On Track Off Road No. 193

online.magazines

MotoGP

FLAMER!

MotoGP’s final race at Valencia and the success for Marc

Marquez summed up 2019 as the world champion logged win

no.12…but this fiery moment for Michele Pirro was also a

reminder that a long season also had its moments of drama

and talking points

Photo by CormacGP


Supercross


HIGHLIGHTS

OF PARIS

Encouraging signs ahead of the 2020 AMA

Supercross season for Monster Energy

Yamaha’s Justin Barcia who shone at the

Paris La Défense Arena to win his third

Crown as King of Paris-Bercy. The popular

event in the French capital was another

premium draw for riders and public

Photo by Ray Archer


MotoGP

NOT YET

INTO TWILIGHT

2019 won’t be fondly remembered by

Valentino Rossi among his catalogue of

24 years of Grand Prix racing, and a meek

8th position at Valencia was an apt sendoff

to a term where #46’s powers have

waned (46 races without a win now). But

it says much for the Italian and the forces

at Yamaha that Rossi was out testing

again less than 48 hours late at the

Ricardo Tormo and the speed shown by

Maverick Viñales already could hint at

happier times in ‘20

Photo by Polarity Photo


WorldSBK

ALL

REDD

BSB Champion

Scott Redding’s

career renaissance

from turgid times in

the MotoGP Aprilia

set-up and a broken

femur (all in the

space of a calendar

year) continued

apace with an

immediate welcome

to the speed of

WorldSBK. Will the

former Grand Prix

star have a quick

(and lasting)

impact on the

Superbike results

sheets?

Photo by GeeBee Images/

Jamie Morris


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MotoGP

THE FIRST


PREVIEW

MotoGP

VALENCIA TEST

Blogs by David Emmett & Neil Morrison, Photos by CormacGP/Polarity Photo

VALENCIA IRTA TEST

RICARDO TORMO CIRCUIT · NOVEMBER 19-20


MotoGP


MotoGP VALENCIA TEST


MOTOGP

BLOG

TOO MUCH MARQUEZ?

More than Europe’s

largest MC store

“I am so proud of my brother,” Marc Marquez told the

press conference in Sepang, after his brother Alex had just

wrapped up the 2019 Moto2 title. “I’m proud because I

think it’s very difficult to be ‘the brother of…’.

“Social media is good but sometimes

it’s hard. When he asks if he

should check social media, I tell

him, no, don’t. Just keep pushing.

Keep going. Believe in yourself.

You are the same Alex that won

the Moto3 world championship.

You are the same Alex that won

four races in a row. Today he did

the race of a champion. He is not

‘the brother of.’ He is Alex Marquez.”

Winning Moto2, especially the

way that he did, was the moment

that Alex Marquez started to step

out of the giant shadow cast by

his brother. After a difficult start

in the category, and a year lost

to organisational upheaval inside

the Marc VDS team, Alex rode

like a champion in his own right

in 2019. He was no longer just the

sibling of the champion dominating

the toughest MotoGP field

ever. He was double world champion

Alex Marquez.

As the only rider to win the title

in both Moto3 and Moto2, and

the reigning Moto2 champion, he

surely deserves a ride in MotoGP.

But putting Alex Marquez straight

into a seat in arguably the most

prestigious team in motorcycle

racing alongside six-time MotoGP

champion brother Marc? That

opens up a can of worms which

would been left firmly closed if

Alex had made a more leisurely

alternative progression into the

premier class.

To an extent, the options to fill

the seat were limited. They were:

move Taka Nakagami or Cal

Crutchlow up to Repsol Honda

and risk the wrath of LCR Honda

boss Lucio Cecchinello, put the

prematurely unemployed Johann

Zarco on the bike, or promote a

Moto2 rider into the Repsol team.

Marc Marquez was clear about

what he wanted: to have brother

Alex alongside him in the team.

He denied it of course: “It’s in

Honda’s hands, not mine,” Marc

said after qualifying on Saturday.

Then again, he also denied trying

to get a tow off Fabio Quartararo

during qualifying in Sepang. In

Valencia he was talking about his

brother in the press conference on

Saturday, when rumour has it the

deal had been done on Thursday

already.

Signing Alex Marquez was a request

which HRC could not deny

Marc. Right now, there is one

route for a manufacturer to winning

the MotoGP title, and that is

contracting Marc Marquez. The

elder brother is currently in negotiations

to renew his contract with

Honda for 2021 and beyond, and

signing Alex was arguably one

way of persuading Marc to stay

put in 2021.


By David Emmett

But it is also a massive risk. Sure,

Alex Marquez is a two-time world

champion, but his progression

has not been quick, taking five

seasons to win the title, and four

seasons just to beat his Marc VDS

teammate. How quickly will he

adapt to riding a MotoGP bike?

And the pressure will be huge: at

the Repsol Honda team launch

back in January, Marc Marquez

did not mince his words. “Being

in this team means fighting for

victories, podiums and the championship,”

he said. “If not, it’s

actually failure.” Those words will

be thrown back in his face in the

middle of next season, if Alex isn’t

anywhere near the podium battle.

If Alex doesn’t live up to expectations,

team boss Alberto Puig

will have to pussyfoot around his

results. What we do not know is

how Marc will take criticism of

his younger brother. Will he be

as hard in his judgement as he

was with 2019 teammate Jorge

Lorenzo? Or will he make excuses,

and want Alex to be treated with

kid gloves?

History shows that riders leave a

winning ride with a factory when

they feel they are no longer being

shown the respect they deserve.

Valentino Rossi left Honda

for Yamaha when he felt Honda

believed his victories were down

to the bike. He left Yamaha when

he felt they were paying more

attention to Jorge Lorenzo than

him. Lorenzo, in turn, left Yamaha

for Ducati when he felt Yamaha

weren’t sufficiently grateful for

his 2015 title. Lorenzo left Ducati

when CEO Claudio Domenicali

criticised him in public.

What happens when Alberto Puig

or HRC boss Tetsuhiro Kuwata

start to publicly hint that Alex isn’t

fast enough? Will Marc ignore the

criticism and focus on himself,

or will he take it as a slight on

his family? Will he demand respect

not just for himself, but for

his brother as well? And what if

Honda decide not to extend the

one-year deal signed with Alex?

Could this be what pushes Marc

Marquez out at Honda? There is

a huge potential minefield for distraction

whatever the scenario.

Two Marquez brothers inside one

team may end up being one too

many.


MotoGP


MotoGP VALENCIA TEST


BLOG

SMOOTH LIKE BUTTER

More than Europe’s

largest MC store

That was a strange experience walking down pit lane at

the Ricardo Tormo Circuit last week. For all the new parts,

new colours and new machines on show, it was the absence

of one figure that stood out. For the first time in

eleven years Jorge Lorenzo was missing from the buzz

and talk of possible race winners and title candidates.

Eleven years is a long stay at

the top of any profession. By the

end, it appeared as much. Repsol

Honda proved to be one challenge

too far as Lorenzo’s 2019 quickly

turned into an ordeal as big and

sustained as one could imagine

any elite sportsman going through.

It was telling to hear him speak of

his emotions prior to his final race

at Valencia. Rather than aiming

high he was admitted to pressing

the ‘safety button’. “I imagined I’d

feel relaxed. But I felt the opposite.

I got pressure because … I didn’t

want to crash during the race.”

There were some desperate moments

across these past nine

months. Too many to mention

here. But as we move through the

months and years, 2019 will be

nothing more than a footnote for

one of the giants of the modern

era. When he was good, Jorge was

untouchable. Or as Cal Crutchlow

put it, “sometimes you were on

the podium and you wouldn’t even

be in the same race as him.” In an

era that produced Rossi, Stoner,

Pedrosa and Marquez, Jorge beat

them all. How’s that for a calling

card?

For a career as long-lasting and a

character as complicated, where

do we start? Well, the numbers

bear out the widely held opinion

that he ranks among the best

we’ve ever seen. In terms of titles

there were five (as he so often

reminded us). In terms of wins

there were 68. And in terms of top

threes only one rider ascended

the steps to a podium more times

than he. His three MotoGP titles

have him level with Roberts Senior

and Rainey and only Rossi, Agostini,

Marquez and Doohan won

more races in the premier class.

Make no mistake: in Lorenzo we

were dealing with racing royalty.

But more than that it was how he

did it. When Lorenzo first hit the

scene he was cocky, he was brash

and he rubbed many up the wrong

way.

A personal favourite story was provided

in Casey Stoner’s autobiography.

It centred on Estoril, 2008

and the first of his 47 MotoGP

wins. Jorge had just triumphed

in his third premier class race.

He could say what he wanted

to whom he wanted. And he did

just that. Perplexed by Stoner’s

absence from the victory fight,

Lorenzo approached Livio Suppo

– then Ducati’s team boss – and

smilingly inquired, ‘what happened


By Neil Morrison

to Stoner? A problem with the

head?’ Casey later seethed, “he

seemed to have become arrogant

beyond belief.”

But Lorenzo would mature and

learn to curb that flair for selfgratitude.

More than anything it

was those early years as Valentino

Rossi’s team-mate, where he withstood

all manner of snipes, barbs

and internal scheming, that solidified

that mental edge.

Bruised and battered by a series of

rookie crashes in 2008, he pushed

the Italian hardest a year later, but

lost. Never mind. Back he came

in 2010, stronger, faster and with

greater consistency. Even before

Rossi’s leg break at Mugello, Jorge

had him on the ropes. That steadfast

belief became a hallmark of

the eight years that followed.

He was tough. Boy was he tough. A

fourth place two days after fracturing

both ankles during free practice

for the 2008 Chinese Grand

Prix was the first in a string of

remarkable feats. His ride to fifth

place at Assen five years later, two

days after fracturing a right collarbone,

is just as breathtaking now

as it was then. Incredibly Jorge

was the fastest rider on track for

four of that day’s 26 laps. How he

then rallied to push Marquez right

the way to the final round was, to

borrow the words of veteran journalist

Mike Scott, “awe-inspiring.”

To sustain these feats, Jorge had

developed a style all of his own. He

developed his silky smooth, languid

movements, born on a 250, to

devastating effect on Yamaha’s M1.

To watch him trackside brought

to mind Jim Redman’s old quote

about Mike Hailwood: “You knew

he was going fast when he looked

slow.”

He was in the Stoner-Marquez

mould of making the impossible

appear normal, his wide, arching

lines and barely believable lean

angles eliciting gasps from anyone

close to his telemetry readouts.

I’ll never forget Bradley Smith’s

astonishment at Jorge’s pole lap

at Valencia, 2015. “I get to look

at the data and sometimes it can

be a bit demoralising,” admitted

the Englishman. “[Like], ‘how the

hell did you do that?’ He had half

a second on me in the last sector

alone which kills me because I’m

sideways, crossed up, and can’t

do any more. And he’s still finding

half a second on me!”

We had never seen consistency on

two wheels like it. The differences

in his lap times could be measured

in hundredths and thousandths

rather than tenths. His concentration

and ability to withstand pressure

was mesmerising. That third

MotoGP title, sparring with Rossi

all year, was peak Jorge.

Then no bump in the road could

keep him down. Time and time

again mistake or misfortune lost

him ground. But time and time

again he rallied, returning stronger.

By Motegi, Rossi looked fatigued,

aged and ragged. And let’s put the

bullshit conspiracies to one side

here: it was Jorge’s refusal to wilt

that led Rossi to orchestrate his

own high-profile downfall, rather

than the work of any higher power.

It leads us back to that arrogance.

Or, as others see it, enduring selfbelief.

Davide Tardozzi, grizzled

ex-racer and Ducati team boss,

certainly saw it that way.


BLOG

“I am a person who never drops his shoulders,

that never gives up,” he told Manuel

Pecino last year. “But Jorge taught me that

the limit can be taken much further. With

his determination, perseverance and selfconfidence

he made us believe we would

get the result we were looking for. I won’t

deny Jorge made me change my mentality.”

It wasn’t always plain sailing, however.

When it was bad, it was really bad. That

Assen high-side in 2013 left him with

mental scars and a fear of repeating injury.

When he lacked sufficient feel from there,

Jorge was lost at sea. Freddie Spencer is

the only serial champion that comes close

to matching the highs that could be as

dazzling as the lows were perplexing. Let it

not be forgotten this was a man who once

lapped Assen ten seconds a lap slower

than Colombian journeyman Yonny Hernandez

in that sodden encounter in 2016.

It would be fair to say Jorge was no regular

guy. He could be stroppy and temperamental.

His personal entourage changed almost

by the year and one former colleague even

doubted if he had learned their name six

months into a working relationship. He

lacked the inter-personal skills of a Marquez

or a Rossi. This worked against him

as he switched from Yamaha to Ducati

then Honda with only one colleague –

Juan Llansa – following him through. At

times his dealings with the media had

a rehearsed quality. He rarely displayed

the wit, spontaneity or natural charm of a

Rossi and had an occasional knack for saying

the wrong thing (Montmeló 2016 when

he claimed hadn’t been consulted on the

decision to introduce the Formula1 chicane

in the wake of Luis Salom’s death when he

himself had missed the Safety Commission

meeting the evening before springs to

mind).

But then not everyone is a natural showman.

His own efforts at grandstanding

celebrations gave way for raw shows of

emotion in the later years. When his strict

upbringing is considered – father Chicho

worked him hard from a young age at his

riding school in Majorca and openly admitted

to using training methods deployed

by Israeli Defence Force to hone his son’s

concentration – it really is rather remarkable

that Jorge functioned as well as he did.

And this was functioning at the very highest

level. “Honda and Jorge Lorenzo cannot

fight to just score some points or even top

five or podium, that I think could be possible

with time,” he reasoned in his farewell

address at Valencia. “I think we are both

winners that need to fight to win.” Anything

less wouldn’t suffice. And that, ladies and

gentlemen, was Jorge Lorenzo to a tee.

Polarity Photo


Photo: R. Schedl

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FEATURE

JOAN MIR

By Adam Wheeler. Photos by Polarity photo

3 STEPS TO MotoGP


FEATURE

MotoGP is tight, tense

and pressurised on a

normal day but the

stakes were raised for 2019

thanks to the influx of new

and eager throttle hands.

Fabio Quartararo, Miguel

Oliveira, Pecco Bagnaia and

Joan Mir represented the next

generation of high-class athletes

to hit the elite: two world

champions, all Grand Prix

winners and all graduates of

the steps through Moto3 and

Moto2.

Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Mir

however had a slightly different

trajectory. Less than

eighteen months before he’d

first sampled the power of the

works GSX-RR the Mallorcan

was celebrating the Moto3

World Championship after just

his second campaign in Grand

Prix. Such was his dominance

in 2017 (10 triumphs) and immediate

excellence in Moto2

that the recently-turned 22

year old was quickly identified

by the Suzuki factory as the

hottest talent to snare.

Mir’s ascent has been dizzying

and his arrival among

‘the big boys’ has asked a lot

from what is already a very

focussed and dedicated but

also likeable youngster. In August,

while rounding the quick

Brno circuit in the Czech

Republic for a 2020 test and

mere hours after the Grand

Prix, Mir crashed heavily at

300kmph through Turn 1. He


was briefly hospital with chest

and lung injuries and missed

races in Austria and Great

Britain. At Valencia for the

season-closer recently, team

manager Davide Brivio commented

that Mir was still “not

100%” after the accident.

It was a setback to an otherwise

steady and impressive

term (ten top 10 results)

where the emphasis had been

on education. Mir had not

snared the limelight like Quartararo

but had caught the eye

in the same way that Oliveira

had been vindicating his worthiness

on the fledgling KTM.

Preparation for a racing season,

especially a new one, is a

bit like studying for an exam.

You want to know as much

as possible. You want to try

and remove doubt. The ‘exam’

itself is when you arrive at the

first tests of the year in Malaysia

which involves three days,

75 laps a day and in high temperatures.

Only when you get

there do you know if you have

prepared well…or you need to

revise a bit more! In my case I

was happy this year because I

knew I was in good shape and

I know there are other riders

who find that kind of work

harder in MotoGP. I could do

as many laps as I wanted and

that allowed me to find a good

feeling with the bike.

I thought the bike would be

heavier but the truth is that it

is not much more than Moto2,

more or less the same but of

course the big difference is

in the power, especially braking.

Coming onto a straight it

accelerates so hard and as a

consequence – and because

of the speed – you spend

more time on the brakes.

JOAN MIR

As #36 takes the final laps of

Jerez in tests for 2020 we decided

to ask Mir about three

lessons – or guidelines – he’s

had to deal with in scaling the

steepest curve…

1

“MotoGP IS THE

FASTEST AND THE

HARDEST LEVEL

OF RACING SO I

KNOW I NEEDED TO

BE STRONG AND

READY…”


FEATURE

“I CRASHED IN THE FIRST

CORNER...I REMEMBER THAT

IT WAS DIFFICULT FOR ME TO

BREATHE, I HAD BLOOD IN MY

MOUTH...YOU THINK ABOUT THE

BIKE AFTERWARDS AND WHEN YOU

ARE ALMOST READY TO RIDE AGAIN

BUT ALL THESE NEGATIVE THINGS

YOU HAVE TO GET OUT OF YOUR

HEAD...”

The sense of inertia is much

higher in MotoGP as you are

dealing with more force. It is

something we had to work

towards, above all in the gym

with some weights. I already

made a step in that respect

from Moto3 to Moto2 and had

to do a bit more for MotoGP. I

did not gain more weight but I

worked on my physical condition

to be leaner and stronger

and with more stamina. So we

worked more in the gym compared

to 2018 and I can notice

it when I’m on the bike.

I train a lot with a motorcycle:

three-four times at least during

the week. But I also don’t

leave my gym work because

that’s important for MotoGP.

In Moto3 I was fit but not so

much; Moto2 required another

level and then another for MotoGP.

I think it’s critical otherwise

you don’t arrive to the

end of the race. You can always

train as much as you like, but

the day after the MotoGP you

always have pain in your muscles.

I’ve always been a bit of a

sportsman and I keep active,

so to do training has

never been a problem for

me. I trained a lot for Moto2

and that meant the move to

MotoGP was not too big or


strange or did I feel I needed

‘more’. I worked harder because

I wanted to be safe and

sure that I would not fall short

for MotoGP.

2“YOU NEED TO GET

YOUR HEAD IN THE

RIGHT SPACE…”

Every year you need to change

your mentality. You can never

stay the same. The good and

the bad of always trying to improve

is that you always have

a new challenge. I had my

first year in Moto3, then the

second year I changed from

KTM to Honda and won the

championship, then directly

to Moto2 – another new challenge

– then MotoGP and a

factory team. I’m accustomed

to changes! I hope it will be

the same for 2020! I hope to

be here for a while. I’m also

happy to look back and see

the evolution I’ve made and

now I’m with the best of the

bike in MotoGP.

Honestly, there are some moments

when you think ‘how

did I get here’ or ‘what am I

doing here?!’ This happens

when the results don’t come

but I feel I’ve made some

signs and results, especially

near the beginning of the season.

Insecurities come if you

are running near the back -

and it is hard to even do that!

- but I have the overriding

feeling that we are progressing.

After the accident in Brno I

had to see how I felt – technically

– on the bike again.

I crashed in the first corner

for a technical problem, it

was not my fault. I remember

that it was difficult for me to

breathe, I had blood in my

mouth but the medical people

came really fast. You think

about the bike afterwards and

when you are almost ready to

ride again but all these negative

things you have to get

out of your head. The more

you think about it, the worse

it is. I came back for a test in

Misano but missed race time.

On the second day of the test

I already felt really tired. The

doctor said the injury probably

should take six months

but we will work on aerobic

and anaerobic area because

that’s where I struggle more.

At home in Andorra where it’s

cold and no humidity I feel really

good. We have to continue

working and I need to think

about how to get ready. The

doctors will also explain and

help. In the end, I’m young, I

don’t have time to think about

the crash, about the confidence,

no way. I need to be at

100%!

JOAN MIR


FEATURE


“DOES IT FEEL TOO EARLY TO BE IN THE

MotoGP CLASS? I DON’T THINK SO. IF YOU

SEE MY LINE HERE THEN I DON’T THINK

THERE ARE MANY PEOPLE WHO HAVE

COME FROM NOTHING TO TITLES, WINS

AND MOTO2 PODIUMS TO A FACTORY

TEAM IN SUCH A SHORT TIME...”

JOAN MIR


FEATURE


the track then yes – I’m serious

when I should be. You

have to be focussed here and

on what you need to do.

JOAN MIR

3“MotoGP IS A

LIFE-CHANGER…”

The level I’m at now means

more obligations. You also

have more ‘pressure’: people

following you, people expecting

results and performance

from you. This is also something

that grows depending

on the results you make. If

you are a rookie then it starts

quite high because everyone

wants to know how you are

getting on and how you are

progressing and it’s a question

that the press are always

interested in. It is a fast but

steady build-up. I would not

say it is a massive explosion

of attention. I didn’t have any

moments of anxiety really. I

think that’s because of my

character but also the people

I have around me, as in the

team. Suzuki gives me a lot

of confidence in that respect.

They are really good: when

things are going well they

celebrate with me and when

they don’t they are the first to

find a solution to problems. I

put pressure on myself: nothing

comes from the team and

I think that is amazing.

I had a lot of success in

Moto3, adapted fast to Moto2

and now I’m here and my attitude

to racing has not really

changed in that time. I’m not

really a person that can laugh

while I’m working – outside

When I was injured it was

difficult: I don’t like to watch

races on TV! I don’t like it! I

hate it!

Does it feel too early to be

in the MotoGP class? I don’t

think so. If you see my line

here then I don’t think there

are many people who have

come from nothing to titles,

wins and Moto2 podiums

to a factory team in such a

short time. I think the second

half of my first Moto2 season

could have gone better but

there were problems inside

the team [Marc VDS underwent

a dramatic management

change] that I could not

control. The results were not

the same as they were at the

start of 2018 but I think I had

already showed that the skill

necessary for that class is to

adapt quickly and that’s what

we did. I know I am in MotoGP

because I deserve to be.

Suzuki gave me a chance to

be here but they were not the

only ones offering. I think a

factory would be not so stupid

to sign someone they didn’t

think would be good enough,

and I had three or four teams

thinking the same way: I keep

that in my head but I also

know we haven’t done anything

yet.


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MXGP

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THE HOTTEST SEAT...

HRC are world champions in MXGP and MotoGP but it’s

curious to see how the company have handled the allotment

of the second saddles next to Tim Gajser and Marc Marquez.

In Valencia last week Honda

dominated the headlines before,

during and after the final round of

MotoGP: Lorenzo, Marquez and

seat-swapping. All the fuss about

Moto2 world champion Alex Marquez

taking the vacated Repsol

Honda HRC berth next to his

brother and in the Triple Crown

winning set-up for 2020 struck a

small chord for me with the HRC

operation in MXGP where Australian

Mitch Evans slots next to Tim

Gajser. It seems that Honda are

facing questions over the wisdom

of their choices alongside their #1

athletes.

Although Alex Marquez’s predicament

is tinged with nepotism and

he had to break a contract with

the Marc VDS team to take up the

Honda opportunity, the 23 year

old is a Moto3 and Moto2 world

champion and is wholly deserving

of his MotoGP shot; regardless of

his surname. Evan’s position – as

a one-season rookie of Grand Prix

racing – is markedly different. In

fact, a comment I saw on Twitter

regarding the official announcement

of his contract – something

along the lines of ‘he must be

paying for it’ – prompted some

dismay.

It seems unbelievable that the

world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer

and arguably the most

advanced race team in MXGP

would have to contemplate a cutpriced

option as a second rider.

Certainly not one that has to fork

out.

Part of the suspicion or reaction

from MXGP followers may come

for two reasons. Firstly in 2017

Honda made a double signing

of Brian Bogers and Calvin

Vlaanderen from the ashes of

the HSF Logistics MX2 team and

the principal sponsor went along

with both Dutchmen. Bogers and

Vlaanderen had shown potential

in MX2 and their signatures were

generally accepted as a change

of strategy for Honda after their

expensive investment in Gautier

Paulin but these were not A-list

acquisitions for the brand to accompany

Gajser, who had rocked

the MXGP class on his debut

term in 2016. The fact that Bogers

struggled with injury, then form

and results and Vlaanderen was

overlooked for the MXGP deal for

2020 adds to the ‘stop-gap’ feeling

of the deal.

Secondly, deliberation and rejection

of a rider with Max Anstie’s

skillset (the Englishman seems

all but certain to leave MXGP for

2020 after being left out in the

cold) and the strong ensembles

at KTM (Cairoli, Herlings, Prado),

Kawasaki (Desalle, Febvre) and

Yamaha (Paulin, Seewer, Tonus)

means that the HRC wing is

struggling for similar billing and

strength as their rivals.


By Adam Wheeler

It’s important to remember that

Evans is not an unknown or a random

punt for Honda. He already

caught the eye with a top ten finish

in the slime of RedBud for the

2018 Motocross of Nations, riding

a CRF450R for his country, and

was then signed-up for the second

year of Livia Lancelot’s 114 Motorsports

team to replace Hunter

Lawrence in MX2. A podium finish

on his debut in Argentina last

March was a revelation. But then

the long, hard education of a full

Grand Prix season and several

crashes weakened the tall rider’s

impact.

For MXGP Honda have promoted

from within and they have identified

youth. In this respect there

are similarities to the strategy with

Marquez in MotoGP, although the

Catalan is from the same family

and management group rather

than Honda specifically (also, it

could be argued that he was able

to really excel in Moto2 only when

Honda’s engines had been replaced

by Triumph).

To gain some insight to the Evans

appointment I called former HRC

MX General Manager Roger Harvey,

now an official advisor to the

team.

“When Mitch opened his account

in Argentina that was impressive

and he rode well for the first half of

the season but ran into problems

when he tried to drop weight for

the 250,” he says. “We could see

the potential was there.”

Evans has only recently turned 21

and would have been eligible for

two more years in MX2 but his imposing

frame and capabilities on

the 450 meant a more natural fit

in MXGP. Whatever the Australian

showed (and the approach he took

to his racing) in 2019 clearly resonated

with both current General

Manager Marcus Pereira de Freitas

and Harvey and he was signed to

the second CRF early in the summer.

“We knew he would be better

on a 450 and it is also an age

thing and that’s why he became

such a strong option,” Harvey

adds. “Taking another proven rider

for 2020 was an option…but we

wanted something similar to Tim

in the past where we could school,

learn and teach someone with a

lot of capability.”

“He will be given time,” Harvey

continues. “MXGP is so stacked

now.

We know we have a youngster. If

he gets up to running 10th-12th

then that’s something we’d be

looking for [in 2020].”

Roger admits that Evans’ newcomer

status in the world championship

carries favourable financial

implications compared to, say,

an established GP winner (“we

all work to budgets…) and in the

general picture of Gajser allegedly

being one of the best paid riders

in the series with his long-term

Honda agreement. But #43’s luck

or positive timing is to be in the

right place at the right moment

with the right age and the right

prospect.

HRC is one of the largest set-ups

in MXGP but two of their factory

foes have three-rider rosters,

mainly to cope with the demands

of twenty rounds, forty motos and

sixty starts in 2020.


MXGP

BLOG

It begs the question why can’t

Honda do the same and give

Evans that ‘third rider/junior/development’

role? They could have

even kept Vlaanderen; an athlete

who has aged out of MX2 and

admirably represented their nowmysteriously

up-in-the-air 250

programme. “There was a consideration

to run three riders but

ultimately the decision was made

to focus totally on two projects

for MXGP and squarely on product

development for the future,”

concludes Harvey. “We wanted to

bring Calvin up to MXGP a year

earlier but he wanted one more

chance to try and crack MX2. He

was considered.”

choices is crucial when it comes

to career openings with the best

equipment and structures in the

sport.

Alex Marquez could have only

a few months to hit the ground

running before the vast MotoGP

contract movements for 2021

begin (almost the whole paddock

is available) and Evans could be

in the same predicament, even

though contract durations have

not aligned as neatly in MXGP

as MotoGP. If anything, the situation

for Vlaanderen, who is now

on a Yamaha, proves that pressure

to deliver and make the right


PRODUCTS

www.ktm.com

ktm

More delights from EICMA and KTM presented

three new models with specific purposes.

The 2020 1290 Super Duke R is the third

generation of the leading naked model in

the Austrian range – a model that CSO Hubert

Trunkenpolz described at the “ultimate

naked bike” – and the key features seem to

be another boost in power and incremental

weight-saving across a motorcycle that has

been radically overhauled. The 390 Adventure

is a no-brainer: an agile but sophisicated

off-roader that has taken germs of the

conquering 450 Rally Dakar-winning model

to enable riders to have a first, simplistic

taste of the dirt. It was the introduction of

the 890 Duke R that caught our attention

though and is a typical ‘KTM’ offering: a road

bike that could roll out onto the track in a

heartbeat. The beefed-up engine is complimented

by a more racier aspect with the

chassis, Brembo brakes, WP Suspension,

Michelin tyres and electronics to match.

We’re currently riding a 790 Duke with all

the PowerPart trimmings and can only fantasise

how the new 890 must feel.


PRODUCTS

www.gatsbyglobal.com

gatsby

If you spotted Fabio Quartararo,

Franco Morbidelli or any of the Petronas

Yamaha SRT MotoGP team (and Moto2

and Moto3 athletes) sporting a sculptured

thatch in the last two races of ‘19 then it

might be the fault of 41-year old cosmetics

firm Gatsby. The crew signed a sponsorship

deal with the company to highlight

a range of grooming products, largely

from their Malaysian base. There is a

selection of ‘Moving Rubber’ hair styling

options. Gatsby is an international brand

and distribution points can be found

through the company’s website.


FEATURE

makin

By Adam Wheeler. Photos by Ray Archer

mxgp


g


FEATURE

THE World

2019 FIM

Motocross

Championship ended with

a historic milestone trip to

Shanghai for the first ever

Grand Prix of China. It was

the last of eighteen dates in

the series run from February

to mid-September visiting

three continents, fifteen different

countries and which is traditionally

rounded-off by the

annual Motocross of Nations.

For 2020 ‘MXGP’ will consist

of twenty fixtures and will

again bounce between South

America, Asia and Europe.

For organisers and promoters

Youthstream the FIM World

Championship is a year-long

undertaking that involves a

crew of 150 people moving

from circuit to circuit and in

a process of construct-deconstruct.

For decades international

motorsport has been likened

to a ‘travelling circus’ forever

on the road. MXGP may have

modernised to seek out the

best facilities where top racing

talent can push limits and put

on a show but there are still

earthy roots in the ‘temporary’

nature of motocross. In

2020 there will still be Grands

Prix at venues with years and

years of history and other

fixtures at brand new locations

where a muddy track is

sculpted and taken away in a

mater of days.

MXGP is more mobile, compact

and adjustable than

‘cousins’ such as MotoGP and

WorldSBK that need the vast

size and scale of the same

circuits season-in, seasonout.

The championship might

involve over thirty officially

entered riders both in the

MX2 and MXGP categories

and then entertain hundreds

of racers in the support

classes of the European

Championship and WMX at

select Grands Prix, but the

cost to bring the spectacle

to a country or territory is

much lower compared to the

millions asked by the likes of

MotoGP and F1. According to

2018 stats MXGP attracts 57

million TV viewers and has a

flowering social media reach

that extends to several million

Facebook likes, website visits,

YouTube views. MXGP’s flexibility

and grass roots appeal

means it can tap into some

markets where other motorsports

cannot be found.

“The general demand for a

grand prix is high and we

have 25-26 requests from

organisers for what will be 20

races,” says Youthstream CEO

David Luongo. “So we have to

make choices based on the

best projects and popularity.

It is always the same: in Europe

you have less races that

are supported by the government

through the


tourist and sport departments.

It is more based on

ticketing. Overseas the sport

has extra backing because

governments might want to

grow a sport or activity or use

it as a tourism tool. So there

are two different ways of managing

an event and it is the

same in most sports.”

“We have to make a calendar

of twenty races because our

target is to develop the sport

worldwide and for sure you

have some that are financially

less good or stable than others…

but in the end those

that fare less well – maybe

because of bad weather - help

those other ones. You put that

in a total budget and that’s

how your world championship

works.”

Constructing the fabric of a

global series means speculating

on new partners and

proposals and then banking

on regular, well-attended

Grands Prix where the passion

for motocross burns bright,

such as France, Germany, Italy

(three rounds in 2019), to

name but three.

“Recently the race where we

really feel there are ‘no limits’

is in Indonesia,” Luongo says.

“The market is more than five

million bikes sold per year

and at the last event in Semarang

we had 150 riders in

the national race. There were

65, 85, 125 kids and, for sure,

at some point some of those

will join us in the European

Championship because that

is the next step. If you don’t

have a Grand Prix overseas

then it is much harder to

develop those riders. If you

visit them then you create the

dream and in five, six years

who knows where those kids

might be? Our mission is not

to just develop sport in one

area, it is to go wherever we

can, and sometimes make the

first impression and see how

the market reacts.”

“Latvia is a good example,” he

adds. “We went there first in

2009 and Pauls Jonass was

their first world champion

in 2017 and we have a lot of

eastern European riders now

in the European Championships.

I think in the top twenty

of classes like 85, 125 and

250 we have something like

sixteen-seventeen nationalities.

Thirty years ago it was

the same four-five as usual.

That’s not to take anything

away from countries like

France, Belgium and the UK

but the more countries you

‘touch’ the bigger your sport

is.”

PLACING THE ‘FOOTPRINT’

Size is something that Youthstream

have had to juggle

since the end of 2003 and

when the company purchased

the rights to MXGP. The ‘old’

classes of 125, 250 and 500cc

MAKING MXGP


FEATURE

used to run independently

and only came together in the

same place on the same day

consistently in a single championship

from 2001. By 2004

the reformatting to ‘MX2’ and

‘MX1’ (now MXGP) instigated

the shape, presentation and

community of the sport as

it is today. MXGP grew from

fifteen fixtures to twenty and

also expanded in terms of the

set-up at the circuits themselves.

Typically Youthstream first

have to occupy an empty facility,

where adjustments have

likely to have been made to

the racing surface and layout

in terms of preparation and

bringing it up to world championship

spec. This means

challenging obstacles but also

a degree of effort towards secure

and spectacular jumps,

FIM rules for protection and

margins for safety, a regulation

length of 1.6km and with

an average speed that does

not exceed 60kmph.

Before the teams arrive and

begin to park-up and unpack

at a Grand Prix (that comes

to life on Friday afternoon but

with official sessions starting

Saturday morning) Youthstream

are already erecting

elements like the ‘Skybox’

start gate and VIP zone, the

two-floored pitlane, the camera

towers and positions,

installation of timing systems,

trackside advertising and


every other minor detail that

classifies the meeting as a

‘Grand Prix’ compared to any

other other race. There are organisational,

commercial and

operational considerations

that range from establishing

offices, peripheral entertainment,

marketing opportunities,

retail and, of course, the

biggest outlay: the live TV

broadcast with two outside

broadcast trucks containing

studio space, commentary

positions, post-production

facilities and equipment for

the use of drones and GoPro

cameras.

“We used to be about thirty

people but that number has

grown,” reveals Logistics

Manager Stefan Husar who

has been part of the Youthstream

staff roster for twelve

years and used to head-up

security and also TV infrastructure.

“We are able to

build a Grand Prix framework

in three days. Our ideal plan

is to start Wednesday and by

Friday we are clean and ready.

We also build the hospitality

structures and that means a

lot of work. We have done it in

shorter time period before but

that is really difficult.

The break-down takes us a

day, as we start on Sunday afternoon

right after the races.”

“Different tracks present different

challenges,” he adds. “A

flat place like Lommel [Grand

Prix of Belgium] can be pretty

easy but one that is on a hill

and is tight, like Loket [Czech

Republic] or Teutschenthal

[Germany], is much harder. It

can also be raining sometimes

and that makes it more complicated.

The pitlane looks like

a fairly simple structure but it

is fifteen tons of iron to assemble

only with manpower.”

MAKING MXGP


FEATURE

“The trackside [bannering]

has to be done by the middle

of the afternoon on Friday for

the FIM inspection and track

walk for camera positions and

bridges are in a secure place.

It all has to be homologated

and some things might have to

be moved just to make them

a bit safer for the riders; we

work with the FIM on that. An

example would be placement

of a bridge before a jump takeoff

and not after, and other

structures must be a minimum

of three metres away from the

track. They deal with the local

club for any strawbales but we

try to make sure nothing is in

the way.”

“TV is a separate crew, but we

build the camera towers based

on their feedback for positioning

and height. Every circuit is

different so we have to physically

walk the track and have

to decide with the director.

Even though we go to many of

the same circuits we always try

to modify or change the positions

or the angles.”

Husar’s team hustle pre-andpost

event, and for back-toback

Grands Prix this can

mean a hectic week. During

the race itself the crew are still

busy. “Mainly we are on standby,”

he says. “Between the races

the boards are cleaned and

other small jobs such as the

gate and mesh being cleaned.

We also help the timing and

Skybox guys who are busy all


day especially on Sunday with

podium ceremonies. We also

build the sound system in the

Media Centre for press conferences.

So we are active with

maintenance jobs.”

The introduction of the European

Championship to the

MXGP support card in the last

ten years has tested the confines

and resources of circuits,

simply through the amount of

riders, trucks and transport

that need to find practical

working space. The introduction

of more structures in the

basic make-up of a Grand Prix

has blossomed the modern

face of MXGP in the last ten

years. “It has changed a lot,”

Husar evaluates. “In the past

we did not have the Skybox

or the double tiered pitlane

and there are also more publicity

boards to place now.

More sponsors are good for

the sport in general. It is still

growing, and I think MXGP

now is on a different level to

what it was twelve years ago.

I think it is easy to see just in

the paddock alone.”

CATERING FOR THE CAST

With the stage set, a Grand

Prix has to wait for the ‘players’.

At certain rounds the

teams will arrive in droves and

in all manner of set-up; from

the vast double rigs of factory

KTM, Yamaha and Honda to

the humble van and awning

combinations of the privateer.

It’s the responsibility of Paddock

Manager Yves Doriot – a

twenty-five year veteran of the

role – to squeeze them in an

orderly fashion and formulate

the ‘manufacturer lanes’

that see the various colours

of MXGP grouped together, as

well as create a living area for

the riders to park their

motorhomes.

“We have around fifty-seven

trailers because the support

categories in the European

Championship also have some

big trucks,” he reveals. “The

tendency now is more towards

big teams and less privateers.

It is quite well organised. We

have around forty riders in

the EMX250 and thirty-five in

EMX125s that are also in team

structures, so there are more

transports when you count all

the classes. I would say the

volume space of each team

is still increasing a little bit.

There are at least one or two

more trailers ever year. There

are more hospitalities. Just

for HRC I need to find a space

that is 73m long.”

Like the demands on Husar’s

squad, Doriot and his staff

have to adapt to the peculiarities

of each individual circuit.

“A traditional moto club only

has so much space,” he laments.

“I have to fit the Grand

Prix classes and then survive

in the best possible way with

the European classes. New

facilities and those in permanent

motorsport circuits are

far easier. There are difficult

places like Arco di Trento

[Italy] but this is also my favourite

circuit on the calendar.

The club do clever things to

make space, and every year

they look at their budget and

ask what they can do to increase

the small room they

have. In other places nothing

happens at all, despite making

requests.”

Youthstream provide each

circuit/club/organiser with a

‘manual’ each year, which is

like a ‘Dummy’s guide to…’

MAKING MXGP


FEATURE

Grand Prix. Inside are all

the requirements; from

internet speed to power,

to water supply to square

metres. New organisers

will have scoped-out other

events to grasp the full

scale of MXGP and this will

certainly be the case for

overseas rounds where the

championship will revert

from trucks and workshops

to crates and freight.

“All the teams try to use a

MotoGP-style box system,

which is nice because when

they are unpacked and

constructed then there is

a mechanic work area and

a section for the riders to

have some privacy. At the

moment the level is good,”

says Doriot, who often has to

re-fit the paddock into a temporary

‘hangar-type’ installation

or use a permanent pitlane

complex, as was the case

for the Grand Prix of Qatar at

Losail between 2013 and 2017.

“I still think we can improve

the organisation with the

teams: using one bike per rider

would be better for everyone

but some people don’t want

that,” Doriot opines. “Otherwise

we have a good, timely

system. A team like KTM could

use something like seven

crates. There were famous

problems in the past when

teams would put food inside

the crate or other products

and we’d have trouble at cus-

toms but thanks to our shipping

partners that has not happened

for a while now.”

MXGP is big, shiny, colourful and

varied and - on the whole - very

accessible with the public permitted

entrance to paddocks.

Circuits have had to update

flooring and areas to cope with

the amount of semi articulated

trucks and rigs.

In 2020 the technical and

homely ‘hub’ of Grand Prix could

shape-shift once more. “I think

it will, because one factory team

has an idea and I think it will

change the face of the paddock,”

Doriot says. “If it can happen

technically then I think people

will want to follow. The factory


teams are really professional

now and the quality of their

work is on a very high level.

The fact that it is all becoming

bigger is not really a problem.

Support teams now are on the

level that the factories were

ten years ago.”

GOING THROUGH THE

SCREEN

Assisting the expansion is the

provision of live TV broadcasts

from each grand prix.

The coverage helps to put the

cumbersome timetable of four

35 minute races on a Sunday

afternoon in front of eyeballs

in living rooms or through

tablets anywhere in the world

thanks to the MXGP.TV online

platform. The technology and

expertise needed to capture

a race where many corners

and sections can easily be

obscured by a weaving track

is undoubtedly one of Youthstream’s

biggest expenditures.

It is also the largest ‘calling

card’ of exposure for the sport,

so it has to be right. The live

broadcast is complimented

by other facets of production

such as the 26-minute highlights

show, feature reports,

onboard laps, pre-start interviews

and more.

Transmitting MXGP calls for

another dedicated group of

professionals. “We have seven

people from the TV crew on

post-production,” says Cristian

Punturiero, Executive

Post Production. “All those

are working on editing, video

and clips that are made during

the live broadcast like

the interviews and reports,

GoPro track previews and the

paddock loop: we prepare all

those things. We have one

person specifically on GoPros,

who collects a lot of images

from helmets, start gates

and podiums. It’s a different

point of view compared to a

standard camera. We then

have four cameramen running

left-and-right to film nice

stuff away from the Live signal

and with the super-slow mo

high frame rate equipment:

most of that is used in the 26

minute highlight programme

called ‘Behind the Gate’ which

is prepared on Sunday night

and can mean some very late

evenings because it has to be

ready for Monday.”

Punturiero and his magicians

can get creative with the

dynamism and aggression of

motocross racing but there

is another steadfast team

whose duty is to purely cover

the action in real time. “The

Live crew is bigger,” Punturiero

states. “We have eleven

cameras, radio frequency and

static cameras. You need operators

for those. There is also

a drone operator and in 2019

we worked more on improving

these images for the broadcast.

In total I would say we

could be between 25-30 people

for the live production.”

The challenges of providing

the same standard at overseas

races and away from MXGP’s

European base are tackled by

maintaining the personnel.

Punturiero: “The key people

are always the same. You can

use some local crew but it is

important for consistency to

have the same operators such

as the engineers, director, editors,

main cameramen and RF

cameramen.”

TV is an ever-changing and

potentially wallet-busting

landscape. “Oh, so much!

Everything. Fantastic growth,”

Punturiero grins. “Mainly

because of the quality of the

equipment. HD is obviously

the biggest thing compared

to ten years ago but also the

hardware and software has

progressed so much. It’s all

different. Even the working

space in the truck and how

we filter and use everything

for social media has really

changed the game. ‘MX Live’

[the forerunner to MXGP.tv]

was a big thing and when we

saw how good we could make

the product through the internet…then

MXGP TV became

an incredible platform.

We can have 50,000 people

live-streaming thanks to good

satellite and broadcast technical

partners. EBU [European

Broadcasting Union] give us

the structure to have a very

good quality video.”

MAKING MXGP


FEATURE

TV encompasses strands

of the timing system that is

branded by Tag Heuer and

also on the verge of the same

technical upgrade (the way

bikes carry transponders and

cut the signals).

“The time keeping department

is also growing every year and

now have more lap sectors

than before,” says Punturiero.

“We work to be faster and to

have the best connection between

the time keeping office

and the TV truck. It means

as soon as the rider hits the

finish line then we have all the

results and standings immediately

to hand and to use on

the screen and the broadcast

graphics.”

Motocross is open to the four

seasons. A race in fantastic

weather can still create dust

and roost while torrential rain

can create a notorious ‘mudder’.

Motorcycles and riders’

stamina are not the only

things that take a battering.

“Different cameras positions

mean different lenses and we

can go from 60 to 40 but the

camera has to show a good,

clear image that is also dynamic

and show the sponsors

and atmosphere,” Punturiero

claims. “We invest a lot each

year to keep the quality. Every

year there is something new

and I think the viewers demand

that. For post-production

we also have to renew

the cameras because you can

imagine how the conditions

cause deterioration each year.

There has to be a lot of careful

cleaning and maintenance. At

the end of the season it is all

serviced.”

Riders stretch the limits of

their conditioning and their

health, manufacturers strive

to forge machinery that will

lower lap-times and Youthstream

are constantly analysing

what working methods can

be improved to make creation

of a Grand Prix easier or more

practical. TV is the vanguard

of progress and Punturiero

has an opinion of where it can

go next. “We are now talking

about 4K,” he comments.

“It is not a simple change

to make because it means

the people at home have to


have a receiver for it. More

onboards could be nice but

it is difficult because you can

imagine how the camera lasts

with the muddy track. We can

grow with technology and see

how we can incorporate things

like GoPro signal into the Live

signal. Right now we are using

quite a few options, such

as the 360 camera for social

media so people can feel like

they are on the bike with the

rider. The cameras we use on

track are some of the best

money can buy. I think 4K is

the next big move but we are

not quite ready for it yet.”

MXGP pushed up to twenty

rounds in 2018 and will re-create

that longest ever season

starting next March. It is a far

cry from the nine rounds and

countries that took part in the

inaugural FIM championship

back in 1957 but – like the

bikes themselves – nothing

ever stands still.

MAKING MXGP


FEATURE

THE FOLD OF AN


By Adam Wheeler, Photos by Ray Archer

MXGP PILLAR

(AND WHY MICHELE RINALDI RULED THE GRAND PRIX ROOST)

Michele Rinaldi –

Italy’s first ever

MX FIM World

Champion – passed the

baton as Yamaha’s main

factory team custodian

in MXGP this year. For

almost three decades

his race team were

the reference for the

Japanese manufacturer

in motocross.

Rinaldi – flanked

by his two brothers

and a small roster of

long-term technical

staff operating out of

his Langhirano workshop

near Parma – was

responsible for title

success with at least four

of Yamaha’s YZ motorcycles

and with at least three Italian

riders, two Americans, one

Frenchman and, of course, a

Belgian.

‘Rinaldi’ is one of the heavyweight

names of the sport. Although

he had long since dispensed

with the role of Team

Manager (nearly fifteen years

ago) 60 year old Michele was

(and is) team owner, steward,

and business owner. 2019

marked the final term that a

race squad under his steerage

would grace MXGP. That responsibility

for the brand now

falls to Louis Vosters’ Wilvo

crew as Rinaldi’s role moves

to one of technical tuning and

support for Yamaha’s entry

in both the premier class and

the MX2 division.

Rinaldi’s history is one that is

ripe for tales and anecdotes.

His team moved through

critical eras: two-strokes/fourstrokes,

crowd booms and

busts, evolving riding styles

and technology, tobacco sponsorship,

the financial crisis

and the emergence of energy

drinks (his squad was the

first official Monster Energy

race team outside of the USA)

and maintained a productive

and collaborative relationship

with Yamaha Motor Corps and

Yamaha Motor Europe.


FEATURE

He enjoyed initially Suzuki

support and then began the

long journey with Yamaha to

oversee one of the longest-established

competitive and engineering

set-ups in the Grand

Prix paddock.

In a slightly more volatile age

for racing, teams, sponsorship,

sales - and even motorcycling

itself - what was at the centre

of Rinaldi’s longevity? “He was

a fair and honest guy,” answers

Bob Moore, Michele’s third

world champion in 1994 and

first in the 125cc division. “He

gave me everything I needed

and never promised something

and then didn’t deliver. I was

never misled, and I felt I had

the bike and technical package

to win.”

Then there were the results.

Since Andrea Bartolini’s 500cc

crown in 1999 (the first for

a Japanese four-stroke) the

team’s combination of racetech

acumen and shrewd rider

recruitment delivered eight

world championships: the run

of six in two categories with

Stefan Everts (2001-2006),

followed by MXGP gold medals

for David Philippaerts (2008)

and Romain Febvre (2015) and

silver ones for Steven Frossard

(2011) Jeremy Van Horebeek

(2014) and Jeremy Seewer

(2019).

From a journalist’s perspective

Michele was entirely pleasant

and open, yet serious and

humble. He held his cards

close to his chest for information

but would not hesitate to

explain some of the technicalities

of what was going on

outside of his awning and on

the racetrack. His mere presence

commanded a degree of

respect. He was quick to credit

the work and commitment of

those around him and regularly

underlined his obligation

and professionalism towards

his manufacturer. Rinaldi has a

wizened and reasoned view of

Grand Prix; as anyone would,

having breathed the sport

since the 1970s. I wrote for

Yamaha for almost ten years

and had the chance to see and

interact with the Rinaldi at the

track, behind his office desk

and in moments of levity, when

he’d bring one or some of his

daughters and family to the

circuits with him.

I can still recall the winter

where his small and outdated

race truck was no longer adequate

for the corporate ‘requirements’

of running a factory

team and how much the

upscale to a modern semi irked

him.

He comes up with good ideas

(the current two-tiered pitlane

was something he suggested to

Youthstream) but would arguably

feel the 21st century form

of MXGP is a vast departure

from the days of motocross

that he knows so vividly. Team

Management had been looked

after by Massimo ‘Mino’ Raspanti

since the end of the last

decade but the Rinaldi philosophy

was steadfast, particularly

the ethos that helped attribute

to the success, and the bizarre

trend of a rookie rider excelling

to a career peak in their first

season with the team. “He puts

the rider at the centre of any

project,” says Moore “and it

helps enormously that he is a

former rider and racer – those

guys make the best [management]

in my opinion.”

Langhirano is dark, discreet

(you’d never find the workshop

in the depths of a small industrial

park unless you knew

where to look), notable for

stark ‘No Photography’ signs,

laden with memorabilia and

home to one of the finest historical

motocross Grand Prix

bike collections; all wrapped in

plastic and carefully stored.

On this occasion our talk is

taking place further north in

Italy and the Imola circuit.


MICHELE RINALDI


FEATURE

For two years the venue has

played host to Rinaldi’s home

GP. Italy has entertained

multiple rounds of MXGP

in recent years as Tony Cairoli

expanded the wave of

popularity for the sport in his

homeland and a wave of interest

that Rinaldi initially began

in the early 1980s. We were

supposed to chat for just ten

minutes but reached almost

half an hour and I left with the

sensation that a plastic had

barely been scratched.

BOB MOORE: “I LIKE THE FAMILY

ATMOSPHERE. HE HAD A BIG, BIG TEAM

BACK THEN, PROBABLY THIRTY PEOPLE

WORKING BUILDING THE BIKES AND THE

RACE KITS. I WAS IN THE WORKSHOP

EVERY SINGLE DAY AND IT WAS EASY TO

TRAIN AND RIDE BECAUSE THERE WAS

ALWAYS SOMEONE THERE TO HELP OUT.”

Two months later we’d converse

with an eager and reflective

Moore at the Valencia

MotoGP for some perspective

on the chemistry that made a

Rinaldi racing project irresistible

and sometimes unbeatable

prospect.

Michele, there must be some

emotion connected with the

end of a journey in racing…

It’s been a long time: since

1992 with Yamaha because

I signed at the end of ’91.

We’re finishing the chapter

and starting another one…but

we’ve been working towards

it for a few months. It wasn’t

a shock, but it was to really

make that announcement here

in front of the media. It is a

big change in a way but also

not so much and is part of

that process that began with

being a rider, being a rider

in my own team, stopping

to race and putting another

rider into the team, moving to


MICHELE RINALDI

another brand and continuing

on and on until reaching the

last GP as a team owner.

Will you miss that immediate

connection with a rider?

Yes. Either through me or

through Mino we had to sort

or talk or change things, and

I had my responsibility to the

team and the rider. From next

year that won’t be the case

and we’ll have to go through

the new team manager and

the people running the ‘new’

team. I’m used to that though.

If there was a time when I

had to say something direct

to the rider then I always did

when Mino was aware, or we

did it together. I was always

behind the way the team was

run or at least daily informed.

Even now I don’t think it will

be a big change for me.

Talk about some of the

strongest memories as a

team manager…

I have to go back to the first

big emotion and that was my

first championship as a rider

because I was also a team

owner! I had started it in ’84

because Suzuki had stopped

racing. I could have gone to

another brand but I wanted to

continue using Suzuki bikes

and the only choice was to

do my own team: look for the

money, look for the mechanic

and get it all set up. So there

was that, and then 1990 was

emotional when [Alex] Puzar

won the 250cc championship.

He did not want to go to the

250s and wanted to stay on

the 125s and I pushed so hard

for him to go up – because I

thought it was the most important

and the number one

class – so he started there

almost as a complete unknown

for other riders and

teams and began to win many

races and motos. It was a big

shock because we won the

most important championship

with an ‘unknown’ rider

who didn’t even want to be in


FEATURE

the class! I think we won the

title with one race remaining

and everybody was happy. So

my title, and Alex’s. If I have

to talk about just one standout

memory then it would be

either of those. But if we talk

about riders then Bob Moore’s

story is a nice one….

Bob Moore: I remember it like

it was yesterday. I had an offer

to stay with KTM for 1992 but

I’d just finished second again

in the [125cc] championship.

I was hoping to win it and I’d

dislocated my shoulder that

year and lost to Stefan Everts

by seven points, so I was close

but, whatever. I thought ‘I’ve

got to change, I’ve got to do

something’ and I’d always

been a fan of Michele, his

team and the way they were

organised. So I got in my car

and drove straight from Austria

to his race workshop in

Langhirano and I asked for

a minute. We went up to his

office and I said “this might

sound odd but I don’t care: I

know I have the ability to do

well on a 250, just give me

a chance, give me a shot. I’ll

ride for free to prove it, just

give me bonus money” and he

was very taken back by that

because during that time –

the early ‘90s – there was still

quite a bit of money around

in the paddock. I really like to

work with good people. I did

not know Michele that much

but I followed his racing career

and I knew everyone in

Italy loved him and that I just

wanted to be a part of that

project and of course it was a

really strong team. I wanted

to try for it because I thought

I had the ability to show him I

was capable of doing it.

Bob came to me and said: “I

don’t care if you cannot pay

me or what kind or technical

support you have but I want to

ride for your team”. It was our

first year with Yamaha in 1992

and I told him we already had

our two factory riders and we

didn’t have a bike for a third

rider and also Yamaha didn’t

want another one. He said: “I

don’t care Michele, do your

best and it’s fine for me”. That

was the first time ever that

someone came to me saying

‘do what you want, I want to

Photo by Max Zanzani


ace for you’. Normally there

is a lot of negotiation and pull

and push with the money…but

Bob just said: ‘up to you’.

Bob Moore: So, he said he’d

do what he could and he threw

a couple of suggestions. I left

there thinking I had better than

a 50% chance and then it happened

pretty quickly. He took

it to heart and told me he had

his two factory spots filled with

Yamaha but he could build me

a bike from his side and try to

get some budget together to do

it. And in the end he did. A few

weeks later he put something

together and I was like ‘sign

me up’. He even found me a

small salary. That year they

called us ‘the ice-cream men’

because we were all white with

the Chesterfield sponsorship.

I was really fortunate. I had a

really good crew. I wasn’t given

the factory bike but I had really

good technical support and

it wasn’t miles off. On a 250 I

didn’t need more power. That

year Donny Schmit was the

best rider by far and I was fortunate

enough to get second.

We looked for a production

bike, we modified it a bit and

couldn’t use factory parts

because Bob was ‘external’

and we finished second in the

championship: Donny won,

he was second and Puzar was

fourth. It was fantastic. Bob

had done well so of course that

other factories were looking for

him…

Bob Moore: It was even better

than I expected. I knew going

in I was not a factory rider but

he still did everything in his

power to give me what I needed.

I loved my bike and in fact

some of the things they struggled

with on the factory bikes

I didn’t have issues with. I was

a little disappointed because I

felt I had earned a slot [for the

next season] but I understood

Michele because he had the

world champion and the Italian

superstar in Alex Puzar and

the sponsors loved him. I was a

bit bummed and there was no

place for me. He said he could

offer the same package but my

desire to be world champion

was even higher. I was offered

the factory Suzuki ride with

Stefan Everts and ended up going

that route. But Michele and

I left on really good terms and

ten months later I was back

down there.

Bob came back to us and won

the 125s in 1994 and for Yamaha

it was a bit special because

they were looking to support

the 250 team only. So, again,

we bought bikes and modified

them for this special project

and we did it.

Bob Moore: The 125 series

was a case of stepping down

because I needed all the right

pieces to fit. Michele’s priority

was the 250 and trying to get

that title back and I was the

side-project to start promoting

their racing products. He had

a business model in place and

I was the tool for that. Michele

has so much experience and

he knows what he’s talking

about. It’s funny because he

and I were so different with our

riding techniques and styles

and the way I approached

things really bugged him! I’m

calmer and take my time and

do things a certain way but

Michele was the type when if

the green light was on or the

track was open he’d be the first

one out and will do as many

laps as he could. He was hammering

it. I was super-calm

and would sometimes wait 10-

15 minutes in practice before

I’d go out: I knew it was muddy

and I wouldn’t make any time.

He would get so mad at me!

Practice starts was another

one. He said: ‘they are doing

starts now, why aren’t you out

there?!’ and I say: ‘I know how

to start!’ That was the only

time we kinda clashed. That

was the year we started, and

became more so when I came

back to ride for him in 1994

where we were more of a satellite

team to his operation…but

we had a blast. I won the title

and it was a dream come true.

To do it for someone like him

was amazing because he was

such a good guy….

But there were other stories

and riders. Like Jeremy Van

Horebeek in 2014. In his first

year with us he finished twelve

times on the podium and was

second [in the championship].

MICHELE RINALDI


FEATURE

It was a great season and totally unexpected

for him or for us. Romain Febvre’s

story in 2015 is very special. He had to

move out of MX2 because of one day

[Febvre’s birthday is December 31st]!

Nobody believed in him for the MXGP

class and I was surprised about that. I

couldn’t quite believe that nobody had

interest, right up until the day he signed

with us. I thought we could do well with

him but didn’t think about the championship

and he started to go really fast.

It was a really great season because he

was a rookie, refused by other manufacturers

going on to win the title. For

Yamaha it was very unexpected. Then

Jeremy Seewer. He didn’t come to us

to finish in the top three of MXGP but

to do his best, try to improve and try to

“WE ARE LATIN AND ARE

PASSIONATE PEOPLE AND TEAMS

RUN BY LATINS COULD HAVE

SOMETHING EXTRA THAT COMES

INSTINCTIVELY...”

be faster. We knew right at the start of

the year that we’d be stopping as a race

team in 2019 but I told my staff that if

we can push and do our best then our

only goal should be to help Jeremy make

that improvement. It was a matter of

pride and it was humanly important to

help someone be better and faster and

feel better about themselves. Romain

was a champion and it was obvious we

wanted to go for the title in 20198 so the

only other quality we could have shown

was to help Jeremy. Thanks to some

injuries - that we are all aware of, I have

my feet on the ground – what we built

with Jeremy is something that paid off.

That feeling is sometimes better than

podiums.

The worst memory is when Josh Coppins

lost the world championship in 2007, because

of us. Loket [Grand Prix of Czech

Republic], four races to go with a lead of

107 points. The championship was won.

But he got injured, because of a mechanical

problem. He couldn’t enter the next

races and finished fourth in the championship.

He lost not because of him but

because of ‘motorsport’ and that was so

sad. We didn’t give him the possibility

to win his only title, which he deserved

because he was the fastest and that was

after six championships in a row with

Stefan Everts. What do you do when you

don’t have Stefan Everts? We took Josh,

and we didn’t win because of us. Then

we took David Philippaerts.

2008 was David’s first year. It wasn’t

easy…and it was very close…

It wasn’t easy. It was much more clearcut

with Josh. Stefan led, led, led. Josh

was leading with an even bigger gap.

Are you happy to be best remembered

because of the run and association with

Stefan? It is a record unlike almost any

other: six years of consecutive titles…

He won most of his titles with us also

the tenth and the last and will probably

always be the greatest champion…but

it was not always easy for him. 2003

was the most difficult season; I doubted

if he could finish even in the top three

of the championship with us until the

fourth GP. From the fifth he completely

changed because he started to ride in

the 125 class as well to do two motos per

GP. We thought it would be good for him


to enter a race before the race! So the

team decided this strategy and Yamaha

said it was OK if they believed it would

help. I mean, the season had already

‘gone’ before that. I remember being with

him and his wife Kelly at Leipzig airport

Sunday night after the German Grand

Prix and he was destroyed, crying. We

started to talk and we had a long gap

– one month – before the next race at

Montevarchi and made this 125 plan with

Stefan. We then started working with the

250 four-stroke and he won the 125 race

in Montevarchi, but this was not important

because we were going for the main

class. He won. From that day we turned

things around and stopped Stefan from

sinking. He won the championship [and

classified as runner-up in the ‘125’ category].

That year, compared to 2004 or

2005 or 2006 if you know the story, you

can see how the team really helped the

rider to achieve an incredible result. In

2003 he won the ISDE, the Nations, the

MXGP class and then all three classes at

the last GP in Ernee: this is a story that

I will never forget because that is a crew,

that is a family.

What was the best Yamaha YZ in your

tenure?

It is always the last! [smiles] I don’t

remember all of them. I do know we had

difficult years. We won with David in

2008 and then Yamaha came with the

new layout for the YZ450F and it was

not easy. But, on a bike that was not

the most-loved in the world, we won in

2010 with three different riders: David,

Steven Frossard and Gautier Paulin. So

that meant we tuned it quite well or we

found a good setting. I don’t know. With

the 450 experience is very important.

You need to put the rider in the middle

and then try to optimise it around the

rider. Much more than the 250 where you

need good power everywhere, RPM and

over-revving. The 450 is not like that.

You have to work with it and adapt it to

make the best package. I don’t think we

ever had a terrible bike. The dream bike

for the customer is a 400. For GP racing

you can improve it, but 400 is more than

enough for any rider in the world. The

specification should be for the customer

first. The average age of customer now

is pretty high – 30 years and more - and

maybe a 250 is not enough and a 450 is

perhaps too much. 400 is ideal. Talking

about speed in GPs then I don’t necessarily

link danger with speed. 60kmph

is not more dangerous than 55, for me It

is more the track and the jumps and the

way they are built. If people want a lower

average speed then it depends on the

bumps and jumps. The tracks are not so

natural as they are in the past. Bikes are

very powerful, you can get injured with

a 250 as much as a 450 but now – for

me – the time is to look for the customer

and go lower with the displacement.

Make the dream bike that people will buy

and GP will follow.

MICHELE RINALDI


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AMA

BLOG

TALK TALK...

The riders are deep into their bootcamps about now, not

much news out there to report. We’re looking for some of the

smaller teams still to hire some guys but that’s about it for

the sport over here. Geneva SX coming up of course in a couple

of weeks and the final round of the Aussie SX series next

week so there’s some stuff going on overseas. I get asked a

lot about the different podcast shows that we do over on the

Pulpmx Network as it seems nowadays there’s a new moto

podcast popping up every day!

Well, we’ve been here since

2008 and have no plans to fold

up shop anytime soon. The

whole popularity of podcasts are

soaring right now with people

discovering the new medium as

a way to tailor make their time

listening to whatever it is that

interests them. And that’s really

where it all started for me.

In 2007 I started listening to

podcasts about sports and

thought about how great the format

would work with motocross.

No word count, no time limit

and in the interviewee’s own

words at that. There wasn’t anything

out there at all so an opening

for me was created. Funny

to look back at that first podcast

set-up that consisted of a laptop

and about $40 in equipment!

Getting the greats of the sport

on the phone for an hour was

easy to do, the stories we heard

were great and for the first time,

the stars got to tell their stories

in their own words.

Smash-cut a couple of years

and with the podcasts gaining

momentum, I thought about

doing a Howard Stern-type of

motocross show. A morning

radio show that would make

you laugh, have skits and funny

phone calls and the hardest

part of the whole deal, make it

live. Oh and did I mention that I

wanted to have six phone lines

for people to call in and talk to

the stars of the sport?

The whole Pulpmx Show thing

was quite an undertaking for

sure, new equipment, new software,

a huge uptick in expense -

it was all a gamble that I wasn’t

sure would work to be honest. I

teamed up with Paul Lindsey, a

former team owner, at first but

those early shows didn’t work

very well before we parted ways

due to chemistry and budget

reasons.

In stepped Kenny Watson, living

in my hometown of Vegas -

something Paul didn’t - and the


By Steve Matthes

show started to get some steam.

Watson would say anything

about anyone at any time. I knew

how to deal with him and how to

get him going. The morning zoo

with Watson was, at times, truly

hard to deal with, but at other

times we were making some hilarious

and real moments about

the sport. Listeners were able

to call in and we had some real

characters at times calling in to

talk to Jeremy McGrath, Ryan

Villopoto, Chad Reed, James

Stewart or whomever else we

had on.

Those first few years we added

up the numbers every four

months and they were growing

and growing. We were onto

something, it was that simple.

Yes, people in the pits were

upset with us (mostly Watson)

at times for we were being real,

honest and trying to entertain all

at the same time. I used to tell

people “Can’t make an omlete

without breaking some eggs!”

which always sort of made me

feel better about trying to soothe

some angry feelings?

Watson’s role with the Hart and

Huntington team grew as the

team did and he started also

undergoing some changes in his

personal life. The show was dragging

him down, causing some

issues with the team and he was

also abusing substances. His

performance on Monday nights

started getting more erratic

which if I’m honest, started taking

some of the fun off it. He had

to move to Southern California

for the team and also needed to

get some help (which he did) but

the show, well it had to go on. I

was at a crossroads. I knew that I

couldn’t get anyone in Las Vegas

that could pull off a weekly spot

every Monday with the same

knowledge that Watson had. So

I decided to rotate co-hosts and

invest in the show in terms of

spending more money to fly people

in to sit in the chair with me

for four or five hours.

We still kept gaining listeners.

The switch in format worked and

some have told me it got even

better. Watson dropped in from

time to time when he could, Tony

Berluti, Kris Keefer all started

stopping by more and more and

riders like Jake Weimer, Nick

Wey, Zach Osborne all flew up to

hang out and talk moto.

The growth of the show has

astounded me and our partners

have mostly stayed the same as

well. The listeners have grown

to be loyal in using the many

discount codes we hand out and

many a sponsor have told me it’s

the best money they spend on

advertising.

We’ve had some epic guests on

over the years, not all of them

shining a positive light on themselves

either. Tony Alessi came

on after his son Jeff was kicked

out of a national for shining a laser

pointer in the eyes of a rider

and absolutely lost his mind. We

had to buy more server space

after that one. We’ve had Alex

Ray and Tyler Bowers basically

tell each other how much they

don’t like each other live on the

air. That was awkward. We also

had a listener tell us that he

had stage 4 brain cancer and

the show was his time to forget

about his terminal diagnosis.


AMA

BLOG

As much as we act like goofballs,

things like that make you

stop and think about we’re making

a difference.

Show #400 was a couple of

months ago and we managed

to get Ryan Villopoto, Nick Wey,

Jake Weimer and Adam Cianciarulo

all in-studio to talk about

their careers and so on. The

booze started flowing (for everyone

but Adam) and I have to admit,

I lost control of that show!

Pulpmx.com and something that

I’m making the majority of my

living at. Last year we had 4.5

million downloads across the

platform for all the shows and

nothing seems to be stopping

the desire for the fans of this

sport to get it crammed into

their earholes.

What a ride it’s been!

Although I’ve pissed off some

VIP’s in the industry (looking at

you Ricky Carmichael and Jason

Anderson) and they won’t come

on the show, most riders, like

Josh Hansen, Justin Barcia and

Joey Savatgy, have all scorned

me but eventually came around

and appeared on the show at

some point. At 40,000 plus

listeners (and watchers as we’re

also live on Facebook), many

riders and industry people realize

that if you want to get a message

out, we’re the spot for it.

All in all, it’s been an amazing

career in podcasting for me at


PRODUCTS

www.ride100percent.com

100%

For all their invention and creativity with

off-road goggles, 100% really caused a stir

with the launch of their Barstow product five

years ago that ventured into the booming

custom/vintage strand of motorcycling and

perfectly married performance and

stylish cool. Now the San Diego company

have renewed their leftfield model for 2020.

The new Barstow retains the same simplistic

frame for maximum vision, features triple

layer foam for moisture retention,

anti-fog lens treatment and the upper vents

force air in and channel out moisture to prevent

fogging. Importantly the 2020 range has

taken the artistic interpretation and vision of

three different collaborators to finalise the

five offerings of the range: Deus Ex Machina,

Roland Sands Designs and skateboarding

icon, Steve Caballero. Head to the 100%

website to see and learn more.


FEATURE


TESTED:

ARA-GONE

A three-hour blast on a (2019)

KTM 1290 Super Duke R to

the Aragon round of MotoGP

was also a fine opportunity to

run-the-rule over a few pieces

of high-tech riding kit.

2019 SUPER DUKE R

We’ve ridden, rated and professed

our fondness for this

flagship streetbike from KTM

and the big twin begged to

throttled from Barcelona to

Aragon which meant a mix of

city streets, motorways and

then open and quick A roads

all the way to Alcañiz. The

styling, noise and sheer presence

(that single sided swinging

arm is still so delectable)

turns heads on every outing

but it was the torque, stability,

braking prowess and the

feeling that the power from

the 1301ccs is endless that

makes it so charming, almost

adorable if it didn’t command

respect and a little slice of

awe. The best thing about the

1290 however is the feeling of

versatility. I used it to pootle

around taking the kids to their

sport training sessions and it

was equally at home weaving

into small traffic holes as it

was leaping forward when the

road invited. The engine

throb often created a hot ride

and the electric steering lock

is a cool idea but not the

most reassuring in terms of

security, however the Super

Duke was an absolute pleasure

in motion. We filtered with

ease in Barcelona, devoured

motorways miles at a speed

and were left smiling like a

loon through the curves of the

N-420 all the way to the circuit.

ALPINESTARS TECH-AIR

AIRBAG

Alpinestars have been leading

the march in airbag technology

in MotoGP for over a decade

and have had their street

system on the market for at

least five years. It’s a complicated

and advanced set of

gear; an independent, partially

sleeveless vest that connects

to several compatible jackets

in the Alpinestars portfolio.

We opted for a Specter leather

jacket and needed to grab a

size-up in anticipation of the

volume the Tech-Air would

need. It’s utterly essential that

any rider with the inclination

(or the wallet power) to consider

a Tech-Air take a careful

fitting of their chosen jacket to

ensure full mobility and

comfort. The airbag itself (we

had the Race version) arrives

in a large box and with an instruction

manual to equal any

household appliance. The unit

can be scanned and customised

online – this is pretty important

in terms of configuring

the type of use between racing

and street - so that the airbag

fires at either at a base speed

of 25kmph or over 100kmph

for the racetrack. Apparently

it deflates in one minute and

resets for another activation.

A bit of patience and time is

spent adjusting the Velcro

fastening points between the

airbag vest and the jacket as

well as connecting the main

‘ECU’ of the airbag to the

small electronic wire in the

jacket: this is done through a

simple plug in the back and

once made is discreet and

largely invisible. The Velcro

tabs are tricky, and it takes

a few attempts to reach the

optimum pairing between the

two garments; the first couple

of fixings leaves some of

the spiky side of the Velcro

twisted-up and scratching on

your upper-arm. Considering

the fact that the airbag won’t

be frequently attached and

unattached from the Specter

it’s worth the investment of

patience to get this aspect

spot-on. Two quick zips secure

the Tech-Air in place and the

set of orange and green lights

on the left arm blink into life.

TESTED


FEATURE

OK, so, the first impression of

the whole package is the sheer

weight of it. Imagine an entire

leather suit in the confines of

just the jacket: it’s seriously

hefty. As with most technical

attire of this ilk the weight

drops away when the garment

is actually being worn. Still, I

wouldn’t want to walk around for

an entire day with the ballast of

the airbag/jacket combo. Once

sat on the bike then the weight

seems to decrease further. You

have the sensation of being rigid

and compact but I honestly did

not find the airbag restrictive

in any way. It was like wearing

large back protector, and there

was no sensation of carrying extra

padding around my torso

(none more than usual).

The airbag is ‘armed’ with

closure of a central clasp

across the chest that is also

magnetic. To be honest this

is not something you’d forget

to do and is not obtrusive

when you unzip the jacket

for some air. The combo

is enhanced with zips and

adjusters (a kidney bind also

helps with that weight distribution)

and by the time you

have everything correctly

into place then those LEDs

are winking at you and making

you feel like a MotoGP

rider.

The tech specs and role of

the Tech-Air have been published

repeatedly (full inflation

in 25 milliseconds, data

reading at 0.002 of a second,

coverage of shoulders, back,

kidneys and chest, 25 hour

battery life on a single full

charge taking six hours) but

what does it feel like to wear?

Tight, but fairly unimposing

is the answer. Off the bike

is another matter and this


means it won’t be an easy

option for a short ride to the

shops (ironically when someone

is bound to send you

over their bonnet) but for any

substantial trip then there is

no disputing the extra sense

of security that the body

protection conveys. Once that

orange LED flicks off and the

tech is ready then it provides

a little shot of relief. Motorcycling

is far too exposed to

the elements to ever hoist a

sensation of invincibility – and

the truth is that you ride along

hoping that the airbag won’t

ever have to fire (there is also

a small period of worry that

the technology will activate

accidentally and how you’d

deal with that scenario) – but

this is somehow reaffirming

that you’ve taken steps to

increase your chances in case

the asphalt comes calling.

Priced over 1000 dollars you

are paying a premium for one

of the most important and

sophisticated safety components

of motorcycling on the

current market. Examining the

airbag and its vest ‘chassis’

closely then it’s clear to see

where your money is going.

The design, materials and the

millions of hours and euros

that have been ploughed into

the R&D necessary to make

something like this effective is

baffling. Progress with fabrics

and composites means that

the Tech-Air is likely to get

smaller, lighter and even more

practical as the years go on

but how long do you wait to

save your own back?

TESTED

6D ATS-1R

When 6D Helmets launched

their street ATS-1 three years

ago they offered one of the

safest and most effective lids

on the market, thanks to their

ODS technology – now reformed

and refocussed - that

combats the effects of low

velocity impact and rotational

acceleration. However, it was

a product at a premium price

with a few small drawbacks

such weight, a large shell size

and questionable quality concerning

the visor. In short it

was a decent first attempt and

enough to wobble some of

the big hitters of the industry

but not knock them from their

perch. I loved the styling of

the ATS-1; there was a certain

‘badass’ look to the curved

shell. It was also very comfy.


FEATURE

The ATS-1R is the next generation

- and like the ATR-2 offroad

version that was launched

this year - has made important

upgrades and has undergone

a sizeable overhaul. We opted

for the matte titanium silver

to test and the helmet has a

noticeably bigger chinbar section

(containing reinforced EPS

for impact protection) and the

form and closure of the visor is

more secure and clinical. Apparently,

it has lost weight, and

there is no discernible difference

from the Shoei and Arai

we also have in the office.

On the ride to Aragon the

improvements of the ATS-1R

come to the fore. It’s quiet, and

very cool. The venting system

seems to be highly effective.

A Pinlock visor aid is bundled

with the helmet but wasn’t

needed. With both upper and

lower intakes open it took a

concentrated effort to steam

up my vision.

The subject of comfort is

subjective and personal but

the ATS offers a snug fit, even

if my Medium size does feel a

little like a Large sometimes.

After sustained use I have a

slight red mark on the top of

my forehead but never the

sensation of a pressure point

or annoyance. In fact, it’s quite

a relief to move the helmet

around a little at times. The

Dri-Flex material helps the interior

to still feel ‘new’ despite

a lot of use (almost daily)

One corner of the removable

chin cover wanted to pop out

after a few uses but this is the

only gripe we’ve encountered

so far on the ATS-1R.

KTM REAR BAG

A stopover in Aragon meant

that luggage space was at a

premium. A browse through

the official KTM carry options

for the 1290 revealed that a

‘Rear bag’ was the most suitable

choice. The unit came with

an extension zip to expand the

capacity and two small side

pockets (that were handy for

storing the straps and waterproof

cover). An updated

version of the bag currently on

the KTM website has a slimmer

profile with these pockets

removed.


The first thing I noticed about

the bag was the shape: it

slipped into perfect line with

the rear pillion seat of the

Super Duke. It also has a

firm-form ‘lid’ which means

it can ‘seal’ the zipped inner

compartment even further and

can be robustly yanked tight.

Nothing is getting out.

The bag is fixed with four

straps which initially seems

a chore to lash around the

subframe and the rear number

plate stanchion but the operation

gets quicker and easier

every time you do it and, like

the bag closer itself, can be

pulled so tight that nobody is

going to be removing it from

the bike in a hurry. The bag

also didn’t budge a centimetre

all the time we were on the

road. Carrying it through the

paddock to the media centre

was a cinch thanks to the

heavy-duty handle and the

convenient shoulder strap that

comes packaged. The Rear

bag is not a daily runaround

tool – the straps dictate the

impracticality of this – but it

is a safe, well-made, value-formoney

candidate for loading

the Super Duke with a few

essentials that won’t fit in a

backpack.

TESTED


PRODUCTS

www.indianmotorcycle.com

indian

There was a visual feast of gleaming new

technology, bikes and kit on display at the

recent EICMA show in Milan and Indian

were among the brands keen to show off

their latest vehicles. We could fill this entire

issue with details of the new motorcycle for

2020 but we recently spotted an

Indian FTR (after reviewing the bike in the

last issue if OTOR) circling the streets in

Barcelona and, wow, what a head-turner.

Indian unveiled the ‘FTR Rally’ in Italy, that

they describe as adding to the FTR base

an ‘authentic retro styling to the modern

performance capabilities riders expect.’

The 1200cc 123hp engine is surrounded by

a new aesthetic of ‘Titanium Smoke paint

with the Indian Motorcycle headdress

logo, aluminium wire wheels with red pinstripe,

brown aviator seat, a new rally windscreen

and Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tires’.

The naked bike effect is enhanced by an

upright ergonomic, new ProTaper handlebars

and other detailing. The FTR Rally is a

quality offering (Brembo brakes) at a premium

price but there is a wealth of options

to stand out while enjoying a special riding

sensation. The ‘range of 40+ accessories

specifically developed for the FTR platform,

giving riders the ability to customise combinations

and maintain the independence

they seek when purchasing an Indian Motorcycle’

states the PR and is the impetus

to make the ‘Rally’ even more desirable.


Photo: R. Schedl

GETDUKED

BEAST MODE ENGAGED

2020 KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R

The NAKED rulebook has been re-written.

The KTM 1290 SUPER DUKE R is now leaner,

meaner and even more menacing than ever

before. Sporting an all-new chassis and suspension

setup, the flagship LC8 V-Twin 1301 cc boasting

brutal forward thrust, blinding acceleration and an

advanced electronics package, the NEW BEAST

is locked and loaded for battle.


PRODUCTS

www.motocrossgpalbum.com

mxgp album

Looking for an MXGP yearbook then

the ‘MXGP Album’ remains the definitive

choice and for the eleventh year

there is no better interpretation of the

series than this collection of slightly

different and artistic photography by

Stanley Leroux with a mix of interviews

and texts in both English and French.

There are two covers to choice from – a

limited edition with Glenn Coldenhoff in

action at the 2019 Motocross of Nations

– and the standard version featuring

2019 champion Tim Gajser. Expect a

thick, glossy and well-designed publiction

that will take pride of place on

any coffee table. Only a set quantity of

the books are printed, so order soon in

order not to miss out.


LEATT.COM/NEXTSTEP

THE SCIENCE OF THRILL


next

step

LEATT.COM


WORLDSBK


WORLDSBK POR

WORLDSBK TEST


WORLDSBK


WORLDSBK TEST


SBK

BLOG

TESTING TIMES...

More than Europe’s

largest MC store

Apparently 2020 has started (!) November is still to be seen

out but for the last few weeks “#2020startshere” is all I have

seen and heard on my timeline from riders, teams, journos

and anyone, it seems, working in the motorsport industry. I

wonder if there would be an appetite in any other walk of life

to change the calendar and have New Year’s Day on the 16th

November each year.

What people are referring to of

course is the fact that the racing

campaigns have all reached their

conclusions and the focus now turns

to preparations for the 2020 season.

There was a strange irony that some

of the main WorldSBK teams had

convened in Motorland Aragon to begin

their winter testing programmes

just days before the final round of

the MotoGP Championship, despite

being the only series that did not

have a published calendar for 2020.

We waited all week with the prospect

of, ‘it’s coming soon’. It took another

full week or so to get there but we

finally have it. Was it worth waiting

for? Probably not.

There will be no race in the US next

year. This causes a major problem

for GeeBee as I’ll need to stretch my

current pair of Levis and Gazelles for

some time longer as there will be no

spending spree at the Gilroy Outlet

Village, a famed destination with all

European travellers heading to Laguna

Seca. However, I am genuinely

disappointed. Laguna Seca can be a

difficult track to work at but it always

adds an extra angle to the pictures

for the year and California in summer

time is never much of a chore.

The series will also have no race in

the far east. Buriram will now only

appear on the MotoGP calendar

in the early part of the year and

nothing has filled it’s place on the

WorldSBK schedule. Instead we will

head to Qatar two weeks after the

season has kicked off in Australia.

There was a suggestion that Losail

may be the first round in

February but I would imagine the

Phillip Island organisation would be

less than chuffed with losing their

unique place on the calendar, for

which I am sure they pay a handsome

fee. Personally I will be glad to

get Qatar out of the way early in the

year and can look forward to enjoying

the rest of the season.

It does mean that Argentina will be

the final round of the championship,

something that I understand they

were not particularly keen on. It is a

great place to visit and I am sure will

serve up a suitable season finale.

However, the mistakes of this year

cannot be repeated. I fear that a degree

of damage may have been done

amongst the local fan base after

the debacle that happened back in

October. It would be unforgivable to

have a similar situation arise at the

last race of the year in 2020.


By Graeme Brown

The rest of the season has a familiar

look to it with the only a couple of

tracks being shuffled around. Jerez

and Motorland Aragon have swapped

dates primarily to avoid a cold and

windy weekend in Alcañiz. It is

hoped that the weather will be more

clement in Andalucia in March.

As expected, Oscherleben in Germany

joins the party in the first week

in August. It was interesting looking

back to the last time we visited

there in May 2004. A lot of people

have complained in recent times

that when Jonathan Rea or Alvaro

Bautista were winning by eight, nine

or ten seconds that the races were

boring. Race two at Oschersleben

in 2004 was taken by Regis Laconi

with a margin of 21.549 seconds.

Imagine that.

The other ‘new’ venue is Circuit de

Catalunya at Montmelo, north of

Barcelona. The date has been fixed

for the weekend of 18-20 September

but there was a real push to have it

in October as the final round. However,

my understanding is that the

circuit has to change several parts

of the track to meet the FIM safety

standards if they have held a car

race beforehand. It obviously has

to be changed back if the car race

comes after. The time frame and the

costs associated with this didn’t fit

the circuit’s own schedule so the October

date couldn’t be met. I would,

however expect to see it as the final

round in 2021.

Back at the test in Motorland

Aragon, there was little that threw

up any surprises. Jonathan Rea only

turned a few laps on the first day,

posted a fast time and went home.

I read some criticism of the fact he

didn’t run at all on the second day

but the weather literally put the

dampers on the team’s and JR’s

plans. A family commitment meant

he had always intended to return

home on the Thursday afternoon

but no one had factored in the wet

weather we encountered. That said

the team had very little new to test

so were just confirming some things

learnt in the final races of he season.

I reckon with the time he posted it

pretty much confirmed they were on

the right track.

The rest of the guys managed to

test on the Thursday afternoon once

the track dried out and in the end

the times were really close between

Scott Redding, Chaz Davies, Alex

Lowes and Toprak Razgatlioglu.

Redding impressed by being fast

straight off the bat. Coming from the

BSB spec Ducati to the full factory

machine with different electronics

he could have been forgiven for

settling in gently and building some

momentum but he looked at home

from the off and finished the test as

the only man to dip into 1m49s territory.

Razgatlioglu also felt strong on

the Yamaha. He was impressed with

the power and its delivery but also

with the feeling in the wet. Rain has

always been his Achilles Heel and I

found out at the test that this dates

back to his early days on the Superstock1000

Kawasaki ZX-10R. He had

an electronic malfunction in the rain

in that season and crashed heavily.

Since then he has struggled for confidence

in the wet. However, having

run in the damp on the Yamaha he

felt a lot more comfortable and able

to push harder.

Alex Lowes was fast on his first

outing on the Kawasaki but admitted

he was using the time to learn

the characteristics of the bike. He

seems to be a fast learner, posting

times comparable with his best on

the Yamaha from the race weekend


SBK

BLOG

earlier in the year, on a track that

was much colder. Once he is familiar

with the ZX-10RR I reckon he is

one to watch in 2020 for sure.

some speed for another year.

Then, and only then will 2020 have

started.

‘Man of the test’ for me however

was the American Garrett Gerloff.

Having jumped off the MotoAmerica

Yamaha R1 with Dunlop tyres

he arrived at Motorland having to

learn both the track and the characteristics

of the Pirelli tyres in

conditions that were not ideal. Like

Lowes he learned pretty quickly

and was only a few tenths off the

quickest Yamaha of Razgatlioglu

by the end of the test. He did have

a crash in the final minutes of the

second day, he was unhurt, and

it will be interesting to see how

he gets on in Jerez in the coming

week.

That leads me nicely to the last gig

of the 2019 GeeBee World Tour. I

am in Jerez all week covering both

the MotoGP and WorldSBK sessions

and after that I will have my

full focus on the Christmas and

New Year holidays. I will be next

on track in Jerez again in January

for the WorldSBK test before the

merry-go-round starts to gather


PRODUCTS

www.gloryfy.com

gloryfy

Austrian company Gloryfy have graced the

Red Bull KTM MotoGP team with sets of

their ‘unbreakable’ glasses; most made from

NBFX since 2016 and with a ‘memory effect’

so when they are bent or flexed they return

to their original shape: very convenient.

Several models have Inclinox temple adjustment

enabling an ideal fit, high-contrast and

colorfast vision due to mass-tinted lenses

and uncompromising precision and clarity

of vision. ‘STRATOS lenses perform best on

clear sunny days. The blue light is not filtered

which means far more available energy

for the body and therefore top performance,’

they claim.

Expect prices to hover around the 150 euros

mark and the website is a hive of information

about each model, including a ‘virtual fit’

tool where you can see how a set would look

on an image of your face. Collections are

grouped into ‘Sport’ and ‘Lifestyle’. Sport has

offerings for riding, running, mountain bike,

surf, fishing and more. Lifestyle has plenty.

We like the ‘Kingston’ as well as the more

rounded ‘Amalfi’. Also Soho Sun and St Pauli

Sun. From shiny to matte and with a range

of lenses, the www.gloryfy.com hub has a

wealth of customisation. Have a look.


TEST


IT WON’T

DROP

BELOW 50

Words by Roland Brown

Photos by Phil Masters/Arch


TEST


Cranking through a series of bends

and then winding open the throttle

to send the Arch KRGT-1 accelerating

hard with a rumble of V-twin exhaust

note, it’s easy to see why Keanu Reeves gets

excited about this motorcycle. Especially as

the movie star doesn’t just ride a bike like

this, he helped design and develop it, and

co-owns the company that built it.

ARCH KRGT-1

Hand-built bikes with a classically American,

45-degree aircooled V-twin engine

don’t normally feel this way, but the Arch

corners sweetly thanks to a unique chassis

whose arched frame gives the brand its

name. And perhaps, too, because it was

developed on the twisting canyon roads

north of Los Angeles, where Reeves – who

was heavily involved in that process – likes

to ride.

Reeves has been captivated by motorcycles

since his childhood in Toronto, Canada.

He’s ridden bikes in movies including Chain

Reaction, My Own Private Idaho and John

Wick: Chapter 3, looks after the green Ducati

888 that starred with him in The Matrix

Reloaded, and owns machines ranging from

a custom-built chopper to a 1973 Norton

Commando 850.

Arch was formed after Reeves called on

renowned Los Angeles custom builder Gard

Hollinger to discuss modifying a Harley-

Davidson. The duo struck up a friendship,

and Reeves eventually persuaded Hollinger

to set up their own firm to take the concept

further.

The duo stuck with American motive power:

a S&S V-twin of 2032cc, or 124 cubic

inch, capacity. The pushrod-operated lump

breathes via a specially developed downdraft

injection system, and out through a

custom-formed Yoshimura pipe.

Peak output is 94bhp but the torque figure

of 156N.m, delivered almost from tickover,

reveals more.

The main frame arch is made from steel

and holds CNC-machined aluminium rear

sections. It’s difficult to decide which of

the cycle parts tops the bill, from a stellar

cast featuring high-end Öhlins suspension,

six-piston ISR radial monobloc front brake

calipers and BST carbon-fibre wheels in 19in

front, 18in rear diameters.

More than this list though it’s the method

of construction and attention to detail that

characterises the KRGT-1, and which leads to

its sky-high price (£89,995 in the UK).


TEST


“THE HANDLING REALLY IMPRESSED. THAT UNIQUE

FRAME IS CLEARLY STIFF, STEERING GEOMETRY SEEMED

WELL CHOSEN AND THE ÖHLINS FORKS AND SHOCK

DELIVERED A FIRM YET COMPLIANT RIDE. THERE WAS

EVEN ADEQUATE GROUND CLEARANCE, FURTHER

EVIDENCE OF REEVES AND HOLLINGER’S EFFORTS TO

SET UP THE KRGT-1...”

ARCH KRGT-1

WORLDSBK POR


TEST

The fuel tank is made from two aluminium

halves, each comprising CNC-machined

pieces that are welded together, the whole

process taking 40 hours. The No.32 on the

steering head signifies this bike’s position in

the production run.

The flyscreen, tank shape and the curves of

the swoopy, leather-upholstered single seat

contribute to a sporty profile that is countered

by the huge V-twin powerplant, high

bars and forward-set footrests. Not that all

these are fixed, because each bike is built

for its customer, who is encouraged to visit

the Arch facility to finalise options from

paintwork to ergonomics.

Styling is an unusual blend of two-wheeled

themes; quirky but to my eyes not unattractive.

After I’d settled into the low seat and

pressed the button, the long-stroke motor

erupted into life with a ‘BLAM’, and settled

to a tickover sufficiently lumpy to confirm

the pistons were displacing a full litre

apiece.

When I knocked the slightly notchy sixspeed

box into gear, let out the firm clutch

and pulled away, the Arch’s performance,

raw character and poise combined to memorable

effect. The wheelbase is long, and the

fat Michelin Commander tyres required firm

input at the bars. But at 244kg the Arch is

quite light by American V-twin standards (if

not by most others’) and went where it was

pointed.

And the handling really impressed. That

unique frame is clearly stiff, steering geometry

seemed well chosen and the Öhlins

forks and shock delivered a firm yet

compliant ride. There was even adequate

ground clearance, further evidence of

Reeves and Hollinger’s efforts to set up the

KRGT-1.

Their work is far from over, too, because

development is under way of their next

model, the 1s, featuring a sportier riding

position and single-sided swing-arm; and

the Method 143, and even more striking

and expensive 143ci (2343cc) V-twin of

which only 23 units will be produced.

Meanwhile, Arch is looking for affluent

enthusiasts to order the KRGT-1 (in the

UK see www.futuremoto.co.uk, or Suffolkbased

dealer Krazy Horse who offer demo

rides – www.krazyhorse.co.uk). But you

get the impression that Reeves, whose

wealth is estimated at over $300 million

despite his habit of giving away substantial

amounts, will not worry if production numbers

remain low.

After all, the position of Arch Motorcycle’s

co-founder and test rider, with Californian

canyon roads outside your workshop, must

be one of the few jobs in the world to rank

with being a movie star. Keanu Reeves has

been Hollywood royalty for 30 years, and

he’s pretty damn good at making motorbikes

too. The KRGT-1 is proof of that.

And it certainly charged when I wound back

the throttle. From barely more than 1500rpm

the mighty motor breathed deeply, the exhaust

note quickened to a machine-gun-like

assault and I was pushed into the usefully

supportive seat. Once the bike was into its

stride there wasn’t too much vibration. The

KRGT-1 headed for the horizon, its flyscreen

helping to make the upright riding position

surprisingly comfortable.


“THE POSITION OF ARCH

MOTORCYCLE’S CO-FOUNDER AND

TEST RIDER, WITH CALIFORNIAN

CANYON ROADS OUTSIDE YOUR

WORKSHOP, MUST BE ONE OF THE

FEW JOBS IN THE WORLD TO RANK

WITH BEING A MOVIE STAR...”

ARCH KRGT-1


PRODUCTS


www.alpinestars.com

alpinestars

Alpinestars have launched a special Honda

collection for 2020. Among the products

are two jackets, boots, gloves, a ‘tube’ and

a full leather set. The leathers are based on

the popular and well-equipped GP Pro V2

suit and riders eyeing the new Fireblade can

complete their upgraded sports look with

the SMX 6 V2 boot and the SP-8 V2 glove. In

typical Alpinestars fashion the items blend

the latest and most advanced R&D and test

techniques for protection, comfort, function

and style. Those searching for something a

little more casual or less-track based then

the T-Faster Air Jacket or T-SP-1 waterproof

or the Chrome Sport hoodie will do the job.


FEATURE


THE

FAST

CONNECT

By Adam Wheeler

Photos by Polarity Photo

DISCOVERING THE AMAZING TECH THAT

OUTSTRIPS THE SPEED OF MotoGP BIKES

ON throttle of his factory Repsol Honda around the first

a bright and hot Friday October morning 2019 MotoGP

World Champion-to-be Marc Marquez feathered the

kinks of the Chang International Circuit for the opening practice session

of the Thai Grand Prix.

Entering the double apex Turn 7 the Spaniard lost control and was ferociously

flung from his race bike, striking the asphalt with a whopping

26g of g-force. Marquez escaped serious injury thanks to his Alpinestars

airbag that fired less than half a second after he was ejected from

the saddle and the sensors that inform the technology every 0.002 of a

second.

In the same moment that the 26 year old – who would amazingly win

the Thai race that same weekend to wrap his eighth world title and

sixth MotoGP crown from the last eight years – was arching skywards,

images from the Honda’s onboard camera was flying around more than

30km of cabling and connectivity at the Chang facility. It zipped back to

editors and production staff in Barcelona, Spain where it was being cut

and prepped for use by TV broadcasters and the burgeoning MotoGP

social media channels mere minutes later.

In motorsport so much moves in an instant.


FEATURE

MotoGP in particular has been

relentlessly chipping away at the

forefront of street motorcycle development

for decades. Whether

for engine tech, pioneering electronics,

composite materials, braking

efficiency, tyre prototyping and

performance and safety advances

such as body armour and airbags;

the sport has defied challenging

economic times and cost-cutting

measures to continually innovate

and experiment. Such is the spirit

of competition, and MotoGP is the

highest level with brands committing

multi-million-dollar budgets

to the cause.

million homes, 20 million followers

on social media, 79 broadcasters

taking the live race feed

and almost 3 million fans at the

circuits, Madrid and Barcelonabased

Dorna have become a

world-leading authority for ‘onboard’

cameras.

Grand Prix motorcycle racing was

the first international series to

embrace this perspective, which

has now become part of the

broadcast fabric of most motorsports.

In 1985 American Randy

Mamola agreed to have a 1.3kg

camera installed on top of his

500cc Honda fuel tank for the

Dutch Grand Prix and promptly

won the race in the pouring rain.

“After this Bernie [Ecclestone]

discovered onboards and linked

it to Formula One…but MotoGP

was first,” smiles Dorna MD

Manel Arroyo.

Shedding 1.2kg and shrinking

to the size of a pencil, Dorna

have pioneered the use of cameras

on a motorcycle. They have

investigated a myriad of positions,

resolutions and integrated

The efforts by the manufacturers

and teams to continually set the

curve is not a singular entity in the

Grand Prix paddock.

MotoGP, and rights-holders Dorna

Sports, are in a race themselves:

to keep pace with the rapid train

of technology. The vast web of

connectivity around the world

means that coverage and demand

for the racing exists in everfluctuating

boundaries. Like most

sports, MotoGP moved on from a

rudimentary television broadcast

some years ago and is now a versatile

media ‘engine’ of output and

content. Crashes, outtakes, unbelievable

‘saves’, behind-the-scenes

clips and many more indicate that

a MotoGP ‘race’ is just one element

of the line-up.

Fully absorbing their responsibility

to relay this gripping and sensational

spectacle to more than 428


graphics and now use up to 120

units, sometimes as many as four

on each MotoGP bike. ‘The difference

between motorsport and other

sports is that we can be much more

interactive between the fans and

the riders, bikes and teams,” Arroyo

explains. “There are many angles,

views and feeds in motorsport and

it allows the fan to have control. We

are not only battling against other

sports but also other streams, films,

series’, entertainment and it is important

that people can understand

that motorsport is a place where

they can really get interactive.”

The onboard footage from the

sharp end of MotoGP is one of

the key features of the Videopass

subscription App, where users

can digest any one of the nineteen

races or practice and qualification

sessions however they choose.

“Today the technology means we

can show so much and there is

a lot of possibility,” says Arroyo.

“With the cameras on the bikes

we can reveal how the riders are

working to make a show.”

A transmission of this ilk is one of

the first offerings in deeper ‘immersion’

for the curious MotoGP

fan. It is also part of a complex IT

and media content jigsaw puzzle

that relies on the expertise of a

company like Tata Communications

to click the pieces together.

POL ESPARGARO: WE ARE

USING QUITE A LOT OF DATA

FROM TV: IT IS ANOTHER

TOOL THAT ALLOWS US TO

RECOGNISE OUR PROB-

LEMS AND TO SEE WHERE

THE OTHERS ARE FASTER.

WE USE ALL THE TOOLS WE

HAVE IN OUR HANDS AND

THIS IS ONE OF THEM.

The vast multinational Indian firm

have 300 of Fortune 500 companies

as customers and have been

entrusted with the ‘conveyance’ of

MotoGP since 2017, having crafted

a benchmark in Formula One five

years earlier. They carry 30%

of the world’s internet ‘routes’

due, partially, to a subterranean

and terrestrial fibre optic cabling

network that could run more than

17 times around the circumference

of the globe and connectivity to

more than 240 countries and territories.

“MotoGP, in its own way, is

actually pushing the boundaries of

innovation substantially, especially

if you look at the whole TV department

and the new ideas they are

trying,” asserts Mehul Kapadia,

Tata Communications’ Global

Head of Marketing. “It is a true

sport, with a lot going on at any

given time: it can sometimes be

hard to show replays! The target

audience is different compared to

something like F1 but importantly

for us it is a great innovation

learning ground.”

“Social networks are giving us the

information and the knowledge of

what the fans like and do not like,”

Arroyo claims. ‘We have to have

partners like Tata Communications

with their knowledge and

connectivity to give the fastest and

best experience.”

“Today’s fans are changing,” Kapadia

explains. “There are those that

come to the racetrack - and it is

a big racetrack - so how can they

consume the race in its entirety

and that’s where things like OTT

[Over The Top media services]

and the richness of the data that

Dorna are producing come into

play: how can that be shared?

Then you consider the fans watching

it at home: how can that be

more interactive? People are

literally watching MotoGP in outer

space now. If you are somebody

TV, TATA & MotoGP SPEED


FEATURE

that wants to consume a lot of

micro content and not just what

happens on the weekend, then

this also needs to be accessible

and that’s what we do in terms of

providing the connectivity.”

THE HOW – “A PIECE OF FIBRE

IS LIKE A HAIR…”

MotoGP is a mammoth mobile

community with a population of

hundreds that shift from circuit to

circuit, continent to continent. An

overseas Grand Prix will involve

a long-haul operation of almost

1000 crates alone. Set-up for a

round begins well over a week in

advance and Tata Communications

have a small but essential

area for their ‘monitoring pods’

inside the TV compound at each

venue. These compact units are

connectivity hubs; critical gateways

for everything captured and

recorded at a MotoGP fixture to be

beamed to the outside.

“We connect point A to point B in

the best possible way,” says Kapadia.

“We have one of the largest

sub-marine cable networks in the

world today and that gives us is a

lot of capacity between continents.

We work with our partnerships

and service providers in different

geographies to ensure that fibre

connectivity can be put up: imagine

your broadband at home and

then imagine it again on steroids!

There are also a lot of server

guarantees. Again, if you are at

home and you are downloading,

watching Netflix and have other

connections then it could slow

down or you have some buffering.

What we do is put in enterprise

grade connectivity which means

that the part that goes from a race

circuit to the Dorna production HQ

in Spain is completely mapped out

to the optimum. It is a ‘motorway’

that has been opened up and even

has a ‘police escort’ so there is no

hold-up whatsoever.”

“For us MotoGP is a mobile capability

showcase,” he adds. “I could

take you to any MotoGP venue

around the world and that is an

incredible ‘proof point’.”

Evidence of Kapadia’s words are

seen in the Pods. Entering these

small, functional units reveals a

frosty blast of air conditioning,

monitors, illuminated decks and

cables. “We have over sixty video

feeds coming into us from Dorna

and we are responsible for bringing

those in and transmitting them

globally,” explains a jacketed Steve

O’Keefe, Tata Communications

Global Broadcast Media Service

manager and regular pod inhabitant.

“There is an IPF – International

Programme Feed – which is the

clean feed and we’ll have things

like the four onboard cameras of

every bike coming into us but then

it is up to the director which one

goes out to transmission.”

“We send an IP field engineer out

on Thursday prior to race week to

work with the local telecom provider

and Dorna who are building

up the TV compound with the

circuit,” he says. “As far as our fibre

testing then the local provider

will put the D Mark into the main

circuit building and we’ll test it

there. Me and my team will arrive

Monday morning and we’ll look

out for the physical extension from

the D Mark to the tech Pod where

our network nodes are.”

The Tata Communications Pods

not only sprinkle MotoGP globally

(more of a ‘power-hose’ effect actually)

but are what O’Keefe calls

“the anchor” for all content, and

especially for the six core broadcasters

in the paddock that are cycling

unilateral material throughout

the day. There cannot be even

a hint of outage. “If our systems go

down then there is no broadcast

around the world for MotoGP, so

we take it very seriously and

we carry a lot of weight

on our shoulders,”

he stresses. “We

carry 70% of

the load on

our fibre

optic backbone and

if there is an issue with that then

it’s a major one because Satellite

cannot transmit as much

as optical. We have full redundancy

1GB fibres and

everything is backedup

on a second fibre

so if we did have

an outage on

the first then

it would be

a seamless

rollover to

the second

and

the transmission


would not be disturbed. God

forbid if we had a catastrophic

failure but then we also have

our satellite feeds to transmit.”

Dependency and reliability are

two pillars of service that Tata

Communications have been

able to establish in MotoGP.

There are the foundations for

Dorna to wander and wonder

at what they can do next.

One of the good

things we have

been

XXXXXXXX TV, XXXXXXXX TATA & MotoGP XXXXXX SPEED XXXXX

‘THERE WERE CONCERNS THAT THE 450S

WERE TOO FAST, TOO HEAVY AND TOO MUCH

FOR THE ATHLETES AND WERE LEADING

TO A SPATE OF INJURIES... NEAR-CRISIS

MEETINGS WERE BEING HELD.’


FEATURE

able to do in the last few years

with Tata is be able to take four

signals from one bike, send them

to Barcelona and our studios and

convert to a 360 camera perspective,

which is the only one today in

motorsports that is live for viewers

but can also be enjoyed through

the App for our users,” says Arroyo.

“The 360 camera is an incredible

‘first’ that MotoGP has done,”

advocates Kapadia.

The provision for fans to be able to

‘drag and scan’ an all-encompassing

view from any of the riders’

motorcycle is a fine example of

interactivity. But the provision of

the IT highway forged by Tata has

other benefits, such as the possibility

of having a separate crew

in the comfort and confines of

Dorna’s production office a short

distance outside of the Catalan

capital of Barcelona.

“It helps to have another team

away from the stress of a race environment;

somebody in another

place that is bigger, with more

tools and more resources than

an OB truck,” says Sergi Sendra,

Dorna’s TV Director and company

Media Director. “We are always

trying to improve and that is a key

part. It is about the way to work.”

Kapadia says the versatility of

Tata Communications’ service

catalogue is a fine fit for MotoGP

and for them it provides some of

the diversity they crave. “MotoGP

is far more open as a sport,” he

opines. “We also do PGA European

Golf and for us each one of

these sports presents different

business challenges. For Formula

1 it is the whole ecosystem: the

management running the sport,

teams like Mercedes and Williams,

broadcasters like Sky, the

whole lot. With MotoGP is it direct

with the Dorna ecosystem. Golf

is very different. You can imagine

the amount of content they get.

In MotoGP we are talking about a

45-minute race or session. In golf

it is all day for four days so their

needs are different. It challenges

our ability to personalise and

customise. It is like working with a

bank or a manufacturing company

or an IT company: our process,

systems and products can evolve

to serve those people better. Sport

is a big learning ground because

some other companies won’t

require this big 24-7 work but

certain companies will. A bank will

need constant, flawless service.”


THE SPEED – “YOU BAT AN

EYELID AND THE DATA HAS TO

GO”

MotoGP is damn fast. Motorcycles

will top 220mph (355kmph) on

the longer straights in the series.

2019 has seen new records fall

for the closest race finishes of

all-time. It is therefore essential

that any technical provider to the

championship can keep pace to

showcase all of this. Tata Communications

have good form in this

respect – their ‘ultra-low latency’

- and connection with 12 of the

leading stock exchanges testify to

the fact.

“A lot of work has gone into our

network to ensure low latency: the

point from when something happens

to it bouncing somewhere

and being seen somewhere else

and we are talking about milliseconds,”

reveals Kapadia. “You bat

an eyelid and the data has to go

from Qatar to Barcelona and back:

that’s the speed it has to happen.”

While Marc Marquez briefly saw

the world from a different perspective

in Thailand Dorna were able

to provide broadcaster DAZN in

Barcelona – the rights holders

to MotoGP in Spain – with the

camera perspective in the same

instant thanks to this dizzyingly

quick bridge.

“DAZN is now working and broadcasting

from Barcelona and last

year these people were at the

circuit,” says Sendra. “When we

went from the satellite to fibre we

were a bit ‘frightened’ but we know

that taking a risk is how you can

achieve new things. After three

years of tests from a variety of circuits

we decided in Australia last

year that DAZN could broadcast

from Barcelona and that means

the 20 people that used to work

and travel are now based back

at home. From the first moment

they described their experience

[working with the feed] as ‘perfect’.

Obviously, they have to adapt

depending on the latency but we

have to say the experience has

been extremely positive. All the

management of the onboard cameras

is now done in Barcelona.”

O’Keefe is a specialist with quarter

of a century of experience and his

eyes widen when asked about how

the IT world has twisted the throttle

in the last ten years. “I started

with one of the first companies in

America to do streaming media

and content delivery network, so

IP video distribution, and we were

dealing with 56k/128kb per second

video which was chug-chug-

TV, TATA & MotoGP SPEED


FEATURE

chug,” he says. “Obviously the

broadcast industry is coming to a

point where we are now going back

into the IP world. We do provide

ethernet services IP/ HDSDI and

ASI feeds but more and more it is

coming to an IP feed. I believe the

future is turning this Pod into a

fully IP automated solution…but it

will take a little while.”

The parallel with the riders on the

track is strong: the hunt for more

speed, more improvement, more

possibilities. The difference comes

with the target. MotoGP teams

and athletes chase betterment for

sporting achievement and glory,

Kapadia acknowledges that the

search for even quicker connectivity

– and upgraded technology

generally - is partially driven by

another source.

“It is a fans world,” he states. “Doing

a 360 camera view is what fans

want but it is supremely challenging

to stretch those four-feeds in

real time. New technology comes

up in various things and 360 is one

of them. We can also talk about virtual

reality and there will be a time

when this comes into play as well.”

“It is all relative to what the user

wants,” he continues. “At the end

of the day different technologies

are running at different pace. Look

at phones. We never used to have

much storage space because we

didn’t need it. Now you need a lot

for all the photos and HD videos.

So different technologies are moving

at a certain pace and hardware

and Applications also. Then you

have to look at the digital infrastructure.

Tata Communications

is digital infrastructure services

provider and connectivity is a part

of it, but it constantly has to keep

pace with the users’ demands.

Generally technology moves at an

incredible pace and for us it is not

just about how quickly data can be

moved but how relevantly it can be

positioned and the combination of

connect-compute-storage.”


THE FUTURE – “HAVE THE

FOUNDATION IN PLACE”

Lap records will be chipped away

and race-winning times will drop.

An ‘innovator’ like Marquez will

even shift the style and technique

of what it will take to excel in

MotoGP. Away from the activity between

the red light and the chequered

flag, Dorna are in a similar

pursuit. They have cornered a

market with their onboard camera

hardware and the TV outlay

of MotoGP is the definition of the

term ‘comprehensive’ thanks to

the blanket coverage of every rider,

every corner, every sensational

moment, every talking point, every

interview quip.

“We are surrounded by a massive

amount of data from the bikes and

the riders,” says Sendra. “Things

like GPS…and we are working a lot

to be able reproduce this and think

about some [concepts like] virtual

reality. Firstly, we have to analyse,

because video and audio can

be transmitted from one step to

another but not data yet, and we’re

working on that to produce new

ways to show a part of the race.”

The images and information that

is on-tap has become, oddly

enough, a tuning aid for the teams.

2019 MotoGP runner-up Andrea

Dovizioso is just one rider who has

talked about the fine detail and

accessibility of the super-slow-mo

footage as a means for deducing

the handling characteristics of

his factory Ducati Desmosedici at

certain circuits. The minute frames

of information on screen turns into

a visual guide for altering set-up,

based on an immediate appreciation

for what the motorcycle is doing

while entering a corner. Every

team uses video as a private learning

or ‘spy’ tool but the general

MotoGP feed is another source.

As the ‘20s beckon, MotoGP is accumulating

hundreds of terabytes

of footage and material. Some is

shipped digitally as well as physically

back to Spain, some is transported

in hard copy to the next

races (this is especially the case

with sequential flyaway events).

Again, this aspect of transportation

and storage is another theme

whereby the company lean on Tata

Communications. “We are working

on a system where [at] the

same time we produce we are also

storing and providing access [to

broadcasters],” Sendra says. “This

is important because we have

many cameras and feeds and bigger

ones like for 4K and we need

more space and agility.”

“We’re in a proof of concept phase

with Dorna bench-testing 4K and

HGR technology moving forward,”

O’Keefe says looking around his

Pod in the paddock of the Dutch

Grand Prix at the Assen circuit.

“That being the case next year

there could be more bandwidth

and potentially more equipment.

We are looking to take that next

step.”

Ideas and modernisation used

to be hemmed by resources and

the technology available. This is

certainly the case for the motorcycles

where horsepower and engine

output has been on-tap for many

years but the progression of chassis

performance and tyres needed

to catch-up. The machinery has

now never been faster or more capable

entering the third decade of

the century. The balance has now

tipped more towards the ‘means’:

people can unleash their imagination

and have the tools to make

them happen.

“Absolutely,” Kapadia concurs.

“We are at a place now where it is

about user cases and user experiences.

In MotoGP if they went up

from 120 cameras to 150 or from

6 feeds to 10 then we’d be able to

keep pace with it. We’d be able to

ensure that it is all tested before

they want to do that. A classic

example is in F1: when we moved

there they actually had connectivity

that was less than a home

broadband connection at every

race track! Now they are using 100

times more. Due to this they can

do remote operations, like they do

in MotoGP. The camera remains

the same but they now have the

ability to have a human sitting

somewhere else to manage it.

You have opened up time for that

human to be doing other things

when the race is not on. If you are

at the track then you are limited

and it involves the cost of travel

as well: it is cases like that which

will keep pushing boundaries of

technology.”

TV, TATA & MotoGP SPEED


BACK PAGE

Valencia. MotoGP 2019. By Polarity Photo


ON

TRACK

OFF

ROAD

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

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

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

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

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

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

issue available with a brief description of each edition’s contents simply

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

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

OTOR.

Adam Wheeler Editor and MXGP/MotoGP correspondent

Ray Archer Photographer

Steve Matthes AMA MX and SX correspondent

Cormac Ryan-Meenan MotoGP Photographer www.cormacgp.com

David Emmett MotoGP Blogger

Neil Morrison MotoGP Blogger & Feature writer

Matthew Roberts Blogger

Graeme Brown WSB Blogger and Photographer

Roland Brown Tester

Núria Garcia Cover Design

Gabi Álvarez Web developer

Hosting FireThumb7 - www.firethumb7.co.uk

Thanks to www.mototribu.com

PHOTO CREDITS

Ray Archer, CormacGP, Polarity Photo, GeeBee Images, Phil Masters,

KTM Images, Massimo Zanzani, Jamie Morris

Cover shot: Brad Binder by Sebas Romero/KTM Images

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

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

the editorial team. For more information please visit www.ontrackoffroad.com and click

‘Contact us’.

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