Yamaha

News Round Up: Miller Stays With Ducati, Silly Season Update, And Fans Back At Races Again

Five races into the 2021 MotoGP season, and with the Covid-19 pandemic abating in some places while flaring up in others, there are the first signs of movement in motorcycle racing. Teams, factories, and riders are starting to open (and in some cases, complete) negotiations for this year and beyond, and races are slowly starting to open up to fans.

Although for a variety of reasons, the moves have not been covered in separate stories, here is a quick round up of the latest news and speculation from around the paddock.

Jack Miller stays on with Ducati

As with so many other areas of life, the secret to signing MotoGP contracts lies in the timing. As a rider, you want to put pen to paper at the exact point your market value is at its highest. Coming off back-to-back race victories at Jerez and Le Mans, in the dry and in the flag-to-flag French Grand Prix, Jack Miller has timed his contract extension to perfection. Today, Ducati announced they had signed Miller up for the 2022 MotoGP season, to race in the factory Ducati Lenovo Team.

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Steve English Superbike Snippets - Round 1, Aragon: Kawasaki's Lost Revs, Intermediates vs Slicks, Toprak's Work Ethic, And BMW Rising

The opening round of the 2021 Superbike World Championship is in the books and after three intriguing races there’s a lot to dissect ahead of this weekend’s round at Estoril.

New Kawasaki

The “new” Kawasaki ZX10-RR certainly looks different. With aerodynamic upgrades it has a very different profile, but this is very much a facelift rather than a new model. Engine upgrades were quite limited but with some new parts they had found a not insignificant 500rpm. During the winter Jonathan Rea and Alex Lowes both commented that the bike was now much better as they wound on the power.

With a much fuller power curve the big advantage is found mid-range rather than in outright power. The Kawasaki doesn’t make its power at maximum revs. “We’ve been filling in the gaps of the power curve” was how Rea explained the improvements. That didn’t mean the team weren’t frustrated to lose the extra revs though.

Clearly annoyed at finding improvements and not being able to use them will always leave a team feeling exposed but in Aragon they found a way to make it work. The Kawasaki came away with podiums in all three races and leading the standings. It was a fantastic weekend for Team Green and gives them a lot to build on.

Rea’s performances will never surprise. Winning his 100th WorldSBK race on Saturday got a monkey off his back but as he was always going to win races this year, it was a question of when, not if.

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Jonas Folger Interview: The Comeback Kid

Every racing fan remembers the great battle in Sachsenring between local rider Jonas Folger and champion Marc Márquez. Folger, then racing for Yamaha in the Tech3 satellite team, gave the Honda rider a great fight, but had to settle for second place and the sympathy of the home crowd at the end of the thrilling race.

It seemed like the start of a promising racing career for the rookie, but five rounds later Folger announced he was suffering from a health problem that did not allow him to continue competing, and retired from the rest of the season. Although he had already signed on for another season with the French team, before the start of testing for the 2018 season, Folger announced that he would not compete again.

It was not clear what happened there, and rumors flooded the paddock that Folger had abandoned the sport because he could not handle the pressure. Folger had not reached the top category with a long list of titles, but Hervé Poncharal saw something in him, and as great as the expectations were, so was the disappointment.

Folger disappeared. He took time at home with his partner and daughter who was born when he was not yet 20. A year after retirement Yamaha put the German back in the headlines when they signed him to be their test rider for the 2019 season.

Slow return

Slowly, Folger started frequenting racetracks again. He arrived as a replacement for several rounds. In 2020 he competed in a full season for the first time since his break, racing in the IDM, the German Superbike Championship on the Yamaha YZF-R1.

For the 2021 season, the 27-year-old rider will return for the first time to compete at the world championship level, this time in WorldSBK on the M 1000 RR, BMW's new and improved Superbike weapon.

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Gordon Ritchie WorldSBK Blog: And They’re Off…

Well, nearly. WorldSBK will start for real in 2021 not only with summer upon us as we kick off at Motorland in Spain, but so late in May there will be a 20-something in the dates of the races.

Covid is to blame, of course, but after MotoGP has ravaged a full five weekends of its schedule, WorldSBK is just about getting ready for round one to start. Normally it is the other way about.

WorldSBK seasons have started at the glorious Phillip Island circuit in Australia for years now. And at the end of February, ferrgoonessakes, which really means the middle of February because the official tests take place a few days before the opening round.

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2021 WorldSBK Season Preview - A New Era Beckons

There are few things better than the off-season for teams and riders in any championship. The winter is spent fine tuning. The big questions get answered and teams are filled with optimism. During testing teams run through their programmes without pressure. There are eight hours of running each day. There is always tomorrow.

But now, tomorrow has arrived. The new WorldSBK season kicks off in Aragon this week, and suddenly the pressure cooker environment of a race weekend is back. A qualifying tyre at the end of a test day papers over the cracks and shows a competitive time, but with everyone working to different programmes a clear picture never fully emerges.

That changes on the opening day of the season when suddenly the evidence is available on the timing screens. Are you fast enough? Can you make the tyre last? Is this the year that it all falls into place? Is this the year that it all falls apart? The winter war is over but now the ground battles are gearing up. The timing screens hold the truth and they don’t lie.

Potential

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Le Mans MotoGP Subscriber Notes: How To Win A Flag-To-Flag Race

It was inevitable really. The weather over the first two days of the Le Mans Grand Prix had been chaotic, so why would Sunday be any different? The skies were predictably unpredictable, the weather managing to provide different conditions for all three Grand Prix classes, in itself quite an achievement. We kicked the day off with a wet Moto3 race, the rain stopping early on to allow the Moto2 race to be dry. And to round things off, MotoGP started dry, then the drops of rain that started falling on lap 3 turned into a downpour on lap 4, triggering the first flag-to-flag race in MotoGP since Brno in 2017.

Chaos was unleashed, and a new Prince of Chaos crowned, the former prince brutally dethroned, betrayed by the conditions, and by the lack of strength in his right arm. Such is chaos, and such is the way of a flag-to-flag race. It was fascinating and terrifying to watch, and like all flag-to-flag races, immediately raised a host of questions over rules and safety. And reminded us once again that leads are meaningless early in the race. It's about the full 27 laps.

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Le Mans MotoGP Friday Round Up: Why Le Mans Is Such A Crashfest, Rossi's New Speed, And Alberto's Return

It was an expensive first day at Le Mans. Bikes in the three Grand Prix classes hit the deck (and the gravel trap) 44 times on Friday, a colossal number, even for Le Mans. To put that into perspective: at the first race in Qatar, there were 37 crashes over all three days of the first Grand Prix, and 27 over three days of the Doha round at Qatar. In fact, six of the nineteen rounds held in 2019 had fewer crashes over all three days than Le Mans did on Friday, and another five rounds only had a handful more.

Some 19 of those 44 crashes happened at Turn 3, the first left hander of the Dunlop Chicane. Given how quickly the costs of a crash can mount up – even a slow crash can cost north of €20,000 to replace carbon fiber fairings, footpegs, and levers. And if fuel tanks, exhausts, wheels, brake discs or (heaven forfend) frames and swingarms have to be replaced, costs can rapidly approach six figures.

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Valentino Rossi After Jerez - Is The End Really Nigh?

There comes a time in every racer's career that they have to ask themselves if it is time to stop. It is a question they invariably spend a long time giving the wrong answer to; the life of an elite athlete means they always travel more in hope than in expectation. But sometimes that hope is justified: they find the speed they were missing. The setback was not their fault, but down to circumstances. But proving the reverse, that circumstances won't ride in on a white horse to save them, takes a very long time to accept.

Last July, Valentino Rossi found himself on the podium at Jerez, after a strong race and a solid weekend. The Italian was never outside the top three after the first lap of the race, and was only outside the top eight in practice twice, in FP4 and the warmup on Sunday morning.

Catching Covid-19, which forced him to miss the two races in Aragon, as well as Friday at the first race in Valencia, stopped his 2020 season in its tracks. The then factory Yamaha rider only finished inside the top ten once in any session of practice or the race throughout the remainder of 2020, an eighth place in FP3, his first session since returning.

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Cormac's Tech Shots From Jerez: Holeshot Devices Close Up And In The Flesh For Subscribers


The Ducati left handlebar up close: On the top yoke, the front and rear holeshot device switches, on the handlebar, the red, yellow, and green buttons for the electronics, and a lockout lever for the 'shapeshifter' or ride height lowering device

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Jerez MotoGP Test Subscriber Notes: A Rundown Of Who Was Testing What, And Why

For some, the Monday after the Jerez race was a busy day, as they worked their way through a full program of parts and settings to prepare for Le Mans and beyond (and in Suzuki's case, for 2022). For others, they had a relatively easy day, especially the two factory Ducati riders – to the victors go the spoils. And for the unlucky ones of the weekend, they either barely turned a wheel, or not at all, as they headed off for medical checkups.

Fabio Quartararo took no part in the test at all. The Monster Energy Yamaha rider headed back to France to get medical advice on the best options for treatment on the arm pump issue which cost him the race on Sunday. With his home race up next, his priorities were clear.

Aleix Espargaro, who had also suffered with arm pump on Sunday, did ride a little, but he only put in 12 laps before heading back to Barcelona and seeking medical advice. Marc Márquez did a quick run out on Honda's new aero package – one of them, at least – before calling it a day after just 7 laps. The Repsol Honda rider had neck pain from his huge crash on Saturday, as well as stiffness in his shoulder, and elected to focus on his recovery instead.

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