Latest MotoGP News
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.
Marc Marquez was the fastest 125 rider of the second day of the final test at Jerez. The Red Bull Ajo Motorsport rider finished the day nearly three quarters of a second ahead of Bancaja Aspar's Nico Terol, and nearly a full second faster than yesterday's fastest man Pol Espargaro. Espargaro's Derbi teammate Efren Vazquez was 4th, while Bradley Smith could only manage the 7th fastest time. Testing concludes tomorrow.
Results of the first day of testing for the 125 cc class at Jerez:
Results from the first day of testing for the Moto2 class at Jerez, courtesy of Bikeracing.it:
It appears to be Video Wednesday. After the Kawasaki World Supersport video and On The Throttle's interview with Nicky Hayden came the release by Yamaha USA of the Tech 3 Team Texas video, which is already all over the internet. In the video - shot in the cheesy-yet-still-hilarious style which Yamaha have made their own - Colin Edwards takes Ben Spies on a road trip - or as he terms it, a "man-cation" - to allow the two Texan teammates to bond.
Much has been made of the quality of broadcast by MotoGP's organizers, Dorna. The camerawork and onboard footage is very highly rated by the fans, and has received plaudits from the international media around the world. The only complaint that fans have had - apart from a lack of access in some countries - has been the fact that the broadcasts have not yet been available in High Definition.
Fortunately for the fans, this is about to change: This season, a number of broadcasters around the world are to show the races in HD quality. Viewers in the US, Australia, New Zealand, France, Belgium, Scandinavia, Portugal, Hungary, Brazil, Singapore, the Middle East and in Africa will get to see the races in HD from Qatar, with other countries expected to start showing HD as the season progresses.
As the clock ticks down towards the start of the 2010 MotoGP season, the riders and teams are preparing themselves for battle to commence. Perhaps the best way to get yourself ready to race is to go watch some racing, a sentiment that Nicky Hayden clearly agrees with, as he went down to Daytona for the AMA season opener, in which is older brother Tommy took part.
Of course, a MotoGP rider attending a race packed with journalists can't expect to get away without spending some time talking to journalists, and Daytona was no different for Hayden. The Marlboro Ducati rider posted a long segment for Superbikeplanet.com's excellent Soupkast (mp3 file here), and he also did a short interview with the excellent motorcycle racing video site OnTheThrottle.com, which we've posted below. Both are well worth a listen.
There has been widespread speculation (including by this author in an opinion piece on MotoMatters.com) that the Fiat Yamaha team is simply not big enough for both Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, and that one or the other of them will be forced to leave at the end of 2010. Given the incredible selling power of Valentino Rossi - not just today, but probably for the next thirty or more years - the most likely scenario is that Jorge Lorenzo will be forced to up sticks and move, either to Honda or to Ducati.
Jorge Lorenzo, however, has other ideas. Speaking to Radio Catalunya this morning, the Mallorcan told Manel Fuentes that his aim is to stay with Yamaha, whatever Valentino Rossi decides to do. "I would like to stay with Yamaha, because we're a great team, a very competitive team," Lorenzo said. The Mallorcan acknowledged that his relationship with this teammate was far from ideal, but denied this formed a problem. "The atmosphere in the team is hardly incredibly friendly, we don't have an intimate friendship," Lorenzo said. "It's a good professional relationship, a working relationship."
The theory behind running the MotoGP season opener in Qatar at night is simple: Because the daytime temperatures in the desert state are so high, causing problems for riders, bikes and tires, taking advantage of the cooler nighttime ensures the race is easier on man and machine. The evening start also timeshifts the race to a more favorable broadcast time, right into the middle of the evening primetime in key Spanish and Italian TV markets.
But night races have problems of their own: For a start, there's the monstrous amount of energy required to provide sufficient light for the riders to race in. Then there's the fact that if it rains - extremely rare in the desert, but as we saw last year, extremely rare is not the same as never - the racing has to be stopped, as water on the surface reflects the overhead lighting, making it impossible to see properly to race.
Since the announcement that the Motorland Aragon circuit was to take the place of Hungary on the 2010 MotoGP calendar, the internet has been abuzz with people trying to find out about the new facility near Alcañiz in northeast Spain. The track's website shows maps of the 5.077 kilometer circuit and even a diagram showing the amount of elevation at the track, giving a more graphic demonstration of the 50 meter elevation difference between the highest and lowest points, as well as the 7.2% drop of the "Sacacorchos" or Corkscrew corner at Turns 8 and 9.