Assen, The Netherlands
With his career with BMW ending after the final World Superbike race of the season at Magny-Cours on Sunday, Leon Haslam headed north to Assen yesterday, to try the Honda CBR1000RR for the first time with the Ten Kate team, having signed to race with the Dutch team for next season. After the test, the Honda World Superbike press office issued the following press release:
Leon Haslam returns to Honda in Assen test
Below is the MotoGP calendar for 2013:
2013 MotoGP Provisional Calendar Leaked: 3 US Rounds, 4 Spanish Rounds, 2 Italian Rounds, And Late March Start
The provisional MotoGP calendar has taken a little longer than normal to appear. An initial calendar had been expected at Brno in late August, but no calendar was forthcoming at the Czech Grand Prix. The next rumored date for the calendar to be released was the weekend of the Misano round of MotoGP, but once the paddock assembled at Misano, it became apparent it would emerge a few days later - MotoMatters.com was told by an IRTA representative that the calendar would be announced on Tuesday or Wednesday this week. On Tuesday, the Austin Statesman newspaper reported that the calendar would be out on Friday, but the excessive enthusiasm of Loris Capirossi saw the former racer and current MotoGP safety advisor leak the 2013 calendar on his Twitter page on Thursday night.
The tire problems experienced by Valentino Rossi and Ben Spies at Assen, where great chunks of rubber came off the right side of the rear of the tire, slowing Spies up severely and affecting Rossi so badly he was forced to pit for a new tire, have been the subject of much speculation and discussion since the event. Spies was particularly shaken after the race, the tire problems bringing back bad memories of the 300 km/h tire failure and monster crash he had at Daytona back in 2003, which he still has the scars to show from.
Nearly a week on, and after examination by Bridgestone technicians back at the factory in Japan, we can start to draw a few preliminary conclusions as to the cause of the problems. Bridgestone have issued a press release and briefed the press directly, and riders have weighed in with their thoughts and impressions of what happened. Before pointing fingers and apportioning blame, let us first walk through what we know of what actually happened.
Bridgestone issued the following press release about the tire problems suffered at Assen. This evening, there will be a press debrief with Bridgestone's Manager of Motorsport Tyre Development Shinji Aoki. A full report will appear after that:
Bridgestone explains findings of post-Assen tyre analysis
Friday, 6 July 2012
Following problems occurring in the rear tyre of three riders during the Dutch TT at Assen last Saturday, Bridgestone immediately sent the affected tyres back to its Technical Centre in Kodaira, Japan, where they underwent intensive analysis to determine the cause of the irregularities.
Bridgestone’s Manager of Motorsport Tyre Development, Shinji Aoki, was closely involved in the analysis of the rear tyres and here he explains what the contributing factors were at Assen that caused the problems in the rear tyres, and what measures Bridgestone will take to prevent such occurrences in future.
Aoki-san, can you explain what were the causes of the problem that some riders experienced with their rear tyres at Assen?
Much was expected of Friday's Grand Prix Commission meeting at Assen, which was set to discuss the major changes coming in MotoGP. The results of that meeting turned out to be a damp squib rather than the expected revolution, as decisions on the big changes were pushed further down the road. On Saturday morning, the day of the race, MotoMatters.com spoke to Carmelo Ezpeleta about those expected rule changes, and about the reasoning behind them.
In the discussion, Ezpeleta told MotoMatters.com that his main aim was to both reduce costs and increase the entertainment value of the series. Part of that would be by helping the CRT bikes where they are weak: the electronics are a major issue for the CRT bikes, and Dorna have enlisted the help of Magneti Marelli to provide the CRT machines with a standard ECU, developed using their extensive experience gained from racing in MotoGP. A rev limit is still on the cards, but whether this will be introduced in 2014 or 2015 is as yet unclear.
While unpopular with a lot of people, Ezpeleta laid out exactly why the rule changes are needed: Dorna is in the entertainment business, and is subsidizing both the teams and factories to race in MotoGP. That contribution is substantial, and the only way to keep the series viable is by keeping costs low. Expanding the popularity of the series was also important, and to that end, MotoGP will be going to Southeast Asia in either 2014 or 2015, though Ezpeleta was coy on exactly where that would be. Here's what Carmelo Ezpeleta had to tell MotoMatters.com at Assen:
MotoMatters: I would like to ask you about the new rules for MotoGP, the rules which are coming in 2014 or 2015.
Bridgestone today issued their usual post-race press release, containing a debrief of the events during the race at Assen. This debrief is a little special, however, as there were the problems suffered by Ben Spies and Valentino Rossi with chunks of rubber going missing from the rear tire. Though Shinichi Yamashita has no explanation as yet of exactly what happened as yet - the tires are still being investigated at Bridgestone's Japanese headquarters - he did issue an apology for the problem.
Below is the text of the press release:
Dutch TT MotoGP™ debrief with Shinichi Yamashita
Assen, Tuesday 3 July 2012
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium. Rear: Medium-soft, Medium (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main), Hard (Alternative)
Last Saturday’s Dutch TT at the fabled Assen circuit saw Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner bounce back to score his third win of the season ahead of teammate Dani Pedrosa and Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso. The reigning champion now sits level with Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo in the MotoGP™ standings.
2012 Assen Moto2 Race Report: Triple Victory At Assen For Márquez, Massive Disappointment For Esparagó
Watching how Marc Márquez was totally eclipsed by Pol Espargaró and Briton Scott Redding at the British Grand Prix, it was to be expected that the Catalunya Caixa rider would make a fast return two weeks later at the Dutch TT. However, Moto2 started at Assen as it finished at Silverstone, with Espargaró the fastest man on the track from the start of free practice one to the end of FP3 in Holland.
While all this was happening Márquez was already taking an unusual first win of the weekend, when the FIM finally confirmed the Spaniard’s controversial 16 points earned in Barcelona.
We recently wrote at Motomatters.com about how baffling this Moto2 season could become because of the two possible outcomes of the FIM’s decision. Actually, this had already happened in Barcelona when the FIM Stewards decided to uphold the Catalunya Caixa Team’s appeal against the one minute penalty imposed on Márquez by Race Direction’s for his dangerous move on Espargaró that ended with the Kalex rider literally eating the dust.
Marquez’s win # 1
The FIM decision was Marquez’s first victory of the weekend at Assen, because sixteen points mean much more of an advantage over Espargaró in such a highly competitive Moto2 class, as the 2012 season has turned out to be until now. On the other hand, giving Márquez sixteen points he could possibly have lost, and you can be sure that it will have a profound affect on the fight for the title – even if Marquez wins the title at the end of the season by more than those same sixteen points. Clearly, it is not exactly the same as giving sixteen points to Elena Rosell.
Cal Crutchlow's offer of a factory ride at Ducati moved from conjecture to established fact at Assen, Crutchlow tacitly acknowledging that the factory which had offered him a contract was indeed Ducati. Though Crutchlow is waiting on an offer from the factory Yamaha team before giving Ducati an answer - Crutchlow is directly behind Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa in the Silly Season pecking order - he is believed to be very keen to take the ride, regarding a factory ride as the only chance he has of having a shot at being World Champion.
At Barcelona, when asked by MotoMatters.com whether the plight of the many top riders that have struggled on the Ducati worried him, Crutchlow told reporters it did not, saying that the similarities between his own riding style and Casey Stoner's made him optimistic he could learn to ride the GP13. "If I looked at my riding style and Casey's riding style, how we open the gas, how we brake, stuff like that, obviously he's a second a lap faster most of the time, but it's similar," Crutchlow said. "And as he's the only one who's been able to ride the Ducati, then I'm not scared to maybe take a chance and go there, no."
There is a danger to thinking any championship is a foregone conclusion, especially this early in the season. Just as there is a danger to thinking that a race will pan out the way you thought it would after practice and qualifying. At Assen, everyone was afraid of three things: the weather, Jorge Lorenzo and Pol Espargaro. All three turned out differently than expected.
Best of all was the weather. After treacherous conditions on Friday, with rain falling, stopping, wetting the track just enough for Casey Stoner to bang himself up badly in the morning, though that did not stop him from blasting to pole, Saturday dawned bright and only got better: the big skies of flat-as-a-board Drenthe were mainly blue, with the occasional sighting of fluffy white clouds to provide a little cover and prevent egregious sunburn. But best of all, it stayed dry: no complications, just sunny, dry and calm weather.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after Saturday's Dutch TT at Assen:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after Saturday's race at Assen: