Funny how things turn out. On a weekend that looked like being overshadowed by one subject - Casey Stoner's shock retirement announcement and its repercussions - along came the rain and provided spectacle to cheer the hearts of racing fans of every persuasion. Rain offers new opportunities, and such opportunities light a fire in the breasts of racers being kept from running at the front under ordinary circumstances. At the same time, should that fire burn too fiercely, those same racers can fall prey to their own overarching ambition, and fall within sight of glory.
Sunday at Le Mans saw plentiful examples of both. In three outstanding, if rain-sodden races, the fine balance between head and heart that racing requires was demonstrated several times over. Riders took the chances on offer: those who wanted it too much suffered the consequences and crashed out ignominiously; those who did not want it enough floundered around miserably at the rear; those that got it just right were richly rewarded.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after Sunday's French Grand Prix at Le Mans:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the race on Sunday at Le Mans:
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after qualifying at Le Mans for tomorrow's French Grand Prix:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after qualifying at Le Mans:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of practice at Le Mans:
Below are the press release previews from the MotoGP teams ahead of this weekend's French Grand Prix at Le Mans:
Cheating in motorsports is as old as the sport itself. Whenever powered vehicles gather together to race each other, then someone, somewhere, will try to gain an advantage, either within the rules or, if that is not successful, outside of the rules. In all classes, and at all times, teams, engineers and riders have all tried to cheat in one way or another. Even the imposition of a spec engine in the Moto2 class hasn't prevented teams trying to cheat, and the paddock is awash with rumors regarding which teams are cheating and which teams are not.
The finger of blame is inevitably pointed at the most successful riders, and in recent months, it has been pointed mainly at Catalunya CX rider Marc Marquez. Marquez has a number of strikes against him, making him a popular target for rumors of cheating; firstly, Marquez is Spanish, and as Moto2 is a Spanish-run series, the non-Spanish teams are all fervently convinced that Spanish teams are not monitored as closely as they are. Secondly, Marquez has the backing of Repsol, one of the more powerful sponsors in the paddock, exerting influence not just over Marquez' Monlau Competicion team, but also over the much more important factory Repsol Honda team; the power of Repsol, the gossips suggest, exerts undue influence on the policing process. Thirdly, and most obviously, Marquez is fast, almost suspiciously so. The Spaniard's bike is always one of the fastest through the speed traps, and accelerates hardest off the corners. His team put it down to hard work at finding exactly the right set up for Marquez to excel. One of the lighter Moto2 riders on a well-prepared bike, ridden by a fast and talented rider? That, Marquez' supporters argue, is reason enough for him to be fastest.
To find out more about the situation, and what Dorna and the scrutineers are doing to address these concerns, I spoke to Race Director - and formerly Technical Director - Mike Webb at Estoril. I passed on the concerns that others had expressed to me about cheating in Moto2, and he explained to me exactly what Dorna are doing to monitor the bikes and ensure that cheating is kept to an absolute minimum, and that if it is happening, it does not pay. Here is what Webb had to say:
Chris Vermeulen has been named as the replacement for Colin Edwards in the NGM Mobile Forward Racing team for the Le Mans round of MotoGP. Edwards broke his left collarbone in a crash during free practice at Estoril, and has decided after surgery to skip the French Grand Prix and return at Barcelona in early June.
Vermeulen has been named as replacement for Edwards because of the Australian's prior experience on a MotoGP bike. Vermeulen spent four years in MotoGP with the factory Suzuki team, and spent all that time using Bridgestone tires. Vermeulen also has form at Le Mans: he won his only Grand Prix at the circuit, albeit in the pouring rain in 2007. After losing his ride with Suzuki in MotoGP, Vermeulen returned to the World Superbike series to race with Kawasaki. A series of bad crashes left the Australian struggling with a serious knee injury, and having problems racing. Just as it looked like Vermeulen may have returned to full fitness, he was left without a ride in WSBK. To return to MotoGP, on a bike still in the midst of development, places a rather heavy load on the shoulders of one who has not raced for nearly 10 months.
Below is the press release announcing the replacement of Edwards by Vermeulen:
Chris Vermeulen at Le Mans with NGM Mobile Forward Racing
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after qualifying for the Portuguese Grand Prix:
Colin Edwards has broken his left collarbone in a crash during qualifying for the Portuguese MotoGP round at Estoril on Saturday. The NGM Forward rider was knocked off his bike in the latter part of qualifying practice, as he cruised around off the racing line. Randy de Puniet lost the front of his Power Electronics Aprilia machine, which slid along the track and hit Edwards' Suter BMW. Edwards fell heavily, suffering a mild concussion and injuring his collarbone in the fall. De Puniet was taken to the medical center, where he was diagnosed with bruising to his finger, and general soreness.
Press release previews from Factory Yamaha, Repsol Honda, Gresini, Bridgestone, Ducati, NGM Forward and PBM ahead of Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez:
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.
With Colin Edwards back home in Texas, NGM Forward Racing's Moto2 rider Alex de Angelis - a man with MotoGP experience, having raced in the class in 2008 and 2009 - has been drafted in to continue work on the Suter BMW MotoGP CRT bike. Here's the press release from the team: