From the moment it was first suggested by Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, the aims of the proposed switch of the MotoGP class to 1000cc were crystal clear: To reduce costs and to increase the number of bikes on the grid. The official announcement of the basic rules for the 2012 MotoGP season reinforced that objective. The idea behind the move is that the larger engine capacity allows power to be produced more cheaply, and by limiting the engine bore to 81mm, revs can be capped, keeping maintenance costs down. The bore limitation, together with a more relaxed attitude towards the interpretation of the word "prototype" will make it possible for privateer teams to modify production engines for use in prototype chassis, making participation in MotoGP significantly cheaper, in theory at least.
It was also hoped that the switch to 1000cc would attract new entrants to the series. The reduced cost of horsepower and, more importantly, the reduced role of sophisticated electronics - which the current crop of horrifically peaky 800cc four-strokes require to make them rideable - should put competing MotoGP within reach of smaller manufacturers. The hope is that the new rules will mean that designing and building a MotoGP bike can be done for a couple of million dollars, rather than many tens of millions the current bikes cost to build.
It looks like the Grand Prix Commission may have already scored their first success in this area. Over on the MotoCzysz company website, Michael Czysz has posted a blog entry suggesting that the Portland, Oregon-based company could be considering breathing new life into their shelved MotoGP project, the MotoCzysz C1. "I believe based on the rules that MotoCzysz could have an extremely competitive 81mm 4 cylinder motorcycle ready for the grid by 2012," Czysz wrote.
Of the six (or seven, depending on how you count them) MotoGP riders to lose their places in the premier class after the 2009 season, Alex de Angelis and Toni Elias surely deserved it the least. Both men had a difficult early part of the season, left waiting for their Gresini Honda team to find the funds for the upgraded chassis for the team's Honda RC212Vs. Once they received the new parts both Elias and De Angelis made a big leap forward in performance, turning into regular front runners. By then, though it was too late, and the available seats in MotoGP had already filled up.
For a while, it looked like Alex de Angelis would stay in MotoGP, but the negotiations between the Scot Honda team and the government of the Republic of San Marino, the tiny city state foundered on the rock of money, the San Marino tourist board simply unable to stump up the necessary cash to run a full season of MotoGP.
That did not mean that the deal was over, however. Today, the Scot Racing team announced that De Angelis will be racing with the team in Moto2 next season. The tourist board of San Marino will finance the team, stepping into the role of title sponsor, a much more affordable prospect in Moto2 than in MotoGP.
There has been much commotion in the World Superbike paddock recently, much of it caused by one man: Mat Mladin. The seven time AMA Superbike champion had intimated on social networking service Twitter that he had received a couple of "very interesting" offers to race in World Superbikes in 2010, though he didn't mention any names. He left that to the rest of the motorcycle racing world, and they did not fail him.
The most obvious candidate would be Yoshimura Suzuki, but nothing but a deadly silence has emanated from the Japanese Suzuki team in response to those suggestions, leading most commentators to believe that this is not the option Mladin was referring too. The British publication Motorcycle News knew better, linking Mladin to the second seat at the satellite Reitwagen Racing BMW team, to partner the young Austrian Roland Resch.
Stiggy Racing may be no more but team owner Johan Stigefelt has reportedly wasted no time in securing gainful employment for 2010. Stigefelt is tipped to step into the role of technical director of the increasingly interesting Reitwagen Racing BMW privateer team. Stigefelt will also bring ex 500GP and WSBK rider Peter Goddard with him from Stiggy racing to fill the role of suspension specialist.
Reitwagen will also bring another rider on board to team with Roland Resch but that individual will likely not be recently retired 7-time AMA Superbike champion Mat Mladin, who allegedly could not agree to terms with team manager Andy Werth. Resch claims that Makoto Tamada and John Hopkins are under consideration, but as far as he knows, no agreement has been formalized.
Johan Stigefelt's adventure into World Superbike racing is at an end. The team today issued a press release announcing that the financial situation in which they found themselves meant that they had been forced to call it a day, and that therefore the Stiggy Racing Team would not be competing in either the World Superbike or World Supersport championship next year.
The press release left no doubt as to where the team felt the blame lay. "The decision has been made after a close evaluation of the team's poor economic situation which was created during this year's expanded venture by participating in both Championship classes. A huge financial project that was poorly executed by the team's investors as a result of failure to [fulfil] their financial commitments for the 2009 season." So went the explanation from Stiggy. The reference is to the split between Stiggy and their financial partners S2 Racing, which occurred amidst much acrimony on October 1st of this year.
The Holiday season is nearly upon us, and anyone looking for the perfect gift for a loved one, friend or family member who is crazy about bikes need look no further than our very own 2010 Motorcycle racing calendar, allowing the motorcycle racing fan in your life to organize their year around the most exciting sport in the world. Of course, at this time of year, the world's post offices are slowly starting to clog up with gifts and cards, making deliveries later and later. So if you want to order the most beautiful motorcycle racing calendar on the market, the time is now. If you don't order the calendar within the next couple of days, the chances of the calendar arriving in time to be gift-wrapped and placed under the tree will start to diminish. So better to be safe than sorry, and order your copy today.
Full details of the calendar are available on the MotoMatters.com calendar ordering page, but the highlights of the large 12"x18.5" calendar are one of Scott Jones' fantastic photos every month, as well as a monthly grid with the race weekends for that month clear marked, showing all three days of on-track action for the MotoGP and World Superbike series, as well as birthdays for most of the world's top motorcycle racers. An example page is shown below, while the calendar ordering page has the lowdown on the calendar. Best of all, 10% of the calendar's purchase price goes towards Riders for Health, helping provide health care in remote regions of the world.
Yamaha's announcement that they would be fielding Ben Spies as a wildcard rider in the final MotoGP round at Valencia saw fans and journalists rushing to their rule books. The MotoGP regulars were mostly on the last of the 5 engines they had been permitted to use in the last 7 races, but how did the engine limit rule affect Ben Spies? Just how many engines did a wildcard rider have? The answer, it turned out, was as many as Yamaha wanted to give him, for the rule book made no mention of wildcards, and therefore wildcard riders could use as many as they liked. In Ben Spies' case, this was basically two - one in each of the two Yamaha M1's he was using, but in theory, he could have popped a fresh engine in every time he went out.
Members of the Grand Prix Commission admitted at the time that it was an anomaly, while pointing out at the same time that it was mostly irrelevant. MotoGP rarely - and tragically - sees wildcard riders take part in races, and so the lack of a rule would have no real effect on the outcome of the championship.
More On The MotoGP Rule Changes - 6 Engines For 2010, Ride-Throughs For Infractions, Tire Sensors Banned
Friday's meeting of the Grand Prix Commission in Geneva had been keenly awaited by fans and followers of MotoGP, primarily because of the expected announcement of the class' return to 1000cc from 2012 onwards. So naturally, after the press release was issued, almost all the press coverage focused on the details of the 1000cc proposal which had been accepted by the Commission, that from 2012 MotoGP bikes will be allowed a maximum capacity of 1000cc, a maximum of 4 cylinders, and a maximum bore of 81mm.
As important as the changes to be made from the 2012 season onwards are, there were just 4 lines in a document comprising some 15 pages (read the entire document for yourself in PDF format here). And amidst those 15 pages are some fairly fascinating details which, although for direct application next season, highlight the direction that MotoGP will be headed in 2012, and how they will deal with some of the issues the series faces.
Since recently retired 7-time AMA Superbike champion Mat Mladin let it drop on his Twitter page that he had offers to compete in WSBK in 2010, this breaking story has grown legs and developed a life of its own. As noted here at MotoMatters, it's rumored that the "very good machinery" that Mladin alluded to is a privateer BMW S1000RR fielded by Alfred Inzinger's Reitwagen Racing team. The latest development in this surreal saga comes from the intermittantly reliable Motorcycle News. According to MCN, rumor has it that a test is being arranged so that Mladin can ride the Beemer at Eastern Creek.
The Grand Prix Commission, MotoGP's rulemaking body, met today in Geneva to discuss a number of issues, clarifying a number of open points in the rule book concerning Moto2, as well as a few other minor points. But the point that MotoGP fans around the world had been waiting for most fervently was the new rules for MotoGP to take effect from 2012.
In the huge press release with regulation changes just issued by the FIM, the part covering MotoGP's new rule changes were incredibly brief- just four lines:
Basic concept for MotoGP
- Maximum displacement: 1000cc
- Maximum number of cylinders: 4
- Maximum bore: 81 mm
And so as predicted (most prophetically by Dennis Noyes on Speed TV), the "silver bullet" Carmelo Ezpeleta described is limiting the bore. Speaking to MotoGP.com, the Dorna CEO described the decision to limit the bore to 81mm as follows: "It's a very important measurement because with this we can have all the characteristics of the engine."
The Moto2 bikes concluded their second day of testing at Valencia on Thursday, but it will not be their last, as originally planned. A number of teams will be staying on at the Spanish track for one more day of testing, taking advantage of the excellent weather currently favoring Spain's Mediterranean coast.
The Aspar team continued to test the BQR bike, trying out Ohlins suspension on the bike in place of the Showa units Julian Simon tested yesterday. Towards the end of the day, the Aspar team borrowed the Pons team's Kalex machine, with both Simon and teammate Mike di Meglio running a short test to get a feel for the bike. Di Meglio had spent most of the day on a Yamaha World Supersport-spec bike, just to get used to riding a four stroke.
Di Meglio wasn't the only rider out on World Supersport equipment. Ant West continued on the MZ, in reality the rebadged Stiggy Honda CBR600RR the Australian campaigned with limited success in the World Supersport series, while two genuine World Supersport contenders - Kenan Sofuoglu and his brand new teammate Michele Pirro - circulated on the Ten Kate Honda Supersport machines. Both the Ten Kate's were over a second faster than West, Sofuoglu running a 1'36.1 and Pirro a 1'36.4.
Testing concluded at Valencia for the World Superbike riders today, and it was Max Biaggi who finished the test on top of the timesheets. Biaggi broke Noriyuki Haga's existing lap record by some eight tenths of a second on his final lap of the test, before climbing off the bike and heading off to the airport to fly back home. Biaggi finished ahead of yesterday's fastest man Leon Haslam, the young Briton confirming his excellent pace on the Alstare Suzuki. Third fastest was Sterilgarda Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow, just a tenth off Haslam's time. The reigning World Supersport champion has taken no time at all to adapt to the World Superbike machines, and continues to be very quick.
Crutchlow finished ahead of both Johnny Rea and James Toseland, the Ten Kate Honda man working on new suspension, while Toseland concentrated on electronics and chassis setup for his Yamaha R1. Reigning British Superbike champion Leon Camier finished some way off the pace, after crashing a couple of times during the day. He was joined in the gravel by Ten Kate Supersport rider Michele Pirro and James Toseland, though all three riders walked away uninjured.
Unofficial times from day 2 at Valencia:
Ever since Ben Spies entered the World Superbike championship, all eyes have been on his former teammate at Yoshimura Suzuki, Mat Mladin. The 7-time AMA Superbike champion initially decided to stay in the US, but his disillusionment with the way the DMG - the rights holders for AMA Superbikes - was running the series became more and more prominent, and he eventually announced his retirement from racing at the end of July 2009.
At the time, speculation was rife that this retirement was merely from the AMA, and that the Australian veteran was planning a secret return to World Superbikes for the 2010 series. Mladin denied it, telling Superbikeplanet.com's Dean Adams that he intended to stop racing altogether once the 2009 AMA season had concluded.
a couple of world superbike offers have come my way in the past month. 1 of them very good in regards to machinery. decisions decisions ;-)
Alstare Suzuki's Leon Haslam was the fastest of the World Superbike paddock on the first day of testing at Valencia. The young Briton was quickly up to speed on the new Suzuki GSX-R1000, taking two tenths of a second off Noriyuki Haga's race lap record at Valencia. That was exactly the same margin by which Haslam was faster than Max Biaggi, the Aprilia rider continuing his development of the RSV4, the bike continuing to show potential.
James Toseland had a strong outing at his second test of the bike, and pronounced himself pleased to be riding at a track he knows so well, after initially making his debut on the Yamaha R1 at Portimao, a tough track to master, without also having to get to grips with a new bike and tires. Toseland and his team mate Cal Crutchlow spent their time working on a new electronics package, the necessity of which was demonstrated by an early crash for Toseland. The Englishman locked the rear of his Yamaha up on a cold tire, while changing down between Turns 4 and 5.
Johnny Rea set the 4th fastest time of the day, just ahead of Crutchlow. Crutchlow was 0.7 faster than the second Ten Kate Honda rider Max Neukirchner, Aprilia's Leon Camier and Aprilia's test rider Alex Hoffman.
The first large-scale outing for the Moto2 teams started today at Valencia, with 5 teams, 6 bikes and 8 riders out on track. According to the times issued by the teams afterwards, Ant West was the fastest of the Moto2 riders, though this requires the first of a number of sizable pinches of salt. According to GPOne.com, West's MZ-badged Moto2 bike was just a Supersport CBR600 in disguise, and consequently an already sorted package.
From there, it all gets very difficult to judge, as the different bikes have engines in very different states of tune, varying from kitted standard engines to full Supersport, and producing anywhere between 115 and 140 hp depending on the level of tune. The real test will come when Honda starts supplying the standard engines to the teams in March next year.
Julian Simon certainly put in a strong performance, the Aspar team once again running the BQR chassis, and edging closer to deciding to use this chassis as the replacement for the missing Aprilias. The Italtrans bike of Roby Rolfo was also impressive, Rolfo setting some strong times, while Raffaele de Rosa made a strong debut on the Tech 3 Moto2 bike, especially given the very low level of tune the Tech 3 team is running their Honda CBR 600 engine in.