The Final Lap: January 2017

Each month, MotoGP:Unlocked brings you a roundup of the biggest news stories in world motorbike racing: From MotoGP, World Superbikes, Road Racing and more…

British ‘Talent Cup’ for 2018

Whilst most people were thinking about how to make their 2017 better, Dorna were busy already thinking of 2018. With the success of the Asia Talent Cup (ATC) in Malaysia, Thailand and Japan, along with the CEV Junior ‘World Championship’ in Spain, the owners of MotoGP have turned their attention to Britain in a bid to direct fresh young talent onto the Grand-Prix ladder. Not to mention increasing the chances of finding a future British world champion since Barry Sheene in 1977.

The idea, originally the brain child of ATC director Alberto Puig, has been given support by the British Superbike Championship – who would likely integrate this into their race weekend program, replacing the outdated Motostar category it currently runs for youngsters. Additionally, the British broadcaster for the MotoGP series (BT Sport) has also given long term support to the idea, by backing the newly formed British team in Moto3.

The full story can be found here:

Guy Martin to make TT Return


Guy Martin (right) will partner TT legend John McGuinness (left) at this year’s Isle of Man TT

Certainly the most high profile news of the month, was the announcement made that Guy Martin would be returning to the Isle of Man TT for the first time since 2014. The Lincolnshire road-racer turned TV personality has signed a two-year deal with the Honda Racing team which, amongst many things, means he will be piloting the brand new CBR1000RR Fireblade.

Martin joins alongside Isle of Man TT legend, John McGuinness. The man known as the ‘Morecambe Missile’ expressed his surprise of the announcement by claiming that he “drove my van through the hedge” when he heard. The duo will contest the whole season together, including the prestigious North-West 200 and Ulster Grand-Prix.

The deal puts an end to the speculation that Martin was retiring from the sport, following a major crash at the 2015 Ulster GP.

Deadline for Circuit of Wales

The almost never ending saga of the proposed Circuit of Wales (CoW) has reared its head once again this month, as the Welsh Assembly has issued the owners with a two-week deadline to submit full funding plans.

It has been a whirlwind ride for all parties involved in the process, with endless battles with council planning permissions, sponsors going missing. Not to mention the small matter that the circuit was due to be completed in time for last year’s British round of the MotoGP championship.

CoW owners are reportedly confident of meeting these demands, having obtained “around £100m” from a private banking firm in London.

Full story can be found here:

Pre-Season Testing Begins


Lorenzo Savadori turned in the standout performance, on the Aprilia

The first on-track action of the new year took place earlier this week at the Circuito de Jerez for the opening pre-season test for the World Superbike Championship.

As expected, reigning champion Jonathan Rea topped the timesheets aboard his Kawasaki ZX-10RR. Indeed, the Kawasaki Racing Team (KRT) dominated proceedings on both days of the test. Ducati showed signs of improvement as they looked to solidify their position as KRT’s main rivals for the championship, with Chaz Davies returning impressive lap time consistency over race-distance simulations.

However the biggest surprise came from the Aprilia outfit as Lorenzo Savadori set the second fastest time of the meeting on the final day. After a solid debut season in the championship last year, the Italian has sent out the warning shot to the field that he’ll be towards the sharp end of the grid this season.

Full story and lap times can be found here:

Cal Crutchlow Wins RAC Torrens Trophy


To round off the feel-good factor, which January has brought to the motorbike racing world, was Cal Crutchlow being awarded the RAC Torrens Trophy earlier this week.

The award comes for the Manx-based British rider, following his two race victories in the 2016 MotoGP championship (At Brno and Phillip Island respectively) – a feat not managed by any British rider in the premier class since Barry Sheene in 1981. The first victory being a wet-weather masterclass, whilst the second win was the ultimate David v Goliath victory, as in dry conditions, Crutchlow (aboard his satellite Honda) defeated all the factory manufacturers.

The Torrens Trophy is only awarded to someone deemed to have shown outstanding skill in international motorcycling sporting events. As well as having demonstrated technical and skillful excellence to “further the cause of motorcycle racing”. As such, Crutchlow is only the ninth recipient of the award since its inception in 1978.

Full story can be found here:

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