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RennMotorrad is the blog to keep up to date with news and commentary about BMW's racing efforts in World Superbike and MotoAmerica, as well as following events in MotoGP. Local racers running BMWs will also get some love - let us know who you are! Opinions stated in this blog are those of the author and do not reflect policies, positions or practices of BMW Motorcycle Owners of America, BMW Motorrad, BMW NA, BMW AG, or any other organization or corporation.

 

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F1 thoughts for China GP, Shanghai - HAMILTON Penalty

Posted By Chase Hinderstein, Thursday, April 14, 2016

Reigning world champion, Lewis Hamilton, will be hit with a 5 place grid penalty in his Mercedes to start this weekend's race in China.

His team has taken the penalty after opting to change out his gear box, which may have been damaged in an incident in turn 1 of the last race, in Bahrain.

That incident, in which Bottas in his Williams ride caught the inside of Hamilton's car, as Hamilton tried to close his line and the door on Bottas, caused Bottas a drive through penalty at the time. I thought it would have most likely been ruled a simple racing incident or that they would have applied fault to Hamilton

This week, F1 returns to the old rules for qualifying, THANK GOD.

A more subtle rule change that has received less attention is a tweak to the clutch applications at the start. While Hamilton may very well be the most talented driver out there, he has a history of being a bit stunted at the start line. This rule has directly impacted him and perhaps targeted him. He's been slower off the starts, seeing Ferrari (Vettel) blow past him in race one, and then Bottas trying the same from behind in Bahrain. 

Now will Hamilton starting no better than 6th with this penalty, he'll certainly have his work cut out for him on Sunday if he wants to keep pace with teammate Niko Rosberg, who has the lead in this year's championship points. 

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Red Wedding at COTA

Posted By Chase Hinderstein, Monday, April 11, 2016

The weekend in Austin was really a bloodbath. I can make light of it because there were no serious injuries, but there were many unforced errors in both practice and the race that defined the weekend, it what was otherwise a very dull race.

Lorenzo lost his front end in practice. I couldn't confirm if he was forced onto the backup ride for the race, but his pace suggested that he was. 

Rossi lost his front end in an unremarkable corner and was forced to retire.

Most terribly, Dani Pedrossa lost control of his Honda and it careened into the side of Andrea Dovizioso just at the apex of a turn. Dovi seems to have escaped without serious injury in what could have been a terrible incident. 

These incidents, along with others this weekend, make me question if the Circuit of the Americas has a fit surface for racing at this level. Kevin Schwantz was a driving force in the creation of COTA as a track with motorcycles in mind, but it didn't offer much grip or lead to much action this weekend.

Marc Marquez got off to an early lead and wasn't challenged through the day, continuing to build on his gap through the end.

The event itself appears to be successful, bringing in over 130k attendees over the weekend. It may have received some boost from the cancellation of annual MotoGP event in Indianapolis. The IndyGP brought in about 75k for raceday on their last event. Meanwhile Dorna, the organization behind both MotoGP and WSBK, continue to host 4 races in Spain, some which bring in fewer than 30k in attendance. Dorna is bent on supporting Spanish events and Spanish riders. They see Europe as their focus today, and Asia as the future. North America is clearly an afterthought. 

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MotoG-Weeeee!

Posted By Chase Hinderstein, Tuesday, April 5, 2016

In an action packed Sunday of top level racing, MotoGP takes the lead as the most amazing spectacle. 

First, there was a combination of changing weather conditions and a track that may have been unsafe for these bikes on typical tire compounds. Redding experienced catastrophic tire failure in practice but managed to keep the bike up.  This led Michelin to withdraw both softer compounds as options for the race and replace with a stiffer tire. Additionally, a series of contingencies were put in place, depending on the weather conditions, but race direction also imposed a mandatory pit stop midway through a shortened race, whereby the riders were required to change to their alternate bikes, which would have fresh rubber. 

This set the stage for the TALE OF TWO RACES.

Off the initial start, there was lots of bumping and riders led wide, which allowed initially the factory Ducatis to led a group that included also Valentino Rossi on the Yamaha M1, future champion Maverick Viñales on his Suzuki, Marc Marquez on Honda, followed closely by Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrossa, et al. 

While the Ducatis continued to show good pace, for the first 10 or so laps, Rossi and Marquez rose to clear lead, battling back and forth, while meanwhile reigning world champion Lorenzo lost the bike and crashed into a DNF.

Marquez narrowly led Rossi into the pits for the mandatory swap, which occurred without much drama. However, once back out on the track, Marquez had a clear advantage and built a commanding lead for the rest of the race. Rossi swapped onto his "B" bike which didn't have the pace of his primary ride and he struggled to keep in position for a podium. 

He fought hard with the Ducatis, after Vinales left contention in his own crash, and it appeared that Rossi would have to settle for 4th place until this happened:

 

On one of the final corners, Ianonne pushed for 2nd place, cutting underneath his teammate Andrea Dovizioso, but lost the bike in the process, taking them both onto their sides and into the gravel. Incredibly, Dovi was able to pick up and push his bike over the finish line for 13th place and a few important points. Ianonne would later be handed a grid penalty for the next race for his actions.

With the Ducatis removed, Rossi was able to claim 2nd place, while Dani Pedrossa came from way back off the lead to claim the final podium spot in third.

 There's not much time to relax for the MotoGP crews, as they travel now to the USA for the next race this coming Sunday in Austin TX! Follow me on Twitter for more thoughts and breaking news @BMWRennmotorrad 

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Sunday April 3rd needs more hours!

Posted By Chase Hinderstein, Monday, March 28, 2016

It's not enough that I have my fantasy baseball auction on Sunday, or that it's also the finale of The Walking Dead, or that it's time to get my vegetable garden going, but there's also more than 7 hours of quality racing to be watched!

This weekend is the trifecta. World Superbike in the medieval Spanish city of Aragon, F1 heads to Bahrain, and MotoGP heads to Argentina. That's 4 races in all if you're keeping count, as WSBK races twice. All competition has been good so far, with no forgone conclusions to be drawn. However, this week it's MotoGP for me that holds the most anticipation. Argentina was the location of the first of many clashes between Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez in 2015. Marquez lost that battle, by crashing out after making contact with Rossi. The rivalry has only gained steam and  vitriol since then. 

I'll post some updates later in the week as the races approach. For now, I need to catch up on TWD, watch the frost reports, and hopefully grab at least one of the Mets starting pitchers. 

Hard to find time to ride myself, notice I haven't mentioned that. Riding to the auction may be as good as it gets for now. 

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MotoGP - The bike you get for a couple million dollars.

Posted By Chase Hinderstein, Monday, March 21, 2016

Why does a prototype MotoGP bike cost millions to get on a track, while a tricked out “stock” World Superbike can make the grid for a couple hundred thousand?

This is a very tough question to answer directly, but one expensive component was on display this weekend for MotoGP’s first race of 2016, under the lights in Qatar.

While the most sophisticated of the consumer bikes, for example the HP4, now feature technologies that alter dampening 10 times per second, the prototypes of MotoGP are where boundaries are challenged and technological development is pursued without any logical barrier of capital cost. MotoGP is where those technologies that eventually find their way to the World Superbike Championship and ultimately our own consumer garages are tried and tested. It was actually the failure of one of these bits that illustrate the rule. While we sometimes hear anecdotal excuses from a rider to explain their shortcomings in a race, blaming a breaking system or some other component, this weekend’s failure on Cal Crutchlow’s Honda ultimately has been blamed for his crash.

Cal CrutchlowThese prototype bikes are now carrying engine management technology that alters the bike’s engine output to the customized preferences of the rider, on each corner! What failed on the Honda though was the bike’s understanding of which corner is was entering. The simplest bit of this system would be to tack on a GPS reader, but that’s prohibited by rule. Instead, the bike’s CPU must keep track of its tire revolutions to guess at its current location, and thereby base its engine output for that particular curve. Apparently this failed Crutchlow and he fought inappropriate engine power for a series of laps before the bike finally crashed.

Really what this reinforces for me is that these are a couple dozen of the most skilled riders in motorcycling. They are all out there on the very edge of their abilities and the capabilities of their bikes. It can be a very subtle line between the perfect turn and low siding into a gravel trap.

Such nuance is perhaps what led reigning champion, Jorge Lorenzo to victory this weekend. His Yamaha has the installed winglets up front, to increase downforce, while Valentino Rossi’s does not. The choice to use these spoilers was their own. Also, they ran on different tires. Jorge says he gambled with the choice of the softer compound and since the tire held up, he maintained the quicker pace to victory.

I focus here on this technology aspect of racing, with little regard for the race itself because I think it illustrates the point of how close the competition is. Ultimately Rossi finished 4th, but only 2.387 seconds behind first after all those laps.

It wasn’t a race without excitement. The top three, Dovizioso (Ducati) in 2nd and Marquez (Honda) in 3rd, were pushing and challenging each other throughout. The second Ducati, ridden by Andrea Iannone may have had the best pace of them all, but he crashed out when crossing that fine line midway through the race, going beyond the edge of a perfect turn.

Those three factory teams should all be able to make legitimate stabs at first all season long, and we may even see a real challenge from Maverick Vinales if his Suzuki is up to the task. I believe Vinales will either challenge on that bike or find another ride in the next 2 years, as his talent is sufficient to be a world champion.

Lastly, Bradley Smith told reporters on Friday that this would surely be his last year on the Yamaha Tech 3 satellite team. At the age of 25, it’s thought that he’s aging out of a spot reserved to develop young riders. Well, late on Sunday Smith updated his story with the announcement that he’s signed to be on the new KTM for 2017. A bit early for silly season, no?

The MotoGP circus next appears on April 3rd, in Argentina. I’m pleased to have it broadcast in the USA on beinTV sports, which doesn’t seem interested in interrupting race coverage for a NASCAR press conference, as FOX Sports was known to do.

Tags:  MotoGP 

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