That the Red Bull Rookies Cup has been a huge success goes without saying. Former rookies now fill the front of the Moto3 grid, and are starting to make an impact in Moto2. The goal of the Red Bull Rookies Cup, of bringing young riders from around the world into Grand Prix racing has clearly been met.
So successful has it been that two years ago, the World Superbike series set up a similar project. After a modest first year, the European Junior Cup is thriving in its second year, and providing some fantastic racing for talented young riders. At Jerez earlier this year, we had the opportunity to talk to Red Bull Rookies Cup supervisor Peter Clifford about the series he is involved in, as well has the European Junior Cup. He gave us his view of the rival series, but also on a range of other subjects.
The interview covered the difference between four strokes and two strokes, the range of nationalities participating in the Rookies Cup, the complementary role of the European Junior Cup, and the approach the Rookies Cup is taking towards female riders in the series. As always, Clifford provides plenty of food for thought.
MotoMatters: There has been a major change to the Red Bull Rookies Cup this year, with the switch from the 125cc KTM two strokes to the four stroke KTM RC250R. How has the series changed this year?
Peter Clifford: The new bikes that's the huge difference. We've had the usual influx of riders, we keep roughly half from the previous year, and add about half new guys. And of course, this year it makes it an even more level playing field for everybody, because they've all got new motorcycles. They've done four days of preseason testing, everybody got the same treatment, obviously, and then went to Austin for the first races on the new bikes. It's been really good.
Hector Barbera and his 23-year-old girlfriend have both been convicted of assault in a summary justice procedure in the Spanish courts. An altercation between the couple in a hotel in Jerez got out of hand late Thursday night, resulting in physical violence between the two, leading to them both being convicted for assault. Barbera was given a sentence of six months, and his girlfriend, referred to in reports only by her initials D.P., received a sentence of five months, both of which were commuted to fourteen months' community service, Spanish media are reporting.
Bridgestone issued their usual post-race press release after the Jerez round of MotoGP, explaining their choice of tires for the Spanish race. The race weekend had raised many questions over tire compounds and low grip, such as why the Yamahas could only use the soft rear tire, while the Hondas could also use the hard rear to some extent, and how the hard front had only barely managed to cope with the conditions. Azuma gives a clear explanation of the differences, and of why Bridgestone made the choices they did. The press release appears below:
Spanish MotoGP™ debrief with Masao Azuma
Wednesday 8 May 2013
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft & Medium; Rear: Extra-soft, Soft & Medium (Symmetric)
This year’s Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez took place under resplendent sunny skies and saw local hero Dani Pedrosa ride to victory ahead of his Repsol Honda teammate Marc Marquez and Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo in third place.
The warm and sunny conditions presented the hottest track conditions at Jerez in years, with a peak track temperature of 53°C during the race providing a stern test for the riders, machines and tyres.
Q&A with Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
2013 Jerez MotoGP Post-Race Round Up, Part 2: Of Forgotten Winners, Worried Yamahas And New-found Optimism
At the post-race press conference, as he fielded question after question of his last-corner clash with Marc Marquez, and refused to give an answer, Jorge Lorenzo eventually came out with the slightly exasperated quip: "Now a lot of questions to me, and when I won in Qatar, no questions for me. It's a little bit strange." It is a common occurrence in sporting journalism, and makes clear that while the athletes believe they are involved in a purely sporting endeavor, the media understands that what they are involved is actually show business. The big story of the weekend is not necessarily who stands on the top step of the podium.
Which is a shame, as Dani Pedrosa's victory at Jerez was both well-deserved and deeply impressive. The Hondas has come to the track with a disadvantage from testing, and were expected to struggle against the mighty Yamahas. It did not quite turn out that way, the Hondas - and especially Pedrosa and his crew chief Mike Leitner - found the grip they needed to beat Jorge Lorenzo and the rampaging Yamaha hordes, despite the horribly greasy conditions of the hot Jerez track.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the one-day test at Jerez:
Marc Marquez topped the timesheet at the end of the one-day test at Jerez, the Repsol Honda man setting his fastest time of the weekend as his team solved some of the front-end issues which had been dogging the Spaniard. Marquez' lead was very slim, however: less than a tenth of a second faster than Monster Tech 3 Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow, and a little more than a tenth quicker than Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa. Fourth fastest man was Valentino Rossi, but the Italian was nearly six tenths slower than Marquez.
While Honda focused on suspension and electronics - only a partial success, judging by the body language in Dani Pedrosa's pits, the Repsol Honda man gesturing that the rear was still moving around too much for his liking - Yamaha tested a new chassis, Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi alternating between the 2012 and 2013 chassis, and Bradley Smith testing the same chassis which Cal Crutchlow has been using this year (the one used by the Factory Yamaha team from Aragon onwards). Smith pronounced himself pleased, finding a clear improvement in braking stability which helped with his consistency. Rossi and Lorenzo, however, were still undecided between the two chassis, both versions offering improvements in some areas, but losing out in others. Lorenzo came down largely in favor, but Rossi is still not convinced of the benefits.
Test times at 2pm:
We'd been wondering how long it would last. Nobody had started a formal pool yet, but we knew that at some point in the season, Marc Marquez would try something which would generate a mountain of controversy. The question was not if, but when, surely.
It took three races, which is positively restrained measured by the standards of his 2012 Moto2 season. Then, he managed to embroil himself in controversy in the very first race when he ran Thomas Luthi off the track at the end of the straight at the beginning of the final lap.
Yet while Marquez' pass on Jorge Lorenzo is already generating enough print copy to wipe out a small forest, it is totally different from his move at Qatar in 2012. That was a cynical slide to the left which saw him edge Luthi off the track and out of contention. This was a dive up the inside of a gap left by Lorenzo in the final corner of the final lap, after Marquez had spent the previous five or six laps making it perfectly clear to Lorenzo that he was hell-bent on finishing ahead of him.
Reaction To The Last-Corner Incident At Jerez: Rossi, Crutchlow, Smith, Suppo, Zeelenberg And Poncharal Speak
After the final corner incident between Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo, the media spent the afternoon canvassing opinion from anyone they could find in the paddock, to ask how they felt about the incident. Below is a selection of the responses, split between riders and team staff. Cal Crutchlow, Bradley Smith and Valentino Rossi represent rider opinion, while Herve Poncharal, Livio Suppo and Wilco Zeelenberg speak for the teams.
Cal Crutchlow, Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider
At the end of the day, it's racing. I don't think Marquez did anything wrong. If Jorge had the opportunity, he'd do exactly the same. Marquez never rode into the side of him meaning to hit him. He ran a little bit deep, and Jorge was there, and that's it. You think Jorge has never run a little deep and ran into somebody? You think he won't for the rest of his career? At some point in racing it's going to happen. But if it happened to me, I'd probably be pissed off for half the slowdown lap, but then you've got to think about it in the sense of, I could have done it to somebody.
You don't think Marquez is a dangerous rider?
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after Sunday's spectacular race at Jerez:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after Sunday's races at Jerez:
Race Results and summary for MotoGP: