(Editor's note: I made a photo lap of the Aragon circuit last year, to give readers an idea of just how steep and tricky the circuit is. I've reposted this photo lap as a reminder for anyone who has forgotten.)
Motorland Aragon is a brand new track on the MotoGP calendar, and if it has a defining feature, it's the elevation around the track. The track winds uphill, drops down a little, then climbs back up again before plummeting down the back straight towards the final corner. I went for a walk around the track to explore, and took some photos.
Moderator: Good morning, everybody. I'm John Gardner, the media manager for Miller Motorsports Park, and we're back for another teleconference with the riders in the HANNspree Superbike World Championship. Today we're pleased to have with us Cal Crutchlow, who rides the No. 35 Yamaha YZF R1 for the Yamaha Sterilgarda team. Cal, of course, won both ends of his home race in Silverstone last month, he's been on the podium seven times this season and has five poles. In 2009, he was the World Supersport Champion before graduating to the Yamaha World Superbike team this year. He is currently fifth in the championship with 217 points behind Max Biaggi with 397, Leon Haslam with 339, Jonathan Rea with 288 and Carlos Checa with 224 heading into the penultimate race of the season at Imola on the 26th of this month. As you all probably know, Cal has been chosen to move up to the Monster Energy Tech 3 MotoGP Team for next year, so we have quite a bit to talk about. Cal, welcome and we thank you for being here with us today.
Cal Crutchlow: Thank you very much. Thanks for inviting me along.
Moderator: So here we are. We've got two rounds left to go in the season, four races total. You are fifth and you're just about seven points behind Checa. What are your objectives for the remainder of this season?
With the paddock reconvened at the Motorland Aragon circuit in Alcañiz, Shoya Tomizawa's tragic death at the last race in Misano is still very much at the forefront of everybody's minds. During the traditional pre-event press conference, Gresini Moto2 rider Toni Elias proposed a fitting tribute to the fallen Technomag CIP rider. The Spaniard suggested that Tomizawa be posthumously awarded the Michel Metraux trophy, presented to the best privateer of the season, in recognition of his achievements and as a mark of respect.
Elias' proposal has been made possible by a recent change in the system for awarding the trophy, which previously went to the best-placed privateer in the 250cc class. With all of the Moto2 riders now officially privateers, the system has been changed to peer selection system, with all of the riders in the Moto2 class choosing their best rider of the year at the end of the season.
"I would like to ask all my fellow riders in Moto2 to vote for Shoya and dedicate this award to him," Elias told the press conference, a request that was met with a round of applause from the assembled press. Also attending the press conference to back up Elias call were all of the Japanese riders in the paddock, including Hiroshi Aoyama, Tomoyoshi Koyama and Yuki Takahashi.
Another piece of the MotoGP Silly Season has just fallen into place, and once again, it's hardly earth-shattering news. Honda have just announced that Dani Pedrosa has signed a new two-year deal with HRC, and will be a factory Honda rider for 2011 and 2012.
The move had been expected for a while, as Pedrosa and HRC had been closing in on a deal for the past couple of months. Pedrosa's outstanding results since Laguna have helped the Spaniard's cause immensely, especially breaking through his own personal barrier of winning more than 2 races in a season.
Pedrosa's signing leaves two questions unanswered, or rather, leaves them half-answered. The first of those questions is the matter of sponsorship, with Repsol's contract with Honda coming to an end after the 2010 season is over. Repsol are widely expected to sign up for another year, something that Pedrosa's renewal with HRC makes significantly more likely. But Repsol have remained ambivalent about their involvement with Honda over the past couple of years, signing up for a one-year deal for the 2010 season. The length of the contract for 2011 will give a better insight into their intentions for the future.
Despite the fact that the Moto2 grid has nearly 40 regular riders, the class has also featured a regular stream of wildcard riders as well. With the Spanish CEV championship the only series featuring a competition for the Moto2 bikes, it is unsurprising that most of those wildcard riders have come from Spain. More of a surprise, perhaps, was that one of the riders in the running for the title in Spain is actually a young Scot, the British rider Kev Coghlan, who rides for the Monlau Competicion team in the CEV aboard an FTR machine.
Coghlan was a wildcard at Silverstone back in June of this year, but the young Brit will also be racing in this weekend's Moto2 round at Aragon, a track he already has some experience of, having raced here in the Spanish championship. Coghlan started out racing Supersport in Spain, and was closely involved in the development of the FTR Moto2 chassis throughout the end of 2009.
Reason enough, then to catch up with Coghlan, something which MotoMatters.com did at Silverstone. We spoke to him on the Saturday after qualifying, and the day before the British Grand Prix. Coghlan had a tough weekend at Silverstone, qualifying in 30th and ending the race in 22nd. Here's how he saw his weekend at Silverstone, and how he got there:
MM: How did you end up racing in Spain?
2010 has been a tough year in MotoGP for Valentino Rossi. The nine-time World Champion's season got off to a strong start with a victory at Qatar, but it's been very hard going ever since: a shoulder injury suffered in a training crash, followed by his huge highside in which Rossi broke his tibia and fibula at Mugello. The injuries have left Rossi with just a single win during the 2010 season, his worst start to a season since the Italian moved to the premier class in 2000.
The spectacular and painful nature of Rossi's leg injury has drawn much of the media attention, but the shinbones have not been Rossi's biggest problem. The main factor holding Rossi back throughout the season has been his injured shoulder, which has prevented Rossi from riding as naturally as normal. Rossi suffered the shoulder injury while riding a motocross bike during training. In the crash, he damaged the glenoid ligament, which helps support the shoulder and keeps the ball of the shoulder in place. This is one of the most difficult shoulder injuries for a motorcycle racer to suffer, as the injury makes the shoulder both extremely painful and very weak and instable, and Rossi has suffered badly with not being able to ride as naturally as he would like.
The crash at Misano which killed Shoya Tomizawa was tough on both Scott Redding and Alex de Angelis. The two riders, who were following the Japanese rider when Tomizawa crashed, could not avoid the fallen Technomag CIP rider and struck him, both also crashing as a result. Of the two, Scott Redding came off worst, suffering a nasty gash in the back which required stitches to treat.
Of course, Redding's physical injuries were only minor when compared to the psychological trauma the young Briton suffered. Being involved in a fatal incident at the still relatively tender age of 17 is a lot for the young mind to bear, and there were question marks over Redding's willingness to return to racing.
Fortunately, Redding is made of sterner stuff. With help from his team and friends, including fellow Briton Danny Webb, Redding has decided to keep on racing, and will be making his return at the next Moto2 round at Aragon on Sunday. The Marc VDS Racing rider tested today at Valencia, along with a large group of other Moto2 teams, and soon regained both his rhythm and his composure. Both Redding and De Angelis will be welcomed back into the Moto2 paddock with open arms, glad to put the horror of Misano behind them.
The text of the Marc VDS Racing press release on Scott Redding is shown below:
The MotoGP field will once again be down to just 16 riders at Aragon. Rizla Suzuki rider Loris Capirossi has announced that he will not be taking part in the 13th MotoGP round of the season at the brand new Motorland Aragon track due to the slower than hoped recovery from finger surgery. Capirossi suffered the injury in a second-corner incident with Nicky Hayden at Misano, the Rizla Suzuki rider flicking his bike right only to find the Marlboro Ducati of Hayden in the middle of the line he had hoped to take. Capirossi suffered tendon damage to his right-hand little finger in the crash, which was reattached on the Monday after the Misano race. Although Capirossi is healing well, the doctors ruled that he would not be fit in time for Sunday's race, and it would be better to miss the Aragon round and hope to be fully healed for the Motegi round of MotoGP on October 3rd.
The full text of the Suzuki press release, containing details of Capirossi's surgery and decision to skip Aragon, is shown below:
Bautista goes it alone as Capirossi is ruled out
Rizla Suzuki will have a solo representative at this weekend's Motorland Aragón Grand Prix in Spain with Álvaro Bautista flying the flag after Loris Capirossi was ruled out with a hand injury.
The announcement of the official 2011 MotoGP calendar - albeit the provisional one - has been a long time coming. Normally, the provisional calendar is settled at the Brno round of MotoGP, but the series' desire not to clash with Formula One means that the Grand Prix Commission has had to wait for the FIA to release the F1 calendar before finalizing their own. With the F1 calendar now provisionally released, the MotoGP calendar is expected to be released this weekend at the Aragon round.
An early version of the calendar has already surfaced among race travel trip organizers. As their businesses depend upon knowing the following year's schedule as early as possible, MotoGP travel companies are among the very first to know. Our friends over at Pole Position Travel pointed us to a provisional calendar which has appeared on the website of another organization selling MotoGP tickets.
After a long period of silence on the rider signing front in World Superbikes comes a flurry of contract announcements in the series. The Sterilgarda Yamaha team line up was announced over the past couple of days, and today comes an announcement from the Ten Kate Honda team that Ulsterman Johnny Rea will be staying with the team for 2011.
On the face of it, the announcement contains nothing of great interest - other than Rea's wholly unsurprising statement that he hopes to move into MotoGP in 2012 with Honda - and yet there are a few things in the press release that are at the very least curious and worthy of closer inspection. Perhaps the strangest thing about the press release is the fact that it was entirely unnecessary. The statement says that Rea "is currently in the second year of a three-year contract with the team" which begs the question as to why issue a press release on the subject at all. The release adds no information to what we knew already, but is perhaps more informative for what it leaves out.
Over the past few days, rumors have emerged from Italian broadcaster SportMediaset that the MotoGP grid could be expanded even further. According to Sportmediaset, Max Neukirchner, currently riding for Ten Kate Honda in the World Superbike series, had been offered a ride on a Ducati Desmosedici GP11 in MotoGP, with the backing of a large German sponsors. According to the reports, Neukirchner's management have had meetings with Dorna to discuss the possibility of the German making his debut in the series, a move which would be extremely popular with German TV audiences.
The move to drop Friday morning practice - introduced for the 2009 season as a cost-cutting measure - has never been popular among either riders or fans. The riders and teams feel they are wasting their time, sitting around on Friday morning kicking their heels waiting for the afternoon session to kick off, and the fans miss out on an opportunity to watch the bikes out on track. Rookies, such as Interwetten Honda's Hiroshi Aoyama and his crew chief Tom Jojic, also lamented the lack of an extra session of practice, as the time between the sessions allowed the riders and their crews to go over the data collected.
In response to these criticisms, the Grand Prix Commission decided to experiment with a change from three one-hour practice sessions to four forty-five-minute sessions, extending the number of sessions on the track while leaving the amount of track time - and therefore the possible mileage - unchanged. The Aragon MotoGP round was chosen to stage this experiment, as Aragon was the only track which did not already have a list of supporting events which would need to be rescheduled. And so at Aragon, each of the classes will go out for four, shorter sessions of practice starting on Friday morning, rather than the three they have run at other events.
As the 2010 World Superbike creeps towards its conclusion, the attention of the teams is being turned to next season. Yamaha's World Superbike squad announced the first half of their 2011 rider line up on Sunday, when they announced that Marco Melandri would be switching from MotoGP to WSBK for next season. And today, Yamaha announced that the other side of the Sterilgarda Yamaha garage will be filled by Eugene Laverty, the young Irishman who is still in the hunt for this year's World Supersport title.
Laverty has made no secret of his desire to move up to World Superbikes, though it had been widely believed that he would graduate with his current team, the Parkalgar Honda squad, who have been rumored to be moving into World Superbikes for some time. With Laverty having signed with Yamaha, doubts have arisen over the prospects of the Parkalgar team - managed by the outspoken Simon Buckmaster - making the move up to WSBK for 2011.
The Yamaha press release is shown below:
Yamaha signs Eugene Laverty to complete 2011 World Superbike Team
One of the hottest topics of debate among motorcycle racing fans around the world is the difference between the racing in MotoGP and World Superbikes. Where WSBK features regular fairing-bashing action and plenty of passing throughout the race, the racing in MotoGP has been entirely sterile, the focus more on being inch-perfect and preserving tires and fuel all the way to the line. One of the main factors explaining the difference in racing between the two series has always been the fuel allowance, with MotoGP restricted to just 21 liters for races of around 120 km, while World Superbike machines have a generous 24 liters of fuel to last them for between 10 and 20 km less, the average WSBK race being around 105 kilometers.
So it will deeply disturb WSBK fans to learn that the Superbike Commission - the WSBK series governing body - is serious considering the introduction of drastically lower fuel limits, according to the Italian magazine Motosprint. The proposal, put forward by Honda, Suzuki and Ducati, is aimed at reducing power and as a result, reducing the costs involved in the series. The main objection has come from BMW, who oppose the plan because their reliance on a proprietary electronics system means they would have to develop the fuel-saving algorithms completely from scratch. The rest of the field, using the ubiquitous Magneti Marelli electronics packages, will have a lot of existing data and programming to provide a starting point.