On Track Off Road No. 190

online.magazines

MotoGP

THAT

LINE...

This seems like a simple photograph but there is a

lot going on with Alex Rins’ Suzuki here. Note the

positions of the front and rear of the bike and the

rider’s position. The Catalan used his synergy with the

#42 racebike and the sun-drenched Silverstone asphalt

to dramatic effect and split second consequence.

What a great racing line that was at the British Grand Prix

to again leave Marc Marquez frustrated on the last corner!

Photo by Tony Goldsmith


MXGP


TWO

TIME

CHAMP

Tim Gajser’s main rivals for MXGP history might have

fallen by the wayside in 2019 but the Slovenian set a new

personal bar for consistency. The Grand Prix of Sweden

delivered his fifteen podium finish from sixteen rounds and

further enforced the validity of his second premier class

crown, celebrated only seven days previously in Imola

Photo by Ray Archer


AMA-MX

ABOUT

BLOODY

TIME...

Adam Cianciarulo’s

outpouring of emotion

at various stages of

the Ironman National

in Indiana and the culmination

of a closely

fought AMA 250MX

championship with

Dylan Ferrandis was

totally understandable.

After what seemed

like a relentless series

of career setbacks –

both in the last five

years and as little as

three months ago in

supercross – AC finally

lifted that first Pro

title. The Pro Circuit

rider did it in style

with a 100% podium

presence (for the first

time in the contest

since 2013) and with

the constant pressure

of his French nemesis

Photo by Kawasaki


YOUR “EVERYTHING”

KNEE BRACE

SOLD AT FINER DEALERS WORLDWIDE | TROYLEEDESIGNS.COM | @TLDMOTO | @TROYLEEDESIGNS


MXGP

S


MXGP SWEDEN

GRAND PRIX OF SWEDEN

UDDEVALLA · AUGUST 24-25 · Rnd 16 of 18

MXGP WINNER: GLENN COLDENHOFF, KTM

MX2 WINNER: TOM VIALLE, KTM

WEDISH

FANCY

Blog by Adam Wheeler, Photos by Ray Archer


MXGP


MXGP SWEDEN


FEATURE MXGP


MXGP SWEDEN


FEATURE MXGP


MXGP SWEDEN


FEATURE MXGP


MXGP SWEDEN


THE ULTIMATE

RACE-WINNING

PACKAGE

KTM

450 SX-F

“Winning is a complex puzzle where every element has

to fit perfectly to get the job done. For me though, there is

one factor that stands above the rest – my KTM 450 SX-F.

The ultimate weapon to take into battle”.

Cooper Webb – 2019 AMA Supercross 450SX Champion

Photo: S. Cudby, KISKA GmbH

www.kiska.com

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

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


MXGP SWEDEN


MXGP

GLENN COLDENHOFF:

“IT WAS THE DAY OF MY CAREER”

The Motocross of Nations takes place next

month. In Imola for the MXGP of Italy, I had

the chance to speak to Glenn Coldenhoff, who

last year managed to pull off two impressive

wins in the USA, and this year is hoping to

do the same in front of his fans, representing

his country. At the moment, Glenn is in good

form and has managed to win two Grand Prix

in a row, maybe he’s warming up for Assen in

September!

So the Motocross of Nations this year is in

Assen. Do you think there will be the same

level of excitement as 2018?

I think so. I mean especially for me, as a Dutch

guy, I think it’s very special to have it in our

home country because the last time the Motocross

of Nations was in Holand was in 2004

in Leirop. We ended up second for three years

in a row. We’re still looking for that win and it

would be nice if we could make it happen in

Assen for sure but there still many good teams

like Great Britain and the USA is coming early

so I’m sure they will be good as well.

Of course France also, for past five years already.

It’s going to be a good event for sure.

Do you think Jeffrey Herlings will be fit to win

again by then?

He’s always ready for winning! For sure he’s

not going for anything less. I saw him last

week in practice before we went to Imola we

were riding on the same day and he had already

the same speed as me and I think I have

a good speed at the moment in the sand! So

I have no doubt he will be fit there. The only

issue will be if he gets another injury.

Do you think that you can pull off another

RedBud performance?

It would be something if I could do that again

in Assen! There are a lot of good sand riders

at the moment. [Tim] Gajser, who was strong

in Lommel, will be there, so a lot of good guys.

Last year was the day of my career and hopefully

we can manage it again in Assen.

By Alex Wheeler (aged 12), photos by Jordi Wheeler (10)


MXGP


MATTERLEY

BASIN COULD

STAGE 2020

PRE-SEASON

INTERNATIONAL

AND TESTING

DAYS

The disappearance of Matterley

Basin from the 2020

MXGP provisional calendar

provoked dismay within the

sport. According to promoters

Youthstream the removal

of the British Grand Prix was

due to unsustainable costs of

running the event. Overseer of

the part-time circuit and site,

Steve Dixon – owner of the

Bike it Kawasaki Dixon Racing

Team – believes that the track

could still entertain elite level

motocross.

Matterley Basin could even

make a surprise return to the

Grand Prix schedule with an

amended agenda expected

to be published next month.

However if the British round

remains unfeasible then Dixon

is seriously contemplating a

pre-season International with

the possibility for world championship

teams to also test

around the popular Winchester-based

course.

“I’ve looked at doing an International

in March,” Dixon

said exclusively. “The weather

can be good at that time. If we

look recently in the UK – in the

heart of summer – it has been

atrocious in some places.”

“2019 was the first year that

the grand prix was viable,” he

revealed as Matterley hosted

round two of the current campaign

for what was a risky

slot for the British climate on

March 23-24. “The costs have

come down a lot and different

suppliers have come in. It is a

lot more economical and running

the event in March. We

saved 30-40% with some suppliers.

Winchester Council are

now a lot more confident with

us and have cut down their

request for police and traffic

control. They know we want

a good show and not cut any

corners for organisation.”

“The formula is there for an International

and there would be

less requirements than a GP

regarding security and other

factors,” he added. “It could be

run on a lot lower budget and

provide good prize money and

that’s what attracts riders. As

well as providing some time

for set-up, where teams could

ride and test afterwards on a

GP-spec track.”

Whether Matterley stages a

Grand Prix or a non-championship

meet (and Dixon

typically only has a two week

window per year for fixtures on

account of planning permission)

a decision will need to be

made in the coming weeks.

“Winchester contacted me last

week in terms of event scheduling,”

he said. “If we want a

large scale meeting and they

don’t have the resources available

to monitor or advise then

we wouldn’t be able to do it,

so we’ll know within the next

four weeks if there will be a

GP offered or we go the international

route.”

With Matterley Basin potentially

entering the British

motocross landscape in an

alternate capacity there could

be ramifications for the Hawkstone

Park International: a well

established date on the Grand

Prix pre-season agenda. Dixon

believes the meetings could

co-exist. “It would make sense

for teams to do Hawkstone

and Matterley and I don’t want

to take away from Hawkstone

but going back a few years we

used to move from one French

International to the next,” he

says. “If the teams can benefit

from a bit of time on the track

as well as the race – either

before or after – then it might

be of extra value before flying

away to somewhere like Argentina.

That’s what I’d like to

see.”


MXGP

BLOG

CULTURE SHIFT...

There was a bundle of emotions from Uddevalla: satisfaction

for Prado, glory for Coldenhoff, shock for Tom Vialle,

re-acclimatisation for Herlings and graduation for Van de

Moosdijk (the appropriately named Dutchman succeeding as

EMX250 Champion in Sweden).

There was also pain and despair

for Romain Febvre. Allegedly the

Frenchman did not have much in

the way of painkilling medicine

until Sunday evening and the

full extent of the damage to his

left femur could be deduced. In

an accident eerily similar to his

championship-wrecking crash in

Argentina at the start of the year,

Febvre has now suffered breaks to

both limbs and will have undergone

surgery twice in the space of

six months.

It is the latest blow to MXGP and

a series that has suffered hard

in 2019. Apart from Tim Gasjer’s

level of performance, Jorge Prado’s

excellence and some boosted

crowd attendances, the campaign

has weathered an unstable and

uneven calendar and not reached

the narrative highlights of the

Cairoli comeback of 2017 or the

Herlings Happy Hour of ’18.

The watermark was undoubtedly

the Gajser-Cairoli duelling

in the first four rounds and it was

desperately sad that the Sicilian

would be one of five different

factory riders to occupy a hospital

bed shortly after.

It is not surprising that the spate

of injuries has prompted brands,

teams, promoters and the federation

to look closer at the safety aspects

of the sport and issues such

as speed and power. The truth is

that there are simply far too many

inconsistencies in motocross to

seal it better. Youthstream – under

the watchful gaze of the FIM - try

to apply the best safety principles

to each circuit with the means at

their disposal but this can range

deeply depending on the track,

the club and the level of collaboration.

Creating the ideal solution

(in the riders’ eyes) for track prep

and maintenance is almost an

impossible task due to the variety

of the conditions and territories

but, make no mistake, steps

have been taken and the current

system is an improvement on the

past. I know the promoters are

frustrated that riders risk harm

and absence from the FIM World

Championship through participation

in national events that don’t

match the level of a Grand Prix, or

they practice and train on courses

that are way below the spec and

prep of an MXGP venue.

A sword will always dangle over a

professional motocross athlete.

The ‘culture’ surrounding MXGP is

perhaps to blame. By this I mean

the constant limit-stretching that

riders feel they need to take, not

only for results but for contracts

and employment. For most, motocross

and racing is a way of life

– something they have done since


By Adam Wheeler

they could walk and even to the

detriment of their education (with

Gajser and Jeremy Seewer the

notable exceptions for balancing

top flite competition and finishing

their studies) – so it is not only

about riches and spoils. Racers

with GP winning experience and

knowledge can find their careers

entering a cul-de-sac either at the

age of 23-24 or 31-32. They might

be able to continue what they love

and at what they excel but it could

come at personal and financial

cost. Never before has a rider’s

ability to market himself and his

backers, his capacity to test and

provide technical worth outside

of a race and the willingness and

character to blend and meld a

team together been as important

for longevity (as much as results).

2020 could see a twenty-round

calendar with treks from South

America to Russia to Asia. MXGP

has been moving in a globetrotting

and ‘accommodating’

direction for a number of years

now as Youthstream push to fill

part of their remit by attempting to

spread the sport to new eyeballs

and potentially fresh fanbases but

the mechanisms behind the show

– the teams and their resources –

are still trying to catch-up to extent

of the ambition. This means that

competent satellite teams are at

a premium, and saddles that are

either desirable for high calibre

experienced racers (that are not

‘done’) or youngsters that sense an

opportunity for a genuine stepping

stone to a chance with a factory

squad are few-and-far between.

It is the friendliest dog-eat-dog

situation you can find. Darwinism

complete: only the strongest (or

best backed) and most adaptable

will make it (or prosper). Boundaries

are being tested throughout

the pack whether for sporting gain

or sporting survival. It’s nothing

new of course. But the erosion

of the privateer at the elite level

– of whatever sport – means the

margins for living and achieving as

a Pro are arguably much tighter.

That brings pressure and it becomes

a sustained build-up as the

window to succeed (or earn) never

ceases to slim.

I seriously doubt whether there

is the money in the sport to empower

a host of teams to provide

permanent berths (as Dorna have

done to ensure a 22 rider grid,

and they generate revenue thanks

to TV rights and sponsorship)

and the costs to compete a whole

series will always be a determining

factor. MXGP cannot trim dates

as this would arguably present a

backwards step but 360 sustainability

should also be examined

as much as horsepower figures

and the metres allocated to track

perimeters if the surge towards

‘desperatism’ can be curbed.

Then there is always the thought:

will competitive and driven individuals

ever step away from the

clichéd ragged edge of disaster?


FEATURE

TONY CAIROLI TALKS ABSENCE, RECOVERY-

ANXIETY, BATTLING A PROTÉGÉ AND WHY

HE’S NOT DONE IN MXGP AT 34…

THE RESENTFU

By Adam Wheeler, Photos by Ray Archer


L BYSTANDER


FEATURE

The MXGP sage felt the first

lurch of injury emotion back

in 2008 when a crunched

ACL in his left knee meant

the champion was cast out of

a third MX2 title defence and

a tussle with Red Bull KTM

duo Tyla Rattray and Tommy

Searle. Cairoli returned fully

fit in 2009 and laid waster

to the FIM Motocross World

Championship.

His vulnerability was only apparent

again seven years later

when a broken left arm ended

his rout of the premier class.

Then a pre-season crash in

2016 meant the KTM man

was afflicted with short-term

nerve damage that inhibited

his training. KTM’s new 450

SX-F also negated any need

for his otherwise superlative

350 SX-F and Cairoli was

mired in career funk that had

many assuming his better

days had gone.

2017 delivered perhaps the

finest of his nine world titles

and an achievement that confirmed

his place as arguably

the greatest and most versatile

of all the world champions.

2018 was about Herlings,

dealing with the threat

of a superior teammate for

the first time and the realisation

that he would still have

to evolve to prosper at a job

and lifestyle that he clearly

adores. Cairoli is already an

anomaly.


He has stayed at the peak of a

sport well beyond 99% of other

athletes; particularly of a motorsport

so punishing and draining

both in the act itself and

the way it affects life and others

around it.

More than ten years on from

that fateful day at the South

African Grand Prix in Nelspruit

when Cairoli knew a stay on

the sidelines beckoned, #222

is back in the rehab and recovery

phase. The destruction

of his right shoulder and the

muscles and tendons has been

well documented but there is

the feeling that Tony is reaching

another career crossroads

as he turns 34 in September.

He will have to re-train and

face an irked Herlings again

in 2020. More importantly

he’d also have to deal with

teammate, training companion

and protégé Jorge Prado.

The Spaniard will be the third

member of the strongest motocross

grand prix team ever

assembled (fifteen crowns

and almost two hundred GP

wins between them at Red

Bull KTM) and while there are

varying degrees of age,

“FOR SURE THERE WILL

BE SOME TENSION. THREE

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

CONTENDERS IN THE SAME

TEAM WILL NOT BE EASY.

OF COURSE JORGE WILL DO

WELL FROM THE BEGINNING

BECAUSE HIS RIDING STYLE

FITS WELL TO THE 450s”

seniority and experience in

the orange camp, Prado (only

19 at the start of next season)

has the potential to target

and better everything that

both Cairoli and Herlings have

achieved so far.

It’s hard to consider the

amount of interviews we’ve

done with Tony since 2004

and those early years where

his English was not the level it

is today and his banter is now

regularly on-point. A particular

favourite was a slightly

edgy encounter on the eve of

the calendar-opening Grand

Prix of Qatar in 2015. Ryan

Villopoto was all the rage and

for the first time Cairoli was

restricting his media obligations;

obviously keen not to

over-stoke the hype. During

that long talk over a coffee

in the opulence of the Four

Seasons in Doha he offered

the revelation that he rode

and raced at “70%” to win

the majority of his six MXGP/

MX1 titles. That knowledge of

limits and the way he aims

and cherishes consistency has

been the bedrock of his success

but it is an approach he

might have to veer away from

in 2020 (or embrace it more

than ever and assess where

Herlings, Prado and other

potent threats like Gajser,

Desalle, Febve and more will

falter).

We meet in the Red Bull hospitality

at Lommel where Tony

is visiting the paddock for the

second time since shoulder

surgery and the first weeks

of a four month wait, and is

working on promotion of his

RACR brand among other

obligations. He has time for

some of the more pressing

subjects around his status.

Tony, this must be a weird

time for you…

Yeah, it is not the best place

to be. It is hard being here because

it is one of my favourite

CAIROLI CATCH-UP


FEATURE

tracks. It’s a real shame for

the [my] championship but

I’ve already accepted it and

the surgery is done so we

have started ‘the way back’. I

just hope there will not be too

many problems in the future

with this injury.

It seemed like you hung on as

long as possible this year, like

you did in 2015…

Yes – to the second part –

there was a lot of fluid on the

shoulder so I just had to wait

for two weeks. I tried to ride

before Indonesia and it was

not possible and I knew something

was very wrong at that

moment. When I went back

to Belgium we decided right

away that it had to be fixed

and that was it.

You have raced for many

years and you are a competitive

animal and always seem

to be busy, so what do you do

in a time like this? Is it possible

to relax or does every day

carry some frustration?

Frustration! I like to train and

do things by myself and for

three weeks I could do almost

nothing. It was difficult. Now

I can do more things and it is

easier. I can also start to think

about a plan for a comeback

for next year. At least we have

a lot of time now to prepare.

We’re looking forward to that

rehabilitation.


It’s a complex joint. Honestly:

are you a little worried?

They told me it is a very difficult

injury and to recuperate

100% is difficult but possible.

I will work as hard as I can

to be as I was before, or even

better. Let’s see how it goes in

the next two months and then

we’ll know more.

Have you thought about how

lucky you’ve been throughout

your career? You started

Grand Prix in 2003 and although

you made a point of

not really pushing over your

limit you were never a rider

that crashed that much or

suffered injuries…

Yeah, in one sense I never really

had the amount of injuries

that others had. It was

always more important for me

to be safe on the track rather

than super-fast. That was my

thing, and consistency was

key – we know this. I was

never over the limit in those

[title-winning] years. It was

bad luck to have that crash

and small injury in Russia; the

problem was not too bad and

it was unlucky with timing. If

it had happened before the

break where we had a month

off then I would have been

back like normal. As it was

we only had a few days before

Latvia and I wasn’t ready. I

had to go though because we

wanted to keep going for the

championship. Most of the

damage was because of that

crash in Latvia. [pause]

I need to train and to ride or

to do something always. As

soon as the doctors let me

after surgery I strapped the

arm and started to do some

exercise. I don’t want to lose

conditioning because I know

at this age that it is harder

to get back in shape. I didn’t

do much but just something

so that when I can start a full

programme then I won’t be

that bad.

Is the positive part of an

injury like this the fact that

it gives you time to focus on

other things? A baby is coming,

the RACR brand?

Yes, that is a good thing. You

don’t have pressure from the

biggest part of your life and

all the racing days. You can

relax a bit and do some other

stuff. I never had the feeling

of much pressure from racing

because I was able to handle

that well and during the week

I could switch off from that.

To do something else is also

quite nice after seventeen

years of riding, training and

focussing all the time.

You said in the Czech Republic

that waking up each day

brings some pain. You had

little problems from motocross

but, as we said, no big

serious setbacks. Is that just

age?!

Ha! It’s all the joints you hit

throughout the years. All the

wear. I find that when you

stop the training and you start

to lose some of the muscle

then you feel even worse.

That’s another reason to work

and to keep feeling better.

Some people can feel quite

lost when their main daily

activity is taken away…

Yes, but even when I’m racing

normally and fighting for

championships I was able to

take days off. I try to make my

life enjoyable and not always

about the work that needs to

be done.

That’s the secret then…

Yeah! Of course. I see other

riders that stick so much to

the programme and don’t

move from it. I think you can

do that for a couple of years

but to do it for a long time is

very difficult and you need a

strong mind.

Like Valentino Rossi, are you

starting to get more and more

questions in interviews about

reaching the end of your

career? People must be fascinated

by your motivation and

longevity…

I know the sport of motocross

and I know when you get over

30-32 then it gets more difficult

for a lot of people. It is

difficult for them to keep the

pace they had when they were

25 but I feel I am still improving

a little bit every year and I

know that is something that’s

not common in this sport.

That gives motivation.

CAIROLI CATCH-UP


FEATURE


“I THINK IT’S BECAUSE I ALWAYS HAD SOMETHING LEFT IN

THE TANK. I HAD SOMETHING ELSE INSIDE ME. I TRAINED A

BIT MORE THAN USUAL IN THE LAST TWO YEARS AND WITH

MORE INTENSITY. THE MOTOS ARE SHORTER THAN THEY

WERE SEVEN-EIGHT YEARS AGO AND THAT MADE A BIG

DIFFERENCE ON THE PREPARATION THAT I USED TO DO.”

CAIROLI CATCH-UP


FEATURE

“I KNOW MOTOCROSS AND I KNOW WHEN YOU

GET OVER 30-32 THEN IT GETS MORE DIFFICULT. IT

IS DIFFICULT FOR THEM TO KEEP THE PACE THEY

HAD WHEN THEY WERE 25 BUT I FEEL I AM STILL

IMPROVING AND I KNOW THAT IS SOMETHING THAT’S

NOT COMMON IN THIS SPORT.”

Rossi has harnessed the youth

and energy of the VR46 Academy

to help sustain his energy

and ability to still improve in

MotoGP. You’ve trained with

Jorge Prado now for two years

so has that helped? Would

it be the same for you if he

wasn’t there?

I don’t know. Of course it nice

to have someone to train with

but I think I make him younger

than he makes me younger!

He was living in Belgium for

five years and he came to Italy

with a different mentality. He

is Spanish but he was like an

old Belgian! Now he is going a

bit more towards the Spanish/

Italian way and the results are

talking for him. I think we’re a

good match.

You lived in Belgium for many

years but the moved back to

Rome and largely train at your

track in Malagrotta. It’s impressive

that you kept so fast

despite moving away from that

Benelux epicentre…

I think it is the lifestyle. You

don’t forget to ride in the sand,

even though it is very important

to do it. I did a lot in the

past, and recently a bit less.

Now my plan is to do some

more. We didn’t have many


sand races this year – not as

much as the past, even Valkenswaard

is not the sand track

it used to be ten years ago,

now it is a bit like Mantova –

so there was not a big reason

to move back there. Of course

for young kids it is still very

important.

So how is it possible to stay

so fast? How do you continue

to set the bar? Are you

watching Herlings and Gajser

carefully?

No, I think it’s because I always

had something left in

the tank. I had something else

inside me. I trained a bit more

than usual in the last two

years and with more intensity.

The motos are shorter than

they were seven-eight years

ago and that made a big dif-

ers get tired. The shift is that

everybody is so fast now from

the first lap and that meant a

big change for my programme

and I had to adapt. I found

that I could do it and that

meant I improved. I can still

improve.

Going back to Jorge: how do

you see him in MXGP next

year? With you, him and Jeffrey

that is a daunting lineup...

For sure there will be some

tension. Three world championship

contenders in the

same team will not be easy. Of

course Jorge will do well from

the beginning because his riding

style fits well to the 450s.

I think he will be a contender

straight away for GPs and

maybe even the

difficult, but if I can be on the

podium every weekend then I

will be very happy.

2018 was the first time you

had a teammate at your level.

Now with Jorge you could

have two and one that is also

training with you! If he starts

beating you then that will be

a new experience…

For sure! That’s very possible.

There are not many talents

like him and with his skills

set. It is very possible because

he is young and has so much

energy but I’m working hard

to do my best to stay in front

of him and everybody. I try to

enjoy my racing and when that

happens the results come. I’m

not really worried.

You’ve been an uncle for

many years and see babies

grow up now you are soon

going to be a Dad for the

first time and join at least six

riders in MXGP who are also

fathers…

Yeah! It’s a strange feeling

and one that doesn’t seem

real at the moment. When the

baby arrives I think it will hit

me. It’s a super-nice thing of

course and we’re excited to be

parents.

CAIROLI CATCH-UP

ference on the preparation

that I used to do. My base was

made for longer motos and

longer pace. I found that the

races used to be slow in the

beginning and then I could get

faster and faster while oth-

championship. It will be very

interesting to see how the

season turns out. For myself I

expect to be on the top; to win

another championship is my

goal and the first thing that

comes in my mind. It will be


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PRODUCTS

www.flyracing.com

fly racing

We’re revisiting Fly Racing’s innovative Formula

lid at a time when helmet technology

and homologation is still firmly under scrutiny.

Apparently the response to the Formula

has been very positive in terms of use and

sales. It’s not surprising considering the engineering,

medical nuance (it was developed

by specialists in the UK as well as the U.S.)

and design-thinking involved, principally the

AIS (Active Impact System). Far from any

sense of a ‘gimmick’ the Formula is based on

Rheon energy shells constructed to provide

an innovative EPS under the carbon-fibre

shell.

There is a range of tech specs to combat

high and low speed impacts and also address

issues such as comfort and ventilation.

Fly’s special sub-site for the Formula has all

the information you need for the helmet that

comes in twelve different designs.


FEATURE

450s

TOO FAST?

TOO FURIOUS?

MXGP SPEAKS

By Adam Wheeler, Photos by Ray Archer


FEATURE

450cc engine power, torque,

suspension technology,

chassis performance,

older tracks and the riders themselves:

MXGP seems to have many elements

that help the series stretch throttle cables

a little more every year.

A slew of injuries in 2029 and the fact

that the Grand Prix of Russia at Orlyonok

(a venue that saw Clement Desalle and

Tony Cairoli effectively end their seasons

after crashes, with lucky escapes by the

likes of Ben Watson also noted) touched

an average speed of 63kmph and invited

questions about the pace of elite level

motocross and the suitability of 450cc

motors for 1650m circuits.

“TONY CAIROLI: “I DON’T

THINK IT IS A BAD IDEA TO

REDUCE THE POWER OF THE

BIKES BECAUSE THE 450S

ARE ON A LEVEL [THAT IS

VERY HIGH] ESPECIALLY FOR

OUR TRACKS IN EUROPE.”

The FIM rulebook states: ‘The course, if

possible, should be of a type which restricts

the average speed to a maximum

of 65 km per hour (the average calculated

for one

complete race).’ Most Grand Prix venues

hover between 40-mid-50s but the upper

50s can be touched quite often. In many

cases the lap-times of MX2 veer close

to MXGP; but this is discounting track

degradation.

Have 450s grown too uncontrollable for

MXGP? Is the series too fast? Or is versatile

suspension to blame? What about the

technical and physical limits of the riders

themselves?

In a quest for answers - or at least some

clarification - we asked a spread of personnel

inside the MXGP paddock. Here is

what they had to say on the subject…


The bikes, the speed

Tony Cairoli, Red Bull KTM: Sometimes

when you ride in MXGP you don’t feel out

of control or too fast but when you see

the races from the outside then you see

the bike is very strong. You cannot make

mistakes and you have to react very

quickly to stuff…and that is not always

possible.

Dirk Gruebel, Red Bull KTM Team

Technical Co-ordinator & MX2 Team

Manager: I think the average speed is

too high. We have to see how we can

get that down because you cannot hold

back development of the bikes: frames

have developed, suspension has developed

and overall the bikes are capable of

higher speed but how can you restrict it?

You cannot do it if you have a 450, 250,

450s: TOO FAST?


FEATURE

300… Jorge Prado is the fastest rider at a

grand prix many times and that’s on a 250.

The team’s job is to make the bike ‘faster’.

There is no universal solution at the moment.

Rene Ebert, Chief Mechanic, Monster

Energy Wilvo Yamaha: I can see from the

dyno graphs over the last ten years that the

bikes have become faster.

Antonio Alia Portela, FIM CMS President:

Everyone wants to go faster. In motocross

if you combine speed with some hazards

then it can be dramatic and drastic. Some

manufacturers are producing better engines,

there is better race fuel and more

athletic riders: if you combine everything

then you are heading towards a very fast

sport. There has to be some places where

they can recover a little bit, and that could

be through more corners or a ‘strategic’

straight.

“ROMAIN FEBVRE: THE AVERAGE

SPEED NEEDS TO COME DOWN ON

SOME TRACKS AND THAT MEANS

MORE JUMPS – BUT TECHNICAL

ONES AND NOT JUST ANOTHER

TABLE-TOP OR A DOUBLE.”

Marc de Reuver, Rider Coach F&H Kawasaki,

former MX2 & MXGP GP winner: The

250s have a limit. There is a point where

that bike cannot make any more power but

the 450s never stops! The powerband is so

wide. Back in the day you’d slide out because

there was a lot of power immediately.

You had to be sensitive. Now? Wide open.

Gunther Geerts Technical Touch/KYB: I

think they have so much power that they

have come to a point with the 450 that they

have to spread it all over the power band

and that gives you a lot of options.

Francois Lemariey, Team Manager, Monster

Energy Kawasaki: As a factory team

we customise the power to get the best

performance. The most important thing is

to customise the power range to the riding

style of our riders. It’s very important to

have the right power for the start and to get

out of the gate. It is not easy to get a good

curve and a bike that is easy to manage,

that the rider can control and do his job on

the track.

Wim van Hoof, Chief Mechanic, Standing

Construct KTM: I think a rider could do the

whole track in two gears. Our riders are

doing that now and sometimes using three

when it is high speed. For the rest you can

build an engine that is smooth, strong but

only uses two.

Wilfred Van Mil, Racing Manager, WP

Suspension: Riders learn from each other.

A really talented guy like Tony or Jeffrey

[Herlings] comes along and it means all the

others are looking at them and their style.

If you look generally at riding styles now

compared to fifteen years ago then it is

very different. All the youngsters look up to

the big names and try to copy.

Rene Ebert, Chief Mechanic, Monster Energy

Wilvo Yamaha: Jeffrey Herlings came

back in Latvia this year and the lap-times

didn’t lie. I think it was 1.7 [ahead]. So what

is it? The bike? The rider? And how do we

get faster? Are the fitness levels reaching a

limit? I don’t think so. The riders evolve just

like the bikes.


Gunther Geerts Technical Touch/KYB:

As there are more races then there are

more opportunities and more emphasis

to be at that level longer. I think the 23

age limit for MX2 means that all the best

riders have been pushed together and

in MXGP there are so many good racers

and that has the effect of increasing the

level. It is not just the bike; all the factors

make the speed go up and unfortunately

there are maybe more injuries. Anything

can happen in a sport if you go to the

limit.

450s: TOO FAST?

Marcus Pereira De Freitus, Team HRC,

Team Manager: I don’t think the 450 is

faster than it is supposed to be. In some

cases Jorge Prado is very close or even

faster in terms of lap-times. It all depends

on how that power is being put on

the ground.

Tim Gajser, Team HRC, 2019 MXGP

World Champion: It will sound weird but

sometimes I want even more power! I

think it should be kept as it is. Every year

brands are trying to make bikes faster

and better - and I always want better and

better - and I guess it is the same for

every rider.

Shaun Simpson, RFX KTM, MXGP: Next

year is my tenth season racing 450s and

I wouldn’t say they are becoming too

fast. I don’t think there is much scope to

make them faster because they still need

to be rideable for forty minutes.

Rene Ebert, Chief Mechanic, Monster

Energy Wilvo Yamaha: In the winter we

are always looking for ways to make the

lap-times better. You cannot stop improving

and everybody is pushing hard,

so the bikes get faster and the riders

need to be fitter and more capable to


FEATURE

use them. The level of the fitness now

has reached a point where even if they

are sick or injured then they are way-off

where they need to be.

Marcus Pereira De Freitus, Team HRC,

Team Manager: We don’t have any

complaints about power and not for a

few years now. It is about working from

track-to-track. The work has been just

as much about the balance, suspension

and handling. All manufacturers of 450s

have enough power right now and I don’t

think there are many riders complaining

that there is too much, which is different

compared to a 250.

Antonio Alia Portela, FIM CMS President:

It is obvious that the factories are

developing their engines to increase the

speed so what we have to do from our

side, as the FIM, is to make sure that

the average speed of the races does not

exceed the limit. How do we do that?

Rui [Gonçalves] is working on the speed

of the circuits to make them safer. The

speed is increasing thanks to many factors

and they are being pushed by the

brands. We don’t necessarily want faster

riders; we want skilled and healthy riders

that can see out a season.

Dirk Gruebel, Red Bull KTM Team Technical

Co-ordinator & MX2

Team Manager: We could pack much

more speed into the 450 than the riders

actually use. It is not the end of the line.

If they want five horsepower more then

we can give it. It’s just not necessary. A

250 is around ten horsepower less but it

still goes the same speed on the track, so

it is not about horsepower but how riders

handle it and make the most out of it.

The weight difference between our bikes

from a 450 to a 250 is two kilos, that’s it.

Not a hell of a difference.

The suspension, the frames

Marcus Pereira De Freitus, Team HRC,

Team Manager: I have the 2008 [Marc]

De Reuver Honda in the workshop and

I think if you put that bike on the track

today then it would be upside-down. We

are three generations on from that model

and the CRF450R is now much more

adaptable to the riders. Obviously the

’08 motorcycle is still a good bike but

the difference is in the improvements in

almost every area and how the weight is

distributed, the link and swing arm.


things each year to get better acceleration

or a better start. It is always small things

because it’s been a few years since any

big steps. Inside the technology there always

seems to be a bit more performance

or more comfort or more traction. Even if

it seems that suspension on the outside

doesn’t change inside they are looking at

materials and systems.

450s: TOO FAST?

Rene Ebert, Chief Mechanic, Monster

Energy Wilvo Yamaha: Always handling,

handling, handling. Tackling braking bumps,

feel in corners, traction on acceleration

bumps.

Tony Cairoli, Red Bull KTM: Suspension

has made such a big step compared to a

few years ago and it is so easy to ride the

bike. I can see it in the amateur races I

follow when I am in Rome or Sicily: everybody

goes so fast and maybe they ride

twice a month! They have a lot of power

but the suspension now allows you to do

crazy stuff.

Gunther Geerts Technical Touch/KYB:

You used to have compression and rebound

on a front fork and a rear shock

but these days you have low and high

speed compression and rebound. The

fine-tuning is so much more precise

than it used to be. It even surprises me

how the factory can come up with new

Dirk Gruebel, Red Bull KTM Team Technical

Co-ordinator & MX2 Team Manager:

There has been a lot of development suspension-wise

because riders are not afraid

of a jump now: they just hit them because

they know the equipment will absorb it and

won’t throw them off. I had a discussion

with Joel [Smets] about the downhill double

jump at the bottom of the hill at Loket

[Grand Prix of Czech Republic] and he said

in the past you’d come out of the turn,

gas-it a bit but choose your line, close the

throttle and then gas it on the take-off just

to clear it. Now the kids don’t shut-off. The

speed is down to riding technique, suspension

and better preparation.

Wim van Hoof, Chief Mechanic, Standing

Construct KTM: If you look at a shock or

fork from a few years ago then it is still a

cartridge with shims and oil and springs.

However the quality of the material is always

better and better and they find new

settings. The engine is the same: the angle

of the valves, the compression. We’ve altered

so much in the last years with suspension

and chassis and engine that small

steps have not stopped. It means a big step

compared to years ago.


FEATURE

Wilfred Van Mil, Racing Manager, WP

Suspension: I think development with

suspension is always improving. It is not

huge steps but there are always small

things, and combined with frames and

handling characteristics, then it all fits

together. We make the riders as comfortable

as possible on the bike and if that

happens then he goes quicker. Every year

we make a small step. It is the whole

team’s job to make the rider go faster.

They are many people working on that.

Francois Lemariey, Team Manager, Monster

Energy Kawasaki: With experience

and calculations and different linkage

ratio and the difference of factory suspension

compared to production – although

the systems are not so far away

from each other the material is better

quality – the Japanese can improve the

flex of the bike. They do a lot of testing

with feedback from the riders and that’s

part of our job: to make those reports so

they can judge and modify their production

material if necessary. It’s not good to

have a bike that is too rigid and also not

good to have one that flexes too much,

especially on a sand track like Lommel. It

is a compromise of balance and experience

and engineering.

Shaun Simpson, RFX KTM, MXGP: Suspension

is something that is definitely

getting a lot better than it was before;

especially with electronics, ECU management

and traction control; those sorts of

things. You just have to look at HRC and

I believe those guys have some serious

electronics on their bikes. I’ve never

ridden a bike like that but it’s clear to

see that if the ignition can cut at certain

points and handle bumps and work with

the suspension and engine to create a


smoother and faster ride then this is an

improvement. Before you just had ride

by the seat of your pants and use your

skill to determine which bumps you can

hit and which ones you can’t. There is a

lot of chassis work going on with different

stiffness and length and things like

engine mounts; everyone is looking for

that slightly easier ride. I know for sure

that when you get the feeling right then

you can go a lot faster. When it’s not right

then you have to ease-off otherwise it will

bite you quite quickly.

Marcus Pereira De Freitus, Team HRC,

Team Manager: It’s complicated to find

a good balance with the frame and that’s

why the rider and his feedback is still so

important. There are a lot of people and

test riders behind the scenes helping to

optimise that. Frame development has

really come-on along and with the suspension

has given a great balance. We

test 4-5 times a year depending on the

development and the rider’s concerns but

basically it is the same dimensions as the

production bike: it is just how you balance

it all together. Our frame is the same that

Jeremy [Van Horebeek] uses but then it

comes down to how you work with the

geometry and the suspension technician:

to make sure it is working with the engine

to get the power on the ground.

Gunther Geerts Technical Touch/KYB:

I think there is some truth to the claims

about suspension and its responsibility

for the speed but it is mostly the development

of bikes in general because

you cannot just talk about the hardware

that we deliver but the combination with

the frame and the motorcycle. The performance

is really high now and that is

normal evolution. The bikes are faster and

the riders are faster.

Dirk Gruebel, Red Bull KTM Team Technical

Co-ordinator & MX2 Team Manager:

It is all about rideability. We have our reference

tracks where we test in the winter

and if you bring along an improvement

that allows you to shave off a second or

half-a-second then you have done a good

job. We’re not stopping that! Everyone is

doing the same, that’s our job. You have

to get the power to the ground but it also

needs to be a smooth delivery so the riders

can easily open and don’t be hesitant

on the gas or need to pay too much attention

to it. The more they can concentrate

on the riding and less on the bike then the

faster they can go.

Gunther Geerts Technical Touch/KYB:

Racing is more professional now than

it used to be and people are supported

better. If you look at teams now then they

almost all have their own suspension guy.

You have more resources so development

goes faster and if you have a good ethic

then even faster still. The manufacturers

are not the only one to blame…it is a

combination of things.

Rene Ebert, Chief Mechanic, Monster

Energy Wilvo Yamaha: Riders can be

smooth and want less power but then

there are others that are aggressive

and want more. Jeremy Seewer needs a

smooth bike but also one with a strong

third gear. Christophe Pourcel wanted to

be in and out of the corner in third gear

but without clutching! It’s down to corner

speed and lap-times, lap-times, lap-times.

MXGP has so many different riders. Romain

[Febvre] likes a lot of top end and

it sounds aggressive but the horsepower

might not be that much. We are coming

more and more to a compromise over

power with smooth delivery and handling.

The start is absolutely crucial so we need

450s: TOO FAST?


FEATURE

a lot of power for that and that’s why a

lot of brands develop start systems that

then cut-out after three seconds. You

need it for the gate but not on the track.

The window mappings for start strategies

are huge now.

The tracks

Romain Febvre, Monster Energy Yamaha:

I don’t think the speed is too high, we

just improved in many things and it is

more about how we deliver the power.

The tracks need to change. For many

years we have ridden at the same places

and apart from a few take-offs and landings

not much has changed. We could

use some alterations to the layouts. The

speed doesn’t seem to be a problem at

big places like Argentina but in others

like Russia it was a real problem. So I

think it is more about the racing conditions

than the power of the bikes. Argentina

is fast but the size of the track

means you can do that speed a bit safer.

Russia is tiny, rocky and hard-packed

with water on the top.


Shaun Simpson, RFX KTM, MXGP: It’s not

the bikes, it is some of the track layouts or

the way the surface is prepared that cause

the speed to be higher.

Dirk Gruebel, Red Bull KTM Team Technical

Co-ordinator & MX2 Team Manager: Jeffrey

mentioned at one point in the U.S. you cannot

go flat-out on a Sunday like in the GPs

because the track has not been touched and

the lines are too deep: if you hit them flat-out

then you are gone. The riders know it and

respect it because they get their warnings.

[More] Jumps don’t help because the riders

hit them full-gas. We should look into corners

[layout] or laden turns where it is not possible

to go that fast. It needs to be tested.

Wim van Hoof, Chief Mechanic, Standing

Construct KTM: It’s true that the bikes have

made some big steps in the last ten years.

Everything has to follow, even the brakes when

you get to a high speed but for me the tracks

have to be carefully looked at. The bikes are

quick but I think the tracks play a part.

Tony Cairoli, Red Bull KTM: The dirt is the

main thing. It must be good and make a lot of

450s: TOO FAST?


FEATURE

bumps. That would slow the speed and also

produce line choice. At the moment if you ride

somewhere like Russia or Czech Republic you

really need to be aggressive to pass and being

so fast [leaves less room for error].

Marcus Pereira De Freitus, Team HRC, Team

Manager: The track preparation is something

we are more worried about. We think there

can be more consistency from the people

working on them at the different tracks and

the watering. I think it is the most important

thing in terms of safety now.

Tim Gajser, Team HRC, 2019 MXGP World

Champion: Preparation can depend on the

track. Everyone talks about Russia but it is a

track that cannot be ripped that deep because

of the stony ground and how it develops.

Romain Febvre, Monster Energy Yamaha: Everything

has changed or developed…apart from

the tracks. In MotoGP they have not changed

the speed or the capacity of the bikes but the

tracks are now safer and they have room to

crash. That’s not always the case for us, in my

opinion.

Antonio Alia Portela, FIM CMS President:

Track attention means more corners and extra

care with grip. Perhaps more sand. If you have

more table-tops then you need a straight to

generate speed to get over it. We need to manage

safety, skills and speed to have good races

and a good show for TV.

Wilfred Van Mil, Racing Manager, WP Suspension:

From hard-pack to sand there are no big

setting changes; it is more a balance thing and

a couple of clicks but most of the time not

even that. We do a lot of testing - that’s our

big job in the winter - and we end up with one

base setting that works more or less on all the

GP tracks. We then just play a little with the

fork line and the free sag and small details

each weekend. It’s another reason why the

rider becomes faster because he has the same

bike every week. In the past they’d have vast

setting changes from one track to the other

track and the rider would have to get used to

the bike again and have a feeling for it. These

days the base set-up is so much better and

they get more and more confident.


Gunther Geerts Technical Touch/KYB: We go

testing at the start of the year in Sardinia in

January. We see the WP boys there also. We

establish a base set-up and also test it in the

pre-season races. The range of that setting

becomes so wide that whether it is sand or

hard-pack you hardly have to change it, just a

few clicks here or there or the position or balance

of the bike, that’s it. You get comments

like ‘the bike is good, I don’t want to change

anything’. In the old days riders would have

suspension for sand and for hard-pack but

that’s all done away with now.

Tony Cairoli, Red Bull KTM: If you had a wider

track with more lines and more bumps then

you’d have safer riding because you’d slow

down as it gets more physical. People will get

tired, and you can make a difference over who

is training and who is training hard. When the

tracks are as flat as they are now then you

don’t see the difference, as you used to before.

Marc de Reuver, Rider Coach F&H Kawasaki,

former MX2 & MXGP GP winner: There

are purpose built banks and berms on many

tracks now over the years and it means riders

can go faster on the straights and just hit

them to make the corner. There is no need to

take care and measure a turn or to really look

at a camber.

Gunther Geerts Technical Touch/KYB: If we

talk about Lommel the track was even faster

in the past than it is today. I don’t think the

tracks are to blame. They can be fast but they

also put a lot of jumps and obstacles in there

to make it slower. Some places are very quick

– like Russia – but back in the day you also

had really fast tracks.

Francois Lemariey, Team Manager, Monster

Energy Kawasaki: As we saw some years ago

in F1 and MotoGP the tracks have to adapt to

the ‘new’ level of performance. I think there

are some modifications to do on tracks, maybe

reduce speed somehow with more obstacles

and bigger safety areas and not arriving

straight into the fence. Technology is better and

so are the riders, so things around them need

to move as well.

Marc de Reuver, Rider Coach F&H Kawasaki,

former MX2 & MXGP GP winner: Some more

thought to the tracks. A waves section should

start steep and end fast. In Latvia it started fast

and ended f**king steep with that jump. The

ambulance was there five times in one session

because these guys – the best in the world –

are crashing their brains out. I can see from the

body language of riders like Cairoli and Herlings

that they are having difficulty with it.

Shaun Simpson, RFX KTM, MXGP: Most of all

ground preparation. If you look at a wave section

then this should be ripped and watered

like the rest of the track. I also think take-offs

and landings should be done. There is a fad in

MXGP at the moment where there seems to be

a lot of polished hard-pack on jump take-offs…

and then they are watered. In America they rip

and water them and then track-them-in with

a bulldozer. They have deep lines but no real

potential for kickers. The landings here are

the same: usually rock hard and watered. So

you come from something hard and slick into

something – a rut - that is deep and watered.

Romain Febvre, Monster Energy Yamaha: The

average speed needs to come down on some

tracks and that means more jumps – but technical

ones and not just another table-top or

a double. A ‘braking’ jump just to break the

speed makes sense and maybe two of them a

lap would help. Also the safety around the track

needs to be looked at. At Assen if you run off

the track then you are straight into a fence. I

don’t think these are difficult things to improve

or at least to think about.

450s: TOO FAST?


FEATURE

Tim Gajser, Team HRC, 2019 MXGP World

Champion: They are trying to make some elements

on the tracks now to stop the speed,

like braking jumps. But I think these things

break the rhythm and it can be difficult find

the flow. It might be more dangerous with

them there because you don’t feel good on the

track. You spend the rest of the lap trying to

get the rhythm back, find it and then hit the

braking jump again! It gets boring. The other

guys will give you a different answer!

Shaun Simpson, RFX KTM, MXGP: There is a

bit of inconsistency with what is ripped and

what isn’t. Everyone can go through a wave

section really fast if there are no lines or ruts

in it. If there are lines, bumps and ruts then

there is not easy and it gets technical. A wave

section gets chewed up very fast on sand and

it becomes one of the best passing places on

the track. Of course it can be tough to adjust

many tracks. Places like Loket cannot be

ripped that deep, or any more than it usually

is. Some of the newer places - and where it is


high] especially for our tracks in Europe that

are mostly very tiny narrow and not so many

lines. They dry quickly and there is a lot of

hard-pack. The 250 class is very good at the

moment for the world championship because

the power is so strong that is almost compares

to my old 350. So to reduce the power

in the MXGP class is not a bad idea and would

mean fewer injuries.

Antonio Alia Portela, FIM CMS President: If

you step backwards in a sport like this then

you can make mistakes. You have to go with

the stream. Just reducing things or taking

things away from riders is difficult. What we

can do is get onto safer tracks…in many aspects.

We have to figure out how to make

the riders safer and that might mean moving

areas inside and outside the track: A table-top

that sends the riders too high and the landing

is suspect is another problem. Injuries at this

level usually mean broken bones.

450s: TOO FAST?

easier to move dirt around - then I feel there

could be improvements on the way it is built.

It is always difficult to get something that everybody

is happy with but from a safety aspect

the tracks I like are more about a 40-50kmph

average speed and 60 is way-too high.

The solution?

Tony Cairoli, Red bull KTM: I don’t think it is

a bad idea to reduce the power of the bikes

because the 450s are on a level [that is very

Rene Ebert, Chief Mechanic, Monster Energy

Wilvo Yamaha: Electronics? A control ECU?

I like this. If you get three or five ECUs and a

rev limit on a 250 of say 14,500 rpm the costs

would be much lower because of the engine

service, so we can run longer and I think it

would be fairer amongst the guys. I would also

go back to having just one race bike. Everybody

talks about budget but we carrying two

bikes just as back-up for MXGP Timed Practice

or if something happens on the Sighting

Lap. When something breaks it is the engine

and if a professional team cannot change an

engine in less than an hour?! Maybe we’ll have

more money for teams and riders but I guess

some brands don’t want this. A 450 is not too

much about revs compared to a 250 but a

form of control would help. I don’t think it will

happen though because some brands put a lot

into development. It is all a competition.

Wim van Hoof, Chief Mechanic, Standing

Construct KTM: A control ECU would help for

sure. You can do a lot with that. We run GET


FEATURE

technology and there is a big menu. You can

change a lot and in some parts we can control

the power. Having a ceiling for revs could

work but mostly for 250s because on the 450

you cannot go so high otherwise the engines

would break. I think the 250s are already set

at 15,000 while the 450s are 11-12,000. It’s not

necessary or possible to go higher. The most

important thing is controlling the power like

the rider prefers.

Marcus Pereira De Freitus, Team HRC, Team

Manager: Development does not stop but I

don’t think we’ll see proper traction control

on motocross tracks for another three years

at least. It is expensive, and there is no urgent

reason to have it. We always think about rider

safety and that’s the first priority for Honda

and we know we are putting the riders on the

bike that is safe in all areas: electronics, suspension,

frame.

Wim van Hoof, Chief Mechanic, Standing Construct

KTM: I hear some rumours about lowering

ccs. I don’t know if that’s necessary. The

riders always want a bike that can go faster!

We have to push the power in the correct way.

I know there are some teams that give their

riders one setting and they have to adapt. We

start our season listening to the riders. We

have one that says the power comes in too fast

and wants more spread or higher RPM and

when the rider is going easier on the bike and

says he has more control then the race will

come better and it becomes safer. If the bike is

too aggressive or too much power in one spot

on the track then it just increases the risk. I

think it is more important to create control and

to hit the exact preference for the rider.

Wilfred Van Mil, Racing Manager, WP Suspension:

Sooner or later they will downgrade the

CCs. I think if development continues like this

then inside ten years we’ll have a 250 that is

stronger than a 450 at the moment. You cannot

get a sixteen year old on a bike like that: it

will kill the sport.

Tony Cairoli, Red Bull KTM: A 450 is a strong

bike lately. I think reducing the power a bit

would be a good idea.

Romain Febvre, Monster Energy Yamaha: If we

reduce the power then you will get close to the

power of a 250 and you’ll end up with just one

class. It doesn’t make too much sense for me.

Dirk Gruebel, Red Bull KTM Team Technical

Co-ordinator & MX2 Team Manager: I don’t

think capacity change will solve it. If they [FIM]

told us next year that MXGP was down to a

300cc limit then we’d still do our best to be

the fastest out there and I think it would end

up being as fast as a 450 at the moment.

Shaun Simpson, RFX KTM, MXGP: I don’t like

the idea of a 350. I tried it, rode it, tested it

and just prefer the idea of torque and usable

power.

Wilfred Van Mil, Racing Manager,

WP Suspension: For suspension development

it is about engineering and new techniques,

small details like different pistons, shapes,

overlaps and in the end it becomes a big thing.

You cannot solve everything with just suspension;

it has to match the frame and the engine

behaviour. We do many tests where a change

to the engine character has produced a change

on the suspension as well. The 250 at the moment

has the same amount of horsepower as a

450 from 2004. It won’t stop.


450s: TOO FAST?


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AUGUST 25th

Rnd 12 of 12

450MX winner:

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250MX winner:

Dylan Ferrandis, Yamaha

Blog by Steve Matthes, Photos by Octopi/Monster, Cudby


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TIME OFF?

The final round of the Lucas Oil Pro AMA Motocross

Championships took place in Indiana this past weekend and as

expected, Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Adam

Cianciarulo grabbed his first title by virtue of 2-4 moto scores.

The other ‘green guy’, Eli Tomac

of the Monster Energy Kawasaki

team, cruised home with a win

and no pressure having clinched

his third straight 450MX title the

previous Saturday.

It was a good race, certainly

made better by not having the

rain we’ve seen at this last round

almost every single year the track

has been on the circuit. Good

crowd, a great first moto in the

450MX class that saw Tomac,

Honda’s Ken Roczen and KTM’s

Marvin Musquin have a terrific

three way battle all the way to the

checkers with Musquin grabbing

the win.

So the twelve rounds of motocross

are over as are the seventeen

rounds of supercross.

It’s grueling schedule for the riders

never mind the teams. That’s

something that I, as a guy that

worked as mechanic for a couple

of factory teams and for eleven

years total, really understand.

The hours the team personal

put-in are incredible and often at

the expense of their home life.

So it’s with great relief that many

of them look to these upcoming

couple of weeks as a bit of a

break.

Yes, you read that right. The

teams generally start giving their

staff rosters the weekends off

now and many of the riders will

take a few weeks away from the

routine before gearing up for supercross

2020.

Ken Roczen, who’s struggled with

a virus for much of this year, has

completely eliminated any racing

from his off-season plans outside

of the Red Bull Straight Rhythm

which shouldn’t be too taxing for

him.

In my experience the hamster

wheel of professional supercross/

motocross never stops. You

would think perhaps after the

calendars are complete that there

might be some serious downtime

for everyone but nope, many

years I was on teams the riders

would be back out in Southern

California the week after the last

race to start riding supercross. As

a mechanic you would be slowly

building the following year’s test

bike near the end of the motocross

season and complete it the

Monday or Tuesday after the last

national.

The supercross test tracks will

have been rebuilt or in the process

of it and the off-season

preparation starts almost immediately.

Part of the reason for the

early jump on the supercross is

that the Japanese OEM’s need a

lot of lead-time to order parts.


By Steve Matthes

So after a week or so of riding,

a team will often run through

some suspension components,

transmission gears and valve

train parts. Once the riders settle

on a preferable setting, the team

places the order back to Japan

and the wait to get the right

parts gets started.

It’s scary how little the sport as

a whole takes time to smell the

roses and relax. The championships

are over, everyone moves

on and there isn’t any real sort

of celebration after the supercross

or motocross contests are

over. It’s just onto the next thing

and for most (non-MXDN participants)

people in the sport, it’s a

case of getting back to work.

The grind never stops.

Meanwhile, with camshafts and

other easily available parts, the

testing continues in the offseason,

normally it’s every other

week for a couple of days. Back

in my day the riders would take

their bikes and ride on their own

but more and more I’m seeing

the teams control the process

by sending team people out to

the track every time the rider

gets on the motorcycle. Every lap

is timed, the hours ridden are

monitored and the practice bike

is maintained to perfection. Not

all teams do this but more and

more are.


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ARGINS

MotoGP GBR

GOPRO BRITISH GRAND PRIX

SILVERSTONE CIRCUIT

AUGUST 23-25

Blogs by David Emmett & Neil Morrison, Photos by CormacGP

MotoGP WINNER: ALEX RINS, SUZUKI

Moto2 WINNER: AUGUSTO FERNANDEZ, KALEX

Moto3 WINNER: MARCOS RAMIREZ, HONDA

The British Grand Prix started in spectacular and

fiery fashion…and didn’t back-off. It was a

gripping return. Marc Marquez may have been

beaten by centimetres for the second race in a

row but the champion continues to accelerate to

the 2019 crown thanks to his eleventh podium

from twelve. Silverstone was about Suzuki again

though – after Maverick Viñales triumphed there

in 2016 - and that Rins’ special at Woodcote.


MotoGP


MotoGP GBR


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MotoGP GBR


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MOTOGP

BLOG

MYSTERY OF THE MASSES...

More than Europe’s

largest MC store

The British Grand Prix at Silverstone was the race that

very nearly didn’t happen.

The future of Silverstone itself

looked in doubt after the debacle

of 2018, when the new surface

laid in February of that year

started to ripple up and develop

bumps in extremely inconvenient

places, as well as failing to drain

adequately. The water was the

biggest problem, causing aquaplaning

in heavy rain conditions

which would not be a problem at

other tracks. A bunch of riders

crashed on Saturday, Tito Rabat

was doubly unlucky, falling early

and being hit by Franco Morbidelli’s

Honda, shattering his femur.

On Sunday, after the rain kept

falling and the standing water

wouldn’t clear, the race was cancelled,

the first time in decades

that a Grand Prix didn’t go ahead.

The consensus was that Silverstone

was unusable as a Grand

Prix venue because it was unsafe

in the rain. The circuit would only

be allowed to the race if all of its

problems were fixed. Preferably

by resurfacing the whole track

again.

Fast forward to 2019, and the

entire track has been given a

new layer of asphalt. The work

has been done more thoroughly

than ever before by Tarmac: the

company actually named after the

stuff used to surface the track. It

was carried out under the watchful

eye of Jarno Zaffelli’s company

Dromo Studio, responsible for

some of the great motorcycle race

tracks of the world. Despite the

complexity of the operation and

the thoroughness with which it

was approached, various sources

say Silverstone got the work done

at a surprisingly decent price.

Did it pay off? The new tarmac

(pun intended) received rave

reviews from just about everyone.

“I don’t think you’ll speak to

another rider today who doesn’t

have a smile on his face, because

the asphalt is amazing, the grip is

amazing,” Jack Miller enthused.

Valentino Rossi agreed. “It’s a

great pleasure to ride here in

Silverstone because they make a

very good job.

The new asphalt has good grip

but the biggest difference is a

lot less bumps, so you can push

more and ride the bike more at

the limit.”

Ironically, the new surface created

problems too. “You’re able to ride

the track in a different way,” Miller

said. “The setup changes because

… every track demands something,

but if you have really bad

grip or a lot of bumps, you have

to make a setup for that, to try to

improve the biggest limit of the

track,” Andrea Dovizioso said. “In

the past here, we were struggling

to get the tyres warm, absorb the

bumps, it was very difficult. Now

it’s about using the best potential

of the track with much more

speed, and try to have the best

balance, to use the best potential

of the track.”

That meant rethinking race lines,

and changing bike setup to suit.

The new surface restored Silverstone’s

position and status as


By David Emmett

well as its potency as a race track:

fast, sweeping, challenging, terrifying,

rewarding skill and bravery

in equal amounts, allowing each

bike and each rider to showcase

their strengths and compensate

for their weaknesses. There were

bikes from four different manufacturers

in the first five positions on

the grid. There were three different

bikes on the podium. The

pole record and race lap record

fell, and the race was 33 seconds

faster than the fastest previous

edition. Victory was decided by

0.013 seconds, by a thrilling and

daring pass on Marc Márquez by

Alex Rins. It was spectacular.

And yet only 50,000 people

turned up to witness it, despite

three days of sun and blistering

temperatures. This was only

slightly down on 2018, when

54,000 had sat in the rain.

Numbers are down from 2015

and 2016, when attendance hit

73,000, and roughly on a par with

attendance at Donington Park,

when the race was held there. For

comparison: 104,000 turned up

in Le Mans, 83,000 at Mugello,

91,000 at Barcelona, 105,000 in

Assen, 91,000 in Germany, and

85,000 and 87,000 at Brno and

Spielberg respectively.

You would have thought that a

nation of nearly 70 million people

and a proud racing history would

more willing to attend a MotoGP

race. The relatively low attendance

is not something I can readily

explain, nor, from a cursory glance

at the numbers, find a causal

relationship with the success of

Valentino Rossi or British riders.

This, it appears to me, is the

greatest threat to the future of

the British Grand Prix, whether at

Silverstone or elsewhere. Silverstone

did everything asked of

them to make amends for the

disaster of 2018. They invested a

lot of money, and vastly improved

the track, and still the fans did

not come. They never really have

the huge numbers other countries

manage to assemble. Dorna really

wants to hold a Grand Prix in the

UK, because of the sport’s history

here. But if the fans don’t come,

how will anyone be able to afford

to organize one?


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CAUGHT OUT

What a difference three weeks can make.

At an overcast Brno at the start of

the month Alex Rins broke from the

norm and delivered an appraisal

that left no one in any doubt of

where he really stood. So often a

shy, quiet figure when in the glare

of the media spotlight, content to

close lines of discussion down and

keep analysis to a minimum, here

he was fired up and ready to deliver

a barb that meant headline writers

could take the afternoon off.

Memories of a heated qualifying

session were still fresh: there was,

of course, the indignation of watching

chief rival and reference Marc

Marquez take pole position by the

ludicrous margin of two and a half

seconds. But what really irked Rins

was the reigning champion’s actions

when he chased a time midsession.

Marquez had messed up turn five,

run wide and looked around. Jack

Miller and Rins were fast approaching

and after letting the Australian

through, the #93 shifted back onto

the dry line in front of the Suzuki.

“Sincerely he disturbed me,” an

uncharacteristically animated Rins

admitted.

An entertaining on-track exchange

followed, culminating in Rins rushing

to enter pit lane ahead, pushing

Marquez toward a pit lane wall at

low speed, forcing the Honda rider

to shut off.

“I think he has no respect for other

riders,” Rins fumed soon after.

Soon, when reverting to his native

tongue, he would add, “maybe his

Moto2 crash [in 2011] made him

lost his sight.”

If you’re going all in, do it with

conviction. But as if fearing a public

backlash, Rins soon backtracked,

apologising for his remark on Marquez’s

vision via Twitter. Marquez

barely blinked when his countryman’s

comments were put to him.

“I’ve won a title or two since then,

have I not?” he shrugged. In their

first public spat, the elder of the two

had come out on top.

Perhaps that was one of the reasons

why the outcome of Sunday’s

astonishing British Grand Prix was

so surprising. In his first year as a

certified challenger Rins has endured

a setback more than he’d

care to remember. Like similar

disappointments at Le Mans and

the Sachsenring, Rins didn’t dwell

on the Brno affair. Unquestionably

this was his finest grand prix

performance to date. There was no

cowering at Marquez’s reputation

here. He sprang from the middle of

the second row, weighed up his rival

and pounced not once, but twice to

win the joint fourth closest premier

class bow – 0.013s separated them

both – in history.

Miller paid Rins the highest compliment

earlier in the year. “Every time

I sit down with the team and make

a debrief or a plan for the race,

we always say Rins and Valentino

[Rossi], they’re going to be there in

the race. Doesn’t matter where they

qualify. You know they’re going to

be there.”


More than Europe’s

largest MC store

By Neil Morrison

Perhaps that was another. All weekend,

the Suzuki’s pace was strong,

an equal of the Movistar Yamahas

of Maverick Viñales and Rossi. But

Marquez and eventual first corner

crasher Fabio Quartararo were a

step ahead.

But crew chief Jose Manuel Cazeaux

works in a wily way, ensuring

race readiness is rarely sacrificed

for headline grabbing times. Session

results can be deceptive. And

Rins has yet to truly master the

high-pressure, high-stakes art of

qualifying. But with the exception of

Le Mans and the Red Bull Ring, the

23-year old and Suzuki have honed

consistency to a level almost worthy

of a title challenge.

So it proved at the resurfaced Silverstone.

Rins knew a strong start

and combative first lap – two of the

veritable strengths he has added to

his armoury this year – were essential

to contending for the leading

spots. “I knew before the start of

the race that Marquez and Quartararo

were the two guys to beat,”

Rins later said. “If I was with them

in the first part then in the end I

was able to have options.”

As it turned out, the man Rins

replaced would be his greatest ally

here. Marquez recognised Viñales’

own late pace as a concern and

thus refused to relent when in front.

Silverstone’s new surface offered up

grip aplenty but track temperatures

of 44 degrees, an abrasive surface

and Michelin’s inexperience with it

meant rear tyre wear was an issue.

Marquez’s fear of Viñales joining

in meant tyre management had

to be forgotten. As he did at Brno,

the strategy was “to make the front

group smaller.”

From his time in second, Rins could

see the Honda’s drive onto the

Wellington Straight would be his

undoing if he stayed ahead. He was

smart to Marquez’s game of letting

him by on lap nine and knew he

had to hold back for fear of getting

caught out late on. “I was riding one

lap in front of him,” Rins recalled.

“But very quick I let him past because

he was much faster than me

on the acceleration from turns 14,

16 and 17. I didn’t want to show my

weakness.”

It was an inspired move. And it

soon became apparent he wasn’t

just hanging onto Marquez’s lead

on lap 17. A moment on the exit of

Club gave the Honda rider breathing

space, but come the start of

lap 18 and Rins had closed back

in. Then he dared where most

wouldn’t. And not just once. Rins’

– and the Suzuki’s – ability to

conserve the rear tyre has been a

strength that was apparent from his

rookie campaign.

That was decisive as the race

lurched toward its nail-biting

conclusion. Marquez’s top speed

advantage and braking prowess

kept him ahead into the critical

Brooklands-Luffield section. But

his rear tyre was shot. On the final

lap Rins was a full 7mph quicker at

the apex of Woodcote as Marquez

staggered for traction. Twice Rins

tried at the final turn, conjuring

up images of Barry Sheene, one

of Suzuki’s former prodigal sons,

40 years before, by riding around

the outside on the penultimate

lap. Switching to the inside for the

final time brought about one of the

moves of the season.


BLOG

It was a coolheaded, combative display

that would have made Marquez

proud. ‘perfect’ and ‘fantastic’ were

two words used by Brivio to describe

the third Suzuki win on his watch in

the aftermath – but not surprising,

as experienced engineers at Suzuki

are well aware of their rider’s ability.

“The way he can take the bike

to the limits without ever look like

he’s close to it is so impressive,”

reckoned Tom O’Kane, crew chief

to Sylvain Guintoli, earlier this year.

Brivio concurs. “Sometimes he does

great things and he makes it look as

though it’s easy for him; not easy,

but natural,” he said at the end of

2018.

For Marquez, Oscar Wilde’s phrase

is applicable. To lose one race at

the final turn of the final lap may be

regarded as a misfortune; to lose two

in as many weeks looks like carelessness.

Only a rider of genuine class

could show the seven-time champ

up like this.

This was a statement performance.

And on this evidence only a fool

would bet against Rins producing

more of them in the coming months.


Photo by Tony Goldsmith


FEATURE

A

By Adam Wheeler, Photos by Yamaha/Milestone

DIFFERENT

GAME

YAMAHA EXTEND FULL FACTORY

TREATMENT TO THE DIGITAL WORLD

WITH MOTOGP ESPORTS PUSH:

THE WHAT, WHO, WHERE & WHY?!


FEATURE

There is a lot of ‘E’ around MotoGP at

the moment. The Motorrad Grand Prix

Deutschland saw the launch of the very

first ‘MotoE’ electric category and the

burgeoning e-sports scene around the

championship is building revs towards

three live events later in the summer.

The Monster Energy Yamaha factory

team are not being left behind when it

comes to the digital incarnation of their

sport. Aside from striving to provide the

best possible racing equipment and conditions

for both Valentino Rossi and Maverick

Viñales the multi-world champions

have ‘signed’ Lorenzo Daretti (who goes

by the digital handle of ‘Trastevere73’)

the 2018 MotoGP E-Sport winner as their

official representative for ‘virtual’ MotoGP.

“A MISCALCULATION BY ROSSI

OR VIÑALES ON THE TRACK CAN

RESULT IN A BROKEN BONE OR

MUCH WORSE. FOR TRASTEVERE

THE RISK MIGHT RUN TO A STRAINED

FINGER. BUT THE STAKES ARE

WHERE THE REAL AND THE VIRTUAL

MotoGP COME A LITTLE CLOSER

TOGETHER....”

“It’s the beginning of a new path and I

am not sure where it will take us twothree

years down the line but having

seen the development of E-Sports we

believe it will take-off and be a sporting

marketing phenomenon,” commented

Yamaha Motor Racing MD and Team

Principal Lin Jarvis “and we wanted to

get involved as a brand and as a partner

in MotoGP.”

Trastevere73, who is also a keen motorcyclist,

was presented at the Jerez

for the Gran Premio de España in May

where the video game expert was given

a MotoGP replica R6, full replica leathers

and pride of place among the Yamaha

MotoGP structure. “Our first ever ‘factory’

rider,” says Jarvis. “He’s the world

champion but is also a real rider and

racer on the track.”

Using the 2019 version of the MotoGP

game on PS4, PC and Xbox that was

released in June, Trastevere73 is one

of many hopefuls who will have to pass

through six timed online challenges

(the last culminating at the end of July)

whereupon the 72 fastest gamers from

across the world head into a Pro Draft.

From there the 12 best racers then form

the cast list for the three live face-offs to

be staged at actual MotoGP Grands Prix;

two of those being the dates at Misano in

Italy and the finale at Valencia in Spain.

MotoGP might have been a little cautious

to acknowledge and react to the

emergence of e-sports but the relevance

and reach of the pastime is not lost on

the paddock. “In 2021 there could be up

to 6.1 billion plays and there are almost

500 million spectators of e-sports championships,”

said Jarvis. “We want to get

on the train. Right away we found interest

among our partners and other sponsors

and for the young their first interaction

with MotoGP might be through

video games.”

The games

Competitive network gaming has been

popular since the turn of the century

(usually involving first-person shooters)

and when the surge around organised


tournaments led to the creation of professionals

who would earn a living from

their proficiency. The vast improvements

in connectivity, console speeds and

graphics and the surge of online communities

built gaming into a massive

lifestyle phenomenon that penetrated the

lexicons of everyday life.

E-sports gathered more momentum

when broadcasters realised there was

a large audience willing to log-on and

watch other people in action. It has since

become a major video event with studiobased

productions to rival the most popular

of Saturday night TV entertainment

shows. In some countries e-sports finales

have attracted thousands to arenas, with

a level of enthusiasm and fandom to rival

the real version of the sport or activity. A

story on Reuters website earlier this year

predicted that revenue from e-sports

would top 1 billion dollars in 2019.

MotoGP, YAMAHA & ESPORTS

A world-renowned title like ‘Gran Turismo’

fanned the flames of motorsport

competition for PlayStation owners

and F1 launched their own ‘F1 eSport’

contest in 2017 – the same year as MotoGP

– which now boasts a prize pool of

500,000 dollars.

MotoGP had to mobilise to further expose

the sport and the brand to a massive

and predominantly young demographic.

“This is the third year for us and

e-sports and it began because of demand

from sponsors, partners and teams and it

was the start of a long learning process,”

said Dorna MD Pau Serracanta. “Last

year we tried to make it bigger with a live

event and learnt that it was best to have

a real championship with points, just

like MotoGP. We ended up with 46 million

video views and 5.4 million acts of


FEATURE

A ‘new’ rider

But what does it mean to be a Pro gamer?

“’Training’ is not the same every day but during,

and in the build up to a competition it can

be quite a lot,” Trastevere73 says. “During a

competition it might be four-five hours a day;

two hours in the morning and two in the afternoon.

On a normal day it might be an hour

of practice or not at all. If you play too much

then it can be dangerous for your focus and

concentration…and your brain. You have to

train in the right way.”

Daretti cannot stop smiling during his unveiling

in the Monster Energy Yamaha presentation

at Jerez. “I’m very happy today and it was

a dream since I was young to somehow be

part of this team,” the 20 year old Italian says.

“It might sound strange but there is a connection

between the two worlds because of the

engagement with an audience share of 15-24

year olds forming 50% of that.”

Now e-sports is a third ‘property’ for Dorna

and the combination of MotoGP and gaming

has a potential that is quite surprising,” he

adds.

Monster Energy Yamaha’s contract with

Trastevere73 is the first high-profile move

towards having official digital ambassadors.

It could soon become a common sight. Factories

and teams have employed MotoE racers

to tackle the new electric series and a slew

of Pro gamers might be next addition to staff

rosters to ensure decent representation within

MotoGP’s fresh ‘property’.


concentration needed and you can learn a lot

about overtaking and strategy from watching

real MotoGP races. The emotion when you are

playing can be more or less the same as when

you are watching.”

A miscalculation by Rossi or Viñales on the

track can result in a broken bone or much

worse. For Lorenzo the risk might run to a

strained finger. But the stakes are where

the real and the virtual MotoGP come a little

closer together. In the same way that the

MotoGP stars cannot afford misjudgement or

indecision, Trastevere73 also has to perform

when it counts.

MotoGP, YAMAHA & ESPORTS

“Competitions are difficult but fortunately

in my family they call me ‘The Ice Man’!” he

grins. “You need a big ability to focus and not

worry about what is going on around you.”


FEATURE

“I’ve always used a PS4 but in competition

I use a PC because it is for all the

platforms and you can use a PS or Xbox

joystick or controller,” he says of his

‘tools. “The PC has more power so we

use that.”

MotoGP 2019 and the VR46

Academy

When it comes to hardware and software

(away from the multi-million dollar motorcycles)

MotoGP is helped by the very

thorough and impressive ‘MotoGP 2019’.

Italian developers Milestone have exceeded

their previous editions of the official

MotoGP game thanks to radically new

‘artificial intelligence’; in other words the

behaviour of computer-controlled rivals

in the single player mode.

“The new AI is important and the result

of three years work with an external

company for ‘machine learning’,” says

Milestone Marketing Manager Andrea

Loiudice. “It will be revelatory in gaming.

Only a few strategy games have something

similar. Through data the game

learns by itself and has not been programmed

by a human. It is much faster

and much more ‘human’ after moving

through 4 phases of learning behaviour.”

A ‘Historic’ mode of old riders and circuits

has been fleshed out and the graphics

have been further hiked in terms of

spec and being able to use the weighty

crunching resources of a console such as

the PS4. There are other upgrades, and

Milestone have augmented the online capabilities

for MotoGP 2019. “A big investment

in a dedicated server to improve

lag,” Loiudice adds. “I’m convinced this

is the best MotoGP game ever and it has

improved in every aspect. The graphics


and physics are better and we have made a lot

of effort with that.”

E-sports is not some distant and speculative

side project by the Yamaha team. Daretti has

been fully integrated into the Monza-based

set-up. He has made various promotional appearances

and has been riding and playing at

Rossi’s ‘Ranch’ training facility. Trastevere73 is

well known among the VR46 Academy, especially

the ‘senior’ head of the bunch.

“Yeah, I grew up with the PlayStation but I am

old!” jokes Rossi. “I like video games a lot but

the strongest in the Academy is Pecco [Bagnaia,

Pramac Ducati rider] he is the fastest and

always faster than me but I will try to make

some training with Trastevere and get some

advice.”

Bagnaia smiles knowingly when asked about

his gaming ability. “We make competitions [in

the VR46 Academy]…but not with MotoGP

because the others are not very fast! So we are

fighting on Gran Turismo.”

“I always try the MotoGP games and really like

them. I think the latest version has made a

good step because it’s very different. I’m a fan

of Trastevere73 and I think he can win again. I

make time attacks like them [Pro players] and

online I can win some races but if I see the

laps that Trastevere makes then it is too fast;

more than a second faster and it is amazing

how quickly they go. Maybe F1 is a step forward

as a game but MotoGP has grown a lot

in the last year and the tracks are very similar.

You can use the tyres, make tests and change

the riding style. The career mode is very nice.”

Promotion opportunities and novelties are

nothing new for Monster Energy Yamaha and

one of MotoGP’s best-established and most

prolific teams. But this time they have pushed

‘Start’ on a curious venture that hovers outside

of the traditional grand prix racing model. “For

my generation it was Space Invaders but the

technology now is unbelievable,” says Jarvis.

“We sell motorcycles at the end of the day and

we wanted to bridge the real world with the

digital and this seemed a good way to do it.”

MotoGP, YAMAHA & ESPORTS


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FEATURE

CRAFAR’S


THE FORMER GRAND PRIX WINNER TALKS REINVENTION IN MotoGP AND

HOW RIDERS CAN POSSIBLE CHALLENGE MARC MARQUEZ

By Adam Wheeler, Photos by CormacGP/Polarity Photo & www.motogp.com

CRAFT

We last interviewed

Simon Crafar back

in 2001. He was

dismantling a rear shock

in the back of the Ohlins

suspension truck after

Jose Luis Cardoso’s

Yamaha had barrelled

through the gravel at

a Yamaha test around

the Circuit de Catalunya

and seemed

to thrive in the new

technical role far

from the pressures

and expectations of

being at the front of a

race garage.

“I was never a ‘difficult’

rider. I always got on

well with my mechanics

and team,” he said then.

“So making the adjustment to

become a team member with a

different role to play was never

that tricky. I toyed with the

idea of working for the media,

but as a rider I didn’t enjoy the

publicity side of the job. I’ve

done some commentary before

but generally felt uncomfortable

being in the limelight or

being the centre of attention. I

always preferred to be one of

the faces in the background

rather than the main man out

front who everyone is looking

at and everyone wants a part

of. After I made the decision to

stop I then wanted to improve

myself, to educate myself, learn

something new and discover a

new field. This was perfect.’

Fast forward to 2019 and

Crafar is again a well-known

face in the grand prix paddock.

That initial reluctance to

be near a camera resurfaced

and prompted the arrival of a

complex that had to be conquered

but he has become an

appreciated and erudite part

of Dorna and MotoGP’s media

team. It has been a long road

to this point; where people are

interested and reacting to the

50 year old’s words on elite

level racing again. He suffered

serious injury while at the Red

Bull Romaniacs hard enduro

event after establishing a new

career strand as an informative

instructor and tutor for fast

motorcycling, forming part of

the Motovudu video and book

offerings on the subject.


FEATURE

WorldSBK and Grand Prix

loom large on his CV but

Simon will always be best

remembered due to that

sensational and comprehensive

exploitation of Dunlop

tyre rubber to become the

faster man in the world on

two wheels at the 1998 British

Grand Prix at Donington Park.

Now, he’s once more calling

the shots on the biggest

stage. We asked him to talk us

through the second journey to

the top…

From riding to Ohlins to

teaching to disaster to

publishing…

I was never any good at

school. I was always daydreaming

about motorbikes

and getting out of school.

By the time I left at fifteen

I wasn’t at a high academic

level. It was only after school

and when I started travelling

for racing that I started reading

books and got better so I

would never had believed that

I could teach anything or be

able to publish a couple of

books! The thing about trying

different jobs is how much

you learn and then what can

come up. Steve Plater, out of

the blue, asked if I wanted to

come and join them to teach

on track. That was in 2008

and I thought ‘I’m getting paid

to ride a motorbike again,

great’ but the thing that really

surprised me was that I was

good at putting it into words

so that other people would

know what to do: it becomes

really rewarding when they go

well and enjoy themselves. I

then had the accident at the

Red Bull Romaniacs and it

took eleven months to walk

again which meant a lot of

time to think. I wasn’t proud

of my time after racing. Basically

I was lost and I wanted

to find another way, and I was

passionate about the teaching

side and I knew about

motorcycles. It did take about

three years of teaching to

learn how to do it effectively! I

would watch somebody out on

track, we’d come back in and

say “don’t do it like that it’s

dangerous” and they’d reply

“well, how do you do it?” and I

found that I had to go back on

track and take notes of


everything I was doing and

put it into words. It took quite

a long time to get everything

down in the right way.

It’s not always so easy to explain

something that is almost

second-nature…

It’s not until you start to

teach that you really break

everything down. Once I had

it, then I thought ‘I need to

put it somewhere’ and that’s

where the book came from. I

needed help with that because

there’s the obvious difference

between the spoken and written

word. Thanks to Julian

Ryder and Guy Davies I was

able to do it. Sometimes they

would put a topic into words

that read better but then it

didn’t make so much sense to

a rider any more. The original

English might be dodgy but it

had to be relatable for a rider!

Being in front of camera was

another craft to learn…

For sure it wasn’t easy. I’d

watch a lot of it back sometimes

and think ‘oh dear…’ I

didn’t have any training and

it would have helped a lot! I

didn’t know any better and I

should have. People seemed

happy with the content

though. So while I should have

invested in it more, I didn’t.

The MotoGP opportunity with

Dorna came up. Decision

time…

I did a video for Dorna about

the qualifying session at

Assen in 1998 between Mick

Doohan and I. It was one of a

set of historic videos. I helped

them with that and apparently

I made a good impression with

how passionate I was about

the riding and how that came

across. They put my name

on a list for a future position

and when Dylan [Grey, Pitlane

reporter & presenter] left my

name popped up. They gave

me a call. My only reservation

was being away from the family.

That was the only reason I

left the job with Ohlins. I loved

that job and the Ohlins guys

were great. But I was away

too much from what-werethen

little kids. Now they have

reached fifteen and eighteen

and I checked with them and

my wife and they said “you

gotta do it, it’s an opportunity”

SIMON CRAFAR


FEATURE

however I didn’t know what I

was getting into. Everything

around me is so professional

and I hadn’t had any training

so I struggled. When I say

‘training’ I mean that I had

experience but it was about

preparing for sessions, and

the more prepared you are

the better you can get things

across. Also nerves create

mistakes and not being able

to think about the next step.

So you need experience and

preparation to calm the nerves

so your brain can work. In the

beginning it was a nightmare

and I didn’t enjoy it at all. Anyway

I got through that period

and I’m really enjoying it now,

especially thanks to the guys I

am working with. But I would

not want to go through that

first six months again!

Reporting was the hardest

thing I’ve done…

Without exaggeration. I just

turned 50 so I was committing

to a new career at the age of

49. I knew I had knowledge of

the sport and the paddock but

it was a totally different job. I

knew nothing about journalism

and still know only little.

It was so hard, and took

me back to turning up in this

paddock in 1993 and that

feeling of being totally out

of your depth. I am proud to

have survived. I’m a stubborn

b*****d and I think you have

to be as a racer but at the

same time I’m proud of what

we are talking about. I knew

the paddock, I just wanted to

learn how to talk about it. I

think I will look forward to my

fourth year when I am settled

and relaxed and have made

the majority of my mistakes. I

was worried about the travelling

aspect again because I

think that is something very

tough if you are newly married

or have young kids but

my marriage is great and I’ve

been with my wife for twentyfour

years and the kids are

bigger and kinda doing their

own thing anyway. The travel

has actually been easier than

expected. In Malaysia last year

I saw workmates blowing-up

because they had been away

from home too long but I

didn’t feel that. I’m at a stage

of life where my work life is a

bit more important than my

hobbies and that’s not always

the way when you are in your

thirties. I get so much pleasure

out of my work and since

my accident I focussed on

family and the career.

Horror stories and important

moments…

The one with Lin [Jarvis, YMR

MD] was pretty good, and

maybe he regretted that [informing

Crafar on air during

warm-up that the Petronas

SRT riders for 2019 would be

Fabio Quartararo and Franco

Morbidelli for 2019] but a bad

one would be the Qatar test

at the beginning for ‘After the

Flag’. I was told less that two

hours before we were on air

that Steve Day [commentator]

had been snowed-in and

could not travel from the UK

so it was just me and Matt

[Birt]. I’d been interviewed

many times of course but had

never stood live in front of a

camera for a broadcast. When

you are being interviewed you

just talk about yourself - so it

is easy - but this was about

getting across everything that

was happening around Losail.

Also the nerves. I got put in

that position and just went for

it, but couldn’t hear that well

through the headphones and

had Matt’s voice, the production

crew’s voice as well as my

own. It made it so hard. That

factor and a bunch of other

things from 2018 made me

realise that the job is about

handling all these elements

and then everything going on

around you. You can never expect

everything to be right but

you have to learn how to cope

and make it as good as you

can, otherwise you don’t have

any value, certainly as part

of a team. At the beginning

I really was like a rabbit in

headlights. You have to keep

relaxed and know your content.

When you manage to pull

it off, well, I didn’t imagine it

would be such a rush. It is like

you have just stepped off your

bike! I don’t think I have nailed

the job yet but it’s very satisfying

when you think some of

it might have gone well. I’m

still working on it.


SIMON CRAFAR

People talk all the time about

Marc now. It’s tough to beat

someone like that, and I

know well having faced Mick

Doohan…

There are certain tracks where

Marc Marquez is simply amazing

as a motorcyclist. Especially

when there is low grip.

He thrives in conditions where

others are cautious and if you

are on one of ‘his’ tracks then

you are in trouble. As a rider

you have to do your job the

very best that you can – and I

know it sounds obvious – but

that’s how I’d look at it if I was

Jack Miller, Dovi whoever.

If you analyse and push in

every area of your work then

there is a chance of putting

pressure on him and the

chance of a mistake. Also he

might get a bad start and you

might be able to hold him off.

That’s how you must look at it.

Everyone’s got a different style

and Marc has some amazing

front end slides…and on that

note when the following generation

see a sportsman doing

something then they’ll all be

trying! That’s how it’s always

worked. I remember when we

went to Imola. I’d never been

there and during practice Mick

came past and – I’m sure it

was on purpose – lit-it-up

across the brow of a hill at the

highest point – and I didn’t

even know where I was going.

It blew my mind. I thought ‘oh

man, he’s on another level’

and it was disheartening! People

have different styles and

it doesn’t mean one is more

unbeatable than the other. It’s

about using that style to the

maximum.


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FEATURE


Takes a

genius to

explain a

genius

By BT, Photos by CormacGP & www.motogp.com


FEATURE


The careers of

Freddie

Spencer and

Marc Marquez may

be 30 years apart

but they are two

Grand Prix

motorcycle racing

pioneers in their

own right. Now that

both of them work in

the same paddock -

Spencer as the FIM

Chief of Stewards

– it was a great an

opportunity to ask

the American for an

analysis of what the

current HRC wonder

is getting so right.

It’s late afternoon in the Race

Direction office on Friday

at the Circuit De Catalunya.

Moto2 practice has ended an

hour ago, and Freddie Spencer

is preparing for his next

meeting. His job is now to

review on-track action and – if

necessary - dish out penalties

in the Moto3, Moto2 and

MotoGP classes, acting as a

referee, and allowing race director

Mike Webb to get along

with his other assignments.

But even though Spencer is a

busy man he is able to devote

twenty minutes of his time to

the analysis of another phenomenon.

Along with data acquisition

engineer and former

crew-chief Peter Bom, we sat

with the triple world champion

(that 250cc and 500cc double

win in 1985 remains a thing of

unrepeatable beauty) to examine

the skills of the best motorcycle

racer of the planet.

It seems one of Marc’s best

attributes is being able to

change his riding style and/or

his racing strategy according

to the circumstances such as

tyre allocation or track layout?

I haven’t been trackside this

year but I’ve been watching

Marc for many years, and one

of his strengths and skills

is his ability to adapt to the

situation. That is such a positive

and resourceful ability to

have! That makes a difference,

because the conditions

are ever-changing: tyre grip

levels, racing situations…and

he basically has no weakness.

Also what could easily be seen

as something that he changes

is really more the fact that he

doesn’t get affected as much.

In Marc’s very first session in

the rain in Le Mans in 2013

he figured it out immediately.

He was short shifting to get

the grip outside of the Dunlop

curve and so on. Were you a

little bit like that?

Oh, absolutely! I always say

that ever since I was a kid, I

would look outside of just doing

laps or going fast. I always

seem to be able to understand

how adapting to situations

would benefit me. Dirt-tracking:

so many nights, so many

races. You start out and there

is a lot of grip on the first

practice and by the time you

get to the heat races three

hours later, the track is completely

different. You go from

being able to use the whole

track to a very narrow groove.

With a lot of leaning angle

initially and by the end of the

night you could barely lean it

over because it’s so slippery.

Marc does that every lap, and

I could too. When I won in

Silverstone in ‘85 in the pouring

rain, in three or four laps,

I was sixteen seconds ahead

on the 500. It’s just because

I was able to pick up on the

situation. And certainly, I see

that with Marc.

There is also a rumour in

the paddock - I don’t know if

there is any truth in it - but

it seems that Marc’s settings,

with the bike sitting a

lot on the rear, is impossible

for other riders. What do you

make of this?

Kenny Roberts [senior] would

ride with his engine very far

back in the chassis because

being a dirt-tracker, he really

liked to have a lot of grip at

the back. With the three cylinders,

my bike [NS 500R]

worked somewhat like that. I

liked a lot of initial grip at a

lot of lean angle because then

I would manipulate it. Marc

does that so well. On corner

entry he can adjust his sliding

and the pitch of the slide

to rotate the bike. The more

you can rotate it early in the

SPENCER ON MARQUEZ


FEATURE


turn, the more room you gonna

have to accelerate. It’s a simple,

simple thing, bike position wise.

And you can take away lean

angle sooner cause you don’t

have to make as much of a turn

towards the apex. The bike is

already pointing to the exit.

Out of four Honda riders, Taka

Nakagami is doing well on last

year’s chassis but Jorge Lorenzo

and Cal Crutchlow seem to

have had difficulties to adapt.

Marquez is not a magician.

He’s just doing everything better

than everyone else…

Well he also has the skill to be

able to manipulate the bike.

That’s what I’m saying. And

again, I can relate it back to me

on the three cylinder. Not everyone

could get to turn. It didn’t

have a lot of front feel. I could

use the rear of the bike to pivot

it sooner and then it took some

of that front load. It didn’t put

that much expectation on the

front to finish the corner. The

thing is: that is a skill. Whatever

you want to call it. Being a magician

or whatever. But that is a

skill. And absolutely, Marc does

that exceptionally well

Marc also has the intelligence

to put it together and that

makes him special…

At this level everybody has

talent. Just to get here. Some

of them are unique. Some

very specific. They are aggressive

at certain tracks and

in certain situations. And

then you go to the next level

and you have the consistently

good or great riders that

are competitive pretty much

everywhere. On certain given

days they are also pretty good

at race management. And

then the truly great riders

where talent and work ethic

enables them to know exactly

what they can do. They figure

out what the motorcycle

needs and then, they have the

ability to know what the other

riders do. When you combine

all that with the cleverness,

which is what makes a rider

special, it almost looks easy

to some degree. The fact of

consistently being able to do

it in every situation I’ve always

said is the best combination.

Then there is belief. One of

the great things I love about

motorcycling is that it is the

greatest combination of the

practical and the methodical.

Understanding how to apply

your work ethic, your ability

and the other riders and their

weaknesses. I knew when I

was racing what lap other

riders would push on and

what lap I could get them. You

understand all that.

SPENCER ON MARQUEZ


FEATURE

Combined with an incredible

belief of skill makes the feeling

part of it.

What do you see as the biggest

difference between your

time and now?

In motorcycling, to be a great

rider, you have to trust that

feeling. What makes Marc so

good - and what I had too - is

anticipate what’s gonna happen

and believe and commit

before the turn to get the

speed into the turn. The ability

- on the application lean

angle - to trust. Even though

you’re leaning the bike over

the level of grip that there will

be. It’s your plan and that’s

how you can slide the bike.

You put the bike into position

forty metres before you

start sliding. It was the same

requirements when I was racing.

How do you get the bike

to slide? We don’t get on the

brakes or anything. In fact,

when you can do it right, the

only thing that you do is apply

lean angle and drift the bike.

But you have to trust that


SPENCER ON MARQUEZ

way to do it before it actually

happens! Otherwise, when

you try to slide the bike into

the corner and you’re missing

speed and lean angle then

you can’t because it’s too late

to have both. That’s belief

and trust in your ability, your

perception and commitment.

That is a technique, and one

of the great things we’re able

to do, at that speed and level.

What the riders have to do

today is adjust to the electronics,

and their part in the

process of what happens.

And I [usually] tell the story

of when I did the Fireblade

launch a couple of years ago

in Portimao. I’m riding around

the track, Stefan Bradl is

there, Tito (Rabat) is there,

we do some laps together and

then Nicky (Hayden) came.

So I started to ride with journalists

there. I go in, roll off

the throttle a little bit and go

back on it at a certain section.

But with Tito and the

guys, it’s basically flat out. So

you go in, you go on throttle.

The reason I can go flat out

there is the electronics. So I

have to trust that whenever

the rear starts to come round,

it settles and resettles the

front too. It doesn’t transfer

all that weight to the front. It

took me three or four days

riding around there because

I don’t ride at that level anymore.

But it’s a perfect example

of something that couldn’t

have happened on a standard

bike back in my day. Certainly

not with the tyres we had at

the time. There would have

been a lot more movement.

On the Fireblade, it was easy.

So cool, but it is something

you have to be willing to trust.

And it’s basically something

out of your control. And most

riders, like Marc, they don’t

know any different. Valentino

had to make that transition,

because he came from a 500.

When electronics started to

become more proactive - on

the 2001 bike (RC211V), or


FEATURE

the 2002 bike that him and I

debuted at Motegi – with just

a few laps I ran, then coming

on the front straight, the

rear broke loose and traction

control kicked in: it was more

re-active then. If you took

me out of my era and put me

there now then that’s the part

of it that would feel most difference.

All that control that

you had to have, versus now,

you have to trust the electronics

to do something. I don’t

say that all electronics make

things easy. No. It’s just that

moment when you have to

trust it.

The amount of technology

you find on standard sportsbikes

these days is amazing…

That allows good MotoGP

riders to come from different

categories. They have very different

riding styles. Everybody

is under a microscope now.

You can see the difference between

the riders so well, even

from one track to another.

Ergonomics is the main thing

now. Lorenzo started it all,

and everybody’s on it. They

are asking ‘how is the bike

supporting me?’

And it comes basically because

of two reasons: first of

all, the G forces are higher

than in your era and they’ve

got more grip-

Absolutely.

Did you ever think of ergonomics

much when you

were racing and maybe some

of the advantages it might

bring?

I always focused on that. Even

though I was not so much of

a braker initially. But I would

trail-brake really deep into the

corner. My whole thing was

all about getting the bike in

a position to accelerate. My

strength was mid-corner and

exit speed and a lot of the

so-called top speed advantage

came from there. Back

in those days, we didn’t have

data acquisition and all that.

But we had radar guns and

I’d have them at the end of

the straight to measure the

gain off the corner (leading to

that straight). So that is about

positioning and keeping the

upper-body relaxed. I understood

that it was about lower

body stability. That’s why

they are really working on the

tanks today - Jorge obviously

- because for him it’s about

mid-corner speed.

So you were already doing it

already in your time? We’re

talking about how you can

grab the tank and how your

arms are not overstressed by

braking force…

I was doing that [putting

sticky stuff on the tank to grip

the legs and knees] to keep

my lower body stable and my

upper body relaxed. I’m not

a counter-steering guy. I was

all about feeling that front


and getting that front to turn

in and that’s where we really

worked. That’s one of the

reasons why we got the NSR

moving in the right direction

so quickly. I really got them

to work about the flex (of the

chassis) to make it turn better.

Lastly, how was the

experience of coming from

the U.S. and jumping straight

into the HRC/Japanese environment?

The guy who helped me to

make that transition was Erv

(Kanemoto, who went on to

become his crew chief in 250

and 500 GPs). We started in

‘78, and my dad helped me

and talked to Erv. He said “my

son’s pretty good, could you

watch him? We hooked up ‘78,

my dad stepped away in ’79.

SPENCER ON MARQUEZ

So Erv was acting as a filter

between you and the

Japanese mechanics…?

Exactly. Then I sat with American

Honda, got a couple of

introductions and by 1980,

when we started developing

the three cylinder, I was ready

to go. Even though I was only

19 in 81. I turned 20 in December

81 and Erv and I were

ready (for their first season in

500 GP Racing). HRC was just

starting, all the engineers. It

was such a great time!


PRODUCTS

www.ktm-motohall.com

ktm motohall

A number of years in the making (and thinking),

KTM recently opened their state-of-theart

‘Motohall’ a short distance from the main

factory in Mattighofen. The facility is a mix

of museum, exhibition, learning centre, shop,

restaurant and ‘hub’ for KTM’s story, products

and activities. It has been created after

comprehensive study of similar offerings by

other brands and with an emphasis on interaction

that should engage all members of

the family: from kids eager to sit and twist

the throttle of a dirt bike, KTM riders wanting

to know more about the company’s heritage,

race fans who want to see some of the scope

of the 300+ FIM World Championship earned

by the firm and budding technicians who will

want to know how the factory has expanded

and how techniques like 3D printing have

influenced motorcycle manufacture. The

Motohall is open Wednesday to Sunday, a

family ticket costs 25 euros, adult entry is 10

and under 14s are free. Food can be ordered

in The Garage restaurant and there is parking

on site. We’ll bring a full review of the Motohall

experience in a future issue.


Photos thanks to:

www.ktm.blog.com


PRODUCTS

www.foxracing.com

fox

Fox have taken a ‘split decision’ approach to their

new versions of the Flexair and 360 race wear

which they claim ‘the Flexair gear combo continues

to deliver the highest level of breathable mobility

with strategic venting and premium 4 way

stretch materials. The Flexair pant sees the most

drastic improvements with a totally updated waist

system, new saddle material and strategic placement

of stretch & rigid materials to achieve perfect

function on the bike.’

Flexair is now five years on the market and since

the launch was aimed squarely at offering casual

riders the same type of gear performance found at

the highest levels of motocross. It’s all associated

with airflow, fit and stretch, Fox have taken stock of

the feedback both positive and negative to shape

the lines accordingly and have stated ‘the all-new

construction of Flexair also introduces a drop in

price for 2020’. The 360 has been orientated more

towards durability with the use of technical terms

like ‘TruMotion zonal stretch materials’. As ever

Fox retain that singular, market-leading design look

as well.


SBK

BLOG

EVOLUTION OR REVOLUTION

WorldSBK got back to some form of action at the weekend

with a two-day test in Portimao. I really do feel the extra

long summer break is still one of the most detrimental aspects

of the series at the moment but it would seem to be

just a reflection of the fact that no one wants to hold a race

in late July or August.

It was always a tradition under the

previous Italian ‘administration’

that most of August was cleared

in the calendar as the country all

but closes down for the month.

However, since Dorna took control

the slot in the calendar at the end

of July/beginning of August has

disappeared.

Some say it is to avoid a clash of

dates with the Suzuka 8Hr race

but that never caused a problem

before and the Bol D’or or Le Mans

endurance races often clash with

WorldSBK events during the season.

I have said it previously that it

may be time to look at running the

WorldSBK season from September

to July, like EWC and have a fuller

calendar over the winter months of

the northern hemisphere.

What it means at present is that

this test, and the race at Portimao,

seem like a distinctly separate part

of the season. Many of the mechanics

and riders had been doing nothing

since 14 July. I had to cover the

Suzuka 8Hrs race so it was August

3 before I stopped and got to take

a holiday with my family. One week

by the sea was not enough as it always

takes a day or two to properly

wind down and then, before you

know it, you are heading home.

Last week was a busy one as well

as I was working from Monday till

Wednesday, in Spain, and then

flew home and back out to Faro on

Friday. Whilst some of those in the

paddock at the weekend were getting

back into the swing of things

after six weeks, I felt I hadn’t really

been away from it.

WorldSBK testing in the middle

of the season is always a bit of

a strange affair. Because of the

homologation rules for the production

bikes there is really nothing

new to test. Maybe a new fork or

swing arm but other than that it is

really more of a Pirelli development

test. The sole tyre supplier for the

series will bring some tyres with

new compounds and/or construction

and get each appointed factory

team to test them back to back.

Otherwise the bikes and the riders

are all the same as they were

in February. It can seem a bit of a

futile exercise photographing the

same riders, on the same bikes, at

a track where we tested in February,

and will race in two weeks

time, but if you speak to the riders

you will get a different story.


More than Europe’s

largest MC store

By Graeme Brown

The lack of in-season testing means

that days like those can be the only

time for the team to do meaningful,

consecutive tests on chassis set up

and electronic strategies. The last

outing for the teams was back in

May in Misano and on both those

days it rained, so useful track time

was limited. It was something Ten

Kate Racing team manager Kervin

Bos pointed out when I spoke to

him. Having started the season mid

way through, this was actually the

first time that they had been able

to have one full dry day of work, let

alone two together.

They, and Loris Baz, were really

pleased with the information gathered

and progress they had made

testing the chassis set up, suspension,

tyres, electronics and maybe

even a new coffee machine, which

was the first chance they had had

since getting the bikes at the workshop

in April/May. It was interesting

that Kervin felt coming to Portimao

and getting those two days felt that

only now they could relax a little

and start to focus on results. They

genuinely want to see Baz on the

podium before the end of the season

and feel they are heading in the

right direction.

Does anyone fancy betting against a

French tricolour being hoisted above

the podium in Magny Cours?

The interest in the test from those

outside the paddock was less than

negligible what with sharing the

same weekend as the MotoGP race

at Silverstone. It was noticeable

in that myself and Gordon Ritchie

were the only photographer and

journalist present. We were joined

by Dorna’s photographer and film

crew, GSP Media who were filming

for Kawasaki and Ian Wheeler, the

Yamaha press officer. At one stage

there were more curious tourists in

the press office than anyone working.

From a geek point of view I took the

chance to do some testing of my

own.

When I started photographing

motorsport in the mid 1990’s I was

using Nikon F4 film cameras and

manual focus lenses. This had been

the go-to Pro kit for a number of

years, but a revolution took place

at the end of the 90’s when Canon

introduced their EOS system. For

the first time there was a viable option

for an autofocus camera system

that worked at sporting events. It

was still a film camera but it was

so good that many photographers,

including me, swapped from Nikon

to Canon.

We then entered the digital era not

long after the turn of the century

and in 2003 I stopped shooting film

at races and only generated digital

images. I was fortunate that Canon,

along with Kodak, had developed

the best digital system so there was

no need to swap too much of my kit,

just a couple of new camera bodies.

Things stayed pretty much the

same for seven or eight years until

the introduction of the full frame

sensor. Before, the image sensor

on the camera was smaller than

the traditional 35mm size and as a

result the images were magnified.

It meant that a 600mm lens actually

had a focal length of around

800mm. With ‘full’ frame 35mm

sensors, Nikon jumped ahead. They

completely redesigned their Autofocus

system and the D3 and D4 bodies

were the best on the market. I

was at a point where my kit needed

replaced and so I swapped again,

back to Nikon.


SBK

BLOG

Now we are in the throws of

another revolution: mirrorless

cameras. These have no traditional

shutter in the camera just an image

sensor that sees through the

lens all the time. It is technology

derived from video cameras and

allows the body itself to be smaller

and lighter as it removes most

of the moving parts. It’s noticeable

that the revolution has been

driven by electronics companies

such as Sony and Panasonic, and

former film manufacturer Fuji. The

traditional camera companies of

Nikon and Canon have been late to

the party. There are a few motorsport

photographers who are now

using, and singing the praises, of

the Sony system. I have a couple

of Fuji cameras and this time last

year I tried out their pro kit at the

corresponding WorldSBK test in

Portimao. My conclusion was that

it wasn’t up to the job and I have

stuck with my Nikon kit since.

shot away quiet happily and have

to be fair and say that I was really

impressed. I didn’t use the Nikon

kit at all and produced all the shots

that I wanted to and to the standard

that I would expect. I am not

sure I am just ready to get rid of all

my Nikon gear and jump ship but

the mirrorless digital revolution is

clearly knocking down the barricades

of traditional photography

and when the time comes to renew

my cameras this will be a truly

viable option. So a two day ‘test’

ends up being valuable after all.

This weekend however I had the

chance to try the Sony. It took

half an hour or so to get used to

the ergonomics and the various

electronic systems on the camera

but after I had worked it out I


TEST


DEFYING

SANDS OF

TIME

MOTO GUZZI LOOK TO KEEP CURRENT

Words by Roland Brown

Photos by Moto Guzzi/Andy Saunders


TEST

MOTO

Guzzi was

so inundated

with orders for

the V85TT earlier this year that the firm’s

old factory on the banks of Lake Lecco in

northern Italy struggled to keep up. Such

enthusiasm for a Guzzi adventure bike was

unprecedented, given that the firm’s previous

Stelvio 1200 made little impact and

the more recent V7 Stornello, powered by a

744cc V-twin engine, was produced in tiny

numbers.

Perhaps one reason for the 853cc newcomer’s

positive reception is that it combines

the Stornello’s retro styling with a good

chunk of the bigger, 1151cc Stelvio’s performance.

Mid-sized adventure bikes are all

the rage this year, with KTM’s 790 Adventure

and Yamaha’s 700 Ténéré among the

stars.

The V85TT, with its chunky old-school look,

also taps into the seam mined by Scrambler

models from firms including BMW, Ducati

and Triumph. Its twin headlamps and wide

bars sit above the engine’s sticking-out

aircooled cylinders. A high-level front mudguard,

long-travel suspension and wirespoked

wheels (with a 19in diameter front)

give a suitably tough off-road image. The

single shock is diagonally mounted on the

right, opposite a high-level silencer.

The V85TT’s pair of round headlights echo

those of the Quota, an ungainly dual-purpose

Guzzi that sank without trace in the

early Nineties, when models like this were

still called trail bikes. But the TT – whose

initials stand for Tutto Terreno, Italian for

All Terrain – is a more refined machine that

works best as a pleasant and fairly versatile

roadster.

It manages to have plenty of the Italian

marque’s traditional quirky character, despite

being distinctly more modern than it looks.

That trademark aircooled, transverse V-twin

engine, for example, shares its capacity with

the previous V9 unit that powered Bobber

and Roamer roadsters, and still opens

its valves with pushrods. But a long list of

updates including titanium inlet valves reduces

weight and friction considerably, and

increases peak output from 54bhp to a much

more useful 79bhp.

The chassis is also new, based on a tubular

steel frame that uses the engine as a

stressed member.


MOTO GUZZI V85TT


TEST

Suspension gives a fairly generous 170mm

of travel at each end. Tyres are Metzeler’s

road-biased Tourance Next for the singlecolour

TT, and Michelin’s more off-road

oriented Anakee Adventure for the twotone

model, which also has a red frame,

suede seat cover and slightly higher price

(£11,099 to £10,899 in the UK).

Some of the TT’s modern touches are clear

immediately you throw a leg over a seat

which, at 830mm, is only moderately high

by adventure standards. There’s a USB

socket alongside the colourful, if slightly

small, TFT screen; and a choice of three

riding modes (Road, Rain and Off-road),

which automatically change the ABS and

traction control settings.

Thankfully Guzzi’s engineers haven’t made

the mistake of chasing top-end power at

the expense of lower-rev performance as

they initially did with the Stelvio. The TT’s

power delivery is flexible and well-controlled

even in the sporty Road, and there’s

plenty of urge through the midrange.

The bike rumbles forward with enthusiasm,

accelerating at an entertaining if not

arm-straining rate, and cruising at 80mphplus

with a reasonably long-legged feel,

short of the top speed of about 120mph.

The revised six-speed gearbox changes

very sweetly, albeit without the option of

a quick-shifter. The traditional shaft final

drive, unique among mid-capacity adventure

bikes, doesn’t intrude.

The V85TT is respectably comfortable and

practical, too. Its riding position is roomy,

the screen and hand-guards deflect breeze

usefully, and the seat is broad and fairly

well padded. The big, 23-litre tank and

fuel-efficient engine combine to give a

range of well over 200 miles.

Roadgoing handling is very good, blending

respectably light steering with stability,

despite the big front wheel and generous

suspension travel. Big bumps occasionally

kick through the seat with spine-jarring

force, but the Kayaba units generally do a

sound job.

The TT is over 20kg lighter than Guzzi’s

old Stelvio, and notably more manageable.

Brembo front discs and four-piston radial

calipers mean there’s no shortage of stopping

power. The reduced weight will be especially

helpful off-road, where on slippery

surfaces the bike will inevitably limited by

its tyres, as well as its size – just like most

rivals.

At least the TT has more, and better controlled,

suspension travel than some, as

well as a sturdy aluminium bash-plate, to

help cope with some gentle dirt-road adventuring.

Potentially with a much longer

and truly challenging trip, too, if the bike is

kitted out from an accessories list that includes

crash-bars and aluminium or plastic

luggage, as well as Bluetooth smartphone

integration.


MOTO GUZZI V85TT


TEST


MOTO GUZZI V85TT

WORLDSBK POR

“ROADGOING HANDLING IS VERY GOOD,

BLENDING RESPECTABLY LIGHT STEERING WITH

STABILITY, DESPITE THE BIG FRONT WHEEL AND

GENEROUS SUSPENSION TRAVEL. BIG BUMPS

OCCASIONALLY KICK THROUGH THE SEAT WITH

SPINE-JARRING FORCE, BUT THE KAYABA UNITS

GENERALLY DO A SOUND JOB...”


TEST

That’s a suitably contrasting selection of

extras, from a bike that blends old and

new in original and engaging fashion.

Moto Guzzi’s presence in the adventure

bike market might have been muted until

now but the V85TT works sufficiently well,

in its gentle, fairly relaxed way, that the

enthusiasm for it makes plenty of sense.


MOTO GUZZI V85TT


Photo by Ray Archer

BACK PAGE


ON

TRACK

OFF

ROAD

On-track Off-road’ is a free, monthly publication for the screen focussed on

bringing the latest perspectives on events, blogs and some of the very finest

photography from the three worlds of MXGP, the AMA Motocross and Supercross

series’, MotoGP, WorldSBK as well as the latest bike tests.

On-track Off-road’ will be published online at www.ontrackoffroad.com on

the last Tuesday of the month. To receive an email notification that a new

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enter an address in the box provided on the homepage. All email addresses

will be kept strictly confidential and only used for purposes connected with

OTOR.

Adam Wheeler Editor and MXGP/MotoGP correspondent

Ray Archer Photographer

Steve Matthes AMA MX and SX correspondent

Cormac Ryan-Meenan MotoGP Photographer www.cormacgp.com

David Emmett MotoGP Blogger

Neil Morrison MotoGP Blogger & Feature writer

Matthew Roberts Blogger

Graeme Brown WSB Blogger and Photographer

Roland Brown Tester

Núria Garcia Cover Design

Gabi Álvarez Web developer

Hosting FireThumb7 - www.firethumb7.co.uk

Thanks to www.mototribu.com

PHOTO CREDITS

Ray Archer, CormacGP, Monster Energy, GeeBee Images, KTM Blog,

www.motogp.com, Simon Cudby, Yamaha

Cover shot: The MX2 World Champion by Ray Archer

This publication took a lot of time and effort to put together so please respect it! Nothing

in this publication can be reproduced in whole or part without the written permission of

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