Sepang MotoGP test: Gossip, rumour and intrigue

Valentino Rossi has taken great delight in assisting both Franco Morbidelli and Pecco Bagnaia in their quests for a ride in the big league, but now he has to contend with them both in MotoGP 2019, and joked he would take drastic measures should they get too big for their calf-leather loafers.

Both the VR46 Academy riders have impressed in pre-season testing, Bagnaia particularly as he set the second fastest lap of Sepang in history. Rossi said: “I hope that in the races he will be more slow. I try to poison when we are at home…”

KTM yesterday launched all its teams officially at a big bunfight in Austria. Tech3 were the winners with an excellent Toro Rosso-esque blue and orange paintjob, with Red Bull Motorsports Manager Thomas Uberall suggested the similarity between the MotoGP and F1 colour schemes was no coincidence.

Technical guru Mike Leitner revealed that almost everyone that had ridden the RC-16 had said it was way too stiff and that KTM might end up making four bikes with differing degrees of flex for their four riders. Which is just showing off.

Aprilia took the version of the RS-GP they should have had last year to Malaysia in readiness for this year. Aleix Espargaro was happy enough with it, but said it lacked a bit of shove. “We have done a step forward, but we need to make three,” he said. Andrea Iannone didn’t comment as his mouth wouldn’t work due to a cakehole infection which stopped him from riding on the final day…

Jorge Lorenzo didn’t attend the test as he still has a wonky wrist but after watching the timing sheets while stroking a large white cat, he said the title fight was between Marquez, Vinales, Rossi and Dovizioso. He doesn’t believe he will be in the trophy scrap but then added that anything was possible, just in case anyone from HRC was listening.

With Marquez and Crutchlow injured, and Lorenzo off sick in his dormant volcano secret hideout, Andrea Dovizioso can’t judge how much improved the RC213V is for 2019. But he did sort of say the Yamahas could well be a pain in the arse this year, as could Alex Rins.

Crutchlow, who should be somewhere near his ‘best’ at Losail, predicts Danilo Petrucci will be the biggest spanner in the works for 2019 but couldn’t say why.

Romano Fenati has revealed he received death threats after the brake-grabbing incident last year. No-one was surprised by this.

Share this story: