Archive - May 2008
After yesterday's torrential rain, which even managed to influence this morning's final free practice session, the MotoGP regulars were delighted to be rolling out of the pits onto hot tarmac in warm sunshine. The weather had almost completely cleared up, the clouds hanging back in the Tuscan hills, granting the MotoGP riders a reprieve from the rain - at least for the moment.
It's been a long time coming, but it looks like the Repsol Honda riders will finally get their hands on the new Honda RC212V engine with pneumatic valve actuation. Toby Moody over at Autosport.com is reporting that Nicky Hayden and Dani Pedrosa will have the option of using the air valve engine at the Catalunya round of MotoGP. Despite the atrocious conditions for free practice today, and a minor crash late in FP2, HRC's engineers have pronounced themselves happy with the new engine's comportment so far.
That Ben Spies will be moving to MotoGP in 2009 is common knowledge. For over a year now, Spies has talked openly of wanting to make the switch to the premier class of motorcycle racing, and has always spoken of doing so with Suzuki. A logical choice, given Spies' (relatively) long association with the marque. But lately, progress towards this goal has stalled, as problems have arisen over the price of leasing a GSV-R from Suzuki.
The proposed changes to the 250 class - with the 250 cc two-stroke twins likely to be replaced with rev-limited, spec ECU 625cc four-stroke inline fours - is having an unexpected effect on the MotoGP class. With KTM and Aprilia currently mainstay of the 250 class, the Japanese manufacturers having withdrawn factory support some time ago, the two European factories are extremely displeased with the new proposed measures. But unless they can persuade all of the manufacturers gathered in the MSMA to vote against the proposals, the two strokes are doomed.
MotoGP, like all forms of motorcycle racing, generates a great deal of passion among its followers. And passion is an emotion which always has a need to find expression in one form or another. That passion is what prompted me to set up this website, and prompts me to keep it running.
The Eurosport commentators Toby Moody and Julian Ryder mentioned it during the broadcast of the race, and now several other sources are confirming it. HRC will be wheeling out its pneumatic valve engine earlier than expected. After Honda decided not to bring the engine to Le Mans for the tests which are currently under way, it seemed the first place the air valve engine could make an appearance might be the test after the Catalunya round of MotoGP in Barcelona.
The three painted lines marking the spot where MotoGP line up on the grid cram a lot of tension into a tiny space. After rolling out of the pits, and round the track for the sighting lap, the riders are in their element doing something they know and understand, riding a powerful motorcycle around a race track. But that release from pre-race tension is all too brief, for it is the prelude to the worst 15 minutes of a rider's life. Once they round the final corner and roll up to their starting position, they are trapped once again inside those few lines of paint, forced to stand idle while the clock ticks away the endless seconds before the race actually starts.
Then, once the bustle of the grid is brought to an end by the 1 minute board, and the bikes head off round the track for the warm up lap, the riders know that things are about to get worse. As they return to the confinement of those three stripes of paint, that sickening feeling in the pit of their stomach intensifies. For though they know they will only be held in that painted prison for a few seconds, restrained by just a red light, they have just long enough to ponder the fact that what they do next is irreversible. No room for error, no second chances, and no quarter given when the flag drops, but until then, motorcycle racers, people who are fundamentally defined by what they do, can do nothing. Just wait. And worry.