Archive - News Item
June 18th, 2013
Honda's decision to skip the MotoGP test at Barcelona has so far not paid off. The first day of their three-day test at the Motorland Aragon circuit was an absolute washout, with torrential rain forcing the Honda riders to spend almost all day in the garages. Only Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista put in a few laps, Bradl shaking down the 2014 version of the RC213V which Honda has brought to the test, and Bautista checking a few things from Barcelona. Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez did not venture out on track.
Instead, Honda took the time to introduce the 2014 version of the RC213V they are planning to test in Aragon. The bike is completely new, including a new engine and chassis, the engine ready to manage the reduced fuel allowance (cut from 21 to 20 liters) to be introduced at the request of the MSMA from next year. The plan is that if Pedrosa and Marquez prefer the bike to their current machine, they could get the machine early, perhaps as early as the next race, at least as far as the chassis is concerned.
Official confirmation of Suzuki's return to Grand Prix racing has come at last. This morning, Suzuki issued a press release announcing that they will be back in MotoGP. The bad news is that they will not return until 2015, deciding instead to spend a year developing the bike before mounting a serious challenge in the series in 2015.
As already reported, Davide Brivio is confirmed as the manager of Suzuki's team, while Randy De Puniet has been officially announced as the development rider for the bike. Nobuatsu Aoki will continue to do a lot of the donkey work in testing, in much the same role as Franco Battaini at Ducati. Both are capable riders willing to grind out the miles and test that everything is working correctly, while De Puniet, like Michele Pirro at Ducati, will try to get the bike up to race speed, to see where its weaknesses lie.
The decision to wait until 2015 makes decisions for riders a little more complex. Riders in the running for the Suzuki seat were informed last week of Suzuki's decision, giving them time to look for alternatives.
The defense of Jorge Lorenzo's MotoGP championship faces a further obstacle. In addition to having to fend off an unleashed Dani Pedrosa and the rookie sensation that is Marc Marquez, the Yamaha Factory Racing rider now has to deal with a looming engine shortage as well. Just six race weekends into the 2013 MotoGP season, and the factory Yamaha riders are already using the fourth of the five engines which they have for the entire season. With two thirds of the season left to go, the Yamaha men will face a serious challenge in making their engines last until the end of the season.
The issue affects both Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo in the factory teams, as well as Cal Crutchlow in the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team, all of whom have taken a fourth engine. Crutchlow's teammate Bradley Smith is still only on his third of five engines, though even that is not an ideal situation. Making things worse for the factory men is the fact that both Rossi and Lorenzo have had one engine withdrawn, meaning that they will not be able to use those engines for the rest of the season.
Casey Stoner has quashed rumors that he could make a return to MotoGP. In an interview with the British magazine Autosport, he says he will not come back to Grand Prix racing while it continues in the direction it is heading in. "I'm closed. I'm done with it," Stoner told Autosport.
There have been persistent rumors that Stoner could come back for a couple of wildcards at the end of the season, though the Australian has denied he would be interested in coming in as a wildcard. More outlandish rumors surfaced a month ago, claiming that Stoner was close to making a shock return to Ducati, and that the Italian company's new German ownership had offered him a large sum to race again. But Stoner told Autosport that there was no truth in either of those rumors, and he had absolutely no interest in a return to MotoGP at the moment.
The troubled waters through which Cal Crutchlow has found himself sailing with Yamaha have been calmed a little. The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider and his manager Bob Moore held their first face-to-face meeting with Yamaha bosses Lin Jarvis and Masahiko Nakajima on the Sunday night after the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, to discuss the options for extending their relationship for next year.
Also present at the meeting was Monster Tech 3 Yamaha boss Hervé Poncharal, who has been very vocal in his desire to retain the British rider. Crutchlow's results have been a real boon for the French team, and his outspoken and impish personality have helped attract a large amount of media attention. Poncharal has been mediating between Yamaha and Crutchlow, and is trying to secure an extension of Crutchlow's contract with the team for 2014.
Max Biaggi's brief return to MotoGP is over. After two days of testing Ducati's MotoGP bike at Mugello, filling in for the injured Ben Spies, Biaggi returns to his day job, as TV commentator for the Italian coverage of World Superbikes.
Two short days were not really enough time for Biaggi to get back to grips with a MotoGP bike, especially given that testing stopped early on both days after rain started to fall in the afternoon. Biaggi faced two problems, returning to riding at speed for the first time in eight months, and returning to a MotoGP bike for the first time in over seven years. Given those difficulties, the times he set in the end were respectable. According to GPOne.com, who had reporter Luca Semprini on location, Biaggi's best time was a lap of 1'52.1, which would have seen him qualify in 23rd position for last Sunday's MotoGP race, just ahead of Hiroshi Aoyama on the FTR Kawasaki CRT machine.
The long-awaited new rules for the World Superbike series, to be applied from 2014 onwards, are finally ready. Or rather, the framework on which they will be based has been agreed upon by all of the parties involved. Today, the FIM issued a press release announcing that an agreement had been reached between the FIM, the MSMA and Dorna over a new framework for technical regulations for WSBK to be applied from 2014 onwards.
Though no details were announced - the details still have to be hammered out, a process which could turn out to be more difficult than currently anticipated - the gist of the rules is that a price-capped formula is to be introduced. The constructors, assembled in the MSMA, have agreed to supply a minimum number of bikes in a particular state of tune for a fixed price. Component suppliers will also see the price of their parts cut as well, with suspension and brakes the main focus of cost-capping.
Max Biaggi is back on a MotoGP machine, for the first time since he lost his ride at the end of the 2005 season. The reigning World Superbike champion took to the track at Mugello today to test Ben Spies' Pramac Ducati, and get a feel for a MotoGP machine again. Biaggi was invited to ride the bike by Ducati, mainly just as a friendly gesture towards an old rider, but in part also to give his input on riding the bike. With Spies still absent recovering from his shoulder injury, putting Biaggi on the bike was an interesting prospect. Because of Biaggi's Italian connections, he rode Spies bike, but with bodywork from Iannone's Energy.TI bike.
In a series of posts on his Twitter feed, Biaggi took some time getting up to speed on the machine. An enormous amount has changed since Biaggi last rode a V5 990cc Honda RC211V back in 2005, all of which take a lot of getting used to. The spec Bridgestone tires and the amount of electronic rider aids are two of the biggest changes, though the electronics on the factory Aprilia RSV4 WSBK machine are already highly sophisticated. The tires, though, are totally different to what Biaggi was used to, Bridgestone having made huge steps forward in grip, durability and stiffness in the intervening period, the tires offering much more performance than the Michelins Biaggi used in the past, but also being less compliant. The difference in performance between 2005 and 2013 is huge: Dani Pedrosa's pole record (1'47.157) is over two seconds faster now than the record (1'49.223) set by Valentino Rossi eight years ago, and Marc Marquez' race lap record (1'47.639) is two and a half seconds quicker than Max Biaggi's from 2005 (1'50.117). According to GPOne.com, one of the biggest challenges Biaggi faced was getting used to carbon disk brakes once again, having raced using steel disks during his time in World Superbikes.
Max Biaggi is to make a surprise return to riding a MotoGP machine. The former 250 and World Superbike champion will take a seat on Ben Spies' Ignite Pramac Ducati as part of a one-day test at Mugello, as part of Ducati's testing program, according to Italian site GPOne.com.
Spies was scheduled to stay on at Mugello to take part in a two-day test, but after the first day of practice at last weekend's Italian Grand Prix, it was clear to both Spies and Ducati that his shoulder was still too weak to ride a MotoGP machine. With work continuing on the Desmosedici, it was important for Ducati to get as much data as possible on their bike, and so Biaggi was offered the chance to ride the machine.
Ben Spies has decided to pull out of the Mugello round of MotoGP, after struggling on the first day of practice at the track. The Texan continues to have problems with a weak shoulder, as he recovers slowly from the surgery performed to correct the damage done in his crash at Sepang last October.
This is the second time that Spies has been forced to withdraw after returning to action too early. After a short period of physical rehabilitation, Spies went straight into winter testing, and then participated in the first race at Qatar, in which he struggled. He tried again at Austin, but was forced to withdraw from that race after developing severe strain in his pectoral muscles as they struggled to compensate for the lack of strength. Spies then decided to skip both Jerez and Le Mans, to recover from both the chest strain and the shoulder surgery, before coming back at Mugello.
MotoGP's Claiming Rule is set to be consigned to the history books. At the next meeting of the Grand Prix Commission at Barcelona, a proposal will be put forward to abandon the claiming rule altogether. With the advent of the new distinction, between MSMA entries and non-MSMA entries, the need to claim an engine ceased to exist. The demise of the claiming rule opens the way towards the leasing of Yamaha engines to private teams without fear of those engines being claimed by other factories.
The claiming rule had been instigated at the start of 2012, to allow the grid to expand. At the end of 2011, with the departure of Suzuki, and both Honda and Ducati cutting back the number of satellite bikes they were prepared to provide, numbers on the MotoGP grid looked like falling to as low as 13 or 14 bikes. The switch back to 1000cc engines meant a rich spectrum of engines was available to custom chassis builders, to produce affordable race bikes. To allow such teams to compete with the full factory efforts, such teams were allowed extra fuel (24 liters instead of 21), and double the factory engine allowance, 12 instead of 6. To prevent new factories from taking advantage of the loophole, the MSMA members - the factories involved in MotoGP - retained the right to claim the engine of such teams. Hence the name, Claiming Rule Team or CRT.
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