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May 2018 No 175


MX

where are you guys? Is there a more powerful force on the global motorcross scene than three times world champion Jeffrey Herlings? Latvian and German Grands Prix fell to the Dutchman – the first in our gallery of ‘dominators’ - with ease and the #84 KTM seems to have few weak points. The 23 year old leads MXGP by almost a full GP but there are still twelve left to go. Photo by Ray Archer


MotoGP

cheeky triple Marc Marquez’s third victory on the bounce and at diverse tracks like Austin, Jerez and Le Mans is surely confirmation that Honda have done their homework this winter. There were other headline contenders in France, such as Andrea Dovizioso’s slip, Johann Zarco fever, Cal Crutchlow’s bloody resilience but the #93 was again the ringmaster. Photo by CormacGP


AMA-MX


resumption of duty

Eli Tomac’s mastery at the Lucas Oil AMA Pro National opener was complete with two different motos…but the same result. Check out Steve Matthes’ Blog further in the issue for the lowdown on what happened at the first round of the Outdoors. Photo by Monster Energy/Swanberg


WorldSBK


number basher The clock had been ticking on Jonathan Rea’s latest hook-up on the WorldSBK record books and he equalled the highest win tally with his first ‘double’ of 2018 in Italy. If he spoils the ‘Sykes’ Show’ at Donington Park this weekend for the second year in a row then the green momentum will take some stopping (rev limits or not). Photo by GeeBee Images


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talkessel, teutschenthal · april 16 · Rnd 8 of 20 MXGP winner: Jeffrey Herlings, KTM MX2 winner: Jorge Prado, KTM

o


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onslaught Blog by Adam Wheeler, Photos by Ray Archer


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MXGP BLOG

Moving this way and that way How do you stop someone like Jeffrey Herlings? This is one of the biggest questions hanging over the 2018 MXGP series; a Red Bull KTM-fest well before the halfway stage of the season. The 23 year old has dominated from the front, through last minute, last lap dives, and comprehensive carve-ups that have been achieved with skill, superior bravery, deeper intensity and no small amount of risk. Herlings is not a serial holeshotter. He doesn’t have that twanging string to his capable bow. He does have a fierce work ethic (as revealed by some of those closest to him in our last issue) and a motorcycle that shows little in the way of weak spots. He also has momentum. five of seven Grands Prix fell his way before the German round last weekend where he added a sixth with a fifth 1-1 sweep of the motos. He already has a lead of one Grand Prix in the standings and Teutschenthal brought a week of complete control to an end with his fourth consecutive chequered flag obtained with ease. Perhaps one suggestion is to let Herlings beat himself. A racer of such wide-ranging magnitude and experience as Tony Cairoli has looked powerless at times against Herlings’ charge and may

be learning towards a ‘sweat-himout’ policy. Herlings has famously rubbed away two certain crowns – in 2014 and 2015 – through misjudgement and bad decisions. He frequently cites those injuries he sustained and therefore eradicated points leads that touched almost 150 (three whole GPs) both times as one of the biggest and most painful lessons of his life.

The same people that believe Jeffrey could be close to a major ‘off’ at some stage were also those that claimed Romain Febvre and Tim Gajser would also loop out of the scene during their terms of triumph in 2015 and 2016 respectively (both would taste dust in the following seasons but they had entered the record books by that point).

The youthful exuberance and swagger at the time is understandable (if ultimately unfortunate) but weak shades of the desperation that led to some of those moments are still visible in his approach and racing today. He sometimes seems to live through the seat of those Alpinestars pants; although it can be tricky to tell just how much a rider is on the limit.

One consideration is to match Herlings’ intensity. “I feel like I leave nothing on the table anywhere at the moment,” he said on Saturday in Germany when quizzed on how he is a level above. “Currently I eat, sleep and breathe motocross and it is hard for myself and on my body and I don’t know how many years I’ll be able to do that.


By Adam Wheeler

I basically watch every single thing every day to be able to perform at the weekend and it is demanding. The results show some good things. I feel mentally and physically strong and I want to take everything out of my career that I possibly can. In the MX2 days things came easy but now I really have to work for it. It would be my dream if I ever became MXGP World Champion and to accomplish that you have to do everything right. I think this is the best possible shape I have ever been in and until now I haven’t had any setbacks for a long time regarding injuries. In this sport that is hard [to do] and we’ll try to stay in this same spot.” The odds are against Jeffrey evading every potential knockout blow in the twelve Grands Prix that remain in 2018, and veterans like Cairoli, Clement Desalle and even a flowering Gautier Paulin could be biding their time.

Every MXGP racer walks a tightrope that has become longer each year and we’ve previously observed that it is the moderated and cautious ‘crosser’ that tends to reach the other side rather than just the fastest trier. Playing the long game and hoping the racing ‘gods’ frown on others is not ideal because it is a philosophy that manifests itself outside a rider’s sense of control: never re-assuring for a professional athlete. Against the weight of evidence in the points - and in front of them on a track when #84 comes flying past and then stands higher than them on the podium once more - it is virtually the only option. The harbinger of hope is that Herlings could drop the ball and allow a slither (or slithers) of a chance. Riders deflect pressure by claiming they need to focus on their own performances. Of course that holds true, but to defeat a mighty foe requires study and analysis.

Dylan Ferrandis faced the ‘Herlings quandary’ in 2016 and deduced his only realistic opportunity for the MX2 championship was to rattle the Dutchman and inhibit his starts by cutting his opponent’s line out of the gate. In his style Dylan did this without qualm or quibble and Herlings began to get irate. Eventually it was Ferrandis’ mistake that decided a lukewarm title dispute with his crash and broken arm in Switzerland. What can the current MXGP riders do now? Resort to more gamesmanship? There is not a great deal of elbow-room (pun intended). Cairoli (along with Desalle, he has been the closest so far) can force the issue and goad Herlings to skirt closer and closer to the edge by continuing to lead from the front, but do not discount the demoralising effect if the plan constantly backfires and it has happened three times already in 2018, one of those coming at Cairoli’s home Grand Prix.


MXGP BLOG

Trying to keep pace with the KTM and spooking Herlings into a mistake is probably the hardest thing to do in MXGP, such is the Dutchman’s pace and ability to crack lap-times. Aside from a tactical take-out – and there are very few in the MXGP field that would deliberately set out to do that – then this is not much choice. “Even if we are like rivals you never wish that someone gets injured [in order] to be a champion,” Tim Gajser said to me Saturday evening at Teutschenthal. “Even if he is the biggest rival. I don’t think anybody wishes something like that. We know that motocross is a hard sport and something can quickly go wrong…but we don’t wish it.” Herlings has his guard up but abhors the notion that the top level of motocross racing would have to stoop to such measures. “It is part of the game I would say but I hate it,” he said. “Tony cut me off at Redsand and in Agueda and I’ve never done anything to him in that kind of way. It is a little bit unfair. If you have the elbows up and in front you

can basically do what you want. But if you race each other for 60 motos a year then you need to keep it fair and in the end the best guy who stays healthy will win. I’ve had some major injuries due to this sport and I don’t want to make it more dangerous that it already is.” Toppling a more powerful competitor is an interesting situation and challenge for a professional racer. I imagine any tactic that works and somehow defeats Herlings – or any other insurmountable foe – on any given weekend must produce an amazing adrenaline rush. It’s possible that Herlings will not become only the second rider to win MX2 and MXGP crowns this year, and one of the best and most fascinating narrative arcs of 2018 will be how this could come to pass.


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Photos by Jordi Wheeler (age 9)


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products

protaper ProTaper’s clamp on grip system looks like the ideal quick fix. Changing grips must be one of the more laborious tasks of dirtbike maintenance but the American’s innovation in this respect could be a Eureka! moment. ProTaper label the product as offering ‘the comfort and control of traditional grips with the added advantage of quick, effortless installation. The design eliminates the need for glue and safety wire, yet ensures durable, slip-free performance.’ The clamp is CNC machined with a 4mm bolt to eliminate slip.

www.protaper.com There is a special windowed design to allow for more comfort in the palm and finger area – a nice thought for those blisters and calluses. The comfort comes from a dual compound technology, which also ensures durability. There are three grips patterns to choose from and at least thirteen different colour schemes. ProTaper are one of THE go-to aftermarket companies for handlebars thanks to their ideas and innovations so it is only natural that their grips are also up to scratch.


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le mans · may 20th · Rnd 5 of 19 MotoGP winner: Marc Marquez, Honda Moto2 winner: Pecco Bagnaia, Kalex Moto3 winner: Albert Arenas, KTM

le ‘man’ Blogs by David Emmett, Neil Morrison & Sienna Wedes

Photos by CormacGP


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motogp BLOG

Discovering Le Mans... It was in the early 1920’s when the streets of Le Mans inaugurated a prestigious 24-Hour motorsport event. Forty-two years later the ‘Circuit de la Sarth’ became a key component in the adaptation of an annual MotoGP race where many features of the world famous layout were utilised. Fast forward to 2018: it’s 6am on Sunday morning and my alarm has just signalled me to rise for race day at round five of MotoGP. We’ve managed to cram four grown men and myself into a diminutive Toyota AYGO, programmed the GPS to take us to the circuit via the quickest route and yet we still manage to find ourselves victims of traffic, security and road closures. Before I entertain you with the fierce scenes of the race, it is essential to understand how one of the oldest and most traditional fixtures on the World Championship calendar grew to be so iconic. As of May 1923 the Le Mans course became fully functional with the introduction of the ’24 Hours of Le Mans’ endurance chase where drivers would cover over 5,000km during a 24 hour period. It quickly developed into a race of “endurance and efficiency” highlighting the multifaceted sportsmen and their passion to win. Despite the fact that this track has been an exhibition of grand historical moments, it has also

had its fair share of obstacles in its budding years. The consequences of World War II dealt the people of France a hefty task of rebuilding a post-war society and saw ‘the Le Mans Circuit’ on a ten year hiatus. This however, did not dishearten its future and in 1965 they made a monumental decision to transform the singular circuit into two independent racing tracks. The Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix Circuit was born and flourished through the harmonisation of the authentic layout and new additions.

Take a moment to transport yourself back in time. Assign yourselves a position in the shoes of a skilled driver in the 1920’s. You’re standing opposite your vehicle with adrenaline siphoning through your veins on the world famous Le Mans start straight. The flying of the flag is imminent but feels as if it is in slow motion. Soon, the sprint begins and you are running full-force towards a machine only you know how to drive, you strap yourself in and disappear. Your race has begun. Today, I have the privilege of observing the mix of teams dashing around the same grid preparing themselves for their big day like


By Sienna Wedes

a horde of multi-coloured ants. It’s a completely different era in so many ways and yet they still return to this very famous start straight with just as much anticipation and focus. Just slightly less running. The lights had checked out and riders were on their way but I felt nothing comforting about watching them fiercely battle in the initial laps. It felt as though they were all so eager to prove themselves; patience wasn’t a virtue to be found. Before I could get up to speed with the ballsy manoeuvres taking place I reached turn 6 and chaos had ensued. Andrea Iannone took the first tumble into the gravel at La Chapelle, a section of the original 24 hour trajectory which splits from the Bugatti circuit. It was between 2001 and 2002 for safety reasons that the modification of this section was completed and involved the Dunlop descent (the Eiffel tower of the circuit) down to the turn of La Chapelle. Iannone was not the only casualty there, Andrea Dovizioso was only a whisker into the race before he lost the front and came crashing down.

He seemed awfully perplexed on his knees pleading with his own confusion. “I was pushing 80%, that’s why I am disappointed. I wasn’t pushing in that moment. I was late on the brake and lost the front. I didn’t take enough care”. Pieces of his Ducati were left behind as he removed himself from the track, the mark of a mistake and a difficult championship ahead. This section had been notorious in the past claiming Danilo Petrucci during Saturday’s practice session and in 2017 a vast majority of the Moto3 category were wiped out at this very spot. La Chapelle, in my eyes appears to be a crash magnet and after a reoccurrence of accidents in all three classes, race day didn’t seem too dissimilar. It wasn’t a weekend that you could predict easily and for this very reason it became clear why this sold out event has remained on the calendar for so long. It constantly keeps you on your toes, makes you cheer for the underdog, gives you anxiety beyond belief and helps you understand the magnitude of support the motorsport world has.

There is no limit on age when you enter those gates, toddlers, teenagers and elderly men and women all sporting a smile. Today’s rambunctious supporters roared with fury as their home hero Johann Zarco also disappeared on lap eight, controversially heckled during the podium celebrations and sung their national anthem proud. It’s an race weekend that’ll evolve to last a lifetime.


motogp france


motogp BLOG

Lorenzo in a cul-de-sac? Jorge Lorenzo is one of the greatest riders of all time. I’m not just saying that, the statistics bear this out. He has the fourth highest number of wins in the premier class, with 44 victories in MotoGP. He has the fifth highest number in all classes, winning on 65 occasions over his years in 125, 250, and MotoGP. He has also accumulated five titles during the seventeen seasons he has raced. He has finished 148 of the 273 races he has started on the podium, a rate of 54%. He has started 24% of those races on pole, and won 24% of those Grand Prix. By any measure, that is a truly fantastic career. So how come he could find himself out of a job next year? The answer is simple, and comes in two parts. The first part is money. The second part is results. But both are inextricably tied together. Just as they were when he was offered €25 million to come to Ducati for two seasons and win a championship for them. But eighteen months and 23 races further, Jorge Lorenzo has just three podiums to his name, no wins, and no title. And not even the excuse that Valentino Rossi had when he was at Ducati, as Lorenzo’s teammate Andrea Dovizioso came within a race or two of taking the MotoGP crown last year, claiming six races along the way.

There is an old maxim in racing, or indeed any sport: you are only as good as your last race, and for the past 23 outings, Lorenzo’s last race has been disappointing to say the least. The Spaniard’s struggles are well known: the bike won’t carry the corner speed that he wants to, so Lorenzo isn’t able to exploit his supernatural ability to go through a corner faster than any other person on earth. The bike needs a completely different style to the one Lorenzo has cultivated over nine years with Yamaha and three years on 250s.

Lorenzo has mastered some of the necessary skills, but unfortunately not sufficiently to start winning again. It has not been enough. Gigi Dall’Igna persuaded the Ducati board to pay Lorenzo a king’s ransom with the promise of success after a long results drought. But with Lorenzo failing to hold up his end of the bargain, and Andrea Dovizioso doing the winning, Claudio Domenicali is asking himself why he should keep such a conspicuous reminder of a dubious deal on Ducati’s payroll.


By David Emmett

When the same thing happened to Valentino Rossi at Ducati, the Italian understood what he had to do. Rossi offered his services to Yamaha for no wages, but demanded a share of any sponsorship he could bring. He accepted the temporary humiliation of a pay cut for the potential to be competitive once again. Rossi’s strategic humility was rewarded, winning ten races and being in the title hunt since his return in 2013. This appears to be the mistake that Jorge Lorenzo is making. On Sunday after Le Mans, when asked about his future at Ducati, he told the press, “everyone in the paddock knows the value of Jorge Lorenzo and what Lorenzo can do, what I can do on the bike when I feel good. What I did in the past during eight or nine years. Always first or second in the championship.” Lorenzo is said to have offers to choose from. The offer from Suzuki was roughly half his current salary, while Ducati have told Lorenzo he can have a very low base salary with very high bonuses, and earn his wage packet the hard way.

That offer has dented Lorenzo’s pride. He is said to view such an offer as being beneath him, and is insisting on being paid what he feels he is worth. But he is basing his value on the years at Yamaha, while Ducati and Suzuki are looking at his time at Ducati. This behaviour has reportedly led Suzuki bosses in Japan to pull the plug on the offer to Lorenzo, choosing to try to mould a young Joan Mir instead, as they did with Maverick Viñales. And so Jorge Lorenzo finds himself at a crossroads. He can choose to take a pay cut and go ride the Suzuki, a bike much more suited to his style, and a bike he would almost certainly win races on. Or he can take a massive pay cut and stay at Ducati, in the hope of boosting his salary by winning races at last, and contending for the championship. So far, he has stubbornly stuck to his guns. He deserves to be paid as the champion he was, not the rider with a point to prove which he is now.

As he holds to that position, the factories prepare to move on, scrapping Lorenzo from their plans. If he is not careful, he could find himself without a ride altogether. And that would be a shame. Despite his results, Jorge Lorenzo is still arguably the second best rider in the world, and unbeatable with the right bike underneath him. But no one seems inclined to give him a shot. Losing Lorenzo would be a huge loss to the sport. But the sport would still go on without him.


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motogp BLOG

results not the whole story fo Not even 18 months of experience and all the money in the world can buy you a top ten in MotoGP. Le Mans represented 23 races into KTM’s premier class foray and the expansive project has yet to surprise, illuminate and excite in the way it did through most of a caffeine-funded, progress-fuelled 2017. Results haven’t been all that. Just a sole top ten finish (courtesy of test rider Mika Kallio) in the first five outings is a showing that falls below the renewed standards set by management and riders at Valencia a year ago as the factory’s debut season neared its end conclusion. The average distance of the first KTM to the race winner has been 30s in that time - some way off Pol Espargaro’s 14s deficit to race winner Marc Marquez at Aragon last September. Come 2017’s conclusion, Espargaro and team-mate Bradley Smith were regularly pushing to qualify in Q2’s twelve-rider shootout. Both came home ahead of the factory Ducatis in Australia, before Smith out-raced a perplexed Maverick Viñales at Valencia; scalps that hinted to an even brighter future than what we have envisioned in the year’s opening nine months, a time during which

the RC16 jumped up from the back of the field to regular point-scoring finishes. Since Valencia, countless new parts have been developed and added to the RC16 to ensure it is easier to manage, easier to turn and easier on tyres. KTM stocked up on a host of new personnel and expertise from other teams, but that trajectory curve has flat-lined somewhat. It hasn’t been easy for management looking on. Races in Qatar, Argentina and Texas were “painful to see,” according to Motorsport Director Pit Beirer. And MotoGP has not been alone in yielding below par results. KTM’s Moto2 project that has also struggled to hit the heights of the autumnal months of last year. Only Miguel Oliveira’s mature brilliance has kept him in the title race.

One may be forgiven for concluding the Mattighofen factory has bitten off a little more than it could chew in 2018. But look a little closer and it’s clear the Austrian factory is carefully putting a structure in place to ensure 2019 brings about that necessary – but increasingly difficult –jump toward the top six. As is normally the case, the results sheet doesn’t tell the full story and it may sound like a copout to suggest as much for a company that measures success on results, but much of KTM’s achievements so early into 2018 have come away from the track. Securing Tech 3 as its satellite team was a coup that no one saw coming. Yamaha’s continuing search for able replacements underlines the difficulty in finding an outfit with adequate organisation, experience and will to back up a


or ktm factory effort. In promising to field four identical bikes, not only does this move offer the chance fielding competition for not just its factory team, it vastly increases the data available to all its engineers, which turn speeds up development. Establishing a first-rate satellite outfit is the final piece of an extensive jigsaw that stretches all the way down to the Red Bull Rookies Cup too. From January, a readymade conveyor belt of talent will be there to nurture talent from the tender age through pimply, spunky adolescence to the chastening release of the early twenties. Not even HRC can boast of such a structure. And in securing the signature of 2017 sensation Johann Zarco, the factory has pulled off a star signing that reportedly left Honda’s new team boss and notable admirer Alberto Puig dumbfounded. Everything the Frenchman has done during a pulsating 23-race spell in the premier class has suggested he is a rider of the highest calibre.

By Neil Morrison

With that talent comes an unshakeable self-belief and, despite crashing out of his home grand prix when the focus and pressure surrounding his effort was cranked up to eleven, a temperament to go with the very best. Surely he will take the project to another level. For early critics, it’s also crucial to remember recently developed components will not be a guaranteed upgrade on what was there before, such is KTM’s status as MotoGP sophomores. “New parts can also be negative,” conceded Beirer, who admitted the first three races acted too much as a test for the bike which will be of benefit in the European season. “We miss experience in this class,” he said. “You cannot buy that. There are no shortcuts. You have to go through all the problems yourself.” Espargaro’s preseason injury, which deprived him of eight days of preseason testing at full fitness, didn’t help. And while this season’s opening hasn’t gone exactly to place, it would be stupid to write it off completely.

Going off race times, the RC16 has on average finished 21 seconds closer to the winner than in the same five outings a year ago. Now that’s real progress. And that’s before we even consider what has been going on behind the scenes. Test rider Mika Kallio’s appearance at Jerez showcased a machine KTM is developing for ’19. With increased turning capabilities (“it’s turning double or triple” compared to the current model) Espargaro believes it’s an upgrade to the tune of one second per lap. That should be ready for the factory riders to race from August onwards. Expect an immediate jump from there. So rather than assessing the project by the high standards set by ambitious CEO Stefan Pierer, perhaps it’s time to appreciate just what KTM has done in its limited time in MotoGP. In 23 races it has established itself as a regular point scorer, with no apparent reliability issues on display. No other factory has a development project that fosters young talent as well as its own.


motogp BLOG

And, boasting of a budget of a reported 50 million euros per year means this project certainly won’t stand still. Going off history, it took Honda three years to get it right when it returned to premier class racing in 1979. Only Ducati can claim to have got it so right, so early, with its first showings in 2003, all stellar bursts of red and tears on the podium. One need only look at KTM’s recent response in Moto3 – I’m sure I was not alone in noting the ease with which championship leader and KTM runner Marco Bezzecchi could breeze by title rival and Honda man Jorge Martin on Le Mans hefty front straight thanks to an updated electronics package – to understand its commitment to all three classes. Don’t expect Kalex’s current dominance of Moto2 to last, by the way, with upgrades for the KTM chassis expected in the coming weeks. It’s worth remembering the fine margins that exist in premier class racing at present. Espargaro was just 0.4s off serial champion Marc Marquez when qualifying at Jerez.

“If you told me that three years ago we could manage that, I would not even have believed it,” Beirer told me at Jerez. “You need to deliver an incredible quality to survive in this class. That’s a challenge but this will make us better and we want to take that challenge.” The beginning of ’18 has been from perfect. But the feeling remains that we’ll look back on this time as little more than a minor blip in years to come.


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motogp france


Products

iXS Swiss firm IXS have become more prominent in motocross over the last few years thanks to the success and efforts of Jeremy Seewer and a very visual team deal with the Wilvo Yamaha satellite squad in MXGP. Aside from an improving selection of off-road garments, the firm offer a wide range of products for motorcyclists. For the road the Classic LD Cruiser is a fetching jacket that wouldn’t look out of place on the high street.

www.ixs.com Featuring soft buffalo leather and height adjustable shoulder and elbow protection the coat is also design-tested with European regulations in mind. It is available in Black and also Brown and expect to pay around 300 euros. Other specs? Autolock zips, 6 pockets in total (2 interior), hip fitting regulators and a loop to connect the product to riding pants. The lining is 100% cotton.


a guide to some of the hedge-scrapers to watch on the iom starting this weekend Words & Photos by Steve English


tt 2018 is go!


Feature

T

he Isle of Man TT has been running since 1907 but there have only been a handful of years where the festivities will begin with so many unanswered questions. One of the few certainties is that with Michael Dunlop having switched back to his favoured BMW that the 16 times winner should add to his tally. In the all-time list Dunlop is tied with Ian Hutchinson but with latter having only just had the fixator removed from his leg the Englishman faces a very tough TT week. Switching to Honda only adds to the challenge given how difficult last year’s racing was for the new Fireblade but progress has been made in the last 12 months and while it would be surprise to see the 38 year old win don’t discount a miracle. Peter Hickman looks best placed to become the next Isle of Man TT star. The British Superbike ace claimed five podiums last year and is out to finally add a TT success to his Northwest 200, Ulster Grand Prix and Macau victories. Hickman has been fast from the outset on the island and brings a calm demeanour to his road racing. Dean Harrison wants to claim a big bike race more than any other. The Bradford native has been able to taste the victory champagne on the island in the past but winning a Superbike affair is the target for the Kawasaki rider. The TT is an event unlike any other for fans and riders alike and with the possibility of beautiful weather and fast times there is nothing better than two weeks on the rock in middle of the Irish Sea.

Don’t call him an allrounder Peter Hickman has ticked a lot of boxes in the early years of his TT career. From being the fastest newcomer in history to standing on the rostrum in all five races last year in 2018 the BSB star is ready to win. The 31 year old has been able to turn around his career in recent years by proving his mettle on the roads. From being a solid BSB racer he was able to trade success at the International Road Races into better machinery in Britain and he since making his TT debut in 2014 he has built momentum in both paddocks. For 2018 he’s keen to tick off one of the few remaining items on his career list. “Winning is the target,” said Hickman ahead of his first Northwest 200 victory. “To get a TT win would be great. This year will be the first year that I’ll ride the same bikes with the same team for two years in a row. Last year was the accumulation of all the hard work that goes into racing in both the TT and BSB. We’ve had some bad luck so far in BSB so we need to get a bit of luck for the TT. In BSB we’ve been fast but there’s always been something happening that seems to have hindered us.”


tt 2018

In Britain Hicky has claimed only two top ten finishes in 2018 but if he gets to the chequered flag on the island he is sure to be in with a shout of adding his name to the winners list. Hickman has steadily improved from his stellar rookie campaign when he smashed the newcomers record. Immediately joining the fabled “130 Club” Hickman proved his worth and proved to be a quick study. “I’ve been able to build year-on-year with the TT. I came in as the fastest newcomer and even in difficult years, 2016 for example with the Kawasaki, I’ve still been fast; that year I set the fourth fastest time of all-time. I think that everything will be fine once we have some luck. The weather is important too because if it’s nice we can all get a lot of laps in and have everything sorted. If you have bad weather and some problems you never get anything fixed because you just don’t have time. Fingers crossed we’ll have the weather.” The weather is a fickle mistress over almost 38 miles of the Mountain Course. One section of the track can be baking in the summer sun while the top of the mountain is covered in dense, freezing fog. It’s a challenge that all riders need to deal with but also something that makes the Road Racing so unique. “Road races are all special because you only get once chance at them each year. The Northwest, TT and the Ulster have so much history as well and that’s always cool. Road Races are dangerous and thrilling and that’s what makes them so special. I love being a rider that can race in BSB and the Roads and win in both disciplines.


Feature


tt 2018

I’ve got so much racing through the year but I don’t look at it that any one race has more pressure than the other. I’m pretty chilled out and do my own thing. “This year I’ll do the Roads, BSB and some Endurance races including Suzuka. It’s always good to be able to do as much as possible but I never like being called an all-rounder because it implies I’m good at everything but great at nothing! I know that I’m a bit unique to be able to do both and win at both and that’s the goal for this year again. I love racing on the roads and when you start at the TT course you know there’s no bad sections on that lap! It’s just amazing.”

Ready to mount a challenge It’s been a roller coaster few seasons for Josh Brookes. When he first came to the TT he was the most touted rider in years and he backed it up by smashing the newcomers lap record. Since then he’s had a further two bites of the TT cherry but an ill-fated swap to Yamaha machinery in 2015 left him struggling before moving to Norton last year. He’s completed his TT apprenticeship and been fast each occasion but for 2018 he’ll be armed with a potential race winner; the Yamaha R6 that Ian Hutchinson has used superbly in recent editions.


Feature Brookes will once again line up for Norton in the Superbike and Senior classes in addition to racing for Yamaha in the Superstock class. It will be an action packed fortnight for the Australian who is still searching for membership of the 130 club but it’s only a matter of time until he ticks that box and don’t be surprised to see him go considerably faster this year. As a former WorldSBK rider, WorldSSP race winner and a British Superbike champion Brookes has loved getting back to the roots of the sport and racing on the roads. “The TT suits my character, I’m a bit unpredictable and like to have a thrill in life,” said Brookes. “I’ve always lived a little on the extreme and that’s the TT in a nutshell. A fat wallet doesn’t get you the chance to ride at the TT, it’s an old school, raw, grass roots type of event. I’ve had great enjoyment in being part a of it. MotoGP and the entire sport has the Isle of Man TT to thank for its very existence and that’s why it’s such a special event.” It’s also a unique event in that it’s hard for riders to set definitive targets. Practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect and Brookes is as aware as anyone that ideal conditions are far from guaranteed at the TT. As a result the BSB front runner won’t set any goals for race week other than to get the most from himself. “I don’t like to set firm targets for the TT but I do think about what’s realistic for me.

I think that a podium is now possible because I’m getting more experienced at the TT. If it doesn’t happen I won’t be disappointed because I know that I’ll have ridden my best on the day while riding as safely as I can. The Norton is close to the front now too but as you get nearer to the top it becomes harder to make big improvements with the bike.” With Ian Hutchinson and Michael Dunlop having dominated the TT in recent years the time seems right for the next generation to fulfil their potential. Brookes is certainly in that group and with so many riders capable of fast laps and podium finishes it seems that there could be a changing of the guard this year in what is the strongest field in years.


tt 2018

“I think the next generation of TT racers have already established themselves. Riders like Dean Harrison, William Dunlop, James Hillier, Peter Hickman, Connor Cummins and David Johnston are very established as TT regulars and we all know what they can do. We have riders like John McGuiness and Bruce Anstey who are still strong and give a bridge to the previous generation of riders like Steve Plater, Guy Martin or Cam Donald. “Every rider is different and every person is going to adapt at their own speed. I think that racing on the short circuit breeds good riding skills and if you have that you can apply it to anything on two wheels. The TT course is special and honestly it’s all good! Every part is equally challenging as the part before and the section you face next.”


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tt 2018

Harrison ready to prove his credentials Dean Harrison has a 131mph lap and a TT victory to his name but knows he needs to win a big bike race. The Silicone Engineering rider has spent a lot of the spring building up his bike fitness by competing in the British Superbike championship and heading into the TT he feels more confident than ever. “It’s been a great start to the year,” said Harrison. “I can use the same electronics in BSB that I’ll use on the roads this year. We’ve been able to work on my throttle connection and stuff like that so it’s been useful for me. The TT is the same set of rules so that’s why it’s been useful to do BSB rounds. It’s been good to get it set up here. You can hang it out all and make sure everything’s working right. “I’ve actually loved racing on the short circuits. The BSB class is so competitive though! I jumped on a stock bike and that really shows what you’ve improved on and how much progress you’ve made. The BSB Superbike class is hard though and if you look at the field it’s so competitive and good riders are at the back of the field because of the depth of the field. Nobody comes into BSB and goes straight to the front and it’s exactly the same at the TT. You’ve got to do your homework, do the laps, do the mileage and just come year after year and don’t rush the job.”

While it takes time to build up that experience of The Mountain Course the expectation heaped on riders can come quite quickly. Harrison is now expected to be a front runner and he doesn’t shy away from that. As the son of Conrad Harrison, a sidecar TT winner, he knows what the TT is all about and it’s more than a race for Harrison; it’s the culmination of his season. Despite having 17 laps of over 130mph at the TT he realises that the challenge facing any rider is huge. Harrison knows that while it’s a physically demanding race it’s arguably the most mentally taxing outing of the year in any series. “My year is about the TT because that’s the main race of the year for me. That’s what I want to win. That’s the one the team want to win. My lifetime goal is to win the Senior. I’ve been lucky to win a TT but you want to win the big bike race. That’s the main race. I’ve been trying to get as close as I can but it’s about being able to do all six laps. The big bike races are tough physically and mentally. In short circuit racing it’s more physical than mental but the TT is the opposite. It’s definitely a lot more mental compared to the short circuits. It’s physical too but the concentration you need is for so much longer. “The goal for the TT is to try and win another race. I had two podiums last year and was third in the Senior. I’m looking forward to it. I think that some riders are ready to make the step up to fight for wins but you’ve got to do your homework. I’ve done the miles and built my experience over the years and I really love the run from Greeba Castle all the way through to Ballycraine because you’re closed in and running through the trees. You almost feel safe at that point!”


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“The island comes alive for the TT” Triple WorldSBK champion Jonathan Rea grew up around Road Racing and while his father is a TT race winner the lure of the racing on the island had a hook on Rea. The Northern Irishman has made the Isle of Man his home since 2010 and he is always excited to see it turn into the Road Racing capital of the world. “I love the Isle of Man,” said a smiling Rea. “It’s been my home for eight years and it’s so special to me.

age of his 1989 250 TT win. That day he flat out beat Hizzy and Foggy. He was as good an Irish rider as anyone that didn’t get the opportunity to go and race in the UK and show what he could do. When he didn’t get the chance to race on the short circuits he went Road Racing and he was the top national racer in the late 80’s and early 90’s. I think he’s won 13 Irish or Ulster championships but he never had the chance to race properly outside of Ireland.” While Rea Sr had to take to the roads to scratch his competitive fires, Jonathan is keenly aware of how lucky he was to not be pressured into Road Racing. That being said he is a true fan and the Road Racing community and atmosphere is one that he relishes to get amongst.

“I’ve been able to find some gems on the TT course to watch and been to a few places where I probably shouldn’t have been! “ It’s a mythical place and from the first time I went there it struck me as being a special place. My dad had his ties to the TT and I’ve always respected what he did. My dad was my hero when I was a kid, I think my son Jake is the same with me now, and I remember pushing mechanics out of the way so that I could polish wheels or do something to help!

“I’m lucky to have been able to do a closed course lap of the TT course and it was great. Before we started I asked Milky Quayle, who was taking us around, how fast we’d go. He said that he’d go as fast as I was still in his mirrors. That was perfect for me and I followed him and it was a relatively quick lap but I definitely understood everything a lot better.

“My dad always made me feel a part of it and I could see how winning made him feel. I was a bit too young when it happened but Duke recently sent me foot-

“I was talking to some people about the TT and I can completely understand it because it’s the best thing in the world to close a road and have so many people to


tt 2018

race but it’s not for me. At something like the TT there are so many privateers and amateur racers out competing and that’s why Road Racing is different. You have the factory outfits with their resources and then around the corner there’s a guy working from his van with no budget! It’s cool to still have that.” While Rea won’t be out on the road of the fearsome Mountain Course he’ll be in the next best place; sitting on a hedge with his friends and getting among the fans. “I’ve been able to find some gems on the TT course to watch and been to a few places where I probably shouldn’t have been! Gorse Lea is probably my favourite spot to watch from because at the farm you can get a brew and a bun and if you’re there early enough you can get up on the wall for a great view. Typically I’ll cycle around the island to get to my spots and it’s such a cool way to get around and it makes the fortnight so much fun. I’ve been up the mountains with David Knight on the trails and that was great. The buzz of the TT is so good and I always think it’s cool when there’re so many people there. I see the island dormant throughout the year so to see so many people come over and enjoy the island is so cool for me.”


Products

KINI KINI’s off-road jacket has a lot of promise. Why? This product was requested by and then developed with last Dakar Rally winner Matthias Walkner so it has been through the mill. The first element the Austrian wanted over the traditional Enduro garment was a reduction in weight. Ventilation was the next necessity, as was a comfortable fit. The four-way stretch material assisted with this and provided valuable protection against water and wind. The search for comfort extended to use of a soft fleece material for the collar and the ability to zip-off the sleeves. Walkner gave specific feedback for the role and placement of the pockets so the larger areas on the front were placed slightly more to the outside. The jacket ended up passing the harsh tests of the two weeks in South America and the same design thinking and aesthetics were applied to pants and a shirt. The jacket was something of a breakthrough for the KINI riding wear lines and has been validated where very few brands dare to tread.

www.shop.kini.at


SBK

pata italian round

imola · may 12-13 · Rnd 5 of 13

Race one winner: Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki Race two winner: Jonathan Rea, Kawasaki


worldsbk italy

Blog by Graeme Brown, Photos by GeeBee Images

being back


worldsbk italy


SBK BLOG

To stick or twist? With some time to reflect on the events of WorldSBK at Imola it was good to put them in context with the racing that took place at the weekend. Imola had been a happy hunting ground for Chaz Davies and Ducati in recent years with four wins on the trot, and I fully expected a similar outcome this year. Indeed with Xavi Fores being a regular on the podium in 2018 on his privateer Ducati, I was ready for complete podium domination from the Borgo Panigale marque. However, the combination of Jonathan Rea and the Ninja ZX-10RR can never be discounted. Bear in mind that this year the Kawasaki squad has had their race machines hamstrung by the WorldSBK 2018 technical regulations and have been short of the outright pace they have shown in the last two years. Rea has been open this season, saying that race one on a Saturday is his chance to score maximum points as he is struggling to get through the field in race two with the reverse gridding, and aiming for a podium place is the main target. He told me a while back that ‘you know when it is your day, and that is when you have to push as hard as you can for the win’. Rea is forever pushing hard but some days there are too many risks involved in chasing the win, and collecting the points for

second or third is more valuable in the long term. Last weekend he obviously felt both Saturday and Sunday were his days. It was reminiscent of 2017 when I guess he could have started from the pit lane and by lap three or four would have been challenging for the lead. To be fair to Chaz Davies he put up a strong challenge in race two with a bit of fairing paint being traded but in the end Rea was just too strong. So is the Superbike championship still boring and predictable? It may still be predictable but in my view it is anything but boring. I sat down for a veritable feast of action on Sunday. Having done everything in my power on Saturday to avoid the thing that shall

not be mentioned, Sunday was my time to make a dent in the sofa. It was a TV and laptop sort of day with MXGP on the TV and MotoGP and Giro d’Italia on the laptop (2 wheels good – with or without a petrol engine). Only one of those events was less than predictable, as Simon Yates looks more and more likely to become the first Brit to win the Giro. In both the other races I reckon I had pretty much worked out the result before the lights had gone out and the gates had dropped. The opening laps of the MotoGP race were pretty action packed and I certainly didn’t predict Dovi and Zarco making those small errors that cost them their race, but Marquez looked as though he was cruising once more.


By Graeme Brown

It was the same in MXGP. Jeffrey Herlings took a handful of corners to get into the lead in both motos and was never seen again. Quite literally. I chuckled a couple of times at commentator Jack Burnicle’s frustration that the Director was focusing first on Cairoli chasing Desalle, then the dice between Gasjer and Paulin, but nothing of Herlings. Like many of us, Jack just wanted to sit back and marvel at the poise and control of man and machine in perfect harmony. Having witnessed Rea dominate in Imola and watched Marquez and Herlings take comfortable victories in Le Mans and Teutschenthal, I am coming more the appreciate that we are currently seeing some of the most outstanding talent we will see in our sport for a long time. Rea has now equalled Carl Fogarty’s outright wins total in WorldSBK and will no doubt surpass it, if not this weekend at Donington, in the next few races. He is also looking more and more likely to equal King Carl’s four Superbike titles with an unprecedented consecutive run.

We are just in a time and place where these immense talents have flourished, and rather than discredit them for being boring and predictable, although I think no one would ever accuse Marc Marquez of that, we should revere them, as we may never see their like again. The rider’s game of musical chairs has got underway as well. In MotoGP there a couple of tasty options up for grabs with seats at Honda and Ducati still to be filled but in WorldSBK it could be all change as there are a few itchy bums as well as shaky coat hooks at the moment. The king pin will of course be Jonathan Rea. I had a good old gossip on the flight home from Imola with the guys from Eurosport and we reckoned there was potential for a complete reshuffle pretty much all the way down pitlane. It has been widely rumoured around the press office that Ducati have made Jonathan Rea an offer to ride the V4 next season but Kawasaki are obviously desperate to hang on to their man as well. I don’t think things got as far as a firm offer from Ducati but I know that JR had spoken to them and was impressed by the performance of the V4 test

mule that appeared at Jerez in January this year. Beady eyes however might have seen Jonathan’s manager at Le Mans at the weekend and my understanding is that he still has a number of positive options to ride in MotoGP next year. One thing is for sure like Rossi and Marquez in MotoGP once JR puts pen to paper for 2019 the rest of the WorldSBK paddock will start to fall into shape. It looks like Davies and Melandri are on their way out at Ducati. Our 37,000ft gossip had Melandri heading to Yamaha under the tutelage of Andrea Dosoli once more but no firm idea of where Davies would go. There also seems to be the possibility that both Yamaha riders would move on as well. Tom Sykes is apparently keen on returning to the brand that gave him his break in WorldSBK. With Michael VD Mark seemingly still hanging his hopes on a MotoGP seat it would leave Alex Lowes looking for options around the paddock. If both Rea and Sykes were to leave Kawasaki that would arguably mean the best two seats in the paddock were up for grabs.


SBK BLOG

That may be a better option for van der Mark and it could see Razgatlioglu promoted from the Puccetti squad. The latter would bring sponsor headaches as the Turk has huge support from Red Bull Turkey with the KRT team backed by Monster. Further along pitlane there could be more swaps on the cards. BMW are rumoured to be unhappy with the performance of the Althea squad, especially given that Markus Reiterberger is posting similar and sometimes faster lap times than Loris Baz, whilst riding a Superstock bike. There is a new boss at BMW Motorrad and they will introduce a new bike next year. It looks as though they will favour the German Alpha Technik team ahead of the Italians, to run what will essentially be a factory programme. Could there be a return to BMW for Davies, who last raced for them in 2013, taking a double win at Aragon that year, before his move to Ducati? On that basis Genesio Bevilacqua would be looking for bikes to run and Aprilia may be the best option.

The Milwaukee squad, who currently run the Aprilias, have struggled with the Italian marque and Eugene Laverty’s recent crash has hampered any progress this year. It could be that the Althea team would run with Aprilia next year with Shaun Muir’s Milwaukee team reverting to Yamaha, with whom they had their BSB success in 2015, as a satellite team. One thing for sure is that the future rider and bike line-ups for next year in WorldSBK are less than predictable. I am sure the coming weekend in Donington will bring more rumour and intrigue so I guess it is just a case of watch this space.


worldsbk italy


davies gets in the frame Ducati star Chaz Davies is well accustomed to being the Italian factory’s most potent threat for victory in WorldSBK as well as being Jonathan Rea’s most realistic title rival but the Welshman has added another string to his bow over the course of the last three months by becoming an accomplished ‘vlogger’. The 31 year old’s Youtube channel has over 2000 subscribers and a decent amount of viewers for his four video submissions to-date. Rather than any kind of audience data, the most eyecatching element of Davies’ work has been the quality of the editing and somewhat-polished look into the life of a road racer. And it has been done entirely by his own-hand. “I follow some Vloggers and I find it quite interesting seeing someone else’s life and behind the scenes and I know people think the same about us,” #7 explained. “I also know that they think we are ‘puppets’ at the same time. People think we are spoon-fed or have it easy. A lot of people [who watch] comment on basic stuff. The first one I did I showed how I drove to the track in my van, like I always do, and I had remarks like ‘cannot believe you do that’ ‘where’s your team and mechanics?’ ‘where’s the driver?’. There is a side to what I do that I’m keen to show. “ Strict filming regulations around WorldSBK means that Davies cannot let-loose with his camera in the race paddock…but he insists this aspect of his lifestyle is something he doesn’t want to show anyway, even if there could be more content from the SBK scene. “The media side of Superbike is a bit lacking. I know it is not my job, but people form an opinion because the media is not here and what I’m doing might be helpful. It’s not the main reason but I feel it helps.” “I don’t really want to do a ‘this is me at the race, this is how my race went’ I want to show what I am up to on the other days,” he adds.

“I also cannot film inside the paddock so whatever I try to do at a race weekend is always a bit naff. The no filming policy is a little bit tough!” Perhaps the highlight so far is the fourth episode and Davies’ adventures and exploits heading to Thailand for what was round two of the series. Viewers get an intimate insight into the travel and ways that riders pass time before the ‘day job’ kicks-in. “I have always liked video editing,” Davies admits. “I had my first video camera when I was eleven or twelve. I took it into school and made an end-of-term edit for everyone, burnt it onto DVDs and gave out copies. So I’ve always enjoyed that side of it. It’s also something to do on my downtime. It takes time to film and to put it together.” With round five and Imola now done-and-dispensed his fans might be keen to know when the next instalment will be complete. Davies is taking a relaxed and ‘non-forced’ approach. “They wont be super-regular but when I can, I’ll do them. I have to keep my eyes on the real job as well! I also want to keep it interesting. I think there are a lot of interesting things we do over the course of a season which are nice to show.” Inevitably Chaz’s fascination with this media project leads to speculation about what he could produce after his career and whether camerawork could be a long term option. “Journalism and being on television; it seems like the default go-to for a retired rider but I don’t think it is my forte,” he ruminates. “I think I’d rather be behind the camera and try to do something creative rather than being in front of it. The weird thing for the Vlogging is holding the camera and being a full-time selfie guy. It is something I’m still not used-to or comfortable with but the editing has endless possibilities with the computer software. That’s what I like.”


Products

troy lee designs Another viable contender on the helmet scene and TLD have taken a serious step with their SE4 lid based on a redesign and significant link with MIPS (multi-directional impact protection system) to ensure an extra dimension when it comes to safety. Troy Lee Designs highlight comfort and weight as just two of the selling points for the SE4 that comes in a carbon (650 dollars) and composite (450) shells. The carbon is just 1.3 kilos with 20 intake ports funnelling into 6 exhausts to emphasis the cooling aspect of the SE4 (and with their Californian roots the helmet will have been copiously tested in a warm climate). There are three shell sizes, 3D contoured cheek pads with emergency release system and plastic visor screws for ‘easy breakaway’. Taking into account the overall list of attributes (the composite is just 1.4kg) and the compact and eye-pleasing shape, the SE4 is another strong entry into the high and mid-range market.

www.troyleedesigns.com


Feature


the other side of the fence

ANTETITULO XXXXXX XXXXXXX Firma xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Words by Adam Wheeler, Photos by James Lissimore


Feature After a distinguished racing career in MXGP and AMA Supercross and Motocross 2008 MX2 World Champion Tyla Rattray jumped away from a motorcycle at the end of 2015 and straight into a role as protégé to famed trainer and fellow countryman Aldon Baker and heads up the KTM Group’s 250 rider development programme in Florida. We asked about the rapid change of life from racing at the top to preparing others to do the same…

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t 33 years of age Tyla Rattray does not look too different from the wide-eyed sixteen year old that made an immediate impression as a KTM rider in 125cc Grands Prix in 2001. The incredible wear-and-tear and sizeable catalogue of injury in a fourteen year career means that the Floridabased father of three (with wife Sam) can sometimes feel the punishment of all those motos and dismounts. But the South African keeps a spring in his step and a physique that indicates he could still gun a 250F to a respectable laptime thanks to a different challenge in the sport. In 2004 Rattray finished as world championship runner-up in MX2 with a 125 two-stroke. In 2008 he used the fourstroke 250 SX-F to claim the title and then sought further race-winning glory in the United States with Pro Circuit, earning runner-up finishes in the 250 MX series. A dalliance in MXGP in 2014 and 2015 brought his riding days to a close but the spark with KTM thanks to the works Troy Lee Design 250 Factory team was reignited. Rattray, who trained with Aldon Baker as an athlete, then hooked-up with the revered specialist once more…but in a different capacity.

Rattray’s personal self-orientated perspective of racing has widened to incorporate five other riders, mostly on the TLD programme, and from the confines of the exclusive Bakers Factory on the east coast. There are not too many other world champions and AMA national race winners active in such a capacity in the supercross and motocross paddock. ‘Styla’ was renowned for his work ethic as an athlete and ‘un-showy’ approach to his racing. He knows the hard graft necessary for the job is beyond doubt but whether he can transmit that – and all of his vast international racing experience – onto impressionable youngsters is another matter. KTM, TLD and Baker believe steadfastly in his potential but it felt timely to ask some questions. As per usual Rattray can be found friendly, accessible and open to conversation and debate. He is now a much more articulate speaker than those awkward first years in Grand Prix and the maturing effects of fatherhood and the highs-and-lows of the sport have helped shape a rounded character.


ktm blog: tyla rattray

First published on ktm’s blog www.blog.ktm.com


Feature Tyla, how difficult was the transition from being a rider to a trainer? Basically since I was five years old all I’ve known is to ride and race. It starts as fun, becomes a profession and then is a job. We all know this sport doesn’t last forever as a racer. It has to come to an end sometime. When it’s over you almost sit back and think ‘wow…this chapter has finished. The book is closed. What’s next in life?’ I always wanted to get into training and I tried to learn as much as I could when I was racing. I was learning about my body and what worked best. KTM and TLD were looking for someone to help their guys and Aldon is obviously the man when it comes to training in this sport and there is only a certain number of guys he can take. They wanted to find someone to help and with my history with Aldon for five-six years I had a lot of knowledge about putting-in the right kind of work and how important things like rest can be. There are no shortcuts in this sport and you have to do the work to get the results. [pause]. It wasn’t like I was waiting around for a while to see what I’d do; I came back from Europe and started with these guys almost right away. I’ve been learning again and it has been a great transition. There was not much time to sit back and think about what you were missing, despite all the complaints about the aches and pains at the end… My hip was really bothering me and even in 2014 I was having a lot of pain. I was like ‘I’ll give it one more year…’ and also because RV [Ryan Villopoto] was coming to Europe and that made it exciting too. It gave me someone to train with - and thinking about it – that’s what makes it exciting now: to get that small group together and working in that dynamic

makes it a lot more enjoyable and beneficial. When you go racing the results come because you have been pushing yourself to the limit in training. Doing your gym programme, cycling and motos by yourself is not fun! When Ryan got hurt in Europe it was tough for me to finish the year because the motivation was down. I knew I had to keep doing the motos because I didn’t want to get hurt but it was tough mentally to go the track and do the work. The spark had gone, I guess you could say. It was hard to push through those last eight-ten rounds but I was getting paid from the team and I gave the best I had…but it was tough. What about changing that mentality of a racer and being self-centred to needing to prioritise the feelings and progress of others? That’s a thing about being a racer – especially one that wins – they are very selfish. It is all about them. When I was racing in Europe and I won the world championship then it was ‘all about me’. I was then trying to win national championships and it was the same. I knew I’d need to take a step back away from that…and I think a lot of people don’t like that. They still want some of the limelight. My goal now is to help these athletes be the best they can be and get to their full potential: it’s a great opportunity. Especially at the Bakers Factory. I wish I had something like that when I was racing; this exclusive facility with the best tracks, track guy and infrastructure. It is first-class. And for any rider to compete against that is very tough. We have seen the results through the 450 programme and now we have the whole 250 division and it is all about them now and not about me any more.


ktm blog: tyla rattray

I’m trying to get my experiences and mistakes across and help the riders minimise their own mistakes. Did having children help with that ability to ‘distance’ yourself? Yeah. We had Brooke in 2010 and I wouldn’t change anything about that. It is fun to go to the track, do the work and come home to a bundle of joy. It was good for me and it motivated me. People say having children can be a distraction but if anything it motivated me to keep pushing and getting results. I had a family to provide for. Then we had Brody and then Blake, so three now! It would be pretty crazy to be racing now with three kids. The timing worked out perfectly. Was that also ‘schooling’ for how to handle the different personalities of younger riders? Everyone has quirks and ways to interact…

Definitely and the kids coming through will only get younger 18, 19, 20 because that’s the whole deal with the KTM facility and programme to attract the kids from amateurs and develop them through the 250 programme. Those first years as a Pro, that’s when they learn the most. The goal is obviously for them to win championships and then step over to the 450 programme. You have to be hard sometimes. I’ll be 33 at the end of the year and I feel that this age gap is pretty good. I think there is that ‘respect’ factor and it’ll help moving forwards because I think with a group closer in age then the respect is not really there as much as dealing with someone that is a lot younger. You also see it on Aldon’s side and the way the riders respect him. I think it grows every year because the age gap widens.


Feature


ktm blog: tyla rattray

I think the whole structure is still quite new to us and the communication channels will only improve because if a guy comes through the 250 side and heads into his 450 programme then Aldon will want all the possible information on him to see where he is at and what kind of ‘loads’ he can handle. I need to work on that: to really keep track of these guys on a daily basis.

relationship. He has never really had an issue with me in terms of commitment, even when I was riding with him, as I’d always put-in the work and he never had cause to doubt that. I was maybe not the best rider in terms of skills and technique but I got the job done. It is the same now with being a trainer. I am allin and I want the guys to win championships and look to the 450s.

Aldon is renowned for his programme and the discipline and commitment it requires. You obviously went through that and people might wonder ‘why do it – or go near it - again?!’ How is the relationship between you both now?

Was there conflict in wanting the opportunity you have now but also maybe time away from racing? Not really. I was all-in when there was already talk of the 250 side of the KTM Group going to Aldon’s.

“It’s a dangerous sport and we want to be a prepared as we can be but a kid in the amateurs will see the riders on TV, the fireworks, the show, the money…and Supercross is only getting bigger.”

Well, we have a business going down there and like any business you want it to grow and be successful, be bigger and better. That’s what he has been doing. I feel we have some more challenges on the 250 side because the guys coming in are slightly newer to it all whether that’s supercross or a set of whoops, and there have been a few crashes. Just before we came out to California Aldon had to spend thousands on a new machine just to fix and take better care of the whoops for the kids. It is a business that is evolving and I’m sure it will get better but we’re at the stage of baby steps at the moment. Aldon and I have a good

I said ‘if we want to win then that’s where we need to be’. Even when I was racing I went there to Florida and wished I could have done more because I could see the benefit of it and how much better I could be by working full-time at a facility like that. I wished I had this chance! I think some of our current guys don’t fully understand what they have in their hands. It is first-class. There are full-time track maintenance and mechanics there. The amount of effort – from KTM and Husqvarna all the way down – into this programme is crazy.


Feature

Do you feel a bit like a rookie again? What worked for you might not work for Shane [McElrath] and you need to adjust to somebody’s else’s needs… Yeah, I’m still learning but the basic fact underlying everything is that the work has to be done: the motos, the graft and the belief. You cannot think for a second that it will be easy. Every athlete is different and I’m learning about that. Some can recover quicker than others, obviously the younger ones have that ‘kid power’. My plate is not too full and I don’t want it to be. I don’t want to lose a careful study of these guys. It is a monitoring process, almost on a daily basis. It is easy to copypaste and email out programmes – you could do that for a hundred guys – but to give the right load it has to be day-by-day even down to sleep patterns and regular heart rates.

What about the mental side and the adversity of professional sport? You have your own experience but can you read or learn more to help with that aspect of the job? Or is it instinctive? I’ve done a lot of research on it. The main issue is the variety of athletes: some are very strong mentally and others need a bit more of a helping hand. It is crazy to see how different they are but then watch when they go on the track and how close and similar they are with lap-times. There is a special mentality to it. I’m learning to help them be the best they can be come raceday but being down there in Florida they are already ahead of the game. There are a lot that are already mentally strong. They know how to play the game and to have their head in the right place. It is not easy, if it was then there would be a lot more professional motorcycle racers. There are only three podium spots.


ktm blog: tyla rattray

Is it interesting to see how people go about the job of being a Pro racer? You would have seen teammates and friends in race teams in the past but now you have a much wider perspective... Yeah, all kinds. Some guys are really talented and co-ordinated and it comes easier to them whereas others struggle to get the rhythm. At the end of the day the guys still come down there and give 100% effort and that’s what we want. It doesn’t matter one day if they are fastest, or two seconds off the pace, we just want them to use their potential and do the best we can. It is also hard because you cannot expect a kid to jump out of amateurs and go straight into winning 250SX main events. You’ll have guys in their mid-late twenties winning those races and there is a big gap to breach there. The kids need to be mature. An eighteen-nineteen year old coming into Pros has to be like a normal twenty-four/ twenty-five year old. They have to quickly gain experience in just a few months. The young guys at the Factory can also learn from the slightly older ones to work on their consistency at a younger age. The second chapter of your life is again with KTM… It’s great to be back. We had a great time in Europe and won a world championship. They really are the ultimate professionals when it comes to racing and I believe they have the best race team here in the US. It is a team that really wants to win and we can see that down at Aldon’s. When you have a company like that and with all this backing then it is great to be a part of it. This is the team that guys want to race for and KTM have come a long way because it wasn’t always like that.

Looking at the kids in the 250 programme now…do you ever think back when you were in your teens and wonder what you were doing? Ha! I think it is a different scene now. Especially when you look at the really young guys coming up. When I was their age I wasn’t really worried about the latest Red Bull hat or the latest jacket to have. Times have changed…but the older generation were probably saying that about me! There are some similarities on the track with a lot of rookie mistakes but that is something you get over with experience. You do have to learn to be a racer. There are a lot of kids who are great in practice but need to translate that over to the race. Do you think kids are a lot more ‘switched on’ now? I think they have to be if you see where the sport is going. When I was winning in Europe it was on 125cc two-strokes. Back then we thought ‘wow, these are fast’. We were eighteen then and the kids at the same age now have even faster bikes and 250Fs. We’d have something like 38hp and think ‘we’re crushing it…’ now they’ll have 50+ with better traction and torque. The human body and its limits have not really changed…but the bikes have. Physically there is almost no time off when it comes to racing in the US and kids need to have so much strength. Add to that the gap from the kids coming through to the riders that are winning races and championships can be about eight years. So there is still a long way to go before making an impression in the 250s and transitioning into the 450s. Age and experience: it is the big separator.


Feature

Can you imagine being seventeen again now and doing this? I was on a 125 when I was eighteen! You have seventeen year olds on fast, factory 250Fs and I think the injuries now are more severe than back in the day. You are hitting the deck at higher speed. We try and develop these kids to have the strength and stamina so that when they do turn Pro and head into Supercross at eighteen-nineteen they can go the distance. You want them to have confidence as well and not just get crunched every weekend. You want them to stay healthy, get the best out of themselves and get their mind in the game – if they are winning in amateurs then they will want to win in the Pros too – but that’s tough!

You talk about educating them on mistakes. Give an example of an error you made. Would it be something to do with racecraft or decision-making? Hmm, mistakes like when you are under pressure. When you should be focussing on yourself. It can be easy to lose concentration and get involved with another rider on the track that then messes your race up. Steam might be coming out of your ears and you want go hunting for that guy at the next race because he messed up your podium position. You have to let the race come to you. If you are eighteen and a twenty-six year old who is fighting for the championship overtakes you then follow him, instead of trying a reckless pass in the next turn and crashing and paying for it. So it can be racecraft and polishing it as well.


ktm blog: tyla rattray

Lastly‌miss any aspects of Grand Prix? Once you get to the 450 division and making the podium here in Supercross then it is a big deal but when it comes to fans and the rest of the show around racing then I still love the Euro scene. It is a lot different. The GPs are really professional with their podiums and set-up. The crowds go a bit crazy; if you are in France fighting a French guy for the when then the atmosphere is insane. I miss that side of racing and I had a great time in Europe as well as the U.S.


Products

100% 100% continue to advance their eyewear catalogue and launched two new versions of their performance products at the beginning of the month. The S2, the glasses worn and developed by cycling star Peter Sagan, is pitched as: ‘laser-etched edging provides the look of a full frame in a rimless cylindrical shield, for total visibility and comfort’. The S2 is aimed firmly at cyclists but has evolved to encompass all types of bicycle activities

www.ride100percent.com and not just for pavement pedalists. The Supercoupe on the other hand is orientated to multi-sport athletes, so perhaps more apt for running or other pursuits and the lens filters UV rays, blue light and the tint boosts eye coverage. The S2 and Supercoupe are just two of an attractive, versatile and everexpanding portfolio. To see much more then click on the links.


AMA-MX

hangtown mx classic

Sacramento, CA · may 19 · Rnd 1 of 12 450MX winner: Eli Tomac, Kawasaki 250MX winner: Zach Osborne, Husqvarna

calling the 1’s Blog by Steve Matthes, Photos by Monster Energy/Swanberg, KTM/Cudby/Husqvarna


ama mx hangtown


ama mx hangtown


AMA BLOG

start with the status quo... It’s tough to make judgments from the opening round of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships over here. Plenty of weird things have happened. Riders that were fresh in supercross championship battles don’t fully focus on motocross so they’re not 100% ready to go, 250SX west riders spend more time riding moto than the east guys so come the opener, they’re a tad more ready. Rookies often skip indoors and just ride outdoors so they get the jump on everyone until the veterans catch up. Examples include Suzuki’s Ryan Dungey struggling badly at the opener one year then went on to capture the title, Honda’s Eli Tomac won his first ever national, got heat stroke at the next one and never really recovered and so on and so forth. So it’s with some hesitation that I recap the Hangtown motocross opener here and make rash declarations and lay down some hard truths. Things can change and often do but bossman Wheeler said I had to do something so here goes… -The defending champions Eli Tomac of the Monster Energy Kawasaki team and Zach Osborne of the Rockstar Husqvarna team both looked like, well, champions. 1-1 rides for both of them at Hangtown and excuse me if I didn’t freak out when a fan told me had picked those exact winners the day before. Well,

yeah why not? Tomac in particular, was pretty amazing. He dominated moto one rather easily then came from 15th or so in the second moto to the lead but not before falling over in a turn. At that point, with the race getting away and him not moving up as much as he needed to, things looked grim. But Eli found some lines and speed to do a couple of laps in the 2:19 range while Red Bull KTM’s Marvin Musquin was out front doing 2:22’s or 2:23’s.

Add those numbers up and it wasn’t too long before Tomac zoomed by. Afterwards, I asked Eli about what he found out there in the bombed out track to turn so much lower times than the other riders. “I was trying because I was buried in the second one,” he said about the early moto laps. “So it (the fall) kind of forced me to go out and look around. That was that. Over the years you get a little more crafty and try to open up your eye balls instead of getting stuck in that one line.”


By Steve Matthes

When asked about what moto did he think he was happier with, the racer Tomac went with the one that didn’t have the drama. “I felt really good in both. The riding was pretty equal. The second one kind of stressed me out. I had a really scary moment in the second turn, and then the tipover. I would much rather have moto one.” Osborne had to feel a lot like Tomac in that he passed the riders that most people feel will be his main challengers this summer to win both 250 motos. His margins weren’t as great as Tomac’s but there were more than enough to keep his red backgrounds for another weekend. “My starts were pretty good, to my standard. The first one I probably would have gotten the holeshot but I took it way too deep” he told me. “Was almost out in the bales and came out fourth. In the second one I think I was fifth or sixth. I was pretty content with letting someone else make the pace at the beginning and just kind of tried to pick my way

through after a couple laps. So all in all, couldn’t have gone much better, I don’t think.” -The two runner-ups, GEICO Honda’s Jeremy Martin and Musquin both went 2-2 and took solace in their finishes as well with Martin telling me: “It was a good day, 2-2. Zach was right there. He was just a little bit better in the beginning part of the moto and then in awkward places, if that makes sense. A little bit better aggression and flow. I was able to suck-him-up a little bit there, but overall he had just a little bit of an edge on me.” Neither rider had anything to hang their heads for. Both were better than anyone other than the guys wearing the number one plates. -One rider that might’ve fallen into the “focus on SX too much” category was Monster Star Yamaha’s Aaron Plessinger but he rode well at the opener to take third overall. The first moto saw AP come up from fifth or so to take third and the second moto he led some laps before dropping back to fourth.

This is where Plessinger needs to improve, he’s got laps or motos where something’s not working for him while other times see him absolutely slay the field. More consistency is needed for AP23 and he even admitted that afterwards in the press conference. Still, a podium is a great way to start a series. -When it comes to “don’t make rash judgments” I’ll hold off on Osborne’s teammate Jason Anderson because as I said, Anderson could’ve fallen into the “focus on SX too much”. I mean, a lot of riders would like the fourth overall he took home but for a rider that professed a strong desire to be selected for the 2018 Motocross des Nations team, Hangtown wasn’t a great start. Anderson was off the pace of the leaders in moto one finishing some 42 seconds back of Tomac and moto two he led for a while before bonking and ending up seventh. It was very strange to see an elite rider struggle like that but again, it’s one round. Anderson can’t be happy with his motocross opener but he can look on his mantle and see the


AMA BLOG

450SX title trophy resting there and know that 2018 has been a success no matter what. -Speaking of struggle, Honda’s Ken Roczen came back to racing for the first time since he broke his right hand. Roczen’s one of the more confident athletes you’ll ever see but he was talking about how he’d barely been doing any motos before, how he had finally had a pain free day, etc. So knowing all that, it was probably going to be struggle street for Ken all day and I have to say, his first moto was fine. He got up into the mix early before dropping back to sixth, only a few seconds off Anderson. The second moto though, ouch that was ugly. No doubt feeling the pain of his injury, Roczen again ran up front before really hitting the wall and dropping back outside the top ten. Roczen will get better for sure, he’s just got to accept the baby steps it’s going to take to get to his old level. Show some patience and it should (key word ‘should’) come all back to him.

He’s too good for it not to. No matter what, the sport’s better with the 94’s personality in it and it was cool to see him back on the track.


Z ACH O S BO R NE

HA NGTOWN 25 0 MX W I NN ER


NO GLUE, NO WIRE, NO PROBLEM.

@ P R OTA P E R

P R OTA P E R.C O M


Making the view: 5 things you might not have known about Pro motocross goggles Time for the Outdoors. Motocross tracks across the U.S. mean a different type of demand on machinery, riders’ kit and even the athletes themselves just a few weeks after the culmination of a long Supercross campaign. Foraging amongst all the prep and work towards the twelve round Lucas Oil Pro Motocross series we quizzed Scott Sports’ John Knowles (fourteen seasons on the AMA scene) on what it takes to ensure racers have their eyes on the prize and how Scott tries to stay ahead of the rest… For the riders JK is an integral part of the weekend process… Through goggles you are very hands-on with the riders by the fact that things have to be built properly for them to race. I take care of everything they go out on the track with. I have fifteen Pro guys that I prepare all their product and the privateers that I trickle stuff down to and help as much as I can. Riders can be picky and there are a lot of goggles to get through… They are all quite specific but in Supercross, for example, it is pretty much all the same as we are inside stadiums so it means clear lenses and laminated tear-offs. Some races will be sunny in the afternoon with shadows on the stadium floor so some guys will be different. I would say, on average, I am building 100-150 goggles per weekend. For the most part I try to get those back and then trickle product through to the amateurs. We try not to waste anything…but the numbers are pretty significant. With so much choice can goggles be an underrated item for racing? Amateur racing has become a 5-6 lap race for the most part until you get to the amateur nationals. So I think ‘sub-par’ product has been able to get by in those situations.

But I think a lot of guys will choose performance and service over the fact that they might get paid more from another company because they know it is important. A Heat race win bonus in Supercross is worth quite a bit more than any goggle company is willing to pay in salary anyway, so why chance that? Like the riders and the motorcycle brands Scott do not stop product progress… Scott is a performance-innovation company so we are not happy with a stock goggle that comes out of an open mould; say from China. We do a lot of R&D and employ our own engineers and we are at the forefront of goggle tech like we have been for the last forty years. We are always trying to get better, whether that’s through improvements in foam or more recently with the Prospect lens lock system or the 50mm film. All these things set us ahead of everyone else. We use Pro racing as a real benchmark for R&D. The things that work here at the highest level we transition into our production goggle. That can be seen with the Prospect and maybe tweaks to the facefoam. Currently we are working on another anti-fog lens. On coping with competition like Airbrake, Racecraft+ and Vue… There are other companies that look for innovation and I won’t take anything away from something like the Airbrake but we are a true motorsport goggle company, so we have to take a lot of things into consideration and price is very important. We are always building and developing the Prospect with this in mind. So it has – by far – the most innovative set of features for the corresponding price point that is available.


all the gear Cole Seely’s pelvis injury at the Tampa Supercross was not only a major blow for HRC and their factory team but also for brands like Troy Lee Designs that use an athlete like Cole as a major ‘moving billboard’ in the second most-watched motorcycle racing series in the world. ‘TLD’ is not the biggest gear company in the industry but it is one of the most aesthetically adventurous and creative. Seely has been zipping up TLD product for almost ten years so is firmly implicated in the company and their development of lines like GP and Air. We grabbed ten minutes with #14 to ask whether the wares work as well as they look, his preference for design and colours and what it’s like to have a long-term association with a firm when there is so much choice out there… Not many athletes have a ten-year association with a brand… I know! The first season was 2010 and it is ten years since I was with TLD [the KTM race team]. It really is like a family over there. They have really listened to me for any suggestions for things like the way the pant might fit or adjustments to the jerseys or other gear. It’s cool to be able to sit-in on meetings and put my two cents forward. I’m obviously wearing the stuff every day so I can say ‘this is where it is breaking down’ or ‘this is where it needs to be stronger’ or ‘the fit should be better here’. They have grown hugely. I felt when I signed on that team we were in similar spots; I was new on the scene and had potential. We both grew together and when I moved up to the 450s that was the first year for them as the factory KTM team. That was a big step too. In terms of quality then some years must be better than others when development is on-going… Yeah, I think if you look – or try it – now then you’ll see how much it has come on,

especially in the last four years I’d say. It has become lighter and they have started to pay a lot more attention to the material. You can caught-up by constantly trying to have the flashiest design or the plainest design or whatever is popular at the time and I feel TLD have been trying to make a better fitting-and-feeling jersey with the material. I think that is the future for gear: making it fit and perform better. Performance seems to be a big angle – especially for you - but it must be hard to get compromise between this aspect and durability. To make sure the customer gets what they want… It’s a fine line. Generally the thinner the gear then the better…but it still has to be reliable for the average consumer. Obviously we want the stuff to last but obviously, as a rider who needs it everyday, I’m not worried about ripping or damaging gear because I’m ‘working’ in it! But it’s another story for the normal rider and I know it is a priority for TLD. Do you have input on the designs or do you just open a box and think ‘what the hell is this?!’ Ha! We kinda go over it before the year starts. I don’t like to be super-flashy and they always want the stuff that shows up best on TV and I understand that so I try to compromise. If it were up to me I’d be wearing plain black-and-white every night. I love being stealth. So looking like a racehorse jockey is a bit of a twist? Haha! Not exactly my cup of tea but it’s crazy to see the traction and attention it gets on social media.


Are you a creative guy? Do you like taking care of that aspect of being a Pro? I like it. I feel like when I practice then I can wear what I want so I tend not to look good! But I definitely take pride in what I look like. TLD seems quite an organic company and not obsessed with powerful sales margins. Is that part of the appeal? Troy and I have been good friends since I got on the team in 2010 and it has always been pretty easy-going with him. There is not too much negotiation.

He’ll say ‘this is what we’ve got, if it’s cool then great’ sort of thing. When it comes to contract time I always try and keep in mind that these guys did a lot for me when I had nothing, and I try to show my appreciation by always giving the benefit of the doubt or telling then what is going on before anything else might be in the pipeline. Troy will always do his best to make me happy; he took me in when I was going to go back to college and leave the sport. He gave me a shot and I like to stick faithful to the brand.


products

scott Scott continues to morph their segmentleading Prospect goggle and another of the Special Edition designs is the Mojave. The company state it best when describing the eyewear as: ‘Evoked from the painted desert walls and dug out of the hallowed sands of the southwestern desert, the new Limited Edition Mojave Prospect MX Goggle is the perfect companion for your next race or trip into the dunes. Complete with bone hydrographic frame, custom serape strap, southwestern inspired patch and a matching mi-

www.scott-sports.com

crofiber bag this goggle has the desert heat running through its DNA.’ The Prospect is of course renowned for the massive field of vision, the lens lock system, larger strap, the face fit system, Nofog lens and the general list of specs that it an extremely strong purchase and competitor on the market. The uniqueness of the design means the Mojave comes at a 110 pound/130 euro price tag and is available while stocks last.


Products

ducati The Scrambler could well be one of the most iconic motorcycles to emerge from the floors of Borgo Panigale this decade and is a standout model from the burgeoning ‘naked’ segment of the motorcycle market. The bike is surrounded by a ‘movement’ that implies more of a lifestyle choice rather than just twowheels and the Scrambler is complimented by some cool casual-and-practical wear. Highlighted here are some of the jackets, including the Sebring and (made by Alpinestars) Café Racer with soft protective CE certified inserts. The Desert Sled is constructed from Cordura and has a removable hood and a number of other adjusters. For UK riders and customers Ducati UK are holding a promotion until June 23rd that involves a 34% discount on select items of Apparel if a down payment is placed on the new 1100 Scrambler. The deal also involves 34% off homologated silencers produced by Termignoni. Click on any of the links for more information.

www.scramblerducati.com


TEST

superch

Words by Ro Photos by Double R


harge me

oland Brown, Red and Ula Serra


What do you do for an encore, when you’ve just unleashed a pair of supercharged, 998cc sports bikes that are arguably the most spectacular and outrageously powerful superbikes of recent times? In Kawasaki’s case, having launched the mirrorfinished, 200bhp-plus Ninja H2 and even more exotic, track-only 300bhp Ninja H2R in 2015, the answer was to develop a slightly more sensible derivative, intended for higher-volume production. Enter, three years later, the Ninja H2 SX. Its look and much of its technology are similar, but the H2 SX is subtly different. While the original Ninja H2 was an exotic, no-expense-spared sporting flagship, the H2 SX is the world’s first supercharged sports-tourer. It has a full fairing instead of a half-fairing, its screen is taller, its bars are higher, and it’s designed for economy as well as power.

The Ninja H2 format of dohc, 16-valve fourcylinder engine and tubular steel trellis frame is retained, but major components are new. The SX’s engine is tilted forward in the frame, whose main tubes are larger diameter, for extra strength, and reinforced with extra tubing at the rear. Revised frame geometry and a longer, single-sided aluminium swing-arm enhance stability. New engine parts include camshafts, crank and cylinder head, as well as the revised supercharger. Compression ratio is actually higher, which Kawasaki says helps improve combustion efficiency and therefore reduces fuel consumption. But you’ve only got to climb aboard the fairly low seat, reach forward to clip-on handlebars, and start the engine to hear its menacing, gravelly rumble to realise that this bike is built for going fast, not saving fuel.


ninja h2 sx


“Acceleration towards the 12,000rpm redline was jaw-dropping, and I was glad to be able to click through the box with the aid of the reliable quick-shifter as the Kawasaki tore smoothly forward with eyeball-rotating force...�


ninja h2 sx


There are two versions of the H2 SX: the standard model, which is aggressively priced (£15,099 in the UK), and the upmarket H2 SX SE, as tested, which is 20 per cent more expensive (£18,099). The SE specification adds heated grips, cornering headlights, machined wheels, a two-way quick-shifter and centrestand. Both models have cruise control as standard. Starting the test ride on a cold morning near Lisbon, I was soon glad of the SE’s heated grips, but less impressed by the wind noise on a brief stretch of highway, and disappointed that the screen is not adjustable. But my most vivid impression was the smoothness of the throttle response, in contrast to the abrupt Ninja H2. The SX was infinitely easier to control, pulling strongly from low revs, kicking harder in the midrange as its boost pressure rose, and going ballistic at around 8000rpm.

Acceleration from there towards the 12,000rpm redline was jaw-dropping, and I was glad to be able to click through the box with the aid of the reliable quick-shifter as the Kawasaki tore smoothly forward with eyeball-rotating force. It slowed hard too, thanks to radial four-piston front brake calipers biting 320mm discs, albeit with the ABS kicking in slightly earlier than the best systems do. Perhaps that was partly because the front Bridgestone S21 doesn’t have the grip of super-sticky rubber, although both tyres were fine in bends, even when the pace hotted-up on a brief excursion at the Estoril circuit. The Ninja felt slightly unwieldy on track, though only as much as you might expect of a sports-tourer that weighs a substantial 260kg with fuel (slightly less than Kawasaki’s ZZR1400), and has suspension designed as


ninja h2 sx


much for comfort as control. Fuel is shut off rather abruptly when the throttle is closed, which can result in some pitching. But that plush suspension gives excellent ride quality, and firming up the rear shock with a few clicks on the remote preload knob had the Kawasaki feeling sharper. It was most at home on flowing main roads, where it was reassuringly stable – even when the throttle was being held wide open and the scenery was disappearing backwards at a pulse-quickening rate. As a high-speed roadburner the H2 SX has much to offer. Its riding position is fairly upright and respectably roomy. The two-part seat seemed comfortable, despite being fairly thin and usefully near the ground. A pillion gets two strong grab-handles, plus room in the accessory panniers that each hold a full-face helmet. Restrained riding can give over 40mpg, and more than 150 miles from the 19-litre tank.

But hard riding brings that figure below 30mpg; you can’t expect to use all that supercharged performance and not burn plenty of fuel. That is surely fair enough. At least the Ninja H2 SX gives the option of a sensible touring ride or sporting excess, depending on its rider’s mood. Whether it manages to bring supercharging to the masses is another matter. Kawasaki’s normally aspirated Z1000SX sports-tourer is more practical, less expensive and still quick enough for most riders. But then again, that SX doesn’t attempt to dislocate your shoulders when you wind open the throttle, or make a distinctive chirping sound when you shut off. For riders who demand practicality plus the thrill of stomachchurning, supercharged straight-line speed, the Ninja H2 SX is the only choice – and it combines those disparate demands remarkably well.


ninja h2 sx


Products

answer A look at some of the Youth gear sets from Answer and the Syncron riding garments are a very close cousin to their adult counterparts and therefore a popular option for kids for the track or trail. The pant (70 dollars) is built from polyester and nylon with high performance nylon inner knee emphasis. The product is pre-formed, has a ratchet waist buckle and is constructed with stretch panels. The jersey will complete the look but the Syncron Air (29 dollars) is an alternative for summer months thanks to the perforated mesh fabric, an ‘interlock polyfabric’ build and then other details important for a kids’ fit like v-neck, long tail and polyester cuffs for extra wear. There are at least seven colour combinations and youngsters can almost go head-to-toe with the AR1 Youth helmet that has passes strict DOT regulations, has a dual density EPS, exhaust vents, an ABS shell, a rubber nose guard to help against roost and weighs 1.4kg in the large size.

www.answerracing.com


back page Monster Energy Girls By GeeBee Images


on track off road

‘On-track Off-road’ is a free, bi-weekly publication for the screen focussed on bringing the latest perspectives on events, blogs and some of the very finest photography from the three worlds of the FIM Motocross World Championship, the AMA Motocross and Supercross series’ and MotoGP. ‘On-track Off-road’ will be published online at www.ontrackoffroad.com every other Tuesday. To receive an email notification that a new issue available with a brief description of each edition’s contents simply enter an address in the box provided on the homepage. All email addresses will be kept strictly confidential and only used for purposes connected with OTOR. Adam Wheeler Editor and MXGP/MotoGP correspondent Ray Archer Photographer Steve Matthes AMA MX and SX correspondent Cormac Ryan-Meenan MotoGP Photographer www.cormacgp.com David Emmett MotoGP Blogger Neil Morrison MotoGP Blogger & Feature writer Sienna Wedes MotoGP Blogger Graeme Brown WSB Blogger and Photographer Roland Brown Tester Núria Garcia Cover Design Gabi Álvarez Web developer Hosting FireThumb7 - www.firethumb7.co.uk Thanks to www.mototribu.com PHOTO CREDITS Ray Archer, CormacGP, GeeBee Images, Monster Energy/R.Swanberg, Double Red and Ula Serra

Cover shot: #35 by CormacGP

This publication took a lot of time and effort to put together so please respect it! Nothing in this publication can be reproduced in whole or part without the written permission of the editorial team. For more information please visit www.ontrackoffroad.com and click ‘Contact us’.

On-Track Off-Road issue 175  

The fifth 2018 issue of a monthly motorcycle sport magazine with some of the best interviews, features and Blogs from the heart of MotoGP, M...

On-Track Off-Road issue 175  

The fifth 2018 issue of a monthly motorcycle sport magazine with some of the best interviews, features and Blogs from the heart of MotoGP, M...