Latest MotoGP News

Lorenzo's Former Manager Joins Tech3 Moto2 Team

The Moto2 grid is slowly starting to fit together. Today came the announcement from the Tech 3 team that they had signed 250cc star Raffaele de Rosa and former MotoGP rider Yuki Takahashi to ride the team's Moto2 bike, built and designed by Tech 3's technical guru Guy Coulon. As team mate to the last ever 250cc World Champion Hiroshi Aoyama, De Rosa did very well indeed, winning the rookie of the year award in the 250cc class and finishing on the podium twice. After a strong year in 250s, Takahashi struggled on the MotoGP bike, but the experience in both classes should stand the Japanese rider in good stead for the new Moto2 formula.

2009 Valencia Post-Race Test Day 2 - Lorenzo Beats Stoner, Spies Faster Again

Jorge Lorenzo was the fastest rider on the second day of testing at Valencia, with the lack of wind helping the Spaniard to drop into the 1'31 bracket. Lorenzo set his fastest time on the new soft tire Bridgestone has brought, which both Lorenzo and Hayden reported as giving more edge grip. Lorenzo spent the day testing some electronics and suspension.

Casey Stoner was the second fastest man of the day, ahead of Valentino Rossi, and the increasingly impressive Ben Spies. The Texan is still using basically the same setup he started the weekend on, and is continuing to work at changing his bike from a Superbike style to a more MotoGP style, easing off the brake earlier and carrying more speed through the middle of the corner. So far, he has dropped roughly half a second a day, and he enters the winter break confident for the season to come.

Valencia Day 2 Test Times From 3pm

Test times from 3pm. Full times plus commentary at the end of the test, some time after 5pm.

Revised 2010 Provisional MotoGP Calender Released - Le Mans, Silverstone, Mugello, Brno And Misano Moved

The FIM today released the revised version of the 2010 MotoGP calendar, which sees a total of five races shifted about. Le Mans and Mugello shift up a week, while the British Grand Prix at Silverstone is pushed back two weeks to June 20th. Brno and San Marino are both moved closer to the Indianapolis Grand Prix, making for three races on three consecutive weekends.

This immediately highlights the problem with the new schedule: There are a number of tough travel weeks, which will take their toll of riders and teams. The teams will have to fly directly from Motegi halfway round the world to Jerez, the mitigating factor here being that the time shift involved is the easiest one in terms of jet lag. In June, the Silverstone, Assen and Catalunya races are also back to back, but this is not uncommon in Europe.

2009 Valencia Post-Race Test Day 1 - Stoner Leads, Lorenzo Close

Less than 24 hours after the 2009 season ended, the MotoGP riders were back out on the track, turning laps in preparation for the 2010 season. The weather was a little warmer than yesterday, but the wind was just as bad as it has been all weekend, sapping the heat out of both track and tires. The field was a real mixture, with the veterans out along with a gaggle of new bugs finding their feet on the MotoGP bikes, as well as a couple of Moto2 bikes undergoing the first shakedown test. 

Leading the timesheet were the same names that had dominated all weekend, Casey Stoner returning to the top of the timesheets with a radically-revised Ducati Desmosedici. No details were given on the changes, but the engine sounded completely different, much more like the big bang configuration of the 990cc version of the bike, rather than the 800cc screamer. Filippo Preziosi has nicknamed the engine "V Twin" though according to the Italian site GPOne.com, it is not the same as the old "twin pulse" firing order used by the 2002 Desmosedici 990. Stoner praised the extra grip the engine provided, saying it was much smoother. Nicky Hayden agreed, but said it felt like it was a little bit down on power.

FIM President: World Superbike Contract No Obstacle To Production Engines In MotoGP

The momentum behind a return to 1000cc for the MotoGP class has been building throughout the year. On Saturday, news emerged from the Grand Prix Commission that the manufacturers had dropped their opposition to the plan, making backing for the 1000cc formula unanimous inside MotoGP's rulemaking body. As a consequence, the proposal is almost certain to be adopted for the 2012 season of MotoGP.

Under the new proposed rules, the current requirement that four-stroke motorcycles must be prototypes will be either dropped or defined far more loosely. This would allow both teams and manufacturers to use engines based on production powerplants, greatly reducing the cost of research and development and paving the way for new teams to enter the class. The aim is to cut the cost of running a team roughly in half, from around 10 million euros for a two-rider satellite team down to between 5 and 6 million euros. Using production-based engines and allowing more engineering and maintenance to be done by the teams should be a major contributing factor in making this happen.

Rossi: "Yamaha Have To Decide Between Me And Lorenzo"

The Rossi-to-Ducati saga continues apace, with maneuvering for the 2011 contract negotiations taking place even on the grid of the final race of 2009. Interviewed for BBC television, Valentino Rossi got in a powerful blow, demanding that Yamaha make a decision about which of their two star riders they want to build their future on. "Yamaha have to choose between me and Jorge for 2011," Rossi told the BBC.

The Italian freely admitted he had been approached by Ducati, and that he had an option to ride there. "I could change bike, ride for Ducati and try to win the world championship with an Italian bike. That would be a great motivation," Rossi said.

At the same time, Rossi underlined his strong relationship with Yamaha. "I prefer at this moment to stay with Yamaha because the love between me and Yamaha, our relationship, is something special." 

Rumors of Ducati's courtship of Rossi have triggered a feeding frenzy in the Italian media, who are desperately keen for the match up to take place. However, plenty of room for doubt remains over how serious Rossi is in considering leaving Yamaha, as the Italian is renowned for making public statements to achieve a desired effect, either from a team, a factory, a rival or even the sport of MotoGP itself. Rossi's statements fit neatly into this pattern of putting pressure on one party, in order to achieve the goals he set himself for the future.

Stoner Crash Officially Put Down To "Cold Tires"

The 2009 MotoGP weekend at Valencia will be one that features in motorcycle racing trivia contests for many, many years to come. Both the 250 and the MotoGP races started with grids slightly different from those set during qualifying. While the alteration to the 250 grid was understandable - Alex Debon was in too much pain to race from the pole position he set on Saturday - the events leading up to the modified MotoGP grid were just plain bizarre.

As the pack sat on the grid waiting for the red lights to dim, one spot remained empty. Casey Stoner, always the last rider to arrive on his starting position, failed to appear. So surprising was his absence that Dani Pedrosa, sitting 2nd on the grid, failed to close his visor in time for the race to start. It didn't hinder him, though, as he entered the first corner in the lead, as is his wont.

So where was Casey Stoner? In an incident as bizarre as it was unexpected, the Australian had highsided off during the warm up lap, being tossed off his bike as he pitched it into Turn 2. After Stoner's crash speculation immediately turned to the cause. The consensus of opinion in the press room was that Stoner had got in too hot on cold tires, and this had thrown him off. The assembled press looked forward to hearing from Stoner himself the reason for his crash in the customary press debrief.

Saturday Images From Valencia

Sadly, our regular photographer Scott Jones couldn't make it to Valencia. Fortunately, we ran into Israeli TV commentator Tammy Gorali, who also happens to be a pretty mean snapper herself. She was kind enough to allow us to use some of the shots she took today during qualifying.


Hello knees, hello toes


Robot dancing attracts a particular kind of groupie


Andrea Dovizioso has a specially designed helmet on this weekend

MotoGP Back To 1000cc From 2012

The 800cc formula is dead. MotoGP is set to return to 1000cc from 2012, according to a proposal submitted to the Grand Prix Commission at Valencia today. The 800cc bikes have received a deluge of criticism, almost from the moment they were introduced, and that deluge has finally buried them.

The decision has hinged upon a change of mind by the MSMA, the manufacturers association. So far, the manufacturers have been opposed to any changes to the MotoGP formula, partly because high costs of entry created a barrier to new entrants in the class, allowing the existing participants to dominate the class. But the high costs have taken their toll even on the existing manufacturers, and with the future of Suzuki in the class in doubt under the current rules, and even doubt about just how long Honda was prepared to continue, a change was almost inevitable. 2012 is the earliest date it is possible to make the change, as the current 5 year contract that exists between Dorna, the FIM and the MSMA expires at the end of 2011. That contract states that no changes may be made to the engine capacity without a unanimous decision by all of the manufacturers in the MSMA.

Rookies-Only Test Approved For November

The reduction in testing has been a double-edged sword in MotoGP, allowing costs to be cut on the one hand, but punishing the six rookies due to enter the class for the 2010 season. With so many rookies coming, the factories - or at least one of them - have been keen to bend the rules to help the incomers adapt to MotoGP. The request for more testing for the rookies faced a lot of opposition, and up until this morning, it looked like it would be denied.

Once in the Grand Prix Commission, held at Valencia this afternoon, things swung the other way. At the request of Suzuki, the MSMA put the request to the Permanent Bureau (consisting of Dorna CEO and FIM president Vito Ippolito), bypassing the Grand Prix Commission, and the Permanent Bureau approved one extra test to be held at Estoril in the middle of November. This was a compromise proposal, as the MSMA had initially requested one extra test for the rookies, plus one day extra prior to the three official MotoGP tests to be held at Sepang and Qatar in February and March of 2010. The Permanent Bureau rejected the extra day of testing for the rookies at the three official tests, but allowed two days of testing at Estoril.

Poncharal: Extra Test For Rookies A Waste Of Money

The testing limits imposed at the beginning of the season have caused much debate throughout the year. The number of winter tests were cut to just 6 days in total (plus 2 days after the final Grand Prix at Valencia) in order to restrict engine mileage and severely cut costs. But since the announcement that there will be six new riders entering the MotoGP class next season, lobbying has started for extra testing time to allow the rookies to get up to speed. 

Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider Herve Poncharal had previously expressed his opposition to the extra tests for the rookies, despite having Ben Spies joining Monster Tech 3 as a rookie for 2010. MotoMatters.com caught up with Poncharal to ask him to explain his opposition.

Herve Poncharal: At the moment this is an MSMA proposal [to allow two extra days of testing for the rookies, MM] that will be on the agenda of this weekend's Grand Prix Commission. Me personally, as Monster Tech 3 Yamaha owner, I am against it. We will talk about it in the IRTA committee meeting to give an official position in the Grand Prix Commission. I have a feeling the committee will reject it, but it is only a feeling.

Danny Webb Signs Two-Year Deal With Jack&Jones WRB Team

British rider Danny Webb has had an up-and-down year with the De Graaf Aprilia team in the 125 class this season, despite the team having leased a factory-spec RSA 125 for the Briton. But he has made an impression, and his tenacity has been rewarded with a two-year contract with the Jack&Jones WRB team.

The WRB team have done extremely well in 2009, with their current rider Nicolas Terol 3rd in the 125 World Championship, and contending for the title for much of the season. In the press release, Webb expressed his hope that the two-year project would allow him to grow gradually towards challenging for the championship. "I hope for a good season next year, and to run with the front group for most of the season, I hope to be running at the front every race. In 2011, I hope to follow the same upward line, fighting for podiums in every race of the championship."

Yamaha's Technical Presentation, Or How They Made The 2009 M1 So Fast

You would think that the secrets of how to make a MotoGP bike go faster would be kept under lock and key at all times. Not so if you're Yamaha: On Friday night, Yamaha's technical leaders Masao Furusawa and Masahiko Nakajima gave their annual presentation on what they did to the YZR-M1 to ensure that they won the championship again in 2009.

The first thing they did was identify the changes to the 2009 regulations that would be key to the development direction. They highlighted three rule changes they needed to deal with to maximize the performance of the bike:

  • The tire restrictions, with just 20 slicks in two compounds and 8 wets available at each race;
  • The reduction in practice, with the Friday morning session scrapped;
  • The engine limits, with just 5 engines available for the final 7 races of the season.

They then pinpointed three goals that would allow Yamaha to adapt to these rule changes, and get the best out of the 2009 bike. An improvement in the chassis, to allow them to get the maximum performance out of the tires; increased reliability, while sacrificing as little performance as possible; and a refinement in the engine management system, to allow them to control what they called the vehicle dynamics.

Ezpeleta Mulls A Return To 1000cc

Ever since its inception, the 800cc MotoGP formula has been unpopular with both the fans and the riders. The high state of engine tune has made the formula extremely expensive, as well as requiring the extensive use of electronics just to make the bikes ridable. This, in turn, has taken much of the spectacle out of the riding, requiring an incredible precision of style to get the best out of them, and making passing very difficult indeed.

The biggest problem, though, is the expense. With the cost of leasing a satellite MotoGP bike upwards of 2 million euros a year, grids are shrinking with little prospect of that trend being reversed. Something clearly needs to be done, but with the manufacturers already heavily invested in the 800cc formula, getting any change in engine capacity through the Grand Prix Commission, MotoGP's rule-making body, is a very difficult task.

Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta is determined to try, however. In an online chat with visitors to the website of the Spanish TV broadcaster RTVE, Ezpeleta explained that he intended to push forward his previously discussed plans for a return to 1000cc at this weekend's meeting of the Grand Prix Commission at Valencia. When asked if he would like to see a return to 1000cc in 2011, he replied "Right now, it is not going to be possible to switch in 2011, because the agreement with the manufacturers means that we could only make that change before the end of the 2011 season if there was unanimous agreement among the manufacturers. But we are thinking about a return to a 1000cc capacity from the start of the 2012 season, and we will start discussing it this weekend."

GTranslate