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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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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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F1 delivers on Sunday after disappointing fans on Saturday

Posted By Chase Hinderstein, Monday, March 21, 2016

If you simply saw that the podium was 1. Rosberg (Merc) 2. Hamilton (Merc) 3. Vettel (Ferrari) then you would conclude it was just another race with predetermined outcomes. Perhaps a curiosity that Hamilton was behind Rosberg.

However, how we got there was not so simple. After a disappointing application of new qualifying rules left us with less excitement and anticipation on Saturday, Sunday's race started off with a brilliant start that shuffled the deck before turn one.

In addition to the (soon to be scrapped) new qualifying rules, F1 has also implemented new single clutch launch requirements to start the race. I believe this is a direct attempt to reel in Lewis Hamilton a bit, as his one known weakness is starting, and that's what the result bore out. Vettel launched to a very quick start off the line, passing both Mercs, and by turn one Rosberg went a bit wide, further holding up teammate Hamilton, which allowed Raikkonen to come through to second in his own Ferrari.

Hamilton was swamped by the competition and got caught towards the back of the top ten, requiring him to fight his way forward, allowing Rosberg chasing the two Ferraris, led by Vettel who developed a huge margin over any other car.

Then deus ex machina took hold.

First, this spectacular crash, as Alonzo ran his McLaren into the back wheel of Gutierrez's Haas car, sending the McLaren flying into a horrific pile and leading to a red flag, which temporarily halted the race.

This allowed Hamilton to take advantage of a tire swap without the cost of a normal pit. This was followed later under green flag with Vettel making a full stop that cost an additional three seconds due to a very atypical error by the crew.

Vettel was able to push in the end to challenge Hamilton for that 2nd spot, but his tires had clearly lost this full grip at that point, he fought to keep the car on the track, and he settled for third.

What we seemed to learn this weekend was that Mercedes is still very dominant, Ferraris may be a close second and could challenge this season, and the new American endeavor Haas F1 is not your typical rookie team. Gutierrez was doing well before the accident, and the Frenchman, Romain Grosjean, brought the #1 Haas car in for 6th place and 8 points. Points in F1 equal dollars for the next season, and to score in their first race out was a huge victory for Haas.

Rd 2 of the F1 season is April 3rd from Bahrain.

Tags:  F1  Haas 

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New qualifying rules for F1 a disaster

Posted By Chase Hinderstein, Saturday, March 19, 2016
Updated: Saturday, March 19, 2016

In previous seasons, qualifying brought as much excitement as race day, but no longer. My Saturdays are freed up.

 Under the old system, anyone on the track for a session when the checkered flag waved could finish that lap. If their previous best time had them on the bubble for elimination, there would be great excitement to see if that very last lap would be enough to keep them alive.

The new system is a disaster for fans and a disappointment for drivers. To simply explain what's happened, each session starts eliminating drivers, one at a time in 90 second intervals. However, if you're at the back and put onto that 90 second clock, you better already be on a flying lap. If the clock expires before you reach start/finish then your lap will not count.

 For the first application, at this weekend's race in Australia, many cars were eliminated while idled in the garage, their teams knowing they couldn't position in time for one last go at it. The anticipation and excitement lost. Fir many cars that had seemed capable of moving up the ranks, qualifying ended without that chance. 

 F1 has found a way to lose Saturday.

 follow on Twitter @BMWRennmotorrad

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