On Track Off Road No. 187

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THE RED<br />

The remarkable lens skill of Marian Chytka was<br />

apparent at the last round of WorldSBK in Imola<br />

and where the weather allowed some interesting<br />

interpretation of the 2019 cast list.<br />

Jonathan Rea at last managed to splash<br />

through Ducati’s widening ‘red puddle’<br />

Photo by MCH Photo


TIM’S<br />

TURN<br />

From a face full of Mantova sand and a 40 point<br />

deficit in the championship standings, Tim Gajser<br />

reoriented his attack over the course of two<br />

weekends. A brace of MXGP wins sliced the gap to just<br />

10 and the HRC star now has Tony Cairoli squarely in<br />

his goggles<br />

Photo by Ray Archer




Thick black lines could be the order of<br />

the day from Jack Miller and the rest of<br />

the factory Ducatis this weekend around<br />

the sensational curves of Mugello. If Marc<br />

Marquez conquers again then the rest of<br />

2019 could be in real trouble<br />

Photo by CormacGP

MXGP<br />

WO<br />

IMIN<br />


SAINT JEAN D’ANGELY · MAY 25-26 · Rnd 7 of 1<br />



Blogs by Adam Wheeler, Photos by Ray Archer


G<br />

NCE<br />














KTM<br />

450 SX-F<br />

“Winning is a complex puzzle where every element has<br />

to fit perfectly to get the job done. For me though, there is<br />

one factor that stands above the rest – my KTM 450 SX-F.<br />

The ultimate weapon to take into battle”.<br />

Cooper Webb – 2019 AMA Supercross 450SX Champion<br />

Photo: S. Cudby, KISKA GmbH<br />

www.kiska.com<br />

Please make no attempt to imitate the illustrated riding scenes, always wear protective clothing, and observe the applicable provisions of the road traffic regulations!<br />

The illustrated vehicles may vary in selected details from the production models and some illustrations feature optional equipment available at additional cost.

MXGP<br />

BLOG<br />

MAKING THE 180...<br />

That was some reversal.<br />

It is almost impossible to dislike<br />

Tim Gajser. <strong>Off</strong> the bike he has<br />

hardly changed from the adolescent,<br />

innocent and giggly person<br />

that rattled MX2 as a teenager. <strong>On</strong><br />

the bike he still fits former Team<br />

Manager Giacomo Gariboldi’s description<br />

of being “like a bull”. He<br />

can often be the picture of formidable<br />

pace, power and aggression<br />

on the HRC CRF.<br />

His 2015-2016 MX2 and MXGP<br />

back-to-back title winning campaigns<br />

at the age of 19-20 is still<br />

one of the most impressive dawns<br />

I have seen in nearly two decades<br />

of covering Grands Prix. Since<br />

that time Tim has learned the<br />

‘other side’ of the premier class;<br />

too many crashes, some bad luck<br />

and some hard injuries have interrupted<br />

the better part of the last<br />

two years. Harshly, a portion of<br />

the brilliance has ebbed away.<br />

So far in 2019 Gajser has not<br />

backed-off from that all-out approach.<br />

There have been scary<br />

crashes in Argentina and Great<br />

Britain and moments of<br />

inspiration such as Arco di Trento<br />

and Portugal (where his pursuit<br />

and pressure on Tony Cairoli<br />

revealed shades of a new, more<br />

measured #243). My overriding<br />

sentiment concerning the Honda<br />

man at present is a longing hope<br />

that he doesn’t pick up an injury<br />

as he seems to be the only candle-holder<br />

to Tony Cairoli’s competitiveness.<br />

MXGP has just finished a first<br />

‘three-in-a-row’ and among that<br />

spell of races in Italy, Portugal and<br />

France the two sides of Gajser<br />

were aptly displayed. Significantly<br />

the Slovenian also showed one of<br />

his strongest traits – mental fortitude<br />

– in that small episode.<br />

Firstly there was the disaster in<br />

the Italian sand of Mantova with<br />

multiple mistakes and tip-offs in<br />

each moto leading to sixth overall<br />

and a twenty-four point loss<br />

to Tony Cairoli in the standings.<br />

Remarkably Gajser managed to<br />

deal with a humbling and humiliating<br />

weekend (Mantova itself has<br />

not been kind to the rider after<br />

his crash and broken jaw in the<br />

pre-season of 2018) in a matter<br />

of days and hours with that<br />

resurrection in Portugal. His 1-1 at<br />

Agueda was gained with two ‘assists’<br />

by an unusually error-prone<br />

Cairoli but you could argue that<br />

Tim’s presence and pressure was<br />

a direct cause of the engine stall<br />

and crash by his principal rival.<br />

Suddenly the gift in Italy didn’t<br />

look so dramatic with a six point<br />

retaliation in the sunshine. In<br />

France the ‘swingback’ went even<br />

higher and the gap shrank to ten.<br />

Mantova (where Cairoli went<br />

1-1) would have been depressing<br />

for Gajser and HRC with the full<br />

knowledge that their KTM rival is<br />

an absolute master of the podium<br />

consistency needed to acquire<br />

gold number plates. Gajser might<br />

have the edge or is at least the<br />

equivalent when it comes to raw<br />

speed but has yet to convert a<br />

poor meeting into a respectable<br />

haul of championship points. That<br />

he was able to transform a day<br />

that would have bruised his ego<br />

as much as parts of his body into

By Adam Wheeler<br />

a set of performances that delivered<br />

a second overall GP win of<br />

2019 was emboldening.<br />

“Monday was tough,” Gajser told<br />

Lewis Phillips of MX Vice Podcasting<br />

fame of the immediate<br />

post-Mantova malaise “because<br />

you start to realise what you did<br />

and the stupid mistakes. I was<br />

trying to forget about that as soon<br />

as possible.”<br />

“It is definitely always tough when<br />

you come from a bad weekend<br />

and also the confidence goes a<br />

little bit. You start to question ‘am<br />

I good enough?’ stuff like that. I<br />

am so happy to have an amazing<br />

team behind me and also my girlfriend.<br />

She is always right there,<br />

mentally trying to say everything<br />

so that I feel better.”<br />

Riders frequently make platitudes<br />

(and rightly so) to their teams<br />

for the work and effort made to<br />

give them a platform – technical,<br />

physical, mental and maybe<br />

spiritual – from which to perform.<br />

Gasjer is frank and honest about<br />

how he leans on his support<br />

group after disappointments like<br />

Mantova, but despite all the headhelp<br />

he still has to embark on one<br />

of the hardest and loneliest sporting<br />

pursuits alone. <strong>No</strong>body else<br />

in the world knows what it is like<br />

to push that factory Honda to live<br />

with a nine times world champion<br />

and to push KTM away from the<br />

top of an MXGP podium. Tim may<br />

seem meek, almost vulnerable,<br />

in person but there is no escaping<br />

the depth of the salvage act<br />

he performed from Monday 13th<br />

May to Sunday 19th and again in<br />

France another week later.<br />

The MXGP world championship<br />

has been decided by 51, 50, 84<br />

and 43 points in the last five<br />

years and without going to the<br />

final round on each occasion.<br />

This means the graft and the<br />

foundation building of a title win<br />

has gone-on long before the final<br />

stretches of the calendar comes<br />

into play. Portugal will have been<br />

a relief for the HRC camp. A small<br />

stumble for Cairoli with his sights<br />

set on the record books but a<br />

hearty revival from his closest<br />

pursuer. It showed the kind of<br />

resolve that we as fans rarely get<br />

to see or understand about elite<br />

sportsmen: that process of how<br />

they strive behind the scenes<br />

to drag fortune back into their<br />

arsenal.<br />

Gajser did his job, realised his<br />

potential once more and satisfied<br />

his personal motivation at Agueda<br />

and then revelled in it in France…<br />

but he also unearthed some of<br />

the essence that separates people<br />

like him from people like us.


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Photo: Octopi Media


@ P R O T A P E R<br />

P R O T A P E R . C O M


Poised<br />

to<br />

eat<br />

it<br />

By Adam Wheeler, Photos by Ray Archer<br />





There are a lot of people looking<br />

at Thomas Kjer Olsen. We don’t<br />

mean the curious staff of the sushi<br />

restaurant near the racetrack at Mantova<br />

for the Grand Prix of Lombardia where<br />

we are taking photos. We don’t really<br />

mean all those MXGP fans and followers<br />

that recognise the Rockstar Husqvarna<br />

rider is the best hope of taking it to MX2<br />

conqueror Jorge Prado. Instead we were<br />

thinking of the Dane’s prospects. In just<br />

his third Grand Prix season ‘TKO’ has already<br />

held the red plate as series leader,<br />

has claimed another overall win and arguably<br />

stands as one brightest talents in<br />

Grand Prix: certainly one that could and<br />

should blend ideally with a 450 in the<br />

MXGP class considering his height and<br />

strength.<br />







After establishing himself with aplomb<br />

in 2017 and 2018 there is now a bit more<br />

urgency in the 22 year old’s bow wave.<br />

The last time Thomas featured in OTOR<br />

we were essentially discovering a rising<br />

star. <strong>No</strong>w Olsen has stepped up to the<br />

mantle of principal Red Bull KTM ‘challenger’,<br />

and is well placed in a young<br />

flock of riders that Husqvarna are currently<br />

cultivating to eventually have an<br />

impact on MXGP and dilute some of<br />

the strong orange shade with a dash<br />

of white. He still has one more year in<br />

the MX2 division before he ages out but<br />

#19’s time is very much now.<br />

If Thomas’ sporting situation has<br />

changed slightly then his character and<br />

quiet demeanour has not. He smiles<br />

easily and exudes calmness. You can<br />

feel he is perhaps a person that doesn’t<br />

get rattled…even when asked to perform<br />

the slightly tricky task of holding two<br />

pieces of sushi above his head. His talent<br />

spreads far obviously.

OK, so you’ve had the red plate. You’ve<br />

obviously dominated the EMX250 series<br />

but this position at the top of the world<br />

championship must have carried some<br />

sort of effect. Many rider publicly claim<br />

that it doesn’t mean much…<br />

You’re right. The first time I had it in<br />

Valkenswaard this year it was really<br />

something different to see your bike with<br />

that plate on. I quickly got used to it, and<br />

even had it on the practice bike sometimes!<br />

To be honest I haven’t thought too<br />

much about it. I’ve been working on my<br />

own racing and riding and trying to be<br />

consistently ‘up there’ because I don’t<br />

think it helps to have that ‘oh, I’m in the<br />

lead I must keep it’ feeling. I’m stoked<br />

about it but it is something that is towards<br />

the back of my mind.<br />



It’s a cliché that riders don’t<br />

think about points or standings<br />

or red plates, but some<br />

will never reach that position<br />

in their careers…<br />

That’s right and I did think<br />

about it after the British Grand<br />

Prix but I have always been the<br />

type of guy that when I am on<br />

the bike those sorts of things<br />

don’t come to me too much.<br />

For sure I want to win a world<br />

championship but to lead one<br />

is also a milestone. Even in<br />

Danish motocross nobody has<br />

ever done it. It’s a huge accomplishment.<br />

It’s good to hear you say that<br />

because some riders can really<br />

buckle or struggle with<br />

pressure. <strong>On</strong> the other hand<br />

you have to be pretty cold or<br />

super-disciplined not to look<br />

around you and recognise<br />

that you are at the top of the<br />

world…<br />

Yeah. I had a good first year<br />

when I came into Grands Prix<br />

and I feel that I have kept being<br />

the same since then: pretty<br />

humble and not really looking<br />

back to see how far I’ve made<br />

it. During the big break we had<br />

in the calendar recently I went<br />

back to Denmark and saw a<br />

round of the national champi-


onship. I was standing at the<br />

side and I was thinking ‘wow,<br />

these guys are going so fast…’<br />

I still think the Danish series<br />







RAIL.”<br />

is quite good but the GPs is<br />

another level. I almost forget<br />

sometimes that I’m a pretty<br />

good motocross rider.<br />

After the British Grand Prix<br />

it set in a bit more that I was<br />

leading the world championship.<br />

In your first year you impressed<br />

everybody, in your<br />

second year there were a lot<br />

of podiums but also that discovery<br />

of new limits with your<br />

training and possibilities. Do<br />

you feel a bit wiser now and<br />

does that translate into a bit<br />

more speed?<br />

Yeah, exactly. It is a long and<br />

draining season and I’m still<br />

learning about my body. At<br />

one point [last year] I wanted<br />

to keep training during the<br />

season like I was in the offseason<br />

but I just couldn’t do<br />

it. I needed a bit more time<br />

off when we had back-to-back<br />

races instead of practicing my<br />

brains off. I had to recover well<br />

and I learned a lot about myself<br />

and even still this year. I<br />

think I am more open-minded<br />

this year, especially about bike<br />

set-up, compared to previous<br />

seasons.<br />

An example of that?<br />

In the past I’d have my base<br />

setting from the winter and I<br />

didn’t have the confidence to<br />

change it during the season,<br />

for example. As I got better


and better at testing it meant I<br />

could trust myself more and know<br />

when a change will also feel good<br />

in a race situation. I know I was in<br />

the Europeans for some time but<br />

I got thrown into GPs quickly and<br />

proved to be good pretty quickly<br />

and coming into a factory team<br />

there are so many options: I was<br />

not used to testing that much! So<br />

it was difficult but I think everybody<br />

goes through it. There is<br />

still a lot to learn about the bike<br />

and my riding style but I am beginning<br />

to feel more about how it<br />

should be.<br />

When you were at that Danish<br />

race were you a bit of a celebrity?<br />

Haha. It is not bad at all but I<br />

did have a lot of people coming<br />

up to me and they are really<br />

happy to have a Danish guy<br />

fighting for a championship. I<br />

had a lot telling me how they<br />

are watching every Sunday and<br />

even some non-motocross fans,<br />

like my mum and Dad’s friends,<br />

saying how they watch each GP<br />

as well now. It’s kinda cool to<br />

bring even a small bit of attention<br />

to the sport in Denmark.<br />

Are you aware of the influence<br />

you have? Especially<br />

for kids or new fans?<br />

Yes but it is so difficult to get<br />

that into your brain; to think<br />

about how you had idols<br />

when you were a kid and that<br />

you might be the same now<br />

for a kid in Denmark. It is<br />

difficult to imagine. I’m just<br />

me! I still look at some guys.<br />

I mean I still have idols inside<br />

and outside of the sport.

Who was it for you? Where<br />

would you be standing and<br />

waiting in the paddock now as<br />

an eight year old?<br />

I didn’t really go to the GPs<br />

much when I was younger but<br />

I would always be watching<br />

Stefan Everts and my grandparents<br />

made me tapes of him<br />

riding. So I was watching a lot<br />

of videos. A bit later it was also<br />

James [Stewart], [Ryan] Villopoto<br />

and Ryan [Dungey] and<br />

those guys. Outside of motocross<br />

I was watching basketball<br />

and it was cool to see their<br />

personalities and their work<br />

methods because, although it<br />

is a completely different thing,<br />

our mindsets and stuff are<br />

still so much alike. When your<br />

hobby becomes your profession<br />

it can become quite<br />

different and I think there is<br />

a lot to be learned from other<br />

sports. I like watching [sports]<br />

documentaries. I can see so<br />

many similarities to what I am<br />

doing…even basic training.<br />

You sometimes forget that you<br />

don’t always have to suffer.<br />

When I look at a guy like Tony<br />

[Cairoli] it really looks like he<br />

is enjoying riding motocross. I<br />

don’t know him personally but<br />

from the outside it seems that<br />

he has a really good balance<br />

of liking his racing but also<br />

working really hard. It one<br />

thing I look up to a lot.<br />





WHO I AM.”<br />

You’re in your third year. Can<br />

you imagine doing fifteen like<br />

him? And still be winning!<br />

Ha! He’s still winning but<br />

it takes a lot of sacrifice. It<br />

would be really tough but if<br />

you could find a way to make<br />

it fun then time would move<br />

faster.<br />

Do you ever think that people<br />

are seeing your results and<br />

wondering what a good 450<br />

rider you could be? Are you<br />

aware that you’ll be sought<br />

after by most brands and<br />

teams for the next step?<br />

Er, yeah. I mean, I’ll still be in<br />

the MX2 next year – that’s a<br />

90-10 certainty because I feel<br />

that I should get all the years<br />

that I can from the 250. It is<br />

a bike I really enjoy riding. I<br />

know I am a heavy guy but<br />

there are still a lot of things<br />

I want to find out about, and<br />

people I want to work with before<br />

I go into that MXGP class.<br />

I think it is important to get<br />

all the experience that I can<br />

before I move up. But, yeah,<br />

it has been a bit in the back<br />

of my mind that in the next<br />

couple of years the change<br />

will have to happen.<br />

Is it also nice that people will<br />

be chasing you? For a section<br />

of the gate – former world<br />

champions and GP winner<br />

even – it is the other way<br />

around. It must be good for<br />

the confidence…<br />

Yeah, I know people are looking<br />

at me for the 450. I feel<br />

it will suit me well and I am<br />

looking forward to moving up<br />

and having that power. But it<br />

feels far in the future. I hope<br />

I can continue getting better<br />

and hopefully those offers will<br />

come. I haven’t been talking<br />

to anybody! It feels like it is<br />

too far away. I’m at a great<br />

place right now. I feel like it<br />



is my family and I’m at home.<br />

<strong>On</strong> my off-days I’ll still go to<br />

the workshop to chat to the<br />

guys. We are working together<br />

but they are also like my<br />

friends.<br />

People have seen the news<br />

that the team will change for<br />

2020 and the stewardship of<br />

the team will change. What’s<br />

your opinion on that and will<br />

it alter much for you?<br />

I don’t have any worries about<br />

it. I know we have some great<br />

people behind the new structure,<br />

with a lot of the same<br />

guys involved, and Nestaan<br />

[lead sponsor] is moving over<br />

also. I know they will take<br />

good care of it. I’m not doubting<br />

anything that is going on.<br />

How do you go about beating<br />

a rival like Prado? He takes<br />

holeshots at will, weighs little,<br />

has great technique and<br />

has a burst of intensity in<br />

the first laps like no other.<br />

How do you find those weaknesses?<br />

[Smiles] It’s difficult.


It is also still early in the season,<br />

so it is not like I have a<br />

game plan where I will go out<br />

and do this-this-and-this to<br />

beat him. If I have the speed<br />

to beat him or the opportunity<br />

to rough him up a bit<br />

then I’ll take it. I cannot be<br />

too sweet to the guy! He is on<br />

a rail. He is so good at those<br />

starts and when he gets them<br />

then he just pushes forwards.<br />

So if I can try to get in there<br />

and mess with his flow a little<br />

bit then this would be the<br />

best move.<br />

Is it possible to make a strategy?<br />

Even each weekend?<br />

<strong>No</strong>…and I don’t know if you<br />

guys looking-in think I should<br />

do that but [in] this sport it is<br />

so difficult to plan-out a race<br />

because so many different<br />

things can happen. I’m focussing<br />

on my own speed and if I<br />

have it then we’ll have a race.<br />

Lastly, are you too much of a<br />

nice guy to win this thing?<br />

Haha, I don’t know, I’ve never<br />

really thought about it. When<br />

you say that I think of Aaron<br />

Plessinger. A lot of people<br />

were saying the same about<br />

him. I don’t think you need<br />

to be an asshole to win the<br />

world championship. I don’t<br />

want to change who I am. For<br />

sure I can get rougher on the<br />

track if I wanted to but when<br />

it’s not necessary…


MXGP<br />

BLOG<br />


I’m glad there are three spots on an MXGP podium.<br />

For what feels like an age – and<br />

quite amazingly so considering<br />

the longevity and all the different<br />

tracks and conditions – there<br />

have been two-three athletes<br />

monopolising the premier class<br />

of the FIM World Championship.<br />

Cairoli, Herlings, Gajser. <strong>On</strong>ly<br />

Clement Desalle has broken that<br />

little triumvirate and you have to<br />

go back to April 2017 when another<br />

rider – Gautier Paulin – last<br />

joined the party.<br />

In the last few years being able to<br />

reach the hallowed ground of the<br />

top three has become more and<br />

more of a precious result (and at<br />

a time when Grand Prix saddles<br />

are diminishing) so it is encouraging<br />

that the fight for a trophy, any<br />

trophy, still delivers some of the<br />

best stories in the championship.<br />

Yes, Tony Cairoli’s return to brilliance<br />

in 2017 was inspiring, his<br />

battle against Herlings in 2018<br />

was gripping and in 2019 he<br />

seems set for the record books.<br />

And then Herlings delivered the<br />

most comprehensive<br />

championship win of the modern<br />

era. And Gajser exists in a window<br />

of speed/performance/peril<br />

that makes you want to watch<br />

through your fingers. But it is<br />

also achievements like Paulin’s<br />

rostrum finishes this term with<br />

a fourth different motorcycle in<br />

MXGP (his wildcard victory in<br />

2011 with Yamaha was notched<br />

in the old MX1 class, so we’ll use<br />

that technicality), Arnaud Tonus’<br />

resurrection from the kind of injury<br />

problems that have effectively<br />

ended other careers and Pauls<br />

Jonass’ maiden MXGP silverware<br />

that also help enrich what Grand<br />

Prix has to offer.<br />

The case of Jonass has wider context.<br />

The 2017 MX2 world champion<br />

had had enough of the 250 by<br />

the start of 2018 but how do you<br />

fit in a KTM structure that already<br />

boasts Cairoli and Herlings? The<br />

latter was only 23 at the time so<br />

hedging Pauls for the future was<br />

also slightly unjustifiable for the<br />

factory. The decision to slide the<br />

Latvian across to the Rockstar<br />

Energy Ice<strong>On</strong>e Husqvarna team<br />

(all part of the KTM Group of<br />

course) seemed like a sensible<br />

move although it was confusing<br />

to deduce how Kimi Raikkonen’s<br />

outfit were morphing from a crew<br />

that housed the proven talents<br />

of Max Nagl, Tyla Rattray, Paulin<br />

and Max Anstie since 2015 into a<br />

more speculative effort.<br />

Team Manager Antti Pyrhonen’s<br />

immaculately presented squad is<br />

almost the definition of ‘factory’<br />

in MXGP: fantastic resources,<br />

an F1-spec workshop, and an<br />

enviable two-truck set-up that is<br />

spotless and ordered and exudes<br />

the air of exclusivity. By resources<br />

I mean the provision for a training<br />

and riding programme that<br />

a great many riders would snapup<br />

in an instant. The framework<br />

served admirably for Nagl in that<br />

’15 season where the team and<br />

Husqvarna led the premier class<br />

standings until the German’s<br />

fateful and unfortunate broken leg<br />

while contesting the Qualification<br />

Heat for his home round.

By Adam Wheeler<br />

Signing Paulin from HRC was a<br />

statement in itself and the Ice<strong>On</strong>e<br />

environment served Max Anstie so<br />

well in 2017 that the then-rookie<br />

would decimate the Motocross of<br />

Nations in the UK with one of the<br />

standout results in the 70+ years<br />

of the competition.<br />

2018 was an odd season of missteps<br />

that served to give Ice<strong>On</strong>e,<br />

Pyrhonen and the KTM Group<br />

some beneficial perspective for<br />

2019. Jonass was a rookie late to<br />

the game after knee surgery while<br />

Arminas Jasikonis represented another<br />

optimistic punt. The 21 year<br />

old Lithuanian has youth, strength<br />

and willingness on his side and is<br />

perhaps one of the clearest examples<br />

of a ‘rough diamond’ in the<br />

MXGP pack. In fact, from all the<br />

factory riders across the manufacturers<br />

(and with the exception of<br />

Brian Bogers) he is the only racer<br />

not to have won a Grand Prix. The<br />

potential is there and his lofty<br />

position in the MXGP championship<br />

standings is testament to how<br />

Jasikonis has matured and curbed<br />

some of his wilder decision-making.<br />

It must have required some soulsearching<br />

for Ice<strong>On</strong>e to put aside<br />

fierce ambition and designs on<br />

Grand Prix wins and the championship<br />

to replace podiums for progress.<br />

But, as Pyrhonen admitted<br />

to me at Mantova, something like a<br />

fourth position overall for the likes<br />

of ‘Jasi’ or Pauls represents a barometer<br />

of gain (or even success),<br />

while the same classification with<br />

an athlete of Paulin’s ilk can be<br />

construed as ‘what’s the problem?’<br />

Antti was unafraid to talk about the<br />

difficulty of matching the standout<br />

elite of Cairoli-Herlings-Gajser, and<br />

the kind of inevitability that team<br />

managers used to whisper about<br />

when Cairoli was in the midst of<br />

his five-title run at the beginning<br />

of the decade. It is very, very tough<br />

for any team or rider to supersede<br />

the kind of formidability that has<br />

been seen in the last three seasons<br />

of MXGP.<br />

Thus a podium appearance is not<br />

to be sniffed-at in 2019 and the<br />

fact that Jonass packaged two<br />

starts and his sand acumen at<br />

Mantova to finish runner-up means<br />

the achievement must rank as one<br />

of the best in the team’s history.<br />

Jonass is already the most successful<br />

motocrosser from his<br />

country in the history of the sport.<br />

A world champion, a European<br />

champion and a Grand Prix winner.<br />

He undoubtedly has the<br />

capacity and the resolve to deliver<br />

the goods (and follows the bizarre<br />

trend of rookies excelling in their<br />

maiden MXGP seasons as seen by<br />

the likes of Romain Febvre, Gasjer,<br />

Herlings, Tonus,) but credit has to<br />

go to Ice<strong>On</strong>e for a degree of reinvention.<br />

Their system of work and<br />

ethos would seem to be unaltered<br />

but the realignment of how they<br />

want to make a mark in MXGP in<br />

the coming months (maybe the<br />

next two years) is ultimately leading<br />

to a more promising scenario.<br />

Their allure is increasing again.<br />

They are drifting from a team that<br />

invited questions to one that is<br />

delivering answers.<br />

Dislodging Cairoli, Gajser, Herlings<br />

with any hint of regularity is now<br />

a means for anybody to define<br />

championship contention and<br />

credentials. But there are other<br />

spaces for prizes, and the kinds of<br />

narratives that also transmit some<br />

of the magic of racing.


www.actiphwater.com<br />

actiph<br />

There is a cool story about the UK’s first<br />

alkaline, ionised water drink (widely available<br />

in supermarkets like Morrisons and<br />

newsagents WH Smiths) created by Jamie<br />

Douglas-Hamilton. The Scotsman was part<br />

of a crew of six that rowed 5000 miles<br />

across the Indian Ocean from Australia to<br />

India burning up to 10,000 calories a day.<br />

In that time they started to mix fresh water<br />

with a little salt water to replace key minerals.<br />

The experience prompted Douglas-<br />

Hamilton to investigate hydration further<br />

and after research in Japan with ionised<br />

water he founded his own brand.<br />

Actiph is bottled from a spring water source<br />

in Shropshire. They add their unique formula<br />

of electrolytes and minerals and the<br />

ionisation is done by ‘electrically charging<br />

the water using platinum and titanium<br />

plates, we can strip out the sour tasting<br />

acidic ions’.<br />

The result is a strangely smooth taste and,<br />

odd as it sounds, water that’s very easy<br />

to drink – and we know, having consumed<br />

several bottles at the British MXGP at Matterley<br />

Basin this year where the Actiph<br />

team had plenty of samples. Thanks to the<br />

likes of British Championship leader Shaun<br />

Simpson and the Bike it Dixon Racing Team<br />

Actiph is making inroads into MXGP. We can<br />

also vouch for the bottle itself with a quality<br />

plastic locking cap meaning it’s an ideal<br />

choice for taking to the gym or a sports<br />

field.<br />

For more information click on any link.


A<br />



By Adam Wheeler, Photos by TLD<br />




The Adidas logo has been<br />

a noticeable part of<br />

Troy Lee Designs racewear<br />

for a number of years in<br />

acknowledgement of an amiable<br />

friendship between the<br />

revered helmet designer and a<br />

segment of the sportswear giant.<br />

In the second part of our<br />

talk with Director of Merchandising<br />

Jeff David, the American<br />

explains how the bond<br />

with Adidas grew significantly<br />

into some very special limited<br />

edition riding gear.<br />

There were the Nike motocross<br />

boots worn by James<br />

Stewart and Ryan Dungey<br />

towards the end of the decade<br />

(apparently the cost/profit<br />

margin of manufacture for<br />

such a niche market meant<br />

that the project and development<br />

was short-lived) but no<br />

other memorable forays by<br />

sports giants into the sport.<br />

Adidas however have had a<br />

small link with Troy Lee Designs<br />

easily spotted through<br />

their retro three-stripe logo on<br />

the TLD KTM race gear.<br />

The combination of the brands<br />

has moved from mutual respect<br />

and fleeting to something<br />

far more impressive so<br />

we fired six questions at Jeff<br />

David in our recent visit to<br />

the facility in Irvine to find out<br />

more and why the increased<br />

speculation by Adidas could<br />

be meaningful for motocross…<br />

The collaboration seems to<br />

have grown as evidenced by<br />

the release of the ‘Ultra’ kit<br />

and things like the Cole Seely<br />

show. So what is the current<br />

position?<br />

It has been several years now<br />

since Troy first partnered with<br />

Adidas and from the get-go it<br />

has been very exciting. They<br />

have been offering ideas for<br />

new materials, and for the<br />

collaboration on the pant and<br />

jersey we went to their HQ in<br />

Oregon and they did a lot of<br />

work on the specific fabrics to<br />

use as well as the ergonomic<br />

factors. They have a large lab<br />

up there where they can hook<br />

sensors to a rider’s body and<br />

get a full reading of the articulation<br />

of the pant and jersey.<br />

Which they in turn evolve<br />

into different pattern designs,<br />

so they really helped in that<br />

aspect and gave us some<br />

guidance. It was unique from<br />

anything we’d done in the past<br />

and they have more new ideas<br />

going forward that we are<br />

currently working on; mainly<br />

to do with materials again<br />

and outfitting the rider/racer<br />

in ways that they do in other<br />

sports and how that is trickling<br />

down into the moto and<br />

mountain bike side. Moto has<br />

been pretty traditional with<br />

materials in the last twenty<br />

years but now we’ve seen that<br />

change with more stretch fabrics<br />

and tighter fitting, more<br />

performance-driven. What we<br />

are trying to do is have our<br />

racers layer-up from insideout.<br />

They might have a compression<br />

type form of protection<br />

with padding but then the<br />

jersey on top will be part of<br />

that performance package and<br />

the more with the pants.<br />

The work in Oregon: was that<br />

a result of talks, meetings and<br />

ideas over a period time?<br />

Years in the making. At first<br />

we just made some gear with<br />

their logos on it and it evolved<br />

from there with ideas going<br />

back and forth between Troy<br />

and our design team with their<br />

teams over there. The department<br />

we are working with really<br />

want to push the envelope<br />

and give some unique ideas<br />

that we can bring into our<br />

industry: things that<br />

people have not<br />

seen before.<br />

It’s what entices<br />

them<br />

and we’re<br />

really excited to<br />

do the same thing. Working<br />

with a brand like Adidas<br />

we can learn so much<br />

from them; they have so<br />

many resources and<br />

knowledge of materials,<br />

patterns and<br />

fits that might<br />

be new to our<br />


How long did you need for<br />

the Ultra gear to come to<br />

fruition?<br />

About two years to make.<br />

A lot of testing. We’d get<br />

prototypes and test them<br />

with our riders and work<br />

out what worked and what<br />

didn’t, tweak it, use different<br />

materials all the way<br />

up until the point where we<br />

came up with Ultra.<br />

TLD & ADIDAS<br />







Adidas is obviously a huge<br />

global brand spending million<br />

and millions on other sports<br />

and athletes. How did you<br />

find the attitude to motocross<br />

and a niche scene compared<br />

to something like football or<br />

athletics?<br />

I think they wanted to look at<br />

something that was a little bit<br />

different, an opportunity. A<br />

couple of guys on their team<br />

over there are huge moto fans<br />

and ride. They started working<br />

with Troy and really liked what<br />

we were doing and the fact<br />

that our brand is pretty unique<br />

with the art and the design.<br />

They thought they could help<br />

us evolve the gear, and that<br />

gear for us is limited edition<br />

and sells out very quickly. The<br />

global response is amazing,<br />

especially in Europe with all<br />

the interest and traction. It<br />

has been really good marketing<br />

for us as well as our partners.<br />

The formation of the Adidas<br />

and TLD names is quite a<br />

big thing for the industry so<br />

it must be tempting to want<br />

to go much bigger, especially<br />

with the resources they<br />

have…<br />

For sure…but we really wanted<br />

to keep it limited. We feel<br />

that it makes it special-<br />

It’s an interesting philosophy<br />

though because it’s like holding<br />

the key to a big door and<br />

only slightly opening it…<br />

Yeah, besides the gear we just<br />

came out with some shoes<br />

so there are little things that<br />

we’ll keep doing but overall<br />

we wanted to keep it special:<br />

that’s the goal.<br />

Just generally, how is TLD<br />

pushing towards the end of<br />

the decade and into the next?<br />

We are really putting an emphasis<br />

on our art, which has<br />

been one of our key trademarks<br />

for the decades that<br />

Troy has been in business. It<br />

is about combining the technology<br />

and work with safety<br />

of the products with the art<br />

and style in bike, moto and<br />

sportswear. We are really<br />

focussing on that. We have a<br />

wide demographic; from kids<br />

that are 5-6 to 60-70 year old<br />

guys that still ride. Our motto<br />

has always been ‘Mild and<br />

Wild’: we we’ll always have

that gear that is a little more<br />

tuned down but then we also<br />

want the wild stuff. If you look<br />

at Mountain bike or Supercross<br />

Troy always wants what<br />

he calls the ‘TV package’ the<br />

gear that will standout and<br />

you think ‘wow’. Whether they<br />

buy it or not, it gets their attention.<br />

That’s what TLD has<br />

been known for. We’ll always<br />

try to push the envelope.<br />

Another priority is the youth<br />

side and we are always trying<br />

to capture some of that youth<br />

market and that means always<br />

looking at new and young<br />

blood on the artistic side with<br />

that fresh vibe to it. We’re<br />

evolving in one aspect and<br />

bringing in some new tastes in<br />

others. We won’t rest on our<br />

laurels and we will look for the<br />

young graphics and colours<br />

that will capture attention;<br />

once we have that part of the<br />

market and have them liking<br />

and ‘into’ our gear then it is<br />

easier to create some brand<br />

loyalty as the rider and customer<br />

gets older.<br />

TLD & ADIDAS<br />


AMA<br />

BLOG<br />

TWO DOWN...<br />

Round two of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships<br />

just wrapped up at the Pala Raceway in Southern California<br />

and we didn’t get a lot of questions answered in the wake of<br />

round one. Some great rides however, and it’s funny though<br />

because only four motos in and there are some riders and<br />

teams that definitely need to be looking for the panic button.<br />

Let’s dive into it yeah?<br />

-<strong>On</strong>e rider that seems to be immune<br />

from issues so far is Monster<br />

Energy Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac.<br />

The defending champion rode<br />

amazingly to win both motos and<br />

has three out of four to start the<br />

year. At Pala he rode steady for<br />

the first half of the first moto in<br />

fifth, then fourth and then third<br />

place. From there he hit the<br />

afterburners and zipped around<br />

Honda’s Ken Roczen (the early<br />

leader) and Red Bull KTM’s Marvin<br />

Musquin. It was quite a performance<br />

and some big names<br />

that he zapped along the way.<br />

Second moto he stalked Musquin<br />

for a while before deciding that<br />

was it, he wanted another chequered<br />

flag. Tomac looked to be<br />

on his game all day long and if he<br />

keeps that up, it’s going to be a<br />

long summer for everyone else.<br />

-Adam Cianciarulo claimed his<br />

third career 250MX national and<br />

coming off his win last week, he<br />

has proven that he’s figured this<br />

outdoor game. Always a better indoor<br />

rider than out, Adam’s circulated<br />

with the poise of a veteran<br />

out there and his fitness seems<br />

to be on point as well. We believe<br />

that AC will be on a 450 at the<br />

Kawasaki truck next year so what<br />

if he goes out of 250’s with the<br />

title that no one thought he could<br />

get? What a story that would be?<br />

Long way to go but Cianciarulo,<br />

like Osborne in his title year,<br />

seems to have the maturity and<br />

fitness to salvage any bad situation<br />

that happens to him.<br />

-Justin Cooper of the Star Yamaha<br />

squad was fast all day at Pala<br />

in both practices and he streaked<br />

off with the first moto win. Second<br />

moto wasn’t as good, he<br />

scored a fourth but it was a<br />

second overall on the day for the<br />

kid. Incredibly, Cooper has yet<br />

to win a 250SX or MX race but<br />

has a ton of podiums. The win is<br />

coming, no doubt about it but for<br />

now, the kid has to wait.<br />

-We wondered about Ken Roczen<br />

and this virus he’s dealing with in<br />

terms of the nationals. If you’re<br />

not physically on your game<br />

outdoors, well it could be a long<br />

summer. Well, he won last week<br />

and looked great. He told us that<br />

he’s figured out the issues which<br />

he thinks came from taking antibiotics<br />

after the burns from the<br />

lime back in San Diego. And it<br />

looked like he was right.

By Steve Matthes<br />

This weekend he was checked<br />

out in moto one before being<br />

caught by Tomac and Musquin<br />

and in the second moto he<br />

finished third. Third overall for<br />

Roczen is good on paper but had<br />

he been 100% physically, there’s<br />

no way he gets caught like that<br />

in moto one. So we’ll wait and<br />

see how #94 rebounds from this<br />

in Colorado this weekend.<br />

-Zach Osborne and Jason Anderson,<br />

teammates on the Rockstar<br />

Husqvarna team, have battled<br />

hard in three out of the four<br />

motos this season. Osborne says<br />

that they both joke about it and<br />

there are no hard feelings. Which<br />

is great because it’s been intense<br />

for both of them. Osborne’s close<br />

to winning a moto, or at least<br />

getting second behind Tomac<br />

if he can start out front while<br />

Anderson has been impressive<br />

with limited time to get ready<br />

for mx after injuring himself in<br />

supercross.<br />

-The relationship between MX<br />

Sports and Glen Helen (the<br />

track) in Southern California can<br />

best be described as complicated.<br />

For years Glen Helen was<br />

the track in Southern California<br />

for the national but issues arose<br />

between the promoter MX Sports<br />

and Glen Helen and they split<br />

for a few years. The subsequent<br />

venues that MX Sports went to<br />

weren’t great (Lake Elsinore) or<br />

had issues (Pala and the traffic<br />

flow) while the USGP’s that<br />

Glen Helen hosted were a friends<br />

and family only deal. Both sides<br />

realized they needed each other<br />

and an agreement was reached<br />

for the past few years to have the<br />

national there.<br />

Well, more tensions between<br />

the sides caused another split<br />

and we were back at Pala (but<br />

with improved traffic flow). Glen<br />

Helen people know they have the<br />

heritage and the hills so they’re<br />

not easy to deal with according<br />

to many people that have. Pala<br />

is less of a track but having said<br />

that, it’s still got some elevation<br />

and I enjoyed the departure from<br />

the usual track prep. The surface<br />

was left harder and more towards<br />

it’s natural state. Crowd looked<br />

good also. Will this be the permanent<br />

home of the series in So-<br />

Cal? I’m not sure but I wouldn’t<br />

be surprised if both Glen Helen<br />

and MX Sports finally divorce<br />

each other, it just doesn’t seem<br />

like either side wants much to do<br />

with the other.


www.ktm.com<br />

ktm<br />

It’s been two years since KTM launched a new Enduro<br />

range with fanfare and highlighted their new two-stroke<br />

fuel-injected technology. The Austrians have not sat back<br />

on their previous efforts and are striding ahead, as much<br />

with their dirt bike R&D as they are on the Street and<br />

road racing side. The 2020 Enduro line-up has ample<br />

two-stroke choice with the new 150 TPI to go with the<br />

250 and the 300 (all meeting important Euro4 emission<br />

regulations).<br />

The four-strokes span 250 EXC-F, 350, 450 and 500<br />

and there is the premium Six Days model (littered with<br />

Powerparts upgrades) and the limited edition 300 TPI<br />

Ezrbergrodeo (just 500 units). The new generation is<br />

fairly comprehensive with re-designed chassis’, new and<br />

more efficient engines with reworked cooling and exhaust<br />

systems, airboxes, handlebars, Brembo brakes and much<br />




By Adam Wheeler, Photos by CormacGP/Alpinestars<br />











There is a wide and shiny<br />

view from the top of the<br />

Mission Winnow Ducati<br />

hospitality in the heart of<br />

the Jerez paddock. We have<br />

scaled the structure and traversed<br />

a narrow walkway to<br />

reach a terrace area complete<br />

with sofas and tables. The sun<br />

is shining brightly and reflections<br />

bounce off the sumptuous<br />

collection of brightly<br />

coloured units that have been<br />

assembled together for the<br />

first time this year in MotoGP.<br />

Andrea Dovizioso, 33 years<br />

young in March and now<br />

seven years on the fierce Desmosedici,<br />

is once again Marc<br />

Marquez’ principal threat in<br />

Grand Prix. ‘Dovi’ has to cope<br />

with one of the most talented<br />

motorcyclists to have graced<br />

the FIM world championship<br />

grid and the Italian – as the<br />

second oldest racer in the<br />

class – is vastly decorated<br />

himself with 22 wins (and<br />

almost 100 podiums) in all<br />

categories.<br />

Andrea smiles when we explain<br />

our interview slot is<br />

about motocross. We’ve<br />

spoken before about current<br />

themes in MXGP and Supercross<br />

usually before or after<br />

the daily media debriefs that<br />

routinely take place in the<br />

room below us. This is the<br />

first time we’d like to learn<br />

more about #4’s story and<br />

why he’s become almost obsessive<br />

about dirt bike racing<br />

again among a pool of peers<br />

in MotoGP that cannot get<br />

enough of the mud.<br />

His face darkens a little when<br />

he explains that he can only<br />

ride “twice a month” but I<br />

still recall the relaxed expression<br />

of wonderment when I<br />

bumped into him in the Nashville<br />

Supercross paddock in<br />

April just before the Grand<br />

Prix of the Americas at Austin.<br />

Rather than discussing Ducati’s<br />

potential or forward-thinking<br />

approach to aerodynamics<br />

or how Marquez can possible<br />

be beaten…the chance to talk<br />

MX doesn’t seem like such a<br />

bugbear for a part of the job<br />

that riders traditionally find to<br />

be a chore.<br />

What are your earliest memories<br />

of motocross?<br />

I remember very, very well<br />

because that was my first time<br />

on the bike. I was ‘born’ on a<br />

track because my father raced,<br />

so from the first months, as a<br />

family, we were around race<br />

tracks. I was playing with the<br />

bicycle as a kid at home and<br />

it was some of the best moments<br />

because the family’s<br />

job was in the same place as<br />

the house so we had a small<br />

garden and I could ride this<br />

bicycle easily and my father<br />

could prepare a really small<br />

track. I was still four years old<br />

and had learner wheels! Of<br />

course I saw my Dad with a<br />

motorbike and I wanted one<br />

as well, so I pushed for it. I<br />

was told if I could ride the<br />

bicycle without the learner<br />

wheels then I could have one.<br />

It happened immediately and I<br />

remember this well because –<br />

I don’t recall many days afterwards<br />

it was – but he gave<br />

me a bike as a surprise. He<br />

called me to come out of the<br />

house and it was dark, already<br />

the evening, and I opened the<br />

door and the bike was there! It<br />

was a Malaguti: red and blue.<br />

I can remember that emotion:<br />

it must be like scoring a goal<br />

in a cup final it was so strong<br />

and so nice. I started to ride<br />

that small track in the garden<br />

and at tracks where my father<br />

was racing. Fortunately I<br />

still have the bike at home! I<br />

have a friend who is a couple<br />

of years older who still races<br />

motocross at a low level and<br />

he also started with the same,<br />

used bike so he helped me<br />

and now I have one again.<br />

Was there a time when you<br />

lost some of the love of it?<br />

Maybe a scary crash or an<br />

injury?<br />

Never, never.<br />

How did you get better? Did<br />

you have someone showing<br />

you or a friend you rode with?<br />

I raced motocross but we were<br />

also riding the pocketbikes<br />

a lot. I finished second in a<br />

regional MX championship<br />

and I did some Italian Championship<br />

races but I never<br />

made a full season. I was<br />



good but nothing special. <strong>No</strong>t<br />

like [Tony] Cairoli…who was<br />

also racing at that time. My<br />

speed was good but not great<br />

and I stopped for some years<br />

because of MotoGP. I started<br />

again in 2005 and after that<br />

my passion grew again yearby-year<br />

but in the last fourfive<br />

years it increased a lot.<br />

I follow everything with a lot<br />

of detail, all the races and<br />

the practices. I bought the TV<br />

package to see all the Supercross<br />

and I can also see the<br />

Free and Qualifying Practices.<br />

I watch all the races – sometimes<br />

a day later – just to<br />

understand the riders; not<br />

only to see the result. I really<br />

enjoy that. I love seeing and<br />

working out how the riders<br />

approach every situation. The<br />

same for motocross [MXGP]<br />

I’m really involved. I think this<br />

has improved my speed in<br />

the last four years and I try<br />

to ride as much as I can now.<br />

Recently I have found a really<br />

fast rider – Danilo [Petrucci,<br />

teammate] – and most of the<br />

time he is faster than me! We<br />

are training together now…so<br />

I am really complaining about<br />

that! But that’s the reason<br />

why I wanted to work with him<br />

because he is really good and<br />

motivated. [Maverick] Viñales<br />

is really fast also, so is [Jack]<br />

Miller. I have not seen Marc<br />

[Marquez] riding in person but<br />

can tell he is also fast.

Bradley Smith?<br />

Four-five years ago I know<br />

Bradley was fast [then]. [Fabio]<br />

Quartataro also. There are<br />

quite a few and in the end I<br />

think these guys really wanted<br />

to race [motocross].<br />

In MotoGP you are one of the<br />

best in the world but when<br />

you are on a dirtbike with<br />

people like Cairoli or Alessandro<br />

Lupino or those who are<br />

Pros, where and how do see<br />

they are better than you?<br />

The biggest difference right<br />

from the beginning is the<br />

on the bike and I am angry<br />

about that. I would love to do<br />

more but I cannot because<br />

of the MotoGP and I have to<br />

get everything right for that.<br />

That’s normal. Talking more<br />

about the intensity: you see<br />

how the good guys can play<br />

with the bike, how they land<br />

through the bumps. It is all<br />

so amazing. How they scrub<br />

those jumps…also their line<br />

choice and the way they ride<br />

on a race weekend: we simply<br />

cannot do it. The level is<br />

something else. We never test<br />

or train in those conditions<br />







intensity. It is the first big<br />

thing. I mean, there is a way<br />

to ride very smooth - and it<br />

is the way everybody tries<br />

to achieve - but they have a<br />

lot of hours on the bike, and<br />

they are used to moving the<br />

bike and the body in that way<br />

and find the intensity quickly<br />

and not drop it – like us – in<br />

five minutes. The more intense<br />

you can be the more<br />

you can improve your riding,<br />

your position and a lot<br />

of things. If you can push for<br />

[only] seven minutes then it is<br />

too short a time to learn and<br />

improve. What I miss is hours<br />

and we’d be twenty seconds<br />

slower. <strong>On</strong> an easier track –<br />

like the ones we actually use<br />

for riding – then maybe it is<br />

eight seconds.<br />

<strong>On</strong>e of the nice parts of the<br />

Cairoli story is how a skinny<br />

Sicilian kid moved to Belgium<br />

and became one of the best<br />

sand riders in the world because<br />

he immersed himself in<br />

that environment-<br />

Exactly.<br />

Is sand a nightmare for you?<br />

At the moment a little bit!<br />

If you can only ride twice a<br />

month…[then you won’t get


the practice] if you are born in<br />

or around a sandy track then it<br />

is a different story. For me it is<br />

not quite the moment.<br />

When was the last time you<br />

raced?<br />

Every year we create a small<br />

charity race in December; the<br />

first weekend we have free then<br />

we are racing!<br />

How is the dynamic or even the<br />

mentality compared to how you<br />

approach a MotoGP race?<br />

Oh, everything is different! The<br />

mentality, and the way you approach<br />

the training and the race,<br />

the bike. There is not a single<br />

similar thing.<br />

What about the level of fun?<br />

<strong>No</strong>! For me motocross is<br />

way-more fun.<br />

450 or 250?<br />

250 because I don’t really<br />

have enough power or intensity<br />

for the 450 and the<br />

tracks we use are not right.<br />

The 450 is OK in America<br />

and when I travel there I usually<br />

take the 350. The tracks<br />

and jumps are too small in<br />

Europe. It’s not fun.<br />

I remember you picking up a<br />

Rinaldi-race spec Yamaha in<br />

your Tech3 days. Your name<br />

and position in MotoGP<br />

must have helped towards<br />

some decent dirtbike kit and<br />

opportunities…<br />

For sure! I am lucky. Just recently,<br />

when I went to America,<br />

I received all the best stuff<br />

from Alpinestars to go riding,<br />

a bike and good access to<br />

Supercross to speak with all<br />

the riders. It [MX/SX racing]<br />

is another world compared to<br />

ours and is easy [for access].<br />

I think they also like to see a<br />

MotoGP rider that is passionate<br />

for their sport. It’s easy to

speak with them. Sometimes<br />

the mechanics from the Rinaldi<br />

team text and tell me where<br />

they are going to test or train<br />

and if I have time I will go. It’s<br />

really nice.<br />

Marc has a good story about<br />

going to one of the Grands<br />

Prix at Bellpuig in the early<br />

‘00s and seeing Mickael<br />

Pichon and Stefan Everts<br />

racing. He has those strong<br />

memories as a kid. Were you<br />

also affected by seeing and<br />

watching others?<br />

I followed the races but as a<br />

kid my Dad never really took<br />

me to see many, in motocross<br />

or MotoGP. I think you will<br />

see many of the current guys<br />

here have a photo with Valentino<br />

when they were younger!<br />

Their parents brought them<br />

to the world championship<br />

and those photos of him in<br />

the paddock exist: that never<br />

happened to me because we<br />

were racing pocketbikes and<br />

we never really had the contact<br />

with this world. It seemed<br />

like a place far away from our<br />

world. A different story. When<br />

I see the photos of Quartararo,<br />

Viñales and Marquez with<br />

Rossi is seems very strange<br />

to me. Valentino finished the<br />

pocketbike races when we<br />

started but there was never<br />

really the possibility.<br />

Time’s up. The next set of<br />

journalists have already<br />

scaled the Ducati terrace and<br />

are waiting patiently. Andrea<br />

has already completed an<br />

unusual pre-event media opportunity<br />

at the Fundación<br />

Real Escuela Andaluza del<br />

Arte Ecuestre (an equestrian<br />

school) and the Thursday<br />

schedule of non-racing matters<br />

is in full flow. Dovi is<br />

appreciated among journalists<br />

for the way he can articulate<br />

what MotoGP feels like, and<br />

the almost-scientific approach<br />

riders need to live in the acute<br />

margins of performance necessary<br />

for success. It does<br />

seem as if we just nicked<br />

the surface when it comes<br />

to similar thoughts on motocross,<br />

his impressions of the<br />

technicality behind it and contrasted<br />

to his day job between<br />

Friday-Sunday. Mission Winnow<br />

Ducati might be asked for<br />

a ‘part two’.<br />



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THE<br />


FIT<br />





By Adam Wheeler, Photos by Ray Archer/Answer


<strong>On</strong>e of the most proactive<br />

and appealing gear<br />

brands to come out of<br />

the United States is Answer<br />

with a forty-two year existence<br />

and some genuinely great<br />

liveries and athletes in that<br />

stable. Today Answer cannot<br />

be ignored in MXGP thanks<br />

to the Red Bull KTM duo of<br />

Tony Cairoli and Jorge Prado<br />

ruling both classes of the current<br />

championship and having<br />

used a spread of Answer kit<br />

for the last two years. In the<br />

United States the firm count<br />

on the JGR Yoshimura team<br />

and have no less than Ryan<br />

Villopoto as one of their figureheads<br />

and developers.<br />

We caught up with Brand<br />

Manager Randy Valade to<br />

talk about Villopoto’s growing<br />

influence and role at the Los<br />

Angeles-based company and<br />

also MX2 World Champion<br />

Jorge Prado about the gear<br />

itself and the using the midlevel<br />

Elite product.<br />

Randy, it’s two years now<br />

with Ryan so have you been<br />

able to fine tune how you use<br />

him and also what he might<br />

want out of the association?<br />

So initially we brought him<br />

on as a brand ambassador.<br />

We all know his background<br />

and that he was one of the<br />

best to have ridden a motorcycle<br />

at that point. He<br />

was looking for a brand he<br />

could do fun stuff for and<br />

that’s how it came about with<br />

Answer. We are using him<br />

for a lot of content creation

and development of the new<br />

products: he is obviously very<br />

knowledgeable about products<br />

from his experience and years<br />

in the sport. We show him new<br />

designs and concepts and he<br />

always has a lot of good feedback.<br />

He’s very upfront and<br />

doesn’t beat around the bush!<br />

If he doesn’t like something<br />

then he tells us, some of our<br />

guys will give some input and<br />

might suggest ways to change<br />

an item whereas he’ll just tell<br />

us it sucks and we have to alter<br />

it.<br />

I guess it is good in some<br />

ways, although it can be harsh<br />

for our designers! At the end<br />

of the day it is fun and since<br />

he has been with Answer<br />

he’s done some races but<br />

also some off-road stuff and<br />

Yamaha have given him a WR.<br />

We did a 2021 photoshoot at<br />

Beaumont with Nick Wey.<br />

Is there a difference between<br />

his role and Nick’s?<br />

Yeah, Nick is more of a tester.<br />

He speaks very well with our<br />

dealers and reps as well so<br />

we use him at some of our<br />

trade shows. It is a little bit<br />

of a different role but we still<br />

use Nick for content creation.<br />

He is our go-to test guy with<br />

anything new that comes in.<br />

He’s also been overseeing the<br />

rig for the Answer Grassroots<br />

tour at events.<br />






YEARS AGO.<br />

Is it tempting to get Ryan in<br />

at an earlier point and call on<br />

that elite level experience?<br />

Maybe use him at the ideas<br />

stage?<br />

Yeah. He was just here looking<br />

at some helmet designs and<br />

comps for a product that we<br />

are looking to bring out in two<br />

years time. We bring him in<br />

and he checks them out.<br />

He saw a few things on the<br />

helmet today that even we<br />

didn’t notice so it’s good to<br />

have his expertise and he is<br />

still very knowledgeable about<br />

what is going on in the market<br />

with motorcycle products.<br />

A small example?<br />

So for this helmet it was the<br />

angle of the bottom of the<br />

shell and a comment about<br />

the visor that might help with<br />

ventilation.<br />

He initially liked the midrange<br />

Elite riding gear didn’t<br />

he?<br />

Yeah, he tried a bit of everything<br />

but is now stuck with<br />

Trinity: our high-end stuff.<br />

That’s his go-to, but when<br />

he first came on-board he<br />

loved the mid-range. We stuck<br />

some Syncron on him for the<br />

photoshoot – our entry-level<br />

gear – and he liked that too.<br />

That’s our big focus: to make<br />

sure we have a good fit across<br />

the range and that it is very<br />

similar. Obviously there are<br />

different materials and fabrics<br />

involved but we want that uniform<br />

fit across the platform.<br />

Maybe it is more of a question<br />

for Ryan but riding gear<br />

must have evolved since he<br />

last pulled on a pair of race<br />

pants in anger…<br />

Right! Definitely. I think when<br />

he first pulled on the Trinity<br />

pant he wasn’t prepared for<br />

how stretchy and comfortable<br />

it would be. I think he would<br />











agree that it is crazy to see the development<br />

of fabrics now compared to even a<br />

couple of years ago.<br />

Can the market sustain the range of<br />

options for the customer now? From<br />

cheaper gear to this expensive highperformance<br />

stuff: is there perhaps too<br />

much choice?<br />

I think it is tough because there are a<br />

lot of brands going down the ‘athletic fit’<br />

route and we do with our Trinity stuff. Is<br />

there a huge market for it? I don’t think<br />

so. There are a handful of racers that<br />

prefer that product but let’s be honest<br />

we are selling most of our product to<br />

guys who just want to ride for fun and<br />

who might not be in the shape to really<br />

make the most of the high-end stuff.<br />

Some brands are heading in that direction<br />

and maybe they see the market in<br />

a different way to what I do. We create<br />

these elite products that the athletes<br />

want to wear but we know we’ll sell the<br />

entry level and mid-level stuff and maybe<br />

the customer has seen Trinity on the<br />

track or TV and wants to see more.<br />

That must be hard for development as<br />

well because you want to pour time and<br />

resources into something like Trinity or<br />

prototypes but then most of the business<br />

is coming from other products…<br />

That’s right. It is a bit of a double-edged<br />

sword at the end of the day! We want to<br />

keep moving forward with new technology<br />

and we’re working on something<br />

now for 2021 on the higher-end platform<br />

with one eye on the fact that we won’t<br />

sell a ton of it…but we will sell what we<br />

order. Hopefully someone will see what<br />

we are doing and it will make them want<br />

to check out something from Answer in<br />

the stores



Jorge, this is the second<br />

Grand Prix year with Answer.<br />

Honestly: impressions?<br />

It’s two years now and overall<br />

I’m really happy for a couple<br />

of reasons: it’s really light and<br />

keeps me fresh. This is important,<br />

especially when the<br />

temperatures go up during the<br />

summer. Sometimes you really<br />

feel that you need some fresh<br />

air when you are riding. I also<br />

love the colours. When you are<br />

training and riding every other<br />

day it can be boring to always<br />

have the same stuff. It actually<br />

gives you some motivation<br />

to go onto the track when you<br />

look good and can wear different<br />

colours and combinations.<br />

The designs are cool and in<br />

my case I like to wear different<br />

things. It can be tricky at<br />

KTM to have many alternative<br />

colours but we still have special<br />

liveries coming during the<br />

season.<br />

Are you fussy about what you<br />

ask from Answer?<br />

<strong>No</strong> real special demands. We<br />

ride with the product that<br />

Answer sell. We check the<br />

sizes, and then it is good to<br />

go riding. In the beginning the

jersey was kinda tight around<br />

my arms and I was worried<br />

about arm-pump but it’s not a<br />

problem and I was even a little<br />

surprised about that. The fit of<br />

the pants is just right – again<br />

we use off-the-hanger stuff –<br />

and even with the full knee<br />

brace it fits good.<br />

Do you get through a lot of<br />

product? How many sets in a<br />

Grand Prix weekend for example?<br />

I’m lucky that we get enough<br />

material! For sure we try to<br />

use it until they almost break<br />

but we have enough and we<br />

use good material all the time<br />

in training and a fresh set at<br />

the GPs. The quality is good<br />

because the material is strong<br />

and I have never broken any<br />

pants or a shirt.<br />

point between loose/easy and<br />

the new generation of tighter<br />

fitting. It’s really comfortable.<br />

Is the distance from Answer<br />

in the USA ever a factor?<br />

The link with the U.S. is good<br />

and that was a surprise for<br />

me; they like to involve the<br />

riders in their projects and<br />

their new product. We test<br />

it all as well as some prototypes<br />

and can advise on fit<br />

and dimensions. It’s the first<br />

brand where I’ve been able to<br />

do that kind of testing. I also<br />

use the chest protector and<br />

Answer socks.<br />

Is there anything you are especially<br />

picky about?<br />

I’m very particular with the<br />

gloves. I like them really tight.<br />

When the 15 second board<br />

as the colours for next year.<br />

It’s another thing we can test.<br />

Last year I would use a pair of<br />

gloves once before I go racing:<br />

they’d go into the washing<br />

machine and then they’d be<br />

ready! I’m not sure why but<br />

this year I like them brand<br />

new and out of the packet.<br />

Completely fresh!<br />


Are you a fan or are you indifferent<br />

to the tighter athletic<br />

fit of race gear these days?<br />

The Answer gear has a good<br />

thing going because it looks<br />

tight but at the same time<br />

it isn’t. They found a decent<br />

goes up I’m making sure they<br />

are as tight as they can be on<br />

my hands. I really want a good<br />

feeling on the gas, clutch and<br />

brake. Answer has many different<br />

models and they have<br />

changed the design as well


www.ride100percent.com<br />

100%<br />

Any visitors to the OTOR website would have<br />

seen our recent small article on 100%’s Armega.<br />

To summarise, the American firm have<br />

created and launched a new flagship goggle<br />

that they claim is ‘unparalleled performance<br />

for the modern racer’ and ‘the most sophisticated<br />

moto goggle ever made’. That sophistication<br />

comes through the resistant UltraHD<br />

lens clarity – the clearest view yet in a range<br />

of light and conditions – six moulded lenslocking<br />

tabs that are integrated in a very slim<br />

but strong frame that boasts a climate control<br />

system through the vents.<br />

It will be 100%’s priciest moto goggle yet but<br />

the Armega goes directly into competition<br />

for performance and recognition with Scott’s<br />

Prospect and Oakley’s Airbrake. The website<br />

explains more and outlines all the specs and<br />

advantages and looks the business. Have a<br />

click.<br />

Elements such as fetching design, removable<br />

noseguards, 3D foam and a wide field of vision<br />

are a given.

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IN A HURRY<br />





By Adam Wheeler, Photos by CormacGP


The Dutch company formed in 1995 and<br />

have ten years in Grand Prix thanks to<br />

their leathers and protection and are<br />

now pushing strong. “This Racing Technology<br />

Centre represents us stepping up our<br />

game,” says MD and Founder Ivan Vos from<br />

inside the confines of the dark, plush and<br />

brand new double-tiered facility in the Jerez<br />

paddock for what is the unveiling of REV’IT’s<br />

emblematic statement. “We want to lead and<br />

not follow.”<br />

“We will do that by being authentic and innovative<br />

and we are investing in MotoGP not only for<br />

marketing but for development.”<br />

Vos created REV’IT after succeeding with an importation<br />

company in Holland and identified that<br />

the choice for motorcycling gear was either pretty<br />

poor or very expensive. “We try to capture the<br />

excitement of riding motorcycles but also bring<br />

an eye for detail to our products at an affordable<br />

price point,” he states.

REV’IT grew. They established an in-house<br />

lab to rattle through a portfolio of products,<br />

distribution in seventy countries, an office<br />

in New York and a staff roster of more than<br />

a hundred people. Over time they sought<br />

deals with companies and manufacturers<br />

like Gore-Tex, Tryonic, Ducati, Yamaha and<br />

Husqvarna and won prizes on the way for<br />

their design. REV’IT soon became an accessible<br />

firm and one renowned for quality and<br />

diligence.<br />

An example of how REV’IT accelerated<br />

quickly can be see by the structure of their<br />

5000m2 facility in Oss where they have<br />

amassed a modern storage and shipping<br />

facility, office space, R&D basins and then<br />

amenities like a gym, diner and studio where<br />

employees can take a 21st century approach<br />

to vocation and play. “We have created our<br />

own world for work and relaxation,” Vos<br />

says.<br />



The R&D dept – formulated in 2016 - boast<br />

machines (the Darmstadt) and means to<br />

carry out simulation tests on products and<br />

materials for abrasion and other demands<br />

that motorcyclists might have. Alpinestars<br />

have famously opened up their lab for media<br />

eyes and where a full range of trials on<br />

things like steps, resistance, decolourisation,<br />

temperature, buckle closing and impact<br />

testing (to pass CE rules), and REV’IT have<br />

realised that the same spec and technology<br />

frame of reference is essential for top-drawer<br />

product evolution that have to tick boxes of<br />

safety, protection, style and value for money.<br />

For REV’IT this also includes 3D printing.<br />

The company expanded in line with their<br />

catalogue and road racing was a part of that<br />

projection. Their first official rider deal was<br />

with Randy De Puniet in 2008; “this first<br />

year was really good because I crashed a<br />

lot!” the Frenchman joked. Kenan Sofuoglu<br />

gave them world championship credence<br />

and they now have six prominent racers

most notably Danilo Petrucci and Alvaro<br />

Bautista. “We select riders based on their<br />

profile and whether they will fit into our family,<br />

it sounds cheesy but we want people to<br />

be a part of our vision and process,” says<br />

Global Marketing Director Egbert Egbers.<br />

REV’IT & MotoGP<br />

“It’s been six years together now and it<br />

was around the time when riders were really<br />

starting to scrape the elbow for the first<br />

time,” says Petrucci. “It’s really nice to be<br />

part of the development because they are a<br />

brand that follow the riders closely and put<br />

them in the best conditions.”<br />

“We have confidence, and we know that we<br />

are regarded as a world leader for Adventure<br />

riders but in the eyes of people for sport we<br />

know this might be Alpinestars or Dainese,”<br />

says Egbers. “So we want to change the<br />

mindset of the consumer by doing something<br />

different.”<br />

“We are like three or four brands in one,” he<br />

continues. “We want to appeal to the commuter,<br />

the sports guy, the enthusiast and the<br />

Adventurer. There is no platform in the world<br />

better for reach to the sports market than<br />

MotoGP.”<br />

REV’IT use words like innovation and ambition<br />

but seem to be backing them up with<br />

a flurry of action and intent. The spotless<br />

black RTC unit in the paddock is just one<br />

facet how they view MotoGP as a passport<br />

to more prominence.

MOTOGP<br />

BLOG<br />


Five races in, and Marc Márquez looks well on his way to<br />

the 2019 MotoGP crown.<br />

<strong>On</strong> a bike which is fast, but<br />

harder to ride – see the results of<br />

Cal Crutchlow for a comparison<br />

– Márquez is finding new ways to<br />

win, new ways to beat his rivals.<br />

He makes winning look easy – he<br />

has led for about 70% of laps<br />

raced – and his margin of victory<br />

is convincing. Even after slowing<br />

down to celebrate, he won by 9.8<br />

seconds in Argentina, 1.6 seconds<br />

in Jerez, and nearly 2 seconds at<br />

Le Mans. He also crashed out of<br />

the lead in Austin, when he was<br />

nearly 4 seconds ahead.<br />

He is tearing up the record books<br />

too. His current tally of premier<br />

class victories stands at 47, level<br />

with Jorge Lorenzo, who is in<br />

his thirteenth season compared<br />

to Márquez’ seventh. He has 73<br />

wins in all Grand Prix classes,<br />

just three behind Mike Hailwood.<br />

In premier class victories, he has<br />

only Giacomo Agostini, Valentino<br />

Rossi, and Mick Doohan ahead of<br />

him. In total GP wins, only Rossi,<br />

Ago, and Angel Nieto have more.<br />

At 26 years of age, it seems like<br />

only a matter of time before he<br />

catches them.<br />

Or will he? Extrapolating future<br />

success from previous seasons<br />

can be a dangerous affair. In the<br />

six seasons between 2000 and<br />

2005, Valentino Rossi racked up<br />

53 wins. But he had grown bored<br />

of doing it so easily, even after<br />

switching from Honda to Yamaha<br />

and winning first time out on the<br />

M1 as well. He toyed with the idea<br />

of a switch to F1, lost sight of development<br />

of the Yamaha M1, and<br />

ending up claiming just 5 races<br />

in 2006, compared to 11 in 2005.<br />

He lost the 2006 title to Nicky<br />

Hayden in an unforgettable season<br />

ending. Rossi was 27 years<br />

old at the time.<br />

Could this happen to Marc<br />

Márquez? So far, there is no sign<br />

of his motivation starting to lag.<br />

He is as dedicated and concentrated<br />

now as he has ever been.<br />

Outside distractions are eschewed,<br />

even romantic ones, despite<br />

reports of various amorous<br />

liaisons. Yes, Márquez has driven<br />

an F1 car, but he has shown no<br />

desire to actually pursue a career<br />

on four wheels. He rides flat<br />

track and MX bikes to train, and<br />

because still loves it. His heart is<br />

clearly still in MotoGP.<br />

Will Márquez ever need to find<br />

extra motivation? At the moment,<br />

winning itself is motivation<br />

enough. He has shown no interest<br />

in statistics or records, just<br />

in winning, and in finding new<br />

strategies, new approaches, new<br />

ways. Outfoxing his rivals is as<br />

rewarding as beating them outright.<br />

“Sometimes you need to<br />

find different strategies for your<br />

opponents,” he said at Le Mans.<br />

“If not, everybody expects you<br />

to do the same. If somebody is<br />

doing something new, in some<br />

races pushing from the beginning,<br />

in another race saving the tire,<br />

you don’t know if he’s saving or<br />


More than Europe’s<br />

largest MC store<br />

By David Emmett<br />

But once Márquez proves to<br />

himself that he can beat his rivals<br />

in any way he chooses, will he<br />

seek out fresh challenges? He<br />

has reason to stay loyal to Honda.<br />

After the 2015 season, he started<br />

to exert his influence over HRC,<br />

asking for changes to be made to<br />

development and testing programs,<br />

to ways of working, even<br />

to senior personnel. HRC obliged;<br />

they know that right now, they<br />

need Márquez to win titles, and<br />

do not want to lose him. Márquez<br />

has bent HRC to his will, and that<br />

is a valuable prize.<br />

Perhaps money will tempt<br />

Márquez away. Ducati tried to<br />

poach the Spaniard ahead of the<br />

2019 season, but he opted to<br />

remain with the Repsol Honda<br />

team. KTM can ask Red Bull for<br />

almost any number Márquez<br />

should care to think of, and probably<br />

double it. But Márquez has<br />

never shown a mercenary streak.<br />

He gets paid plenty – since Jorge<br />

Lorenzo left Ducati, he’s probably<br />

the best-paid rider on the grid<br />

– but money can’t buy you race<br />

wins and MotoGP titles, and those<br />

are the only things that count for<br />

Marquez.<br />

Would he switch to Ducati to dismiss<br />

the comparisons with Valentino<br />

Rossi, and criticisms that<br />

he has only won on with Honda?<br />

Maybe if Rossi himself were to<br />

start the goading. Márquez seems<br />

immune to fan criticism, but if<br />

Rossi started playing up the point<br />

that he won on two different bikes,<br />

that might just work. But even<br />

then, Márquez’ priority is simple:<br />

winning more races, winning more<br />

titles.<br />

In that, Márquez is more like Mick<br />

Doohan than Valentino Rossi or<br />

Jorge Lorenzo. More like Belgian<br />

cyclist Eddy Merckx, whose love<br />

of winning was so immense that<br />

they nicknamed him The Cannibal.<br />

His hunger for race wins is<br />

greater than for fresh challenges.<br />

I suspect that the only way we will<br />

see Marc Márquez with a different<br />

manufacturer is if Honda can<br />

no longer satisfy his appetite for<br />



ature<br />

By Steve English, Photos by GeeBee Images<br />

r<br />




For four years in WorldS-<br />

BK Jonathan Rea has<br />

been King. That might<br />

not be the case any longer<br />

(despite the recent rally at<br />

Imola). Alvaro Bautista is the<br />

man poised to perform regicide<br />

and ascend to the throne.<br />

The Ducati rider has been<br />

almost unbeatable this year.<br />

In hot or cold conditions, at<br />

‘stop and go’, or even flowing<br />

race tracks he has asserted<br />

his dominance. It has been<br />

as impressive as it has been<br />

unprecedented. You can’t help<br />

but be impressed by Bautista.<br />

If he were a chess piece he’d<br />

be the Queen. He’s the most<br />

valuable piece because he can<br />

move in any direction and put<br />

itself anywhere on the board.<br />

In Assen Race 1 we saw this<br />

illustrated perfectly, as he<br />

ducked and weaved behind<br />

Rea probing for an opening.<br />

He was able to hold tighter<br />

lines or long sweeping lines.<br />

He was able to try and roll<br />

through corners with high corner<br />

speed, or try and out-drag<br />

his rivals. A jack of all trades...<br />

and a master of them too.<br />

Is he that much more talented<br />

than his new rivals? Of<br />

course not, but he has been<br />

developed and nurtured in a<br />

very different environment.<br />

What is it that makes Marc<br />

Marquez special? His otherworldly<br />

ability to save a crash<br />

is amazing, his ability to think<br />

on the fly and adapt to conditions<br />

is hugely impressive<br />

but it’s his commitment that<br />

really impresses. Every corner<br />

of every lap of every session<br />

of every round of every<br />

season, he’s on the absolute<br />

edge. For the seven times<br />

world champion that’s eleven<br />

years of Grand Prix competition,<br />

in addition to his time in<br />

the Spanish CEV championship<br />

where he cut his teeth.<br />

For thirteen years he’s known<br />

nothing other than having his<br />

back to the wall and coming<br />

out swinging. Anything less,<br />

and he’s be nowhere. That’s<br />

what the Spanish championship<br />

and 125cc, Moto2 and<br />

MotoGP has taught him.<br />

“It’s instilled in us,” explained<br />

former peer Bradley Smith.<br />

“Am I surprised that Alvaro is<br />

doing what he’s doing? <strong>No</strong> I’m<br />

not because he was riding so<br />

well when he left MotoGP. He<br />

was at the height of his career<br />

at that point. I don’t want<br />

to be disrespectful to any<br />

of the Superbike guys, but<br />

their system is different. In<br />

the Grand Prix paddock from<br />

when you’re 15 or 16 years<br />

old you’re wide open from the<br />

first lap you hit the track. You<br />

have to stay at that level and<br />

it gets ingrained in you.”<br />

“Year on year you get better.<br />

Playing with that 98-99%<br />

level because if you don’t<br />

ride at it, you don’t get a job<br />

next year. It’s so finely tuned.

I can’t explain how much of a<br />

difference that is but you’ve<br />

got to believe that if something<br />

has been that way for 15<br />

years, 20 years however long,<br />

it becomes normal. That’s why<br />

we see it in the SBK races.<br />

He can’t ‘not’ do it! He goes<br />

and goes and has to keep riding<br />

like that. He might open<br />

1.5s and you see him eight or<br />

nine laps into the race and he<br />

has a 10-second lead and he<br />

keeps pulling away.”<br />

“He might take it down 5%<br />

but that’s the maximum he’ll<br />

ever do because he needs to<br />

ride at that level. If he’s below<br />

that he’ll make mistakes. He’ll<br />

get the jitters because it’s not<br />

natural. He’d start making<br />

mistakes because he’s not at<br />

his usual intensity. It speaks<br />

for itself and the proof is in<br />

how the race unfolds, how his<br />

lap times are, and how the<br />

gap is to the guys behind.”<br />

Bautista might have taken<br />

longer than a lot of rivals to<br />

reach the Grand Prix paddock<br />

- he was 18 years of age - but<br />

he was forged in the red hot<br />

nature of the Spanish 125GP<br />

championship. At the time,<br />

young riders looking to establish<br />

themselves raced full<br />

seasons in both the world and<br />

national series’. In 2002 he<br />

was runner-up to Hector Barbera<br />

in Spain, while his rival<br />

was finishing the season as<br />

a regular front runner on the<br />

world stage.<br />

The following year Bautista<br />

dominated in Spain by winning<br />

the final five races. He<br />

finished on the podium in every<br />

one and was only beaten by<br />

Jorge Lorenzo and Tom Luthi.<br />

In full terms of both Grand<br />

Prix and the CEV championship,<br />

Bautista had established<br />

himself as one to watch.<br />

He looked to be the coming<br />

man in 125GP after podiums<br />

in 2004, but he stumbled<br />

thereafter. Entering the 2006<br />

season was make or break. He<br />

needed to win the championship<br />

or else he risked falling<br />

through the cracks. It’s hard<br />

not to see similarities to this<br />

season. Claiming the 125GP<br />

title rejuvenated his career. He<br />

was always a front-runner in<br />

250GP and showed plenty of<br />

flashes in the premier class.<br />

The ‘down’ years taught him<br />

how to dig deeper in every<br />

session, and what needs to<br />

be done if you’re to make it in<br />

the Grand Prix paddock.<br />

“There are so many external<br />

things that affect riders,”<br />

continued Smith. “Just from<br />

talking about myself and how<br />

I’ve approach racing. It’s been<br />

the same since I was 14 or<br />

15 in the Spanish championships.<br />

<strong>No</strong>w for riders it’s even<br />

earlier! They’ve been racing<br />

in the same way since they<br />

were eight years old. When<br />

they turn up in the juniors,<br />

these kids are flat out from<br />

six, seven or eight years old.<br />



That’s why the kids are going<br />

to be even better than we are:<br />

I believe that.”<br />

That crucible of development<br />

is different to what the<br />

majority of Superbike riders<br />

have come through. Bautista<br />

- and others that have come<br />

through the Grand Prix paddock<br />

in general - don’t have<br />

more natural talent than their<br />

new rivals but they are conditioned<br />

differently. If Rea or<br />

Michael van der Mark, Tom<br />

Sykes or Alex Lowes traversed<br />

the Grand Prix paddocks<br />

as kids, there’s little doubt<br />

that their talent level would<br />

have been enough to make<br />

an impact. The difference is<br />

that in 125GP, if you weren’t<br />

on that absolute limit you’d<br />

struggle to score points. The<br />

same would not have been the<br />

case in British national championships,<br />

or even the World<br />

Supersport series.<br />

That’s not a ‘knock’ on either<br />

of those championships at all<br />

either. The top talent in any<br />

competition are, and have<br />

always been, world class. The<br />

difference is depth. When you<br />

combine the mentality that<br />

riders develop in Grand Prix<br />

racing and the clear advantages<br />

that the brand new Ducati<br />

V4R has, it’s clear that it creates<br />

a perfect storm for Bautista<br />

to show his ability. He’s<br />

not the best rider to come<br />

across from MotoGP in recent<br />

years, but he is the one that<br />

comes across in the best circumstances.<br />

Would he achieve<br />

what he’s achieved with a<br />

Honda like Nicky Hayden? Of<br />

course he wouldn’t. The same<br />

could be said for every bike<br />

on the grid.<br />

WorldSBK might be looking<br />

to create some parity with<br />

regulations but it is production<br />

based. The Ducati V4R is<br />

the newest bike on the market,<br />

has the most power and<br />

is the most expensive base<br />

bike on the road. It should be<br />

the best bike. And it is. Bautista<br />

is showing himself to be<br />

a rider that is best suited to<br />

getting the most from it too.<br />

His adaptation to the Pirelli<br />

tyres has been incredible but<br />

it’s also been helped by the<br />

development direction of the

product. The larger profile<br />

tyres are much more similar<br />

to what he left behind MotoGP<br />

with Michelin’s tyres, except<br />

the front tyre is actually a lot<br />

stronger. He can ride a Superbike<br />

like a MotoGP bike and<br />

now he’ll be forcing the other<br />

riders, and teams, to develop<br />

their packages towards that<br />

style.<br />

It’s the polar opposite of what<br />

we’ve seen as successful in<br />

recent years. Have a look<br />

at Rea or Chaz Davies: they<br />

brake deep and hard and try<br />

and spend as little time on the<br />

edge of the tyre as possible.<br />

<strong>No</strong>w look at Bautista’s style.<br />

He’s flat out every corner of<br />

every lap but he’s also looking<br />

after his tyres.<br />

He’s doing that with his style<br />

and his electronics. The Ducati<br />

is great package and he’s<br />

riding it like a 250cc Grand<br />

Prix machine. He left MotoGP<br />

feeling that it was a missed<br />

opportunity. He was riding<br />

better than ever and went to<br />

WorldSBK with a chip on his<br />

shoulder. He wants to prove<br />

the doubters wrong. Bautista’s<br />

issue in MotoGP wasn’t that<br />

he wasn’t talented enough or<br />

fast enough it was that when<br />

the music stopped in last<br />

year’s game of musical chairs<br />

he was left standing.<br />

Hell hath no fury like a<br />

scorned rider. “Bautista is riding<br />

a race like he’s in MotoGP,<br />

wide open from the first lap,<br />

and not looking behind until<br />

you cross the chequered flag,”<br />

Smith observes. “That’s what<br />

he is doing and why we see<br />

such good results. I don’t<br />

think we’ve seen the best from<br />

Rea yet - other than a handful<br />

of races - but that’s because<br />

he’s kind of not sure what to<br />

do moment. Does he just take<br />

loads of second places as<br />

the bike can’t compete with<br />

Bautista at the moment? He<br />

is in a no man’s land and the<br />

mentality is so different as a<br />

result. In the last three laps of<br />

every race we’ve seen the real<br />

Johnny come out, because he<br />

goes into second and pulls the<br />

gap and ends up in second.”<br />

“He’s gone toe to toe with<br />

Bautista a few times for eight<br />

or nine laps. The sprint race<br />

in Australia or race one in<br />

Thailand are the best examples.<br />

We have seen him do it,<br />

but when Bautista is a second<br />

clear at the end of Lap 1 everyone<br />

is in a fight for second<br />

straight away. It changes your<br />

approach to not being about<br />

getting the best out of what’s<br />

underneath you, it’s about getting<br />

those 20 points.”<br />


SBK<br />

BLOG<br />


WorldSBK is in the middle of another long gap between<br />

races that makes it a little frustrating when you see all other<br />

motorcycle series in full swing. There is a test this week in<br />

Misano which will offer a couple of pointers as to where we<br />

will see things go in the coming races.<br />

There will be one new arrival at the<br />

test in the shape of the Ten Kate<br />

Yamaha R1 with Frenchman Loris<br />

Baz on board. It will be great to see<br />

the Dutch squad back at the race<br />

track but I can’t honestly see them<br />

making an immediate impact on<br />

the field given that this is the first<br />

time their racing machine will have<br />

run outside the workshop and also<br />

the first time in a fair few months<br />

that Baz will be lapping at racing<br />

speed.<br />

There is always the temptation in<br />

these instances to try and hit the<br />

track running, to be at the same<br />

pace as your peers from the outset.<br />

I hope, however, that Loris and the<br />

team ease into things gently and<br />

‘walk’ for a few laps before trying to<br />

light the afterburners.<br />

The other intriguing thing for this<br />

test is how Kawasaki will approach<br />

it. Jonathan Rea won last time out<br />

at Imola, in both race one and the<br />

Superpole Race, but I reckon he left<br />

Italy smarting a little at the misfortune<br />

of not being able to score<br />

a maximum in race two due to the<br />

weather and missing the opportunity<br />

to claw back more points in the<br />

title race.<br />

I go back to the start of the year<br />

when discussing the impact Bautista<br />

had made and the suggestion offered<br />

by someone close to the team<br />

that he would struggle in Imola.<br />

Ducati had taken the opportunity to<br />

test there in the weeks before the<br />

race but the Spaniard was still off<br />

the pace. Was it down to his riding<br />

style or was Alvaro just taking a<br />

measured approach to his feeling<br />

about the race track? He was vocal<br />

in his views on the Sunday that he<br />

felt the track was unsafe in the dry<br />

and therefore much worse in the<br />

wet.<br />

Despite that win, Rea has spoken<br />

in the press about the need to<br />

improve the set up of the Ninja<br />

ZX-10RR to keep him on par, or<br />

ahead, of the Ducati. Last year, the<br />

early season test took place after<br />

Assen, in Brno, and Rea and the<br />

team found something extra that<br />

raised his level again for the rest of<br />

the season. That set him off on an<br />

incredible winning streak, with only<br />

the Yamaha’s of Van Der Mark and<br />

Lowes occupying the top step mid<br />

season.<br />

At the end of the year Rea’s crew<br />

chief Pere Riba said that in the<br />

Brno test they were able to try<br />

some changes to the bike’s set up<br />

that he had been thinking about<br />

since Buriram, and that was the<br />

first opportunity he had had to<br />

put them to the sword. We are in<br />

a similar situation again. In Motorland<br />

Aragon I spoke to Riba<br />

on Saturday night and he echoed

More than Europe’s<br />

largest MC store<br />

By Graeme Brown<br />

that view, that there were things<br />

he would like to try but with 100<br />

minutes of track time on a Friday, to<br />

get ready for Superpole and a race,<br />

there is no gap in a race weekend<br />

to test a change in chassis set up or<br />

engine strategy.<br />

This therefore makes the coming<br />

two days in Misano a make or break<br />

outing for the KRT squad. I expect<br />

to see Rea turning a lot of laps,<br />

working on outright speed but also<br />

race pace, making 15-20 lap runs<br />

to see how the chassis behaves on<br />

a worn tyre and lighter fuel load.<br />

If Riba’s little light bulb moments<br />

prove productive I predict a closer<br />

battle from Jerez onwards.<br />

That said Ducati are testing as<br />

well. I am sure there are areas that<br />

Bautista can improve on but I think<br />

the biggest benefit for Ducati will be<br />

a positive test for Chaz Davies. He<br />

seemed to have made friends with<br />

the V4R in Imola and the Misano<br />

test may be the opportunity for him<br />

to cement that relationship and get<br />

back to winning ways.<br />

It had been reported that Honda<br />

would not be present in Misano<br />

because HRC had not allocated a<br />

budget for testing, but the Moriwaki<br />

Althea Honda squad are going all<br />

in with a three rider line up. Leon<br />

Camier is still not fit after his Imola<br />

Superpole accident but they have<br />

drafted in former WorldSBK, and<br />

current BSB runner, Xavi Fores<br />

alongside All Japan JSB1000 series<br />

rider Yuki Takahashi. They will work<br />

alongside Ryiuchi Kiyonari to test<br />

the current Fireblade. It’s an interesting<br />

situation to have three riders<br />

steering a machine that is widely<br />

rumoured to be being replaced at<br />

the end of the year. However, we are<br />

now in the run up to the Suzuka 8Hr<br />

and Honda may see this as a valuable<br />

opportunity to get some extra<br />

track time under their belt for what<br />

is arguably a more important race<br />

for them.<br />

There is still speculation and rumour<br />

about how the manufacturers<br />

will approach the WorldSBK series<br />

in 2020. Will Honda give HRC free<br />

reign to develop a title winning Fireblade?<br />

Will Yamaha have a new R1<br />

based on the M1 MotoGP machine?<br />

And will Kawasaki throw the kitchen<br />

sink at a new homologation special?<br />

Time will tell but other changes may<br />

be afoot in WorldSBK beyond the<br />

bikes themselves.<br />

New FIM President Jorge Viegas<br />

set the cat amongst the pigeons<br />

in an interview with Polish journalist<br />

Grzegorz Jedrzejewski when he<br />

said, in relation to the historic reasons<br />

why Dorna took over the rights<br />

to promote WorldSBK in 2012, that<br />

“this is not the solution……..we in<br />

the FIM, and me in particular, are<br />

working to change that and you will<br />

have news soon……” He went on<br />

to say that ‘WorldSBK cannot be a<br />

second division of MotoGP’. Dorna<br />

supremo, Carmelo Ezpeleta, offered<br />

a very quick, and apparently, angry<br />

rebuttal of those comments saying<br />

that he knows they need to make<br />

WorldSBK more attractive but they<br />

will continue with the series.<br />

It’s an interesting and I think a valid<br />

point. For sure Dorna will be happy<br />

to continue with WorldSBK. As far<br />

as I am aware the series makes<br />

money for them in TV rights and<br />

advertising, despite it appearing<br />

to many on the outside as being<br />

a poor relation to MotoGP. It has<br />

been said in the past that WorldSBK<br />

needs revolution, not evolution. If<br />

radical solutions are needed then<br />

Dorna haven’t so far come up with<br />

the right one in the seven years of<br />

their tenure.

SBK<br />

BLOG<br />

There has been a lot of changes in<br />

the technical regulations and the<br />

race formats over that time but<br />

nothing has raised the championship<br />

to a level that Viegas might<br />

consider it to be in the first division.<br />

I’ve said it before if there is a<br />

new media or promotion strategy<br />

that will change the world, I honestly<br />

can’t see Dorna applying it<br />

to WorldSBK ahead of MotoGP.<br />

Maybe Viegas has a point then. The<br />

big question is: is their anyone out<br />

there willing to take the Superbike<br />

championship on? However, flawed<br />

he and his FIM colleagues feel the<br />

current position is, maybe Dorna<br />

are currently the best people to<br />

keep Superbike racing at a world<br />

championship level alive and kicking.<br />

I will be watching this space<br />

very closely.<br />

<strong>On</strong>e thing that makes any series<br />

successful is close, entertaining racing.<br />

We have had that in WorldSBK<br />

this year, but generally for second<br />

place. Maybe this week will see<br />

those currently vying to be the best<br />

of the rest finally make a step forward<br />

to challenge Ducati.

MCH Photo


www.husqvarnamotorcycles.com<br />

husqvarna<br />

The SVARTPILEN 701 is hardly a motorcycle<br />

that begs for a bit of custom treatment but<br />

this slight re-sculpturing with the ‘STYLE’ is<br />

an example of how a different interpretation<br />

can still have an impact. The bike is inspired<br />

by flat track, has a new bronze, black silver<br />

colour scheme and other little details such<br />

as CNC-machined footpegs, spoked wheels,<br />

aluminium badges and handlebar-mounted<br />

mirrors and other customisable components.<br />

The guts of the SVARTPILEN 701 is built<br />

around ‘a powerful single-cylinder engine<br />

that offers an outstanding performance of 75<br />

hp [power] and 72.0 Nm [torque]. Fitted with<br />

adjustable WP suspension for surefooted<br />

handling, exceptional stopping power is guaranteed<br />

thanks to the combination of Brembo<br />

brakes and the latest Bosch ABS technology.’<br />

There is also a cool selection of Powerwear<br />

produced by Revit to complete the look.


ONE FOR<br />

THE AGES<br />

Words and Photos by Steve English AKA ‘sTTevie’<br />



Last year’s Isle of TT was the fastest in history. <strong>No</strong>t only did Peter Hickman<br />

smash the lap record and become the first man ever to lap at an<br />

average speed in excess of 135mph around the fabled Mountain Course<br />

we saw lap records in every class. It was a stunning festival of speed. It<br />

was beautiful and frightening. This year should see more of the same.<br />

Can Hickman move the goalposts further? Can Dean Harrison overcome<br />

the disappointment of 12 months ago when he held the lead of<br />

the Senior until the final miles? Is Michael Dunlop still the favourite?<br />

What can John McGuiness do on his comeback? What about Hutchy?<br />

Or Conor Cummins? James Hillier has finally won a <strong>No</strong>rthwest 200,<br />

can he use that momentum at the TT?<br />

So many questions. When you look into the crystal ball you can see so<br />

many different answers.<br />

Over two gruelling weeks those answers reveal themselves. Practice<br />

Week and Race Week. For those two weeks a rock in the middle of the<br />

Irish Sea becomes the centre of the world.<br />

This year promises to be very special.


THE<br />

135MPH<br />

MAN<br />











Last year Peter Hickman completed the<br />

set. He finally added an Isle of Man TT<br />

victory to his <strong>No</strong>rthwest 200, Ulster Grand<br />

Prix and Macau Grand Prix success. The<br />

32 year old is the only rider in history to<br />

have posted a 135mph lap. He is the man<br />

to beat again this year, but how did it all<br />

come about?<br />

Hickman, from Lincolnshire, was an established<br />

British Superbike rider but his<br />

career was reaching a crucial turning<br />

point. At 27 years of age he needed to<br />

make a choice: keep finding money to<br />

go racing or face a different future. The<br />

winter of 2013 was spent ensuring he was<br />

ready for the year that would ultimately<br />

define his career.<br />









The following season he would<br />

tackle the international road<br />

races for the first time. Making<br />

his debut at the <strong>No</strong>rthwest<br />

200 would give him an idea<br />

of what to expect, but the TT<br />

would be the centre point of<br />

his season. It would also prove<br />

to be the turning point of his<br />

career.<br />

Hickman had run out of options<br />

in BSB, and with only<br />

three top five finishes in over<br />

150 BSB starts, the phone<br />

wasn’t ringing off the hook<br />

with offers. Within a year he<br />

had turned being the fastest<br />

ever newcomer at the TT into<br />

rides that allowed him to become<br />

a BSB race winner.<br />

“At the time the goal was to<br />

find a way to stay in the British<br />

Championship. Unfortunately<br />

I couldn’t do it without a big<br />

chequebook. I’d never had one,<br />

so I had to find another way to<br />

keep racing bikes. <strong>On</strong>e of the<br />

ways I could do that, and the<br />

cheapest way, was to try some<br />

road racing. I didn’t fancy<br />

doing all the kind of national<br />

Irish stuff, but I fancied the<br />

<strong>No</strong>rthwest, the TT, the Ulster<br />

and Macau. That was why I decided<br />

to have a go at it. Then<br />

it turned out that I’m alright at<br />

it!”<br />

“Is it scary? For me not really.<br />

A lot of riders say they’re nervous<br />

and not sure about things.<br />

My first ever road race was the<br />

<strong>No</strong>rthwest 200 in 2014, and<br />

on the run down to University<br />

I was absolutely flat out and<br />

doing nearly 200 mph on first<br />

lap through the speed trap! I’d<br />

never been there before, but<br />

I prepared and learned the<br />

track. I knew where I was going<br />

and I knew it was a straight<br />

line. It didn’t scare me. I was<br />

confident in myself to be able<br />

to do it. So I just kind of got<br />

on, really.”<br />

“After my first night at the<br />

TT it was difficult to find the<br />

words to describe it. Doing<br />

190mph down a public road is<br />

just an unreal experience, but<br />

most of all it was a really enjoyable<br />

experience. I felt really<br />

comfortable out there straight<br />

away, didn’t push hard and<br />

just concentrated on learning<br />

as much as possible. It was<br />

a different experience on the<br />

closed roads compared to the<br />

laps I did on open roads to<br />

prepare for the TT. Obviously<br />

you can use both sides of the<br />

road, and there’s nothing coming<br />

the other way! There were<br />

bumps in places I never realised<br />

there’d be bumps.”<br />

“I was the fastest ever newcomer<br />

and I ended up getting<br />

a good BSB ride off the back<br />

of it - I’ve never looked back<br />

since. With a decent BSB ride<br />

I actually won a race. People<br />

started to think ‘Oh, he can<br />

actually win races in BSB.’ I<br />

never looked back from that<br />

point.”<br />

Indeed he hasn’t. Hickman<br />

is now a regular contender<br />

in BSB. He’s been into the<br />

showdown, the championship<br />

decider for the top six riders,<br />

for the last two years. Hickman<br />

is now a bonafide star of the<br />

British championship. He’s a<br />

man in demand. It’s all so very<br />

different compared to when<br />

he was forced to race on the<br />

roads initially.<br />

Making that switch at 27 also<br />

offers Hickman some perspective.<br />

Would he have raced on<br />

the roads at five or six years<br />

earlier? Probably not. Having<br />

the benefit of that added<br />

experience and extra maturity<br />

to understand his own limits<br />

allowed him to jump into the<br />

road racing crucible as a contender.<br />

“I go to the TT because I enjoy<br />

it. I go because I want to be<br />

there. I’m not going for a big<br />

cheque. I go there because I<br />

want to. Initially I went to the<br />

TT because I wanted to keep<br />

riding. At the time I was thinking,<br />

‘what am I going to do?’<br />

<strong>Road</strong> racing was an option. I<br />

was mature enough. I was 27<br />

and I’d been riding big bikes<br />

for ten years. I had experience<br />

in the Superstock and Superbike<br />

classes and I felt that I<br />

had enough experience. I felt<br />

that I was mature enough in<br />

myself to not ride like a dickhead<br />

and keep myself alive.”<br />



w“I don’t know what I would<br />

have been like if I went racing<br />

at the TT when I was 21 or 22<br />

years old. I don’t think that I<br />

would have gone at that point<br />

and, to be honest, I’m not sure<br />

whether people should race<br />

over there that early. I had<br />

learned all my craft on short<br />

circuits.”<br />

“Obviously the worst can still<br />

happen at a short circuit, but<br />

in general it is pretty safe. So<br />

all my mistakes I made, all<br />

the crashes I had and all that,<br />

99% of the time I was absolutely<br />

fine. The young lads that<br />

come here do the Irish road<br />

racing and TT and all that<br />

when they’re young, they’re<br />

making mistakes on roads with<br />

massive consequences. That’s<br />

tough. Then they don’t have<br />

the‘safety barrier’, if you like,<br />

to be able to push beyond the<br />

limit, get it wrong and understand<br />

why and how and learn<br />

from it because the consequences<br />

are so high.”<br />

Those consequences are all<br />

too easy to remember at the<br />

TT. Every stretch of road has a<br />

story. Those stories are typically<br />

not easy reading. Riding on<br />

the roads takes a commitment<br />

that few can fathom. Do racers<br />

ride with those thoughts on<br />

their mind? Do they go easier<br />

through the races? Are they<br />

riding within themselves?<br />

“The way you ride on the<br />

roads is different but you’re

still pushing at 100%. I think<br />

that it’s a mistake to think that<br />

a short circuit rider is going<br />

at 95% when they race on the<br />

roads. You still push as hard as<br />

you can the roads, but it is different.<br />

It’s hard to explain. You<br />

don’t ride in the same way. You<br />

don’t push the front anywhere<br />

near what you do at BSB. You<br />

don’t ride the front into the<br />

corners really hard. You don’t<br />

lean over as much, because<br />

there’s not as much grip. So<br />

it’s not because you don’t want<br />

to or you aren’t able to do<br />

what short circuit riders can<br />

do. The reason it’s different is<br />

because there isn’t as much<br />

grip on the track. Without the<br />

grip you can’t ride the same.”<br />

“You find the limit in a different<br />

way. A lot of the corners<br />

at the TT lead onto really long<br />

straights. Any kind of corner<br />

that leads onto a long straight<br />

- and you might have a two<br />

mile straight - you need to lose<br />

a little bit going into the corner<br />

so that you can gain lots coming<br />

out. If you do that in BSB<br />

you’d get hammered because<br />

the straights aren’t that long.<br />

Because you’re making sure to<br />

setup the exit you’re braking<br />

earlier. For me I’m way more<br />

relaxed on the roads because<br />

I’m braking way earlier than<br />

where I know I could. A lot<br />

of my success on the roads<br />

comes from racing in the British<br />

championship.”<br />

“It’s interesting for Dean Harrison<br />

and more and more of the<br />

roads riders that are doing the<br />

full BSB season now. They get<br />

the benefit of racing but they<br />

also have a problem because<br />

the focus for them is obviously<br />

on the road races but by racing<br />

in BSB the risk of crashing<br />

is higher. You push to the limit<br />

and beyond on short circuits<br />

and it can take time to figure<br />

out where that limit is. If you<br />

crash and end up hurting yourself<br />

then you could miss out<br />

on the road racing season.”<br />

“I’m the opposite; I’m a short<br />

circuit racer that comes road<br />

racing. I don’t have to worry<br />

about not hurting myself<br />

because both are just as important<br />

for me. I’ll be doing<br />

BSB and that’s my focus. <strong>On</strong>ce<br />

that’s done and I’m doing<br />

a road race, it becomes my<br />

focus. If there’s another BSB<br />

I’ll do that, and then go back<br />

to a road race. It’s a bit different.<br />

The TT is the big race, for<br />

road racing at least, and it’s<br />

obviously a main focus of mine<br />

but once the TT is done it’ll be<br />

BSB on my mind again.”<br />

Will the pressure of being the<br />

favourite change things for<br />

Hickman? He’s got a target on<br />

his back as a Senior TT winner,<br />

lap record holder and the rider<br />

that came-from-behind on the<br />

last lap 12 months ago to win<br />

the biggest prize. Hickman<br />

does his best to play down<br />

that pressure.<br />

“The TT is such a diverse<br />

place. It’s so unique. It’s so<br />

long and it goes through so<br />

many different types of tarmac<br />

and areas of the island.<br />

It changes all the time. It goes<br />

from narrow and bumpy to<br />

being wide open and smooth.<br />

It’s got uphill and downhill sections<br />

while other bits are quite<br />

flat. Some of it is blind. Some<br />

of it you can see easily. It’s<br />

very, very different.”<br />

“Before I won my first TT, I<br />

always said that the pressure<br />

was on the people that<br />

have already won races. <strong>On</strong>ce<br />

you’ve won a TT you can’t really<br />

go back. You know you can<br />

win and want to do it again.<br />

<strong>No</strong>w that I’ve won one I’ve kind<br />

of changed my mind! I’m now<br />

saying, ‘I’ve won one, so now<br />

the pressure’s on the people<br />

who haven’t won one!’”<br />







MAN’ OF ROAD<br />










Ten years ago Lee Johnston<br />

was the up and coming man of<br />

<strong>Road</strong> Racing. He was a 20 year<br />

old British national champion<br />

who had started to race on the<br />

roads and was showing a lot<br />

of promise. Fast forward a few<br />

years and he had become a<br />

winner. He was on a path that<br />

would lead straight into a factory<br />

Honda pit box. He was on<br />

a path to everything any rider<br />

would ever want. Any rider that<br />

is, except for Johnston.<br />

He’s always had a maverick<br />

streak. Fermanagh sits close<br />

to the border between <strong>No</strong>rthern<br />

Ireland and the Republic<br />

of Ireland. Johnston was born<br />

into a town that had been hit<br />

by The Troubles; a time of<br />

conflict when life and death<br />

was an every day fact for his<br />

country. <strong>No</strong>w, 30 years later,<br />

he still has to factor life and<br />

death into his decisions.<br />

“You have to have the right<br />

of frame of mind to go racing,”<br />

reflected Johnston at the<br />

recent <strong>No</strong>rthwest 200. “I did<br />

my first <strong>No</strong>rthwest by accident,<br />

but I absolutely loved it.<br />

I remember going back to the<br />

British Championship after<br />

and after doing about ten laps<br />

I just thought: ‘this is shit.’ I<br />

was going absolutely flat out<br />

but thinking ‘f**k me, I’ve no<br />

interest in this at all.’ <strong>Road</strong><br />

Racing was totally different<br />

for me. Over the next four or<br />

five years I absolutely loved it.<br />

There’s no feeling like it. We’re<br />

lucky to be doing it. You can’t<br />

book a track day at the <strong>No</strong>rthwest.<br />

You can’t do a track day<br />

at the TT. There’re not many<br />

people who get to do this. It’s<br />

so special.”<br />

“After starting on the roads<br />

I really wasn’t interested in<br />

racing short circuits again. If<br />

there was no buzz I saw no<br />

point in racing at British national<br />

level again. I had won<br />

the Superstock 600 championship<br />

and been at the front<br />

in Supersport, but I was happy<br />

to just focus on the roads. I<br />

lost all interest in short circuit<br />

racing.”<br />

“I instantly fell in love with<br />

the roads and I instantly fell<br />

out of love with short circuits.<br />

So in 2011 I stopped racing<br />

in the British Championship.<br />

I’m back racing it again this<br />

year and it’s been a lot of fun<br />

again. At the time I was probably<br />

a bit lazier; if I didn’t enjoy<br />

something I’d not do it. <strong>No</strong>w<br />

though I know that you have<br />

to do it. You can’t compete<br />

against the best guys on the<br />

roads now if you’re not riding<br />

every week. You also can’t just<br />

race at the short circuits with<br />

the goal of getting ready for<br />

the roads. These are some of<br />

the best riders in the world so<br />

if you race you need to give it<br />

everything. I want to be there<br />

and I want to do well racing in<br />

Britain. I’m back doing it and<br />

I’m back enjoying it again.”



Johnston is back racing in the British<br />

Supersport class and has started the<br />

season strongly. The <strong>No</strong>rthwest 200<br />

was his first road race of the season,<br />

and the experience of racing short<br />

circuits clearly helped; he claimed<br />

victory in the first Supersport of<br />

the NW200 race week. That was his<br />

fourth victory on the coast road and<br />

has set The General up nicely for the<br />

Isle of Man TT.<br />

“You can’t do well when you’re not<br />

really bothered about being there<br />

in Britain. You need to want it. I’ve<br />

proven myself so far, so it’s been<br />

good. The days of turning up for<br />

three weeks of road racing and not<br />

riding the rest of the year are long<br />

gone. You can’t just turn up and<br />

compete…well you can but the risk<br />

goes up massively. You’re not fully<br />

bike fit for really pushing the limits.<br />

Your body isn’t used to it either. Is<br />

there any other sport in the world<br />

where they don’t compete all year<br />

but expect to contend for a few<br />

events? <strong>Road</strong> Racing was a bit behind<br />

the times but it’s changed now.”<br />

Being able to race in Britain has<br />

obviously helped Johnston but there<br />

has been another factor which has<br />

impacted him much more: freedom.<br />

Riders spend their careers looking<br />

for factory contracts but sometimes<br />

the dream can become a nightmare.<br />

For Johnston the experience of being<br />

a works Honda rider was obviously<br />

one he had sought. <strong>No</strong>w though, he’s<br />

glad to have the opportunity to set<br />

his own schedule. Forming his own<br />

team – with the backing of people<br />

like XL Moto - has given him that<br />


It’s also changed his outlook<br />

on racing. Gone are the envious<br />

looks towards other riders<br />

and teams. <strong>No</strong>w he knows<br />

that everyone around him is<br />

committed to his programme<br />

and nothing else. Having been<br />

able to handpick every member<br />

of his race team, buy the<br />

bikes and even book the ferry<br />

tickets, he feels totally different<br />

heading to TT 2019.<br />

from the ground up, picked all<br />

these guys, all the sponsors<br />

and everything. We sorted<br />

all of this, and now I don’t<br />

look into any other tent and<br />

think about what they have.<br />

I’m completely happy. I think<br />

that’s the biggest thing. I’m<br />

not striving to have something<br />

that I can’t have or whatever.<br />

I’m wanting to make what I<br />

have the best possible.<br />

bikes and everything else you<br />

need to go racing. Everything<br />

we have was bought over the<br />

last six months. We’ve got<br />

BMW’s for the Superbike and<br />

Superstock classes. We’ve a<br />

Yamaha for Supersport and<br />

all of our bikes were bought<br />

by us for this season. There’s<br />

nothing on them that says<br />

BMW or Yamaha. They just<br />

say Ashcourt Racing.”<br />

2019 TT: LEE JOHNSTON<br />

“I probably used to look at<br />

the factory bikes and think<br />

that they’ve got ‘this, that and<br />

the other’. <strong>No</strong>w I don’t envy<br />

anything. I’ve built this team<br />

“In December last year we<br />

sat down and started to get<br />

everything in motion. Between<br />

then and end of February we<br />

had bought the trucks and the<br />

They might say Ashcourt Racing<br />

but they mean a lot more<br />

than that to Johnston. They<br />

mean liberty. The freedom to<br />

choose whom to race with,


where to race and when to do it. The roads are<br />

still the centre of attention but a full-time British<br />

Supersport season means that suddenly<br />

Johnston is busier than ever. Suddenly he’s<br />

feeling ready for a TT more then he can remember<br />

for a long time. Suddenly he’s a real<br />

contender once again.<br />

“I’m not going to lie, it was hard going back<br />

to short circuits for this year. There’s a different<br />

way of riding. You’re on maximum attack<br />

all the time. You ride differently to the roads.<br />

At the TT we’re giving it everything we have<br />

but you do it in a different way. In short circuit<br />

racing you’re rubbing and bumping but on the<br />

roads you can’t ride like that. I’m enjoying the<br />

short circuit races though because it makes<br />

you sharper and fitter for the roads. I’ve been<br />

able to do a lot of laps at the <strong>No</strong>rthwest 200<br />

and not feel tired. I feel great.”

Around a 37.75 mile lap being strong physically<br />

is important but feeling razor sharp<br />

mentally even more so. For Johnston, a three<br />

time podium finisher at the TT, the benefit of<br />

having had so much time in the saddle this<br />

year will be twofold; he’ll be fitter than ever<br />

but he’ll also be able to deal better with the<br />

mental fatigue of the TT.<br />

“The TT is a tough event. If the weather is<br />

good you can have so many laps in practice<br />

before the racing has even started. Then<br />

you’re hung out mentally and physically.<br />

There’s pressure all the time. You need to go<br />

in there with a good mentality. You have to be<br />

strong and fit.”<br />

More than Europe’s<br />

largest MC store<br />



www.alpinestars.com<br />

alpinestars/mm93<br />

Considering Marc Marquez’ career-long association<br />

with Alpinestars it is a surprise that an official<br />

range of gear has taken this long to come to<br />

market. The world champion has a line of casual<br />

clothing with personal sponsor high street chain<br />

Pull and Bear but Alpinestars have taken the step<br />

of identifying some of the key items in their street<br />

catalogue of protection and riding garments and<br />

have applied the Marquez logo, number, design<br />

and colours (red, black and white). Some of the<br />

products are more prominent with their branding,<br />

others more subtle but it will suit fans or admirers<br />

of the best Grand Prix racer in the world.

MOTOGP<br />

BLOG<br />


A decent glimpse into the relentless drive within KTM<br />

could be witnessed at Jerez. Results at the start of the season<br />

may not have caught the eye but there were signs of a<br />

breakthrough. Some of the customary success in off-road<br />

disciplines (with Cooper Webb on the cusp of winning the<br />

Supercross crown, the company’s 300th title across all disciplines)<br />

must have been rubbing off.<br />

Yet there were no signs of celebration<br />

in Red Bull’s glitzy hospitality<br />

unit on Saturday evening.<br />

Motorsport Director Pit Beirer<br />

was locked away in a tense board<br />

meeting, where, along with CEO<br />

Stefan Pierer and CSO Hubert<br />

Trunkenpolz, an inquisition was<br />

allegedly underway as to the company’s<br />

grand prix failings.<br />

To borrow new signing Jorge Martin’s<br />

words, KTM’s Moto2 operation<br />

was “hoping for a miracle”<br />

after its chassis design was some<br />

way off its competitors. <strong>No</strong>ne of<br />

its MotoGP machines qualified in<br />

the top 15 that day, and marquee<br />

signing Johann Zarco was caught<br />

on camera saying “[either] we are<br />

f***ing s**t in chassis, or we are<br />

f***ing s**t in controlling power”<br />

the morning before.<br />

Understandable, then, that Beirer’s<br />

first words to me were “I’m<br />

under pressure,” ahead of an<br />

interview that had been scheduled<br />

earlier that week. It was a phrase<br />

he repeated twice over the next<br />

ten minutes.<br />

But fast-forward a little over two<br />

weeks later and Pol Espargaro’s<br />

staggering sixth place at Le Mans<br />

was no finer example of how a<br />

fortnight can be an age in motorsport.<br />

Even before that tremendous<br />

showing in France – jumping<br />

to sixth on lap one from a starting<br />

place of twelfth and coming home<br />

just 5.9s back of race winner Marc<br />

Marquez – there were clear indications<br />

that KTM’s project had<br />

made significant steps forward<br />

from a disappointing 2018.<br />

Espargaro’s top tens in Argentina<br />

(tenth) and Austin (eighth) didn’t<br />

really tell the whole story. The<br />

Catalan was 16 seconds quicker<br />

over race distance at Qatar when<br />

compared to the best-placed<br />

RC16 in 2018. At the Circuit of<br />

the Americas he shaved 14 seconds<br />

off last year’s race time. And<br />

while the winter resurfacing of<br />

Jerez played a major part in this<br />

number, Espargaro was a full 30<br />

seconds faster over 27 race laps<br />

than KTM’s best the year before.<br />

If that’s not enough, take into account<br />

how far back he has been<br />

from the class’ leading names,<br />

often Marquez and Honda. Five<br />

races into 2018 and the average<br />

distance to the race winner was<br />

30.3 seconds; this year it’s 18.8.<br />

<strong>No</strong>w that’s real progress.

More than Europe’s<br />

largest MC store<br />

By Neil Morrison<br />

Even Espargaro’s championship<br />

position (ninth, a place ahead of<br />

fancied preseason pace setter<br />

Maverick Viñales) indicates as<br />

much.<br />

Le Mans displayed that, even<br />

three years into this project, KTM<br />

is still capable of making enormous<br />

steps forward with upgrades.<br />

An updated engine configuration<br />

and carbon swingarm that<br />

Espargaro used in the race helped<br />

him maintain a strong rhythm until<br />

the chequered flag. “It’s quite<br />

a big part of this result, I think,”<br />

said team boss Mike Leitner. “It<br />

looks like in general we get more<br />

stable lap times, from what we<br />

saw in Jerez.”<br />

All of which is a marked improvement<br />

for the Catalan, who appeared<br />

to be falling out of favour<br />

in 2018, when some careless<br />

crashes led to costly injuries. “I<br />

am really sure he didn’t honestly<br />

tell us how bad his injuries were<br />

last year so I think he was just<br />

not – heath wise – that strong to<br />

do proper training and prepare,”<br />

Beirer told me at Jerez. “<strong>On</strong> the<br />

other side he still had a difficult<br />

bike to handle; I know that.<br />

But then, of course, sometimes I<br />

was getting a little bit tired of getting<br />

the feeling: ‘we can improve<br />

only if the bike is improving.’”<br />

“Maybe I was asking a little bit<br />

too much from Pol because we<br />

could give him some small improvements,<br />

and he is adding a<br />

lot from himself now if you look at<br />

his data, his riding style and his<br />

performance, we could not ask for<br />

a better rider in the project that<br />

Pol. He never stopped believing in<br />

the project. So he’s a really strong<br />

‘leg’ in the project at this time.”<br />

But what Espargaro is achieving<br />

must be countered by the ongoing<br />

struggles on the other side of<br />

the garage. There appears to be<br />

an unwillingness from Zarco to<br />

adapt his smooth, flowing style<br />

that worked so well with Yamaha’s<br />

M1 to the late-braking RC16 which<br />

Espargaro once nicknamed ‘The<br />

Bull’ for its rough-shod tendencies.<br />

Seven places and 26 seconds<br />

back of his team-mate at his<br />

home race was as bad a result as<br />

Zarco could have envisioned, especially<br />

when Jean-Michel Bayle<br />

was present at Le Mans in his new<br />

role as his countryman’s supervisor.<br />

Should no serious improvements<br />

be evident by the summer<br />

break, serious questions regarding<br />

his future will be raised.<br />

To put it simply, Espargaro is<br />

making him look bad. For KTM to<br />

be finishing within six seconds of<br />

one of the fastest riders there ever<br />

was in its third season when Japanese<br />

rivals Yamaha have been<br />

around for 47 years, and Honda<br />

and Suzuki 42, speaks highly of<br />

the expertise and drive behind<br />

this project. With new test rider<br />

Dani Pedrosa’s on-track input yet<br />

to fully have an effect, one imagines<br />

for KTM the only way is up.<br />

Don’t be surprised to see another<br />

podium by the season’s end.


www.foxhead.com<br />

fox<br />

Fox have hacked and tweaked their range<br />

of helmets in recent years and embraced<br />

MIPS technology for their last version of the<br />

premier V3 model. The same helmet – used<br />

by their elite athletes like Tim Gajser and<br />

Ken Roczen – has undergone a radical shift<br />

for the 2020 and was just recently unveiled.<br />

The big moves? The MVRS (magnetic visor<br />

release system) has been praised and criticised<br />

but this latest generation is apparently<br />

the most resistant and effective yet.<br />

Interestingly Fox have embraced their own<br />

ideas and theories to address rotational acceleration<br />

(and we’ll have an interview with<br />

Fox honcho Mark Finley in the next issue on<br />

the subject) with Fluid Inside. It is a system<br />

they describe as: ‘based on extensive scientific<br />

research, Fluid Inside is engineered<br />

to enhance your helmet’s ability to protect<br />

your brain by mimicking Cerebral Spinal<br />

Fluid (CSF) – your body’s natural protection.<br />

The V3 incorporates a matrix of Fluid pods<br />

oriented around the head and attached to<br />

the helmet interior. By precisely decoupling<br />

or “floating” the helmet on the head, each<br />

Fluid pod matrix acts like CSF (Cerebral<br />

Spinal Fluid) to independently and simultaneously<br />

manage the linear and rotational<br />

forces acting on soft brain tissue.’ Sounds<br />

pretty cool, and having seen and handled<br />

the fluid capsules it looks and feels like innovative<br />

stuff. There is also a Varizorb liner<br />

and a Cage structure around the chinbar<br />

and eye area of what is a multi-composition<br />

shell available in four sizes.<br />

Ventilation is another hotspot of the development<br />

to maximise cooling even at low<br />

speed. The company call the new V3 their<br />

most technically advanced lid offering yet,<br />

and based on a mere glance at the tech<br />

specs they are not exaggerating. The choice<br />

for a new off-road helmet just became even<br />

wider.<br />

Click on any link to check out more detailed<br />

explanation of the V3’s attributes.

THE<br />

TEST<br />

OLD<br />

KIND OF<br />

NAKED<br />

Words by Roland Brown<br />

Photos by Jason Critchell



Back in 1981 Suzuki’s original Katana<br />

stunned the superbike world not<br />

just with its unique look but also in<br />

the way that it had been created. Shaped<br />

not by Suzuki but by a German freelance<br />

designer named Hans Muth, the fourcylinder<br />

café racer gave the GSX1100 on<br />

which it was based a new lease of life and<br />

highlighted the potential for collaboration<br />

between Japanese factory and European<br />

styling house.<br />

Fast-forward almost four decades, and<br />

a new Katana is following its famous<br />

forebear in both respects. Angular silver<br />

shapes echo the original model’s appearance<br />

if not its boldness, justifying the<br />

name’s derivation from an ancient ceremonial<br />

sword while giving a naked donor<br />

bike – in this case the GSX-S1000 – a<br />

sharp new set of clothes.<br />

And once again the momentum comes not<br />

from Japan but Europe.<br />

This time it’s from Italian freelance Rodolfo<br />

Frascoli, who created a Katana-themed<br />

concept machine for Milan’s EICMA show<br />

in 2017 and was then commissioned by<br />

Suzuki to help bring it to production, complete<br />

with trademark features including<br />

pointed nose, tinted flyscreen and rectangular<br />

headlight.<br />

There’s no change to the GSX-S’s 999cc,<br />

dohc liquid-cooled engine, which produces<br />

a healthy maximum of 148bhp. A less impressive<br />

figure is the fuel capacity of just<br />

12 litres; the Katana’s sleeker tank cover<br />

necessitated a reduction from the GSX-S’s<br />

17 litres.<br />

In place of the old bike’s steel frame and<br />

twin-shock rear end is a modern combination<br />

of aluminium frame, monoshock<br />

suspension and a number-plate holder<br />

mounted on the swing-arm.

TEST<br />

Suzuki resisted the temptation to replicate<br />

the old Katana’s clip-on handlebars and racy<br />

riding position. Instead the new bike has a<br />

raised, one-piece handlebar giving a roomy,<br />

near-upright position more likely to appeal<br />

to riders old enough to recall the early Eighties.<br />

Former owners of the old model should<br />

appreciate the period-style spiral tachometer<br />

bar, possibly while struggling to read the<br />

busy instrument console around it.<br />

The GSX-S1000’s key components – basically<br />

its punchy, powerful four-pot motor and<br />

sweet-handling chassis – are retained with<br />

very few changes. The GSX-S has never quite<br />

had the pure power or refinement to join the<br />

ranks of genuine super-nakeds, but it is fast<br />

and addictively entertaining, and passes all<br />

its attributes to the Katana.<br />

The 16-valve unit fires up with an appealingly<br />

raspy sound though its airbox and<br />

stubby silencer. There’s plenty of torque from<br />

low revs, the only real drawback a slightly<br />

snatchy throttle for which the GSX-S has<br />

been much criticised. Improved by an updated<br />

twist-grip, it’s still noticeable but I didn’t<br />

find it a problem even on wet roads during a<br />

blast round the Midlands.<br />

<strong>On</strong>ce the engine is into its stride there’s no<br />

time to worry about that, because the big<br />

Kat is leaping forward like a hungry lioness<br />

chasing supper. Provided the Suzuki is kept<br />

spinning with the typically sweet-changing<br />

six-speed gearbox (shame there’s no quickshifter),<br />

it will strain its rider’s neck muscles<br />

all the way to a top speed of about 150mph.<br />

That performance is sufficiently super-naked<br />

for most riders, though the Katana also inherits<br />

the GSX-S’s slightly basic electronics<br />

set-up, which lacks the Inertial Measurement<br />

Unit that allows high-level traction control<br />

and cornering ABS. At least the Suzuki does<br />

the basics well, stopping hard thanks to<br />

powerful Brembo front brake calipers, and<br />

providing generous cornering grip with its<br />

Dunlop <strong>Road</strong>sport tyres.


TEST<br />








TEST<br />

For a big four-cylinder bike it’s easy to flick<br />

through a series of beds, its wide bars and<br />

sporty geometry allowing quick direction<br />

changes while keeping things stable. Suspension<br />

is well-controlled, if slightly firm at the<br />

rear – which at least earns points for authenticity,<br />

given that the original Katana provided<br />

a rock-hard ride.<br />

This Kat wasn’t built for comfort any more<br />

than the old one was, but by naked-bike<br />

standards it’s respectably practical. Its limited<br />

fuel capacity will frustrate at times but<br />

most riders should manage at least 100 miles<br />

between fill-ups. The seat is slightly higher<br />

than the GSX-S’s, but at 215kg with fuel the<br />

Suzuki is fairly light and still manageable.<br />

That weight figure does however mean the<br />

Katana is 6kg heavier than the GSX-S1000.<br />

Its only real advantage is the subjective issue<br />

of style – for which you pay roughly ten per<br />

cent more (£11,399 to the GSX-S’s £10,399<br />

in the UK). Then again, much the same was<br />

true of the original Katana, and didn’t stop it<br />

becoming a huge hit.<br />

This Katana won’t come close to matching<br />

the impact of its illustrious namesake but it’s<br />

a worthy retro-rival for the likes of Kawasaki’s<br />

Z900RS, Yamaha’s XSR900 and Honda’s<br />

CB1000R. And even if you can live without<br />

the nostalgia, it’s sufficiently fast, sweethandling<br />

and fun to ride to provide plenty of<br />

the old warrior’s raw excitement as well as its<br />

sharp-edged style.



WorldSBK by MCH Photo

ON<br />

TRACK<br />

OFF<br />

ROAD<br />

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‘<strong>On</strong>-track <strong>Off</strong>-road’ will be published online at www.ontrackoffroad.com every<br />

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