Valencia to remain as final race of the season until 2021

The Generalitat of the Comunitat Valenciana and Dorna Sports are pleased to announce the season finale of the FIM MotoGP™ World Championship is set to remain at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia for another five years. The agreement to renew the circuit’s place on the MotoGP™ calendar was recently reached between the President of the Generalitat, Ximo Puig, the Councillor for Education, Research, Culture and Sport, Vicent Marzà, and CEO of Dorna Sports, Carmelo Ezpeleta and has been announced this morning in Valencia with all the parts involved.

The unique and arena-like Circuit Ricardo Tormo has become a favourite on the calendar with its record of season-ending showdowns, with the visibility and atmosphere provided by the venue proving something unique since it first hosted the final event in 2002. The history made so far at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo will now continue for another five exciting seasons of MotoGP™ action; confirmed until the end of 2021, with the new contract finalized two months ahead of the end of the current agreement.

President of the Generalitat Ximo Puig praised the stability of the new agreement for the Gran Premio de la Comunidad Valenciana, and the triple impact of the event in terms of sport, economy and tourism: “We are going to do everything possible to make the most of the Valencia GP and to assure the efficiency of how any public resources are used.”

“We are thrilled that MotoGP will be returning to Valencia for another five years,” said Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna Sports. “The new agreement to return to the track is fantastic for the Championship, for the Comunitat Valenciana and for fans both in the region and worldwide, with the Circuit Ricardo Tormo always providing a unique and memorable event to end the season.”

The track has been host to many thrilling races across all classes, including both the 2006 and 2015 MotoGP seasons, the 2009 250cc title decider and also the last French premier class win with Regis Laconi, back in 1999.

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

Gresini Moto3 Ready for Aragon GP Battle

MotorLand Aragon hosts this weekend round 14 of the 2016 Moto3 World Championship: after having narrowly missed out on victory with Enea Bastianini and collecting another positive Top Ten finish with Fabio Di Giannantonio at Misano, the Gresini Racing Team Moto3 arrives in Spain confident to get another good result.

Bastianini, in particular, is going through a period of great form and he’s keen to attack Championship leader Brad Binder and try to get a win, which he missed out at Misano for just a few tenths under the checkered flag. The 18-year-old rider from Rimini, now second in the overall standings, enjoyed a great race at Aragon in 2015, setting the pole position with the new track record and fighting in the leading group until the final corners, when a contact with Binder led him to crash.

Aragon promises to be a favorable track also for Fabio Di Giannantonio: the 17-year-old rookie from Rome got the last of his three victories last year in the MotoGP Rookies Cup on the Spanish track. Always in the Top Ten in the last eight races, “Diggia” will try to bring home other important points in the fight for the “Rookie of the Year” trophy, in which he is opposed to Nicolò Bulega and Joan Mir.

Bastianini: I’ve always liked Aragon

“Aragon is a track I’ve always liked a lot and last year we have been very competitive: after starting from pole position, I was fighting for the win on the final lap, when unfortunately I made a mistake touching Binder and crashing. This year we will try to be fast right from the start of the weekend, as it’s happening lately, in order to work well and get prepared for the race. Binder has a great advantage in the standings, but we still try to attack and we won’t give up until the math keeps us in the game!”.

Di Giannantonio: I expected better in Misano

“Honestly I was expecting to get a better result at Misano, although all in all we again hit the target to enter the top ten. Aragon is a track that I quite like and I know very well, having raced there for two seasons in the MotoGP Rookies Cup. Therefore we head to Spain ready to have fun and to do our best to get a good result!”.

Kiko Giles

John Hopkins: BSB is by Far the Best Domestic Superbike Series in the World

Seeing as I was stationed in the ePayMe Yamaha Racing camp over the Friday and Saturday, I decided I was going to do a Q&A with the former MotoGP podium finisher, so that’s exactly what I did. John Hopkins speaks to me about the BSB world in comparison to MotoGP, his 2017 plans and also how his former rivalry with Tommy Hill still drives him on today.

How does the Yamaha compare to a GP bike and other Superbikes?

Well to be honest, it’s hard to compare any Superbike with a MotoGP bike because the contrasts are so big, even though they were even bigger before! They are getting closer nowadays and I have to say, this Yamaha is definitely the closest Superbike I have ridden in comparison to a GP bike. GP bikes are extremely rigid and tend to have really stiff chassis, meaning you feel everything from the circuit. The Yamaha has a very rigid chassis but yeah, it’s definitely not a million miles off the characteristics of a GP bike.

On a whole, what’s the difference between MotoGP and BSB?

British Superbikes is definitely more family friendly and less commercial. It is way more corporate in MotoGP. The fan base over here in BSB is absolutely amazing and I would say it is by far the best and most competitive domestic Superbike championship anywhere in the world. The BSB crowd attendances embarrass the WSBK series; the World championship has a lot of catching up to do because a lot of the tracks they go to, they really struggle with pulling people into the stands. Rain or shine, BSB is thriving and we always seem to get a really good turn out and as a rider, I’m really grateful for that.

How do you keep fit, seeing as the bikes get more powerful and harder to handle?

I like to stay fit by riding and keeping active on two wheels. Motocross has always been my passion and it was my first love before I even got into racing so yeah, I am always motocrossing at every chance I get as well as mountain biking. When I was in MotoGP, the teams and factories always wanted me to be cautious in case I did myself an injury but I would never sign a contract if it meant I had to stay away from a motocross bike.

Do you see yourself returning to the world stage?

Right now, I still feel like a have a point to prove in British Superbikes and you know, where ever it goes from there we will see. I do kind of miss the world stage in terms of seeing the countries and going on the big, Grand Prix circuits but now I have a wife and two kids, it is nice being at my home away from home and being able to have a base in the UK. I mean, most of the WSBK circuits are in Europe anyway so yeah, we will see how it goes but right now, I’m still enjoying BSB and like I’ve said, I have a point to prove.

Where do you think you could have been without the injuries?

Well, I’d like to say we would be well within the top six and in the showdown at this stage of this season if I hadn’t injured myself at Knockhill. I think the following circuits after my injuries are by far my favourite circuits in BSB. Thruxton, Snetterton are all my favourite circuits and I am gutted not to have more of a say in the title. My plan now is to be in an imaginary showdown and try and sign off this year on a high!

What are your 2017 plans?

I would like to stay in BSB on a competitive package, I haven’t signed anything yet but we have had a couple of offers but my main focus at the moment is to finish off this season and try and do the best I can. I have the pace and I know I can be competitive on a good bike.

How does your previous rivalry with Tommy impact on your working relationship?

It’s just banter really. At the time it was obviously serious, and he could have been my worst enemy. We both had our race faces on and it wasn’t anything personal, it was just the fact that we both wanted the same thing. There are absolutely no regrets, it happened the way it was supposed to, as it was all clean and to just be a part in that championship season was absolutely amazing! That is one of the races that is still driving me today to try and succeed and win the BSB championship. If it came down to a last lap scrap this year and the rider I was battling with needed a win then I wouldn’t do something stupid but I am also riding for myself. I haven’t signed a deal just yet. I have respect for other riders but I am here for myself right now.

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

Photo Credit to Gareth Davies, for yet another fabulous image.

Tommy Hill: ‘Former BSB Champion’ has approached us for 2017

I was honoured and humbled when I was invited into the garage of the ePayMe Yamaha Team, which is run by Tommy Hill, the 2011 BSB champion. I was even more honoured to interview this incredible man about his past in BSB, his views on BSB and his future plans, including next season. Find out what Hill is thinking in terms of 2017 and also, what he wants from the remaining rounds of this years campaign.

What made you retire early in your career?

There wasn’t a definitive reason to be fair, there was a lot of factors contributing to it. I’d been riding a bike since I was six years old so the decision was massively difficult. There was a positive in finishing at the top of my game and also a negative; the negative being that you have to live with that and still feel like you could do a good job if you jumped straight back on a bike.

I’m involved with a new race team now, doing something completely different. I had a boy, got married and had a normal life really. It was a really difficult decision but I thought ‘I’m just going to have a normal life for a bit now’. Every day of my life was spent racing bikes or doing something around bikes. If I had a bad weekend and finished 4th, then I would be straight out the next day training and dieting and all in all, putting myself under a lot of unnecessary pressure. I wanted to know, myself as a racer, that I left that race meeting knowing I couldn’t have done anything more. It was lot to do with stress and I just fancied a break as it was taking its toll.

How has BSB changed from a riders point of view?

Every year something changes, whether that be a compound change in the tyre, a different spec of ECU, rule changes to make things simpler, but a lot of the rules were introduced for teams like ours so that it was more affordable. Some teams agree on the rule changes, others don’t. Generally, the people who disagree tend to be part of big teams with big budgets as it limits their spending and development to a certain extent. It makes it easier for teams like THM Yamaha to come into the championship and then challenge at the sharp end. To give you an idea on budget, in 2006 a top team was running on £1.5m a year and now the top teams are running on £600k. The introduction of the one bike rule has had a big part to play.

Did you find the one bike per rider rule pressurising?

100%! You over think it a lot more with just one bike and obviously it puts more pressure on the crew but that’s when you rely on the crew to work quickly and use all the spare parts. However, budget determines how many spare parts you have and how many pre-assembled parts you have too. It doesn’t take the risk element away so much, as when you go out there on track, you still have a job to do and you will push to the limit and do whatever it takes. If you go down then you go down, it is what it is.

Why is BSB so close?

Well there used to be more competition between tyres, ECU etc but now that is all controlled, it has made the series closer. Everyone is on the same tyres, ECU, most teams use the same suspension and all that together makes the times better and that hopefully creates a better spectacle at home.

What is the difference between management last year to ownership this year?

Last year, I was supposed to have ownership of the team as well and that’s mainly the reason why I wanted to do it. I wanted to make sure that we have something at the end of it all, as there isn’t a lot of money in this sport anymore. You’ve got to try and make a business out of what you have outside of the racing. I had a lot of the stresses last season, as I was loyal to the team, the budget and our sponsors. I helped secure pretty much all of the sponsors last season, so I was loyal to them too and a lot of my sponsors are my friends and part of my history. For me, it is very similar to last year; I’m honest to myself, to my team and to our partners and at least at the end of the year I can say, ‘well, I made the right decisions for the right reasons’. There is no major difference as long as you are loyal and honest.

Strengths and weaknesses of the Yamaha?

The Yamaha has a fantastic chassis; it turns well and finishes the corners really well but sometimes the only downside is that Yamaha will never produce the most horsepower but the overall package is very, very good. With the championship so close this year with the rules, it makes it harder for our riders to get to where they need to be, which is when you rely on the rider to do a bit more and the crew also. It’s all about making the most of what you got.

How do you think your riders have been this season?

John is really pumped up now, he’s been great in the last couple of races but it’s getting to the point now where we need to start seeing results. Whether we put pressure on the riders or not, we need better results. We know we have the package, the team and the rider and it really is a matter of ‘when’. It’s been majorly frustrating as nothing has come to fruition. Everything looks good, feels good and now we just need that final product. One positive is that when John crashed out of the last round, he was up the field and battling for the podium, so the pace is there. It has been annoying because we have had different riders, who have different styles so therefore it’s hard to gather reliable data, but it is what it is.

Does your team enjoy having a control tyre supplier?

There is another front compound of tyre, however that is only available in the WSBK paddock. We have two specifications of front and rear but in WSBK they have four. We are working with what we have but it could be a lot better if we could get access to the other spec of front tyre. When you are trying to find 0.2/0.3s, then a different tyre could be better because it can give you half a second! We would rather see more variation in the control tyre supplier than more tyre suppliers and less variation within that brand. We are working with the best we have but we believe that there are better compounds out there.

What are the plans for 2017?

I signed a two-year deal with ePayMe at the start of this season and also a two-year deal with Yamaha, so that will stay the same. We hope that Yamaha could step up a bit more and give us more technical support and hopefully more financial support to move us a bit further up the grid. For me, we may be doing a good job as a new team but I think we could be doing better. We aren’t in talks with John yet but there have been riders calling me, which is great! One of them is an ex-British champion and for me that is quite reassuring to know that riders want to ride for us. I have also asked a few questions about Brad Ray but that is the most I’m saying on that!

How does your previous rivalry with John impact on your working relationship?

No not really. I respect John for losing the championship really. 0.006s later and it could have been me. I respect him and all the other riders but deep down we want John further up. Whatever it takes, I want him to win. As a rider, what you have to do is go to the bar, have a pint and think, ‘well this year wasn’t the year but next year will be’. It would be a dream for John to have won the championship with me this year; at the start of the year we genuinely thought that we would be in for a good season, but for whatever reasons, things just haven’t worked out. As a rider you need confidence, and as a team we are working well and the rider is working well with the team, so now all we need is a decent run of results.

Photo credit once more to Gareth Davies

British Superbike Showdown Preview: Meet your Six Shining Superbike Stars

The British Superbikes are back this weekend, after a dramatic round at Oulton Park in Cheshire.

They head to Donington Park in the East Midlands, for the first of three Showdown rounds. Leon Haslam is at the top of the championship tree after rival Shane Byrne had a disastrous weekend. However, there are more riders than just those two. Let’s find out who our Showdown participants are in championship order!

1.)Leon Haslam, Aged 33, GB Moto JG Speedfit Kawasaki, #91

Leon Haslam snatched the championship advantage at the last round at Oulton Park, taking an incredible three wins to put him level on seven with Shane Byrne. The Derbyshireman’s 2016 campaign has been amazing, as he has 12 podiums, including the seven wins. He returns to his home circuit this weekend, having finished in the top two in all of the BSB races he’s been in at the track. He completed a Donington-double in 2007 on the Airwaves Ducati, and will be looking to do the same this weekend. Haslam hasn’t raced in the BSB series since it adopted the Showdown format, so whether or not that has an impact on his title hopes is a question that Leon himself will have to answer on track!

2.)Shane Byrne, Aged 39, PBM Be Wiser Insurance Ducati, #67

Shane Byrne relinquished the championship lead last time around after a terrible meeting at Oulton Park. The rider from Sittingbourne, Kent, has also won seven races this year but has only had 10 podiums compared to the Pocket Rocket’s 12. Shakey has had poor rounds at both Oulton Park meetings which is primarily the reason why he is now 2nd. But we all know what Byrne is capable of, so don’t discount him just yet!

3.)Jason O’Halloran, Aged 28, Honda Factory Team, #22

Jason O’Halloran has been something of a revelation this year. The Australian has fought back from horrific leg injuries sustained in a crash at Thruxton last season and this year he took his first win. The O’Show has been outstanding, as well as his win he has taken four further podiums and finished every race he’s entered. The former Aussie Supersport champion is positioned perfectly should the leading duo encounter some British Superbike turbulence. Could we have an Australian BSB Champion for the second year running?

4.)James Ellison, Aged 35, GB Moto JG Speedfit Kawasaki, #77

James Ellison – BSBs unluckiest rider. The former MotoGP star hasn’t half found it hard, but the gritty Cumbrian has fought tooth and nail and forced his JG Speedfit Kawasaki into the top six. Ellison has yet to win a race in the 2016 BSB championship but his consistency has been enough to propel him into contention. He won the first race of the British Superbike season last year at Donington Park so he knows how to get around the Nottinghamshire circuit. The question is whether or not he will apply that knowledge come Sunday afternoon.

5.)Luke Mossey, Aged 23, Quattro Plant Kawasaki, #12

Luke Mossey’s 2016 just keeps getting better and better. He not only booked himself into the top six at Oulton Park, but just hours before he became a father for the first time! Skywalker has taken four podiums this year and he will be looking to build on that this weekend. Mossey didn’t have a particularly staggering debut in BSB at Donington last season, but he took his first point. The question is now; will he be taking his first ever BSB race win?

6.)Dan Linfoot, Aged 28, Honda Factory Team, #4

Dan Linfoot of Yorkshire completes the line-up for this year’s BSB Showdown protagonists. Surprising still yet to win a BSB race, Linfoot’s consistency has done enough to embed him into the top half dozen. Despite coming so desperately close to a win at Snetterton, only to be beaten by teammate O’Hallaron, Linfoot has done enough, but now he has to start winning. He needs podiums at the very least. There is no room nor time for 4th place finishes in a championship as competitive as this.

Oh so close, yet so very far…

Just missing out in the showdown was Michael Laverty, who despite winning two races, only got two other podiums. He had four non finishes in the season and that will simply not suffice. He joins Tommy Bridewell, Peter Hickman, Christian Iddon, John Hopkins, Richard Cooper, Lee Jackson and Glenn Irwin in the fight to become best of the rest and winner of the Riders’ Cup!

There are 13 race winners on the BSB grid, with an unbelievable eight of them not getting into the top six. On top of that statistic, there have been six winners this year, which highlights the fact that wins aren’t much use without consistency.

The season is drawing to a close; the end is near with just seven races left. But who will take all the winnings as the sunset fades on the horizon? What drama will be presented to us before we can see who our champion will be?

I can tell you that we will be trackside bringing you the latest developments as they unfold in front of us at Donington Park this weekend. You can find exclusive interviews, photos from across all three days as well as competitions and hourly updates!

You can be sure to follow us here @PitCrew_Online for all the latest news from all forms of motorsport and you can follow me for all things bike related, from MotoGP to the CEV Junior World Championship @MotoGPKiko. Follow the CrewOnTwo Instagram too! Gareth Davies is the owner of the photos, as he supplies us with these marvelous images.

Ducati Subdued after Misano Weekend

The two Ducati Team riders Andrea Dovizioso and Michele Pirro finished sixth and seventh respectively in the TIM San Marino GP, the thirteenth round of the MotoGP World Championship which was held today at the Misano World Circuit.

Dovizioso, who started from the second row after qualifying sixth quickest, scrapped for fourth place in the opening laps with Marquez, Pedrosa and Viñales. The Italian then crossed the line on lap 11 in sixth place and kept that position until the chequered flag.

Pirro started the TIM San Marino GP as replacement rider for Andrea Iannone, who injured his back in a crash on Friday morning. The Italian, tester for the Ducati Test Team, started the race from row 2 with fifth quickest time set yesterday in Q2, but he was unable to get away well and crossed the line at the end of lap 1 in ninth place. Michele then moved up into seventh on lap 23, when he passed Crutchlow and finished the race in that position.

Dovizioso: We are struggling to get the bike to turn

“It’s a pity because today I expected to get a different result in the race. Unfortunately we are still struggling to get the bike to turn like our rivals and as the laps go by this difference increases. To reduce the gap I have to use a lot of energy, push hard on the handlebars and my riding style becomes less smooth and a bit more ragged. To do a consistent lap it’s better that I don’t push hard in the early laps, but we are forced to do so to remain with the leading group.”

Pirro: It’s been a great weekend!

“I gave away a bit too much at the start today: losing three or four seconds early on makes things all the more difficult, but it’s not easy to quickly find the right feeling to start well when you only take part in MotoGP occasionally like I do. In the race I managed to be quite consistent and I didn’t finish too far behind my team-mate. I want to thank Ducati for everything, because it’s been a great weekend; yesterday I was fifth in qualifying, this morning third in the warm-up and today in amongst the leading group in the race. I also want to wish Andrea Iannone a speedy recovery and tell him that today I treated his bike well and that at Aragon he’ll find it in the same condition as he left it!”

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

Bastianini Takes Hearty 2nd at Misano

Only a Brad Binder in great shape prevented Enea Bastianini to claim the victory in today’s Grand Prix of San Marino and Riviera di Rimini at Misano: the Gresini Racing Team Moto3 rider fought till the very last lap to try to replicate the last year’s stunning victory on his home circuit, but the South African to defend well in the last corner, thus cross the finish line in front of Bastianini for 0.2 seconds.

Enea still rode a great race: after a good start, together with Binder he opened a gap over the other riders of the leading group and from lap nine onwards he followed closely from behind the South African rival. The 18-year-old rider from Rimini then passed Binder with five laps to go, taking the lead. Passed again by Binder just a few corners from the chequered flag, Enea launched his final attack on the last corner, but Binder was very good closing the inside line. With this second place Bastianini is now in second place in the overall standings with 123 points.

The other Gresini Racing Team Moto3 rider, Fabio Di Giannantonio, crossed the finish line in tenth position: the 17-year-old rookie from Rome therefore clinched another top ten finish in a still difficult race. After losing some ground in the early stages, “Diggia” had to push to catch the leading group, struggling with tyres from mid-race onwards.

Bastianini: The goal is to keep second in the championship

“Binder maintained a good pace throughout the race, and today he really made the difference. When I was following him closely, maybe it could appear that it was easy for me, but only because I didn’t want to pass him in the long straight to not break the rhythm: by doing so we were able to open a gap on the other riders. Later, in the final stages of the race, I passed Binder to take the lead, but then he was good to pass me again, winning the race. Too bad only for the final attack: I felt strong enough in the last corner, and after his pass I was already thinking to fight back on that corner. Brad was good to close the inside line though, and it was not possible to pass. Now I’m second in the championship: Binder is far away, so the goal is to keep the second position, but as long as we have a possibility, we will always try to attack, till the end!”

Di Giannantonio: The bike was moving a lot

“At the start of the race I immediately pushed hard to try to stay in the leading group, but another rider made me lose a bit of time and therefore I had to close the gap, pushing again. In a few laps I was able to catch the group, however, because of this effort midway through the race I started to struggle with tyres. The bike was moving a lot, especially at the rear, and in the last few laps it was really difficult to keep pushing. For this reason I had to settle for tenth position”.

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

Hayden back after ‘Fun’ Break, VDM returns from ‘Crazy Ibiza’!

The tenth round of the 2016 FIM Superbike World Championship, scheduled for September 16-18 at the Lausitzring, will mark the return to action for the Honda WorldSBK duo of Nicky Hayden and Michael van der Mark, who are eagerly awaiting to resume their WorldSBK season on a track where they recently had a two-day private test. But how did their summer go? What are they expecting from the last four rounds? Here is what they had to say about it.

Despite to the big WorldSBK break, it has been a pretty busy summer for you. How much are you looking forward to resume the season now?

NH “It has certainly been a big break. This is something I wasn’t used to. In the end it went faster than on paper, with the Suzuka test, the 8 Hour race and the Lausitrzing test. Now I’m looking forward to getting back into it because there are still eight individual races to go and we will be racing every two weekends.”

MVDM“To be honest, we still had a long summer break after Suzuka. Luckily enough we were able to do a two-day test at Lausitzing, which for us has been really important. Now, of course, I cannot wait get back on track.”

When not on track, where did you mostly spent the break? Were you able to relax?

NH “For me it was mostly about being at home with no real exotic trips. I tried to stick to the program and follow along with training. I spent some time in my own bed and with friends and family, which is always nice.”

MVDM “In the sun! My girlfriend and I have been a couple of days to Spain before the private test at the Lausitzing and, immediately after that, we went to Ibiza and stayed there for 11 days.”

Did you train hard during the break?

NH “Fortunately, at home in Kentucky we have a good group of guys who live around here, mostly racers, who I can get out and train with, have fun with while trying to push each other.”

MVDM “I slowed down a little bit during the break. Not that I did nothing, just not on an everyday basis. Since I came home I resumed my usual daily training programme.”

What’s the funniest, weirdest or unusual thing that happened to you during the break?

NH “Some of you might not know, but there was a chance I could get back in the saddle on a MotoGP at Silverstone. Jack Miller’s team (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) wasn’t sure he was able to ride, so they asked me to come along. It wasn’t decided until Thursday, after he had his last scans. It would have been like jumping straight into the fire pit after not having ridden the bike for the whole year, but I thought ‘why not’. I would have been locked in front of the TV anyway, so I might as well have done the real thing. Honda Motor Europe was totally behind it and of course the Ten Kate guys gave me their blessing, but luckily for Jack it turned out he was okay: he’s a buddy of mine and I’m a big supporter of his, so I was happy for him.”

MVDM “Without a doubt, the funniest thing was to see all the crazy people in Ibiza!”

How does it feel to enter the upcoming round with already some work done, set-up and gearing and good knowledge of the track?

NH “I look forward to the next race! We got to ride at Lausitzring a few weeks ago not only to test a couple of items, but also to reacquaint myself with the WorldSBK-spec Honda CBR1000RR Fireblade SP after racing at Suzuka. It was good also to reunite with the team, learn the track and get ready for the last part of the season.”

MVDM “It was really important for us, because given the new weekend schedule there is less time available for setting up the bike. Our Fireblade is not well set up for the Lausitrzing track and the weather during the test was good, so we could put in a lot of laps and gather a considerable amount of data.”

Of the four rounds ahead, which is the one that you’re looking forward to the most?

NH “I’m looking forward to them all! Haven’t been to Magny-Cours yet, but I know Jerez and Qatar like the back of my hand. After the first nine rounds things have sort of got to the point where everything flows the right way with the team, the championship and the bike; there are still, though, some things I want to learn and try in order to be at my very best.”

MVDM “I’m looking forward to Qatar. It’s always a special round or me. It’s the season finale and we race at night under floodlights, something we don’t get to experience anywhere else.”

Does this last leg feel like a sort of mini season on its own?

NH “I don’t know about that, really. In some ways I was thinking, had it been like Nascar or BSB – where there is a sort of playoff at the end of the season – with the situation we’re in now things would have been quite exciting for us! It wouldn’t have been any easier but just something exciting. But I’m looking forward to it nevertheless!”

MVDM “Well this year has gone really quick, but I think these last four races are crucial to achieve fourth place in the championship standings. If we think about it this way then yes, this is going to be a sort of mini season with 4th place as the final goal.”

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

Aruba.IT Ducati Back to Action after ‘Too Long’ Summer break

As the summer break comes to an end, the WorldSBK championship is ready to resume action at EuroSpeedway Lausitz (Germany), home of the tenth round of the season. The German track is the only novelty in the 2016 calendar and will host the production-based series for the first time since 2007, when Troy Bayliss took a win for Ducati in Race Two.

Both Chaz Davies and Davide Giugliano had a chance to get acquainted with the 4.255 kilometer track at the end of July with a two-day test, concluded with positive feedback. The Welshman and the Italian, who are currently third and fourth in the championship respectively, are keen to restart on the same positive course that saw both of them step on the podium and fight for the victory until the checkered flag in Race Two at Laguna Seca. Action will resume at 10:15 (CET) on Friday for the first free-practice session.

Davies: I’m confident and motivated

“We had a long summer break, but I’ve always stayed active and I feel more than ready to get back to racing. Physically I feel good, and I think we’ve made a clear step forward in the last couple of tests in Lausitz and Misano. In both, I got the feeling I was looking for and left the track happy, but racing is always different. The Lausitz track is quite challenging and bumpy, so it will be crucial to work well on the setup. It’s a new track for everyone, so it’s impossible to make predictions, but I’m confident and motivated.”

Giugliano: The track is too bumpy

“We’ve been inactive for almost too long and, despite having trained on a bike almost everyday between motocross and motard, I can’t wait to get back on my Panigale R. We head to Germany with high goals, and first of all we want to further stretch the positive streak that saw us claim a podium throughout the last four rounds. The Lausitz track is too bumpy and it is not among my favorites in terms of layout, but we’re ready to give our best after collecting some important data during the tests. Misano has some characteristics in common with Lausitz and, during our last test there in August, we found a good balance and left with positive feedback.”

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

Quick 10 With….Bradley Smith

For both my blog and for The Pit Crew Online I have managed to interview some very interesting figures in motor racing. I have always said that one of my dreams would be to interview a racer at the top of their sport in either Formula One or MotoGP and it was with a great honour that British rider, Bradley Smith agreed to take part in my Quick 10 segment. Not only am I a big fan of MotoGP, I am also a fan of Bradley himself, so for me this was outstanding.

I would like to thank Bradley for taking the time out to answer these questions and wish him all the best for the remainder of the season.

1. What is your favourite circuit and why?

My favourite circuit is Mugello. I really like a natural, flowing track, up and down hills and a bit of undulation. The atmosphere is always good there, bit like an ampitheatre with the track in the valley.

2. Who was your racing idol?

My racing idol didn’t actually come from MotoGP, it came from Motocross and Supercross. It was Ricky Carmichael growing up. I was a big fan from initially 95, 96, 97. I followed him throughout his career until he retired.

3. Who would you regard as your toughest opponent?

I would probably say my team mate, Pol Espargaro, just because we’ve ridden with each other from 2005. Our careers have kind of followed the same path and obviously we’re team mates at the moment inside the Monster Energy Tech 3 team and also going forward in the new adventure with KTM as well.

4. Considering riders of all-time, if you were a team principal, which two riders would you have in your team?

Just going off numbers and figures, you would have to say Casey Stoner and then Mick Doohan.

5. If you could invite four famous people to dinner (past and present) who would you invite?

I would really have liked to have met Barry Sheene, just because of British history and what I’ve heard about him and the way he was. I suppose someone like Lance Armstrong, again very interested in his life in general, winning seven Tour de France. Lyndsey Vonn, downhill skier, just because she is very dominant within her sport in various different ways, coming back from injury year on year. And then Serena Williams, after watching her just win Wimbledon for the umpteenth time in Grand Slams. Incredibly talented individual. I’m a fan of sports people.

6. Personal Racing Number. What is it and the reason behind it?

#38 – #88 was my dad’s race number, a family race number and I took it over when I started riding Motocross. When I then came to the MotoGP academy I was given number 32. It was kind of tradition or the rider to take an academy number. It (#38) wasn’t available so I just did a mix between my academy number and my dad’s number.

7. What is the best race you have been involved in?

I would probably say Assen last year. I think we had a 6 or 7 rider scrap inside MotoGP, like Moto3 and Moto2. I twas off camera, but it was a lot of fun.

8. Is there a race or series you have not competed in that is on your to-do list or you wish you had done?

I’m ticking if off more and more. Suzuka was on my bucket list and I managed to that. I’ve done that endurance side of racing. I suppose I do look at Supercross and wish I was a Supercross rider because it is a huge, huge passion of mine. And the rest of the championships, I’ve got the rest of my career to try those.

9. How did you get involved in racing? What ignited that spark?

Really, being brought up around bikes. We owned a Motocross track and I was around it from 3 or 4 years old. I saw bikes coming in for Wednesday practice and Saturday/Sunday we were open as well. So I think just being around bikes and bicycles even, always riding my bike in the garden. Made jumps, ruined my friend’s garden patch because I wanted to dig it up and make jumps. I think once you turn from a pedal power into a motor power. From the first day I was hooked.

10. What is the best racing advice you have been given?

I would probably say the best advice, even though it sounds really, really stupid, is “Don’t crash”. And don’t crash sounds like an easy thing to say, but it has multiple meanings. In terms of don’t crash, you get results, it means you gain confidence, it means you stay injury free and it means you don’t build up massive costs to your sponsors and to your team. It has a knock-on effect. More than anything, it keeps you happy, keeps you smiling and you can build on not crashing.

It was amazing for me to put the questions to Bradley, as a fan, I would really like to thank him for taking the time to answer them whilst he was at the Sachsenring. Everybody at The Pit Crew Online wishes Bradley a speedy recover.

Neil Simmons

Twitter: @world_racing

©2017 The Pitcrewonline