Latest MotoGP News

Lorenzo Could Miss Qatar Test As Well As Sepang

Each year, it seems, at least one title candidate manages to injure themselves in an accident and miss testing and preparation for the upcoming MotoGP season. In 2010, it appears to be Jorge Lorenzo's turn - the Fiat Yamaha rider got unlucky in a low-speed motocross crash and fractured a bone in his right hand at the end of last week. At the time, Yamaha reported that they expected Lorenzo to be forced to miss the second test at Sepang due to take next week. 

Lorenzo returned to hospital for an examination yesterday, and though the injury and the surgery to fix the problem appears to be healing well, it may be more than just the Sepang test that Lorenzo misses. According to an interview with Hector Martin, Lorenzo's media handler, on the official MotoGP.com website, the injury may not heal fast enough for Lorenzo to take part in the final test session of the year at Qatar, on March 18th and 19th. "At the moment there are serious doubts as to whether Jorge will be fully recovered for the Qatar test," Martin told MotoGP.com "We must wait and see how his injury and rehabilitation go after he has his stitches removed, which will be next Friday or Monday."

Back On Track: Moto2 Testing At Barcelona On Wednesday, MotoGP And WSBK To Follow

After several long, dark months of near silence on racetracks around the world, motorcycle racing fans can ready themselves for a feast of on-track action. For 10 of the next 14 days will see every international race class on track testing, with the bonus of the opening round of the World Superbike championship to top it off. 

First up is a major outing for the Moto2 and 125cc classes at Barcelona's Montmelo circuit. A total of 42 riders are expected to take to the track, including the cream of the 125cc crop and some of the major players in Moto2. 

In the 125cc class, the four favorites for the title will face off for the first time. The Derbis of Pol Espargaro and Marc Marquez will be up against the Aprilias of Bradley Smith and Nico Terol, as the teams and riders prepare for the championship. 

Smith returns to the Aspar fold, after failing to find a place in Moto2. In compensation, however, Smith will start the season with the best chance of becoming the first British World Champion since Barry Sheene in 1977. He knows the bike and the team, and his biggest challenge may come from his still growing body, as he inches north of 5'8, outgrowing the ideal size for a 125 racer.

Dorna's Asian Expansion Frustrated By Singapore Track Delays

A cursory glance at sales of new motorcycles provides an interesting insight into exactly where the future of motorcycling lies. Though its traditional home is Europe, North America and Australia, those markets are rapidly becoming just a tiny part of total motorcycle sales, with Asia claiming a rapidly expanding share of the global market. The recent marketing tours by Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi around India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand underline exactly how important these markets are to Yamaha and the rest of the Japanese manufacturers.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway Auctioning Signed Gear For Haiti Relief Fund

It is a truism that motorcycle racing fans love to collect items connected to their favorite sport. If your budget can't quite stretch to a genuine FTR Moto2 bike, then Indianapolis Motor Speedway can help you out, while helping to do good. The legendary US racetrack is auctioning off a collection of various memorabilia for an excellent cause, the American Red Cross' relief effort in earthquake-stricken Haiti.

Jorge Lorenzo To Miss Next Sepang Test With Hand Injury

Jorge Lorenzo's challenge for the 2010 MotoGP title suffered a minor setback this morning, when the Spanish star fractured his right hand in a motocross accident. Lorenzo was taken to hospital for treatment, where he underwent surgery to rectify the problem, having a titanium plate fitted in his hand. Lorenzo will miss the next test at Sepang at the end of the month, but should be fit in time for the following test prior to the MotoGP season opener at Qatar.

The press release shown below contains full details of the incident, but the accident reveals the problems faced by motorcycle racers. That racing is dangerous is universally acknowledged, but the very act of practicing machine control, only possible on some form of motorcycle or other, whether it be motocross, supermoto or track bike, exposes the rider to the risk of injury. At least the nature of Lorenzo's injury mean that he will not miss any of the season.

JORGE LORENZO INJURES HAND IN TRAINING ACCIDENT

Fiat Yamaha Team rider Jorge Lorenzo has undergone surgery in his right hand following an accident whilst training near his home in Barcelona yesterday, Thursday 11th February.

So You Want To Own Your Own Moto2 Bike?

One of the main ideas behind the brand new Moto2 class is to reduce the cost of racing. There are very few people indeed who can afford the million euros it reportedly cost for an Aprilia RSA250, and even fewer that Aprilia was willing to supply them to. But Moto2 changes all that; for a tenth of the cost of a competitive 250, you can race a machine just as competitive as the factory Aprilia 250 once was.

Such is the cost level of Moto2 that ownership is not limited to race teams. Private individuals with a healthy savings account can now get their hands on a pukka Moto2 racing machine for use as the ultimate track day machine. For British manufacturer FTR MOTO is making 10 limited edition Moto2 replicas available for purchase. The machines will be painted in the colors used by the legendary 'Rocket' Ron Haslam, and come with a World Supersport spec Honda CBR600RR engine, a set of Spidi leathers, an Arai helmet and three days of tuition from Haslam himself.

More details on the offer below, but MotoMatters.com visited FTR's facility just a week or so ago, and were given an insight into the process of designing and building a Moto2 bike. An article about this visit will be appearing in the runup to the 2010 inaugural Moto2 season. Stay tuned.

FTR TO PRODUCE LIMITED EDITION HASLAM ELF HONDA SPECIALS

FB Corse Team Officially Launched In Milan

After months of speculation and controversy, the FB Corse Team finally unveiled their MotoGP machine and team at the offices of a radio station in Milan today. At the official launch, which had been delayed from the end of January, the team presented their FB01 three cylinder 800cc MotoGP bike, designed and built by Oral Engineering, as part of a project originally started for BMW several years ago.

After being dropped by the German manufacturer, development of the bike has continued on the test bench. But the FB01 is yet to turn a wheel on track. "We will continue to test on the dyno, and expect to take to the track towards the end of February," Mauro Forghieri, the bike's designer, told MotoCorse.com. The reason the bike had not been tested was because it was unclear how such testing would be viewed by Dorna and IRTA. The team is still not officially entered into MotoGP, though FB Corse say that this is just a formality. Once the team is entered with Garry McCoy as the official rider, McCoy would be subject to the same testing regulations as the rest of the field. The other teams and manufacturers would have to agree to allow FB Corse do private testing with McCoy before the Australian could safely take to the track.

Rossi To Stop Discussing Future Plans In Press

MotoGP's 2011 Silly Season - the period during which contracts are negotiated and hammered out for the 2011 season - got underway a little early. In fact, it got underway shortly after the 2010 Silly Season was over, some time around early September 2009, shortly after Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa signed one-year contracts with their current employers, Yamaha and Honda respectively. Their signings effectively meant that the contracts of Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa, Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner will all finish at the same time, at the end of the 2010 MotoGP season, leading to a feeding frenzy of speculation, rumor and argument over who will be going where for 2011.

Most of this speculation has surrounded Valentino Rossi. The Italian has been linked with a switch to Ducati, an extension of his Yamaha contract, a return to Honda, a career jump to Formula One with Ferrari, and even retirement to go race in WRC. Most of it has come from the ever-industrious Italian media, but Rossi himself has not been shy of using the media to his own ends on occasion. He has himself hinted both that he has offers from Ducati and that he will end his career at Yamaha, two seemingly mutually exclusive possibilities, as well as flirting cautiously with both Formula One and retirement. Any and all such pronouncements have been pounced upon by the press and sliced, diced and analyzed for any indication of what The Doctor's true intent might be.

Poncharal: "The First Step Is To Stay With The Aliens"

The fact that Kevin Schwantz believes Ben Spies will win a race in his first season, as we reported over the weekend, should hardly come as a surprise, given Schwantz' long association with the young Texan. Spies excellent times at the first test of the year at Sepang confirmed that the Texan is making the necessary progress towards that goal, but most observers regard it as a little too early to tell.

To get the view of Ben Spies' team manager on the question, MotoMatters.com spoke with Herve Poncharal, and put Schwantz' bold claim to the Frenchman. The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 manager was much more cautions than Spies' mentor and former world champion Schwantz. "Kevin obviously has a lot of confidence in Ben," Poncharal said. "Obviously you can never rule out the possibility of a win. Colin came very close to winning at Donington last year," Poncharal said, but the task ahead was not simple. "I really hope Kevin is right, but winning on a regular basis is not easy."

Before Spies can beat the Fantastic Four, he first has to catch them, Poncharal pointed out. "The first step is to stay with top four, then to try and beat them. But to stay with them is already tough," the Frenchman told MotoMatters.com.

Kevin Schwantz: "Spies Can Win A Race In His First Season"

One of  the big questions MotoGP fans have this year is just how well Ben Spies will do in his first full season of MotoGP. The Texan has already impressed Europeans and outperformed the expectations of Americans by winning the World Superbike title at his first attempt, but so far, World Superbike champions have had a rather patchy record of success in MotoGP. Consequently, fans are fishing about for any data they can find from experts and former riders, to help them make their own minds up.

Knowing this, the excellent US-based video website OnTheThrottle.com cornered former 500 GP champion and racing legend Kevin Schwantz at the testing session for the AMA Pro Racing test at Fontana, and asked him for his opinion of Spies' chances in MotoGP. Schwantz was pretty clear in his reply: "I think Ben will win a race in his first season for sure." Watch the full video for why he comes to that conclusion, and to hear what Schwantz has to say about the DMG series, his own plans for 2010 and the Red Bull Rookies.

Manufacturers Want 800cc Bikes To Remain After 2012

The news that MotoGP is set to change capacity and formula again for the third time in 10 years has caused as much concern as it has joy. Almost everyone concerned has welcomed the return to 1000cc, not least the riders, and many people also expressed the commonly-held opinion that the switch to 800cc was the worst thing to happen to the class. But many observers also pointed out that the change of formula, though aimed at cutting costs in the long term, meant yet more expenditure in the short term as the factories would be forced to develop a brand new engine once again.

That criticism is shared by the MSMA, the association representing the manufacturers in MotoGP. According to MCN's extremely well-informed MotoGP reporter Matthew Birt, the MSMA is pushing for the 800s to get a reprieve in 2012. Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta told Birt that 2012 regulations will allow two separate formulas to run side by side, as in the first year of the MotoGP four strokes in 2002. Having invested so heavily in their 800cc machines, the factories could continue to run the smaller capacity bikes against the 1000cc bikes, with the liter bikes restricted to a maximum bore of 81mm and four cylinders, as announced in Geneva at the end of last year.

Honda: Factory And Satellite Bikes Identical Except For The Electronics

Honda is caught between a rock and a hard place. Like all of the other manufacturers, Honda has been hit hard by the recession, and is looking to cut costs wherever it can. However, the factory is also desperate for another World Championship, having had only one since Valentino Rossi left the factory in 2004 after winning nine out of the previous ten. The factory has to find a way to win another MotoGP title without breaking the bank.

The way they have selected to marry those two very different objectives is simple yet efficient. As of this season, all of the teams, whether satellite or factory, will be given the same bike. The only difference between the two machines will be the electronics, which control the performance of the bike to a significant degree.

The move marks a huge change in direction for Honda. In previous years, HRC supplied two different specifications of machine: A factory spec RC212V provided to the factory Repsol Honda team and a few selected satellite riders; And a satellite spec for the other satellite teams. The different spec of these machines could be significantly different, with different chassis, engines, fairings and exhaust systems. Even the factory spec machines were not identical, the Repsol bikes always at least a few iterations ahead of the bikes supplied to satellite rider.

Giampiero Sacchi About To Leave Aprilia?

Trouble continues to brew in the Aprilia camp. The Italian company's decision to pull out of Moto2 at the end of November last year looks set to have even more serious repercussions, as the authoritative Italian site GPOne.com is reporting rumors that Aprilia's racing boss Giampiero Sacchi could leave his role as head of the factory's racing program altogether. Sacchi's departure would be a body blow to the Noale factory, as Sacchi has been with Aprilia since the 80s and has worked with all of the great stars that the company has produced, from Max Biaggi to Tetsuya Harada, Valentino Rossi to Jorge Lorenzo.

The root of the problem, according to GPOne.com, is the long-standing rivalry between Sacchi and Aprilia's General Director Leo Mercanti. The high-profile CEO of the Piaggio Group Roberto Colaninno is reportedly tired of the bickering between Sacchi and Mercanti, and has been taking steps to sort the situation out.

Sepang 1 Test Overall Times - Fantastic Four Finish On Top

Looking back at the two days of MotoGP testing at Sepang throws up only a few surprises. The Aliens continue to dominate, as ever, and Colin Edwards is still firmly in place as #5. Behind, the top 5, the picture is a little more interesting. Loris Capirossi's strong outing on Thursday shows that the Suzuki can be fast, but the GSV-R has a long history of being outstanding in testing, yet falling short during the season. Whether it's business-as-usual for Suzuki or a breakthrough will have to wait until the first few rounds have been run.

Ben Spies continues his methodical improvement, but with the Texan complaining of jet lag and telling reporters that he is still very much just learning, he should soon be edging Colin Edwards out of 5th spot and closing on the top 4. Spies is holding station with Andrea Dovizioso, the Italian improving but still looking for more pace.

Sepang 1 Test Day 2 Times - Rossi Leads As Rain Stops Play

The rain that held off yesterday finally came to Sepang on Friday, disrupting testing during the morning and at the end of the day. The rain in the morning combined with the limit on engines to persuade most of the riders to sit in the garage, or restrict their laps to a minimum. The track started to dry out at lunchtime, and from then, all 17 MotoGP riders, along with a couple of Yamaha test pilots, got to work on their testing program. By the time the rain came around 5pm, it was Valentino Rossi who had set the fastest lap, finishing ahead of Casey Stoner and Rossi's Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo. Dani Pedrosa completed the top four, the Aliens still clearly a breed apart in the MotoGP paddock.

While both Rossi and Stoner finished in the same positions as yesterday, both Jorge Lorenzo and especially Dani Pedrosa made a huge leap forward. Lorenzo jumped from 5th spot to 3rd, though he did not close the gap to his Fiat Yamaha teammate. Dani Pedrosa, on the other hand, closed the gap by over half a second, while working on the all-new Honda RC212V. Given that the bike has new Ohlins suspension, new electronics, a new chassis and a number of swingarms, there would appear to be plenty of room for improvement once the Repsol Honda team find the right setup for the bike.

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