On Track Off Road No. 190

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MotoGP<br />

THAT<br />

LINE...<br />

This seems like a simple photograph but there is a<br />

lot going on with Alex Rins’ Suzuki here. <strong>No</strong>te the<br />

positions of the front and rear of the bike and the<br />

rider’s position. The Catalan used his synergy with the<br />

#42 racebike and the sun-drenched Silverstone asphalt<br />

to dramatic effect and split second consequence.<br />

What a great racing line that was at the British Grand Prix<br />

to again leave Marc Marquez frustrated on the last corner!<br />

Photo by Tony Goldsmith


TWO<br />

TIME<br />

CHAMP<br />

Tim Gajser’s main rivals for MXGP history might have<br />

fallen by the wayside in 2019 but the Slovenian set a new<br />

personal bar for consistency. The Grand Prix of Sweden<br />

delivered his fifteen podium finish from sixteen rounds and<br />

further enforced the validity of his second premier class<br />

crown, celebrated only seven days previously in Imola<br />

Photo by Ray Archer

AMA-MX<br />

ABOUT<br />

BLOODY<br />

TIME...<br />

Adam Cianciarulo’s<br />

outpouring of emotion<br />

at various stages of<br />

the Ironman National<br />

in Indiana and the culmination<br />

of a closely<br />

fought AMA 250MX<br />

championship with<br />

Dylan Ferrandis was<br />

totally understandable.<br />

After what seemed<br />

like a relentless series<br />

of career setbacks –<br />

both in the last five<br />

years and as little as<br />

three months ago in<br />

supercross – AC finally<br />

lifted that first Pro<br />

title. The Pro Circuit<br />

rider did it in style<br />

with a 100% podium<br />

presence (for the first<br />

time in the contest<br />

since 2013) and with<br />

the constant pressure<br />

of his French nemesis<br />

Photo by Kawasaki




MXGP<br />




UDDEVALLA · AUGUST 24-25 · Rnd 16 of 18<br />



WEDISH<br />

FANCY<br />

Blog by Adam Wheeler, Photos by Ray Archer












KTM<br />

450 SX-F<br />

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

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

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

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

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

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

www.kiska.com<br />

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

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


MXGP<br />



The Motocross of Nations takes place next<br />

month. In Imola for the MXGP of Italy, I had<br />

the chance to speak to Glenn Coldenhoff, who<br />

last year managed to pull off two impressive<br />

wins in the USA, and this year is hoping to<br />

do the same in front of his fans, representing<br />

his country. At the moment, Glenn is in good<br />

form and has managed to win two Grand Prix<br />

in a row, maybe he’s warming up for Assen in<br />

September!<br />

So the Motocross of Nations this year is in<br />

Assen. Do you think there will be the same<br />

level of excitement as 2018?<br />

I think so. I mean especially for me, as a Dutch<br />

guy, I think it’s very special to have it in our<br />

home country because the last time the Motocross<br />

of Nations was in Holand was in 2004<br />

in Leirop. We ended up second for three years<br />

in a row. We’re still looking for that win and it<br />

would be nice if we could make it happen in<br />

Assen for sure but there still many good teams<br />

like Great Britain and the USA is coming early<br />

so I’m sure they will be good as well.<br />

Of course France also, for past five years already.<br />

It’s going to be a good event for sure.<br />

Do you think Jeffrey Herlings will be fit to win<br />

again by then?<br />

He’s always ready for winning! For sure he’s<br />

not going for anything less. I saw him last<br />

week in practice before we went to Imola we<br />

were riding on the same day and he had already<br />

the same speed as me and I think I have<br />

a good speed at the moment in the sand! So<br />

I have no doubt he will be fit there. The only<br />

issue will be if he gets another injury.<br />

Do you think that you can pull off another<br />

RedBud performance?<br />

It would be something if I could do that again<br />

in Assen! There are a lot of good sand riders<br />

at the moment. [Tim] Gajser, who was strong<br />

in Lommel, will be there, so a lot of good guys.<br />

Last year was the day of my career and hopefully<br />

we can manage it again in Assen.<br />

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




STAGE 2020<br />




DAYS<br />

The disappearance of Matterley<br />

Basin from the 2020<br />

MXGP provisional calendar<br />

provoked dismay within the<br />

sport. According to promoters<br />

Youthstream the removal<br />

of the British Grand Prix was<br />

due to unsustainable costs of<br />

running the event. Overseer of<br />

the part-time circuit and site,<br />

Steve Dixon – owner of the<br />

Bike it Kawasaki Dixon Racing<br />

Team – believes that the track<br />

could still entertain elite level<br />

motocross.<br />

Matterley Basin could even<br />

make a surprise return to the<br />

Grand Prix schedule with an<br />

amended agenda expected<br />

to be published next month.<br />

However if the British round<br />

remains unfeasible then Dixon<br />

is seriously contemplating a<br />

pre-season International with<br />

the possibility for world championship<br />

teams to also test<br />

around the popular Winchester-based<br />

course.<br />

“I’ve looked at doing an International<br />

in March,” Dixon<br />

said exclusively. “The weather<br />

can be good at that time. If we<br />

look recently in the UK – in the<br />

heart of summer – it has been<br />

atrocious in some places.”<br />

“2019 was the first year that<br />

the grand prix was viable,” he<br />

revealed as Matterley hosted<br />

round two of the current campaign<br />

for what was a risky<br />

slot for the British climate on<br />

March 23-24. “The costs have<br />

come down a lot and different<br />

suppliers have come in. It is a<br />

lot more economical and running<br />

the event in March. We<br />

saved 30-40% with some suppliers.<br />

Winchester Council are<br />

now a lot more confident with<br />

us and have cut down their<br />

request for police and traffic<br />

control. They know we want<br />

a good show and not cut any<br />

corners for organisation.”<br />

“The formula is there for an International<br />

and there would be<br />

less requirements than a GP<br />

regarding security and other<br />

factors,” he added. “It could be<br />

run on a lot lower budget and<br />

provide good prize money and<br />

that’s what attracts riders. As<br />

well as providing some time<br />

for set-up, where teams could<br />

ride and test afterwards on a<br />

GP-spec track.”<br />

Whether Matterley stages a<br />

Grand Prix or a non-championship<br />

meet (and Dixon<br />

typically only has a two week<br />

window per year for fixtures on<br />

account of planning permission)<br />

a decision will need to be<br />

made in the coming weeks.<br />

“Winchester contacted me last<br />

week in terms of event scheduling,”<br />

he said. “If we want a<br />

large scale meeting and they<br />

don’t have the resources available<br />

to monitor or advise then<br />

we wouldn’t be able to do it,<br />

so we’ll know within the next<br />

four weeks if there will be a<br />

GP offered or we go the international<br />

route.”<br />

With Matterley Basin potentially<br />

entering the British<br />

motocross landscape in an<br />

alternate capacity there could<br />

be ramifications for the Hawkstone<br />

Park International: a well<br />

established date on the Grand<br />

Prix pre-season agenda. Dixon<br />

believes the meetings could<br />

co-exist. “It would make sense<br />

for teams to do Hawkstone<br />

and Matterley and I don’t want<br />

to take away from Hawkstone<br />

but going back a few years we<br />

used to move from one French<br />

International to the next,” he<br />

says. “If the teams can benefit<br />

from a bit of time on the track<br />

as well as the race – either<br />

before or after – then it might<br />

be of extra value before flying<br />

away to somewhere like Argentina.<br />

That’s what I’d like to<br />


MXGP<br />

BLOG<br />


There was a bundle of emotions from Uddevalla: satisfaction<br />

for Prado, glory for Coldenhoff, shock for Tom Vialle,<br />

re-acclimatisation for Herlings and graduation for Van de<br />

Moosdijk (the appropriately named Dutchman succeeding as<br />

EMX250 Champion in Sweden).<br />

There was also pain and despair<br />

for Romain Febvre. Allegedly the<br />

Frenchman did not have much in<br />

the way of painkilling medicine<br />

until Sunday evening and the<br />

full extent of the damage to his<br />

left femur could be deduced. In<br />

an accident eerily similar to his<br />

championship-wrecking crash in<br />

Argentina at the start of the year,<br />

Febvre has now suffered breaks to<br />

both limbs and will have undergone<br />

surgery twice in the space of<br />

six months.<br />

It is the latest blow to MXGP and<br />

a series that has suffered hard<br />

in 2019. Apart from Tim Gasjer’s<br />

level of performance, Jorge Prado’s<br />

excellence and some boosted<br />

crowd attendances, the campaign<br />

has weathered an unstable and<br />

uneven calendar and not reached<br />

the narrative highlights of the<br />

Cairoli comeback of 2017 or the<br />

Herlings Happy Hour of ’18.<br />

The watermark was undoubtedly<br />

the Gajser-Cairoli duelling<br />

in the first four rounds and it was<br />

desperately sad that the Sicilian<br />

would be one of five different<br />

factory riders to occupy a hospital<br />

bed shortly after.<br />

It is not surprising that the spate<br />

of injuries has prompted brands,<br />

teams, promoters and the federation<br />

to look closer at the safety aspects<br />

of the sport and issues such<br />

as speed and power. The truth is<br />

that there are simply far too many<br />

inconsistencies in motocross to<br />

seal it better. Youthstream – under<br />

the watchful gaze of the FIM - try<br />

to apply the best safety principles<br />

to each circuit with the means at<br />

their disposal but this can range<br />

deeply depending on the track,<br />

the club and the level of collaboration.<br />

Creating the ideal solution<br />

(in the riders’ eyes) for track prep<br />

and maintenance is almost an<br />

impossible task due to the variety<br />

of the conditions and territories<br />

but, make no mistake, steps<br />

have been taken and the current<br />

system is an improvement on the<br />

past. I know the promoters are<br />

frustrated that riders risk harm<br />

and absence from the FIM World<br />

Championship through participation<br />

in national events that don’t<br />

match the level of a Grand Prix, or<br />

they practice and train on courses<br />

that are way below the spec and<br />

prep of an MXGP venue.<br />

A sword will always dangle over a<br />

professional motocross athlete.<br />

The ‘culture’ surrounding MXGP is<br />

perhaps to blame. By this I mean<br />

the constant limit-stretching that<br />

riders feel they need to take, not<br />

only for results but for contracts<br />

and employment. For most, motocross<br />

and racing is a way of life<br />

– something they have done since

By Adam Wheeler<br />

they could walk and even to the<br />

detriment of their education (with<br />

Gajser and Jeremy Seewer the<br />

notable exceptions for balancing<br />

top flite competition and finishing<br />

their studies) – so it is not only<br />

about riches and spoils. Racers<br />

with GP winning experience and<br />

knowledge can find their careers<br />

entering a cul-de-sac either at the<br />

age of 23-24 or 31-32. They might<br />

be able to continue what they love<br />

and at what they excel but it could<br />

come at personal and financial<br />

cost. Never before has a rider’s<br />

ability to market himself and his<br />

backers, his capacity to test and<br />

provide technical worth outside<br />

of a race and the willingness and<br />

character to blend and meld a<br />

team together been as important<br />

for longevity (as much as results).<br />

2020 could see a twenty-round<br />

calendar with treks from South<br />

America to Russia to Asia. MXGP<br />

has been moving in a globetrotting<br />

and ‘accommodating’<br />

direction for a number of years<br />

now as Youthstream push to fill<br />

part of their remit by attempting to<br />

spread the sport to new eyeballs<br />

and potentially fresh fanbases but<br />

the mechanisms behind the show<br />

– the teams and their resources –<br />

are still trying to catch-up to extent<br />

of the ambition. This means that<br />

competent satellite teams are at<br />

a premium, and saddles that are<br />

either desirable for high calibre<br />

experienced racers (that are not<br />

‘done’) or youngsters that sense an<br />

opportunity for a genuine stepping<br />

stone to a chance with a factory<br />

squad are few-and-far between.<br />

It is the friendliest dog-eat-dog<br />

situation you can find. Darwinism<br />

complete: only the strongest (or<br />

best backed) and most adaptable<br />

will make it (or prosper). Boundaries<br />

are being tested throughout<br />

the pack whether for sporting gain<br />

or sporting survival. It’s nothing<br />

new of course. But the erosion<br />

of the privateer at the elite level<br />

– of whatever sport – means the<br />

margins for living and achieving as<br />

a Pro are arguably much tighter.<br />

That brings pressure and it becomes<br />

a sustained build-up as the<br />

window to succeed (or earn) never<br />

ceases to slim.<br />

I seriously doubt whether there<br />

is the money in the sport to empower<br />

a host of teams to provide<br />

permanent berths (as Dorna have<br />

done to ensure a 22 rider grid,<br />

and they generate revenue thanks<br />

to TV rights and sponsorship)<br />

and the costs to compete a whole<br />

series will always be a determining<br />

factor. MXGP cannot trim dates<br />

as this would arguably present a<br />

backwards step but 360 sustainability<br />

should also be examined<br />

as much as horsepower figures<br />

and the metres allocated to track<br />

perimeters if the surge towards<br />

‘desperatism’ can be curbed.<br />

Then there is always the thought:<br />

will competitive and driven individuals<br />

ever step away from the<br />

clichéd ragged edge of disaster?






By Adam Wheeler, Photos by Ray Archer



The MXGP sage felt the first<br />

lurch of injury emotion back<br />

in 2008 when a crunched<br />

ACL in his left knee meant<br />

the champion was cast out of<br />

a third MX2 title defence and<br />

a tussle with Red Bull KTM<br />

duo Tyla Rattray and Tommy<br />

Searle. Cairoli returned fully<br />

fit in 2009 and laid waster<br />

to the FIM Motocross World<br />

Championship.<br />

His vulnerability was only apparent<br />

again seven years later<br />

when a broken left arm ended<br />

his rout of the premier class.<br />

Then a pre-season crash in<br />

2016 meant the KTM man<br />

was afflicted with short-term<br />

nerve damage that inhibited<br />

his training. KTM’s new 450<br />

SX-F also negated any need<br />

for his otherwise superlative<br />

350 SX-F and Cairoli was<br />

mired in career funk that had<br />

many assuming his better<br />

days had gone.<br />

2017 delivered perhaps the<br />

finest of his nine world titles<br />

and an achievement that confirmed<br />

his place as arguably<br />

the greatest and most versatile<br />

of all the world champions.<br />

2018 was about Herlings,<br />

dealing with the threat<br />

of a superior teammate for<br />

the first time and the realisation<br />

that he would still have<br />

to evolve to prosper at a job<br />

and lifestyle that he clearly<br />

adores. Cairoli is already an<br />


He has stayed at the peak of a<br />

sport well beyond 99% of other<br />

athletes; particularly of a motorsport<br />

so punishing and draining<br />

both in the act itself and<br />

the way it affects life and others<br />

around it.<br />

More than ten years on from<br />

that fateful day at the South<br />

African Grand Prix in Nelspruit<br />

when Cairoli knew a stay on<br />

the sidelines beckoned, #222<br />

is back in the rehab and recovery<br />

phase. The destruction<br />

of his right shoulder and the<br />

muscles and tendons has been<br />

well documented but there is<br />

the feeling that Tony is reaching<br />

another career crossroads<br />

as he turns 34 in September.<br />

He will have to re-train and<br />

face an irked Herlings again<br />

in 2020. More importantly<br />

he’d also have to deal with<br />

teammate, training companion<br />

and protégé Jorge Prado.<br />

The Spaniard will be the third<br />

member of the strongest motocross<br />

grand prix team ever<br />

assembled (fifteen crowns<br />

and almost two hundred GP<br />

wins between them at Red<br />

Bull KTM) and while there are<br />

varying degrees of age,<br />









FITS WELL TO THE 450s”<br />

seniority and experience in<br />

the orange camp, Prado (only<br />

19 at the start of next season)<br />

has the potential to target<br />

and better everything that<br />

both Cairoli and Herlings have<br />

achieved so far.<br />

It’s hard to consider the<br />

amount of interviews we’ve<br />

done with Tony since 2004<br />

and those early years where<br />

his English was not the level it<br />

is today and his banter is now<br />

regularly on-point. A particular<br />

favourite was a slightly<br />

edgy encounter on the eve of<br />

the calendar-opening Grand<br />

Prix of Qatar in 2015. Ryan<br />

Villopoto was all the rage and<br />

for the first time Cairoli was<br />

restricting his media obligations;<br />

obviously keen not to<br />

over-stoke the hype. During<br />

that long talk over a coffee<br />

in the opulence of the Four<br />

Seasons in Doha he offered<br />

the revelation that he rode<br />

and raced at “70%” to win<br />

the majority of his six MXGP/<br />

MX1 titles. That knowledge of<br />

limits and the way he aims<br />

and cherishes consistency has<br />

been the bedrock of his success<br />

but it is an approach he<br />

might have to veer away from<br />

in 2020 (or embrace it more<br />

than ever and assess where<br />

Herlings, Prado and other<br />

potent threats like Gajser,<br />

Desalle, Febve and more will<br />

falter).<br />

We meet in the Red Bull hospitality<br />

at Lommel where Tony<br />

is visiting the paddock for the<br />

second time since shoulder<br />

surgery and the first weeks<br />

of a four month wait, and is<br />

working on promotion of his<br />

RACR brand among other<br />

obligations. He has time for<br />

some of the more pressing<br />

subjects around his status.<br />

Tony, this must be a weird<br />

time for you…<br />

Yeah, it is not the best place<br />

to be. It is hard being here because<br />

it is one of my favourite<br />



tracks. It’s a real shame for<br />

the [my] championship but<br />

I’ve already accepted it and<br />

the surgery is done so we<br />

have started ‘the way back’. I<br />

just hope there will not be too<br />

many problems in the future<br />

with this injury.<br />

It seemed like you hung on as<br />

long as possible this year, like<br />

you did in 2015…<br />

Yes – to the second part –<br />

there was a lot of fluid on the<br />

shoulder so I just had to wait<br />

for two weeks. I tried to ride<br />

before Indonesia and it was<br />

not possible and I knew something<br />

was very wrong at that<br />

moment. When I went back<br />

to Belgium we decided right<br />

away that it had to be fixed<br />

and that was it.<br />

You have raced for many<br />

years and you are a competitive<br />

animal and always seem<br />

to be busy, so what do you do<br />

in a time like this? Is it possible<br />

to relax or does every day<br />

carry some frustration?<br />

Frustration! I like to train and<br />

do things by myself and for<br />

three weeks I could do almost<br />

nothing. It was difficult. <strong>No</strong>w<br />

I can do more things and it is<br />

easier. I can also start to think<br />

about a plan for a comeback<br />

for next year. At least we have<br />

a lot of time now to prepare.<br />

We’re looking forward to that<br />


It’s a complex joint. Honestly:<br />

are you a little worried?<br />

They told me it is a very difficult<br />

injury and to recuperate<br />

100% is difficult but possible.<br />

I will work as hard as I can<br />

to be as I was before, or even<br />

better. Let’s see how it goes in<br />

the next two months and then<br />

we’ll know more.<br />

Have you thought about how<br />

lucky you’ve been throughout<br />

your career? You started<br />

Grand Prix in 2003 and although<br />

you made a point of<br />

not really pushing over your<br />

limit you were never a rider<br />

that crashed that much or<br />

suffered injuries…<br />

Yeah, in one sense I never really<br />

had the amount of injuries<br />

that others had. It was<br />

always more important for me<br />

to be safe on the track rather<br />

than super-fast. That was my<br />

thing, and consistency was<br />

key – we know this. I was<br />

never over the limit in those<br />

[title-winning] years. It was<br />

bad luck to have that crash<br />

and small injury in Russia; the<br />

problem was not too bad and<br />

it was unlucky with timing. If<br />

it had happened before the<br />

break where we had a month<br />

off then I would have been<br />

back like normal. As it was<br />

we only had a few days before<br />

Latvia and I wasn’t ready. I<br />

had to go though because we<br />

wanted to keep going for the<br />

championship. Most of the<br />

damage was because of that<br />

crash in Latvia. [pause]<br />

I need to train and to ride or<br />

to do something always. As<br />

soon as the doctors let me<br />

after surgery I strapped the<br />

arm and started to do some<br />

exercise. I don’t want to lose<br />

conditioning because I know<br />

at this age that it is harder<br />

to get back in shape. I didn’t<br />

do much but just something<br />

so that when I can start a full<br />

programme then I won’t be<br />

that bad.<br />

Is the positive part of an<br />

injury like this the fact that<br />

it gives you time to focus on<br />

other things? A baby is coming,<br />

the RACR brand?<br />

Yes, that is a good thing. You<br />

don’t have pressure from the<br />

biggest part of your life and<br />

all the racing days. You can<br />

relax a bit and do some other<br />

stuff. I never had the feeling<br />

of much pressure from racing<br />

because I was able to handle<br />

that well and during the week<br />

I could switch off from that.<br />

To do something else is also<br />

quite nice after seventeen<br />

years of riding, training and<br />

focussing all the time.<br />

You said in the Czech Republic<br />

that waking up each day<br />

brings some pain. You had<br />

little problems from motocross<br />

but, as we said, no big<br />

serious setbacks. Is that just<br />

age?!<br />

Ha! It’s all the joints you hit<br />

throughout the years. All the<br />

wear. I find that when you<br />

stop the training and you start<br />

to lose some of the muscle<br />

then you feel even worse.<br />

That’s another reason to work<br />

and to keep feeling better.<br />

Some people can feel quite<br />

lost when their main daily<br />

activity is taken away…<br />

Yes, but even when I’m racing<br />

normally and fighting for<br />

championships I was able to<br />

take days off. I try to make my<br />

life enjoyable and not always<br />

about the work that needs to<br />

be done.<br />

That’s the secret then…<br />

Yeah! Of course. I see other<br />

riders that stick so much to<br />

the programme and don’t<br />

move from it. I think you can<br />

do that for a couple of years<br />

but to do it for a long time is<br />

very difficult and you need a<br />

strong mind.<br />

Like Valentino Rossi, are you<br />

starting to get more and more<br />

questions in interviews about<br />

reaching the end of your<br />

career? People must be fascinated<br />

by your motivation and<br />

longevity…<br />

I know the sport of motocross<br />

and I know when you get over<br />

30-32 then it gets more difficult<br />

for a lot of people. It is<br />

difficult for them to keep the<br />

pace they had when they were<br />

25 but I feel I am still improving<br />

a little bit every year and I<br />

know that is something that’s<br />

not common in this sport.<br />

That gives motivation.<br />

















Rossi has harnessed the youth<br />

and energy of the VR46 Academy<br />

to help sustain his energy<br />

and ability to still improve in<br />

MotoGP. You’ve trained with<br />

Jorge Prado now for two years<br />

so has that helped? Would<br />

it be the same for you if he<br />

wasn’t there?<br />

I don’t know. Of course it nice<br />

to have someone to train with<br />

but I think I make him younger<br />

than he makes me younger!<br />

He was living in Belgium for<br />

five years and he came to Italy<br />

with a different mentality. He<br />

is Spanish but he was like an<br />

old Belgian! <strong>No</strong>w he is going a<br />

bit more towards the Spanish/<br />

Italian way and the results are<br />

talking for him. I think we’re a<br />

good match.<br />

You lived in Belgium for many<br />

years but the moved back to<br />

Rome and largely train at your<br />

track in Malagrotta. It’s impressive<br />

that you kept so fast<br />

despite moving away from that<br />

Benelux epicentre…<br />

I think it is the lifestyle. You<br />

don’t forget to ride in the sand,<br />

even though it is very important<br />

to do it. I did a lot in the<br />

past, and recently a bit less.<br />

<strong>No</strong>w my plan is to do some<br />

more. We didn’t have many

sand races this year – not as<br />

much as the past, even Valkenswaard<br />

is not the sand track<br />

it used to be ten years ago,<br />

now it is a bit like Mantova –<br />

so there was not a big reason<br />

to move back there. Of course<br />

for young kids it is still very<br />

important.<br />

So how is it possible to stay<br />

so fast? How do you continue<br />

to set the bar? Are you<br />

watching Herlings and Gajser<br />

carefully?<br />

<strong>No</strong>, I think it’s because I always<br />

had something left in<br />

the tank. I had something else<br />

inside me. I trained a bit more<br />

than usual in the last two<br />

years and with more intensity.<br />

The motos are shorter than<br />

they were seven-eight years<br />

ago and that made a big dif-<br />

ers get tired. The shift is that<br />

everybody is so fast now from<br />

the first lap and that meant a<br />

big change for my programme<br />

and I had to adapt. I found<br />

that I could do it and that<br />

meant I improved. I can still<br />

improve.<br />

Going back to Jorge: how do<br />

you see him in MXGP next<br />

year? With you, him and Jeffrey<br />

that is a daunting lineup...<br />

For sure there will be some<br />

tension. Three world championship<br />

contenders in the<br />

same team will not be easy. Of<br />

course Jorge will do well from<br />

the beginning because his riding<br />

style fits well to the 450s.<br />

I think he will be a contender<br />

straight away for GPs and<br />

maybe even the<br />

difficult, but if I can be on the<br />

podium every weekend then I<br />

will be very happy.<br />

2018 was the first time you<br />

had a teammate at your level.<br />

<strong>No</strong>w with Jorge you could<br />

have two and one that is also<br />

training with you! If he starts<br />

beating you then that will be<br />

a new experience…<br />

For sure! That’s very possible.<br />

There are not many talents<br />

like him and with his skills<br />

set. It is very possible because<br />

he is young and has so much<br />

energy but I’m working hard<br />

to do my best to stay in front<br />

of him and everybody. I try to<br />

enjoy my racing and when that<br />

happens the results come. I’m<br />

not really worried.<br />

You’ve been an uncle for<br />

many years and see babies<br />

grow up now you are soon<br />

going to be a Dad for the<br />

first time and join at least six<br />

riders in MXGP who are also<br />

fathers…<br />

Yeah! It’s a strange feeling<br />

and one that doesn’t seem<br />

real at the moment. When the<br />

baby arrives I think it will hit<br />

me. It’s a super-nice thing of<br />

course and we’re excited to be<br />

parents.<br />


ference on the preparation<br />

that I used to do. My base was<br />

made for longer motos and<br />

longer pace. I found that the<br />

races used to be slow in the<br />

beginning and then I could get<br />

faster and faster while oth-<br />

championship. It will be very<br />

interesting to see how the<br />

season turns out. For myself I<br />

expect to be on the top; to win<br />

another championship is my<br />

goal and the first thing that<br />

comes in my mind. It will be

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450s<br />

TOO FAST?<br />



By Adam Wheeler, Photos by Ray Archer


450cc engine power, torque,<br />

suspension technology,<br />

chassis performance,<br />

older tracks and the riders themselves:<br />

MXGP seems to have many elements<br />

that help the series stretch throttle cables<br />

a little more every year.<br />

A slew of injuries in 2029 and the fact<br />

that the Grand Prix of Russia at Orlyonok<br />

(a venue that saw Clement Desalle and<br />

Tony Cairoli effectively end their seasons<br />

after crashes, with lucky escapes by the<br />

likes of Ben Watson also noted) touched<br />

an average speed of 63kmph and invited<br />

questions about the pace of elite level<br />

motocross and the suitability of 450cc<br />

motors for 1650m circuits.<br />








The FIM rulebook states: ‘The course, if<br />

possible, should be of a type which restricts<br />

the average speed to a maximum<br />

of 65 km per hour (the average calculated<br />

for one<br />

complete race).’ Most Grand Prix venues<br />

hover between 40-mid-50s but the upper<br />

50s can be touched quite often. In many<br />

cases the lap-times of MX2 veer close<br />

to MXGP; but this is discounting track<br />

degradation.<br />

Have 450s grown too uncontrollable for<br />

MXGP? Is the series too fast? Or is versatile<br />

suspension to blame? What about the<br />

technical and physical limits of the riders<br />

themselves?<br />

In a quest for answers - or at least some<br />

clarification - we asked a spread of personnel<br />

inside the MXGP paddock. Here is<br />

what they had to say on the subject…

The bikes, the speed<br />

Tony Cairoli, Red Bull KTM: Sometimes<br />

when you ride in MXGP you don’t feel out<br />

of control or too fast but when you see<br />

the races from the outside then you see<br />

the bike is very strong. You cannot make<br />

mistakes and you have to react very<br />

quickly to stuff…and that is not always<br />

possible.<br />

Dirk Gruebel, Red Bull KTM Team<br />

Technical Co-ordinator & MX2 Team<br />

Manager: I think the average speed is<br />

too high. We have to see how we can<br />

get that down because you cannot hold<br />

back development of the bikes: frames<br />

have developed, suspension has developed<br />

and overall the bikes are capable of<br />

higher speed but how can you restrict it?<br />

You cannot do it if you have a 450, 250,<br />

450s: TOO FAST?


300… Jorge Prado is the fastest rider at a<br />

grand prix many times and that’s on a 250.<br />

The team’s job is to make the bike ‘faster’.<br />

There is no universal solution at the moment.<br />

Rene Ebert, Chief Mechanic, Monster<br />

Energy Wilvo Yamaha: I can see from the<br />

dyno graphs over the last ten years that the<br />

bikes have become faster.<br />

Antonio Alia Portela, FIM CMS President:<br />

Everyone wants to go faster. In motocross<br />

if you combine speed with some hazards<br />

then it can be dramatic and drastic. Some<br />

manufacturers are producing better engines,<br />

there is better race fuel and more<br />

athletic riders: if you combine everything<br />

then you are heading towards a very fast<br />

sport. There has to be some places where<br />

they can recover a little bit, and that could<br />

be through more corners or a ‘strategic’<br />

straight.<br />







Marc de Reuver, Rider Coach F&H Kawasaki,<br />

former MX2 & MXGP GP winner: The<br />

250s have a limit. There is a point where<br />

that bike cannot make any more power but<br />

the 450s never stops! The powerband is so<br />

wide. Back in the day you’d slide out because<br />

there was a lot of power immediately.<br />

You had to be sensitive. <strong>No</strong>w? Wide open.<br />

Gunther Geerts Technical Touch/KYB: I<br />

think they have so much power that they<br />

have come to a point with the 450 that they<br />

have to spread it all over the power band<br />

and that gives you a lot of options.<br />

Francois Lemariey, Team Manager, Monster<br />

Energy Kawasaki: As a factory team<br />

we customise the power to get the best<br />

performance. The most important thing is<br />

to customise the power range to the riding<br />

style of our riders. It’s very important to<br />

have the right power for the start and to get<br />

out of the gate. It is not easy to get a good<br />

curve and a bike that is easy to manage,<br />

that the rider can control and do his job on<br />

the track.<br />

Wim van Hoof, Chief Mechanic, Standing<br />

Construct KTM: I think a rider could do the<br />

whole track in two gears. Our riders are<br />

doing that now and sometimes using three<br />

when it is high speed. For the rest you can<br />

build an engine that is smooth, strong but<br />

only uses two.<br />

Wilfred Van Mil, Racing Manager, WP<br />

Suspension: Riders learn from each other.<br />

A really talented guy like Tony or Jeffrey<br />

[Herlings] comes along and it means all the<br />

others are looking at them and their style.<br />

If you look generally at riding styles now<br />

compared to fifteen years ago then it is<br />

very different. All the youngsters look up to<br />

the big names and try to copy.<br />

Rene Ebert, Chief Mechanic, Monster Energy<br />

Wilvo Yamaha: Jeffrey Herlings came<br />

back in Latvia this year and the lap-times<br />

didn’t lie. I think it was 1.7 [ahead]. So what<br />

is it? The bike? The rider? And how do we<br />

get faster? Are the fitness levels reaching a<br />

limit? I don’t think so. The riders evolve just<br />

like the bikes.

Gunther Geerts Technical Touch/KYB:<br />

As there are more races then there are<br />

more opportunities and more emphasis<br />

to be at that level longer. I think the 23<br />

age limit for MX2 means that all the best<br />

riders have been pushed together and<br />

in MXGP there are so many good racers<br />

and that has the effect of increasing the<br />

level. It is not just the bike; all the factors<br />

make the speed go up and unfortunately<br />

there are maybe more injuries. Anything<br />

can happen in a sport if you go to the<br />

limit.<br />

450s: TOO FAST?<br />

Marcus Pereira De Freitus, Team HRC,<br />

Team Manager: I don’t think the 450 is<br />

faster than it is supposed to be. In some<br />

cases Jorge Prado is very close or even<br />

faster in terms of lap-times. It all depends<br />

on how that power is being put on<br />

the ground.<br />

Tim Gajser, Team HRC, 2019 MXGP<br />

World Champion: It will sound weird but<br />

sometimes I want even more power! I<br />

think it should be kept as it is. Every year<br />

brands are trying to make bikes faster<br />

and better - and I always want better and<br />

better - and I guess it is the same for<br />

every rider.<br />

Shaun Simpson, RFX KTM, MXGP: Next<br />

year is my tenth season racing 450s and<br />

I wouldn’t say they are becoming too<br />

fast. I don’t think there is much scope to<br />

make them faster because they still need<br />

to be rideable for forty minutes.<br />

Rene Ebert, Chief Mechanic, Monster<br />

Energy Wilvo Yamaha: In the winter we<br />

are always looking for ways to make the<br />

lap-times better. You cannot stop improving<br />

and everybody is pushing hard,<br />

so the bikes get faster and the riders<br />

need to be fitter and more capable to


use them. The level of the fitness now<br />

has reached a point where even if they<br />

are sick or injured then they are way-off<br />

where they need to be.<br />

Marcus Pereira De Freitus, Team HRC,<br />

Team Manager: We don’t have any<br />

complaints about power and not for a<br />

few years now. It is about working from<br />

track-to-track. The work has been just<br />

as much about the balance, suspension<br />

and handling. All manufacturers of 450s<br />

have enough power right now and I don’t<br />

think there are many riders complaining<br />

that there is too much, which is different<br />

compared to a 250.<br />

Antonio Alia Portela, FIM CMS President:<br />

It is obvious that the factories are<br />

developing their engines to increase the<br />

speed so what we have to do from our<br />

side, as the FIM, is to make sure that<br />

the average speed of the races does not<br />

exceed the limit. How do we do that?<br />

Rui [Gonçalves] is working on the speed<br />

of the circuits to make them safer. The<br />

speed is increasing thanks to many factors<br />

and they are being pushed by the<br />

brands. We don’t necessarily want faster<br />

riders; we want skilled and healthy riders<br />

that can see out a season.<br />

Dirk Gruebel, Red Bull KTM Team Technical<br />

Co-ordinator & MX2<br />

Team Manager: We could pack much<br />

more speed into the 450 than the riders<br />

actually use. It is not the end of the line.<br />

If they want five horsepower more then<br />

we can give it. It’s just not necessary. A<br />

250 is around ten horsepower less but it<br />

still goes the same speed on the track, so<br />

it is not about horsepower but how riders<br />

handle it and make the most out of it.<br />

The weight difference between our bikes<br />

from a 450 to a 250 is two kilos, that’s it.<br />

<strong>No</strong>t a hell of a difference.<br />

The suspension, the frames<br />

Marcus Pereira De Freitus, Team HRC,<br />

Team Manager: I have the 2008 [Marc]<br />

De Reuver Honda in the workshop and<br />

I think if you put that bike on the track<br />

today then it would be upside-down. We<br />

are three generations on from that model<br />

and the CRF450R is now much more<br />

adaptable to the riders. Obviously the<br />

’08 motorcycle is still a good bike but<br />

the difference is in the improvements in<br />

almost every area and how the weight is<br />

distributed, the link and swing arm.

things each year to get better acceleration<br />

or a better start. It is always small things<br />

because it’s been a few years since any<br />

big steps. Inside the technology there always<br />

seems to be a bit more performance<br />

or more comfort or more traction. Even if<br />

it seems that suspension on the outside<br />

doesn’t change inside they are looking at<br />

materials and systems.<br />

450s: TOO FAST?<br />

Rene Ebert, Chief Mechanic, Monster<br />

Energy Wilvo Yamaha: Always handling,<br />

handling, handling. Tackling braking bumps,<br />

feel in corners, traction on acceleration<br />

bumps.<br />

Tony Cairoli, Red Bull KTM: Suspension<br />

has made such a big step compared to a<br />

few years ago and it is so easy to ride the<br />

bike. I can see it in the amateur races I<br />

follow when I am in Rome or Sicily: everybody<br />

goes so fast and maybe they ride<br />

twice a month! They have a lot of power<br />

but the suspension now allows you to do<br />

crazy stuff.<br />

Gunther Geerts Technical Touch/KYB:<br />

You used to have compression and rebound<br />

on a front fork and a rear shock<br />

but these days you have low and high<br />

speed compression and rebound. The<br />

fine-tuning is so much more precise<br />

than it used to be. It even surprises me<br />

how the factory can come up with new<br />

Dirk Gruebel, Red Bull KTM Team Technical<br />

Co-ordinator & MX2 Team Manager:<br />

There has been a lot of development suspension-wise<br />

because riders are not afraid<br />

of a jump now: they just hit them because<br />

they know the equipment will absorb it and<br />

won’t throw them off. I had a discussion<br />

with Joel [Smets] about the downhill double<br />

jump at the bottom of the hill at Loket<br />

[Grand Prix of Czech Republic] and he said<br />

in the past you’d come out of the turn,<br />

gas-it a bit but choose your line, close the<br />

throttle and then gas it on the take-off just<br />

to clear it. <strong>No</strong>w the kids don’t shut-off. The<br />

speed is down to riding technique, suspension<br />

and better preparation.<br />

Wim van Hoof, Chief Mechanic, Standing<br />

Construct KTM: If you look at a shock or<br />

fork from a few years ago then it is still a<br />

cartridge with shims and oil and springs.<br />

However the quality of the material is always<br />

better and better and they find new<br />

settings. The engine is the same: the angle<br />

of the valves, the compression. We’ve altered<br />

so much in the last years with suspension<br />

and chassis and engine that small<br />

steps have not stopped. It means a big step<br />

compared to years ago.


Wilfred Van Mil, Racing Manager, WP<br />

Suspension: I think development with<br />

suspension is always improving. It is not<br />

huge steps but there are always small<br />

things, and combined with frames and<br />

handling characteristics, then it all fits<br />

together. We make the riders as comfortable<br />

as possible on the bike and if that<br />

happens then he goes quicker. Every year<br />

we make a small step. It is the whole<br />

team’s job to make the rider go faster.<br />

They are many people working on that.<br />

Francois Lemariey, Team Manager, Monster<br />

Energy Kawasaki: With experience<br />

and calculations and different linkage<br />

ratio and the difference of factory suspension<br />

compared to production – although<br />

the systems are not so far away<br />

from each other the material is better<br />

quality – the Japanese can improve the<br />

flex of the bike. They do a lot of testing<br />

with feedback from the riders and that’s<br />

part of our job: to make those reports so<br />

they can judge and modify their production<br />

material if necessary. It’s not good to<br />

have a bike that is too rigid and also not<br />

good to have one that flexes too much,<br />

especially on a sand track like Lommel. It<br />

is a compromise of balance and experience<br />

and engineering.<br />

Shaun Simpson, RFX KTM, MXGP: Suspension<br />

is something that is definitely<br />

getting a lot better than it was before;<br />

especially with electronics, ECU management<br />

and traction control; those sorts of<br />

things. You just have to look at HRC and<br />

I believe those guys have some serious<br />

electronics on their bikes. I’ve never<br />

ridden a bike like that but it’s clear to<br />

see that if the ignition can cut at certain<br />

points and handle bumps and work with<br />

the suspension and engine to create a

smoother and faster ride then this is an<br />

improvement. Before you just had ride<br />

by the seat of your pants and use your<br />

skill to determine which bumps you can<br />

hit and which ones you can’t. There is a<br />

lot of chassis work going on with different<br />

stiffness and length and things like<br />

engine mounts; everyone is looking for<br />

that slightly easier ride. I know for sure<br />

that when you get the feeling right then<br />

you can go a lot faster. When it’s not right<br />

then you have to ease-off otherwise it will<br />

bite you quite quickly.<br />

Marcus Pereira De Freitus, Team HRC,<br />

Team Manager: It’s complicated to find<br />

a good balance with the frame and that’s<br />

why the rider and his feedback is still so<br />

important. There are a lot of people and<br />

test riders behind the scenes helping to<br />

optimise that. Frame development has<br />

really come-on along and with the suspension<br />

has given a great balance. We<br />

test 4-5 times a year depending on the<br />

development and the rider’s concerns but<br />

basically it is the same dimensions as the<br />

production bike: it is just how you balance<br />

it all together. Our frame is the same that<br />

Jeremy [Van Horebeek] uses but then it<br />

comes down to how you work with the<br />

geometry and the suspension technician:<br />

to make sure it is working with the engine<br />

to get the power on the ground.<br />

Gunther Geerts Technical Touch/KYB:<br />

I think there is some truth to the claims<br />

about suspension and its responsibility<br />

for the speed but it is mostly the development<br />

of bikes in general because<br />

you cannot just talk about the hardware<br />

that we deliver but the combination with<br />

the frame and the motorcycle. The performance<br />

is really high now and that is<br />

normal evolution. The bikes are faster and<br />

the riders are faster.<br />

Dirk Gruebel, Red Bull KTM Team Technical<br />

Co-ordinator & MX2 Team Manager:<br />

It is all about rideability. We have our reference<br />

tracks where we test in the winter<br />

and if you bring along an improvement<br />

that allows you to shave off a second or<br />

half-a-second then you have done a good<br />

job. We’re not stopping that! Everyone is<br />

doing the same, that’s our job. You have<br />

to get the power to the ground but it also<br />

needs to be a smooth delivery so the riders<br />

can easily open and don’t be hesitant<br />

on the gas or need to pay too much attention<br />

to it. The more they can concentrate<br />

on the riding and less on the bike then the<br />

faster they can go.<br />

Gunther Geerts Technical Touch/KYB:<br />

Racing is more professional now than<br />

it used to be and people are supported<br />

better. If you look at teams now then they<br />

almost all have their own suspension guy.<br />

You have more resources so development<br />

goes faster and if you have a good ethic<br />

then even faster still. The manufacturers<br />

are not the only one to blame…it is a<br />

combination of things.<br />

Rene Ebert, Chief Mechanic, Monster<br />

Energy Wilvo Yamaha: Riders can be<br />

smooth and want less power but then<br />

there are others that are aggressive<br />

and want more. Jeremy Seewer needs a<br />

smooth bike but also one with a strong<br />

third gear. Christophe Pourcel wanted to<br />

be in and out of the corner in third gear<br />

but without clutching! It’s down to corner<br />

speed and lap-times, lap-times, lap-times.<br />

MXGP has so many different riders. Romain<br />

[Febvre] likes a lot of top end and<br />

it sounds aggressive but the horsepower<br />

might not be that much. We are coming<br />

more and more to a compromise over<br />

power with smooth delivery and handling.<br />

The start is absolutely crucial so we need<br />

450s: TOO FAST?


a lot of power for that and that’s why a<br />

lot of brands develop start systems that<br />

then cut-out after three seconds. You<br />

need it for the gate but not on the track.<br />

The window mappings for start strategies<br />

are huge now.<br />

The tracks<br />

Romain Febvre, Monster Energy Yamaha:<br />

I don’t think the speed is too high, we<br />

just improved in many things and it is<br />

more about how we deliver the power.<br />

The tracks need to change. For many<br />

years we have ridden at the same places<br />

and apart from a few take-offs and landings<br />

not much has changed. We could<br />

use some alterations to the layouts. The<br />

speed doesn’t seem to be a problem at<br />

big places like Argentina but in others<br />

like Russia it was a real problem. So I<br />

think it is more about the racing conditions<br />

than the power of the bikes. Argentina<br />

is fast but the size of the track<br />

means you can do that speed a bit safer.<br />

Russia is tiny, rocky and hard-packed<br />

with water on the top.

Shaun Simpson, RFX KTM, MXGP: It’s not<br />

the bikes, it is some of the track layouts or<br />

the way the surface is prepared that cause<br />

the speed to be higher.<br />

Dirk Gruebel, Red Bull KTM Team Technical<br />

Co-ordinator & MX2 Team Manager: Jeffrey<br />

mentioned at one point in the U.S. you cannot<br />

go flat-out on a Sunday like in the GPs<br />

because the track has not been touched and<br />

the lines are too deep: if you hit them flat-out<br />

then you are gone. The riders know it and<br />

respect it because they get their warnings.<br />

[More] Jumps don’t help because the riders<br />

hit them full-gas. We should look into corners<br />

[layout] or laden turns where it is not possible<br />

to go that fast. It needs to be tested.<br />

Wim van Hoof, Chief Mechanic, Standing<br />

Construct KTM: It’s true that the bikes have<br />

made some big steps in the last ten years.<br />

Everything has to follow, even the brakes when<br />

you get to a high speed but for me the tracks<br />

have to be carefully looked at. The bikes are<br />

quick but I think the tracks play a part.<br />

Tony Cairoli, Red Bull KTM: The dirt is the<br />

main thing. It must be good and make a lot of<br />

450s: TOO FAST?


bumps. That would slow the speed and also<br />

produce line choice. At the moment if you ride<br />

somewhere like Russia or Czech Republic you<br />

really need to be aggressive to pass and being<br />

so fast [leaves less room for error].<br />

Marcus Pereira De Freitus, Team HRC, Team<br />

Manager: The track preparation is something<br />

we are more worried about. We think there<br />

can be more consistency from the people<br />

working on them at the different tracks and<br />

the watering. I think it is the most important<br />

thing in terms of safety now.<br />

Tim Gajser, Team HRC, 2019 MXGP World<br />

Champion: Preparation can depend on the<br />

track. Everyone talks about Russia but it is a<br />

track that cannot be ripped that deep because<br />

of the stony ground and how it develops.<br />

Romain Febvre, Monster Energy Yamaha: Everything<br />

has changed or developed…apart from<br />

the tracks. In MotoGP they have not changed<br />

the speed or the capacity of the bikes but the<br />

tracks are now safer and they have room to<br />

crash. That’s not always the case for us, in my<br />

opinion.<br />

Antonio Alia Portela, FIM CMS President:<br />

<strong>Track</strong> attention means more corners and extra<br />

care with grip. Perhaps more sand. If you have<br />

more table-tops then you need a straight to<br />

generate speed to get over it. We need to manage<br />

safety, skills and speed to have good races<br />

and a good show for TV.<br />

Wilfred Van Mil, Racing Manager, WP Suspension:<br />

From hard-pack to sand there are no big<br />

setting changes; it is more a balance thing and<br />

a couple of clicks but most of the time not<br />

even that. We do a lot of testing - that’s our<br />

big job in the winter - and we end up with one<br />

base setting that works more or less on all the<br />

GP tracks. We then just play a little with the<br />

fork line and the free sag and small details<br />

each weekend. It’s another reason why the<br />

rider becomes faster because he has the same<br />

bike every week. In the past they’d have vast<br />

setting changes from one track to the other<br />

track and the rider would have to get used to<br />

the bike again and have a feeling for it. These<br />

days the base set-up is so much better and<br />

they get more and more confident.

Gunther Geerts Technical Touch/KYB: We go<br />

testing at the start of the year in Sardinia in<br />

January. We see the WP boys there also. We<br />

establish a base set-up and also test it in the<br />

pre-season races. The range of that setting<br />

becomes so wide that whether it is sand or<br />

hard-pack you hardly have to change it, just a<br />

few clicks here or there or the position or balance<br />

of the bike, that’s it. You get comments<br />

like ‘the bike is good, I don’t want to change<br />

anything’. In the old days riders would have<br />

suspension for sand and for hard-pack but<br />

that’s all done away with now.<br />

Tony Cairoli, Red Bull KTM: If you had a wider<br />

track with more lines and more bumps then<br />

you’d have safer riding because you’d slow<br />

down as it gets more physical. People will get<br />

tired, and you can make a difference over who<br />

is training and who is training hard. When the<br />

tracks are as flat as they are now then you<br />

don’t see the difference, as you used to before.<br />

Marc de Reuver, Rider Coach F&H Kawasaki,<br />

former MX2 & MXGP GP winner: There<br />

are purpose built banks and berms on many<br />

tracks now over the years and it means riders<br />

can go faster on the straights and just hit<br />

them to make the corner. There is no need to<br />

take care and measure a turn or to really look<br />

at a camber.<br />

Gunther Geerts Technical Touch/KYB: If we<br />

talk about Lommel the track was even faster<br />

in the past than it is today. I don’t think the<br />

tracks are to blame. They can be fast but they<br />

also put a lot of jumps and obstacles in there<br />

to make it slower. Some places are very quick<br />

– like Russia – but back in the day you also<br />

had really fast tracks.<br />

Francois Lemariey, Team Manager, Monster<br />

Energy Kawasaki: As we saw some years ago<br />

in F1 and MotoGP the tracks have to adapt to<br />

the ‘new’ level of performance. I think there<br />

are some modifications to do on tracks, maybe<br />

reduce speed somehow with more obstacles<br />

and bigger safety areas and not arriving<br />

straight into the fence. Technology is better and<br />

so are the riders, so things around them need<br />

to move as well.<br />

Marc de Reuver, Rider Coach F&H Kawasaki,<br />

former MX2 & MXGP GP winner: Some more<br />

thought to the tracks. A waves section should<br />

start steep and end fast. In Latvia it started fast<br />

and ended f**king steep with that jump. The<br />

ambulance was there five times in one session<br />

because these guys – the best in the world –<br />

are crashing their brains out. I can see from the<br />

body language of riders like Cairoli and Herlings<br />

that they are having difficulty with it.<br />

Shaun Simpson, RFX KTM, MXGP: Most of all<br />

ground preparation. If you look at a wave section<br />

then this should be ripped and watered<br />

like the rest of the track. I also think take-offs<br />

and landings should be done. There is a fad in<br />

MXGP at the moment where there seems to be<br />

a lot of polished hard-pack on jump take-offs…<br />

and then they are watered. In America they rip<br />

and water them and then track-them-in with<br />

a bulldozer. They have deep lines but no real<br />

potential for kickers. The landings here are<br />

the same: usually rock hard and watered. So<br />

you come from something hard and slick into<br />

something – a rut - that is deep and watered.<br />

Romain Febvre, Monster Energy Yamaha: The<br />

average speed needs to come down on some<br />

tracks and that means more jumps – but technical<br />

ones and not just another table-top or<br />

a double. A ‘braking’ jump just to break the<br />

speed makes sense and maybe two of them a<br />

lap would help. Also the safety around the track<br />

needs to be looked at. At Assen if you run off<br />

the track then you are straight into a fence. I<br />

don’t think these are difficult things to improve<br />

or at least to think about.<br />

450s: TOO FAST?


Tim Gajser, Team HRC, 2019 MXGP World<br />

Champion: They are trying to make some elements<br />

on the tracks now to stop the speed,<br />

like braking jumps. But I think these things<br />

break the rhythm and it can be difficult find<br />

the flow. It might be more dangerous with<br />

them there because you don’t feel good on the<br />

track. You spend the rest of the lap trying to<br />

get the rhythm back, find it and then hit the<br />

braking jump again! It gets boring. The other<br />

guys will give you a different answer!<br />

Shaun Simpson, RFX KTM, MXGP: There is a<br />

bit of inconsistency with what is ripped and<br />

what isn’t. Everyone can go through a wave<br />

section really fast if there are no lines or ruts<br />

in it. If there are lines, bumps and ruts then<br />

there is not easy and it gets technical. A wave<br />

section gets chewed up very fast on sand and<br />

it becomes one of the best passing places on<br />

the track. Of course it can be tough to adjust<br />

many tracks. Places like Loket cannot be<br />

ripped that deep, or any more than it usually<br />

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

high] especially for our tracks in Europe that<br />

are mostly very tiny narrow and not so many<br />

lines. They dry quickly and there is a lot of<br />

hard-pack. The 250 class is very good at the<br />

moment for the world championship because<br />

the power is so strong that is almost compares<br />

to my old 350. So to reduce the power<br />

in the MXGP class is not a bad idea and would<br />

mean fewer injuries.<br />

Antonio Alia Portela, FIM CMS President: If<br />

you step backwards in a sport like this then<br />

you can make mistakes. You have to go with<br />

the stream. Just reducing things or taking<br />

things away from riders is difficult. What we<br />

can do is get onto safer tracks…in many aspects.<br />

We have to figure out how to make<br />

the riders safer and that might mean moving<br />

areas inside and outside the track: A table-top<br />

that sends the riders too high and the landing<br />

is suspect is another problem. Injuries at this<br />

level usually mean broken bones.<br />

450s: TOO FAST?<br />

easier to move dirt around - then I feel there<br />

could be improvements on the way it is built.<br />

It is always difficult to get something that everybody<br />

is happy with but from a safety aspect<br />

the tracks I like are more about a 40-50kmph<br />

average speed and 60 is way-too high.<br />

The solution?<br />

Tony Cairoli, Red bull KTM: I don’t think it is<br />

a bad idea to reduce the power of the bikes<br />

because the 450s are on a level [that is very<br />

Rene Ebert, Chief Mechanic, Monster Energy<br />

Wilvo Yamaha: Electronics? A control ECU?<br />

I like this. If you get three or five ECUs and a<br />

rev limit on a 250 of say 14,500 rpm the costs<br />

would be much lower because of the engine<br />

service, so we can run longer and I think it<br />

would be fairer amongst the guys. I would also<br />

go back to having just one race bike. Everybody<br />

talks about budget but we carrying two<br />

bikes just as back-up for MXGP Timed Practice<br />

or if something happens on the Sighting<br />

Lap. When something breaks it is the engine<br />

and if a professional team cannot change an<br />

engine in less than an hour?! Maybe we’ll have<br />

more money for teams and riders but I guess<br />

some brands don’t want this. A 450 is not too<br />

much about revs compared to a 250 but a<br />

form of control would help. I don’t think it will<br />

happen though because some brands put a lot<br />

into development. It is all a competition.<br />

Wim van Hoof, Chief Mechanic, Standing<br />

Construct KTM: A control ECU would help for<br />

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


technology and there is a big menu. You can<br />

change a lot and in some parts we can control<br />

the power. Having a ceiling for revs could<br />

work but mostly for 250s because on the 450<br />

you cannot go so high otherwise the engines<br />

would break. I think the 250s are already set<br />

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

necessary or possible to go higher. The most<br />

important thing is controlling the power like<br />

the rider prefers.<br />

Marcus Pereira De Freitus, Team HRC, Team<br />

Manager: Development does not stop but I<br />

don’t think we’ll see proper traction control<br />

on motocross tracks for another three years<br />

at least. It is expensive, and there is no urgent<br />

reason to have it. We always think about rider<br />

safety and that’s the first priority for Honda<br />

and we know we are putting the riders on the<br />

bike that is safe in all areas: electronics, suspension,<br />

frame.<br />

Wim van Hoof, Chief Mechanic, Standing Construct<br />

KTM: I hear some rumours about lowering<br />

ccs. I don’t know if that’s necessary. The<br />

riders always want a bike that can go faster!<br />

We have to push the power in the correct way.<br />

I know there are some teams that give their<br />

riders one setting and they have to adapt. We<br />

start our season listening to the riders. We<br />

have one that says the power comes in too fast<br />

and wants more spread or higher RPM and<br />

when the rider is going easier on the bike and<br />

says he has more control then the race will<br />

come better and it becomes safer. If the bike is<br />

too aggressive or too much power in one spot<br />

on the track then it just increases the risk. I<br />

think it is more important to create control and<br />

to hit the exact preference for the rider.<br />

Wilfred Van Mil, Racing Manager, WP Suspension:<br />

Sooner or later they will downgrade the<br />

CCs. I think if development continues like this<br />

then inside ten years we’ll have a 250 that is<br />

stronger than a 450 at the moment. You cannot<br />

get a sixteen year old on a bike like that: it<br />

will kill the sport.<br />

Tony Cairoli, Red Bull KTM: A 450 is a strong<br />

bike lately. I think reducing the power a bit<br />

would be a good idea.<br />

Romain Febvre, Monster Energy Yamaha: If we<br />

reduce the power then you will get close to the<br />

power of a 250 and you’ll end up with just one<br />

class. It doesn’t make too much sense for me.<br />

Dirk Gruebel, Red Bull KTM Team Technical<br />

Co-ordinator & MX2 Team Manager: I don’t<br />

think capacity change will solve it. If they [FIM]<br />

told us next year that MXGP was down to a<br />

300cc limit then we’d still do our best to be<br />

the fastest out there and I think it would end<br />

up being as fast as a 450 at the moment.<br />

Shaun Simpson, RFX KTM, MXGP: I don’t like<br />

the idea of a 350. I tried it, rode it, tested it<br />

and just prefer the idea of torque and usable<br />

power.<br />

Wilfred Van Mil, Racing Manager,<br />

WP Suspension: For suspension development<br />

it is about engineering and new techniques,<br />

small details like different pistons, shapes,<br />

overlaps and in the end it becomes a big thing.<br />

You cannot solve everything with just suspension;<br />

it has to match the frame and the engine<br />

behaviour. We do many tests where a change<br />

to the engine character has produced a change<br />

on the suspension as well. The 250 at the moment<br />

has the same amount of horsepower as a<br />

450 from 2004. It won’t stop.

450s: TOO FAST?





UP THE<br />

AC<br />





AUGUST 25th<br />

Rnd 12 of 12<br />

450MX winner:<br />

Eli Tomac, Kawasaki<br />

250MX winner:<br />

Dylan Ferrandis, Yamaha<br />

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



Photo: R. Schedl<br />

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AMA<br />

BLOG<br />

TIME OFF?<br />

The final round of the Lucas Oil Pro AMA Motocross<br />

Championships took place in Indiana this past weekend and as<br />

expected, Monster Energy Pro Circuit Kawasaki’s Adam<br />

Cianciarulo grabbed his first title by virtue of 2-4 moto scores.<br />

The other ‘green guy’, Eli Tomac<br />

of the Monster Energy Kawasaki<br />

team, cruised home with a win<br />

and no pressure having clinched<br />

his third straight 450MX title the<br />

previous Saturday.<br />

It was a good race, certainly<br />

made better by not having the<br />

rain we’ve seen at this last round<br />

almost every single year the track<br />

has been on the circuit. Good<br />

crowd, a great first moto in the<br />

450MX class that saw Tomac,<br />

Honda’s Ken Roczen and KTM’s<br />

Marvin Musquin have a terrific<br />

three way battle all the way to the<br />

checkers with Musquin grabbing<br />

the win.<br />

So the twelve rounds of motocross<br />

are over as are the seventeen<br />

rounds of supercross.<br />

It’s grueling schedule for the riders<br />

never mind the teams. That’s<br />

something that I, as a guy that<br />

worked as mechanic for a couple<br />

of factory teams and for eleven<br />

years total, really understand.<br />

The hours the team personal<br />

put-in are incredible and often at<br />

the expense of their home life.<br />

So it’s with great relief that many<br />

of them look to these upcoming<br />

couple of weeks as a bit of a<br />

break.<br />

Yes, you read that right. The<br />

teams generally start giving their<br />

staff rosters the weekends off<br />

now and many of the riders will<br />

take a few weeks away from the<br />

routine before gearing up for supercross<br />

2020.<br />

Ken Roczen, who’s struggled with<br />

a virus for much of this year, has<br />

completely eliminated any racing<br />

from his off-season plans outside<br />

of the Red Bull Straight Rhythm<br />

which shouldn’t be too taxing for<br />

him.<br />

In my experience the hamster<br />

wheel of professional supercross/<br />

motocross never stops. You<br />

would think perhaps after the<br />

calendars are complete that there<br />

might be some serious downtime<br />

for everyone but nope, many<br />

years I was on teams the riders<br />

would be back out in Southern<br />

California the week after the last<br />

race to start riding supercross. As<br />

a mechanic you would be slowly<br />

building the following year’s test<br />

bike near the end of the motocross<br />

season and complete it the<br />

Monday or Tuesday after the last<br />

national.<br />

The supercross test tracks will<br />

have been rebuilt or in the process<br />

of it and the off-season<br />

preparation starts almost immediately.<br />

Part of the reason for the<br />

early jump on the supercross is<br />

that the Japanese OEM’s need a<br />

lot of lead-time to order parts.

By Steve Matthes<br />

So after a week or so of riding,<br />

a team will often run through<br />

some suspension components,<br />

transmission gears and valve<br />

train parts. <strong>On</strong>ce the riders settle<br />

on a preferable setting, the team<br />

places the order back to Japan<br />

and the wait to get the right<br />

parts gets started.<br />

It’s scary how little the sport as<br />

a whole takes time to smell the<br />

roses and relax. The championships<br />

are over, everyone moves<br />

on and there isn’t any real sort<br />

of celebration after the supercross<br />

or motocross contests are<br />

over. It’s just onto the next thing<br />

and for most (non-MXDN participants)<br />

people in the sport, it’s a<br />

case of getting back to work.<br />

The grind never stops.<br />

Meanwhile, with camshafts and<br />

other easily available parts, the<br />

testing continues in the offseason,<br />

normally it’s every other<br />

week for a couple of days. Back<br />

in my day the riders would take<br />

their bikes and ride on their own<br />

but more and more I’m seeing<br />

the teams control the process<br />

by sending team people out to<br />

the track every time the rider<br />

gets on the motorcycle. Every lap<br />

is timed, the hours ridden are<br />

monitored and the practice bike<br />

is maintained to perfection. <strong>No</strong>t<br />

all teams do this but more and<br />

more are.


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AUGUST 23-25<br />

Blogs by David Emmett & Neil Morrison, Photos by CormacGP<br />




The British Grand Prix started in spectacular and<br />

fiery fashion…and didn’t back-off. It was a<br />

gripping return. Marc Marquez may have been<br />

beaten by centimetres for the second race in a<br />

row but the champion continues to accelerate to<br />

the 2019 crown thanks to his eleventh podium<br />

from twelve. Silverstone was about Suzuki again<br />

though – after Maverick Viñales triumphed there<br />

in 2016 - and that Rins’ special at Woodcote.







MOTOGP<br />

BLOG<br />


More than Europe’s<br />

largest MC store<br />

The British Grand Prix at Silverstone was the race that<br />

very nearly didn’t happen.<br />

The future of Silverstone itself<br />

looked in doubt after the debacle<br />

of 2018, when the new surface<br />

laid in February of that year<br />

started to ripple up and develop<br />

bumps in extremely inconvenient<br />

places, as well as failing to drain<br />

adequately. The water was the<br />

biggest problem, causing aquaplaning<br />

in heavy rain conditions<br />

which would not be a problem at<br />

other tracks. A bunch of riders<br />

crashed on Saturday, Tito Rabat<br />

was doubly unlucky, falling early<br />

and being hit by Franco Morbidelli’s<br />

Honda, shattering his femur.<br />

<strong>On</strong> Sunday, after the rain kept<br />

falling and the standing water<br />

wouldn’t clear, the race was cancelled,<br />

the first time in decades<br />

that a Grand Prix didn’t go ahead.<br />

The consensus was that Silverstone<br />

was unusable as a Grand<br />

Prix venue because it was unsafe<br />

in the rain. The circuit would only<br />

be allowed to the race if all of its<br />

problems were fixed. Preferably<br />

by resurfacing the whole track<br />

again.<br />

Fast forward to 2019, and the<br />

entire track has been given a<br />

new layer of asphalt. The work<br />

has been done more thoroughly<br />

than ever before by Tarmac: the<br />

company actually named after the<br />

stuff used to surface the track. It<br />

was carried out under the watchful<br />

eye of Jarno Zaffelli’s company<br />

Dromo Studio, responsible for<br />

some of the great motorcycle race<br />

tracks of the world. Despite the<br />

complexity of the operation and<br />

the thoroughness with which it<br />

was approached, various sources<br />

say Silverstone got the work done<br />

at a surprisingly decent price.<br />

Did it pay off? The new tarmac<br />

(pun intended) received rave<br />

reviews from just about everyone.<br />

“I don’t think you’ll speak to<br />

another rider today who doesn’t<br />

have a smile on his face, because<br />

the asphalt is amazing, the grip is<br />

amazing,” Jack Miller enthused.<br />

Valentino Rossi agreed. “It’s a<br />

great pleasure to ride here in<br />

Silverstone because they make a<br />

very good job.<br />

The new asphalt has good grip<br />

but the biggest difference is a<br />

lot less bumps, so you can push<br />

more and ride the bike more at<br />

the limit.”<br />

Ironically, the new surface created<br />

problems too. “You’re able to ride<br />

the track in a different way,” Miller<br />

said. “The setup changes because<br />

… every track demands something,<br />

but if you have really bad<br />

grip or a lot of bumps, you have<br />

to make a setup for that, to try to<br />

improve the biggest limit of the<br />

track,” Andrea Dovizioso said. “In<br />

the past here, we were struggling<br />

to get the tyres warm, absorb the<br />

bumps, it was very difficult. <strong>No</strong>w<br />

it’s about using the best potential<br />

of the track with much more<br />

speed, and try to have the best<br />

balance, to use the best potential<br />

of the track.”<br />

That meant rethinking race lines,<br />

and changing bike setup to suit.<br />

The new surface restored Silverstone’s<br />

position and status as

By David Emmett<br />

well as its potency as a race track:<br />

fast, sweeping, challenging, terrifying,<br />

rewarding skill and bravery<br />

in equal amounts, allowing each<br />

bike and each rider to showcase<br />

their strengths and compensate<br />

for their weaknesses. There were<br />

bikes from four different manufacturers<br />

in the first five positions on<br />

the grid. There were three different<br />

bikes on the podium. The<br />

pole record and race lap record<br />

fell, and the race was 33 seconds<br />

faster than the fastest previous<br />

edition. Victory was decided by<br />

0.013 seconds, by a thrilling and<br />

daring pass on Marc Márquez by<br />

Alex Rins. It was spectacular.<br />

And yet only 50,000 people<br />

turned up to witness it, despite<br />

three days of sun and blistering<br />

temperatures. This was only<br />

slightly down on 2018, when<br />

54,000 had sat in the rain.<br />

Numbers are down from 2015<br />

and 2016, when attendance hit<br />

73,000, and roughly on a par with<br />

attendance at Donington Park,<br />

when the race was held there. For<br />

comparison: 104,000 turned up<br />

in Le Mans, 83,000 at Mugello,<br />

91,000 at Barcelona, 105,000 in<br />

Assen, 91,000 in Germany, and<br />

85,000 and 87,000 at Brno and<br />

Spielberg respectively.<br />

You would have thought that a<br />

nation of nearly 70 million people<br />

and a proud racing history would<br />

more willing to attend a MotoGP<br />

race. The relatively low attendance<br />

is not something I can readily<br />

explain, nor, from a cursory glance<br />

at the numbers, find a causal<br />

relationship with the success of<br />

Valentino Rossi or British riders.<br />

This, it appears to me, is the<br />

greatest threat to the future of<br />

the British Grand Prix, whether at<br />

Silverstone or elsewhere. Silverstone<br />

did everything asked of<br />

them to make amends for the<br />

disaster of 2018. They invested a<br />

lot of money, and vastly improved<br />

the track, and still the fans did<br />

not come. They never really have<br />

the huge numbers other countries<br />

manage to assemble. Dorna really<br />

wants to hold a Grand Prix in the<br />

UK, because of the sport’s history<br />

here. But if the fans don’t come,<br />

how will anyone be able to afford<br />

to organize one?

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BLOG<br />


What a difference three weeks can make.<br />

At an overcast Brno at the start of<br />

the month Alex Rins broke from the<br />

norm and delivered an appraisal<br />

that left no one in any doubt of<br />

where he really stood. So often a<br />

shy, quiet figure when in the glare<br />

of the media spotlight, content to<br />

close lines of discussion down and<br />

keep analysis to a minimum, here<br />

he was fired up and ready to deliver<br />

a barb that meant headline writers<br />

could take the afternoon off.<br />

Memories of a heated qualifying<br />

session were still fresh: there was,<br />

of course, the indignation of watching<br />

chief rival and reference Marc<br />

Marquez take pole position by the<br />

ludicrous margin of two and a half<br />

seconds. But what really irked Rins<br />

was the reigning champion’s actions<br />

when he chased a time midsession.<br />

Marquez had messed up turn five,<br />

run wide and looked around. Jack<br />

Miller and Rins were fast approaching<br />

and after letting the Australian<br />

through, the #93 shifted back onto<br />

the dry line in front of the Suzuki.<br />

“Sincerely he disturbed me,” an<br />

uncharacteristically animated Rins<br />

admitted.<br />

An entertaining on-track exchange<br />

followed, culminating in Rins rushing<br />

to enter pit lane ahead, pushing<br />

Marquez toward a pit lane wall at<br />

low speed, forcing the Honda rider<br />

to shut off.<br />

“I think he has no respect for other<br />

riders,” Rins fumed soon after.<br />

Soon, when reverting to his native<br />

tongue, he would add, “maybe his<br />

Moto2 crash [in 2011] made him<br />

lost his sight.”<br />

If you’re going all in, do it with<br />

conviction. But as if fearing a public<br />

backlash, Rins soon backtracked,<br />

apologising for his remark on Marquez’s<br />

vision via Twitter. Marquez<br />

barely blinked when his countryman’s<br />

comments were put to him.<br />

“I’ve won a title or two since then,<br />

have I not?” he shrugged. In their<br />

first public spat, the elder of the two<br />

had come out on top.<br />

Perhaps that was one of the reasons<br />

why the outcome of Sunday’s<br />

astonishing British Grand Prix was<br />

so surprising. In his first year as a<br />

certified challenger Rins has endured<br />

a setback more than he’d<br />

care to remember. Like similar<br />

disappointments at Le Mans and<br />

the Sachsenring, Rins didn’t dwell<br />

on the Brno affair. Unquestionably<br />

this was his finest grand prix<br />

performance to date. There was no<br />

cowering at Marquez’s reputation<br />

here. He sprang from the middle of<br />

the second row, weighed up his rival<br />

and pounced not once, but twice to<br />

win the joint fourth closest premier<br />

class bow – 0.013s separated them<br />

both – in history.<br />

Miller paid Rins the highest compliment<br />

earlier in the year. “Every time<br />

I sit down with the team and make<br />

a debrief or a plan for the race,<br />

we always say Rins and Valentino<br />

[Rossi], they’re going to be there in<br />

the race. Doesn’t matter where they<br />

qualify. You know they’re going to<br />

be there.”

More than Europe’s<br />

largest MC store<br />

By Neil Morrison<br />

Perhaps that was another. All weekend,<br />

the Suzuki’s pace was strong,<br />

an equal of the Movistar Yamahas<br />

of Maverick Viñales and Rossi. But<br />

Marquez and eventual first corner<br />

crasher Fabio Quartararo were a<br />

step ahead.<br />

But crew chief Jose Manuel Cazeaux<br />

works in a wily way, ensuring<br />

race readiness is rarely sacrificed<br />

for headline grabbing times. Session<br />

results can be deceptive. And<br />

Rins has yet to truly master the<br />

high-pressure, high-stakes art of<br />

qualifying. But with the exception of<br />

Le Mans and the Red Bull Ring, the<br />

23-year old and Suzuki have honed<br />

consistency to a level almost worthy<br />

of a title challenge.<br />

So it proved at the resurfaced Silverstone.<br />

Rins knew a strong start<br />

and combative first lap – two of the<br />

veritable strengths he has added to<br />

his armoury this year – were essential<br />

to contending for the leading<br />

spots. “I knew before the start of<br />

the race that Marquez and Quartararo<br />

were the two guys to beat,”<br />

Rins later said. “If I was with them<br />

in the first part then in the end I<br />

was able to have options.”<br />

As it turned out, the man Rins<br />

replaced would be his greatest ally<br />

here. Marquez recognised Viñales’<br />

own late pace as a concern and<br />

thus refused to relent when in front.<br />

Silverstone’s new surface offered up<br />

grip aplenty but track temperatures<br />

of 44 degrees, an abrasive surface<br />

and Michelin’s inexperience with it<br />

meant rear tyre wear was an issue.<br />

Marquez’s fear of Viñales joining<br />

in meant tyre management had<br />

to be forgotten. As he did at Brno,<br />

the strategy was “to make the front<br />

group smaller.”<br />

From his time in second, Rins could<br />

see the Honda’s drive onto the<br />

Wellington Straight would be his<br />

undoing if he stayed ahead. He was<br />

smart to Marquez’s game of letting<br />

him by on lap nine and knew he<br />

had to hold back for fear of getting<br />

caught out late on. “I was riding one<br />

lap in front of him,” Rins recalled.<br />

“But very quick I let him past because<br />

he was much faster than me<br />

on the acceleration from turns 14,<br />

16 and 17. I didn’t want to show my<br />

weakness.”<br />

It was an inspired move. And it<br />

soon became apparent he wasn’t<br />

just hanging onto Marquez’s lead<br />

on lap 17. A moment on the exit of<br />

Club gave the Honda rider breathing<br />

space, but come the start of<br />

lap 18 and Rins had closed back<br />

in. Then he dared where most<br />

wouldn’t. And not just once. Rins’<br />

– and the Suzuki’s – ability to<br />

conserve the rear tyre has been a<br />

strength that was apparent from his<br />

rookie campaign.<br />

That was decisive as the race<br />

lurched toward its nail-biting<br />

conclusion. Marquez’s top speed<br />

advantage and braking prowess<br />

kept him ahead into the critical<br />

Brooklands-Luffield section. But<br />

his rear tyre was shot. <strong>On</strong> the final<br />

lap Rins was a full 7mph quicker at<br />

the apex of Woodcote as Marquez<br />

staggered for traction. Twice Rins<br />

tried at the final turn, conjuring<br />

up images of Barry Sheene, one<br />

of Suzuki’s former prodigal sons,<br />

40 years before, by riding around<br />

the outside on the penultimate<br />

lap. Switching to the inside for the<br />

final time brought about one of the<br />

moves of the season.

BLOG<br />

It was a coolheaded, combative display<br />

that would have made Marquez<br />

proud. ‘perfect’ and ‘fantastic’ were<br />

two words used by Brivio to describe<br />

the third Suzuki win on his watch in<br />

the aftermath – but not surprising,<br />

as experienced engineers at Suzuki<br />

are well aware of their rider’s ability.<br />

“The way he can take the bike<br />

to the limits without ever look like<br />

he’s close to it is so impressive,”<br />

reckoned Tom O’Kane, crew chief<br />

to Sylvain Guintoli, earlier this year.<br />

Brivio concurs. “Sometimes he does<br />

great things and he makes it look as<br />

though it’s easy for him; not easy,<br />

but natural,” he said at the end of<br />

2018.<br />

For Marquez, Oscar Wilde’s phrase<br />

is applicable. To lose one race at<br />

the final turn of the final lap may be<br />

regarded as a misfortune; to lose two<br />

in as many weeks looks like carelessness.<br />

<strong>On</strong>ly a rider of genuine class<br />

could show the seven-time champ<br />

up like this.<br />

This was a statement performance.<br />

And on this evidence only a fool<br />

would bet against Rins producing<br />

more of them in the coming months.

Photo by Tony Goldsmith


A<br />

By Adam Wheeler, Photos by Yamaha/Milestone<br />


GAME<br />






There is a lot of ‘E’ around MotoGP at<br />

the moment. The Motorrad Grand Prix<br />

Deutschland saw the launch of the very<br />

first ‘MotoE’ electric category and the<br />

burgeoning e-sports scene around the<br />

championship is building revs towards<br />

three live events later in the summer.<br />

The Monster Energy Yamaha factory<br />

team are not being left behind when it<br />

comes to the digital incarnation of their<br />

sport. Aside from striving to provide the<br />

best possible racing equipment and conditions<br />

for both Valentino Rossi and Maverick<br />

Viñales the multi-world champions<br />

have ‘signed’ Lorenzo Daretti (who goes<br />

by the digital handle of ‘Trastevere73’)<br />

the 2018 MotoGP E-Sport winner as their<br />

official representative for ‘virtual’ MotoGP.<br />









TOGETHER....”<br />

“It’s the beginning of a new path and I<br />

am not sure where it will take us twothree<br />

years down the line but having<br />

seen the development of E-Sports we<br />

believe it will take-off and be a sporting<br />

marketing phenomenon,” commented<br />

Yamaha Motor Racing MD and Team<br />

Principal Lin Jarvis “and we wanted to<br />

get involved as a brand and as a partner<br />

in MotoGP.”<br />

Trastevere73, who is also a keen motorcyclist,<br />

was presented at the Jerez<br />

for the Gran Premio de España in May<br />

where the video game expert was given<br />

a MotoGP replica R6, full replica leathers<br />

and pride of place among the Yamaha<br />

MotoGP structure. “Our first ever ‘factory’<br />

rider,” says Jarvis. “He’s the world<br />

champion but is also a real rider and<br />

racer on the track.”<br />

Using the 2019 version of the MotoGP<br />

game on PS4, PC and Xbox that was<br />

released in June, Trastevere73 is one<br />

of many hopefuls who will have to pass<br />

through six timed online challenges<br />

(the last culminating at the end of July)<br />

whereupon the 72 fastest gamers from<br />

across the world head into a Pro Draft.<br />

From there the 12 best racers then form<br />

the cast list for the three live face-offs to<br />

be staged at actual MotoGP Grands Prix;<br />

two of those being the dates at Misano in<br />

Italy and the finale at Valencia in Spain.<br />

MotoGP might have been a little cautious<br />

to acknowledge and react to the<br />

emergence of e-sports but the relevance<br />

and reach of the pastime is not lost on<br />

the paddock. “In 2021 there could be up<br />

to 6.1 billion plays and there are almost<br />

500 million spectators of e-sports championships,”<br />

said Jarvis. “We want to get<br />

on the train. Right away we found interest<br />

among our partners and other sponsors<br />

and for the young their first interaction<br />

with MotoGP might be through<br />

video games.”<br />

The games<br />

Competitive network gaming has been<br />

popular since the turn of the century<br />

(usually involving first-person shooters)<br />

and when the surge around organised

tournaments led to the creation of professionals<br />

who would earn a living from<br />

their proficiency. The vast improvements<br />

in connectivity, console speeds and<br />

graphics and the surge of online communities<br />

built gaming into a massive<br />

lifestyle phenomenon that penetrated the<br />

lexicons of everyday life.<br />

E-sports gathered more momentum<br />

when broadcasters realised there was<br />

a large audience willing to log-on and<br />

watch other people in action. It has since<br />

become a major video event with studiobased<br />

productions to rival the most popular<br />

of Saturday night TV entertainment<br />

shows. In some countries e-sports finales<br />

have attracted thousands to arenas, with<br />

a level of enthusiasm and fandom to rival<br />

the real version of the sport or activity. A<br />

story on Reuters website earlier this year<br />

predicted that revenue from e-sports<br />

would top 1 billion dollars in 2019.<br />


A world-renowned title like ‘Gran Turismo’<br />

fanned the flames of motorsport<br />

competition for PlayStation owners<br />

and F1 launched their own ‘F1 eSport’<br />

contest in 2017 – the same year as MotoGP<br />

– which now boasts a prize pool of<br />

500,000 dollars.<br />

MotoGP had to mobilise to further expose<br />

the sport and the brand to a massive<br />

and predominantly young demographic.<br />

“This is the third year for us and<br />

e-sports and it began because of demand<br />

from sponsors, partners and teams and it<br />

was the start of a long learning process,”<br />

said Dorna MD Pau Serracanta. “Last<br />

year we tried to make it bigger with a live<br />

event and learnt that it was best to have<br />

a real championship with points, just<br />

like MotoGP. We ended up with 46 million<br />

video views and 5.4 million acts of


A ‘new’ rider<br />

But what does it mean to be a Pro gamer?<br />

“’Training’ is not the same every day but during,<br />

and in the build up to a competition it can<br />

be quite a lot,” Trastevere73 says. “During a<br />

competition it might be four-five hours a day;<br />

two hours in the morning and two in the afternoon.<br />

<strong>On</strong> a normal day it might be an hour<br />

of practice or not at all. If you play too much<br />

then it can be dangerous for your focus and<br />

concentration…and your brain. You have to<br />

train in the right way.”<br />

Daretti cannot stop smiling during his unveiling<br />

in the Monster Energy Yamaha presentation<br />

at Jerez. “I’m very happy today and it was<br />

a dream since I was young to somehow be<br />

part of this team,” the 20 year old Italian says.<br />

“It might sound strange but there is a connection<br />

between the two worlds because of the<br />

engagement with an audience share of 15-24<br />

year olds forming 50% of that.”<br />

“<strong>No</strong>w e-sports is a third ‘property’ for Dorna<br />

and the combination of MotoGP and gaming<br />

has a potential that is quite surprising,” he<br />

adds.<br />

Monster Energy Yamaha’s contract with<br />

Trastevere73 is the first high-profile move<br />

towards having official digital ambassadors.<br />

It could soon become a common sight. Factories<br />

and teams have employed MotoE racers<br />

to tackle the new electric series and a slew<br />

of Pro gamers might be next addition to staff<br />

rosters to ensure decent representation within<br />

MotoGP’s fresh ‘property’.

concentration needed and you can learn a lot<br />

about overtaking and strategy from watching<br />

real MotoGP races. The emotion when you are<br />

playing can be more or less the same as when<br />

you are watching.”<br />

A miscalculation by Rossi or Viñales on the<br />

track can result in a broken bone or much<br />

worse. For Lorenzo the risk might run to a<br />

strained finger. But the stakes are where<br />

the real and the virtual MotoGP come a little<br />

closer together. In the same way that the<br />

MotoGP stars cannot afford misjudgement or<br />

indecision, Trastevere73 also has to perform<br />

when it counts.<br />


“Competitions are difficult but fortunately<br />

in my family they call me ‘The Ice Man’!” he<br />

grins. “You need a big ability to focus and not<br />

worry about what is going on around you.”


“I’ve always used a PS4 but in competition<br />

I use a PC because it is for all the<br />

platforms and you can use a PS or Xbox<br />

joystick or controller,” he says of his<br />

‘tools. “The PC has more power so we<br />

use that.”<br />

MotoGP 2019 and the VR46<br />

Academy<br />

When it comes to hardware and software<br />

(away from the multi-million dollar motorcycles)<br />

MotoGP is helped by the very<br />

thorough and impressive ‘MotoGP 2019’.<br />

Italian developers Milestone have exceeded<br />

their previous editions of the official<br />

MotoGP game thanks to radically new<br />

‘artificial intelligence’; in other words the<br />

behaviour of computer-controlled rivals<br />

in the single player mode.<br />

“The new AI is important and the result<br />

of three years work with an external<br />

company for ‘machine learning’,” says<br />

Milestone Marketing Manager Andrea<br />

Loiudice. “It will be revelatory in gaming.<br />

<strong>On</strong>ly a few strategy games have something<br />

similar. Through data the game<br />

learns by itself and has not been programmed<br />

by a human. It is much faster<br />

and much more ‘human’ after moving<br />

through 4 phases of learning behaviour.”<br />

A ‘Historic’ mode of old riders and circuits<br />

has been fleshed out and the graphics<br />

have been further hiked in terms of<br />

spec and being able to use the weighty<br />

crunching resources of a console such as<br />

the PS4. There are other upgrades, and<br />

Milestone have augmented the online capabilities<br />

for MotoGP 2019. “A big investment<br />

in a dedicated server to improve<br />

lag,” Loiudice adds. “I’m convinced this<br />

is the best MotoGP game ever and it has<br />

improved in every aspect. The graphics

and physics are better and we have made a lot<br />

of effort with that.”<br />

E-sports is not some distant and speculative<br />

side project by the Yamaha team. Daretti has<br />

been fully integrated into the Monza-based<br />

set-up. He has made various promotional appearances<br />

and has been riding and playing at<br />

Rossi’s ‘Ranch’ training facility. Trastevere73 is<br />

well known among the VR46 Academy, especially<br />

the ‘senior’ head of the bunch.<br />

“Yeah, I grew up with the PlayStation but I am<br />

old!” jokes Rossi. “I like video games a lot but<br />

the strongest in the Academy is Pecco [Bagnaia,<br />

Pramac Ducati rider] he is the fastest and<br />

always faster than me but I will try to make<br />

some training with Trastevere and get some<br />

advice.”<br />

Bagnaia smiles knowingly when asked about<br />

his gaming ability. “We make competitions [in<br />

the VR46 Academy]…but not with MotoGP<br />

because the others are not very fast! So we are<br />

fighting on Gran Turismo.”<br />

“I always try the MotoGP games and really like<br />

them. I think the latest version has made a<br />

good step because it’s very different. I’m a fan<br />

of Trastevere73 and I think he can win again. I<br />

make time attacks like them [Pro players] and<br />

online I can win some races but if I see the<br />

laps that Trastevere makes then it is too fast;<br />

more than a second faster and it is amazing<br />

how quickly they go. Maybe F1 is a step forward<br />

as a game but MotoGP has grown a lot<br />

in the last year and the tracks are very similar.<br />

You can use the tyres, make tests and change<br />

the riding style. The career mode is very nice.”<br />

Promotion opportunities and novelties are<br />

nothing new for Monster Energy Yamaha and<br />

one of MotoGP’s best-established and most<br />

prolific teams. But this time they have pushed<br />

‘Start’ on a curious venture that hovers outside<br />

of the traditional grand prix racing model. “For<br />

my generation it was Space Invaders but the<br />

technology now is unbelievable,” says Jarvis.<br />

“We sell motorcycles at the end of the day and<br />

we wanted to bridge the real world with the<br />

digital and this seemed a good way to do it.”<br />



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Stefan Everts took five years to create his<br />

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and tinge. The Belgian’s offering is gaining<br />

good reviews for taste and is climbing in<br />

sales. Upon reaching the website the first<br />

slogan that greets the inquisitive visitor is<br />

the line that S72 is ‘crafted with the same<br />

blend of passion and dedication that made<br />

Everts win 10 Motocross World Championships.”<br />

The gin’s identity is created and distilled<br />

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coriander, ginger heathflower, fresh lime,<br />

elderflower, violet and ‘secret’ tea. The gin<br />

costs 43 euros with the vodka available at<br />

38. The set can be ordered for 76 euros.





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

CRAFT<br />

We last interviewed<br />

Simon Crafar back<br />

in 2001. He was<br />

dismantling a rear shock<br />

in the back of the Ohlins<br />

suspension truck after<br />

Jose Luis Cardoso’s<br />

Yamaha had barrelled<br />

through the gravel at<br />

a Yamaha test around<br />

the Circuit de Catalunya<br />

and seemed<br />

to thrive in the new<br />

technical role far<br />

from the pressures<br />

and expectations of<br />

being at the front of a<br />

race garage.<br />

“I was never a ‘difficult’<br />

rider. I always got on<br />

well with my mechanics<br />

and team,” he said then.<br />

“So making the adjustment to<br />

become a team member with a<br />

different role to play was never<br />

that tricky. I toyed with the<br />

idea of working for the media,<br />

but as a rider I didn’t enjoy the<br />

publicity side of the job. I’ve<br />

done some commentary before<br />

but generally felt uncomfortable<br />

being in the limelight or<br />

being the centre of attention. I<br />

always preferred to be one of<br />

the faces in the background<br />

rather than the main man out<br />

front who everyone is looking<br />

at and everyone wants a part<br />

of. After I made the decision to<br />

stop I then wanted to improve<br />

myself, to educate myself, learn<br />

something new and discover a<br />

new field. This was perfect.’<br />

Fast forward to 2019 and<br />

Crafar is again a well-known<br />

face in the grand prix paddock.<br />

That initial reluctance to<br />

be near a camera resurfaced<br />

and prompted the arrival of a<br />

complex that had to be conquered<br />

but he has become an<br />

appreciated and erudite part<br />

of Dorna and MotoGP’s media<br />

team. It has been a long road<br />

to this point; where people are<br />

interested and reacting to the<br />

50 year old’s words on elite<br />

level racing again. He suffered<br />

serious injury while at the Red<br />

Bull Romaniacs hard enduro<br />

event after establishing a new<br />

career strand as an informative<br />

instructor and tutor for fast<br />

motorcycling, forming part of<br />

the Motovudu video and book<br />

offerings on the subject.


WorldSBK and Grand Prix<br />

loom large on his CV but<br />

Simon will always be best<br />

remembered due to that<br />

sensational and comprehensive<br />

exploitation of Dunlop<br />

tyre rubber to become the<br />

faster man in the world on<br />

two wheels at the 1998 British<br />

Grand Prix at Donington Park.<br />

<strong>No</strong>w, he’s once more calling<br />

the shots on the biggest<br />

stage. We asked him to talk us<br />

through the second journey to<br />

the top…<br />

From riding to Ohlins to<br />

teaching to disaster to<br />

publishing…<br />

I was never any good at<br />

school. I was always daydreaming<br />

about motorbikes<br />

and getting out of school.<br />

By the time I left at fifteen<br />

I wasn’t at a high academic<br />

level. It was only after school<br />

and when I started travelling<br />

for racing that I started reading<br />

books and got better so I<br />

would never had believed that<br />

I could teach anything or be<br />

able to publish a couple of<br />

books! The thing about trying<br />

different jobs is how much<br />

you learn and then what can<br />

come up. Steve Plater, out of<br />

the blue, asked if I wanted to<br />

come and join them to teach<br />

on track. That was in 2008<br />

and I thought ‘I’m getting paid<br />

to ride a motorbike again,<br />

great’ but the thing that really<br />

surprised me was that I was<br />

good at putting it into words<br />

so that other people would<br />

know what to do: it becomes<br />

really rewarding when they go<br />

well and enjoy themselves. I<br />

then had the accident at the<br />

Red Bull Romaniacs and it<br />

took eleven months to walk<br />

again which meant a lot of<br />

time to think. I wasn’t proud<br />

of my time after racing. Basically<br />

I was lost and I wanted<br />

to find another way, and I was<br />

passionate about the teaching<br />

side and I knew about<br />

motorcycles. It did take about<br />

three years of teaching to<br />

learn how to do it effectively! I<br />

would watch somebody out on<br />

track, we’d come back in and<br />

say “don’t do it like that it’s<br />

dangerous” and they’d reply<br />

“well, how do you do it?” and I<br />

found that I had to go back on<br />

track and take notes of

everything I was doing and<br />

put it into words. It took quite<br />

a long time to get everything<br />

down in the right way.<br />

It’s not always so easy to explain<br />

something that is almost<br />

second-nature…<br />

It’s not until you start to<br />

teach that you really break<br />

everything down. <strong>On</strong>ce I had<br />

it, then I thought ‘I need to<br />

put it somewhere’ and that’s<br />

where the book came from. I<br />

needed help with that because<br />

there’s the obvious difference<br />

between the spoken and written<br />

word. Thanks to Julian<br />

Ryder and Guy Davies I was<br />

able to do it. Sometimes they<br />

would put a topic into words<br />

that read better but then it<br />

didn’t make so much sense to<br />

a rider any more. The original<br />

English might be dodgy but it<br />

had to be relatable for a rider!<br />

Being in front of camera was<br />

another craft to learn…<br />

For sure it wasn’t easy. I’d<br />

watch a lot of it back sometimes<br />

and think ‘oh dear…’ I<br />

didn’t have any training and<br />

it would have helped a lot! I<br />

didn’t know any better and I<br />

should have. People seemed<br />

happy with the content<br />

though. So while I should have<br />

invested in it more, I didn’t.<br />

The MotoGP opportunity with<br />

Dorna came up. Decision<br />

time…<br />

I did a video for Dorna about<br />

the qualifying session at<br />

Assen in 1998 between Mick<br />

Doohan and I. It was one of a<br />

set of historic videos. I helped<br />

them with that and apparently<br />

I made a good impression with<br />

how passionate I was about<br />

the riding and how that came<br />

across. They put my name<br />

on a list for a future position<br />

and when Dylan [Grey, Pitlane<br />

reporter & presenter] left my<br />

name popped up. They gave<br />

me a call. My only reservation<br />

was being away from the family.<br />

That was the only reason I<br />

left the job with Ohlins. I loved<br />

that job and the Ohlins guys<br />

were great. But I was away<br />

too much from what-werethen<br />

little kids. <strong>No</strong>w they have<br />

reached fifteen and eighteen<br />

and I checked with them and<br />

my wife and they said “you<br />

gotta do it, it’s an opportunity”<br />



however I didn’t know what I<br />

was getting into. Everything<br />

around me is so professional<br />

and I hadn’t had any training<br />

so I struggled. When I say<br />

‘training’ I mean that I had<br />

experience but it was about<br />

preparing for sessions, and<br />

the more prepared you are<br />

the better you can get things<br />

across. Also nerves create<br />

mistakes and not being able<br />

to think about the next step.<br />

So you need experience and<br />

preparation to calm the nerves<br />

so your brain can work. In the<br />

beginning it was a nightmare<br />

and I didn’t enjoy it at all. Anyway<br />

I got through that period<br />

and I’m really enjoying it now,<br />

especially thanks to the guys I<br />

am working with. But I would<br />

not want to go through that<br />

first six months again!<br />

Reporting was the hardest<br />

thing I’ve done…<br />

Without exaggeration. I just<br />

turned 50 so I was committing<br />

to a new career at the age of<br />

49. I knew I had knowledge of<br />

the sport and the paddock but<br />

it was a totally different job. I<br />

knew nothing about journalism<br />

and still know only little.<br />

It was so hard, and took<br />

me back to turning up in this<br />

paddock in 1993 and that<br />

feeling of being totally out<br />

of your depth. I am proud to<br />

have survived. I’m a stubborn<br />

b*****d and I think you have<br />

to be as a racer but at the<br />

same time I’m proud of what<br />

we are talking about. I knew<br />

the paddock, I just wanted to<br />

learn how to talk about it. I<br />

think I will look forward to my<br />

fourth year when I am settled<br />

and relaxed and have made<br />

the majority of my mistakes. I<br />

was worried about the travelling<br />

aspect again because I<br />

think that is something very<br />

tough if you are newly married<br />

or have young kids but<br />

my marriage is great and I’ve<br />

been with my wife for twentyfour<br />

years and the kids are<br />

bigger and kinda doing their<br />

own thing anyway. The travel<br />

has actually been easier than<br />

expected. In Malaysia last year<br />

I saw workmates blowing-up<br />

because they had been away<br />

from home too long but I<br />

didn’t feel that. I’m at a stage<br />

of life where my work life is a<br />

bit more important than my<br />

hobbies and that’s not always<br />

the way when you are in your<br />

thirties. I get so much pleasure<br />

out of my work and since<br />

my accident I focussed on<br />

family and the career.<br />

Horror stories and important<br />

moments…<br />

The one with Lin [Jarvis, YMR<br />

MD] was pretty good, and<br />

maybe he regretted that [informing<br />

Crafar on air during<br />

warm-up that the Petronas<br />

SRT riders for 2019 would be<br />

Fabio Quartararo and Franco<br />

Morbidelli for 2019] but a bad<br />

one would be the Qatar test<br />

at the beginning for ‘After the<br />

Flag’. I was told less that two<br />

hours before we were on air<br />

that Steve Day [commentator]<br />

had been snowed-in and<br />

could not travel from the UK<br />

so it was just me and Matt<br />

[Birt]. I’d been interviewed<br />

many times of course but had<br />

never stood live in front of a<br />

camera for a broadcast. When<br />

you are being interviewed you<br />

just talk about yourself - so it<br />

is easy - but this was about<br />

getting across everything that<br />

was happening around Losail.<br />

Also the nerves. I got put in<br />

that position and just went for<br />

it, but couldn’t hear that well<br />

through the headphones and<br />

had Matt’s voice, the production<br />

crew’s voice as well as my<br />

own. It made it so hard. That<br />

factor and a bunch of other<br />

things from 2018 made me<br />

realise that the job is about<br />

handling all these elements<br />

and then everything going on<br />

around you. You can never expect<br />

everything to be right but<br />

you have to learn how to cope<br />

and make it as good as you<br />

can, otherwise you don’t have<br />

any value, certainly as part<br />

of a team. At the beginning<br />

I really was like a rabbit in<br />

headlights. You have to keep<br />

relaxed and know your content.<br />

When you manage to pull<br />

it off, well, I didn’t imagine it<br />

would be such a rush. It is like<br />

you have just stepped off your<br />

bike! I don’t think I have nailed<br />

the job yet but it’s very satisfying<br />

when you think some of<br />

it might have gone well. I’m<br />

still working on it.


People talk all the time about<br />

Marc now. It’s tough to beat<br />

someone like that, and I<br />

know well having faced Mick<br />

Doohan…<br />

There are certain tracks where<br />

Marc Marquez is simply amazing<br />

as a motorcyclist. Especially<br />

when there is low grip.<br />

He thrives in conditions where<br />

others are cautious and if you<br />

are on one of ‘his’ tracks then<br />

you are in trouble. As a rider<br />

you have to do your job the<br />

very best that you can – and I<br />

know it sounds obvious – but<br />

that’s how I’d look at it if I was<br />

Jack Miller, Dovi whoever.<br />

If you analyse and push in<br />

every area of your work then<br />

there is a chance of putting<br />

pressure on him and the<br />

chance of a mistake. Also he<br />

might get a bad start and you<br />

might be able to hold him off.<br />

That’s how you must look at it.<br />

Everyone’s got a different style<br />

and Marc has some amazing<br />

front end slides…and on that<br />

note when the following generation<br />

see a sportsman doing<br />

something then they’ll all be<br />

trying! That’s how it’s always<br />

worked. I remember when we<br />

went to Imola. I’d never been<br />

there and during practice Mick<br />

came past and – I’m sure it<br />

was on purpose – lit-it-up<br />

across the brow of a hill at the<br />

highest point – and I didn’t<br />

even know where I was going.<br />

It blew my mind. I thought ‘oh<br />

man, he’s on another level’<br />

and it was disheartening! People<br />

have different styles and<br />

it doesn’t mean one is more<br />

unbeatable than the other. It’s<br />

about using that style to the<br />



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a careful construction where effectiveness is key.<br />

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all-round strategic protection and flexibility in key<br />

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wearing them!


Takes a<br />

genius to<br />

explain a<br />

genius<br />

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


The careers of<br />

Freddie<br />

Spencer and<br />

Marc Marquez may<br />

be 30 years apart<br />

but they are two<br />

Grand Prix<br />

motorcycle racing<br />

pioneers in their<br />

own right. <strong>No</strong>w that<br />

both of them work in<br />

the same paddock -<br />

Spencer as the FIM<br />

Chief of Stewards<br />

– it was a great an<br />

opportunity to ask<br />

the American for an<br />

analysis of what the<br />

current HRC wonder<br />

is getting so right.<br />

It’s late afternoon in the Race<br />

Direction office on Friday<br />

at the Circuit De Catalunya.<br />

Moto2 practice has ended an<br />

hour ago, and Freddie Spencer<br />

is preparing for his next<br />

meeting. His job is now to<br />

review on-track action and – if<br />

necessary - dish out penalties<br />

in the Moto3, Moto2 and<br />

MotoGP classes, acting as a<br />

referee, and allowing race director<br />

Mike Webb to get along<br />

with his other assignments.<br />

But even though Spencer is a<br />

busy man he is able to devote<br />

twenty minutes of his time to<br />

the analysis of another phenomenon.<br />

Along with data acquisition<br />

engineer and former<br />

crew-chief Peter Bom, we sat<br />

with the triple world champion<br />

(that 250cc and 500cc double<br />

win in 1985 remains a thing of<br />

unrepeatable beauty) to examine<br />

the skills of the best motorcycle<br />

racer of the planet.<br />

It seems one of Marc’s best<br />

attributes is being able to<br />

change his riding style and/or<br />

his racing strategy according<br />

to the circumstances such as<br />

tyre allocation or track layout?<br />

I haven’t been trackside this<br />

year but I’ve been watching<br />

Marc for many years, and one<br />

of his strengths and skills<br />

is his ability to adapt to the<br />

situation. That is such a positive<br />

and resourceful ability to<br />

have! That makes a difference,<br />

because the conditions<br />

are ever-changing: tyre grip<br />

levels, racing situations…and<br />

he basically has no weakness.<br />

Also what could easily be seen<br />

as something that he changes<br />

is really more the fact that he<br />

doesn’t get affected as much.<br />

In Marc’s very first session in<br />

the rain in Le Mans in 2013<br />

he figured it out immediately.<br />

He was short shifting to get<br />

the grip outside of the Dunlop<br />

curve and so on. Were you a<br />

little bit like that?<br />

Oh, absolutely! I always say<br />

that ever since I was a kid, I<br />

would look outside of just doing<br />

laps or going fast. I always<br />

seem to be able to understand<br />

how adapting to situations<br />

would benefit me. Dirt-tracking:<br />

so many nights, so many<br />

races. You start out and there<br />

is a lot of grip on the first<br />

practice and by the time you<br />

get to the heat races three<br />

hours later, the track is completely<br />

different. You go from<br />

being able to use the whole<br />

track to a very narrow groove.<br />

With a lot of leaning angle<br />

initially and by the end of the<br />

night you could barely lean it<br />

over because it’s so slippery.<br />

Marc does that every lap, and<br />

I could too. When I won in<br />

Silverstone in ‘85 in the pouring<br />

rain, in three or four laps,<br />

I was sixteen seconds ahead<br />

on the 500. It’s just because<br />

I was able to pick up on the<br />

situation. And certainly, I see<br />

that with Marc.<br />

There is also a rumour in<br />

the paddock - I don’t know if<br />

there is any truth in it - but<br />

it seems that Marc’s settings,<br />

with the bike sitting a<br />

lot on the rear, is impossible<br />

for other riders. What do you<br />

make of this?<br />

Kenny Roberts [senior] would<br />

ride with his engine very far<br />

back in the chassis because<br />

being a dirt-tracker, he really<br />

liked to have a lot of grip at<br />

the back. With the three cylinders,<br />

my bike [NS 500R]<br />

worked somewhat like that. I<br />

liked a lot of initial grip at a<br />

lot of lean angle because then<br />

I would manipulate it. Marc<br />

does that so well. <strong>On</strong> corner<br />

entry he can adjust his sliding<br />

and the pitch of the slide<br />

to rotate the bike. The more<br />

you can rotate it early in the<br />



turn, the more room you gonna<br />

have to accelerate. It’s a simple,<br />

simple thing, bike position wise.<br />

And you can take away lean<br />

angle sooner cause you don’t<br />

have to make as much of a turn<br />

towards the apex. The bike is<br />

already pointing to the exit.<br />

Out of four Honda riders, Taka<br />

Nakagami is doing well on last<br />

year’s chassis but Jorge Lorenzo<br />

and Cal Crutchlow seem to<br />

have had difficulties to adapt.<br />

Marquez is not a magician.<br />

He’s just doing everything better<br />

than everyone else…<br />

Well he also has the skill to be<br />

able to manipulate the bike.<br />

That’s what I’m saying. And<br />

again, I can relate it back to me<br />

on the three cylinder. <strong>No</strong>t everyone<br />

could get to turn. It didn’t<br />

have a lot of front feel. I could<br />

use the rear of the bike to pivot<br />

it sooner and then it took some<br />

of that front load. It didn’t put<br />

that much expectation on the<br />

front to finish the corner. The<br />

thing is: that is a skill. Whatever<br />

you want to call it. Being a magician<br />

or whatever. But that is a<br />

skill. And absolutely, Marc does<br />

that exceptionally well<br />

Marc also has the intelligence<br />

to put it together and that<br />

makes him special…<br />

At this level everybody has<br />

talent. Just to get here. Some<br />

of them are unique. Some<br />

very specific. They are aggressive<br />

at certain tracks and<br />

in certain situations. And<br />

then you go to the next level<br />

and you have the consistently<br />

good or great riders that<br />

are competitive pretty much<br />

everywhere. <strong>On</strong> certain given<br />

days they are also pretty good<br />

at race management. And<br />

then the truly great riders<br />

where talent and work ethic<br />

enables them to know exactly<br />

what they can do. They figure<br />

out what the motorcycle<br />

needs and then, they have the<br />

ability to know what the other<br />

riders do. When you combine<br />

all that with the cleverness,<br />

which is what makes a rider<br />

special, it almost looks easy<br />

to some degree. The fact of<br />

consistently being able to do<br />

it in every situation I’ve always<br />

said is the best combination.<br />

Then there is belief. <strong>On</strong>e of<br />

the great things I love about<br />

motorcycling is that it is the<br />

greatest combination of the<br />

practical and the methodical.<br />

Understanding how to apply<br />

your work ethic, your ability<br />

and the other riders and their<br />

weaknesses. I knew when I<br />

was racing what lap other<br />

riders would push on and<br />

what lap I could get them. You<br />

understand all that.<br />



Combined with an incredible<br />

belief of skill makes the feeling<br />

part of it.<br />

What do you see as the biggest<br />

difference between your<br />

time and now?<br />

In motorcycling, to be a great<br />

rider, you have to trust that<br />

feeling. What makes Marc so<br />

good - and what I had too - is<br />

anticipate what’s gonna happen<br />

and believe and commit<br />

before the turn to get the<br />

speed into the turn. The ability<br />

- on the application lean<br />

angle - to trust. Even though<br />

you’re leaning the bike over<br />

the level of grip that there will<br />

be. It’s your plan and that’s<br />

how you can slide the bike.<br />

You put the bike into position<br />

forty metres before you<br />

start sliding. It was the same<br />

requirements when I was racing.<br />

How do you get the bike<br />

to slide? We don’t get on the<br />

brakes or anything. In fact,<br />

when you can do it right, the<br />

only thing that you do is apply<br />

lean angle and drift the bike.<br />

But you have to trust that


way to do it before it actually<br />

happens! Otherwise, when<br />

you try to slide the bike into<br />

the corner and you’re missing<br />

speed and lean angle then<br />

you can’t because it’s too late<br />

to have both. That’s belief<br />

and trust in your ability, your<br />

perception and commitment.<br />

That is a technique, and one<br />

of the great things we’re able<br />

to do, at that speed and level.<br />

What the riders have to do<br />

today is adjust to the electronics,<br />

and their part in the<br />

process of what happens.<br />

And I [usually] tell the story<br />

of when I did the Fireblade<br />

launch a couple of years ago<br />

in Portimao. I’m riding around<br />

the track, Stefan Bradl is<br />

there, Tito (Rabat) is there,<br />

we do some laps together and<br />

then Nicky (Hayden) came.<br />

So I started to ride with journalists<br />

there. I go in, roll off<br />

the throttle a little bit and go<br />

back on it at a certain section.<br />

But with Tito and the<br />

guys, it’s basically flat out. So<br />

you go in, you go on throttle.<br />

The reason I can go flat out<br />

there is the electronics. So I<br />

have to trust that whenever<br />

the rear starts to come round,<br />

it settles and resettles the<br />

front too. It doesn’t transfer<br />

all that weight to the front. It<br />

took me three or four days<br />

riding around there because<br />

I don’t ride at that level anymore.<br />

But it’s a perfect example<br />

of something that couldn’t<br />

have happened on a standard<br />

bike back in my day. Certainly<br />

not with the tyres we had at<br />

the time. There would have<br />

been a lot more movement.<br />

<strong>On</strong> the Fireblade, it was easy.<br />

So cool, but it is something<br />

you have to be willing to trust.<br />

And it’s basically something<br />

out of your control. And most<br />

riders, like Marc, they don’t<br />

know any different. Valentino<br />

had to make that transition,<br />

because he came from a 500.<br />

When electronics started to<br />

become more proactive - on<br />

the 2001 bike (RC211V), or


the 2002 bike that him and I<br />

debuted at Motegi – with just<br />

a few laps I ran, then coming<br />

on the front straight, the<br />

rear broke loose and traction<br />

control kicked in: it was more<br />

re-active then. If you took<br />

me out of my era and put me<br />

there now then that’s the part<br />

of it that would feel most difference.<br />

All that control that<br />

you had to have, versus now,<br />

you have to trust the electronics<br />

to do something. I don’t<br />

say that all electronics make<br />

things easy. <strong>No</strong>. It’s just that<br />

moment when you have to<br />

trust it.<br />

The amount of technology<br />

you find on standard sportsbikes<br />

these days is amazing…<br />

That allows good MotoGP<br />

riders to come from different<br />

categories. They have very different<br />

riding styles. Everybody<br />

is under a microscope now.<br />

You can see the difference between<br />

the riders so well, even<br />

from one track to another.<br />

Ergonomics is the main thing<br />

now. Lorenzo started it all,<br />

and everybody’s on it. They<br />

are asking ‘how is the bike<br />

supporting me?’<br />

And it comes basically because<br />

of two reasons: first of<br />

all, the G forces are higher<br />

than in your era and they’ve<br />

got more grip-<br />

Absolutely.<br />

Did you ever think of ergonomics<br />

much when you<br />

were racing and maybe some<br />

of the advantages it might<br />

bring?<br />

I always focused on that. Even<br />

though I was not so much of<br />

a braker initially. But I would<br />

trail-brake really deep into the<br />

corner. My whole thing was<br />

all about getting the bike in<br />

a position to accelerate. My<br />

strength was mid-corner and<br />

exit speed and a lot of the<br />

so-called top speed advantage<br />

came from there. Back<br />

in those days, we didn’t have<br />

data acquisition and all that.<br />

But we had radar guns and<br />

I’d have them at the end of<br />

the straight to measure the<br />

gain off the corner (leading to<br />

that straight). So that is about<br />

positioning and keeping the<br />

upper-body relaxed. I understood<br />

that it was about lower<br />

body stability. That’s why<br />

they are really working on the<br />

tanks today - Jorge obviously<br />

- because for him it’s about<br />

mid-corner speed.<br />

So you were already doing it<br />

already in your time? We’re<br />

talking about how you can<br />

grab the tank and how your<br />

arms are not overstressed by<br />

braking force…<br />

I was doing that [putting<br />

sticky stuff on the tank to grip<br />

the legs and knees] to keep<br />

my lower body stable and my<br />

upper body relaxed. I’m not<br />

a counter-steering guy. I was<br />

all about feeling that front

and getting that front to turn<br />

in and that’s where we really<br />

worked. That’s one of the<br />

reasons why we got the NSR<br />

moving in the right direction<br />

so quickly. I really got them<br />

to work about the flex (of the<br />

chassis) to make it turn better.<br />

Lastly, how was the<br />

experience of coming from<br />

the U.S. and jumping straight<br />

into the HRC/Japanese environment?<br />

The guy who helped me to<br />

make that transition was Erv<br />

(Kanemoto, who went on to<br />

become his crew chief in 250<br />

and 500 GPs). We started in<br />

‘78, and my dad helped me<br />

and talked to Erv. He said “my<br />

son’s pretty good, could you<br />

watch him? We hooked up ‘78,<br />

my dad stepped away in ’79.<br />


So Erv was acting as a filter<br />

between you and the<br />

Japanese mechanics…?<br />

Exactly. Then I sat with American<br />

Honda, got a couple of<br />

introductions and by 1980,<br />

when we started developing<br />

the three cylinder, I was ready<br />

to go. Even though I was only<br />

19 in 81. I turned 20 in December<br />

81 and Erv and I were<br />

ready (for their first season in<br />

500 GP Racing). HRC was just<br />

starting, all the engineers. It<br />

was such a great time!


www.ktm-motohall.com<br />

ktm motohall<br />

A number of years in the making (and thinking),<br />

KTM recently opened their state-of-theart<br />

‘Motohall’ a short distance from the main<br />

factory in Mattighofen. The facility is a mix<br />

of museum, exhibition, learning centre, shop,<br />

restaurant and ‘hub’ for KTM’s story, products<br />

and activities. It has been created after<br />

comprehensive study of similar offerings by<br />

other brands and with an emphasis on interaction<br />

that should engage all members of<br />

the family: from kids eager to sit and twist<br />

the throttle of a dirt bike, KTM riders wanting<br />

to know more about the company’s heritage,<br />

race fans who want to see some of the scope<br />

of the 300+ FIM World Championship earned<br />

by the firm and budding technicians who will<br />

want to know how the factory has expanded<br />

and how techniques like 3D printing have<br />

influenced motorcycle manufacture. The<br />

Motohall is open Wednesday to Sunday, a<br />

family ticket costs 25 euros, adult entry is 10<br />

and under 14s are free. Food can be ordered<br />

in The Garage restaurant and there is parking<br />

on site. We’ll bring a full review of the Motohall<br />

experience in a future issue.

Photos thanks to:<br />



www.foxracing.com<br />

fox<br />

Fox have taken a ‘split decision’ approach to their<br />

new versions of the Flexair and 360 race wear<br />

which they claim ‘the Flexair gear combo continues<br />

to deliver the highest level of breathable mobility<br />

with strategic venting and premium 4 way<br />

stretch materials. The Flexair pant sees the most<br />

drastic improvements with a totally updated waist<br />

system, new saddle material and strategic placement<br />

of stretch & rigid materials to achieve perfect<br />

function on the bike.’<br />

Flexair is now five years on the market and since<br />

the launch was aimed squarely at offering casual<br />

riders the same type of gear performance found at<br />

the highest levels of motocross. It’s all associated<br />

with airflow, fit and stretch, Fox have taken stock of<br />

the feedback both positive and negative to shape<br />

the lines accordingly and have stated ‘the all-new<br />

construction of Flexair also introduces a drop in<br />

price for 2020’. The 360 has been orientated more<br />

towards durability with the use of technical terms<br />

like ‘TruMotion zonal stretch materials’. As ever<br />

Fox retain that singular, market-leading design look<br />

as well.

SBK<br />

BLOG<br />


WorldSBK got back to some form of action at the weekend<br />

with a two-day test in Portimao. I really do feel the extra<br />

long summer break is still one of the most detrimental aspects<br />

of the series at the moment but it would seem to be<br />

just a reflection of the fact that no one wants to hold a race<br />

in late July or August.<br />

It was always a tradition under the<br />

previous Italian ‘administration’<br />

that most of August was cleared<br />

in the calendar as the country all<br />

but closes down for the month.<br />

However, since Dorna took control<br />

the slot in the calendar at the end<br />

of July/beginning of August has<br />

disappeared.<br />

Some say it is to avoid a clash of<br />

dates with the Suzuka 8Hr race<br />

but that never caused a problem<br />

before and the Bol D’or or Le Mans<br />

endurance races often clash with<br />

WorldSBK events during the season.<br />

I have said it previously that it<br />

may be time to look at running the<br />

WorldSBK season from September<br />

to July, like EWC and have a fuller<br />

calendar over the winter months of<br />

the northern hemisphere.<br />

What it means at present is that<br />

this test, and the race at Portimao,<br />

seem like a distinctly separate part<br />

of the season. Many of the mechanics<br />

and riders had been doing nothing<br />

since 14 July. I had to cover the<br />

Suzuka 8Hrs race so it was August<br />

3 before I stopped and got to take<br />

a holiday with my family. <strong>On</strong>e week<br />

by the sea was not enough as it always<br />

takes a day or two to properly<br />

wind down and then, before you<br />

know it, you are heading home.<br />

Last week was a busy one as well<br />

as I was working from Monday till<br />

Wednesday, in Spain, and then<br />

flew home and back out to Faro on<br />

Friday. Whilst some of those in the<br />

paddock at the weekend were getting<br />

back into the swing of things<br />

after six weeks, I felt I hadn’t really<br />

been away from it.<br />

WorldSBK testing in the middle<br />

of the season is always a bit of<br />

a strange affair. Because of the<br />

homologation rules for the production<br />

bikes there is really nothing<br />

new to test. Maybe a new fork or<br />

swing arm but other than that it is<br />

really more of a Pirelli development<br />

test. The sole tyre supplier for the<br />

series will bring some tyres with<br />

new compounds and/or construction<br />

and get each appointed factory<br />

team to test them back to back.<br />

Otherwise the bikes and the riders<br />

are all the same as they were<br />

in February. It can seem a bit of a<br />

futile exercise photographing the<br />

same riders, on the same bikes, at<br />

a track where we tested in February,<br />

and will race in two weeks<br />

time, but if you speak to the riders<br />

you will get a different story.

More than Europe’s<br />

largest MC store<br />

By Graeme Brown<br />

The lack of in-season testing means<br />

that days like those can be the only<br />

time for the team to do meaningful,<br />

consecutive tests on chassis set up<br />

and electronic strategies. The last<br />

outing for the teams was back in<br />

May in Misano and on both those<br />

days it rained, so useful track time<br />

was limited. It was something Ten<br />

Kate Racing team manager Kervin<br />

Bos pointed out when I spoke to<br />

him. Having started the season mid<br />

way through, this was actually the<br />

first time that they had been able<br />

to have one full dry day of work, let<br />

alone two together.<br />

They, and Loris Baz, were really<br />

pleased with the information gathered<br />

and progress they had made<br />

testing the chassis set up, suspension,<br />

tyres, electronics and maybe<br />

even a new coffee machine, which<br />

was the first chance they had had<br />

since getting the bikes at the workshop<br />

in April/May. It was interesting<br />

that Kervin felt coming to Portimao<br />

and getting those two days felt that<br />

only now they could relax a little<br />

and start to focus on results. They<br />

genuinely want to see Baz on the<br />

podium before the end of the season<br />

and feel they are heading in the<br />

right direction.<br />

Does anyone fancy betting against a<br />

French tricolour being hoisted above<br />

the podium in Magny Cours?<br />

The interest in the test from those<br />

outside the paddock was less than<br />

negligible what with sharing the<br />

same weekend as the MotoGP race<br />

at Silverstone. It was noticeable<br />

in that myself and Gordon Ritchie<br />

were the only photographer and<br />

journalist present. We were joined<br />

by Dorna’s photographer and film<br />

crew, GSP Media who were filming<br />

for Kawasaki and Ian Wheeler, the<br />

Yamaha press officer. At one stage<br />

there were more curious tourists in<br />

the press office than anyone working.<br />

From a geek point of view I took the<br />

chance to do some testing of my<br />

own.<br />

When I started photographing<br />

motorsport in the mid 1990’s I was<br />

using Nikon F4 film cameras and<br />

manual focus lenses. This had been<br />

the go-to Pro kit for a number of<br />

years, but a revolution took place<br />

at the end of the 90’s when Canon<br />

introduced their EOS system. For<br />

the first time there was a viable option<br />

for an autofocus camera system<br />

that worked at sporting events. It<br />

was still a film camera but it was<br />

so good that many photographers,<br />

including me, swapped from Nikon<br />

to Canon.<br />

We then entered the digital era not<br />

long after the turn of the century<br />

and in 2003 I stopped shooting film<br />

at races and only generated digital<br />

images. I was fortunate that Canon,<br />

along with Kodak, had developed<br />

the best digital system so there was<br />

no need to swap too much of my kit,<br />

just a couple of new camera bodies.<br />

Things stayed pretty much the<br />

same for seven or eight years until<br />

the introduction of the full frame<br />

sensor. Before, the image sensor<br />

on the camera was smaller than<br />

the traditional 35mm size and as a<br />

result the images were magnified.<br />

It meant that a 600mm lens actually<br />

had a focal length of around<br />

800mm. With ‘full’ frame 35mm<br />

sensors, Nikon jumped ahead. They<br />

completely redesigned their Autofocus<br />

system and the D3 and D4 bodies<br />

were the best on the market. I<br />

was at a point where my kit needed<br />

replaced and so I swapped again,<br />

back to Nikon.

SBK<br />

BLOG<br />

<strong>No</strong>w we are in the throws of<br />

another revolution: mirrorless<br />

cameras. These have no traditional<br />

shutter in the camera just an image<br />

sensor that sees through the<br />

lens all the time. It is technology<br />

derived from video cameras and<br />

allows the body itself to be smaller<br />

and lighter as it removes most<br />

of the moving parts. It’s noticeable<br />

that the revolution has been<br />

driven by electronics companies<br />

such as Sony and Panasonic, and<br />

former film manufacturer Fuji. The<br />

traditional camera companies of<br />

Nikon and Canon have been late to<br />

the party. There are a few motorsport<br />

photographers who are now<br />

using, and singing the praises, of<br />

the Sony system. I have a couple<br />

of Fuji cameras and this time last<br />

year I tried out their pro kit at the<br />

corresponding WorldSBK test in<br />

Portimao. My conclusion was that<br />

it wasn’t up to the job and I have<br />

stuck with my Nikon kit since.<br />

shot away quiet happily and have<br />

to be fair and say that I was really<br />

impressed. I didn’t use the Nikon<br />

kit at all and produced all the shots<br />

that I wanted to and to the standard<br />

that I would expect. I am not<br />

sure I am just ready to get rid of all<br />

my Nikon gear and jump ship but<br />

the mirrorless digital revolution is<br />

clearly knocking down the barricades<br />

of traditional photography<br />

and when the time comes to renew<br />

my cameras this will be a truly<br />

viable option. So a two day ‘test’<br />

ends up being valuable after all.<br />

This weekend however I had the<br />

chance to try the Sony. It took<br />

half an hour or so to get used to<br />

the ergonomics and the various<br />

electronic systems on the camera<br />

but after I had worked it out I



SANDS OF<br />

TIME<br />


Words by Roland Brown<br />

Photos by Moto Guzzi/Andy Saunders

TEST<br />

MOTO<br />

Guzzi was<br />

so inundated<br />

with orders for<br />

the V85TT earlier this year that the firm’s<br />

old factory on the banks of Lake Lecco in<br />

northern Italy struggled to keep up. Such<br />

enthusiasm for a Guzzi adventure bike was<br />

unprecedented, given that the firm’s previous<br />

Stelvio 1200 made little impact and<br />

the more recent V7 Stornello, powered by a<br />

744cc V-twin engine, was produced in tiny<br />

numbers.<br />

Perhaps one reason for the 853cc newcomer’s<br />

positive reception is that it combines<br />

the Stornello’s retro styling with a good<br />

chunk of the bigger, 1151cc Stelvio’s performance.<br />

Mid-sized adventure bikes are all<br />

the rage this year, with KTM’s 790 Adventure<br />

and Yamaha’s 700 Ténéré among the<br />

stars.<br />

The V85TT, with its chunky old-school look,<br />

also taps into the seam mined by Scrambler<br />

models from firms including BMW, Ducati<br />

and Triumph. Its twin headlamps and wide<br />

bars sit above the engine’s sticking-out<br />

aircooled cylinders. A high-level front mudguard,<br />

long-travel suspension and wirespoked<br />

wheels (with a 19in diameter front)<br />

give a suitably tough off-road image. The<br />

single shock is diagonally mounted on the<br />

right, opposite a high-level silencer.<br />

The V85TT’s pair of round headlights echo<br />

those of the Quota, an ungainly dual-purpose<br />

Guzzi that sank without trace in the<br />

early Nineties, when models like this were<br />

still called trail bikes. But the TT – whose<br />

initials stand for Tutto Terreno, Italian for<br />

All Terrain – is a more refined machine that<br />

works best as a pleasant and fairly versatile<br />

roadster.<br />

It manages to have plenty of the Italian<br />

marque’s traditional quirky character, despite<br />

being distinctly more modern than it looks.<br />

That trademark aircooled, transverse V-twin<br />

engine, for example, shares its capacity with<br />

the previous V9 unit that powered Bobber<br />

and Roamer roadsters, and still opens<br />

its valves with pushrods. But a long list of<br />

updates including titanium inlet valves reduces<br />

weight and friction considerably, and<br />

increases peak output from 54bhp to a much<br />

more useful 79bhp.<br />

The chassis is also new, based on a tubular<br />

steel frame that uses the engine as a<br />

stressed member.


TEST<br />

Suspension gives a fairly generous 170mm<br />

of travel at each end. Tyres are Metzeler’s<br />

road-biased Tourance Next for the singlecolour<br />

TT, and Michelin’s more off-road<br />

oriented Anakee Adventure for the twotone<br />

model, which also has a red frame,<br />

suede seat cover and slightly higher price<br />

(£11,099 to £10,899 in the UK).<br />

Some of the TT’s modern touches are clear<br />

immediately you throw a leg over a seat<br />

which, at 830mm, is only moderately high<br />

by adventure standards. There’s a USB<br />

socket alongside the colourful, if slightly<br />

small, TFT screen; and a choice of three<br />

riding modes (<strong>Road</strong>, Rain and <strong>Off</strong>-road),<br />

which automatically change the ABS and<br />

traction control settings.<br />

Thankfully Guzzi’s engineers haven’t made<br />

the mistake of chasing top-end power at<br />

the expense of lower-rev performance as<br />

they initially did with the Stelvio. The TT’s<br />

power delivery is flexible and well-controlled<br />

even in the sporty <strong>Road</strong>, and there’s<br />

plenty of urge through the midrange.<br />

The bike rumbles forward with enthusiasm,<br />

accelerating at an entertaining if not<br />

arm-straining rate, and cruising at 80mphplus<br />

with a reasonably long-legged feel,<br />

short of the top speed of about 120mph.<br />

The revised six-speed gearbox changes<br />

very sweetly, albeit without the option of<br />

a quick-shifter. The traditional shaft final<br />

drive, unique among mid-capacity adventure<br />

bikes, doesn’t intrude.<br />

The V85TT is respectably comfortable and<br />

practical, too. Its riding position is roomy,<br />

the screen and hand-guards deflect breeze<br />

usefully, and the seat is broad and fairly<br />

well padded. The big, 23-litre tank and<br />

fuel-efficient engine combine to give a<br />

range of well over 200 miles.<br />

<strong>Road</strong>going handling is very good, blending<br />

respectably light steering with stability,<br />

despite the big front wheel and generous<br />

suspension travel. Big bumps occasionally<br />

kick through the seat with spine-jarring<br />

force, but the Kayaba units generally do a<br />

sound job.<br />

The TT is over 20kg lighter than Guzzi’s<br />

old Stelvio, and notably more manageable.<br />

Brembo front discs and four-piston radial<br />

calipers mean there’s no shortage of stopping<br />

power. The reduced weight will be especially<br />

helpful off-road, where on slippery<br />

surfaces the bike will inevitably limited by<br />

its tyres, as well as its size – just like most<br />

rivals.<br />

At least the TT has more, and better controlled,<br />

suspension travel than some, as<br />

well as a sturdy aluminium bash-plate, to<br />

help cope with some gentle dirt-road adventuring.<br />

Potentially with a much longer<br />

and truly challenging trip, too, if the bike is<br />

kitted out from an accessories list that includes<br />

crash-bars and aluminium or plastic<br />

luggage, as well as Bluetooth smartphone<br />













TEST<br />

That’s a suitably contrasting selection of<br />

extras, from a bike that blends old and<br />

new in original and engaging fashion.<br />

Moto Guzzi’s presence in the adventure<br />

bike market might have been muted until<br />

now but the V85TT works sufficiently well,<br />

in its gentle, fairly relaxed way, that the<br />

enthusiasm for it makes plenty of sense.


Photo by Ray Archer<br />


ON<br />

TRACK<br />

OFF<br />

ROAD<br />

‘<strong>On</strong>-track <strong>Off</strong>-road’ is a free, monthly publication for the screen focussed on<br />

bringing the latest perspectives on events, blogs and some of the very finest<br />

photography from the three worlds of MXGP, the AMA Motocross and Supercross<br />

series’, MotoGP, WorldSBK as well as the latest bike tests.<br />

‘<strong>On</strong>-track <strong>Off</strong>-road’ will be published online at www.ontrackoffroad.com on<br />

the last Tuesday of the month. To receive an email notification that a new<br />

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David Emmett MotoGP Blogger<br />

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Thanks to www.mototribu.com<br />


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Cover shot: The MX2 World Champion by Ray Archer<br />

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