2012 Valencia MotoGP Saturday Round Up: Of Lap Records, Hunger For Success, And Giving Factories Enough Rope
The last of the 990 pole records finally went at Valencia, along with the last record held by Valentino Rossi at any of the tracks currently on the calendar. Dani Pedrosa's astonishing last lap was inch perfect, and put him 0.158 seconds faster than Rossi's time, set in 2006 at the infamous season finale in which Rossi got a dismal start, then fell off trying to catch Nicky Hayden, handing the American the world championship in the process. Pedrosa's lap really was something special, though the Spaniard was not as impressed as the onlookers. He had had a few good laps in his career, he told the press conference, and this was definitely one of them. Pedrosa has looked ominous all weekend - actually, since Indianapolis - and if it were going to stay dry, then you would be hard put to think of anyone who could beat the Repsol Honda man.
Jorge Lorenzo is keen to try, and is fast all the way round the circuit to the final sector, but is losing a couple of tenths just in the acceleration out of the final corner and towards the line. The Hondas dominate there, good round the long left before the final corner - both Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa were hanging the rear out all round that turn, showing a hint of the old tire-smokin' 990 days - but absolute missiles on acceleration. That has been Lorenzo's complaint all year, not sufficient acceleration and not the wheelie control which the Hondas appear to have. If Lorenzo arrives at the final corner with a Honda behind him, he will fear for his position.
A revolution is about to take place at Ducati, several reliable sources are reporting. The Bologna factory's new owners Audi are pushing through wholesale changes, both MotoSprint and Moto.it are reporting, which include relieving Filippo Preziosi of his responsibility for Ducati's MotoGP project and embarking on a parallel project to have Suter build a new chassis for the bike. Who is to take the place of Preziosi at the head of Ducati Corse is unclear, but the name of Paolo Ciabatti, currently involved in World Superbikes and previously head of Ducati's WSBK team, is being mentioned.
2012 Valencia MotoGP Friday Round Up: Dr Marquez And Mr Hyde, Bumpy Tracks, And Leasing Yamaha Engines
If there is one rider in the entire MotoGP paddock who recalls the strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, it is Marc Marquez. Around the paddock, speaking to the press, at public appearances, the Spaniard is soft-spoken, polite, friendly. When he speaks, he speaks only in commonplaces, his media training having expunged any trace of opinion or controversy from his speech (in either English or Spanish). Put him on a bike, however, and the beast is unleashed. He is merciless, in his speed, in his ownership of the track, and in his disregard of anyone else on the track.
So it was unsurprising that the Spaniard should find himself in trouble once again. During the afternoon practice, Marquez slotted his bike underneath an unsuspecting Simone Corsi going into turn 10, sending the Italian tumbling through the gravel in the process. The move was reminiscent of the incident at Motegi, where Marquez barged past Mika Kallio with similar disregard for the consequences, but unlike Motegi, this time Marquez received a penalty from Race Direction, for contravening section 1.21.2, a section Marquez by now must know almost by heart. That part of the Sporting Regulations which governs 'riding in a responsible manner which does not cause danger to other competitors'. For his sins, Marquez is to start from the back of the grid on Sunday, regardless of where he qualifies.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and single tire supplier after a rained-out day of practice at Valencia:
2012 Valencia MotoGP Thursday Round Up: Of Anticipation, Determination, Preparation, And New Rules For 2014
The atmosphere in the paddock at Valencia is an odd mixture of fatigue, excitement and anticipation. Fatigue, because it is the end of a long season, and the teams and riders are barely recovered from the three back-to-back flyaway rounds; excitement, because this is the last race of the year, and the last chance to shine, and for some, the last chance to impress a team sufficiently to secure a ride next year; and anticipation, because with so many riders switching brands and classes, they are already thinking about the test to come on Tuesday.
Or in Casey Stoner's case, thinking about a future outside of MotoGP. As his departure from the championship grows near, it is clear that he has had more than enough of the series. Asked if he was worried about the politics in V8 Supercars, where he is headed in the near future, he said he wasn't, because he understood that V8 Supercars is a different kind of championship. MotoGP, though, was supposed to be a professional championship, and in his opinion, it was 'a joke'. Four races in Spain, another just over the border in Portugal, this was not a truly world championship, Stoner said. Instead, MotoGP is too much of a European championship, and it needed to rediscover its roots.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and the single tire supplier ahead of this weekend's season finale at Valencia:
As reported earlier, Althea and Ducati Corse have gone their separate ways, leaving Carlos Checa, who was under contract to Ducati, rather than Althea, in limbo. Today, Ducati Corse issued a press release reaffirming that Ducati will be racing in 2013, and that Carlos Checa will be their rider. The press relase is shown below:
Ducati confirms Carlos Checa in its 2013 World Superbike preparations
- Ducati continues preparations for 2013 World Superbike season.
- Carlos Checa confirmed as official rider.
- Cooperation with Team Althea Racing discontinued.
Borgo Panigale (Bologna), 29 October 2012 – Ducati is finalising its plans for the 2013 World Superbike Championship, both in the development of the 1199 Panigale and how it will participate in the series.
The company has already confirmed the renewal of its contract with Carlos Checa, who won the 2011 World Superbike Championship on a Ducati 1198, and the Spanish rider will now continue development of the new Ducati 1199 Panigale ready for its World Superbike debut year.
Two freshly anointed champions, three impressive winners, and a large crowd of ecstatic and yet wistful fans, come to say goodbye to a departing hero and hope to spot a new one arriving. Even the weather cooperated. That's how good the Australian Grand Prix was at Phillip Island this year. All three races were a lot less intense than the previous two weekends, but even that didn't matter, because of the manner in which the winners secured their victories, and because the Australian crowd had something to cheer about in all three categories.
It started in the Moto3 race, where Sandro Cortese rode one of his best races of the year, the title he clinched last weekend at Sepang clearly a weight off his mind, allowing the young German to ride freely. He had Miguel Oliveira to contend with for most of the race, but in the end, he would not be denied. The home crowd still had much to cheer about, as local boy Arthur Sissis, the 17-year-old former Red Bull Rookie, won an intense battle for third, putting an Australian on the podium for the first time on Sunday.
The Althea team have terminated their association with Ducati. After prolonged negotiations between Althea team boss Genesio Belvilacqua and Ducati Corse, in which the two could not reach an agreement on several key areas, Belvilacqua has decided to end their collaboration, and look for another manufacturer to work with.
The decision comes as a shock. Althea and Ducati have worked together for just three short years, but in that time, they have secured both the World Superbike title and the Superstock 1000 championship with their current riders Carlos Checa and Davide Giugliano. It had been expected that the collaboration would continue in 2013, with the two men helping to develop Ducati's new 1199R Panigale superbike machine.
Valentino Rossi On Ducati: "Biggest Frustration Is Having Same Problems We Had At Valencia 2010 Test"
Valentino Rossi spoke on Sunday of the frustration he has suffered over the past two years with Ducati. After two years with the iconic Italian factory, the gap to the front runners remains the same, and the problems Rossi noted at the first test in Valencia 2010 are still there. Now, he told the press, his focus is on riding the Yamaha M1 again, to assess just what the damage of his two years at Ducati has been. Whether any of the riders heading to Ducati for 2013 would be able to master the Ducati was still open, Rossi said.
The Italian was philosophical after the race at Phillip Island, having finished a mediocre seventh, some 37 seconds behind the winner at a track where Rossi once won five years in a row. He brushed off the question of whether the result was a bad one or not with a quip. "I expected more! Yesterday, I was 2 seconds behind, 2 seconds for 27 laps, I expect 54 seconds! So was a good race," Rossi joked.
Rossi's previous record at Phillip Island was outstanding, but even after two years on the bike, Rossi said, he still failed to understand how come Casey Stoner was so successful on the Ducati where everyone else failed. "Casey was the only one rider who could be fast with the Ducati," Rossi told reporters. "All the other guys that tried have destroyed, not his career but his mind... So congratulations to Casey. But two years ago, I still don't understand why there is this difference between Stoner and the other Ducati riders, and after two years that I ride the Ducati I still don't understand." Rossi did not believe his time on the Ducati had caused him the same problems, however. When asked if the experience had, in his own words, destroyed his mind, Rossi replied "I don't think so. Especially because I have another chance."
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and single tire supplier Bridgestone after the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island:
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and single tire supplier after qualifying at Phillip Island on Saturday: