Gordon Ritchie WorldSBK Blog: The Inside Jobs

After the first few races of the 2021 WorldSBK championship some trends have already become apparent.

One, the usual one, is that nine races/nine podium man Jonathan Rea is leading the championship by a fair margin of 20 points. That’s equivalent to a second place in a full race. Four 2021 race wins under his awning already, he became the first rider to smash through the 100 race victory barrier in WorldSBK history at the opening round.

Two, Toprak Razgatlioglu is now turning into the more rounded, consistent force his talents have always pointed towards. Maybe his factory Yamaha too? Hence it is he and not two-time race winner Scott Redding who went from 35 points behind Jonathan Rea after Estoril to 20 points behind after the long-awaited return of Misano after two years. Redding is himself a full race win of 25 points behind Razgatlioglu. So that’s 45 points - yes, numerology is clearly not just for cranks and conspiracists - of deficit to the leader for the person many thought would challenge Rea most strongly after his great 2020 ‘rookie’ season. And he still might, of course. He’s still many people’s best bet, for obvious reasons.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Suzuki’s GSX-RR needs to shift its shape and fast!

Joan Mir’s MotoGP title defence has been distinctly underwhelming so far, largely thanks to Suzuki falling behind with its shapeshifter technology

Shock absorbers, low-drag bodywork, disc brakes, monoshock suspension, aluminium-alloy frames, reed-valve induction, upside-down forks, carbon brakes, big-bang firing configurations, traction control, engine-braking control, launch control, reactive electronics, seamless gearboxes and downforce aerodynamics.

These are all technologies introduced over the decades in grand prix racing by one factory or another and quickly copied by rivals because they gave such a vital advantage.

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Paddock Pass Podcast Episode 219: The Assen Maverick Viñales Bonanza Edition

The Assen round of MotoGP brought the shock news of Maverick Viñales' sudden departure from Yamaha. So on Monday, Neil Morrison, Steve English, and David Emmett got together to discuss what that means for Viñales, for Yamaha, and to look back at the MotoGP race at Assen.

We kick off with the big news about Maverick Viñales. We discuss the background to his departure, why he decided to leave Yamaha, and where he goes from here. We talk about how much of the blame lies with Yamaha, and how much with Viñales himself, and what role his new manager may play. There is a lot to discuss, and we try to cover it all.

There was a race to talk about as well, and we take a look at Fabio Quartararo's win, Marc Marquez' ride through the field, and how the Ducatis fared. And then we give our winners and losers for the weekend.

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Assen MotoGP Subscriber Notes: Why Fabio Is Fast, Marquez Is Back, And What Joan Mir Needs Most

Though Maverick Viñales dominated the headlines at Assen – both on and off the track – there was a race to talk about too. For a deep dive into Viñales' situation, see the first part of my Assen review. But let's talk about the race, shall we?

Though Fabio Quartararo won the race comfortably, that is far from the whole story. How and why Quartararo won, how he got past Pecco Bagnaia, why Maverick Viñales couldn't catch his teammate, Johann Zarco's stealthy title campaign, Pecco Bagnaia's defensive masterclass, Joan Mir's strength and shortcoming, and Valentino Rossi's imminent and inevitable retirement decision. All this and more is worth talking about.

But let's start with the winner. Fabio Quartararo came into the race as joint favorite with his teammate, Maverick Viñales. The Monster Energy Yamaha riders had dominated practice, Viñales and Quartararo three or four tenths faster than anyone else, and Viñales holding a slight advantage in race pace.

Made for Yamaha

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Maverick Viñales' Wild, Weird Weekend, And How The Past Shapes The Future

I was supposed to have an interview with Yamaha Racing managing director Lin Jarvis this weekend, arranged well beforehand. That ended up not happening, unsurprisingly. Lin Jarvis had more important things to deal with than answering my questions. And my list of questions seemed a good deal less relevant this weekend than they had a few days earlier.

For this weekend was all about Maverick Viñales. Whether he, or we, wanted it to be or not. The Monster Energy Yamaha rider (but not for long) arrived at Assen after finishing dead last at the Sachsenring, topped both sessions of free practice on Friday, had an explosive meeting with Yamaha on Friday evening, secured pole with a blistering lap on Saturday, then found a way to only finish second on Sunday, well behind his teammate Fabio Quartararo. Oh yes, and there were the reports that he had signed for Aprilia for 2021 on Saturday night as well.

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