Archive - Jul 2008 - News Item
Laguna Seca wasn't the only race Scott Jones attended. He also went to Donington, and shot some fantastic images there as well. Now, he's provided us with some of those photographs for use as desktop backgrounds as well. You can find the full selection over on the following page:
Here's a few to whet your appetites:
If the acuity of a political operator can be measured by the skill with which they manage to find alternative ways to achieve their goals, then the people at Dorna are truly masterful. After Carmelo Ezpeleta's previous attempts to introduce a spec ECU into MotoGP was met with widespread disapproval, the wily Spaniard has found another approach.
This time, according to Spanish sports daily AS.com, Dorna will be pushing for introduction of a spec ECU on the grounds of safety at a meeting to be held at the Czech Grand Prix in Brno. After the reduction in capacity from 990 to 800 cc failed so spectacularly to slow the MotoGP bikes down - with lap records falling during the very first season of the reduced capacity - Dorna is looking around for another way to reduce speeds. The reduced top speed has led to dramatically increased corner speeds, meaning that crashes are now happening at higher speeds, and that the smaller bikes are arguably more dangerous than the old fire-breathing 990s.
The idea is that a spec ECU could be used to artificially reduce performance, meaning that the bikes could be made slower. However, even the most cursory examination of this argument reveals how deeply flawed it is, as it is essentially a rehash of the capacity reduction. If you reduce performance, you simply increase the importance of corner speed, and make crashes happen at even higher speeds, as riders struggle to maintain as much momentum as possible through the corners.
We gave you a little appetizer earlier, now we have the full 19 course meal. Scott Jones' fantastic photographs shot at Laguna Seca as MotoGPMatters.com's official representative are now online, and ready to gracefully adorn your desktop.
You can find them here:
Here's a taster, to let you know what you're in for:
As promised last week, we now have some of Scott Jones' fantastic photographs from Laguna Seca and Donington available for download as desktop images. The images are available in three sizes to suit most desktops: 1280x1024, 1280x800 and 1024x768. If you would like to see the images in other resolutions, let us know. So, here's the first few of Scott's images, with the rest of them available on this page.
As expected, the Chinese round of MotoGP at Shanghai is off the calendar, and as predicted earlier this week, the Hungarian Grand Prix will take place in late summer. But the calendar has a lot of significant shakeups: Motegi moves from late September to the spring, June is a lot less busy, with only 2 lots of back-to-back races in 2009, rather than three pairs which we saw this year. The British Grand Prix moves from June to late July, and Estoril switches back to October.
|May 17th||France||Le Mans|
|July 5th***||United States||Laguna Seca|
|July 26th||Great Britain||Donington Park|
|August 16th||Czech Republic||Brno|
|September 6th||San Marino & Riviera di Rimini||Misano|
|October 18th||Australia||Phillip Island|
|November 8th||Valencia||Ricardo Tormo - Valencia|
* Evening race
** Saturday race
*** Only MotoGP class
Dorna officially announced today that MotoGP is likely to be returning to Hungary for the 2009 season. The proposed race will be held at the Balatonring, a circuit currently being built near Lake Balaton in Hungary. The series has visited Hungary twice before, in 1990 and 1992, and MotoGP has a huge following in the country, in part due to the phenomenal success of Gabor Talmacsi in the 125 cc class.
The announcement is not a confirmation that the race will actually take place. Dorna merely proposed to the FIM, the official sanctioning body, that the race be included on the calendar. The FIM is not obliged to accept the proposal - though they generally tend to - and the track will need to be approved before racing can take place.
This is likely to mean a shakeup in the rest of the calendar. The track, which is still under construction, has to be approved two months before the race is to take place, which would be cutting it very close if the race is to replace the Chinese Grand Prix, which took place at the beginning of May. A more likely scenario is that Misano will be brought forward to early May, the weather on Italy's Adriatic coast allowing such a move, and the Hungarian Grand Prix could take place in early September, giving the consortium currently building the facility plenty of time to finish construction.
Since the end of last season, Honda has been in a quandary about what to do with its pneumatic valve engine. Despite the vast amounts of time and money being poured into the lump, the air valve RC212V remains a powerplant with non-trivial problems. Only Nicky Hayden's loud and public demands to be allowed to use the engine have caused HRC to relent, and to give the American what he wants.
Meanwhile, Honda has been forced to continue development on the steel-spring valve engine as well, just to allow Dani Pedrosa to keep up with the Ducati and the Yamaha. Having two engines being developed in parallel is a time-consuming and expensive exercise.
Pedrosa had every reason to stay with the steel spring engine: Despite the small power deficit, the bike suited Pedrosa's style perfectly, and helped keep him either near or at the front of the 2008 MotoGP championship race. Until the Spaniard crashed out of the lead at the Sachsenring, that is. A DNF in Germany, followed by another blank at Laguna Seca, where Pedrosa failed to start due to the injuries he sustained in the crash, means that Pedrosa has seen a 4 point lead be replaced by a 41 point deficit.
Wow, what a race! Rossi was all business on the grid.
Stoner was focused.
The front row prepared for battle...
There have been requests for high resolution versions of the fantastic photos which Scott Jones has been taking at Laguna Seca, made possible in part by your generous donations. Currently, all of the pictures are in a smaller format, but after the race weekend is finished, we will be selecting some of the best pictures, and making them available in resolutions high enough for use as desktop backgrounds, and for printing at a reasonable size. The resolution probably won't be good enough to print up a life-size wall poster of Valentino Rossi, but it should be good enough to hang on your wall. So stay tuned.
A quick reminder to all MotoGPMatters.com's American and Canadian readers. The US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca is being broadcast by CBS, instead of Speed. The race is due to be broadcast at 5pm Eastern, though you'll need to check your local CBS affiliate for the schedule in your area. You can also check the TVRacer.com website for more information on the US GP, and other racing broadcast on Sunday. Make sure you check your DVRs and switch to the right channel before the race.
The second day of practice at Laguna Seca revealed a terrifying truth: Michelin have still not learned all the lessons from their disastrous 2007 season. The day dawned cool and foggy, though with a dry track, but what Michelin did next was shocking: They sent their riders out on full intermediate tires, on a dry track. The intermediates were the only tires with a sufficiently soft compound to provide grip in the cool conditions, as Michelin had gambled on the weather being hot and sunny. The French tire maker is obviously unaware of the apocryphal Mark Twain quote, having been fooled by the scorching weekend here in 2006.
So Michelin, and the riders that use their tires, have a huge problem. The tires the French company had shipped over to the track are perfect for hot, sunny conditions, but far, far too hard for the pleasant, but more temperate conditions currently at the track. To illustrate, Randy de Puniet did 52 laps on a tire on Friday, and it still had rubber left on it. That's 165% of race distance.
Bridgestone, on the other hand, are doing just fine. In every session so far, Casey Stoner took the fastest lap within 5 or 6 laps, and never relinquished the spot at the top of the timesheets. And qualifying practice was no different. On his 4th lap out of the pits, and his 3rd flying lap, Stoner was already under last year's pole record, and was just getting warmed up.
10th on the Grid
A Foggy Start
Corkscrew as fog clears
The Corkscrew Drop
America's leading motorcycle racing website, Superbikeplanet.com, is reporting that Dani Pedrosa was spotted getting into a car and heading out to San Francisco airport, on his home. It looks like Pedrosa will take no further part in proceedings.
UPDATE : Pedrosa's withdrawal has just been confirmed by Spanish television.
Pedrosa broke bones in his right ankle and left wrist when he crashed out of the lead in the Sachsenring. His participation was in doubt all week, and it was brave to even attempt it, but the grimace on Pedrosa's face just pulling on his gloves told you all you need to know about how much pain he was in. With Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi clearly faster than the rest of the field, Pedrosa is likely to enter the next race at Brno with a serious points deficit in the championship race.