The Shanghai International Circuit is a strange place. It is, to paraphrase Dickens, the best of tracks and the worst of tracks. For like so much of the building going on due to China's rise as a global superpower, the facilities are quite simply remarkable. The pit garages are spacious and clean, the paddock buildings are beautifully laid out, complete with garden and water village, and the press room looks like it could be used by NASA to monitor space shuttle flights. The trackside facilities truly are second to none.
An intriguing bit of news appeared over on GPOne.com over the past couple of days. Their main MotoGP reporter, Alberto Cani, writes that Yamaha is getting ready to finalize its plans for 2009. And the first item on the agenda for Yamaha supremo Lin Jarvis is the rider line up.
HRC's on-again-off-again testing of their pneumatic valve engine is about to shift up a gear. After electing not to test the air valve engine for the RC212V at Estoril, the new powerplant could make an appearance at Shanghai in China.
Marco Melandri has something of a reputation for speaking out whenever he's not happy. Melandri's outburst about the weakness of the Honda RC212V, and HRC's reneging on promises of full factory support for the Gresini Honda team are still ringing in the ears of both Honda officials and journalists, and now Melandri is at it again.
Conflicting reports are emerging from Italy about the future of Nicky Hayden in MotoGP. On the one hand, we have MotoGrandPrix.it, who are reporting that Hayden is close to signing a new 2-year contract with Repsol Honda.
The excellent and amusing Dutch newspaper columnist Bert Wagendorp wrote recently of the 2008 Beijing Olympics "If you really hate a country, you should let them organize the Olympic games." Ever since the announcement that China was to organize the olympics, there has been a growing movement of protest about the human rights situation in the Chinese heartland and in Tibet.
That 200 mph racing motorcycles with carbon disk brakes capable of braking at close to 2G of force place demands on the human body is self evident. The repeated effort of bearing the equivalent of twice your own bodyweight on your forearms several times a lap can cause enormous pain in a condition known as Chronic exertional compartment syndrome (CECS), more colloquially referred to as arm pump.
Saturday afternoon's qualifying practice session started warm and dry, conditions better than on Friday afternoon, when the session had started with a cool track. The riders had also had the benefit of a dry practice session in the morning, in which they had all improved their Friday times, and race setups were starting to materialize.
Ever since the start of Kawasaki's MotoGP project, one of its main problems has been the lack of a rider capable of winning championships, to help push the development of the bike forward. Their signing of John Hopkins in a multi-million dollar deal went some way to address that issue, but Team Green's ambitions are obviously much higher.