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 Team Shine On Debut
Under the lights of the Losail Circuit in Qatar, the newest entry to the Moto3 field could not have wished for a better debut. John McPhee defied all expectations to produce a stunning ride to finish in second place at the Qatar Grand-Prix. It was a commanding performance, as the young Scot duelled and diced with the likes of Joan Mir, Romano Fenati, Jorge Martin and other veterans of the class.
Furthermore, the result has justified the significant investment in the team from Alberto Puig. Puig, the mastermind behind the highly rated Asia Talent Cup series, may well now also feel completely justified for instigating and bankrolling the new British Talent Cup series, which is due to hit the tracks in 2018. The series, it is believed, will replace the existing Motostar series for Junior riders, which supports the British Superbike Championship.
Worrying Times For Lorenzo
To say that Jorge Lorenzo has had a difficult transition to Ducati is perhaps the understatement of the century so far. The 3x World Champion has struggled in almost every session with the new Desmosedici. The time gaps between himself and his team-mate, Andrea Dovizioso, have by and large been staggering. Barring a couple of low fuel runs in testing, Lorenzo has struggled to break into the top ten in the timings.
Ducati have openly admitted that their bike is perhaps the most difficult bike for riders to handle. Even more so when a rider has been used to riding an ultra-smooth handling Yamaha-M1 for all of his premier class career.
As such, following an extremely difficult weekend for Lorenzo at Qatar, Ducati ran a private single day test at the Jerez circuit on Thursday. The official reason was to further test their new ‘hammerhead’ front fairing, which appears most likely to be homologated in time for the Spanish Grand-Prix at the start of May. Nevertheless, there can be no denying that the test was also the latest attempt the by team to get their Marquee signing up to speed on what is an extremely competitive machine.
Supersport-300 Season Launches
The World Superbike paddock welcomes the arrival this year to a brand new junior class – the Supersport-300s. It is a bid to provide younger riders the opportunity to race competitive machines at a high level, and to provide a good platform to those with Supersport and Superbike aspirations. The interest has surpassed series organisers, Dorna, with a whopping thirty-seven riders entered for this new championship which will see them support the World Superbike series at all European venues.
At time of writing, the first free practice session ahead of this weekend’s race at Aragon’s Motorland circuit has been completed with Italian rider, Paolo Grassia, finishing fastest on board his Kawasaki-Ninja 300 machine.
Full results can be found at: http://www.worldsbk.com/en/results%20statistics
Thai Round For MotoGP?
Finally, the rumour has once again surfaced that the Chang International Circuit in Thailand will soon be added to the MotoGP calendar. The venue, which has hosted a round of the World Superbike Championship since 2015, was visited and inspected earlier this month by FIM and Dorna officials following the Superbike event.
The circuit, should it be added to the Grand-Prix calendar would boast some of the most modern facilities for media and fans. Additionally, and most importantly, the track has ample run-off areas for when an inevitable high speed incident occurs – a factor which the Red-Bull Ring in Austria was heavily criticised for last season.
With no official announcement coming from Dorna or the circuit, it is likely that we’ll be kept waiting to see whether it appears on the 2018 provisional calendar – due for publication around July or August.