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:
Saturday’s World Superbike Superpole and World Supersport final qualifying sessions from Philip Island were cancelled after a serious accident in the Australian Supersport race resulted in the death of Australian rider Oscar McIntyre. The 17-year-old collided with fellow racers Luke Burgess and Michael Lockhart on the second lap of the Australian support race and died despite receiving immediate medical treatment at the scene. Because of the seriousness of the accident, the event organizers decided to cancel Superpole.
Press releases from Infront, and the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after the two-day test at Phillip Island:
Press releases from the World Superbike teams after the private test at Phillip Island:
2012 Sepang 1 MotoGP Test Day 1 Round Up: Yamaha's Progress, The Phoenix Rises, And CRT Thwarted By Electronics
The MotoGP bikes are finally back on track - though it took a little longer than expected, after an overnight rain shower left the track damp in the morning. Much had been expected of this test, and it has delivered already, after just a single day. In fact the test has been almost perfect, real bikes running on a circuit putting an end to the intrigue and subterfuge that play such a major role in every winter break, whilst raising enough new questions to pique the interest of anyone with a passion for motorcycle racing.
The overnight rain made conditions far from ideal, a fact reflected by the fact that in the main, there was little difference in times between the first day of the 2012 test and the first day of the same test last year, despite the bikes having grown in capacity by 200cc. The extra power was all too evident around the track: controlling wheelies while retaining drive out of corners is going to be key this year, and while the extra torque makes the bigger bikes easier to control, and reduces some of the electronics needed, the resources spent on taming a highly-strung 800cc engine have now been diverted to keeping the front wheel of the fire-breathing 1000s within a parsec or two of the tarmac.
With the MotoGP testing season kicking off at Valencia with the private CRT test, and the factory bikes starting on Tuesday at Sepang, Bridgestone issued a press release containing information on their 2012 tires for MotoGP. The tires have been changed from 2011, the carcass is now less rigid with the aim of helping the tires warm up faster and provide better feedback. Only the riders at Sepang will have the new tires for the moment, while the Aprilia CRT bikes will be using the "old" 2012 tires as debuted at Valencia in November.
Below is the press release from Bridgestone, with more information on Bridgestone's 2012 strategy:
Bridgestone geared up for 2012 MotoGP tests
MotoGP's long winter break is drawing to a close, and the testing season is about to kick off once again. For the last couple of years that's been very easy to follow, as everyone headed to the official MotoGP tests organized by IRTA. With the introduction of the Claiming Rule Teams, however, MotoGP's testing schedule has become a lot more complex, as some of the CRT teams will be joining the test in Sepang, while others will be remaining in Europe.
Below is the schedule as we know it so far. Everyone on a factory prototype (that is, all of the factory and satellite teams) will be heading to the two Sepang tests (Jan 31st - Feb 2nd, and Feb 28th-March 1st), with Colin Edwards on the NGM Forward Suter BMW and the BQR CRT team consisting of Ivan Silva and test rider Robertino Pietri aboard the FTR Kawasakis at the first Sepang test at least. The Aprilia-powered CRT bikes will be firing up their engines in Europe, starting at Valencia on January 30th. PBM's James Ellison will join the Aspar bikes at Jerez on February 20th, while a fuller compliment of CRT bikes is expected at Aragon on March 8th. Testing then culminates at Jerez in late March, as everyone gathers for the final CRT test.
The Kawasaki World Supersport team issued the following press release after their test at Valencia: