2014 Moto2 And Moto3 Valencia Test, Day 3 Notes: High Winds, Of Fast Rookies, And Unpaid Bills

Rising temperatures may have dispelled the arctic chill that held sway at Valencia for the beginning of the Moto2 and Moto3 test, conditions were still far from ideal on the final day. High winds set in, causing problems for riders in both classes, though especially for the bantamweight Moto3 class, and causing a spate of crashes. Niccolo Antonelli, fastest man over all three days, was one of many to go down, the list also including Dutchman Scott Deroue, Danny Kent and Enea Bastianini. Unlike previous days, nobody was injured, and all continued to ride, though Bastianini complained of headaches and Deroue suffered back pain. They weren't the only people riding with injury: Gino Rea soldiered bravely on despite having broken a foot on Wednesday, relieving the pain by sticking his ankle in a bucket of ice water between stints.

The winds meant that very few riders improved their times in the Moto3 class, Niccolo Antonelli remaining the fastest over all three days, though Jack Miller took the honors for the fastest man on the last day. Antonelli has been impressive throughout all three days of testing, having adapted to the KTM very quickly. Miller, likewise, was still getting used to the KTM, enjoying the added power, while adjusting to the handling of the Austrian Moto3 bike, which does not corner as well as his old FTR Honda. The excess power more than compensated, but Miller spent the day working through various linkages and set up options in an attempt to get the bike to turn a little bit better.

The Hondas, on the other hand, have the opposite problem. Despite the engine being radically revised since 2013, the Honda NSF250RW is still lacking top end compared to the KTMs, Alex Rins said. The Estrella Galicia team had made big strides forward with the Honda, Rins improving his time by over a second and a half from Tuesday to Thursday, but there is still a lot of work left to do. Rins gave up over three quarters of a second to Antonelli, a gap too large to close on handling alone. HRC will have to find yet more power before the season begins, or team boss Emilio Alzamora's gamble will have backfired.

In the Moto2 class, Maverick Viñales' astonishing debut continues. The step from the lightweight Moto3 bikes to the porky 600cc Moto2 bikes is reckoned by riders and insiders alike to be a large one, meaning newcomers to the class need a lengthy period of adapation. Nobody appears to have told the reigning Moto3 champion, however, Viñales topping the timesheets on the final day of the test, and ending 2nd overall, 0.147 behind Tito Rabat. With teammate Luis Salom in 10th, the Moto2 class has gained a couple of very promising talents from Moto3.

The measure of Viñales' progress is clear from the position of Sandro Cortese. The 2012 Moto3 champion took all of his first year in the Moto2 class to adapt, but starts his second season much closer to the front. The German ended the test as 5th fastest, behind Rabat, Viñales, Takaaki Nakagami (now switched to the Japanese Idemitsu team) and Thomas Luthi. With Jordi Torres, Mika Kallio and Nico Terol, there is a nice mixture of nationalities at the top of Moto2.

Viñales isn't the only champion to switch to Moto2. World Supersport champion Sam Lowes has joined Speed Up, and reigning AMA Superbike champion Josh Herrin has moved to the Caterham Moto2 team, and both continue their learning process in the middleweight class. After a strong start at the end of last year, Lowes' progress has slowed somewhat, though he remains well in touch with the leaders, ending under a second behind Rabat. Herrin has struggled in this first official test, though most of his problems have come through illness rather than anything else. Herrin showed good progress, cutting his deficit to the leaders by nearly two seconds. Yet Moto2 is proving to be a tricky class for both Lowes and Herrin, with tires and electronics a very different kettle of fish from the situation in World Supersport and the AMA.

While the on track action held much of interest, there was plenty of intrigue going on behind the scenes as well. That centered around the NGM Forward team, and their absence from the test. It emerged that the reason for their absence was a lack of bikes to ride, after FTR had refused to supply them with Moto2 machinery. German language website Speedweek broke the story, reporting from FTR sources that Forward had failed to pay their bills, and that as a result, FTR was keeping the Moto2 machines in their factory in Buckingham. The story prompted a denial from the Forward team, issued to the Italian website GPOne.com, saying that they had decided to follow the example of their MotoGP team, and produce their own project, based around a Kalex chassis to be purchased from the Avintia team. Kalex was reportedly furious, refusing to offer technical support to the Forward team, as they had already agreed with their existing teams not to support any more teams in Moto2 this year.

Where does the truth lie? What is certain is that Forward had agreed a deal with FTR to race the British firm's chassis in both MotoGP and Moto2. The switch to Kalex - which Forward is branding 'KLX' as it is unsupported by the German engineering firm - comes out of the blue, as the team was expected to be testing at Valencia this week. Their absence is strange and unexpected, and suggests there is more to the situation than just a last-minute change of heart over which chassis to use. Speedweek isn't the only source to claim that Forward have not paid their bills, with secondary sources confirming the situation to MotoMatters.com. Forward's MotoGP project is as yet unaffected, but MotoMatters.com understands that delivery of the FTR chassis to be used by Aleix Espargaro and Colin Edwards could be delayed if Forward do not pay their bills on time.

Whatever the truth of the situation - and Speedweek reports that Forward has only recently reached a settlement with Suter for the chassis used in 2012 - the issue exposes a depressingly familiar situation in the Grand Prix paddock. It is worryingly common for teams not to pay suppliers, or even sometimes team staff. Appeals to Dorna or IRTA tend to fall on deaf ears, leaving legal action as the only recourse. What is even more depressing is that this situation is accepted as perfectly normal inside the paddock, and far from turning the culprits into pariahs, and leaving them untouchable inside the paddock, other teams and suppliers continue to do business with them. Racing remains a difficult and risky business, but that is no excuse why a person's word should not be his bond. When contracts are not worth the paper they are written on, it casts a shadow over the entire endeavor of Grand Prix racing.

This is the dark side of motorcycle racing that nobody likes to talk about. Behind the surface glamour lurks a shady world of seedy deals, broken promises and unpaid bills. It is the ugly side of racing, and one which Dorna would do well to try to clean up as soon as possible.

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From the article:

" Racing remains a difficult and risky business, but that is no excuse why a person's word should not be his bond. When contracts are not worth the paper they are written on, it casts a shadow over the entire endeavor of Grand Prix racing.

This is the dark side of motorcycle racing that nobody likes to talk about. Behind the surface glamour lurks a shady world of seedy deals, broken promises and unpaid bills. It is the ugly side of racing, and one which Dorna would do well to try to clean up as soon as possible."

It may be ugly in some ways, but in others it's a very good sign.
Racing is difficult, dangerous and expensive, and doesn't have much of a logical basis. It's a land of hopes and dreams, of people pushing against the odds, people with passion and enthusiasm that can barely be contained, willing to take huge risks for rewards most people wouldn't begin to understand.
In that landscape there will always be be men grasping at the last straw to stay in the game, to put together deals where everything has to come right for it to work, trying to eke out whatever advantage they can.
If that ever ends, if the accountants have enough say that the finances are all in order at all time...well, I think at that point we'll have lost far more than we gained.

Yes, racing is about irrational dreams... which makes the minor players who dream all the more vulnerable to the sharks. Minor players includes particularly the riders, but also small businesses who supply goods to the teams. Allowing riders to be ripped off, losing all the savings of their parents, or allowing suppliers to be driven to bankruptcy is not a good sign, it's the law of the jungle. Seeing it as romantic as supposing that piracy resembles a Johny Depp movie.

Even leaving aside the moral issue, it makes it a little harder to attract serious sponsors when they see the paddock as a corruption zone: it's the same reason getting investment into corrupt 3rd world countries is a challenge... and often the ones who are willing to take the risk are themselves dodgy and expect unreasonable returns.

Yes, racing is difficult. But as Graham says, when a team doesn't pay a mechanic, that mechanic's dream dies. Maybe his or her family breaks up. They may lose their income, their house.

When a team doesn't pay a supplier, that supplier may be forced into bankruptcy, or forced into another direction. They may find they can't afford to make parts for racing motorcycles, and go into fabricated parts for industrial machines instead. Their dream dies.

What is most unpleasant of all is that when teams don't pay their suppliers, they do manage to pay the team manager, usually very well indeed. One MotoGP team manager is alleged to pay their own salary first each year, a seven figure sum. The team's suppliers have to wait a lot longer for payment, though they do eventually get paid. This is common. I have no problem with people chasing their dreams - it's basically my own story, in setting up and running this website - but growing rich off the misery of others is not the same as chasing a dream.

It's interesing, in and of itself, that the paddock turns a blind eye to broken
contracts. But a more interesting question to answer is why. Who benefits from
such an arrangement?

Obviously the teams not paying their bills are direct beneficiaries, but what do
DORNA and IRTA get out of the situation?

If DORNA and IRTA don't benefit, perhaps the Forward team has lots of political clout.
Hmm, wait a minute. In 2009 Forward was Hayate. They did Moto GP a favour by
keeping a Kawasaki presence on the grid. Then in 2012 and 2013 they where a CRT,
helping Carmelo's pet project. Hmm...

can't wait for the season to start! moto2 is also filled with big talents.

1) How is Forward racing following their motoGP project and producing their own project? I understood they are using Yamaha frames?

Also, witholding the FTR frame from the MotoGP team seems fruitless. I would've thought that would suit Forward- perhaps this way they can keep the Yamaha kit, after all noone will want them to disappear from the grid (apart from Honda, of course).

2) If Avintia are selling their Kalex moto2 frames to Forward, what are they intending to use?

3) Regarding the electronics in moto2 being substantialky different for Lowes and Herrin: in what ways? A lack of them or something else?

1) The assumption is that Yamaha merely lent them a couple of frames, which they actually tested on at Sepang, and that FTR can study to produce their own version. Forward will need more frames to last the season and Yamaha will probably not give them anymore spare parts.

2) I guess Moto2 teams buy their bikes and at the end of the season can either keep them, give them back to the frame builder and get a discount on the new bike or sell them to other teams (Grand Prix, CEV...).

3) For Lowes Moto2 is definitely a step back electronics wise, they are very developed in WSS, not so much in Moto2. Don't really know compared to AMA, I would imagine that electronics are less developed than in WSS but more than in Moto2?

Avintia aren't running a Moto2 team this year. A couple of years ago they had two bikes in each class (and a monstrous hospitality thing), now just the two MotoGP machines.

Not sure if it has any bearing on the Forward situation but Gino Rea was originally supposed to be on an FTR this year and is now aboard a Suter, meaning there are no FTRs in Moto2 at present.

... that Honda seem to have assumed that KTM would take the winter off.

What's the situation with the Honda Moto3 teams and the new bike?

Are the Estrella Galicia team using a full Honda package and Ongetta and Team Germany on FTR-Hondas?