Archive - May 2008 - News Item
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 With KTM and Aprilia currently mainstay of the 250 class, the Japanese manufacturers having withdrawn factory support some time ago, the two European factories are extremely displeased with the new proposed measures.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 second day of MotoGP practice at Le Mans had started in spectacular fashion. At the start of the morning FP3 session, Jorge Lorenzo had a nasty crash, ending up tumbling through the gravel trap at the end of the straight for the Chemin aux Boeufs chicane. A visit to the Clinica Mobile revealed that Lorenzo had been incredibly lucky: the Spanish champion, riding with two fractured ankles and fractured bones in his feet, had not injured himself any further.
The first day of free practice took place under cool, overcast but mostly dry conditions, with rain spotting the track only during the final moments of FP2. During both sessions it was Dani Pedrosa who was setting up his stall as the man to beat. Pedrosa was there or thereabouts almost from the moment they rolled onto the track, and it's clear that he means business.
Almost since the birth of the Motorcycle Grand Prix championship back in 1949, the 250cc class has operated as the feeder class for the MotoGP championship, especially once the 350cc class was scrapped in 1983. Just about all of the great names of motorcycle racing have come up through the class, from John Surtees, to Mike Hailwood, and from Giacomo Agostini to Valentino Rossi, and far, far too many names to mention in between. This year's crop of rookies coming from 250s underline the quality of riders coming up from the smaller bikes.
Although his participation was never in doubt, Ben Spies wildcard rides at the US rounds of MotoGP have now finally been officially confirmed, according to MCN. Deals in MotoGP are never done until the ink has dried on the paper - and even then, deals can suddenly disappear into thin air - so Spies will be feeling some relief.
Since Estoril, a number of announcements have come out of the Yamaha camp concerning the 2009 series and beyond. These developments have already been reported elsewhere, but are worth recapping here.
British rider and double World Superbike rider James Toseland has made a big impression since entering MotoGP. Toseland's 6th place in the MotoGP championship, tied for points with Loris Capirossi, achieved mostly at tracks he'd either never visited or never raced at before, has been a boost in the arm for a number of Superbike riders with aspirations of moving up to MotoGP, as it has disproved the idea that Superbike racing is not a viable route into the MotoGP series.
That is the question which has been echoing around the MotoGP paddock since the start of the season. At Shanghai, the clamor grew to almost deafening levels, after rumors that HRC would ship new versions of the RC212V with pneumatic valves to the Chinese race track, where speed is at an absolute premium. Despite the speculation, the new engine failed to make an appearance, and the chorus of questions grew even louder: Where is Honda's new engine with the pneumatic valves, and when will it turn up.
Two things were on everyone's mind during qualifying practice at Shanghai on Saturday afternoon. The first was the weather, the sun making conditions hot and sticky for qualifying, while torrential rain is forecast for the race on Sunday. This left the paddock in a quandary as to how to treat the session, whether to look for a dry race setup which may turn out to be irrelevant, or focus on qualifying as close to the front as possible, and hope it rains. In the end, most teams found a compromise, and split the session half and half.