Misano, Italy

2009 World Superbikes Misano QP1 Result - Fabrizio Tops Spies In Last Minute

Michel Fabrizio sits on provisional pole for Sunday's World Superbike races, after the Xerox Ducati rider nudged Yamaha's Ben Spies from the top spot in the dying minutes of the session. Spies had taken over in turn from Fabrizio's team mate Nori Haga as the session approached the halfway mark, and led almost to the end.

Yukio Kagayama set the 3rd fastest time on the Alstare Suzuki, the Japanese veteran also picking up speed as the session neared its end. Johnny Rea takes the final spot on the provisional front row, getting back to the front with just a couple of minutes to go, after having been close for most of the session.

Rea knocked an unleashed Broc Parkes off the front row, the Kawasaki rider finally showing some real speed. Parkes was up as high as 3rd fastest at one point, before just losing out on the provisional front row. The Ten Kate Hondas of Ryuichi Kiyonari and Carlos Checa are in 6th and 7th, with Nori Haga down in 8th.

BMW's Troy Corser was well up the order in the early part of the session, slipping down into 10th later on. The BMW finished ahead of the Aprilia of Shinya Nakano, with Nakano's team mate Max Biaggi in a lowly 16th place.

American rider Jamie Hacking just made it into the top 20, provisionally qualifying for tomorrow's Superpole, while John Hopkins, returning from injury, took it carefully to finish the day down in 26th.

Qualifying continues tomorrow morning, from which the top 20 riders will go through to the knock-out Superpole sessions.

Result of QP1 for the World Superbikes at Misano:

2009 World Supersport Misano FP1 Result - Crutchlow Leads Lascorz

Cal Crutchlow was the fastest of the World Supersport riders in the first session of free practice at Misano, the young Briton learning his way around the track very quickly. He put his Yamaha ahead of the Glaner Motocard Kawasaki of Joan Lascorz, the Spaniard having been fast all throughout the session.

Kenan Sofuoglu confirmed his return to form, setting the 3rd fastest time, and being close to the top for most of the session. Parkalgar Honda's Eugene Laverty was 4th fastest and the last man inside a second. Laverty took time getting up to speed, but was among the front runners as the session entered the final 20 minutes.

The session was halted for an extended period with one third of the session gone, after Garry McCoy blew up the engine of his Triumph and oiled the track. He later blew a second engine, but this time, without causing the session to be interrupted.

Results of the FP1 session for the World Supersport session:

2009 World Superbikes Misano FP1 Result - Spies Edges Fabrizio And Rea

Ben Spies led the first session of free practice at Misano for the World Superbike class, but he took his time to get there. The Ten Kate Honda riders led the way early, all three sitting atop the timesheets at the halfway mark, but Michel Fabrizio, Nori Haga and Ben Spies gradually caught up. Spies finally took top spot at the end of the session, with a couple of very fast laps.

Gregorio Lavilla made an instant impression on the Guandalini Ducati, finishing 4th quickest. Americans Jamie Hacking and John Hopkins made a quiet return to the series, finishing 22nd and 19th respectively. The first session of qualifying takes place later this afternoon.

Results of the first session of free practice at Misano for World Superbikes:

2009 Misano World Superbikes And World Supersport Preview

The World Superbike circus heads off to Italy this weekend, to a part of the country which might almost be regarded as "enemy" heartland. For the region around the Misano circuit, the site of this weekends races, is home to a veritable horde of MotoGP, 250cc and 125cc racers - Valentino Rossi, Mattia Pasini, Marco Melandri, Marco Simoncelli, the list goes on and on.

But World Superbikes has a strong history and a strong place at Misano. For a start, it hosts the World Ducati Week, when the Bologna factory organizes that event. As a consequence, it is very much a Ducati track, and over the years, Ducatis have taken the top spot in 26 out of the 34 races run here, with all of the great names of Ducati World Superbikes winning here: Troy Bayliss, Carl Fogarty, Ben Bostrom, Ruben Xaus, Pier Francesco Chili, Regis Laconi.

So normally, you might expect the odds to be stacked in favor of the Xerox Ducati pairing of Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio. But while Ducati may have an outstanding record here, both Haga and Fabrizio have been pretty dismal at Misano. Of the 18 races that Haga has contested here, he has only been on the podium 3 times, and is yet to win at the circuit. Fabrizio's record is even worse: the Italian has only finished 2 of the World Superbike 6 races he has started in at the track on the Adriatic coast, the only bright spot being the Superstock race he won here in 2003.

The omens are not good for the Xerox Ducati team, and this couldn't come at a worse time for them. Prior to the US round of World Superbikes at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah, Haga had a very comfortable lead of 85 points over team mate Fabrizio, and 88 points over his chief rival for 2009, Yamaha's Ben Spies. But a dire weekend in Utah - a reflection of his 2008 race there - left Haga battered and bruised, and giving up 35 points from his lead.

Race results and championship standings

Hacking To Replace Tamada At Misano And Donington

Kawasaki has been rather successful with its substitute riders. After former GP winner Makoto Tamada broke a bone in his wrist, both South Africa's Sheridan Morais and the American Jamie Hacking have posted outstanding results in his place, Morais scoring a  13th and 11th place at Kyalamin, and Hacking taking 7th and a DNF at Miller Motorsports Park. So good have been their results, in fact, that both men are ahead of regular rider Makoto Tamada in the World Championship standings.

Now, Jamie Hacking is to be rewarded for his strong showing in Utah with the chance to compete in two more World Superbike rounds as Tamada's replacement. Hacking has been drafted in to race at Misano, on June 21st, and at Donington Park, a week later. The American impressed the team with both his riding and his feedback, though some of his fellow competitors were less impressed by some of the rough passes Hacking put on them.

The official reason given by the team for the choice to replace Tamada with Hacking is to allow the Japanese rider to recover fully before returning to full time duty at the Imola test in mid-July, and then the Brno round 10 days later. But rumors have been emerging from the team almost from the start of the season that the team are not happy with Tamada, and that the rider has been forced on them by Kawasaki headquarters back in Akashi, Japan.

Jamie Hacking has been angling for a ride in the World Superbike series, and now that his best friend in the paddock Ben Spies is in the series, he has someone else putting his case for him. Spies has said numerous times that Hacking belongs in the WSBK series, and it is entirely conceivable that the support of the Texan has helped Hacking's case. Hacking is looking more and more like the next American to make the jump to the World Superbike paddock.

2009 MotoGP Calendar

This is the final, official version of the 2009 MotoGP calendar. After being in doubt for a long time, the Hungarian Grand Prix was eventually canceled over problems with the track. It will now make its debut on the calendar in the spring of 2010.

Date Grand Prix Circuit
April 12th* Qatar Losail
April 26th Japan Motegi
May 3rd Spain Jerez
May 17th France Le Mans
May 31st Italy Mugello
June 14th Catalunya Catalunya
June 27th** Netherlands Assen
July 5th*** United States Laguna Seca
July 19th Germany Sachsenring
July 26th Great Britain Donington Park
August 16th Czech Republic Brno
August 30th Indianapolis Indianapolis
September 6th San Marino & Riviera di Rimini Misano
October 4th Portugal Estoril
October 18th Australia Phillip Island
October 25th Malaysia Sepang
November 8th Valencia Ricardo Tormo - Valencia

* Evening race
** Saturday race
*** Only MotoGP class

Imola Returns In Finalized 2009 World Superbike Championship Calendar

The FIM today announced the official and final version of the 2009 World Superbike calendar. The announcement both confirmed some sad news and provided some excellent news for racing fans.

The bad news is that Brands Hatch, the biggest motorcycle race in the UK, and arguably the largest motorsports event in the country, is now officially off the calendar. Its absence is a result of an argument over sanctioning fees between FGSport (or as it is now called, Infront Motor Sports) and MSV, the body which organizes BSB and is run by Jonathan Palmer, which owns both Brands Hatch and a number of other major race circuits in the UK. The arguments may ostensibly be over money, but a whiff of politics hangs over the decision, with the Flammini brothers wanting a great deal more money than last year, while Palmer refusing to pay any more than he did last year. The loss of Brands is a major blow to race fans, both in terms of the circuit - which is a beautiful track, in a rather idyllic wooded area, and in terms of the event. Attendances at Brands were huge, rivalling even the numbers seen at Spanish MotoGP rounds.

The good news, however, is that Vallelunga has been dropped in favor of Imola. There had been rumors that this was to happen, as the track was dangerous and difficult, with a tight section added on in haste to make it eligible for FIM sanctioned international races. And as Vallelunga was thought to be included primarily to draw in Max Biaggi's fans from his native Rome, with Biaggi now a regular part of the series, the need for a round near Rome has been obviated.

The return of Imola sees one of the classic race tracks back on the calendar. Imola has been the site of some classic battles, both in the Grand Prix series and in World Superbikes, but perhaps none have been so famous as the final round of the 2002 World Superbike series, when Colin Edwards beat Troy Bayliss to win the championship.

2009 MotoGP Calendar Update: Misano Moved Back A Week

The FIM announced a minor change to the 2009 MotoGP calendar today. The Misano round of MotoGP will be held a week earlier than previously scheduled, moving it to the week after the Indianapolis MotoGP round.

DateGrand PrixCircuit
April 12th*QatarLosail
April 26thJapanMotegi
May 3rdSpainJerez
May 17thFranceLe Mans
May 31stItalyMugello
June 14thCatalunyaCatalunya
June 27th**NetherlandsAssen
July 5th***United StatesLaguna Seca
July 19thGermanySachsenring
July 26thGreat BritainDonington Park
August 16thCzech RepublicBrno
August 30thIndianapolisIndianapolis
September 6thSan Marino & Riviera di RiminiMisano
September 20thHungaryBalaton
October 4thPortugalEstoril
October 18thAustraliaPhillip Island
October 25thMalaysiaSepang
November 8thValenciaRicardo Tormo - Valencia

* Evening race
** Saturday race
*** Only MotoGP class

2008 MotoGP Misano Race Report - Fairy Tale

Everybody loves a story. A story can capture our imagination, and transport us beyond the realms of our daily lives. A story can move us and put us in touch with our deepest feelings. And a story can teach us, by allowing us to walk a mile in another person's shoes and understand their point of view. Stories help us organize and explain the world around us, and make sense of the endless stream of seemingly random events which fill it.

For stories are at the heart of what makes us human: Every culture, every creed, every people has its tales, myths and legends to help it make sense of the world. It is how we keep track of our history, both on the global scale, and at the level of the personal narrative which we construct from our lives.

So deep-seated is this instinct that we also tell stories that may not even be there. We draw together isolated incidents, related only by their proximity in time or in geographical location, add our own correlations and interpretations, and build a logical and coherent story that sounds completely plausible. That such stories do not necessarily bear any resemblance to reality, present or future, tends to be completely disregarded.

Tell Me A Story

The Misano MotoGP round, or the Gran Premio Cinzano di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini, to give it its full, keyboard-eroding name, was a case in point. So many separate possibilities came together at this race that the fairy tale was being written before anyone had turned a wheel on the track.

As so often in motorcycle racing fairy tales, the character at the heart of the story was Valentino Rossi. Rossi's story, already embroidered so broadly across the rich tapestry of MotoGP, was poised to see more chapters added at Misano.

For Misano was the very first track that the Italian had ever raced at as a teenager aboard a 125, yet at the same time, it was the only track that he had not yet won a MotoGP race at. The Doctor had already scratched Laguna Seca from that ever-dwindling list six weeks ago, and had announced his attention that Misano should go the same way.

The History Man

Added to this was the fact that a win here would bring Rossi's total of premier class wins up to 68, equal with the legendary Giacomo Agostini. Agostini had dominated the sport in the 1960s and early 1970s, making a habit of winning every race until he secured a title, then taking the rest of the season off. To draw level with Agostini in an era of much more closely fought competition would brighten Rossi's star still further beyond it's already blazing brilliance.

As if this were not enough, Rossi would have the opportunity of achieving this incredible milestone less than 10 miles from his home town of Tavullia. In fact, almost the entire population of Tavullia had turned up at the track to cheer Rossi on, and watch him enter the history books. They had even gone so far as to hold a town council meeting at the track, with one of the items of business the appointment of Valentino Rossi as honorary mayor for a day.

The scene was set, the actors had taken the stage, all that was needed was a deft storyteller to allow the tale to unfurl as the fans and followers had scripted it in their minds. A thrilling race-long battle with his archrival Casey Stoner, followed by a final pass for the lead at the final hairpin, with Rossi courageously holding the Australian champion off for the win over the line. Everything was in place for a repeat of the Laguna Seca race, with the same intended outcome. They just needed to roll the film, and let it all play out.

Race results and championship standings

2008 Misano Post-Race Test Times - Pedrosa Quickly Up To Speed

Times from the post race test at Misano, courtesy of GPOne.com

1Dani PedrosaHonda1'34.65276 laps total, best time on air valve engine
2Shinya NakanoHonda1'35.44623
 Dani PedrosaHonda1'35.555spring valve engine
3John HopkinsKawasaki1'35.87969
4Randy de PunietHonda1'35.97228
5Ant WestKawasaki1'36.10176
6Alex de AngelisHonda1'36.12037

Pedrosa's best lap during the race was 1'35.479, and his qualifying time was 1'34.398. The best lap set on the pneumatic valve engine was probably a lap on qualifying tires, considering the pace.


MotoGP Standings after Round 13, Misano, San Marino

Championship standings for round 13, 2008

2008 Misano Grand Prix Results

Full results of the Grand Prix of San Marino and the Riviera di Rimini at Misano:

Pedrosa To Get Bridgestones After Misano - UPDATED: Now It's Official

Motorcycle News' Matthew Birt is reporting that Dani Pedrosa will be switching to use Bridgestone tires effective immediately after the Misano race. It was widely anticipated that the Repsol Honda team - or at the very least, Dani Pedrosa's side of the garage - would be switching to the Japanese rubber for next season, after Pedrosa expressed his disgust with Michelin's failures in no uncertain terms after the Brno round. Pedrosa's unhappiness went so far that his manager, Alberto Puig, even tried to organize a boycott of the Brno GP by the Michelin riders, on the rather questionable grounds of safety. Michelin dismissed this claim, saying that the tires may have been off the pace, but there were no safety issues. MCN also revealed that HRC's manager Masumi Hamane was actually behind this attempt.

Now, in a shock and unprecedented move, Pedrosa will switch tire brands in the middle of the season. Pedrosa and Repsol Honda organized the deal with Bridgestone and Dorna to allow the Spaniard to make the move immediately. Dorna needed to be involved, as the rules state that the FIM and Dorna must be informed if teams decide to switch tire makers mid-season. Again, according to MCN, only Pedrosa will switch to Bridgestones, with Pedrosa's ostensible team mate Nicky Hayden remaining on Michelins.

Hayden To Miss Misano Race

Nicky Hayden is to skip Sunday's race at Misano. After skipping Sunday morning's warmup, the American elected to skip the race. Hayden is still suffering too much pain from the heel injury he sustained at the X Games Supermoto event, and was a couple of seconds off the pace.

Hayden is hoping that skipping the Misano race will allow him to heal more quickly, leaving him in a better position to contest the next event, the Indianapolis GP. Hayden regards this as his home GP, being the nearest race to his native Owensboro, Kentucky, and is determined to do well there.

2008 Brno Warmup Times - Stoner Fastest, Hayden Sits Session Out

Nicky Hayden took no part in proceedings during warmup, electing to sit out the session to spare his heel injury. He is likely to race. Casey Stoner was in obvious pain from his wrist, but that didn't stop him from stomping all over the opposition again.

Pos. No. Rider Manufacturer Fast Lap Diff Diff Previous
1 1 Casey STONER DUCATI 1'34.644    
2 7 Chris VERMEULEN SUZUKI 1'35.388 0.744 0.744
3 46 Valentino ROSSI YAMAHA 1'35.395 0.751 0.007
4 24 Toni ELIAS DUCATI 1'35.563 0.919 0.168
5 2 Dani PEDROSA HONDA 1'35.600 0.956 0.037
6 5 Colin EDWARDS YAMAHA 1'35.604 0.960 0.004
7 15 Alex DE ANGELIS HONDA 1'35.658 1.014 0.054
8 65 Loris CAPIROSSI SUZUKI 1'35.681 1.037 0.023
9 48 Jorge LORENZO YAMAHA 1'35.755 1.111 0.074
10 56 Shinya NAKANO HONDA 1'35.823 1.179 0.068
11 14 Randy DE PUNIET HONDA 1'35.825 1.181 0.002
12 33 Marco MELANDRI DUCATI 1'35.902 1.258 0.077
13 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO HONDA 1'36.089 1.445 0.187
14 21 John HOPKINS KAWASAKI 1'36.200 1.556 0.111
15 52 James TOSELAND YAMAHA 1'36.331 1.687 0.131
16 50 Sylvain GUINTOLI DUCATI 1'36.656 2.012 0.325
17 13 Anthony WEST KAWASAKI 1'37.685 3.041 1.029

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