and with approval by management.

Which is what made the announcement by RNF that they would be switching from Yamaha to Aprilia quite so painful. Though the news was hardly a shock, the way it was made public was extremely surprising, with a press release rushed out on Friday morning, just before FP1.

The timing was even more awkward because the release went out at the same time that RNF team owner Razlan Razali was in a meeting with Yamaha Motor Racing managing director Lin Jarvis, where Razali was about to officially inform Jarvis of RNF's intention to switch to Aprilia from 2023 onward. Normally, the timing of a press release would be one of the subjects on the table at such a meeting.

In Barcelona, I sat down with Lin Jarvis to discuss the announcement, and what it means for Yamaha's future plans for a satellite team. We ended up covering quite a lot of ground beyond my original questions about RNF, so this has been split into two parts. In the first half of the interview, we discussed the situation surrounding Yamaha's current and future plans for a satellite team.

Q: Obviously, the news came at Mugello that RNF were going to Aprilia. I understand that you were in a meeting with RNF at the time. They were telling you about it when it was made public. I think that was Aleix Espargaro’s fault for being eager to tweet the news. Were you expecting this?

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A Fourth Operation: Why Marc Marquez Had No Choice But To Get More Surgery On His Right Arm

Today, Thursday, is the day that Marc Marquez hopes the long nightmare of the last two years will start to end. The six-time MotoGP champion is to have an operation to straighten the humerus in his right arm. To straighten it, because the bone grew back twisted after three previous operations to fix the bone he broke in a massive crash at the first race in Jerez in 2020.

Most MotoGP fans know the story pretty much by heart now, but to recap. Marquez ran wide at Turn 5 during the first race of the pandemic-stricken series of 2020, at Jerez in July. He staged an incredible comeback, making from almost dead last all the way back up to third, and challenging for second, before his bike spat him off at Turn 3, then hit him as he tumbled through the gravel, breaking his right arm.

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Massimo Rivola On RNF: Aprilia Plans A Long-Term Partnership With A Junior Team

While rumors that the WithU RNF Yamaha MotoGP team were considering a switch to Aprilia had been circulating for a while, nobody had expected the news to come out in the manner it did. Aprilia Racing rider Aleix Espargaro tweeted a welcome to RNF before FP1 started, and before Aprilia and RNF had intended to announce the news. Though Espargaro's tweet was deleted shortly afterward, it was too late. RNF and Aprilia rushed out press releases announcing the deal.

On Friday evening, MotoMatters.com contributor Niki Kovács and myself, David Emmett, sat down with Aprilia boss Massimo Rivola to find out more about the deal. What goals Aprilia had in signing RNF, how the link up will work, what bikes RNF will have available, and what the rider strategy will be for RNF.

The deal is what both parties have been looking for these past couple of years. RNF has wanted a closer relationship to the factory supplying bikes, while Aprilia has been in search of a satellite squad for the past couple of seasons. Both sides want to create a "Junior Team", in the mold of Pramac Ducati or Tech3 KTM.

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Mugello MotoGP Subscriber Notes: The Cream Of MotoGP, Why The Ducati Is Best, Mugello Makes Passing Possible, And The New Marc Marquez

Mugello is a real motorcycle racing track. And on Sunday, it served up a real motorcycle race. After close games of follow-my-leader at Jerez and Le Mans, we had battles, we had passing, we had riders attacking and counterattacking, lining people up to dive underneath, or sweeping out of the slipstream to dive under the rider ahead at Turn 1.

Does this mean MotoGP's overtaking problem has been fixed? Only if we hold an entire season's worth of racing at Mugello and Phillip Island (which doesn't sound like such a terrible idea, to be honest). But it offers hope that when conditions are right, we can see the kind of spectacle which we have come to expect from MotoGP.

Even the atmosphere was good. Sure, the crowd was much thinner on the ground than in previous years – roughly half of what you might expect, making the drive into the track smooth and easy – but they brought the smoke bombs, the passion, the cheering, helped in no small part by the fact that there was an all-Italian front row, and an Italian rider won the Italian Grand Prix on an Italian bike.

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