Latest MotoGP News
Regular readers of MotoMatters.com will be aware of our admiration of and friendship with the leading Italian motorcycle website GPOne.com. The site is a goldmine of information for motorcycle racing fans, and the deep roots which the site's writers have in the paddock allow the site to provide both news and in-depth analysis of MotoGP and World Superbikes better than probably any other site in the world. The only minor drawback for English speakers is the fact that the site is in Italian, but that is a hurdle which is easier to clear than you might think.
So it was a disturbing sign when GPOne.com went off air in the period between the Portimao WSBK race and the Qatar MotoGP season opener. But its absence was for a very good reason. The people who run the site were hard at work completely redesigning and updating the site, as well as switching it to a new content management back end.
At the last preseason test of the year at Qatar, run under the floodlights to allow the riders to get used to the conditions, five riders went down in a period of thirty minutes late on in the test, as dew forming on the track made conditions treacherous. After that test, several riders called for the time of the MotoGP race to be brought forward, from 11pm local time to 9 or 10.
In the pre-race press conference, Valentino Rossi repeated his preference for bringing the race forward, a suggestion which received the support of both Casey Stoner and Nicky Hayden later that evening.
But at a press conference held to open the Qatar MotoGP round, attended by Carmelo Ezpeleta, the CEO of Dorna, and Nasser Al-Attiyah, head of the Qatari motorsports federation, the Dorna CEO was not convinced a change would be necessary. Ezpeleta felt that conditions had changed since the last test, obviating the need to change.
The official MotoGP.com website is both a goldmine of information and the bane of many MotoGP fans' lives. The video section features literally thousands of fascinating video interviews, clips and of course, the live video feed of each race. True, the content is only available to paying subscribers, but the value offered for the €99.95 (or €79.95 for standard quality) is actually rather good.
The one gripe that everyone had about the site and video subscription was that if you missed the live race - not uncommon for US or Australian subscribers, for example - and went to website to watch the recorded race, it was impossible to do so without running across spoilers, telling you the outcome of the race before you had a chance to view it. MotoGP.com received a barrage of complaints about this problem, and have finally come up with a solution: A no-spoilers page.
Just a few days before the season is about to begin, and the Moto2 class is to take to the track for the very first time, a new provisional entry list for Moto2 has been issued by the FIM. The new list contains two changes, one minor (Stefan Bradl changing his number from 4 to 65), and one major. The big change is the dropping of Belgian rider Vincent Lonbois by the Marc VDS Racing team, which is also fielding British rider Scott Redding, and his replacement with former 125 and 250 star Hector Faubel.
Faubel had originally been signed to ride for the SAG team alongside Ratthapark Wilairot, but financial differences left the Spaniard out in the cold. Faubel then looked to the 125cc class, where he was lined up to take a third Aspar bike alongside Bradley Smith and Nico Terol, but that too foundered on a lack of funds. Faubel has finally found a home with the Marc VDS Racing team run by former Kawasaki MotoGP manager Michael Bartholemy, but this has come at the cost of Bartholemy's compatriot Lonbois.
The entry list for Moto2 still carries the "Provisional" tag, though few changes are likely in the 6 days before the bikes finally hit the track at Qatar. After that, though, there could well be more changes.
Moto2 entry list:
Every year, as the MotoGP season commences, a veritable jungle of MotoGP Fantasy Leagues springs up around the internet, give fans the chance to test their skills in running a MotoGP team against like-minded individuals. Although we're big fans of those kinds of games, MotoMatters.com wouldn't be MotoMatters.com if we didn't do things just a little bit differently.
When the cancellation of the Hungary round was finally officially confirmed, and the race scheduled for the Balatonring was awarded to the spectacular Motorland Aragon circuit, Dorna faced a barrage of criticism that the race had gone to another circuit in Spain. The Iberian nation is undoubtedly the beating heart of MotoGP, but to have four of the eighteen races there was far too much of a good thing, it was felt.
Dorna has taken this criticism to heart, it seems, as a brand new nation is to be added to MotoGP's international character. Today, speaking exclusively to MotoMatters.com, Dorna's head of Scandinavian Racing Promotion Pablo Inocente confirmed that a round is to be added to the calendar in Iceland, as part of an offensive to promote the sport in Europe's northern reaches. The race is to take part at a brand new track, to be built at Grímsvötn, east of the capital Reykjavik.
When HRC announced last year that they would be switching to Ohlins suspension for the 2010 MotoGP season, it was widely seen as a determination to win back the MotoGP crown which Honda has chased so long and so hard. Since making the switch, Andrea Dovizioso's lot has greatly improved, but the man Honda intend to win the championship has not fared so well. Dani Pedrosa has struggled in testing so far this preseason, ending the final MotoGP test of the year at Qatar in lowly 13th position, over a second down on his Repsol Honda teammate and even behind the satellite LCR Honda of Randy de Puniet.
In an interview with the website of the Spanish magazine Motociclismo.es, Pedrosa expressed his despair about the situation telling the magazine: "I have had problems before in my career, but they have never lasted for such a long time." When asked exactly what the problems were, Pedrosa pointed to the difficulty of making the bike more stable. "The bike is moving around a lot," Pedrosa told Motociclismo, "with a lot of pumping at the rear. The whole bike is shaking and the front wheel is moving around because I can't feel the tires gripping the tarmac."
The guys over at OnTheThrottle have another video up in their series of conversations with former 500GP star Kevin Schwantz. The Suzuki legend was at Auto Club Speedway, Fontana last weekend, attending the second round of the AMA championship held there. OTT's Dave Williams talked to Schwantz about riding in windy conditions, about the final MotoGP test at Qatar, about Ben Spies' expectations for the first year of MotoGP, about the difference between Grand Prix bikes and production bikes, and about how the differences between tires can affect your riding. Here's what Revvin' Kevin had to say:
Another season of MotoGP approaches, and as every year, the fans (and far too many journalists) will spend the first race struggling to pick out which rider is which, after the traditional off-season merry-go-round and livery change. The wise heads over at Spanish motorcycle magazine Motociclismo.es have anticipated this problem, and thoughtfully snagged all of the riders at the last Qatar MotoGP test and got them to hand over their helmets for a quick snapshot. The result is an overview of the helmets of all 17 MotoGP riders, as they are going to be used in MotoGP for 2010. The one exception ('t was ever thus) is Valentino Rossi, who as always is using his "Old Chicken" helmet throughout testing, but is likely to return to a more traditional design once the flag drops.
Nicky Hayden's 2010 helmet. For the rest of the helmets, head over to Motociclismo.es and see all 17.
Almost everything about Moto2 is new: A new formula, new bikes, new riders - at least, a significant number of new riders. To introduce all this novelty to our readers, and give them a peek into the new series, here's a selection of photos taken at the Moto2 at Jerez, which took place this weekend. All photos courtesy and copyright of Honda Pro Images:
At the end of the three days of testing for the Moto2 class at Jerez, Forward Racing's Claudio Corti comes away at the top of the timesheets. The Italian, riding a Suter for the former Hayate team ended the final day as the fastest rider, just a fraction ahead of the time Toni Elias set on Saturday. Elias himself dominated much of the test, but a nasty crash in the final session saw the Gresini rider forced off track between turns 1 and 2 when a much slower 125cc rider blocked Elias' line, leaving him no choice but to hit the deck. Elias was immediately flown back to his hometown of Barcelona to undergo medical examination and and treatment if necessary. Elias has a suspected fracture of his left hand, as well as heavy bruising to his left hand and left foot. The Gresini rider is expected to be fit enough to race in the season opener at Qatar.
Marc Marquez leaves the final round of testing for the 125cc class with a new lap record and a strong lead over his rivals after testing. The Red Bull Ajo Motorsport rider took over half a second off Mattia Pasini's best ever lap of the circuit dating from 2006. The only man to get close was Pol Espargaro on the Tuenti Racing Derbi, Espargaro finishing just over a quarter of a second off Marquez' time.
Bancaja Aspar's Nico Terol was third fastest overall, three quarters of a second behind Marquez, and at the head of a much closer group including Sandro Corteze, Efren Vazquez and Esteve Rabat. Terol's Aspar teammate Bradley Smith, runner up in last year's championship, continued to struggle in testing, ending the Jerez test in 8th, 1.6 seconds behind Marquez and over three quarter of a second behind his teammate. Fellow Briton Danny Webb ended the test in 10th, just over 2 seconds down on Marquez.
The next time the riders take to the track, it will be in earnest, in the desert at Qatar. Then, the times will really mean something.
Tech 3's Yuki Takahashi was the fastest man on the second day of testing for the Moto2 class at Jerez, just squeaking ahead of Marc VDS Racing's Scott Redding and Ant West on the MZ. Takahashi's time was half a second slower than yesterday's fastest man Toni Elias, who today was just 5th fastest and three quarters of a second slower than his time from Saturday.
So far, this final Moto2 test has shown how close the field has become in the class, and shaken up the list of favorites a little. The top 20 riders are all within a second of each other, with 20th place man Karel Abraham just 0.938 behind Takahashi. Kenny Noyes, the American who has been so fast in the earlier tests is now down the order in 12th, though still only half a second off the fastest time at Jerez, while Scott Redding had been languishing near the bottom of the timesheets in previous tests, and has now leaped up into 2nd spot. Testing concludes tomorrow.