2017 Racing News Round Up: Moto2, Hungaroring, Circuit of Wales, Galbusera Interview

The first week of 2017 has come and gone, and we are a week closer to the MotoGP bikes hitting the track again at Sepang for the first test of the year. Though little of consequence is happening publicly in the midst of the winter break, there are the first few signs of activity. So below is a round up of the news from last week: most of the things that matter, all in one place.

Triumph to Moto2

Though this has been covered in depth elsewhere, it is worth pointing out the biggest news of recent weeks. Rumors which emerged at Silverstone, that Triumph would be taking over as official supplier of Moto2 engines, gained further momentum this week, with confirmation that the British manufacturer is to supply a new 765cc triple engine for use in Moto2. Testing is due to start in 2018, with the new engine to replace the current Honda CBR600RR unit from the start of the 2019 season.

Track talk

The Hungaroring is the latest in a long list of tracks hoping to host a MotoGP race in the near future. The circuit is currently undergoing major upgrades to the pit complex, grandstand and track, with additional run off being created in some corners. Speaking to the Hungarian TV channel M1, the circuit CEO explained that the changes to the track were to be made in consultation with the FIM, to ensure that it complied with FIM standards for MotoGP. More on the upgrades to the Hungaroring on the Autosport website.

This is not the first time Hungary has aimed to host a MotoGP race. Work had started on the Balatonring in 2008, with the track due to host a round of MotoGP in 2009. The global financial crisis put an end to that plan, the Spanish construction firm building the track running into financial difficulty, and the Forint, the currency of Hungary, collapsing in value. The Motorland Aragon circuit initially took over as a temporary replacement for the Balatonring, but soon earned a permanent place on the MotoGP calendar. The Balatonring is now largely abandoned, as you can see from the Google Maps satellite image.

The Hungaroring previously hosted Grand Prix in 1990 and 1992. Mick Doohan won on a Honda in 1990, and Eddie Lawson won on a Cagiva in 1992.

Whether the Hungaroring will actually get a spot on the calendar remains to be seen. The tracks currently on the calendar nearly all have multi-year contracts to stage MotoGP rounds. In addition, there are at least five or six other circuits lining up to take a spot on the calendar. Dorna has reached agreement to stage a MotoGP round in Finland from 2018 at the Kymiring, some 110 kilometers from the Finnish capital Helsinki.

A new track is being built at Tailem Bend in Australia, which also hopes to secure MotoGP. Work continues on an Indonesian round of MotoGP, though it is still uncertain whether this will take place at an upgraded Sentul or a new circuit to be built at Palembang in South Sumatra. The Chang International Circuit in Thailand is also angling for a MotoGP round, and is hosting WorldSBK while it waits. Kazakhstan has a circuit ready and hopes to play home to MotoGP. And expansion in South America also remains a possibility, with a new circuit in Chile, talk of another track in Argentina, and continual rumors of a return to Brazil. Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta has said that he believes that MotoGP could hold a maximum of 20 rounds each year, but there is a lot of opposition from riders to this, who do not want the series expanded beyond 18 races.

New partnerships, new surfaces

There was good news for the Circuit of Wales. The new circuit to be built near Ebbw Vale in South Wales announced a partnership with the leisure firm EXTREME. The British firm is planning to build an adventure sports park beside the circuit, housing a range of outdoor activities. The park would mountain park trails, a zip wire trail, paintball, a water park, and much more. There would also be restaurants and a hotel.

The circuit is still trying to reach a deal with the Welsh Government over underwriting the project. However, building an adventure park, which would attract visitors all year round, would be a significant contributor to the number of jobs in and around the Circuit of Wales.

Over in France, the Le Mans circuit was resurfaced before the winter break. There had been a lot of complaints about the old surface at the circuit, the track having lost most of its grip, and having a lot of ripples in several places, caused by the cars which also use the circuit. The new surface was laid in a three-week period, the process being completed last December. The new surface now has just three joints in the asphalt, whereas previously they littered the track.

Galbusera speaks to the Gazzetta

While everyone has been patiently waiting for the first interview with Jorge Lorenzo for the Spaniard to reveal all about his time at Yamaha, Ducati's new signing has been very quiet in the media. A sign, perhaps, that Lorenzo's departure from Yamaha was much more amicable than some had hoped.

If Lorenzo has not been interviewed – other than a few casual remarks to British publication Motorcycle News – others have spoken about him. Valentino Rossi's crew chief Silvano Galbusera was interviewed by the Italian sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport, the highlights of which were published by the Corse di Moto website. Galbusera covered several subjects, stating that he expected the atmosphere within Yamaha to be a little more relaxed now that Maverick Viñales had taken the place of Jorge Lorenzo. Galbusera told the Gazzetta that was not sure how strong the Ducati would be with Lorenzo aboard. "There will be races he will do very well and can win. But fighting for the title will be difficult." Galbusera believes that Marc Márquez will once again by the most dangerous of Valentino Rossi's rivals for the title.

Ten Kate take delivery of new blades

Finally, news of what racing teams really do over the winter. At the start of the new year, the Ten Kate team took delivery of their first shipment of 2017 Honda CBR1000RR Fireblades. The new bike is more powerful than the machine it replaces, as well as being lighter, and uses revised engine internals aimed at making it more competitive. Ten Kate are now hard at work turning the road bikes that rolled into their workshops into WorldSBK spec machines ready for Nicky Hayden and Stefan Bradl for the 2017 season.

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Also late add that Capirossi has been appointed permanently to race direction as a "rep of Dorna." He's a good guy and as reasonable as any. I would appreciate having him there if I was Webb. Without rehashing dreary specifics, I can see Loris bringing respectful stability and forward movement there esp for the racers that need to feel that there is an ally there. Good hearted man that #65.

An uncomfortably big number of tracks arising with interest in hosting is a great problem to have eh? The economic revival is heartening. In the rising markets is good - but w great tracks would be even better. I was SO excited for COTA (#34 partnering in design?! Elevation change?) only to find that it was a relative disappointment . The Tilke tracks don't stir the racing heart near enough.

Shouldn't we be getting better at making remarkable tracks, even with safety considerations? We have a handful of them on the calendar thankfully. There are some fantastic lesser known tracks one can go enjoy for a track day.

See potentials?
Keep us posted on the possible gems please!

If #65 keeps going at it for the next 20 years, he might reverse the karma for the most reprehensible 250 WC win of all time (don't think he is there yet, unfortunately)

I thought that might come up. Good thoughts.
Lion of a competitor. There was something of that 250GP season to atone, I will give that another consideration. Thanks. I am related to the Harada's by marraige so maybe I should take heed.

I got to share some time with Loris in his garage, and just really liked him as a human being. I licked the tank of his bike, he thought that was funny, and I got to eat with the team. My opinion is that whenever there has been an issue in the 500/MotoGP paddock that he came down on the correct side if it, spoke straightforwardly, and with lots of caring that clarified issues and garnered respect. Super nice guy. Even his tone and consideration in his voice after "that race" with Harada has something I can connect with, he seems "real" about it.

At 3 mins some lanky Italian kid makes a pass. At 3:45 Capirossi grabs an aggressive and then some last lap inside line pass driving at the apex and collides with Harada, sending him into the gravel. At 5:30 Loris has a straightforward response after getting off the bike. Wish I understood Japanese to hear more. The tone itself says much. #65 took him out, yes. I still say good guy, and good heart.

Cheers friends


I separate the 'heat of the moment' action, of taking out Harada, from what happened afterwards. It's the kind of thing that a lot of riders have done, can do, and I think can be ultimately forgiven. 

Race direction should absolutely have disqualified Capirex - Think this angered a lot of the fans, who saw it as unjust, although this is not fault of #65 himself. 

What I found even worse was that (and this is a story I read at the time, although haven't confirmed) was that after Aprillia had fired Capirossi and kept Harada in the team, Capirossi then filed lawsuit against Aprillia for wrongful dismissal after it was deemed his move was not 'illegal'. If true that was just such a shit thing to do - and hence my '20 years' comment.

Everyone said the same thing about Rossi coming back to Yamaha.  The ocaisional winner, no real shot at the title.

The probability of Ducati winning Qatar, Austin, Argentina, Austria are very high.  The probability of Lorenzo winning at Mugello, Czech Republic, Misano, Valencia are also all very high.  That is 8 race wins.  That is a title shot.

I agree with all you said there Casey's Cropduster, and it is exciting to consider.

I also see the probability of very inconsistent finishes in the #99 - Duc - Michelin marraige being high. The bike itself already has that inclination. Then same for Lorenzo on these tires in varied conditions/track surface adhesion. I would multiply those factors, not add them.

As an old guy (46 yrs) my appreciation for Rossi's return to Yamaha and another adaptation is huge. But there were fewer puzzle pieces.

I will enjoy being wrong. I am anticipating Marquez and Honda leaving a gap to 2nd and that isn't what I enjoy. Yamaha may surprise with their 2017 electronics - tire - more power grabbing tarmac combo. Rossi and Vinales can do the business. Same can be said for the Gigi era Duc garage and Lorenzo.

If you are wrong I will enjoy seeing the battles amongst 3rd-5th with a LOT of interest. Hope you are right!

Are you backing down on JL? Where is all the confidence you had in him a couple of weeks ago? Forget not we have a bet on..... do we still? Or it's off?
On a side note : I have now solid proof that you are a secret Rossi fan.... i'll never believe it's a coincidence that you are 46! :D

No changes. I was stunned by JL99's first Duc outing and tip him for a Qatar win. You wanted a bet for Italy and I assume we are still on for a bottle of Amerone for you if he does not podium, me if he does. He can challenge for the title, still front 4. Same story here.

Only time I ate crow was the potential of last year's Yamaha with more fuel and Espargaro first CRT season. Biased in opposition to Honda's fuel anemic and engine restricted rulebook, assumed the bike would have all the benefits of the previous season's bike, plus a bunch of fuel, and a potentially Aliening AE41.
Said it was a podium contender, David/Goliath.
Planning my dinner menu around that wine already...steak, not crow.