Motorland Aragon, Spain
Weather severely limited the on-track action at Aragon today, as a field of CRT riders thinned out by a lack of parts rolled up in Alcañiz for the first of a two-day test. High winds and cool temperatures meant that it was impossible to keep the tires at working temperature out on track, forcing the teams to abort their testing efforts for the day, and work on a revised program for Friday, the final day of the test.
All five riders present - Aspar's Randy de Puniet and Aleix Espargaro, PBM's James Ellison and the two Avintia BQR Kawasakis of Ivan Silva and Yonny Hernandez - put in a few laps in the morning, Ellison estimating he managed a total of 10 or so, but with winds gusting to around 60 km/h, the tire technicians deemed it unsafe to continue, and the riders retired to their garages to work on a full program for Friday. With better weather expected tomorrow - the wind is forecast to have died down and clear skies are predicted, though temperatures remain very cold on Spain's high Meseta this early in the year - the teams should get enough time on track to at least partially compensate them for the loss of Thursday.
MotoGP's long winter break is drawing to a close, and the testing season is about to kick off once again. For the last couple of years that's been very easy to follow, as everyone headed to the official MotoGP tests organized by IRTA. With the introduction of the Claiming Rule Teams, however, MotoGP's testing schedule has become a lot more complex, as some of the CRT teams will be joining the test in Sepang, while others will be remaining in Europe.
Below is the schedule as we know it so far. Everyone on a factory prototype (that is, all of the factory and satellite teams) will be heading to the two Sepang tests (Jan 31st - Feb 2nd, and Feb 28th-March 1st), with Colin Edwards on the NGM Forward Suter BMW and the BQR CRT team consisting of Ivan Silva and test rider Robertino Pietri aboard the FTR Kawasakis at the first Sepang test at least. The Aprilia-powered CRT bikes will be firing up their engines in Europe, starting at Valencia on January 30th. PBM's James Ellison will join the Aspar bikes at Jerez on February 20th, while a fuller compliment of CRT bikes is expected at Aragon on March 8th. Testing then culminates at Jerez in late March, as everyone gathers for the final CRT test.
The objective of keeping costs at reasonable levels for the CRT entries has been underlined again today, when news emerged that a series of separate tests is to be organized for the teams in Europe. While the factory and satellite teams head to Sepang for the official MotoGP tests, the CRT bikes will be circulating in Spain, GPOne.com reports, with the two groups facing each other on the track at the end of March in Jerez.
Three tests have been organized in Spain, starting at Valencia on January 30th and 31st. Three weeks later, from 20th to 22nd of February, the CRT entries will convene again, this time at Jerez, before heading to Aragon on March 8th for a two-day test. Two weeks later, from 23rd to the 25th of March, the entire MotoGP field meets at Jerez once again, for the final official IRTA test before heading off to Qatar for the season opener on April 8th.
The MotoGP schedule for the 2012 season has been tweaked a little, and there is some good news for fans: the season starts seven days earlier, with the Qatar MotoGP round having been moved up a week to April 8th. The move is in response to the Formula One calendar, which sees the Chinese Grand Prix scheduled for April 15th, the date originally planned for Qatar, and so the decision was taken to start the MotoGP season a week earlier.
The other changes to the calendar are merely confirmations of what had been widely expected. The German GP is now officially set to take place at the Sachsenring, although as the contracts are yet to be completed, the date is still listed as being subject to contract. Those contracts are a mere formality, however, as the ADAC and the regional government came to an agreement earlier this month to keep the German round of MotoGP at the circuit in Hohenstein-Ernstthal. The Jerez round has also been confirmed, with the mayor of the circuit stepping in to ensure the 2012 date. Beyond 2012 is another matter, however, as the circuit is still in financial turmoil, stemming from alterations made back in 2001, and with new rounds in Argentina and Texas scheduled for 2013, Jerez could well be dropped after that date.
2012 World Superbike Test Dates Announced - Testing Added To Australian, Spanish, Italian And Russian WSBK Rounds
Infront Motor Sports, organizers of the World Superbike series, have announced the official test dates for the 2012 WSBK season. As part of the cost-cutting initiatives which are now a ubiquitous part of motorcycle racing, testing for the WSBK series has been linked to races, rather than at separate tests, with the aim of reducing travel and transport expenses.
The first test is the traditional pre-season test at Phillip Island, taking place on the Monday and Tuesday before the 2012 season season opener at the Australian circuit. The following test is at Imola, on the Monday after the race at the legendary Italian track at the beginning of April. The Spanish WSBK round at the Motorland Aragon circuit in July also features a test on the Monday after the race, while the teams will get a one-day test - in effect, an extra day of practice - ahead of the inaugural Russian round of World Superbikes at the Moscow Raceway being built just outside the Russian capital.
Below is the press release from Infront announcing the test dates:
SBK official 2012 tests dates announced
FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix
FIM Superbike & Supersport World Championships
FIM Superstock 1000cc Cup
The FIM today released an updated version of the provisional calendar it put out four weeks ago. The changes are few and far between, and though one round has been dropped, generally, the calendar is good news for fans. The round tentatively scheduled to take place on March 4th has been dropped, but that should hardly come as a surprise, as Infront, the WSBK series' organizers, were in talks with the Sepang ciruit in Malaysia to stage that race. Cost and a lack of agreement scuppered plans for an Asian round of World Superbikes. The second round marked To Be Announced on the provisional calendar has been confirmed, and as expected, it will take place at Imola, always a fan favorite.
The final change to the calendar is the rescheduling of the Portimao round of World Superbikes. No longer will the season end at the Portuguese circuit in late October, but instead, Portimao has been moved four weeks earlier to September 23rd. This means that the season will end two weeks earlier at Magny-Cours, but the advantage is that the final rounds are all much closer together, with Moscow, the Nurburgring, Portimao and Magny-Cours taking place every second weekend.
Below is the official calendar released by the FIM:
FIM Superbike & Supersport World Championships
FIM Superstock 1000cc Cup
Motorcycle racing fans can finally start to plan their vacation time for 2012. Just 10 days after the provisional 2012 MotoGP calendar was announced, today, the FIM issued a press release containing the provisional 2012 schedule for the World Superbike series.
Like the MotoGP schedule, the WSBK dates are still rather tentative. The calendar contains two rounds marked TBA or to be announced; one in Europe and one unmarked altogether. The March 4th TBA is widely rumored to be a return to Asia for the WSBK series, with negotiations believed to be underway with the Sepang circuit in Malaysia. The second TBA is most likely Imola, the track having once again been dropped from the provisional schedule, just as it was initially for 2011 before being added again.
After the race at the Motorland Aragon circuit in Spain, Bridgestone issued their customary post-race debrief. In this one, Masao Azuma (yes, former racer Masao Azuma) talks about the issue of tire degradation. And he has a point: all year long, riders have been asking for tires that warm up quicker and go off sooner. They got them at Aragon, and complained of tire degradation. It's a situation which is hard to win for Bridgestone.
The press release is show below:
Aragon Grand Prix debrief with Masao Azuma
Round 14: Aragon GP – Post-race debrief
Motorland Aragon, Tuesday 20 September 2011
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium, Ex Hard. Rear: Soft, Medium
Bradley Smith has been a revelation in the 2012 season. After struggling a little in the early part of the year, Smith quickly got the hang of riding a 600cc four stroke, and with the help of his crew chief Tom Jojic, has become a consistent front runner in the Moto2 class.
For a while, Smith was linked to a promotion to the MotoGP class with the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team for next year, but hopes of such a move had faded over recent weeks. But with the announcement yesterday that Bradley Smith would be staying with the Tech 3 team for the next three years, Smith will get his promotion to MotoGP, albeit a year later than planned.
The deal sees Smith commit to Herve Poncharal's Tech 3 team through 2014. Next season, the young Englishman will stay in Moto2 and attempt to win the title in that class - a task that will be made much easier now that Marc Marquez is almost certain to ascend to a MotoGP ride on a Honda next year - after which he will switch to the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team for 2013 and 2014. Smith's ties with Monster will have helped him secure the deal, as the US energy drink have also extended their contract with the Tech 3 MotoGP team for the next three years as well.
The Tech 3 press release announcing Smith's contract appears below:
After being kept in overnight for medical checks at the hospital in Alcañiz, Karel Abraham was released on Monday morning after being diagnosed with a concussion. Abraham, who crashed out on the first lap, suffered a blow on the head, probably as a result of being hit by his own bike. Abraham returned to the Czech Republic yesterday for further medical checks at the hospital in Brno. He is expecting to race at the next round of MotoGP in Motegi.
Here's the press release from the team with more details:
Karel Abraham returned to the Czech Republic, further medical checks awaits him in Brno
Karel Abraham, who suffered nasty crash on the first lap of the Gran Premio de Aragón, was released from hospital in Alcañiz. Then the Cardion AB Motoracing rider returned to Brno in the Czech Republic for further medical checks. His participation in the upcoming Grand Prix of Japan should not be jeopardised.
Press releases from the Moto2 and 125cc after Sunday's race at the Motorland Aragon circuit: