Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain
That MotoGP is too Iberocentric - too many Spanish races, and too many Spanish riders - is obvious to all who follow the sport, with the possible exception of a blinkered Spanish journalist or two. The series has to change, to move away from having four races a season in Spain, and to explore new markets in South America and Asia.
This is exactly what is to happen, according to an interview Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta gave to the Reuters news agency on Friday. Reuters reporter Alan Baldwin spoke to Ezpeleta at the Barcelona circuit, where the Dorna CEO was attending the Formula 1 race. In the interview, Ezpeleta laid out his intentions to move away from Spain and, to a lesser extent, the US, and towards Asia and South America, with new races to be held in Brazil and Asia, though as he has done before, Ezpeleta would not be drawn on exactly which Asian country.
The race in Brazil is scheduled to take in Brasilia, the capital of the South American country. Whether that is at the Brasilia race track (the Autódromo Internacional Nelson Piquet in Brasilia) is unclear, but Ezpeleta told Reuters that work was currently underway on the circuit, and the hope was it would be finished by the end of the year. That would make scheduling a race for 2014 difficult, but Ezpeleta was confident that there could be a race in Brazil from 2015 onwards. Ezpeleta did not give any details of the race planned for Asia, but Reuters reporter Baldwin suggests that it could take place in Thailand. Previously, Dorna sources have hinted that a race could take place in Indonesia, though currently, neither country has a circuit that would pass an FIM safety inspection. Given the explosion of interest in the sport in the region, however, that could change quickly.
Valentino Rossi being fastest in a dry MotoGP session brought joy to the hearts of his millions of fans, but also relief to the writers of motorcycle racing headlines. For the past two years, with the exception of a damp and freezing session at Silverstone, the media - especially in Italy - have spent many hours puzzling over how to shoehorn Rossi's name into a news item without it appearing overly clumsy. With little success: "Pedrosa grabs pole, Rossi to start from ninth" sounds, well, as awkward as it does dispiriting.
On Sunday, there was no need for tricky sentence construction. Valentino Rossi grabbed the headlines the way he would want to, on merit. Under a warm sun, and a dry track - well, relatively, but more of that later - Rossi just flat out beat his teammate, and the factory Hondas, and all the other 24 MotoGP machines that took to the track for the second day of the test at Jerez. Beating his teammate, even if it was by just fifteen thousandths of a second, was crucial. That hadn't happened in any of the previous tests, and the gap between himself and Jorge Lorenzo stayed pretty constant: at least three tenths of a second.
Suzuki's MotoGP return is drawing closer. Speaking to Crash.net's Peter McLaren, Suzuki test rider Nobuatsu Aoki confirmed that testing on the brand new bike - an inline four with a big-bang firing order - was progressing well and that the bike would make its first public outing at the post-race test at Barcelona, after the MotoGP round there in mid-June. Aoki himself would be riding at the test, he said, alongside 'one European rider'. That is widely expected to be Randy de Puniet, though Aoki refused to name the rider.
The bike had already undergone extensive testing in Japan, Aoki told Crash.net, both at Suzuki's private test track and at Motegi. A new version of the bike had been tried last week, and Aoki pronounced himself happy with both the engine and the chassis. Suzuki's plan is to enter as a full MSMA team, which means that the factory will have just 5 engines per season and 20 liters of fuel per race at their disposal. The benefit of competing as an MSMA entry is that they will be allowed to write their own software for the spec Magneti Marelli ECU, and compete on the same terms as Honda, Yamaha and Ducati.
The FIM today issued a revised version of the 2013 MotoGP calendar. The new calendar is only a minor update to the initial calendar issued on September 21st, with only one real change, the switching of the Sachsenring to a week earlier. That move was forced on the FIM, as Formula One had scheduled the Grand Prix of Germany at the Nurburgring for the same date. Holding an F1 race and a MotoGP race in the same country and on the same date was not a viable situation, and so the Sachsenring race was moved.
The other update to the calendar was not a change, but a confirmation. The Grand Prix of the Americas has been confirmed as taking place on April 21st, at the brand new Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. That had been widely expected, but could not be confirmed until contracts were signed. The continuing dispute between the Circuit of the Americas and Kevin Schwantz over the rights to organize the Austin round of MotoGP will not affect the scheduling of the race.
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 Marquez/Espargaro incident in the Barcelona Moto2 race is at an end. The Pons 40 HP Tuenti team has decided not to take their appeal on the incident to the CAS, the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and to accept the decision of the FIM Stewards. The decision of Pol Espargaro's team not to take the case to the CAS means that the case is officially closed, and Marc Marquez will not face a penalty over the clash. The one minute penalty initially imposed on Marquez by Race Direction has now been officially consigned to the history books, and Marquez retains his 48-point lead in the Moto2 title race.
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."
Marc Marquez will not receive the time penalty initially imposed upon him by Race Direction after his crash with Pol Espargaro during the Moto2 race at Barcelona. The International Disciplinary Court (CDI) has upheld the decision of the FIM Stewards, who overturned the penalty imposed by Race Direction, meaning that the results of the Barcelona Moto2 race will stand, and Marc Marquez keeps his 6 point advantage in the Moto2 championship standings.
Espargaro's team, the Pons 40 HP Tuenti team, had appealed the decision of the FIM Stewards to the CDI, but after reviewing the evidence, the CDI decided to scrap the penalty and uphold the decision of the court. The team now has five more days to appeal the CDI decision to the CAS, the Court of Arbitration of Sport, sport's highest legal body.
For the last couple of days since the Catalunya Grand Prix, I have been wondering and trying to find out why the FIM did not confirm the one minute race time penalty given to Marc Marquez by Race Direction, awarded because of the Catalunya Caixa rider’s risky action over Pol Espargaro during the last few laps of Moto2 race at Montmeló.
As everyone knows by now the Moto2 class continues to provide some of the closest battles for victory in Grand Prix racing history and, even more today than in the past 250 class times, the price paid by riders for this show is still living on the edge of disaster if they chase any chance of glory.
Maybe that was the main reason why Marquez decided to come back to the inside line of Turn 10 as soon as possible after a massive slide on his Suter, which looked to leave him out of the race or at least out of fighting for a place on the rostrum.
Bridgestone issued the following press release after last weekend's Catalunya round of MotoGP at Barcelona:
Catalunya MotoGP™ debrief with Shinji Aoki
Round 5: Catalunya MotoGP™ - Post-race debrief
Circuit de Catalunya, Wednesday 6 June 2012
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium, Hard. Rear: Medium, Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Hard (Main), Soft (Alternative)
The Catalunya Grand Prix took place under dry conditions on Sunday with Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo winning his second successive race ahead of Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa and Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Andrea Dovizioso to consolidate his position at the top of the MotoGP™ standings.
Weather conditions on the Friday and Saturday of the race weekend were very warm with track temperatures hovering in the mid-50°C range though for Sunday’s race, early morning rain and cloud cover resulted in much cooler track temperatures for the race.
Q&A with Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
Timesheets don't tell you everything. That much is clear from looking at the results of Monday's MotoGP test after the race. After a race weekend where everything has been focused solely on going faster than the others, the finishing order is not quite as important during testing. Cal Crutchlow summed it up perfectly: "You know when a test is just a test when the race winner by 5 seconds is 7th or 8th. So you can't take anything from today's results."
Crutchlow's day did not start off as planned. The Englishman had a 200 km/h crash on the way into turn 4, which completely wrote off his bike and took a good deal of skin off his shoulders and leg. Crutchlow said it was entirely his own fault, but it is not an unusual crash at Barcelona, as Andrea Dovizioso explained. "I had exactly the same crash in FP1 two or three years ago," he said. The problem is caused by the bridge which runs over the track, which provides just enough shade that when a track is drying after the rain, a few wet spots can still remain, but these are impossible to differentiate from the dry tarmac.