Confirmed and expected rider and team line up for the 2011 MotoGP season
The press office of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway continue to do an outstanding job, collecting the following notes and quotes from the riders in today's MotoGP race. For quotes from the podium riders, see the separate news item.
MotoGP POST-RACE NOTES:
The industrious folks in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway press office have done part of our job again, collecting quotes from fifteen of the seventeen MotoGP riders for tomorrow's MotoGP race. Even better, they came up with a selection of fascinating statistics from today's qualifying session as well. Here's the official IMS press notes and quotes:
MotoGP QUALIFYING NOTES:
The impressively efficient press department at Indianapolis Motor Speedway collected and provided the following collection of quotes from fourteen of the seventeen MotoGP riders after the first session of free practice. Thanks to Paul Kelly and his staff for doing our job for us:
CASEY STONER (No. 27 Ducati Team, first): (Since you didn't run here last year, how hard was it to set up the motorcycle?): "We know genuinely the layout of the circuit. We know how the bike is going to react on a certain type – whether it's fast corners, slow corners, heavy braking or not. We had enough data from '08 just to start with, in general. There will be three or four different groups of circuits that we go to that we know what setup works. So we start with that rough idea; that's how we start every weekend. We'll know from previous years what roughly works on this style of circuit and then we just go from there. Out of the box it (the motorcycle) wasn't great. We tried one setting and completely went the wrong way, and it felt horrible. We came back and tried going a different direction and made another step and made it feel a little better, and we tried the last thing to make another improvement and sort of went backward again. We just have to go back and forth until we find that point where we're getting all aspects of the bike working."
MODERATOR: We said all the things, Jorge, 77 points, wins at Laguna, Indianapolis. You come here in very, very good shape.
JORGE LORENZO: Yes, I come here in very good shape. You know, all the things are going so well this year. There was sort of -- I got second position, so I couldn't ask for anything more. And we come here in a track that I love. In 2008 with a lot of rain and very hard conditions, I made my first podium in rain in my career, and last year I won. So it's always very positive that MotoGP comes here in America, and I'm happy for that.
MODERATOR: And just walking into the Motor Speedway is a special place, an iconic place, isn't it?
LORENZO: Yeah, very special with a lot of history and a lot of races here in the past. And obviously we are -- we want that this continues for long years, but I don't know whether it's going to happen for the next years.
MODERATOR: We sat here two weeks ago, not here but in the press conference in Brno in the Czech Republic, you said: "Now I think very hard about the championship. I have to be careful. Wins not so important but podiums. We just want to win the race again." Is it the same philosophy here, the same theory?
On Monday morning, Jules Cisek had a final chance to take some photos during the Brno test. He had to be quick, though, as he was soon chased out of pit lane by overly officious security guards.
While the world's gaze has been on the medical miracles that are Valentino Rossi and Randy de Puniet, Interwetten Honda's Hiroshi Aoyama has been proceeding with his recovery in the same way as he has gone about the business of learning to ride a MotoGP bike: quietly and determinedly. The Japanese rider fractured a vertebra during the warm up at Silverstone, and has been out of action ever since.
After consulting with medical specialists, Aoyama decided against having surgery to fix his vertebra, preferring to allow the bone to heal naturally. His recovery has gone so well that he expects to be able to test the Interwetten Honda MotoGP bike during the tests on Monday, to assess when he might be able to make a full return to racing.
In a press release by the Interwetten Honda team, Aoyama said that he hoped to make a return as soon as was sensibly possible:
Yesterday, we discussed who is going where in the factory teams in MotoGP. For the most part, those deals are either public, or really badly-kept secrets. Today, we'll look at the situation among the satellite teams, a situation which is much, much less clear-cut than the factory squad, in part because the factory deals have not all been announced yet. The number of changes are suprisingly few, reflecting in part the problems in MotoGP. As costs rise, the cost of being competitive is growing, and more importantly, the cost of failure is increasing as well.
As a consequence, teams are not willing to take chances on unproven but promising talent. The learning curve in MotoGP is now so steep - electronics, bike setup, but most especially tires - that it takes half a season to start to get your head around the class. Limited testing has made the situation much, much worse, raising the penalty for rookies entering the class even further - the scrabbling around for substitute riders for Valentino Rossi, Hiroshi Aoyama and Randy de Puniet illustrating the case perfectly.
Hiroshi Aoyama came into MotoGP as the last ever 250cc World Champion. But the likable Japanese rider did not get long to savor his title, or just 24 hours later, Aoyama was out on track with a new challenge, learning to ride the Honda RC212V MotoGP bike with the Interwetten Honda team. MotoMatters.com wanted to hear just how hard that challenge has been, and so we caught up with Aoyama and his crew chief Tom Jojic on the Friday morning before FP1 at Silverstone. Interviewing both rider and crew chief together gave a fascinating perspective into the interaction between the two, on how much alike - and how different - they must approach the race, and the difficulties of entering MotoGP with so little testing and practice.
MotoMatters: I'd like to start with you, Hiroshi. The last time I interviewed you was at Indianapolis last year when you were still chasing the 250cc title, which you won later in the year. Then you come into MotoGP, and last year is completely gone. How is that? How is that change from fighting for the win every weekend, fighting for the championship, to focusing on just trying to learn and trying to grow as a MotoGP rider?
After reporting yesterday that a deal between Alex de Angelis and Interwetten Honda to replace Hiroshi Aoyama was near, events are moving quickly. Today, the Interwetten team announced the deal was done, and the Team Scot Moto2 rider will be filling in for Aoyama until the Japanese rider's return in September. De Angelis' experience in MotoGP and the strong relationship De Angelis still has with HRC made the deal relatively easy to put together. The replacement for De Angelis in Team Scot's Moto2 team is as yet unknown, but the names of Andrew Pitt and Lorenzo Savadori are currently doing the rounds.
Below is the press release issued by the Interwetten Team announcing the deal:
While finding a replacement for Valentino Rossi turned into a search of near epic proportions, taking nearly a month to finalize, a replacement for the unfortunate Hiroshi Aoyama was found within almost a day. The Japanese test rider Kousuke Akiyoshi was slotted into the Interwetten Honda team directly after Aoyama's crash during the Warm Up at Silverstone, and made his appearance on the RC212V at Assen. This was just to be a temporary measure, as was explained when the announcement was made, until a more permanent replacement for Aoyama can be found, who will be out for two or three months with a fractured T12 vertebra.
It appears that such a replacement may have been found. Various press sources are reporting that Alex de Angelis is to step back up to MotoGP and take Aoyama's place. The Italian would substitute for Aoyama for the next 4 to 6 races, depending on the duration of Aoyama's recovery, at which point he would return to the Scot Moto2 team.
With MotoGP now one third through its 18 race season, the effect of the engine-life regulations - restricting each MotoGP rider to just 6 engines throughout the entire season - is starting to become clear. The latest engine information list - assembled by IRTA and MotoGP Technical Director Mike Webb, and distributed (if you can call it that) by Dorna - provides an interesting perspective on the impact the regulations are having, and how the factories have approached the problems posed by limited engines.
The clear winner that emerges from the list is surely Honda. Of their six riders, three (Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso, and San Carlo Gresini's Marco Simoncelli) have used just two engines, and not had to have a third engine officially sealed. Dovizioso and Simoncelli have distributed their races equally, with three races on each of the two engines, while Dani Pedrosa has four races on his number 1 engine, and just two on his number 2 engine.
Hiroshi Aoyama's horrible highside at Silverstone saw just 15 MotoGP riders take to the grid last Sunday for the race. And now that Aoyama has been examined more thoroughly, and the Interwetten Honda rider ruled out for at least two months with a fractured T12 vertebra, the prospect of just 15 riders on the grid for Assen, and 16 at Barcelona (by which time, the Fiat Yamaha team will have to replace the injured Valentino Rossi) was too much for the organizers, and measures have been taken to avert the declining numbers. From this weekend, Honda test rider Kousuke Akiyoshi has been drafted in to take Aoyama's place aboard the Interwetten Honda RC212V. Akiyoshi will also ride at Barcelona, filling the MotoGP team's immediate needs.
Hiroshi Aoyama's vicious highside during the morning warmup at Silverstone is to have consequences which reach further than the British Grand Prix. After landing very heavily on his back in the crash, the Interwetten Honda rider was examined in the Clinica Mobile in the Silverstone paddock, where the decision was taken to move him to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford for further examination. A CT scan found a suspected fracture of the T12 vertebra.
After a night of rest, Aoyama underwent another CT scan this morning, which confirmed yesterday's diagnosis. The Japanese rider is to be flown back to Barcelona, where he will undergo another examination, and where a course of treatment will be decided upon.