Archive - 2010
MotoMatters.com headquarters is a whirlwind of boxes, paint, wallpaper, hoovering and packing tape (duct tape, naturally). Because of the move, there is little or no time to keep our loyal readers up to date with the world of world championship motorcycle racing.
Ever since its introduction, the Moto2 class has been oversubscribed, with more teams wanting places than were available on the grid. Last year, over 40 riders regularly raced in the class, and there were 40 entries for the 2011 season.
Natural attrition is starting to take its toll on the Moto2 grid, however, After the announcement that the Jack&Jones By Antonio Banderas team had withdrawn - reportedly leaving a trail of unpaid bills behind them - another team has abandoned the series. The Holiday Gym team, which had entered Belgian rider Xavier Simeon for the 2011 Moto2 season aboard a Moriwaki, has decided to pull out of racing altogether.
This time, the problem was not one of money. Luis Guerra, owner of the Holiday Gym chain of fitness and spa centers, had set up the team to back his son Yannick's racing ambitions. After a spell in World Supersport, Guerra switched to Moto2, partnering Fonsi Nieto in the Holiday Gym G22 team run by Pablo and Gelete Nieto.
With some sense of sanity returning to motorcycle racing paddocks around the world, many of the emergency cost-cutting measures put in place in late 2008 and early 2009 are being reversed. One of the most prominent was the rearranging of the schedules on a race weekend, with practice in MotoGP being cut from four sessions to three, and in World Superbike, having all of the action removed from Friday morning. The WSBK schedule had taken on a rather strange appearance as a result, with two sessions of practice for both the World Superbike and the World Supersport classes jammed into Friday afternoon.
The Superbike Commission - WSBK's rule-making body - has come to its senses once again, and after bitter complaints from the teams - especially the World Supersport teams, who had their first qualifying practice at 5pm on Friday, often in very cold conditions - the change has been reversed. Practice once again returns to Friday morning, bringing qualifying much closer to race time for both World Superbike and World Supersport.
With the holiday season almost upon us, teams are clearing their desks before heading off for their Christmas and New Year's break. That explains the blizzard of press releases being issued. The latest HRC missive concerns Dani Pedrosa's condition, and his progress during his recovery. The Spaniard broke his collarbone in Motegi in early October, after the throttle on his RC212V stuck open, causing him to crash heavily. The collarbone was plated, but bruising and swelling caused Pedrosa a number of problems while racing. Below is the HRC update on his condition:
DANI PEDROSA TO RESUME FULL TRAINING IN JANUARY
Repsol Honda Team rider Dani Pedrosa is now in the final stages of recovery from the shoulder injury he sustained last October and is excited to return to training in early January.
The Spaniard will spend a full month working on his physical condition to ensure that he is in the best possible shape for the first MotoGP test of 2011 at Sepang, Malaysia, from February 1st to 3rd.
Below is the press release issued by HRC after the private test of the Honda test team, where Ten Kate Honda World Superbike rider Johnny Rea was allowed to test Honda's RC212V MotoGP bike. No times were released:
HRC MOTOGP TEST AT SEPANG ENDS 2010 ON TRACK DEVELOPMENT WORK
The HRC MotoGP test team brought curtain down on the 2010 season on-track when they wrapped up the three-day test at Sepang Malaysia today. The test session was scheduled to end yesterday but was extended to include a three-hour session this morning due to time last to heavy rain yesterday afternoon.
The test team and HRC test rider Kousuke Akiyoshi were happy with the data gleaned while verifying information and technical data gathered at the last team test session, held at Valencia in early November.
The HRC test was also a happy experience for Ten Kate Honda World Superbike team rider Jonathan Rea. The Ulsterman was given the opportunity to test the RC212V as a reward for his WSB performances in 2010. Race completed the test alongside Akiyoshi running for 40 laps in fine sunny weather with temperatures close on 30 degrees for the morning session.
As the new year approaches, the Moto2 grid is starting to near completion - though the sudden withdrawal of the Promo Racing / Jack& Jones by Antonio Banderas racing team is a reminder that the grid is only final once the lights go out at Qatar. Over the past couple of weeks, several signings have seen a few of the remaining blank spaces in the rider list fill out, and bringing the grid back up to 39.
The first announcement came from the Italtrans Team, who announced the signing of Italian rider Claudio Corti. Corti had spent 2010 racing alongside Jules Cluzel at Forward Racing, but had been edged aside to make room for Alex Baldolini. Corti now switches to the team that fielded Roby Rolfo and Robertino Pietri for 2010, and will remain aboard a Suter. Rolfo has departed Moto2 altogether, and will be riding the ill-fated Pedercini Kawasaki in World Superbikes, while Pietri is yet to sign a deal in either Moto2 or the AMA, where he raced previously.
The Tuenti Speed Up team announced that they had added Valentin Debise to their line up, signing the Frenchman to run alongside the Spanish prodigy Pol Espargaro. The Speed Up Team will once again be fielding FTR machinery, though this time, under the FTR name, rather than rebadged as a Speed Up, as was the case when Andrea Iannone and Gabor Talmacsi raced for the team last season.
Ten Kate Honda World Superbike rider Jonathan Rea is at Sepang, testing a Honda MotoGP bike for the first time. Below is the press release issued by Honda after the first day of testing:
HRC RESUMES MOTOGP TESTING AT SEPANG
HRC MotoGP test session Sepang Malaysia. Opening day of three-day test
The HRC R&D Team began a three-day test session at the Sepang circuit, Malaysia today in preparation for the 2011 MotoGP season.
Alongside HRC test rider, Kousuke Akiyoshi, who is continuing the development of the RCV212, HRC also invited Jonathan Rea, the Honda Ten Kate World Superbike Team rider to join the test.
Jonathan Rea made his very first ride on a MotoGP machine today and HRC is pleased to give him the possibility to test ride the RCV212 for the first time.
After having adjusted the riding position on the RC212V to suit his stature, the 23 year old Rea, from Ballymena, Northern Ireland, went on track today joining Japanese rider, and Suzuka 8-hour team-mate Akiyoshi.
Akiyoshi and Rea made the most of the warm weather at the 5.548km circuit to complete almost full day’s work with the Honda RC212V stopping for just one hour due to a short rain shower.
If MotoMatters.com has seemed to be relatively dormant over the past few days, there's a very good reason. MotoMatters.com HQ is being relocated, from the Netherlands' oldest university town to a small town in the east of the country, close to the city at the heart of Operation Market Garden. As a consequence, MotoMatters.com staff - or more specifically, your humble correspondent - is spending an inordinate amount of time on matters such as removing old wallpaper, packing up a couple of years' worth of MotoGP memorabilia, and sorting through those piles of papers that have been sitting there doing nothing for the past thirteen years we have been in the house.
During the winter test ban, MotoGP's equivalent of the dog days of summer, the social media website Twitter has turned into a goldmine for journalists, from both the traditional and the new media alike. With so many high-profile riders, managers, mechanics and other members of the paddock active on Twitter, nuggets useful for filling empty column inches keep popping up almost by magic.
When the rules for the Moto3 class, due to replace the 125cc two-stroke class from 2012 onwards, were announced, the entry of existing motocross and supermoto manufacturers seemed only a question of time. The new class is to feature 250cc, single cylinder four-stroke engines, with a maximum bore of 81mm and rev limited to 14,000 rpm, and all of the current companies building motocross bikes have an engine which - with a little modification - would fit that bill.
The biggest - by reputation, at least - of the MX bike builders is surely KTM, and when Moto3 was announced, the gaze of the press immediately turned on Mattighofen, KTM's Austrian base. Rumors emerged as early as October that KTM was considering an entry, and now GPOne.com is reporting that the decision has been made, and that KTM's Moto3 project is already underway. According to GPOne.com, the technical details of the Moto3 engine are yet to be finalized, but given that the rules were only published in full at Valencia, with the details of the spec ECU issued just a couple of days ago, it is hardly surprising that KTM wanted to wait before starting work.
There's good news and bad news for the opponents of electronics in motorcycle racing from today's meeting of the Grand Prix Commission, held in Madrid in Spain. MotoGP's rule-making body met to discuss changes to the regulations for the 2011 and 2012 seasons, and electronics was one of the subjects under discussion.
But the first order of business was to rearrange practice. The changes made in the cost-cutting frenzy between the 2008 and 2009 seasons have finally been scrapped once again, and the four-practice schedule used by MotoGP for so many years before makes a welcome return. The schedule had been partially reinstated at the end of the 2010 season, with four sessions of 45 minutes replacing the three one-hour sessions which had been used for the past two seasons. Though the reception was overwhelmingly positive, the one complaint that riders had being that the 45 minute sessions left little time to make changes during the session.
That problem has now been solved, as the GP Commission has agreed to return to four one-hour sessions for the MotoGP class from 2011. The Moto2 class will see four sessions of 45 minutes on each race weekend, while the 125cc class will have two sessions of 45 minutes on Friday and Saturday morning, and two sessions of half an hour in the afternoons.
Since its inception, the Red Bull Rookies Cup (and its predecessor, the MotoGP Academy) has proved to be a rich source of talent for the MotoGP series. Top riders such as Bradley Smith and promising youngsters such as Sturla Fagerhaug and Jonas Folger have come through the system, with a steady flow of more youngsters coming through all the time.
In a bid to tap into the same vein of young talent, the World Superbike series is about to set up its own rival to the Red Bull Rookies Cup. As we reported back in November, WSBK is to run the European Junior Cup, series open to 14 to 17-year-olds, and will run at six of the European World Superbike rounds. The youngsters will be picked from entries consisting of riders with at least one year of experience in any motorcycle discipline, and will compete aboard specially prepared - and identical - Kawasaki Ninja 250R machines, Kawasaki's entry level 250cc four-stroke twin sports bike.
The press release announcing the European Junior Cup is displayed below:
European Junior Cup launched in 2011
If anyone thought that the media storm surrounding Valentino Rossi's switch to Ducati for the 2011 MotoGP season would die down once the announcement had been made official, they were to be proven utterly wrong. First, there was the saga of whether Yamaha would release Rossi early from his contract to allow the Italian to test the Ducati at Valencia, then there was the excitement and drama of the Valencia test itself.
Rossi ended the Valencia test 15th fastest, with only MotoGP returnee Toni Elias and MotoGP rookie Karel Abraham behind him, unleashing a tidal wave of speculation surrounding his test result. Rossi's slow time was put down to his still injured shoulder (for which he had surgery a few days later), and in wanting to get acquainted with the Ducati Desmosedici, rather than focus on trying to put in a fast lap.
While both these explanations are undoubtedly true, there were also a few of signs of panic among the Ducati team, despite team manager Alessandro Cicognani professing that Ducati was "not worried" about the times. Speaking to the press after the test, Ducati Corse director Filippo Preziosi described the test as a "bad test" and spoke of Rossi's lack of feeling with the front end. But the Ducati team had taken plenty of positives from the test, with Rossi expressing himself to be impressed with the engine and the rear grip, something he had complained about on the Yamaha just about all year.
More news on the condition of Ratthapark Wilairot, who was seriously injured in a road traffic accident that killed the rider of the motorcycle the Thai Moto2 rider was a passenger on. News emanating out of Thailand, in both the Bangkok Post and the website StayOnTheBlack.com suggests that happily, Wilairot's condition is improving.
According to the reports, Wilairot is now conscious, though the Stop&Go rider is still unable to talk. Fears of brain damage appear to have been allayed, as though Wilairot is not yet capable of speaking, he has been able to communicate with the doctors by a primitive sign language, and answer some of their questions.
Wilairot usually lives in Spain, but had returned to Thailand to attend his father's funeral. Christmas Wilairot, himself a former motorcycle racer, died last week of liver cancer. The service for Ratthapark's father has been postponed, in the hope that Ratthapark will have recovered sufficiently to attend his father's funeral.