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    Aleix Espargaró is back in the points, finishing tenth in the Assen GP. This is certainly a positive result that ends Aleix's streak of zero point finishes, but the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Spaniard's race should have ended with a much different result.

    Just after the mid-race point, the Espargaró-Aprilia package demonstrated its full potential. After a cautious start without forcing his pace too much, Aleix moved up from fifteenth to seventh, joining Crutchlow's group. An even more significant statistic is that during that part of the race (16th and 17th laps) he had lapped with the second best time and his gap behind the leader was less than seven seconds. In short, all the conditions were right for an excellent race finale, on the hunt for a top-five finish. Instead, raindrops began to fall and the altered grip conditions (Aleix had the hard tyre on the rear) ruined his pace completely. Aleix dropped back position by position to the end, in any case managing to defend a top-ten finish.

    Notwithstanding, the Aprilia RS-GP confirmed once again in this race that a top-five finish is definitely within reach of a project which has made clear progress in terms of performance over recent months.
    Sam Lowes, who had started from the fourth row for the first time thanks to outstanding qualifiers, crashed out in the ninth lap while lying fifteenth. There were no consequences for him and he can take comfort in a weekend where he demonstrated the biggest improvement of his rookie year in MotoGP.

    "I cannot be entirely satisfied because our goal is still to be closer to the leaders. The race had started well. I managed the first part, successfully overtaking a lot of riders and maintaining a good pace. A few laps before the rain I had begun to visibly recover ground. The RS-GP was really working well and I was closing the gap quickly. Unfortunately, I did not have a good feeling on the damp track and I was unable to push. Today we demonstrated once again that we can be very competitive, but the weather got in the way."

    "It was a difficult race for everyone. We had ridden on the dry track only on Friday and the track changed completely. I was in a good group. When Lorenzo overtook me I felt like I could stay with him and set my sights on a good position. I battled a bit with Baz. I was faster than him in some situations, but we overtook one another on practically every lap. I crashed as I was opening up the throttle. Maybe I was a bit too close to the white line, but this weekend I definitely took a step forward. I am pleased that there will be a race in a few days because we are on a positive trend."

    "Once again we expressed potential that is clearly worthy of the top-five which did not bear the deserved fruits due to a contingent situation. As long as the race proceeded in normal, dry track conditions, performance was very high. When it began to rain after the mid-race point, Aleix was just over six seconds from the leader. He had caught up to the group ahead of him without pushing too hard and he had a better pace than they did. Realistically, he could have aimed for the top-five. The level that Aprilia has achieved is a clear fact by now. We will keep going strong because if our potential is at these levels, we will soon be reaping the results.”

    "With the dry track we rode a fantastic race. Aleix maintained a spectacular pace. He moved up through the ranks easily and was lapping with the same pace as the leaders. Those raindrops ruined the final result, but there are many reasons to be confident and even pleased to have finished the race in the top-ten anyway. These are points that boost morale after our recent DNFs. We draw confidence from the knowledge that we are close to the leaders in terms of performance and that is what we are taking away from this race.”

  2. The current heatwave means that local highway authorities have one eye on the thermometer and the other one on their road surfaces as the current high temperatures are causing some to melt.

    With temperatures topping 30C, the bitumen in some road surfaces may soften and rise to the top. This makes the road surface sticky and more susceptible to pressure loads from heavy vehicles resulting in surface ridging and rutting.

    Most roads will not begin to soften until they hit a temperature of around 50C. However, even a sunny day in the 20Cs can be enough to generate 50C on the ground as the dark asphalt road surface absorbs a lot of heat and this builds up during the day. The response for local highway authorities is to send out the gritters to spread granite dust or sand to absorb the soft bitumen and so stabilise the road surface and make it less sticky.

    “Drivers may be bemused to see the gritters out in the summer when they are usually spreading grit and salt during the winter”, said Howard Robinson, chief executive of the Road Surface Treatments Association. “However, this is effective standard practice for keeping a road surface safe during extreme hot temperatures.”

    He continued: "Asphalt is like chocolate - it melts and softens when it's hot, and goes hard and brittle when it's cold - it doesn't maintain the same strength all year round.”

    Following a heatwave in 1995, the road industry introduced a new asphalt specification introducing the use of polymer modified binders in hot rolled asphalt (HRA). These polymers raise the asphalt road surface softening point to around 80C which prevents it from softening under extreme got weather. Other asphalt products such as thin surface course systems also normally contain polymer modified binders. Modified asphalts tend to be more expensive and are generally only used on heavily-trafficked roads. Robinson estimates that less than 5% of all the UK’s road surfaces contain polymer modified asphalt.  Surface dressings which are sued to seal road surfaces and restore skid resistance also now predominantly contain polymer modified binders which will resist softening during periods of hot weather.

    “Melting of some roads is not surprising during this heatwave but they can be quickly treated and revert back to normal once temperatures decline,” said Robinson.

  3. Llangollen Motorcycle Festival - LlanBikeFest | 5th & 6th August 

    LlanBikeFest's John Hutchinson said: "John is recovering well from his recent crash and says he is 100% committed to being at the Festival both days - even if he has to be wheeled round!"

    Plenty to see and do, with 100’s of bikes on show, displays, trials, stunts, live music, stands, family fun and some brilliant local rides on fabulous roads. Excellent local camping. Back by popular demand – George Formby (alias Graeme Hardy).

    "This year we are making it even better for families, with children 15 and under free. As well as 100's of bikes of every type on show, there will be trials and mountain bike stunts, displays and competitions, birds of prey flights, rides, children's entertainments, a great line-up of bands and a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight flypast on Sunday. Above all, LlanBikeFest is a celebration of all we love about motorcycles, set in some of Britain's best biking roads."

    venue: Royal International Pavilion, Abbey Road, Llangollen, Denbighshire, North Wales, LL20 8SW


    Llangollen Motorcycle Festival - LlanBikeFest

    • Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne scores two podium finishes
    • Shakey moves into a Showdown position
    • Glenn Irwin injured following a crash on Friday
    Two podium finishes at Knockhill from Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne brought some good news for his Be Wiser Ducati team after they suffered a bad start to the weekend when Glenn Irwin crashed out of the first Friday session at the Arnold Clarke chicane.
    Irwin, who won the North West 200 in his last race on board his Ducati Panigale R, suffered a ‘suspected dislocated shoulder and elbow' and has returned home for rest and further treatment.
    Race 1
    Starting from the front of the second row, Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne’s race could have easily been all over at the first corner. Jason O’Halloran (Honda Racing) ran in too hot at Duffus Dip with Shakey having to avoid clipping the Honda rider’s rear wheel, subsequently moving the Be Wiser Ducati Team rider several positions down in to 7th place.
    By half race distance Shakey was up into 4th and starting to pressure O’Halloran for 3rd, eventually making a move in the inside into Taylor’s Hairpin and finishing behind Jake Dixon (RAF Regular and Reserves Kawasaki) and Luke Mossey (JG Speedfit Kawasaki) for a valuable podium position.
    John ‘Hopper’ Hopkins (Moto Rapido Ducati) had started towards the rear of the grid in 18th after suffering technical issues during qualifying. But the American made several passes on the opening laps as he cut his way through the field and was running up in 9th by half race distance. Bradley Ray (Buildbase Suzuki) then crashed out while making a pass on Sylvain Guintoli (Bennetts Suzuki) meant an impressive 7th place finish.
    Race 2
    Shakey got a clean getaway as the lights went out for the second race of the day at Knockhill, holding on to his 5th place grid position. A couple of laps later he had got the better of Dan Linfoot (Honda Racing) into Taylor’s Hairpin for 4th. By 1/3 race distance the Be Wiser Ducati Team rider had passed Mossey and was now in 3rd, a position he held for almost half the race.
    On Lap 23 of 30, Dixon took 3rd from Shakey on his charge to his second win of the day. But Shakey was not to be outdone and capitalised on the penultimate lap when Mossey went wide at Taylor’s Hairpin, taking 3rd from him again and claiming his second podium finish of the day.
    Hopper had a much-improved grid position for Race 2, starting mid-pack in 11th. Sadly, the Moto Rapido Ducati rider suffered a lack of rear grip throughout his race - halting any progress and denying him an improvement on his earlier 7th place finish. Hopper passed the chequered flag in 17th.
    Shakey now stands 3rd in the British Superbike Championship with 90 points, while his Be Wiser Ducati teammate Glenn Irwin (absent following his Friday crash) moves out of the Top 6 down to 9th with 63 points. Hopper is currently 14th with 31 points.
    Shane ‘Shakey’ Byrne (Be Wiser Ducati #67) – 3rd “It’s been a very difficult weekend. Incredibly difficult. It was only until morning Warm Up today that I got to within 1 tenth to the time I did here last year. So, in some ways I guess you could say we’ve taken a step backwards which is really frustrating because I know how much effort the guys have put in and how hard I’ve tried this weekend.
    We’ve just not been there this weekend. We’ve been thereabouts in lap times and we’ve been top of the time sheets but from a feeling point of view it just hasn’t been right. We’ve searched and searched and searched. We’ve probably made more changes this weekend then we do in 3 or 4 normal race weekends put together. We’ve had new forks in, we’ve had different pivot positions, we’ve had different offsets in it, we’ve had different springs in it. We’ve done literally everything and combinations of all of those as well. There’s no lack of effort from the boys and certainly no lack of effort from me. I feel like I’ve done two 24 hour races back to back. I never get tired riding this bike and I train really hard to make sure I’m always fit and always strong and I’ve trained especially hard just lately.
    We’ve certainly got work to do, the other bikes appear to be a little more agile at these tight and twisty tracks than ours is. That said, going forward, we’ve got ourselves into the Showdown now, we got some podium credits, we’ve come away with two podiums on a bad day and we got a good run of tracks coming up for us and we can look forward to them and try and get ourselves back on the top step again.”
    John ‘Hopper’ Hopkins (Moto Rapido Ducati #21) – 17th “I did the best I could in Race 1, we ended up finishing 7th and from where we started I was pretty happy with that. Knowing our pace and what we could achieve here and the level of the bike and so forth I really felt like we could get a podium here.
    Race 2, I got off the line horribly, did a little bit of a stutter and then we ended up having some rear grip issue. I literally had no rear grip from the beginning of the race. I was skating into corners, sliding up every corner. And that combined with my hand – my breaking and throttle hand – on a circuit like this I literally could not hang on anymore. I stayed out in the chance that people would unfortunately DNF so we could salvage some points… I was hoping to get our season underway properly here, we’re going to have to roll that onto the next round and do well there. I’m still really confident we can make the showdown.”