MotoGP Wold Championship – Grand Prix of the Netherlands (Assen) June 2016

Historic victory for Jack Miller

Winning in the rain in the Netherlands, Jack Miller achieved an incredible feat as he chalked up his first victory in MotoGP. No rider of an independent team had won the premier-class category for more than ten years. The podium won by Franco Morbidelli in Moto2 completed the historic day for the Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS.

The Races

After a deluge forced the organizers to fly the red flag before mid-race, the Grand Prix of the Netherlands MotoGP was finally raced over twelve laps after a new start had been given. A sprint that Jack Miller managed to perfection. In the lead by the fourth lap after overtaking Marquez, the Australian kept hold of the top spot from then on all the way until the chequered flag. As he says:

“When I’d overtaken Mark, I tried to ignore the fact that I was in a MotoGP Grand Prix for the first time in my career. I tried not to think about winning and keep calm. It’s a day I won’t forget in a long time.”

Despite a fall early in the race, Tito Rabat managed to get back on track to cross the finish line in eleventh position.

In Moto2, the riders of Team Estrella Galicia were also in the spotlights. Franco Morbidelli made it to his first podium of the season after leading the race for six laps. Determined this time to reach the finish, Alex Marquez crossed the line in eighth position.

The Championship

By scoring twenty-five points in one go, Jack Miller has jumped up in the MotoGP championship standings. He is now thirteenth, ahead of Scott Redding and Bradley Smith. Despite the five points he scored, Tito Rabat has slipped back to twentieth place.

In Moto2, Franco Morbidelli has climbed up to sixth position, while Alex Marquez who had not scored any points since the Grand Prix of the Americas in Texas has moved up two places. He is now twentieth overall.

The Background

“The conditions were ideal today for an independent team to surprise us all, but seizing that opportunity was something else. Jack managed to do just that this and we can only congratulate him.”

At the finish of the eighth round of the championship, Michael Bartholemy lacked words to express his joy and pride in his team.

“The last few laps were terrible to watch as the tension was enormous. The conditions were really tough, and Jack still had Marc Marquez hot on his heels. He didn’t make a single mistake, it’s just fabulous. We can be proud of him, as well as of everything we’ve done with our partners since we decided to join the premier-class category in 2014. Loads of people dream about winning a MotoGP all their lives without ever managing to do so. We’ve achieved that goal in less than three years with a young rider in whom we’ve always had faith. Being the first independent team to win a Grand Prix since 2006 is just fantastic.”

Superbike World Championship Donington, June 2016

All lights are green

After enduring the domination of Tom Sykes in Donington, Jonathan Rea set things right again in Italy by winning ahead of his teammate both of the races held at Misano. Kenan Sofuoglu completed the Kawasaki triumph by winning in Supersport.

The Races

After being deprived of victory in England, the reigning world champion had promised to put the record straight in Italy. Jonathan Rea kept his word. The Kawasaki rider won the two races held at Misano. If he won on Saturday a breath ahead of Sykes, he clearly dominated his teammate the next day by a judicious choice of tyres.

“It was cooler on Sunday and I opted for a softer compound,”

said Rea.

“We also modified the bike settings accordingly and everything went well for us. I’m really happy to win here because I love this circuit and I also won my first Superbike race in Misano. Having a twin-win is great. There’s only one race before the summer break, it’s important to consolidate our overall lead.” Finishing twice in second place, Tom Sykes had to make the best of a bad job. “I’m obviously disappointed to lose ground in the overall standings,”

said the Kawasaki rider.

“Nevertheless, finish second twice after winning the pole, is not too bad a result. There are still five races to go, the title is not over yet.”

Tom Sykes GBR  Kawasaki ZX-10R   WSBK Misano 2016  PSP/ Lukasz Swiderek
Tom Sykes GBR/Kawasaki ZX-10R/WSBK Misano 2016
PSP/ Lukasz Swiderek

In Supersport, Kenan Sofuoglu also used his choice of rear tyre to take the lead two laps before the finish. Troubled by a shoulder that is to be operated on in the coming days, Randy Krummenacher had to settle for fifth place.

The Championship

With his bag full of points, Jonathan Rea has again increased his lead in the Championship. There are now sixty-six points between the two Kawasaki riders. Tom Sykes has a thirty-three point lead over Chaz Davies, who fell in the second race. With only five races left to go, the two Brits continue to lead the Championship. In the Supersport category, Kenan Sofuoglu also consolidated his leadership. The Turkish rider now has a forty-point lead over Randy Krummenacher who retains second place overall despite the difficulties encountered in Italy.

 

The Background

Jonathan Rea GBR   WSBK Misano 2016  PSP/ Lukasz Swiderek
Jonathan Rea GBR/WSBK Misano 2016/PSP/ Lukasz Swiderek

Although his teammate still laid down the law on the Misano circuit, Tom Sykes wrote a new page of history in Italy. For his 200th start in WSBK, the former world champion made it twice to the podium, but on the shores of the Adriatic also and especially scored his 36th pole position, the fifth in a row on the transalpine circuit. Sykes has thus become the first rider to string together five consecutive pole positions on the same circuit! Always at the forefront since his debut in the world championship in 2008, in Misano the Kawasaki rider also started from the first line for the 53rd time in his career. Only three riders have done better in the history of the discipline: Troy Corser (99), Carl Fogarty (60) and Troy Bayliss (55).

Moto Endurance, 12 hours of Portimao, June 2016

No luck in Portimao

Portugal wasn’t as sunny as expected for the Kawasaki SRC team this weekend. Although they qualified for pole position, Gregory Leblanc, Matthew Lagrive and Fabien Foret were forced to retire shortly after mid-race because of a mechanical problem.

After their victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Kawasaki SRC team intended to use the 12 Hours of Portimao to consolidate their leading position in the standings of the World Endurance Championship. And after clocking up the best practice time, Gilles Stafler was optimistic.

“We’ve finally found the right settings and our team is very consistent,” gleamed the boss of the Kawasaki team. “We also have the advantage of riding with Pirelli tires which are well-suited to the Portuguese track since the World Superbike Championship regularly uses this circuit.”

Unfortunately for the French team, the race finally followed a completely different scenario. If Leblanc managed to complete the first thirteen laps in the lead, unfortunately the #11 quickly lost ground.

“During the practice test sessions we relayed every twenty-five laps without any problem, but in the race our rear tire collapsed after ten laps,” lamented Stafler after three hours of racing. In addition we had excessive fuel consumption which we have not yet been able to explain, which meant we ran out of fuel as we approached the fourth hour of the race.”

Restarting in fourteenth position four laps behind the leader, the # 11 climbed back to eighth place when Leblanc was forced once again to stop on the side of the track. This time the damage was more serious. With a broken engine, Kawasaki were forced to retire, leaving the GMT 94 with an open road to victory.

“That’s racing,” shrugged Greg Leblanc. “We expected to get back to fifth place and save points in the championship, but unfortunately that was not the case.”

Despite their retirement, the SRC Kawasaki team only fell back to second place in the overall standings six points behind the new leader, the April Moto Motors Events team.

The next meeting will be held in Japan at the end of July with the Suzuka 8 Hours.

MotoGP World Championship – Catalunya Grand Prix 2016

Miller makes first top ten

Jack Miller concluded the Grand Prix of Catalunya by making it to the top ten for the first time in his MotoGP career. A performance that the Australian dedicated to the memory of Luis Salom, who died after a terrible crash in the practice test sessions.

The Races

Despite the sadness of losing one of their team during the practice test sessions, the riders unanimously decided to take the start of the Grand Prix in Barcelona. The best thing to do to honour the memory of the late Luis Salom. On a circuit modified after Friday’s drama, Jack Miller managed to take the checkered flag in tenth position.

“I successfully managed the wear of the tires on a track which was very hot,” commented the Australian who had never yet made it to the top ten since his debut in the premier-class category. “I made the most of my bike, and that will give me confidence for the rest of the season.”

After being operated for a broken collarbone only two weeks ago, Tito Rabat showed his steel in making it to the finish. He also finished in the points with a fine 14th place taken on the last lap from Michele Pirro.

In Moto2, Alex Marquez was in line for his first podium when he lost control of his Kalex without the slightest warning. The former Moto3 world champion nonetheless managed to finish 18th. Struggling with the grip of his rear tire, Franco Morbidelli finished 11th.

The Championship

In chalking up six points in Barcelona, Miller gained two places overall in the MotoGP championship. He is now 25 points behind his teammate, who has not scored any points since the race in Austin.

In Moto2, Morbidelli is now placed tenth overall, but only ten points behind fifth place.

Finishing twenty-second, Marquez has not scored any points since the Grand Prix of the Americas in Texas.

The Background

The MotoGP World Championship was overshadowed in Barcelona by the tragic death of Luis Salom, the 24-year old Spanish rider who was racing in Moto2. Luis was the victim of a terrible accident on Friday afternoon during the second free practice session. Having lost control at the entry of turn twelve, he violently struck his bike as he slid into the inflatable protections placed against the outside wall. Despite the immediate intervention of the emergency medical services, he could not be resuscitated.

After Daijiro Kato in 2003, Shoya Tomisawa in 2010 and Marco Simoncelli in 2011, Luis Salom is the fourth rider to be killed in the last thirteen years.

Following the tragedy, the organizers decided to continue the Catalunya Grand Prix program but not without first consulting Luis’ family. The layout of the circuit was modified however for safety reasons, after the race organizers decided in agreement with the riders to adopt the configuration usually reserved for the Formula 1 Grand Prix.