May 24th, 2013
Both World Superbike and World Supersport were victims of the cold and miserable rain. In the free practice session only five World Superbike riders even recorded a complete lap, with the rest sitting it out. In the afternoon session, as it was a timed session, everyone went out to get a lap in case the rain continued into Saturday, an unlikely event, but not impossible. All predictions, reliability being a benefit of East Midlands airport living next door, point to nothing but sun for both Saturday and Sunday.
Press releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams, as well as the series organizer, after the first day of practice at Donington:
Rain closed the session once more, with Tom Sykes claiming provisional pole position with a time two and a half seconds slower than his qualifying record from last year. Jonathan Rea is making good his promise to perform well here, at a track that doesn't require outright speed, as seen by the top speeds being a good 70kmh slower than at Aragon or Monza.
Sykes crashed out at the old hairpin as the conditions got worse, but he escaped without injury.
Sam Lowes topped the timed session to get provisional pole over a second faster than Kenan Sofuoglu. Lowes left it until late in the session before heading out and only recorded four complete laps, claiming the top spot with three out of those four laps.
The riders are still over ten seconds off the lap record set by Sam Lowes in 2011, and Gabor Talmasci was the fastest man throughout most of the session, setting the fastest lap ten times, until Lowes and Sofuoglu fought for the pole slot. The track conditions are still holding the times up, but the weather promises to improve tomorrow.
So few riders went out on track, as the wet conditions rendered the session useless. Chaz Davies, a rider who last year complained of a lack of wet weather experience, recorded the quickest time of the few daring enough to brave the deluge.
Kenan Sofuoglu managed to put in a fast lap before the rain started to come down at a cold and damp Donington.
Press release previews from the teams and the organizers ahead of this weekend's World Superbike round at Donington Park:
Jorge Lorenzo's disappointing performance at the French Grand Prix at Le Mans has been the cause of some debate. The factory Yamaha man finished a lowly seventh, his worst finish (other than DNFs) since his rookie season in 2008, and finishing off the podium for the first time since Indianapolis in 2011. To say this was an uncharacteristic performance from Lorenzo is something of an understatement.
So what went wrong? Immediately after the race, Lorenzo made it clear that he believed the problem was with his rear tire. He had had no grip whatsoever, and been unable to get any drive from his rear tire. He told the press afterwards that the only logical explanation he could think of for his problems was a defective rear tire. Lorenzo had been fast in the morning warm up, though it was a little drier then, and the set up used was very similar to then. In 2012, Lorenzo had won at Le Mans by a huge margin, so he could not understand why he was struggling so badly in France.
MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We will be featuring sections of Oxley's blogs, posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website, over the coming months.
The race to arm MotoGP’s private teams with higher-performance CRT bikes is gathering pace. Last summer Honda announced that they will sell a lower-cost version of their RC213V and then two months ago Yamaha confirmed that they will lease YZR-M1 engines from 2014. At Le Mans the whisper going round the paddock was that Aprilia are working on a pneumatic-valve spring cylinder head for their RSV4 CRT engine, which could be ready by September.
The Liberty Racing team has today announced they will be withdrawing from the World Superbike championship. The announcement is hardly a surprise: the Liberty team announced their withdrawal last year after the Silverstone round, missing the final four rounds of the series. The team had not fared much better in 2013, making a late start and missing the first round of the championship in Phillip Island. Now, after just three races, they have pulled out once again.
The withdrawal of the Liberty Racing team leaves Mark Aitchison without a ride for the rest of the season, after the Australian agreed a late deal to ride for the team. It also leaves the World Superbike field looking very sparse, with just 18 full-time entries left on the grid. The World Superbike grid weathered the first storms of the global financial crisis relatively well, due to lower costs of competition, but poor TV coverage of the series for the past few seasons has seen numbers dropping season by season, with the 18-bike grid the result. Dorna and the MSMA hope that the new rules discussed recentlly, limiting the cost of a bike to 300,000 euros per rider per season, will help make the series more affordable, and help swell numbers on the grid.
Below is the official press release issued by Liberty Racing on their withdrawal:
As is customary, the Bridgestone media service issued their post-race debrief on tire performance on Tuesday, in which they discuss how the tires they selected held up during the race at Le Mans the previous weekend. This week's press release is more interesting than most, as it contains a denial from Bridgestone that there was anything wrong with the rear tire used by Jorge Lorenzo in the race on Sunday, countering claims that his tire was defective.
Speaking to the media after the race on Sunday, Lorenzo said that although he was not a tire engineer, he could think of no other explanation but a defective tire for the complete lack of rear grip he had suffered throughout the race. The setting they had used in the wet morning warm up had worked well, Lorenzo said. In 2012, under similar conditions, he had not had a single problem, he explained, going on to win the race by nearly 10 seconds. Lorenzo also pointed to the fact that Valentino Rossi had had problems with a tire on Saturday morning, and had that one replaced, as is allowed under the rules if a defective tire is found.
Suzuki's return to MotoGP takes another step closer to being realized this week. Frenchman Randy de Puniet is flying to Japan today to test Suzuki's inline four MotoGP machine at Motegi, as part of the testing program to develop the bike ready for its return in 2014.
In an interview with the official MotoGP.com website, De Puniet said he would be departing on Monday. "We leave tomorrow to go to Japan to test at Motegi with Suzuki," he told MotoGP.com. "It will be a good experience for me, and I hope to do a great job." After testing at Motegi, De Puniet will fly back to Europe to take part in the next round of MotoGP with the Power Electronics Aspar team at Mugello, where he will ride the team's Aprilia ART machine.
2013 Le Mans MotoGP Sunday Round Up: Of Titles, Shot Tires, Fast Students, And A Spaniard-Free Podium
Defending titles is not easy. In the last twenty years, only Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi have managed to win successive championships, despite both Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner winning twice. Why is it so hard? A lot of reasons. Nothing motivates a rider, a team or a factory like losing. Winning a championship requires a lot of hard work and talent, but also a smattering of luck, and at some point, luck runs out. Winning a title means always looking forward, eyes on the prize, while defending a title means looking back, at everyone out to get you. All these things combine to make winning the second title in a row much, much harder than winning the first one.
Jorge Lorenzo found this out the hard way in 2011, when he faced an unleashed Casey Stoner on the Honda RC212V. And now, after his second title in 2012, he's learning exactly the same lesson again, this time at the hands of Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez on the Honda RC213V. At Le Mans, all of the above factors came together, working against Lorenzo to drop him down the field, and move him from just four points to seventeen points adrift of the new championship leader, Dani Pedrosa.
What happened? First and foremost, the Hondas happened. Dani Pedrosa rode a brilliant race to take his second win in a row. It was arguably one of the best races of his career: getting a fantastic start, managing the wet conditions brilliantly, and putting in a number of hard, precise attacks to gain positions. His pass at Garage Vert to take the lead for the final time was one of particular beauty: jamming the bike precisely inside Dovizioso on the first of the double right handers, holding the tighter line, then taking a clear lead through the second. From that point he was gone. Since the Sachsenring last year, Pedrosa has won nine of the last fifteen races, a strike rate of sixty percent. That's the kind of batting average you need to win a title.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after an exhilarating French Grand Prix in Le Mans:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after Sunday's thrilling races at Le Mans: