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Motorcycle racing in Asia is growing at unrivaled pace

By | General Posts

by Renato Marques from https://macaudailytimes.com.mo

The first-ever person of Portuguese nationality to hold the position, Jorge Viegas has served as president of the global governing and sanctioning body of motorcycle racing, the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM), for just over a year now.

In an exclusive interview with the Times last week, Viegas shared his opinions on the development of the sport in Asia and worldwide, speaking also about the ambitions of his presidency. He also offered some advice to Macau motorcycling event organizers, while stressing again that his organization has no jurisdiction over the annual event, part of the Macau Grand Prix.

After one year at the helm of the FIM, Viegas remarked on his success in making the organization more democratic and more transparent. He also claimed victory in his goal to give more importance to the constituent FIM committees, which he said had been “totally left out of decisions” in the past.

“I am very pleased that I [accomplished] a small ‘revolution’ at the FIM at the internal level,” he said. “That was one of my goals and it was achieved.”

Opening the FIM to the world had debunked the impression that the FIM was just “a bunch of old guys that liked to travel.”
“I have been opening the doors of the FIM to the outside and have started to collaborate a lot more with the promoters. Next month, we will, for the first time, host a plenary meeting with all the committees with the presence of journalists. This has never happened before. I want to show what the FIM does.”

“One of the first measures I took was to hold a press conference that took place at Losail during Qatar GP last year, in which I presented everyone from the FIM side that works in a Grand Prix, asking them to explain who they are and what their job duties are.”
“Without going into too much detail, I would say that I managed to bring the FIM closer to the national federations,” said Viegas.
Coming up, more reform is expected, especially in the categories of “Superbikes” and “Endurance”. The president promised that new measures to improve these categories will be announced soon, even as early as this year.

His ultimate goal remains greater engagement of the youth in motorcycle racing, all while ensuring the safety of the sport. Building on his mandate, Viegas reiterated that “every youngster, independent of gender and financial capacity, if they have the talent, passion, and motivation, [ought to be able to] compete in motorcycle racing.” At the same time, the sport must be “as safe as possible,” because only in this way can we “convince parents to let the youth participate in the sport.”

‘Unrivaled’ growth in Asia

For Viegas, “the development of motorcycling in Asia is unrivaled worldwide.”

The Asian continent is the fastest-growing region of the world when it comes to motorcycle racing, and yet its popularity is still far from peaking, he said. The FIM president recalled how the organization began with 16 national and regional federations across Asia. Today, that number has almost doubled, with 28 already accounted for and another three joining the FIM soon.

This trend is perhaps unsurprising given that, in the words of Viegas, “Asia is the most popular continent for motorcycles and where the most are circulating in the streets.”

The president is also impressed with how upbeat everyone in Asia is about the sport.

Addressing the inclusion of a new race in the MotoGP to be held on the island of Lombok, Indonesia in March 2021, Viegas remarked, “the works to build this circuit have just started and [the promoters] have already sold about 30,000 seats for the event.”
The sport is also popular elsewhere in Asia, where circuit racing championships are well-entrenched, according to the FIM president.
However, the continent suffers from a major drawback: its size. As a large and diverse continent, Asia presents a challenge in high traveling costs.

“For example, a rider going racing from China to Japan faces very high expenses,” offered Viegas, referring to transportation and logistics costs. For this reason, FIM tries to financially support the Asian Federation, so that it is possible to maintain competitive championships.

Return to China only a ‘matter of time’

Notably absent from the countries hosting major motorcycle racing events is China, leading some to speculate about disagreement between the organizers and the Chinese government. Viegas was quick to dismiss the idea of any ill feeling between the FIM, the promoters and the Chinese government.

“There is no problem with China,” he told the Times. “I believe that if they want to host an event, they can do it.”

Although there is currently no circuit in China homologated to the standards of hosting any major competitions, “if they want to, they can do that easily,” said Viegas. “It is just a matter of will and making a few works on the [existing] circuits or even building a new one.”

“I was with the Chinese authorities a few months ago and they told me that they wanted to have MotoGP back in China,” he continued. This comes as China has been pursuing other kinds of motorcycle racing categories, such as Motocross. The debut of the FIM Motocross World Championship took place in Shanghai last year, and is set to return this year.

But a return of the MotoGP is not likely within the next few years, according to the FIM president.

“We have a lot more demand than we can satisfy,” explained Viegas. “There are a lot of countries wanting to host MotoGP. This year we already expanded the championship to 20 races, and in upcoming years we can likely grow to [a maximum of] 22, which is enormous.”

Macau Grand Prix needs to review safety

Although the FIM has no jurisdiction over the motorcycle race held during the Macau Grand Prix event, the Times solicited Viegas’s views and insights on the race.

The FIM veteran, who served a number of roles at the organization prior to becoming its president, immediately suggested two logistical improvements that local organizers could adopt.

“There is one thing that the organizers can do to improve the race, which is not running motorcycle events after car events,” he said, highlighting that after a series of car races, track surface conditions may not be ideal. He also mentioned that the light and visibility conditions late in the afternoon can also be challenging for racers and present added logistical complications with race restarts.

“I think this is the minimum that organizers could do because this will improve a lot of the conditions,” said Viegas.

On a more positive note, the FIM president remarked on the “good choices” made by local organizers in “bringing in riders with a lot of experience and progressively investing in the active safety systems.”

“In the future, we hope the riders will all wear racing suits with an airbag system incorporated as well as FIM homologated helmets,” said Viegas, adding that these additional safety features have been designed to minimize the risk to racers.

For the president of FIM, the only safety issue with the Guia Circuit is the lack of run-off areas.

“The problem of Macau [street circuit] is very simple; there are no run-off areas, that’s all. There are no other problems. This is a circuit designed to host car races, the motorcycles are a complementary race that the spectators enjoy. I just think we should do all that is possible to increase the safety of the event,” he said.

A solution commonly used by the FIM on permanent racing circuits that do not possess enough run-off space is so-called “air fences”- soft-wall safety barriers, which are inflated to cushion impact from riders on otherwise rigid structures.

“When we cannot have run-off areas with the length we need, the circuit must install an air fence and we have seen riders reaching them even in areas with a lot of space,” he explained.

“Here in Macau, it would be needed obviously but again, we are not the entity that controls the safety conditions in Macau. What I wish is that there will be no more serious incidents here.”

Several recent incidents in the motorcycle racing component of the Macau Grand Prix have raised safety concerns once again among race organizers and the general population of the city. In 2017, motorcyclist Daniel Hegarty died in a crash at the Fisherman’s Bend after losing control of his bike. A major crash last year left three riders hospitalized and saw the race red flagged.

“We understand that there are riders specialized in this type of race [road racing] and they are highly experienced as well as highly aware of the risks they are taking. But what I can say is that it’s not this kind of race that the FIM encourages,” Viegas said. “This is not a circuit homologated by the FIM and it can never be, because it cannot fully meet optimal safety conditions.”

Nevertheless, the official recognizes that events like the Macau Grand Prix and the Isle of Manx TT have a long tradition with some races going back to over a century.

“It’s not under FIM competences to say anything against them,” he said. “As for the [Macau] race, it’s great entertainment and the people love it and the riders love it too.”

The global energy problem

Globally, another major challenge is the need to follow the world trend in “energy transition,” according to Viegas, which will necessitate swapping petrol-powered engines to electricity-powered motors.

“This is something that concerns us and that we are working on together with the promoters and manufacturers,” Viegas said, explaining that on motorcycles this swap will be more difficult than on cars as the current batteries are very heavy and very big, making the batteries appropriate for a racing motorcycle not capable of managing great distances.

For the time being, the Moto-E category part of the complementary program of MotoGP in some European circuits only can feature six-lap racing events.

“But as we know, this technology is developing very fast. When the batteries can be of a longer range and become lighter, I am sure we will see some great leaps forward.”

Bikernet and Bandit’s Cantina Programs for 2020

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The Bikernet family keeps changing to keep pace with shifting technologies. We moved all of Bikernet’s impressive library and 24 years of archived editorial content into Bandit’s Cantina, Bikernet’s subscription-supported section. We focused on the Bikernet Blog as the Free active section and made sure the Bikernet Weekly News is still available for Free.

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On the business side, we continue to build great content featuring the Weekly News, plus a variety of features, tech articles, while keeping a constant eye on legislative matters.

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5-BALL RACING ESCAPES to the DESERT

By | General Posts

Over the last couple of months, we’ve attempted to prepare for our first trial runs with the Salt Torpedo. Well, it’s happening today. We lifted the Torpedo off the lift and carefully lowered it to the deck day before yesterday.

I’ve been over this puppy making adjustments, corrections, and checks until I’m blue in the face, but yesterday I installed the lid and hoped for the best. We learn with every move we make.

A brother, Don Whalen was kind enough to loan us his new trailer, and it fit like a glove. We are heading to the desert near Johnson Valley this morning, where we may meet up with guys from JIMS machine, Lienweber crew and our pilot Micah McCloskey for test runs. Hang on for reports in the Thursday Bikernet Weekly News. Dr. Hamster said to layer up. “It will get cold in the desert in the afternoon.”

–Bandit

Comtech builds navigation platform for Indian Motorcycle’s Ride Command System

By | General Posts

Comtech Telecommunications has announced its Location Technologies group has teamed up with Indian Motorcycle to build a motorcycle-specific navigation platform for its Ride Command system. Customized to enhance the Indian Motorcycle experience, the built-in navigation platform is designed to provide riders with continuous connectivity. In addition to turn-by-turn directions, riders will be able to access real-time access to special routing options for locating the shortest, fastest and most scenic routes.

This includes waypoint routing that enhances the rider’s overall navigation experience by adding up to 100 stops, or special points-of-interest, as well as real-time traffic and weather overlays. Comtech’s navigation platform also features Doppler weather radar information. These navigation features are coupled with maps available onboard and offboard, as riders ride through areas where cellular connectivity is limited.

Using its Location Studio platform, Comtech provided navigation and mapping leveraging an open ecosystem to customize Ride Command. In addition to specialized routing, Ride Command includes an intuitive search system and can support geographical data from multiple countries and 11 different language capabilities with a plan to expand in the future. The Ride Command system is included with various Indian Motorcycle models.

Your Timing Off? American Prime has the Solution!

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1104-0001 Advance Assembly

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LATEST FROM: World’s leading online store for the fans of the legendary Yamaha Vmax muscle bike.

By | General Posts

1985 – 2020: 35 years Yamaha Vmax
The brand-new anniversary T-shirt

The first Yamaha Vmax motorcycles were delivered to their proud owners in 1985 and CIRCUS VMAXIMUS celebrates the 35th anniversary of this unique muscle bike with a cool new anniversary T-shirt!

The new high-quality black shirt features an extra-large, white “VMAX – 35TH ANNIVERSARY – 1985 – 2020” logo on the front and is now available exclusively online at www.CIRCUS-VMAXIMUS.com.

The T-shirt, available in sizes M through 3XL, sells from 25 Euros.

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Monster Energy® Kawasaki’s Eli Tomac Captures First 450SX Win of the Season at Round 3

By | General Posts

January 18, 2020 | Angel Stadium | Anaheim, Calif.

Foothill Ranch, Calif. (January 19, 2020) – Eli Tomac and his No. 3 Monster Energy® Kawasaki KX™450 ascended to the top step of the podium at Round 3 of Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship. Racing returned to Anaheim, California for the second and final stop at Angel Stadium, with Tomac grabbing his 28th career 450SX win, meanwhile 450SX rookie and teammate Adam Cianciarulo continued to impress by finishing in sixth place amongst the title contenders.

For the third week in a row, the Monster Energy Kawasaki dynamic duo kicked off the day by qualifying with the two fastest times as Cianciarulo clocked the fastest lap time of 51.865 with Tomac hot on his heels in second with a 51.934. The two Monster Energy Kawasaki riders were the only two riders to put in a hot lap in under 52 seconds. For the third week in a row, Cianciarulo was the fastest qualifier heading into the night show.

Tomac lined up for the first 450SX heat race and right out of the gate was able to tuck under the competition in the first turn. The No. 3 machine wasted no time getting out front and quickly darted away from the competition as he built an impressive nine-second gap over the field and went onto claim his first 450SX heat race win of the season.

Carrying the confidence of qualifying into the night show, Cianciarulo shot out of the 450SX Heat 2 gate in second place, but by the second turn had already claimed the lead. Cianciarulo began clicking off laps where he was able to lead the first half of the heat race before surrendering the top spot and finishing second.

In the 450SX Main Event both Tomac and Cianciarulo found themselves wedged out and sitting mid-pack after the first turn. Both racers began making quick work of the competition and followed one another toward the front of the pack. Tomac was able to maneuver his KX450 around the field and sliced his way into first place just before the halfway point of the race and never looked back, claiming his first 450SX victory of the year. Tomac’s win puts him into third place in the championship point standings and only five points back from the leader. Cianciarulo was able to maintain a top-5 position for the majority of the race but would ultimately cross the finish line in sixth place overall.

“Today was the day we worked for all offseason. Things were just clicking all day, we qualified second coming into the night, and in the first heat race we were able to get out front early and just kind of set the tone for the rest of the night. In the main, I didn’t get the best jump of the gate, but I was able to find some good passing lanes and remained aggressive in the opening laps. The two sets of whoops and dragon back were so mentally and physically demanding, I believe that is where I was able to separate myself from the rest of the pack. All in all, I can’t thank my team enough, the whole Monster Energy Kawasaki crew for all the hard work this past week, it definitely paid off tonight. I am looking forward to Glendale next weekend and to race a Triple Crown. My first 450SX win came in Phoenix and the high-intensity Triple Crown format really suits my racing style.”
– Eli Tomac

“Today was a bit of a rollercoaster ride for me. I was able to qualify on top again which always helps going into the night show. In my heat race, I was able to get out front but my buddy Ken (Roczen) got by and I settled into second. In the 450SX Main Event, despite my start, I felt like I was riding well and making good progress. I began to go forward and was able to make my way up to fourth, but unfortunately, I made some minor mistakes that cost me a better result. Sixth place isn’t where I want to be, but it is a long season and we are going to keep grinding. I am looking forward to the Triple Crown format next weekend in Glendale and the three gate drops we get to race.”
– Adam Cianciarulo

After starting the day off qualifying with the second-fastest lap time, Monster Energy/Pro-Circuit/Kawasaki’s Austin Forkner set the tone for the night by nabbing the win in the first 250SX heat race of the night. Forkner did so in dominating fashion by winning with an impressive 10-second margin over second place.

In the 250SX Main Event the No. 52 machine of Forkner got out to a respectable start and by lap two had already worked his way into third place. With five minutes left to go in the 250SX Main Event, Forkner went for a wild ride in the whoops that threw him to the ground violently. Forkner remounted his KX™ and despite the setback, he salvaged as many points as he could, crossing the finish line in 17th place.

Forkner aims for a bounce back ride in Glendale at the first Triple Crown race of the year. In 2019, Forkner became the first rider to sweep all three Main Events in a single Triple Crown event.

“Well there isn’t much for me to say at this point. Tonight, was a night I just want to forget and move on from. I felt good all day and got a great heat race win aboard my KX™250, but that costly mistake in the whoops in the main event ruined my evening. My team and I are going to regroup and probably spend a good amount of time hammering out whoops this next week. I had a lot of fun racing the Triple Crown races last year, so I am just ready to get to Glendale and redeem myself.”
– Austin Forkner