Despite the fact that the 2012 MotoGP season has only just got underway, teams in all three classes of the series have started to do the chassis shuffle. The major player in the dance is British chassis maker FTR, the Buckingham-based firm gaining in Moto3 what they are losing in Moto2 and MotoGP.
Highest profile loss for FTR is the defection of Julian Simon of the Blusens Avintia BQR team. According to respected Spanish publication Motociclismo, Simon asked the team to switch from FTR to Suter after finishing 15th in Qatar. Simon had struggled all preseason with corner entry and braking, and never felt comfortable with the front end. His switch to Suter recalls the same change he made in 2010, when the Aspar squad dropped the RSV chassis in favor of the Swiss chassis, a move which saw Simon end the season as runner up to inaugural Moto2 champion Toni Elias.
Kawasaki today issued an update on Joan Lascorz, and his recovery process:
Update: Joan Lascorz’ Medical Condition
Following Joan’s accident at Imola during official Superbike World Championship testing on Monday April 2nd, we would like to inform you of the following updates.
Joan Lascorz is conscious and remains hospitalized in the Intensive Care Unit of Hospital de la Vall d'Hebron in Barcelona, and will remain so until a build-up of lung mucus is eradicated. The initial idea was to move Joan this past week into a specialist recovery centre within the hospital, but doctors will most likely wait until next week to make the move.
In relation to any spinal cord injury, the forecast is reserved until he leaves the ICU and starts working towards recovery.
Team Manager, personal manager and friend of Joan Lascorz, Guim Roda, spoke about Joan and his condition recently. He stated, “First of all we want to thank everyone for the interest and respect shown after Joan's accident, especially in his native Spain, but also from all over the world. Friends, industry professionals and journalists - many thanks for all the support.
The AMA Superbike organization Attack Performance issued a press release announcing it will build a CRT machine and enter as a wildcard in the two US rounds of MotoGP, at Laguna Seca and Indianapolis. Below is the full text:
ATTACK PERFORMANCE ANNOUNCES MOTOGP RACE EFFORT
American team will compete in U.S. rounds of MotoGP World Championship at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Huntington Beach, California - April 8, 2012 - Attack Performance, manufacturer of precision racing components, has been granted “wild-card” entries for both North American rounds of the 2012 MotoGP World Championship, the Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, July 27-29, and the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, August 17-19.
Attack Performance is building a chassis of its own design for the new Claiming Rule Teams (CRT) format at its 10,000-square-foot shop in Huntington Beach, California. The largely CNC-produced, aluminum-framed machine will be powered by a heavily modified Kawasaki ZX-10R-based engine. CRTs are intended to help increase privateer entries in GP racing’s 1000cc premier class and compete alongside teams running factory-built prototypes.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after Sunday's race at Qatar:
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after qualifying on Saturday at Qatar:
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the second day of practice at Qatar:
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With the Moto2 and Moto3 trucks all departed from the paddock, the Jerez circuit is now the domain of the MotoGP teams for the final test ahead of the season opener at Qatar. Thursday, the eve of the test, saw a massive amount of pit lane activity, but mainly among the photographers as they chased up and down the track shooting the riders in their full season livery for publicity shoots and the official MotoGP.com website.
Jerez is the first time that all of the bikes, both the CRTs which have tested in Spain and the factory prototypes which have tested in Sepang, hit the track at the same time. The difference was immediately obvious, from a mosey up pit lane with a camera. At the CRT end of pit lane, garages were open, and mechanics were working on their bikes in full public display. I strolled past bare chassis with engines standing separately waiting to be fitted, bikes in various stages of undress, and stood taking photographs as mechanics worked on their bikes, undisturbed by my presence.
While it was the wind that curbed the CRT riders assembled at the Motorland Aragon circuit on Thursday, on Friday it was the turn of the cold. Though the wind had dropped, temperatures remained low, leaving the CRT riders with problems keeping heat in the tires for more than a few laps, and badly curtailing their already cramped testing plans. The legacy of the wind was a dirty track, with sand having been blown onto the surface, making it rather treacherous, and facing a cold, dirty track, most of the riders put in only a few laps on Friday, concentrating on other areas instead, such as riding position.
Weather severely limited the on-track action at Aragon today, as a field of CRT riders thinned out by a lack of parts rolled up in Alcañiz for the first of a two-day test. High winds and cool temperatures meant that it was impossible to keep the tires at working temperature out on track, forcing the teams to abort their testing efforts for the day, and work on a revised program for Friday, the final day of the test.
All five riders present - Aspar's Randy de Puniet and Aleix Espargaro, PBM's James Ellison and the two Avintia BQR Kawasakis of Ivan Silva and Yonny Hernandez - put in a few laps in the morning, Ellison estimating he managed a total of 10 or so, but with winds gusting to around 60 km/h, the tire technicians deemed it unsafe to continue, and the riders retired to their garages to work on a full program for Friday. With better weather expected tomorrow - the wind is forecast to have died down and clear skies are predicted, though temperatures remain very cold on Spain's high Meseta this early in the year - the teams should get enough time on track to at least partially compensate them for the loss of Thursday.
The introduction of the Claiming Rule Team regulations into MotoGP has divided fans and followers into two distinct camps. The anti camp have decried the CRT machines as thinly disguised World Superbike machines, claiming that allowing the use of production machinery into MotoGP is a betrayal of the spirit of Grand Prix racing. The pro camp, on the other hand, argue that the CRT machines are MotoGP's salvation, and a return to Grand Prix racing's roots - the Manx Norton was, after all, a development of the Norton International, and the very first 500cc two stroke machines to be raced were based on roadgoing engines from Suzuki and Kawasaki.
Much of the debate has of course centered on the ability of the CRT machines to be competitive, or whether they will be so slow as to form a danger to the factory riders, being lapped several times a race. While the CRT machines had barely turned a wheel on track, those questions were impossible to answer, but now that the CRT machines have had a few outings in public, it is possible to start drawing some preliminary conclusions.
Press releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after the season opener at Phillip Island:
If the opening round of the 2012 World Superbike Championship taught us anything, it's that this looks to be a two-horse race. Assuming no major wrenches are thrown in the works. Aprilia's Max Biaggi and Althea Ducati's Carlos Checa had the pace of everyone else in the field covered. Handily. And each of the early championship-protagonists cruised to victory without having to worry about the other after a couple of off-track excursions.
Press releases and video from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after Saturday's practice at Phillip Island: