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KTM Moves Mike Leitner Out Of Team Management Role, Brings Francesco Guidotti In

Mike Leitner, the man who was brought in to lead KTM's MotoGP project from the very beginning, is to be moved aside by the Austrian factory. Today, KTM officially announced that the engineer and former HRC crew chief - he was crew chief to Dani Pedrosa for most of the Spaniard's career - is to be moved into a consultancy role.

Although the press release does not give an explict reason for the change, beyond a desire to "restructure the KTM Factory Racing hierarchy", the move reflects a feeling that KTM's progress toward its objective of winning a MotoGP title has stalled. While KTM made good progress in 2019, and won its first races in 2020, 2021 saw the Austrian factory take a step backward. Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira still won races, but they struggled to make it into the top ten just as often.

Leitner is to make way for Pramac Ducati team manager Francesco Guidotti, as has been widely reported in the Italian media. Guidotti was previously a part of KTM's effort in the 250cc GP class, the precursor to Moto2, and has been successful at the helm of Pramac, the Ducati satellite team regularly winning races and feeding a string of riders into the factory team.

The poaching of Guidotti from Pramac fits into a long history of KTM poaching top talent from other factories and teams (a practice in which they are not by any means unique). Previously, WP Suspension, KTM's own brand of suspension, poached senior Öhlins engineer Peter Bergvall, they took Jun Miyazaki from Honda, where he had helped design HRC's first seamless gearbox, and most recently, they took Fabio Sterlacchini, one of Ducati Corse's most senior engineers. Respected journalist Mat Oxley recently wrote a blog on KTM's history of hiring outside talent into the team.

Guidotti will be charged with getting KTM's MotoGP title challenge back on track. They are not short of talent - if anything, they have too much rather than too little talent, and not enough seats to place it all. Guidotti will have to take that talent and make sure that they are given the tools they need to fight for a championship.

The press release from KTM appears below:


KTM Factory Racing expresses sincere thanks to Mike Leitner for pivotal MotoGP™ management role

2021 MotoGP news

KTM Factory Racing wish to extend their gratitude to Mike Leitner for his application and knowledge towards their MotoGP program as the Austrian steps down from his position as Red Bull KTM Race Manager.

2022 will represent KTM’s sixth season as part of the MotoGP grid and the KTM Factory Racing hierarchy will restructure. The 59-year-old will no longer fill his management role as principal of the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing set-up and will transition into a consultancy post.

Leitner originally came into the KTM Race Department and helped construct the testing squad that began work on the KTM RC16 in 2015 and then the official Red Bull KTM MotoGP team that first took to the grid at the end of 2016 in Valencia.

Since 2017 he has been an important part of the KTM MotoGP race management and organisation that has produced five victories and 13 trophies in less than half a decade of Grand Prix competition. He was instrumental in delivering the company’s first podium as rider Pol Espargaro classified 3rd at the 2018 Gran Premio de la Comunitat Valenciana. By 2020 he oversaw KTM’s maiden victory, scored by Brad Binder in the Czech Republic as well as further spoils by the South African in 2021 and the three triumphs marked by Miguel Oliveira in Austria, Portugal and Catalunya in the last two seasons.

Further milestones include Espargaro’s 5th place finish in the 2020 rider’s standings while Binder ranked 6th by the end of the recent 2021 campaign.

Pit Beirer, KTM Motorsports Director: “Mike has been a key figure in our mission to fight against the best in the world of road racing. Together we created a MotoGP structure with the right staff and the right riders which achieved outstanding results at the pinnacle of the sport. We started building our RC16 and the whole plan from a blank piece of paper and under his guidance we put a great team together; one that took on the challenge of MotoGP. Now, after seven years together, we decided to reorganize our MotoGP leadership for the future, and I cannot express how much we want to thank him for all the work he put into this project. Mike pushed very hard to get us from the back of the grid to the front row and his dedication has played a major part in our success story.”

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MotoGP To Switch To 100% Non-Fossil Fuels By 2027

MotoGP is to follow in the footsteps of Formula 1 and switch to sustainable fuels. From 2024, 40% of fuel used in the MotoGP class must be obtained from sustainable sources - either synthetically produced using sustainable energy or from non-food biomass - and from 2027, all fuel used in all three grand prix classes, Moto3, Moto2, and MotoGP, will be of non-fossil origin.

The idea behind the switch is in part leveraging the function of racing as a research and development platform, and in part bowing to the inevitable. As the world faces a global climate crisis, a switch away from extracting carbon stored underground and pumping it into the atmosphere is needed to manage CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

The role of racing is in making the combustion of non-fossil fuels more efficient. Engineers understand the combustion characteristics of fossil fuels very well, but synthetic, e-fuels, and biofuels burn and behave differently. Motorsports are about converting the largest amount of energy stored in a fuel source into the lowest possible lap time, and combustion efficiency - converting fuel into horsepower - is a very important part of that.

The good news for race fans who love the noise which emerges as a byproduct of combusion is that this switch will mean that grand prix racing will remain the home of loud engines and paddock workers with permanent hearing damage. Although MotoE will remain, and will expand in the future, motorbikes producing exhaust noise will continue to rule the paddock for the foreseeable future.

In this respect, 2027 is an important date. The current contract period with the MotoGP manufacturers runs from 2022 to 2026. The agreement with the factories is that technical regulations will remain stable for that period. A new five-year contract period starts in 2027, which is when major changes to the MotoGP formula such as this can be introduced. That means that MotoGP will be racing combustion engines between 2027 and 2031.

The source of the fuels is still to be decided, beyond being non-fossil free. But the FIM and Dorna have laid on a caveat, and stated an objective. Firstly, biofuels are not to be produced from food crops, as is the case with some ethanol, which is produced from sweetcorn or maize in many countries. Instead, it is to be produced from with waste products of forestry and farming, or from crops grown on land that is otherwise not suitable for food production.

The second is that the stated objective is to use zero carbon fuels. That means fuels sourced using production methods that don't emit carbon into the atmosphere, which also precludes some forms of farming or natural resource usage. Synthetic fuels must not be produced using energy sources that emit carbon.

The FIM and Dorna announcement stays way from involving the sport in the production of fuels, leaving that up to the fuel producers themselves. Only zero carbon fuels will be permitted to be used in racing, and how fuel suppliers produce that fuel is up to them.

The announcement is a statement of intent, and so does not include any technical details. There is no news of whether the current fuel regulations, which strictly control the composition of fuels used, will be modified, and if so, how. There are also no details on how or whether emissions standards, such as particle emissions, will be modified in the future.

The FIM press release appears below:


MotoGP™: racing towards the fuel of the future
2024 will see MotoGP™ move to sustainable fuels, launching a new global era of zero carbon fuels

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

The FIM Grand Prix World Championship, MotoGP™, is a global platform with the power to lead evolution in both the motorcycle and mobility industries. With a unique position as one of the world's most popular and technologically advanced sports, MotoGP™ is a racing ‘laboratory’ powered by innovation and development.

Global motorcycle sales amount to 60 million units per annum and two-wheeled transportation is a necessity for a huge proportion of the population, with over two billion motorcycles on the world’s roads. In many nations two-wheeled vehicles drive society. As the most sustainable motorised vehicles, two-wheeled transportation has a vital role in the quest for cleaner, safer, and more eco-friendly mobility, with the power to make an incredible contribution to the world’s need to cut carbon emissions, increase sustainability and fight climate change.

Working with MotoGP™ manufacturers, the sport has set new goals for increased sustainability:

By 2024, fuel in all MotoGP™ classes will be of minimum 40% non-fossil origin

By 2027, fuel in all MotoGP™ classes will be of 100% non-fossil origin

MotoGP™ is the platform in which these fuels will continue to be developed and tested, with every premier class manufacturer working with their supplier to develop their own fuel. The development of multiple fuels will ensure that the technology and knowledge will reach consumer motorcycles and fuel pumps on the street. This will create an unrivalled selection of viable, sustainable drop-in fuels developed by some of the most important players in global energy and tested by the highest level of prototype two-wheeled machinery in the world. With no single proprietor, the initiative guarantees unprecedented global impact.

These fuels of the future will be able to be used in a standard internal combustion engine and will either be laboratory-created, using components sourced from a carbon capture scheme, or derived from municipal waste or non-food biomass, thereby achieving significant savings in greenhouse gas emissions relative to fossil-derived petrol. In addition, fuel suppliers will progressively introduce the use of renewable energy in the production of their fuel.

The Moto2™ and Moto3™ classes will continue to be supplied by a single fuel provider and will also be introducing a part-sustainable fuel in 2024. Both classes will change to 100% sustainable fuel in 2027, alongside the MotoGP™ class.

The FIM, IRTA, MSMA, Dorna and all stakeholders are committed to creating a more sustainable sport and future, from engineering greater sustainability on track to assessing and reducing the carbon footprint of every single event and aspect of the sport with innovative solutions.

MotoGP™ is racing together to power worldwide innovation, creating and reflecting positive change.

Jorge Viegas, FIM President: "I’m really proud of this announcement, after many months and even years of negotiations with petrol companies and manufacturers, we’ve reached an agreement. This will allow MotoGP to be the leader in this real revolution for sustainability.

"We want to really show the way to all the motorcycle manufacturers that it’s possible to have the fun we all like but with sustainable fuels. We hope by 2027 to have completely carbon free fuels in our competitions, leading the way and showing that, even if the racing is a small part of emissions, we must be the leaders of this change; show the way. Thank you to all the stakeholders for the negotiations, finally now we can announce the good news."

Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sports: "We are very proud to announce this incredible new venture and we would like to thank the FIM, MSMA, IRTA, our manufacturers and fuel suppliers for their unequivocal support in this ground-breaking step towards a more sustainable world. Racing together, MotoGP will be a driving force for global change and increased sustainability.

"Motorcycles are a vital asset to society, making two-wheeled vehicles a crucial part of the solution. Sustainable fuels are key to creating an attainable and viable path to a more eco-friendly world, impacting billions of people, and with a number of different fuel manufacturers committed to this endeavour, global impact is guaranteed. Thanks to all parties involved in making this possible."

Source: 

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2022 Provisional MotoGP Rider Line Up

The FIM today released the provisional entry lists for all three grand prix classes, which featured very few surprises. The biggest changes were among the riders who were forced to change numbers. Fabio Di Giannantonio switched from 21 (taken by Franco Morbidelli) to 49, while Marco Bezzecchi kept 72, Darryn Binder kept 40, and Raul Fernandez stuck with 25, the number abandoned by Maverick Viñales at the end of the 2018 season.

The most noteworthy, if not surprising, change came with the VR46 team. In previous lists of teams accepted to MotoGP and Moto2, the VR46 Racing Team were still using the name Aramco VR46, after the Saudi Arabian oil company. That deal has proved to be chimerical, and the team is now listed as VR46 Racing Team.

Provisional MotoGP line up for 2022:

No. Rider Nationality Team Machine Independent
Team
4 Andrea Dovizioso Italian WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team Yamaha *
5 Johann Zarco French Pramac Racing Ducati *
10 Luca Marini Italian VR46 Racing Team Ducati *
12 Maverick Viñales Spanish Aprilia Racing Aprilia  
20 Fabio Quartararo French Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha  
21 Franco Morbidelli Italian Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha  
23 Enea Bastianini Italian Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati *
25 Raul Fernandez Spanish Tech3 KTM Factory Racing KTM *
30 Takaaki Nakagami Japanese LCR Honda Idemitsu Honda *
33 Brad Binder S-African Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM  
36 Joan Mir Spanish Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki  
40 Darryn Binder S-African WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team Yamaha *
41 Aleix Espargaro Spanish Aprilia Racing Aprilia  
42 Alex Rins Spanish Team Suzuki Ecstar Suzuki  
43 Jack Miller Australian Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati  
44 Pol Espargaro Spanish Repsol Honda Team Honda  
49 Fabio Digiannantonio Italian Gresini Racing MotoGP Ducati *
63 Francesco Bagnaia Italian Ducati Lenovo Team Ducati  
72 Marco Bezzecchi Italian VR46 Racing Team Ducati *
73 Alex Marquez Spanish LCR Honda Castrol Honda *
87 Remy Gardner Australian Tech3 KTM Factory Racing KTM *
88 Miguel Oliveira Portuguese Red Bull KTM Factory Racing KTM  
89 Jorge Martin Spanish Pramac Racing Ducati *
93 Marc Marquez Spanish Repsol Honda Team Honda  
Source: 

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2022 Provisional Moto2 Rider Line Up

Provisional Moto2 rider line up for the 2022 season:

No. Rider Nationality Team Machine
2 Gabriel Rodrigo Argentina Pertamina Mandalika Sag Team Kalex
4 Sean Dylan Kelly USA American Racing Kalex
5 Romano Fenati Italian Speedup Racing Boscoscuro
6 Cameron Beaubier USA American Racing Kalex
7 Barry Baltus Belgian RW Racing GP Kalex
9 Jorge Navarro Spanish Flexbox HP40 Kalex
12 Filip Salac Czech Gresini Racing Moto2 Kalex
13 Celestino Vietti Italian VR46 Racing Team Kalex
14 Tony Arbolino Italian Elf Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex
16 Joe Roberts USA Italtrans Racing Team Kalex
18 Manuel Gonzalez Spanish Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team Kalex
19 Lorenzo Dalla Porta Italian Italtrans Racing Team Kalex
22 Sam Lowes British Elf Marc VDS Racing Team Kalex
23 Marcel Schrotter German Liqui Moly Intact GP Kalex
24 Simone Corsi Italian MV Agusta Forward Racing MV Agusta
28 Niccolo Antonelli Italian VR46 Racing Team Kalex
35 Somkiat Chantra Thai Idemitsu Honda Team Asia Kalex
37 Augusto Fernandez Spanish Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex
40 Aron Canet Spanish Flexbox HP40 Kalex
42 Marcos Ramirez Spanish MV Agusta Forward Racing MV Agusta
51 Pedro Acosta Spanish Red Bull KTM Ajo Kalex
52 Jeremy Alcoba Spanish Liqui Moly Intact GP Kalex
54 Fermin Aldeguer Spanish Speedup Racing Boscoscuro
61 Alessandro Zaccone Italian Gresini Racing Moto2 Kalex
64 Bo Bendsneyder Dutch Pertamina Mandalika Sag Team Kalex
75 Albert Arenas Spanish Aspar Team (Moto2) Gasgas
79 Ai Ogura Japanese Idemitsu Honda Team Asia Kalex
81 Keminth Kubo Thai Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team Kalex
84 Zonta van den Goorbergh Dutch RW Racing GP Kalex
96 Jake Dixon British Aspar Team (Moto2) Gasgas
Source: 

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2022 Provisional Moto3 Rider Line Up

The provisional rider line up for the Moto3 class for 2022:

No. Rider Nationality Team Machine
5 Jaume Masia Spanish Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM
6 Ryusei Yamanaka Japanese MT Helmets - MSI KTM
7 Dennis Foggia Italian Leopard Racing Honda
10 Diogo Moreira Brazilian MT Helmets - MSI KTM
11 Sergio Garcia Spanish Aspar Team (Moto3) GasGas
16 Andrea Migno Italian Rivacold Snipers Team Honda
17 John McPhee British Sterilgarda Husqvarna Max Husqvarna
18 Matteo Bertelle Italian Avintia Esponsorama Moto3 KTM
20 Lorenzo Fellon French SIC 58 Squadra Corse Honda
23 Elia Bartolini Italian Avintia Esponsorama Moto3 KTM
24 Tatsuki Suzuki Japanese Leopard Racing Honda
26 Scott Ogden British VisionTrack Racing Team Honda
27 Kaito Toba Japanese CIP Green Power KTM
28 Izan Guevara Spanish Aspar Team (Moto3) GasGas
31 Adrian Fernandez Spanish Red Bull KTM Tech3 KTM
38 David Salvador Spanish BOE SKX KTM
43 Xavier Artigas Spanish CFMoto Racing PruestelGP CFMoto
44 David Muñoz Spanish BOE SKX KTM
48 Ivan Ortola Spanish Team MTA KTM
53 Deniz Öncü Turkish Red Bull KTM Tech3 KTM
54 Riccardo Rossi Italian SIC 58 Squadra Corse Honda
64 Mario Suryo Aji Indonesian Honda Team Asia Honda
66 Joel Kelso Australian CIP Green Power KTM
67 Alberto Surra Italian Rivacold Snipers Team Honda
70 Joshua Whatley British VisionTrack Racing Team Honda
71 Ayumu Sasaki Japanese Sterilgarda Husqvarna Max Husqvarna
72 Taiyo Furusato Japanese Honda Team Asia Honda
82 Stefano Nepa Italian Team MTA KTM
96 Daniel Holgado Spanish Red Bull KTM Ajo KTM
99 Carlos Tatay Spanish CFMoto Racing PruestelGP CFMoto
Source: 

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Pol Espargaro Likely To Miss Qualifying For Valencia - UPDATED

Pol Espargaro looks set to miss qualifying for the Valencia MotoGP round on Saturday. The Repsol Honda rider suffered a massive highside around Turn 13, getting flicked off the bike as the rear became unstable as he swept the bike from the right of Turn 12 to the long left at Turn 13.

Espargaro badly banged up his ribs on his right side, and injured his wrist, according to Dr Charte, one of the senior members of Dorna's medical team at the MotoGP races. Though his mobility was not compromised, he was in a great deal of pain.

Espargaro has been taken to the 9 de Octubre hospital in Valencia for further checkups. Dr Charte told Spanish broadcaster Dazn that Espargaro will not ride this afternoon, but the Repsol Honda team have not yet made an announcement on what the Spaniard will do.

UPDATED

The Repsol Honda team released the following statement after qualifying. Espargaro is back in the paddock, suffering with chest and stomach pains, and will assess his condition on Sunday morning:


Pol Espargaro escapes serious injury in Valencia

Following a heavy highside at Turn 13, Repsol Honda Team’s Pol Espargaro missed Saturday action in Valencia after scans and checks in hospital.

During MotoGP Free Practice 3, Pol Espargaro suffered a highside on the exit of Turn 12 heading into Turn 13. The Repsol Honda Team rider was taken to the circuit medical centre before being transported to 9 de Octubre Hospital in Valencia for further checks. Scans revealed heavy bruising, especially around the right thorax and abdomen.

Espargaro will rest tonight before assessing his condition and continued participation on Sunday morning.

Pol Espargaro

“Unfortunately today I had a very big crash during FP3 at Turn 13. The impact was very hard but fortunately I have no serious injuries and nothing appeared broken in the tests we did at the hospital. At the moment I have a lot of pain from around my ribs when I breathe, this is what hurts most. I’m really disappointed because we had great speed and I was feeling really confident. I’m sorry for my team. Tonight we will rest, take painkillers and see what the situation is in the morning.”

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Marc Marquez Out Of Valencia Race And Jerez Test Due To Recurrence Of Eye Problems

Marc Marquez' terrible run of injury problems continues. Today, the Repsol Honda team announced that it wasn't just concussion which Marquez suffered in a training crash before Portimão, but that he also appears to have damaged a nerve in his right eye. As a result, Marquez is having problems with diplopia, or double vision.

Those problems are a recurrence of the issue Marquez suffered back in 2011, when he crashed during practice at Sepang on a patch of water after marshals failed to wave the yellow flag. That crash cost Marc Marquez the 2011 Moto2 title, and a long period of uncertainty. The Spaniard required surgery on his right eye, a weakening of the muscle to try to correct the problem.

That surgery turned out to be a success. Despite the fact that there were real fears Marquez would never race again, a member of Marquez' entourage told me several years ago. The relief after he took to the track at Alcarras and rode a Moto2 machine without major problems was absolutely palpable. The test was supposed to be secret, but some BSB riders were also present, and as it was 2012, and the early days of Twitter and social media, the news soon leaked out.

Dr Sanchez Dalmau, the ophthalmologist who treated Marquez in 2011 and 2012, and is treating him again now, has chosen to follow a conservative regime of treatment, presumably to avoid complications on the eye where he has already had one operation. The problems Marquez is suffering are with the nerve which was damaged back in 2011.

There is no time frame for a return for Marc Marquez. He will certainly miss the Valencia race and the Jerez test. Whether he will be present at the Sepang test in February 2022 will only be apparent much later, and much closer to the time. Repsol Honda looks unlikely to replace Marquez at Valencia.

Marquez' absence is a setback for HRC's plan to develop the 2022 Honda RC213V. The bike, which first saw the light at the Misano test in September, is completely new, with a new engine, chassis, fairing, airbox, and aerodynamic package. It will need a lot of work to get it ready for 2022, and Honda will have to rely on the feedback from their current line up of test rider Stefan Bradl, Repsol Honda teammate Pol Espargaro, and the LCR riders Alex Marquez and Takaaki Nakagami.

The press release appears below:


Marc Marquez to miss Valencia Grand Prix and Jerez Test

The Repsol Honda Team rider will not participate in the Valencia Grand Prix this coming weekend, nor in the IRTA Jerez Test scheduled for November 18 and 19.

After Marc Marquez underwent a medical examination at the Dexeus Clinic in Barcelona last Tuesday, in which he was evaluated after a fall while practicing off-road, the rider has been resting all week at his home in Cervera.

During these days of rest, Marc has continued to feel unwell and has suffered from vision problems, which is why this Monday he was visited by the ophthalmologist Dr. Sánchez Dalmau at the Hospital Clínic de Barcelona, who examined him and performed the tests, which detected a new episode of diplopia.

Doctor Sánchez Dalmau
Ophthalmologist

“The examination carried out on Marc Marquez today after the accident that occurred has confirmed that the rider has diplopia and has revealed a paralysis of the fourth right nerve with involvement of the right superior oblique muscle. A conservative treatment with periodic updates has been chosen to follow with the clinical evolution. This fourth right nerve is the one that was already injured in 2011.”

Source: 

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Marc Marquez To Miss Portimão 2 Round With Concussion

Marc Marquez is to miss the Algarve Grand Prix, to be held at the Portimão circuit this weekend. According to a press release from the Repsol Honda team, the Spaniard suffered a crash during training which has left him with a mild concussion. As he was still feeling unwell a couple of days after the event, Marquez and the team have decided to skip the penultimate round of MotoGP.

Marquez' absence at Portimão raises questions of whether he will be fit for Valencia, and indeed, whether it will be worth Marquez taking a risk on being fully fit for the final grand prix of the 2021 season. The season will end with a two-day test at the Jerez circuit on the Thursday and Friday after Valencia, and as we saw at the Misano test, Honda have brought a radically revised RC213V for the 2022 season. Given that the best Marquez could hope for in 2021 is to finish fourth, there is more to be gained from testing than from coming back too early and trying to race.

The decision is also a sign that Marquez is taking injury more seriously, since breaking his arm. The lesson learned from the long and miserable process of recovering from the right humerus he broke at Jerez last year is that it is better to be more patient before trying to come back. Marquez' decision to try to race a few days after surgery to fix his right arm ended up costing him the entire 2020 season, and any chance of the 2021 championship.

It is also a positive sign that concussion is being taken much more seriously. Coming back too early from a concussion can have very serious consequences, and a knock on effect for weeks and months after the fact. It is better to play it safe and focus on recovering as fully as possible, rather than risk exacerbating an existing concussion and paying for it down the road.

As of this moment, there is no word on a replacement rider, but HRC test rider Stefan Bradl could be called in to take Marquez' place, either at Portimão, or Valencia, or both, if that is needed.

The press release from the Repsol Honda team appears below:


Marquez to miss Algarve Grand Prix

This past Saturday Marc Marquez, while preparing for the Algarve Grand Prix with one of his standard off-road training sessions, suffered a fall that caused a slight head concussion. After a few days of rest at home and seeing that he was still unwell, today Marquez has been assessed by doctors in a medical check-up to evaluate his current status. As a precautionary measure, this coming weekend Marquez will not contest the Algarve Grand Prix.

Source: 

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FIM & Dorna Address Safety Concerns By Raising Minimum Ages And Working On Rider Equipment And Communication

The Permanent Bureau, the joint body comprising the FIM and Dorna, who run short circuit motorcycle racing, have announced major steps to improve rider safety in all championships run or backed by Dorna. Ages are to be raised, grid sizes are to be limited, and work will continue to improve rider safety equipment and rider communication.

It is worth reading the press release in full for the complete details, but here is a summary of the key points:

  • Rider minimum ages are to be increased across the board, starting in 2022:
    • In Moto3 and Moto2, the minimum age is to be increased from 16 to 18 from 2023
    • In Red Bull Rookies Cup, the minimum age will be 14 from 2022, and 15 from 2023
    • The FIM CEV Moto3 championship will have a minimum age of 15 in 2022, and 16 in 2023
    • The minimum age for the WorldSSP300 class will be raised from 15 to 16 in 2022, and to 18 in 2023
    • The minimum age for the World Supersport class will be raised to 18 in 2023.
    • From 2023, the minimum age for all series on short circuits (including Talent Cups such as the Asia Talent Cup, Junior Talent Cup, etc) will be 14
  • Grid sizes are to be limited as follows:
    • Talent Cups will be limited to 30 riders on each grid
    • The FIM CEV Moto3 championship will have a maximum of 32 riders in each race
    • WorldSSP300 will have a maximum of 32 riders on the grid

Exceptions will be allowed during the transition from 2022 to 2023. And the winner of the FIM CEV Moto3 championship can enter Moto3 at 17, rather than 18.

The other interesting move is addressing rider safety through improved rider gear and improved communication. Talks have already started with manufacturers of leathers and protective gear about reducing the chance of injury in the case of collisions with other riders. There have also been talks with a view to speeding up communication with riders, and informing them as quickly as possible of a crash ahead. The press release speaks of "near-instant, automatic warning systems".

Given that the main risk of injury, and all of the fatalities this year, have been caused by impacts between riders and following bikes, reducing the chance of impact and dissipating the energy of impact is the next step in making motorcycle racing as safe as an inherently dangerous sport can be made.

The press release appears below:


Important Safety Regulation updates from the Permanent Bureau

The Permanent Bureau, comprising the FIM and Dorna, meets in Misano to define new safety regulation updates

Friday, 22 October 2021

The Permanent Bureau has worked closely for many years with all Road and Circuit Racing stakeholders, including IRTA and the MSMA, towards creating the safest sport possible. Whilst all parties, and fans, are conscious that motorcycle racing is dangerous, all bodies are committed to continued improvement and evolution, making it safer every day and ensuring that the sport continues to grow on a global scale.

Via a process of constant review and revision, this commitment from the Permanent Bureau and all those within the sport goes back various decades, in close collaboration with the riders themselves in the Safety Commission, and has already resulted in significant improvements to safety within motorcycle racing. To build on this progress, additional safety regulations and improvements will now come into force in four key areas, aimed at further minimising the risk of motorcycle racing as much as possible. These key areas are minimum age limits and entry list sizes for each series, alongside projects in development concerning improvements in rider equipment and rider communication.

Entry list sizes and age limits:

In coming seasons, the number of competitors on track in each series will be limited as outlined below. In addition, new age limits for each class, series or Championship will come into force. These age limits will be introduced as part of a policy to be implemented worldwide, with the FIM committed to ensuring they are also adhered to by National Federations and Continental Unions, to make a discernible difference to the sport at every level.

Raising the minimum age for each category of motorcycle racing is a decision taken in order to ensure a safer pathway for all riders beginning and continuing their careers.

In addition, increasing the age limit for certain categories will enable greater parity between different countries and continents, helping to increase accessibility by levelling the playing field and ensuring each rider is able to gain similar experience in different categories around the world.

From 2022:
The Talent Cups, which are organised and/or supported by Dorna, such as the European, British, Northern and Asia Talent Cups, as well as pre-Moto3™ series, will raise the minimum age to 13 and there will be a maximum of 30 competitors on each grid.

The minimum age for competitors in the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup will be raised to 14.

The FIM Moto3™ Junior World Championship in the FIM CEV Repsol will see the minimum age limit raised from 14 to 15. A maximum of 32 competitors will be permitted in each race.

In the WorldSSP300 class in the MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship, the minimum age limit will be raised from 15 to 16. A maximum of 32 riders will be allowed to line up on the grid.

For the 2022 season, there will be an exception granted for riders who have already entered in the same class in 2021 to allow them to continue to race.

For 2023 and thereafter, the proposal is to raise age limits further as follows:

A minimum age of 14 should be applied to all racing at any Grand Prix-type circuits, including all those that have or have had Grade A, B or C homologation, which will include the Asia, British, European and Northern Talent Cups.

The minimum age for competitors in any class in the FIM MotoGP™ World Championship will be raised to 18. This includes for Moto3 and Moto2, for which the age limit is currently 16.

The winner of the FIM Moto3 Junior World Championship and/or the Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup will be allowed to join Moto3 at 17 years of age. For the 2023 season only, there will also be an exception granted for riders who have already entered Moto3 in 2022 to allow them to continue to race.

The FIM Moto3 Junior World Championship and the Moto2 European Championship, both in the FIM CEV Repsol, will have a minimum age limit of 16. The Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup will also increase the minimum age by one more year to 15.

With the same philosophy as that applied in 2022 (for riders who have already competed in 2021), an exception will be granted to riders already participating in the Talent Cups in 2022 to allow them to continue to race in the same class in 2023.

The minimum age for competitors in the WorldSSP Championship will be raised to 18.

Rider equipment:

From 2022, airbags will be compulsory in all Sprint Circuit Racing FIM championships.

For the FIM Sidecar World Championship, tests are underway to determine whether the known algorithms are valid for passengers. These tests will make it possible to know whether the airbag can be used by all participants from 2022.

Rider safety equipment has improved significantly throughout the decades and continues to do so thanks to improvements across the industry, from leathers, gloves, back and chest protectors and boots to FIM homologated helmets and innovative airbag systems. It has never been safer to ride a motorcycle at speed and these improvements help to protect a rider from injury, in many instances helping to save lives whilst not compromising rideability, which is also intrinsic to on-track safety.

A first meeting took place at the Aragon GP between all partners, including leather and helmet suppliers, technical staff and medical personnel, on the next step towards improving the level of protection afforded by rider equipment, with increased focus on protecting competitors against an impact from another rider or motorcycle, particularly the chest and neck.

All parties are committed to making improvements in these areas and meeting this challenge as safely and as quickly as possible whilst ensuring the high level of current protection is not compromised.

Rider communication:

The ease and speed of communication between riders, pit wall and Race Direction has improved significantly in recent years, with dashboard technology, high-tech light panels at circuits and instant channels of communication between marshal posts and Race Direction all contributing to a safer environment for all competitors.

The next step to increase the safety of all those on track will focus on communicating to a rider or bike that a crash has taken place ahead as soon as possible.

A first meeting between all partners and technical suppliers has already taken place in order to discuss the installation and implementation of the required technology in rider equipment, on motorcycles and/or around each circuit, the aim of which is to implement automatic, near-instant warning systems for all following riders/motorcycles. The first tests will start as soon as the beginning of the 2022 season, and the system must and will be applicable to Championships of all levels, including Talent Cups.

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Yamaha Satellite MotoGP Team Finalized: Petronas Becomes RNF, Signs Darryn Binder

The Petronas Saga is nearing its end. On Thursday, Yamaha announced that from 2022, the RNF team led by Razlan Razali will be taking over as satellite Yamaha squad, and fielding as riders Andrea Dovizioso and Darryn Binder. The RNF Team has a contract with Yamaha for 2022, with an option to continue for two more seasons in 2023 and 2024. Binder has a contract for 2022, with an option for 2023.

This is the end point of a process which began at the Red Bull Ring in August, when Petronas announced they would be withdrawing sponsorship from the Petronas SRT team, forcing the team to completely reorganize. That also saw an end to the direct involvement of the Sepang International Circuit with the team, complicating matters even further.

These complications are rumored to have led to a dispute between the two principals involved in the team: Razlan Razali, former CEO of the Sepang International Circuit, and Johan Stigefelt, team owner of the Caterham Moto2 squad. The two had joined forces to allow them to compete in all three Grand Prix classes, but the exit of Petronas caused a power struggle inside the team.

That power struggle was eventually won by Razlan Razali. The Malaysian set up a new company in the United Kingdom to house the new team, RNF Racing Ltd, named using the initials of Razali's children. With that in place, RNF negotiated a new deal to supply MotoGP machinery for the 2022 season and beyond, with the backing of WithU, who have been supporting the Petronas team's MotoE effort, and been a minor sponsor to the team in other classes, as title sponsor. The RNF MotoGP team will retain most of the Petronas Yamaha SRT Team's staff, including team manager Wilco Zeelenberg.

The contract between Yamaha and RNF is surprisingly short term. It is initially for one year, 2022, with an option to renew for the following two seasons. Normally, contracts between teams and manufacturers tend to be three years or more, to ensure continuity and stability for both parties, but with RNF being a new outfit, an option allows both parties to hedge their bets.

One thing which the change of management has not been able to change is the contract Darryn Binder had for 2022 with the SRT team. When the Moto2 team was shut down, the younger Binder brother had a claim on the second MotoGP seat, alongside Andrea Dovizioso. Somewhat surprisingly, the list of candidates eager to take the second Yamaha seat was short, and so the RNF squad are set to go ahead with the 23-year-old South African from 2022, with an option for 2023.

Binder will become the first rider since Jack Miller to make the jump directly from Moto3 to MotoGP. The Australian was taken by Honda directly from Moto3 into MotoGP back in 2015, and put on an Open Class Honda RCV1000R, the bike with lower performance and spec electronics. Miller took a couple of years to adapt to the class, only really making a step forward when he switched to Ducati, despite winning a race in his second season at a soaking wet Assen. Binder faces a less formidable task, given the Yamaha is a much easier and rider-friendly bike than the Honda, making the transition to the MotoGP class less challenging. The Yamaha can be ridden with corner speed, which is key in Moto3, leaving more time to learn the extra skills - especially braking and lifting the bike up to get drive out of corners - needed to succeed in MotoGP.

The signing of Binder completes Yamaha's MotoGP line up for 2022, but raises questions about the future. There have been strong rumors linking Pata Yamaha rider and WorldSBK championship leader Toprak Razgatlioglu to a ride in MotoGP, but sources in WorldSBK say that the Turkish rider is keen to focus on the production championship, and win multiple titles there before making the move over to MotoGP. Razgatlioglu is unlikely to switch to MotoGP before 2024.

Then there is Raul Fernandez. Yamaha made a big push for the Spanish youngster, after one of the most impressive rookie seasons in Moto2 since Marc Marquez. Their attempts to poach him from KTM caused KTM CEO Stefan Pierer to prematurely announce that Fernandez would be going to MotoGP, issuing a press release in the middle of a free practice session, rather than waiting until the Monday after the Styrian Grand Prix, when the announcement would have made more impact. Yamaha are believed to still be interested in Fernandez, while Fernandez has made no secret of his frustration with the situation, feeling that he has been press-ganged into the Tech3 KTM squad, despite having full factory backing and support. All the signs point to Fernandez defecting to Yamaha at the earliest opportunity, putting pressure on Franco Morbidelli to perform in the factory team.

The press releases appear below:


YAMAHA MOTOR COMPANY AND RNF MOTOGP TEAM SIGN AGREEMENT FOR 2022

Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. and RNF Racing Ltd. signed a one-year deal for the supply of YZR-M1 bikes to the newly branded RNF MotoGP Team in 2022, with options to extend the partnership for 2023 and 2024.

Misano Adriatico (Italy), 21st October 2021

Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. is pleased to confirm the signing of an agreement with RNF Racing Ltd. The freshly branded RNF MotoGP Team is set for a new era as part of the Yamaha line-up in 2022 and possibly 2023 and 2024.

Sepang Racing Team is rebranded RNF MotoGP Team, with former CEO of Sepang International Circuit and Team Principal Razlan Razali remaining at the helm. The team has signed a five-year deal with IRTA that sees the remodelled set-up continue participating as an Independent Team in the premier class of the FIM MotoGP World Championship until 2026.

The signed agreement between Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. and RNF Racing Ltd. foresees the satellite team leasing Yamaha YZR-M1 motorcycles for 2022, with the option to extend the partnership for the 2023 and 2024 FIM MotoGP World Championship seasons.

LIN JARVIS
MANAGING DIRECTOR, YAMAHA MOTOR RACING

“We are delighted to extend our partnership with the now rebranded RNF MotoGP Team. When Razlan Razali and the Sepang Racing Team embarked on their MotoGP adventure at the end of 2018 and the start of 2019, nobody could have expected how they would take the premier class by storm. The impressive 2019 season and exceptional 2020 season results underline the professionalism and quality of this team that will soon be renamed RNF MotoGP Team.

"The core DNA of this team remains, so we are confident to continue with them as our official supported satellite team. Moreover, Yamaha has always been clear that it wants to continue to have four bikes in total on the MotoGP grid: two bikes in the Factory Team and two bikes in the Independent team.

"We will do our best to support the newly founded RNF Racing Ltd. to achieve their goals and to provide the stepping stone for future talents to enter into the world of Yamaha in MotoGP."

RAZLAN RAZALI
FOUNDER & TEAM PRINCIPAL, RNF RACING LTD

“We have today reached a historical milestone for the new RNF MotoGP Team. I would like to thank Yamaha for the trust and confidence given to me and the team for the upcoming season despite the changes that happened this year.

"The achievements that we have shared together in the first three years of our partnership with wins, podiums, pole positions, and awards has been memorable and motivates us towards greater heights.

"We have the experience from our past successes, supported by the same strong and passionate crew from our MotoGP garage, with a solid rider line-up, so we are set for a competitive comeback with Yamaha for the 2022 season."


DARRYN BINDER JOINS RNF MOTOGP TEAM RIDER LINE-UP FOR 2022

Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. is delighted to announce that Moto3 talent Darryn Binder will be joining Andrea Dovizioso in the rebranded RNF MotoGP Team. The South African will race for Yamaha‘s satellite team in 2022 with an option to stay on for the 2023 MotoGP season.

Misano Adriatico (Italy), 21st October 2021

Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. is pleased to announce the signing of Moto3 talent Darryn Binder. He will be joining Yamaha‘s rebranded RNF MotoGP Team‘s rider line-up for the 2022 MotoGP season, with an option to stay on for 2023.

Following two years of riding in the Red Bull Rookies Cup, the South African started his full-time Moto3 class career in 2015. That year Binder became a well-known name thanks to his brother (Brad Binder) who went on to become the 2016 Moto3 Champion. However, Darryn has since long proven that he is an exceptional racing talent in his own right. Known for his hard racing and making use of any and every available gap during a race, the 23-year-old has ridden to six Moto3 podiums so far, including a win at the 2020 Catalan GP.

Furthermore, Darryn Binder‘s eagerness, feistiness, and seven Moto3 seasons of experience make him a perfect teammate for the vastly experienced Andrea Dovizioso, as the rebranded RNF MotoGP Team start their new and exciting chapter.

LIN JARVIS
MANAGING DIRECTOR, YAMAHA MOTOR RACING

“I want to give a warm welcome to Darryn. We are delighted that he is joining the Yamaha line-up next year. We‘ve had many conversations about who would be a good match for the new RNF MotoGP Team set-up. It‘s a fresh start for the Yamaha satellite team and that makes it all the more fitting to have a young and eager rider like Darryn join them, as Fabio and Franky did before him.

“For Yamaha the primary mission of the satellite team is developing future MotoGP talents. Darryn has already shown on numerous occasions what he‘s made of in the Moto3 class. We know he is a fast and determined rider who has got what it takes to battle at the front of the pack. Obviously, the step up to MotoGP is significant and will take some adjusting, but we feel that he‘s ready, and Yamaha and the RNF MotoGP Team will fully support him for this new and exciting challenge.”

DARRYN BINDER
RNF MOTOGP TEAM RIDER

“I‘m extremely grateful for this opportunity, as it has been a lifelong dream to race in the MotoGP category. I definitely didn‘t expect to make the jump straight from Moto3 to the highest class, but I do believe I‘m up for the challenge, and I‘m ready to put in all the hard work for 2022.

“My target at the beginning will be just to find my feet in the big class and learn as much as possible to get stronger and stronger throughout my rookie season.

“I would like to say a really big ’Thank you‘ to Yamaha and the RNF MotoGP Team for everything they have done to make this possible as well as everyone who has been involved in getting me to this point.

“I‘m now just looking forward to riding the Yamaha YZR-M1 for the first time at the end of this season.”

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