March 13th, 2009
|1||19||B. Spies||USA||Yamaha YZF R1||1'59.064|
|2||66||T. Sykes||GBR||Yamaha YZF R1||1'59.374|
|3||7||C. Checa||ESP||Honda CBR1000RR||1'59.470|
|4||9||R. Kiyonari||JPN||Honda CBR1000RR||1'59.495|
|5||76||M. Neukirchner||GER||Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9||1'59.519|
|6||67||S. Byrne||GBR||Ducati 1098R||1'59.582|
|7||65||J. Rea||GBR||Honda CBR1000RR||1'59.605|
|8||3||M. Biaggi||ITA||Aprilia RSV4||1'59.636|
|9||23||B. Parkes||AUS||Kawasaki ZX 10R||1'59.668|
|10||96||J. Smrz||CZE||Ducati 1098R||1'59.958|
|11||41||N. Haga||JPN||Ducati 1098R||1'59.969|
|12||56||S. Nakano||JPN||Aprilia RSV4||2'00.034|
|13||84||M. Fabrizio||ITA||Ducati 1098R||2'00.087|
|14||111||R. Xaus||ESP||BMW S1000 RR||2'00.095|
|15||55||R. Laconi||FRA||Ducati 1098R||2'00.217|
|16||11||T. Corser||AUS||BMW S1000 RR||2'00.261|
|17||91||L. Haslam||GBR||Honda CBR1000RR||2'00.327|
|18||100||M. Tamada||JPN||Kawasaki ZX 10R||2'00.439|
|19||33||T. Hill||GBR||Honda CBR1000RR||2'00.440|
|20||44||R. Rolfo||ITA||Honda CBR1000RR||2'00.644|
|21||31||K. Muggeridge||AUS||Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9||2'00.803|
|22||71||Y. Kagayama||JPN||Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9||2'00.869|
|23||86||A. Badovini||ITA||Kawasaki ZX 10R||2'01.388|
|24||99||L. Scassa||ITA||Kawasaki ZX 10R||2'01.392|
|25||24||B. Roberts||AUS||Ducati 1098R||2'01.419|
|26||77||V. Iannuzzo||ITA||Honda CBR1000RR||2'01.914|
|27||25||D. Salom||ESP||Kawasaki ZX 10R||2'02.158|
|28||15||M. Baiocco||ITA||Kawasaki ZX 10R||2'02.397|
If it took Superbike rookie Ben Spies just one race to claim pole, fellow Yamaha rookie Cal Crutchlow took two races to do the same in the Supersport class. The British rider will be starting from the front of the grid on Saturday, in his increasingly impressive debut season. Fellow class rookie Eugene Laverty sits alongside him, just a few hundredths of a second slower than Crutchlow. But the Parkalgar rider is comfortably ahead of the Ten Kate duo of Kenan Sofuoglu and Andrew Pitt.
Crutchlow's Yamaha team mate Fabien Foret heads up the second row of the grid, while Gianluca Nannelli is the first Triumph rider, two spots ahead of team mate Garry McCoy. After a strong debut at his home track of Phillip Island, Ant West is way down the grid in 12th, just ahead of the first Kawasaki of Katsuaki Fujiwara, who will start two places ahead of his team mate Joan Lascorz, who had such a strong start to the weekend, finishing the first free practice session at the top of the timesheets.
Whether the big gaps in the timesheets translate into big gaps in the race remains to be seen. The Supersport class remains ultracompetitive, and come race day, it could be a lot closer than the starting grid suggests.
|1||19||B. Spies||USA||Yamaha YZF R1||1'58.886|
|2||65||J. Rea||GBR||Honda CBR1000RR||1'59.177|
|3||3||M. Biaggi||ITA||Aprilia RSV4||1'59.499|
|4||66||T. Sykes||GBR||Yamaha YZF R1||1'59.632|
|5||7||C. Checa||ESP||Honda CBR1000RR||1'59.731|
|6||96||J. Smrz||CZE||Ducati 1098R||1'59.755|
|7||84||M. Fabrizio||ITA||Ducati 1098R||1'59.812|
|8||67||S. Byrne||GBR||Ducati 1098R||1'59.821|
|9||9||R. Kiyonari||JPN||Honda CBR1000RR||1'59.937|
|10||11||T. Corser||AUS||BMW S1000 RR||1'59.954|
|11||23||B. Parkes||AUS||Kawasaki ZX 10R||2'00.012|
|12||91||L. Haslam||GBR||Honda CBR1000RR||2'00.117|
|13||55||R. Laconi||FRA||Ducati 1098R||2'00.193|
|14||56||S. Nakano||JPN||Aprilia RSV4||2'00.238|
|15||41||N. Haga||JPN||Ducati 1098R||2'00.254|
|16||71||Y. Kagayama||JPN||Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9||2'00.264|
|17||76||M. Neukirchner||GER||Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9||2'00.345|
|18||44||R. Rolfo||ITA||Honda CBR1000RR||2'00.374|
|19||33||T. Hill||GBR||Honda CBR1000RR||2'00.390|
|20||111||R. Xaus||ESP||BMW S1000 RR||2'00.480|
|21||31||K. Muggeridge||AUS||Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9||2'00.738|
|22||100||M. Tamada||JPN||Kawasaki ZX 10R||2'00.839|
|23||25||D. Salom||ESP||Kawasaki ZX 10R||2'01.047|
|24||24||B. Roberts||AUS||Ducati 1098R||2'01.165|
|25||77||V. Iannuzzo||ITA||Honda CBR1000RR||2'01.560|
|26||86||A. Badovini||ITA||Kawasaki ZX 10R||2'01.561|
|27||99||L. Scassa||ITA||Kawasaki ZX 10R||2'01.607|
|28||15||M. Baiocco||ITA||Kawasaki ZX 10R||2'02.663|
|1||35||C. Crutchlow||GBR||Yamaha YZF R6||2'02.442|
|2||1||A. Pitt||AUS||Honda CBR600RR||2'02.501|
|3||54||K. Sofuoglu||TUR||Honda CBR600RR||2'02.557|
|4||26||J. Lascorz||ESP||Kawasaki ZX-6R||2'02.792|
|5||127||R. Harms||DEN||Honda CBR600RR||2'02.891|
|6||13||A. West||AUS||Honda CBR600RR||2'02.982|
|7||99||F. Foret||FRA||Yamaha YZF R6||2'02.988|
|8||24||G. McCoy||AUS||Triumph Daytona 675||2'03.063|
|9||8||M. Aitchison||AUS||Honda CBR600RR||2'03.233|
|10||50||E. Laverty||IRL||Honda CBR600RR||2'03.431|
|11||14||M. Lagrive||FRA||Honda CBR600RR||2'03.577|
|12||77||B. Veneman||NED||Suzuki GSX-R600||2'03.667|
|13||51||M. Pirro||ITA||Yamaha YZF R6||2'03.781|
|14||55||M. Roccoli||ITA||Honda CBR600RR||2'03.898|
|15||69||G. Nannelli||ITA||Triumph Daytona 675||2'03.953|
|16||117||M. Praia||POR||Honda CBR600RR||2'04.011|
|17||30||J. Gunther||GER||Honda CBR600RR||2'04.039|
|18||96||M. Smrz||CZE||Triumph Daytona 675||2'04.148|
|19||19||P. Szkopek||POL||Triumph Daytona 675||2'04.227|
|20||21||K. Fujiwara||JPN||Kawasaki ZX-6R||2'04.230|
|21||105||G. Vizziello||ITA||Honda CBR600RR||2'04.551|
|22||7||P. Vostarek||CZE||Honda CBR600RR||2'04.737|
|23||28||A. Vos||NED||Honda CBR600RR||2'04.822|
|24||83||R. Holland||AUS||Honda CBR600RR||2'05.087|
|25||9||D. Dell'Omo||ITA||Honda CBR600RR||2'05.231|
|26||71||J. Morillas||ESP||Yamaha YZF R6||2'05.741|
|27||5||T. Pradita||INA||Yamaha YZF R6||2'05.831|
|28||32||F. Lai||ITA||Honda CBR600RR||2'06.189|
|29||88||Y. Guerra||ESP||Yamaha YZF R6||2'06.355|
|30||78||S. Geronimi||AUS||Suzuki GSX-R600||2'08.616|
After the promotors of the Hungarian MotoGP round yesterday requested the inaugural race at the Balatonring, scheduled to take place on September 20th, be postponed, there was some discussion about what would take its place. The MotoGP calendar has done nothing but grow over the past ten years, and there was some doubt that it would be allowed to shrink again, a move which would have meant a loss of face for the promotor Dorna.
So at the time the postponement was announced, there was talk of a possible return to the Hungaroring, as we reported yesterday. But having featured on the Motorcycle Grand Prix calendar only twice, in 1990 and 1992, the track has long been felt too dangerous to stage a MotoGP round. When asked by the Hungarian sports paper Nemzeti Sport, Aspar team boss Jorge Martinez said "We would have to rebuild so many parts (of the Hungaroring circuit) to get FIM approval that it simply wouldn't be worth it."
But the man who won a 125cc world title for Martinez, Hungarian rider Gabor Talmacsi disagreed. Speaking to Adam Haraszti of the Hungarian TV channel MTV at the Budapest Motorcycle Fiar, Talmacsi said he would love to race at the Hungaroring. "Actually, I'd be pretty happy to have a race there," he said. "Since I grew up there, I would have a huge advantage. I wouldn't want to name them, but we already race on some tracks that are less safe for motorcycle racing than this one (the Hungaroring)."
The Marco Melandri saga is finally at an end. Today, Melandri confirmed that he has signed a contract with Hayate Racing to contest the MotoGP championship for one season, after being forced to tear up his two-year deal with Kawasaki.
The deal is a costly one for Melandri, both financially and in terms of his ability to compete. "I had to make a big financial sacrifice, but the most important thing that I wanted was to find trust," he told MotoGP.com.
He will certainly need some trust. Throughout the last test at Qatar, Melandri complained of issues with rear grip, and he expressed his hope that these problems could be fixed quickly. But as rear grip is a problem that the Kawasaki has had for the past two seasons, that sounds more like the voice of a Candide-like hope, rather than a realistic expectation.
Melandri may feel he has no choice but to live in hope, however. "I have nothing to lose," he told MotoGP.com. "One month ago I had one foot outside the World Championship, and now I have a team that is working solely for me. My motivation is this, and to show Kawasaki that they made a mistake in choosing to pull out their factory support." In another month's time, at the season opener at Qatar, we shall see whether Melandri's hope as justified.
After Yamaha snatched provisional pole in the World Supersport qualifying, the factory put on a repeat in the first session of qualifying for World Superbikes. Rookie Ben Spies dominated the session, leading almost throughout, and confirming the Texan's form from Phillip Island. Ten Kate Honda have overcome their poor from from Australia, and their unhappy memories of last year, with Johnny Rea taking second place, ahead of team mate Carlos Checa in third, while Ryuichi Kiyonari, who was quick for most of the session, was eventually edged into 5th by Max Biaggi on the Aprilia.
The day was much less happy for Ducati. The factory team struggled all day, with Michel Fabrizio fastest in 8th, while Nori Haga is way down in 11th spot. Rubbing their noses in it are the two privateer bikes of Shakey Byrne and Jakub Smrz, both ahead of Fabrizio, while Haga also has Regis Laconi ahead of him.
Max Neukirchner, the man who tore up this morning's practice, finished the afternoon down in 13th, and well off the pace. He has a chance to redeem himself tomorrow, along with the rest of the field, when the twenty fastest riders go through to the afternoon's Superpole session.
Cal Crutchlow is on provisional pole for the second World Supersport race at Qatar. Crutchlow finally prevailed after a long battle with Kenan Sofuoglu, the Briton's Yamaha team mate Fabien Foret taking second place ahead of the Ten Kate Honda man.
Joan Lascorz spent much of the session near the top of the timesheets, dropping to 6th in the final few minutes. Likewise, Parkalgar Honda's Miguel Praia was very competitive, dropping in and out of the top 3, only to tumble down to 14th toward the end of the session. Praia's team mate Eugene Laverty took the opposite path, languishing in the bottom half of the field in the first half of the session, only to shoot up to 7th at the end.
Practice continues tomorrow, and the grid will be finalized in the second qualifying practice session on Friday afternoon.
|1||76||M. Neukirchner||GER||Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9||2'00.486|
|2||19||B. Spies||USA||Yamaha YZF R1||2'00.514|
|3||65||J. Rea||GBR||Honda CBR1000RR||2'00.676|
|4||9||R. Kiyonari||JPN||Honda CBR1000RR||2'00.744|
|5||96||J. Smrz||CZE||Ducati 1098R||2'00.770|
|6||71||Y. Kagayama||JPN||Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9||2'00.945|
|7||56||S. Nakano||JPN||Aprilia RSV4||2'01.162|
|8||11||T. Corser||AUS||BMW S1000 RR||2'01.234|
|9||41||N. Haga||JPN||Ducati 1098R||2'01.261|
|10||66||T. Sykes||GBR||Yamaha YZF R1||2'01.280|
|11||67||S. Byrne||GBR||Ducati 1098R||2'01.457|
|12||44||R. Rolfo||ITA||Honda CBR1000RR||2'01.464|
|13||91||L. Haslam||GBR||Honda CBR1000RR||2'01.658|
|14||7||C. Checa||ESP||Honda CBR1000RR||2'01.698|
|15||23||B. Parkes||AUS||Kawasaki ZX 10R||2'01.755|
|16||3||M. Biaggi||ITA||Aprilia RSV4||2'01.783|
|17||100||M. Tamada||JPN||Kawasaki ZX 10R||2'02.204|
|18||84||M. Fabrizio||ITA||Ducati 1098R||2'02.317|
|19||33||T. Hill||GBR||Honda CBR1000RR||2'02.529|
|20||111||R. Xaus||ESP||BMW S1000 RR||2'02.587|
|21||55||R. Laconi||FRA||Ducati 1098R||2'02.642|
|22||25||D. Salom||ESP||Kawasaki ZX 10R||2'03.075|
|23||31||K. Muggeridge||AUS||Suzuki GSX-R 1000 K9||2'03.363|
|24||77||V. Iannuzzo||ITA||Honda CBR1000RR||2'03.580|
|25||24||B. Roberts||AUS||Ducati 1098R||2'03.757|
|26||99||L. Scassa||ITA||Kawasaki ZX 10R||2'03.773|
|27||86||A. Badovini||ITA||Kawasaki ZX 10R||2'03.941|
|28||15||M. Baiocco||ITA||Kawasaki ZX 10R||2'06.136|
|1||26||J. Lascorz||ESP||Kawasaki ZX-6R||2'04.106|
|2||117||M. Praia||POR||Honda CBR600RR||2'04.159|
|3||14||M. Lagrive||FRA||Honda CBR600RR||2'04.585|
|4||35||C. Crutchlow||GBR||Yamaha YZF R6||2'04.745|
|5||54||K. Sofuoglu||TUR||Honda CBR600RR||2'04.960|
|6||99||F. Foret||FRA||Yamaha YZF R6||2'04.990|
|7||24||G. McCoy||AUS||Triumph Daytona 675||2'04.996|
|8||1||A. Pitt||AUS||Honda CBR600RR||2'05.001|
|9||21||K. Fujiwara||JPN||Kawasaki ZX-6R||2'05.123|
|10||8||M. Aitchison||AUS||Honda CBR600RR||2'05.368|
|11||77||B. Veneman||NED||Suzuki GSX-R600||2'05.428|
|12||69||G. Nannelli||ITA||Triumph Daytona 675||2'05.692|
|13||13||A. West||AUS||Honda CBR600RR||2'05.871|
|14||50||E. Laverty||IRL||Honda CBR600RR||2'06.131|
|15||96||M. Smrz||CZE||Triumph Daytona 675||2'06.180|
|16||127||R. Harms||DEN||Honda CBR600RR||2'06.412|
|17||51||M. Pirro||ITA||Yamaha YZF R6||2'06.461|
|18||105||G. Vizziello||ITA||Honda CBR600RR||2'06.581|
|19||30||J. Gunther||GER||Honda CBR600RR||2'06.747|
|20||55||M. Roccoli||ITA||Honda CBR600RR||2'06.881|
|21||83||R. Holland||AUS||Honda CBR600RR||2'06.899|
|22||32||F. Lai||ITA||Honda CBR600RR||2'07.420|
|23||19||P. Szkopek||POL||Triumph Daytona 675||2'07.694|
|24||28||A. Vos||NED||Honda CBR600RR||2'07.702|
|25||9||D. Dell'Omo||ITA||Honda CBR600RR||2'08.310|
|26||5||T. Pradita||INA||Yamaha YZF R6||2'08.837|
|27||71||J. Morillas||ESP||Yamaha YZF R6||2'08.916|
|28||7||P. Vostarek||CZE||Honda CBR600RR||2'09.957|
|29||88||Y. Guerra||ESP||Yamaha YZF R6||2'10.758|
|30||78||S. Geronimi||AUS||Suzuki GSX-R600||2'11.171|
I doubt that any form of motor racing, if done with an earnest intent to win, is for the faint of heart. But I’m sure that American Flat Track racing is only for the bold, the brave, the courageous, if the intent be merely to arrive at the first corner in some position other than dead last. I qualify this remark with “American” because my native brand is the only one I’ve finally seen with my own eyes. Though I don’t know, I suspect that anywhere else in the world this type of racing is the same; the first corner of a flat track race is flat out insane.
Part of Bike Week at Daytona is the short track event held over two days at the local municipal football stadium. I imagine this is a slightly different animal from the larger, dedicated mile and half mile tracks, where bikes up to 750ccs race. This short track was ridden on 450cc bikes, the style of which most closely resembles MotoX except for the unusual tires.
Participants are divided up into two main categories, those with red number plates and those with black. Those with red plates are trying to earn national black numbers with results in their lower-class races, and might have a letter that represents their geographic region to distinguish them from another rider with the same number from a different city. The Grand National Champion earns the prestigious Number 1 plate, harkening back to the days of American bike racing when, to win that Grand National Championship, a rider had to perform in several formats. I suggest you watch On Any Sunday for the full story on the heritage of American bike racing if this topic interests you.
Qatar is weird. A beautifully equipped circuit smack bang in the middle of the desert, with nothing but sand all around. The stands are almost invariably empty, except for a smattering of ex-pats looking for excitement and a bunch of fans flown in from Europe to warm their winter-chilled bones. Meanwhile the facilities are luxurious – well equipped garages, fitted with everything a team could wish for.
The track is as strange as the surroundings. Carefully designed to contain a little bit of everything, from slow hairpins to fast sweepers to a blindingly quick front straight, it still manages to feel vaguely disappointing, the vast, empty desert which surrounds it robbing it of all character.
Still, at least the World Superbike round isn't the freak show that MotoGP's night race is. But without the lighting, the Superbike paddock is left to face the sometimes withering heat of the Middle East. Weather at this time of year can be unpredictable – though not in the European sense of the word. It can be pleasantly mild, warm, or blazing hot, and the unrelenting sun can heat the track surface to 60 degrees C and above.
Add the blistering heat to the sand which blows unstoppably across the track, and you get a recipe for extreme tire wear. No matter what Pirelli bring to the track, they can't be certain the tires will last. And if the sand isn't abrading away the soft rubber on the tires, it's pooling in soft and slippery patches just where you don't want it.
The World Superbike paddock arrive in Qatar to face vastly different conditions to Phillip Island, the track they have just left behind. About the only thing the two circuits have in common is the wind. At each track, the wind brings its own hazards. At Phillip Island, the problem is seagulls, as Troy Corser found out prior to the race. While in Qatar the wind brings sand, and potentially lots of it. With the Arabian peninsula having been wracked by a spectacular sandstorm earlier this week, trouble could literally be just over the horizon for the World Superbike paddock.
After countless rumors of problems surrounding construction of the track, it has finally been made official: there will be no Hungarian round of MotoGP at the Balatonring in 2009. Hungarian Development Minister Tamás Suchman yesterday told Hungarian press agency that because the Spanish investors had missed the deadline by which they should have submitted a credit application required to help finance the circuit, the Hungarian GP will not take place at Sávoly, where the Balatonring is to be built, in 2009.
Vicente Cotino Escriva, President of Sedesa, the group involved in building the circuit, said in a press statement that "the organizer of the Hungarian MotoGP Grand Prix is asking Dorna and the FIM to change the date of the Hungarian Grand Prix, to allow us to organize it in the spring of 2010, instead of September 2009."
István Gyenesei, the Hungarian Sport Minister, said "I voiced my concerns a month ago about the decreasing probability that the Sávoly track would be finished on time. Unfortunately, the events of the past month have confirmed my fears that not very much has happened. I've done all I could to secure the Hungarian MotoGP race, and we are still looking at alternatives. We haven't given up on the race being organized this year, and maybe we could run it at the Hungaroring."
In response to this suggestion, Frank Thomas, Vice President of the Hungaroring Sport Zrt, said that having the race there "is physically possible, but we would have to take a number of steps very quickly."
UPDATE - Official Dorna Press Release
After 46 consecutive Superbike victories, the combination of Suzuki, Mat Mladin and Ben Spies had more or less removed any suspense about who would stand on the podium and prompted the troubled AMA to hand over rights to its road racing to Daytona Motorsports Group. As the off season crawled toward March, many of us wondered what the final class rules would be and which factories, if any, would show up to race at Daytona. Certain contracts between teams, riders and mechanics were not finalized until the last minute. So it was with great interest that we watched an injured and limping Mat Mladin take pole on his 2009 Yoshimura Suzuki.
At Sixes and Sevens
Last year Mladin wore number 6, same as the number of Superbike titles he has won. Hope of a 7th title in 2008 disappeared at VIR when his double wins were disqualified for an illegal crankshaft; Spies went on to take his third consecutive title. With Spies having moved on to World Superbike for 2009, Mladin arrived at Daytona with his old 6 on his gloves, but a new 7 on his bike and helmet. Positive thinking for another title?
Whilst Marco Melandri has barely been out of the news since the story of Kawasaki's withdrawal from MotoGP broke, the fate of John Hopkins has been cloaked in a deafening silence. The last update on his website dated from December 31st, and other than the odd wild and completely unsubstantiated rumor, nothing concrete has emerged on his future.
It seems that the radio silence has finally got to Hopper himself. Today, a post appeared on his official website, carrying a few hints of what he may actually be doing. His silence, Hopkins says, is down to strict instructions from his management, while negotiations are underway. But he also promises to break news of what he will be doing on his website first, to repay the debt of gratitude he owes his loyal fans.
Whatever Hopkins will be doing, it sounds big. He finishes his message with "you are all in for big treat!!!!!" Hopper has been linked with both the official Paul Bird Kawasaki team and with Stiggy Motorsports in World Superbikes, and many of his fans would certainly regard this as a big treat. But that is speculation, and nothing more. We wait with bated breath.
The full text of Hopper's statement shown below was taken from John Hopkins website:
I just wanted to put a quick post to tell you something you all already know.... I read my website every single day as you guys keep me going, and I enjoy hearing how everyone is doing.