Midweek Debrief – Llongyfarchiadau Ebbw Vale…now, where are the diggers?

The release that came on Wednesday afternoon announcing a change in the British Grand Prix’s location for the 2016 British Grand Prix came as a surprise to many. Not only did it go to the yet-to-be-constructed Circuit of Wales project in Ebbw Vale, but the announcement states the circuit won’t be ready until 2016, leaving Dorna searching for a viable venue for next year.

With work yet to start on the project, and a succession of delays holding up its development to date, circuit organisers are hopeful that public funding in the region of 50 million pounds will accelerate the project. The total cost of the 830 acre development is estimated at £280 million, with organisers unwilling to speak of potential investors.

Could we see a MotoGP return to sunny Donington in ’15?
Photo: world.honda.com

A succession of transparency requests have been denied by the circuit and the heads at Silverstone have already written to the Prime Minister, declaring that any government assistance towards the CoW could “amount to illegal state aid.”

Dorna head Carmelo Ezpeleta doesn’t seem flustered by all of this though, telling Bennets Bike Social, “We have been in this situation many times since 1992, sometimes the circuits get finished and sometimes they don’t.” Err, good to see you so relaxed about the whole thing, Carmelo. From releases it is clear Silverstone and the CoW are not on the best terms at the moment and, as the former reached an “impasse” over the cost of running the MotoGP event, the only other viable option is Donington Park for 2015. Just how long we will be left to wait for the CoW’s completion is another matter too.

All of this leads us to several questions. What convinced Dorna to go ahead with the project? Could this be a re-run of the redevelopment of Donington Park in 2008, as Silverstone have pointed out? Are public funds really best utilised on a race circuit during these economic times? 

Let’s hope a wealthy Welsh oil barron is behind all of this.

Five rides worth of a mention:

Scott Redding – Making a regular appearance in this section, so much so we should designate him his own section but rightly so. The 20 year old made the step up to MotoGP this season after he narrowly missed out on being crowned Moto2 champion last season, and he’s been handed a tough bike to ride. The Honda production racer in the Open class isn’t the fastest bike on the track, but Redding continues to impress on it. This weekend marked his first as top Open class rider, after putting in a solid performance at Indianapolis to finish ninth overall and wasn’t far off Cal Crutchlow either. If and when he gets that factory Go&Fun Gresini bike, he’ll be a strong force.

Leon Camier – The Englishman had been on standby to deputise for Nicky Hayden should the need arise in Barcelona. It didn’t. But he stayed patient. Appearances on BMW Italia and MV’s World Superbike machines couldn’t have prepared him for carbon brakes and Bridgestone tyres. Around a new circuit with a new team too. But Camier took it all in his stride, adapting and improving in each session. 3.5 seconds slower than Marquez on Friday, 2.1 at the end of FP4, the 2009 British champ was on for points in his first outing before a misfire forced him out. Should he perform similarly at Brno, a track he knows, Camier could be set for his first MotoGP points very soon.

Dan Linfoot – Linfoot was able to secure his first ever MCE British Superbike podium this weekend at Oulton Park, a feat he has been close to before but was never able to quite reach. Running a fast pace all weekend on his Quattro Plant Kawasaki machine, Linfoot secured two top five finishes at the triple header weekend in Cheshire before fighting off double race winner Ryuichi Kiyonari for the final spot on the podium in the closing laps of the final race of the weekend. Hopefully the first of many for the Yorkshireman.

Sandro Cortese – After winning the Moto3 title back in 2012, Cortese moved up into Moto2 with his own one rider team and it would be fair to say it’s taken some adjusting to get him up to pace in the feeder class. Only securing one top ten finish throughout the entire 2011 season, the German had his work cut out to improve his pace and show everyone he deserves his ride this season. Seeming to have got his qualifying set up sorted on the Dynavolt Inact GP bike, it was now just his race pace that needed sorting. A string of bad luck in recent races has seen his now top ten reaching pace take a back seat, however this weekend in America he secured his first ever top six finish in the intermediate class. With a strong race behind him, could this be the turning point for the former champion?

Efren Vaquez – Seems like an obvious choice, but if he can’t be worthy of a mention after his first Moto3 win then when can he? The Spaniard narrowly took the victory in a thrilling Moto3 race at Indianapolis this weekend, just 0.065s ahead of Fenati in second. In a five rider fight for the lead, it could have been anybodys however as Fenati led out of the final corner Vazquez used this to his advantage and beat the Italian to the line by the smallest of margins. The first of many or a one off? Time will tell…

They said it: 

“I got a start like Ron Haslam!” Valentino Rossi referring to his rocket-Ron impersonation at Indianapolis on Sunday.

“Ducati Corse announced today that it has reached an agreement with its factory rider Cal Crutchlow to terminate, ahead of time, the contract that ties the British rider to the Italian team in MotoGP for 2014 and also for next season.” Ducati Corse declaring the departure of Cal Crutchlow for 2015, despite both the team and rider saying he was staying a week or so before…

“…there were also some aggressive contact moves but they were OK, because I was the fifth ‘intruder’ and no one wanted to lose touch with Marquez!” – Dovizioso takes those tough moves in his stride.

“I’m lost for words with how Josh rode in the last race as he was going through the damp patches like they weren’t there so fair play to him.” – Shane Byrne could barely believe what he was seeing as Josh Brookes sped off to win the third BSB encounter at Oulton Park.

Maybe I would stick with bikes because I like all of them and they never complain!” – Marquez gets his priorities right when speaking with MCN.

One to watch: Jorge Navarro. With Livio Loi not living up to early promise and failing to display adequate application Marc VDS looked to the CEV for their replacement. And in Jorge Navarro they found a rider capable of point scoring finishes right from the off. The 18-year old was as high as second with minutes to spare in Saturday’s qualifying session, eventually slipping to sixth. Two points for 14th place a day later represented a sound start to his life in the Marc VDS squad. There have been rumours that the Belgian owned outfit won’t be competing in Moto3 in 2015. Looking for a ride for a ride, a few more rides like that and we’ll be seeing a lot more of Navarro next year.

Hang your head: Errr. Jorge Navarro? But he was the young hopeful we had gone so far to endorse. And then he went and pushed John McPhee, starting from a joint best qualifying result, down the road at turn three without as much as a look of contrition over his shoulder.  But as we’ve already mentioned him let’s go for Xavier Simeon instead. At the second time of asking the errant Belgian scooped up no less than four riders, including home hero Josh Herrin, at that awfully tight turn two, confounding a season that he would rather forget.

Medal of Valour: He wasn’t competing last weekend but after seeing some garish photos posted on Twitter we’re going for Richard Cooper. A nasty arm injury sustained at Thruxton kept him out of action at Oulton Park. It took a skin graft to heal the wound and thankfully Cooper is on the mend. Any man that can take this kind of injury in their stride is deserving of a mention, we hope to see him back in BSB soon.

Essential reading:

Marquez is making our job more difficult by the week. Trying to think of suitable headlines during a period of such domination can be a major drag. Dennis Noyes took a look back at winning streaks of a similar magnitude in the class. Kevin Cameron’s look on the changes in the world championship is an interesting one, as is the Lone Wolf’s take on how to improve WSBK. Cycle News did a neat run down of the potential movers in MotoGP for 2015 while Marquez’s interview with MCN’s Matt Birt is well worth your time. Let’s hope his female admirers don’t make it to the end of that one. Johann Zarco has finished on the podium just the once in 2014 but he candidly speaks of his aims for the rest of the season here. The announcement on the British MotoGP was a great surprise. The circuit of Silverstone said so themselves. Looking at young talent there was some interesting insight on Rory Skinner on Crash.net and our very own take on new Moto3 man Jorge Navarro can be seen here.

Youtube Procrastination: 

Sometimes the silly seasonometer goes into overdrive, so much so that it can make your head spin. A video summarising everything in a neat, ordered format will calm you down in no time. And if you need to raise the blood pressure up again at the mere flick of a switch why not rewatch Alvaro Bautista’s nasty qualifying spill at Indy. As we were in middle America plenty of talk centred around the Indy Mile. Thankfully you can watch the 2014 here and Marc Marquez speaking about the event here. And if you really want to see how it’s done King Kenny made a stunning return in ´09 that brought out the goosebumps for everyone present. 

We go from Indianapolis to Brno in the blinking of an eye. To warm you up for the weekend ahead we’ve chosen the 1988 250 event, which saw sworn enemies Juan Garriga and Sito Pons cross sabres in a thrilling battle. Much in the same way Alex Criville and Mick Doohan did in 1996 and Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo did 16 years later. And you will still be pushed to find a more spectacular crash than Taro Sekiguchi’s effort from 2007. Amazingly he escaped with (just) a broken pelvis. Practice for the Ulster Grand Prix is already underway and you can relive highlights from swashbuckling encounters from 2005, 2006 and 2010 here.

Check your tweets: 

Following the announcement earlier in the season that this was to be Colin Edwards’ last season in MotoGP, rumours began to come out that Indianapolis would be Edwards’ last race this season. NGM Forward Racing released a statement on Sunday evening to confirm these rumours, including the possibiliy of wild cards this year for Edwards. MCN’s MotoGP reporter Matthew Birt tweeted the statement, and Aliex Espargaro sent a refreshing reply.

Mark your calenders: 

Ulster Grand Prix bike week, 13th – 16th August

Czech MotoGP, 15th – 17th August


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