Ducati dodges bullet
The Ducati factory MotoGP team has escaped a serious setback, with the team’s “tire-cooling” bodywork deemed race-legal.
Andrea Dovizioso took the factory Ducati ride to victory in the first MotoGP race of the season, but the win was instantly surrounded by controversy, as four other teams lodged a protest over the bike’s aerodynamic bodywork mounted under the machine. KTM, Aprilia, Honda and Suzuki all said the undermount spoiler was aimed at giving the Duc an aerodynamic advantage, something the grand wizards of GP have been restricting ever since Ducati and then everyone else went crazy with the tech last season.
Ducati’s reply was that the bodywork actually cooled the rear tire (a necessity, due to Dovizioso’s heavier weight putting more strain on the tire, they said). Any aero advantage was just a fortunate bonus, of course. MotoGP’s technical director agreed. Perhaps he realized one of the most interesting aspects racing is to see who can build a faster bike?
Undeterred, the four protesting factory teams took their complaint to MotoGP’s Court of Appeals, hoping to strip Dovizioso and his teammate Danilo Petrucci of their supposedly ill-gotten points. The court handed down its decision yesterday, saying that:
“The appeals filed by Team Aprilia, Team Suzuki, Team Honda and Team KTM are admissible.
The provisional race results are confirmed and are declared as final.
The request to declare the Device illegal and ban its use in future races is rejected. An appeal against this decision may be lodged before the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) in Lausanne Switzerland within 5 days pursuant to Article 3.9 of the 2019 FIM World Championship Grand Prix Regulations.”
So hopefully that’s the end of it, and the other four factory teams will go back to designing faster bikes, instead of trying to beat the competition with lawyers. We’re guessing that about 30 seconds after the ruling, the factory teams were busy bolting on their own “tire-cooling” devices.
MotoE making a return
When the paddock containing all the machines for MotoGP’s new all-electric MotoE series went up in flames, the future of the series was a question.
We knew it would return, but how soon, and how many races we’d see this year, was a mystery. After all, it’s not easy to rebuild a racing series from a pile of smoldering ashes.
MotoGP has answered our questions by announcing a new schedule for the battery bike series.
There will be six MotoE races this season., starting with the July 5-7 weekend at the German Sachsenring. The August 9-11 weekend sees the electric bikes return to action at Austria’s Red Bull Ring. Races 3 and 4 will run the September 13-15 weekend at Italy’s Misano World Circuit, and Races 5 and 6 will run at Valencia on the November 15-17 weekend.
With that out of the way, we do have one other question: Since all the series’ original fleet of bikes and much of the rest of the equipment has been reduced to charcoal, can MotoE still truthfully be called carbon neutral? Hrm?
BMW Motorrad Race Trophy is back
Speaking of unexpected returns, the BMW Motorrad Race Trophy is also back for 2019.
BMW introduced the Race Trophy series in 2014, after it pulled out of World Superbike. The idea was that BMW-mounted privateers from around the world would have their race results compared to each other using some mystical formula that only BMW itself understood. Racers from national and continental superbike series, from street circuit events and other races all had their wins and podiums in their respective events converted into Race Trophy points, and at the end of the roadracing season, BMW announced a winner. Usually, the victor took home a nice cash bonus, and the top finishers often got a trip to Europe to hoon about on BMW superbikes on a track somewhere.
With Jordan Szoke dominating the Canadian Superbike series aboard a BMW S1000RR for years, posting perfect seasons on the machine, we’ve actually watched this in-house competition carefully the last few years. Szoke has been in contention for the win most years, taking the victory in 2016 and finishing high in the rankings other years. Last year, he was seventh overall.
However, BMW seemed a little less excited about the Race Trophy last season, and with the company’s return to World Superbike racing, there was conjecture this might be the end of the Race Trophy. Not so! BMW has announced it’s returning again for 2019, with a €15,000 payout to the winner, €10,000 to second, and €7,500 for third. All in all, it’s putting up a total prize purse of €100,000.
Once again, racers from around the world, in 21 different championships and 26 different classes, will be competing.
Jordan Szoke will not be in contention for this season, as he’s moved to Kawasaki. CSBK second-place finisher Ben Young, however, is still aboard his BMW, as is Michael Leon and other CSBK fast guys as well. Can one of them make their own dent in the Race Trophy standings this year? They’ll still have to beat Szoke to do so—Young’s second-place finish in CSBK’s overall standings only got him to 14th overall in the Race Trophy series. He’ll have to win multiple races to crack the top 10.