The Aspar team have today announced that their Moto2 line up is now complete. With the signing of 2010 Moto2 champion Toni Elias to race alongside 2011 125cc champion Nico Terol, Aspar has a full complement of riders to face the 2012 season. Elias had been linked to rides with both Gresini - the team with which he won the inaugural Moto2 championship - and Aspar, and had finally settled on the Spanish squad. After a long and very difficult year in MotoGP, Elias is hoping to return to winning again in Moto2, while his teammate Terol is focused solely on learning to adapt to the Moto2 machines, this being the first time he has raced a four stroke.
Aspar actually has more than a full complement of riders, in fact. The Spanish team had previously announced that they had signed Aleix Espargaro to race in Moto2 for the team, and the Spaniard, elder brother of Pol, tested the Suter Moto2 bike with the Aspar team on the first day of testing at Valencia on Wednesday. But with nobody yet signed for Aspar's CRT machines in MotoGP - almost certain to be Aprilias, based on the RSV4 engine with a different frame designed and built by Aprilia - Espargaro is likely to move up to race in the premier class.
Gino Rea has topped the timesheets on the final day of testing at Valencia, taking advantage of the dry track during the morning session, before the rain came to stop play. The Londoner had been fastest on the previous day, when only a few riders were out on track due to the heavy rain, and having been fastest on the Friday and impressive on Wednesday, Rea looks set to secure a ride in Moto2 next year. The details are yet to be finalized, but Rea is inching closer to a contract with Gresini to race the Moriwaki, with backing from the Crimean circuit which supported his strong year in World Supersport in 2011.
Italtrans' Claudio Corti was the only rider to match the pace of Rea, the Italian trying out the Kalex as well as the Suter he raced last season. The Marc VDS Racing duo of Scott Redding and Mika Kallio were 3rd and 4th, Marc VDS already having made the switch to Kalex after the 2011 season ended. The German-built chassis was extremely popular, with Andrea Iannone also giving the Kalex a whirl to compare it to the FTR his team is due to run in 2012.
After a first day of useful testing for the Moto2 class at Valencia, the second day was a complete washout. The day started off wet, the rain getting heavier as the day progressed, severely limiting action on track. Just a handful of riders braved the conditions, including Alessandro Andreozzi, Scott Redding and Johann Zarco. Later in the afternoon, Toni Elias followed suit, the Spaniard taking one of the Aspar Suter's out for a spin as he closed on a deal with the team for 2012. Aspar already has Aleix Espargaro and Nico Terol signed, but Espargaro looks like being promoted to ride a CRT Aprilia in MotoGP for the team, making way for Elias to take the Moto2 ride. Contracts are expected to be signed in the next couple of days.
The testing limits imposed as a cost-cutting measure in MotoGP have finally been lifted. At the meeting of the Grand Prix Commission in Valencia, MotoGP's rule-making body dropped the rules limiting testing to non-contracted riders outside of MotoGP's official tests, and allowed contracted riders (e.g. any rider currently racing in MotoGP) to ride the bikes at private tests. The GPC accepted the argument put forward by Ducati that testing is already limited by the number of tires available, and that restricting testing to test riders did little to cut costs, as the factory riders were being paid anyway.
That argument was not shared by all the members of the MSMA, though. When asked by MotoMatters.com at Valencia about lifting the test ban, HRC Vice President Shuhei Nakamoto said that the measure would favor European manufacturers who have their bikes, crew and riders already close to the track. For the Japanese manufacturers, they would either have to fly their team personnel and riders to Japan, or their bikes, equipment and Japanese engineers to Europe if they wish to test at European tracks. Lifting the test ban would not cut costs for Honda, Nakamoto said.
After the initial leak by Ant West on his Facebook page on Monday, today, the Speed Master team confirmed that the Australian will be racing for the team in MotoGP in 2012. West will be racing as a CRT entry, and using an Aprilia RSV4-powered machine in the class. It is as yet unclear whether this bike will use an FTR chassis, or the chassis which Aprilia is believed to be developing for CRT machinery, based on the RSV4 road bike design. Aprilia will not be allowed to provide a chassis as used by the World Superbike teams, but the rules do allow that chassis to be used as a basis for a new or similar design. As long as the chassis is not as homologated for World Superbikes, the MotoGP stewards will rule it legal.
Speed Master also announced that they will be retaining Andrea Iannone for 2012 as well, though the Italian will not be making the jump into MotoGP. Instead, Iannone will remain in Moto2 for 2012, to take another shot at winning the title. Speed Master will be dropping the Suter chassis, which they switched to for 2011, and returning to FTR, possibly the FTR as modified by Speed Up, using the FTR chassis and modified bodywork.
Below is the press release from the Speed Master team confirming Ant West and Andrea Iannone for 2012:
FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix
Press releases from the 125cc and Moto2 teams, tire supplier and chassis manufacturers after the final race of the year at Valencia:
The last race of the year is always one for farewells, but we had an awful lot of goodbyes on Sunday at Valencia. The last ever race for the 800cc MotoGP bikes, the last ever race of Loris Capirossi's very long and highly colorful career (some paddock wags suggesting that the first win of his career came against a rider called Maximus Decimus Meridius), the end of the two-stroke Grand Prix era, with the 125cc bikes making way for the Moto3 machines. The departure of some of the finest journalists and broadcasters from the paddock, as the Spanish state TV company TVE ended its tenure in the paddock. Riders heading off to the World Superbike paddock, some returning to their old stomping ground, as is the case with Kenan Sofuoglu, others to try pastures new, Hiroshi Aoyama joining the Ten Kate Honda squad.
Results and summary of the Moto2 race at Valencia:
It seems somehow fitting that the last ever qualifying session for the 800cc MotoGP bikes should be dominated so utterly by the man who has dominated the 800cc era. Despite the fact that Casey Stoner won only the first and the last 800cc titles, he still has the most pole positions and wins in the period between 2007 and 2011. Stoner ended the penultimate day of the 2011 season in style, matching Mick Doohan's record of 12 pole position in a single season and beating everyone else on the grid by over a second.
It wasn't just that Stoner was in a different time zone to the rest of the field, it was also the panache with which he did it. Turn 13 - the long, long left hander that runs over the hill and down towards the final tight corner leading back onto the straight - is a pretty spectacular sight at the best of times. Perhaps the iconic image of the 990 era was of Nicky Hayden sliding the back his V5 RC211V round there back in 2006. If anything, Casey Stoner was even more outrageous, getting the back of the successor RC212V - an RC211V with one cylinder removed - stepped out so far it looked like he was back racing dirt track, not a MotoGP bike. "Casey is very confident with the bike and also in the right position in the seat," was Valentino Rossi's understated assessment of Stoner's slide. "We slide also, but he slide more."
Marco Simoncelli is to receive a fitting tribute at Valencia on Sunday. Paolo Simoncelli, Marco's father, had asked for a minute of "casino" (an Italian word that translates as chaos or noise) instead of a minute of silence, but Marco is to get all this and a little more. At 10:10 local time (find that time in your timezone using this link) riders from 125, Moto2 and MotoGP have been invited to join a lap of honor at Valencia, led by Kevin Schwantz aboard Marco Simoncelli's Honda RC212V.
The lap of honor will be followed by the noise in Simoncelli's name: once all of the bikes have come to a standstill in front of the massed paddock, led by Simoncelli's family and his San Carlo Gresini team, two minutes of Valencian fireworks will ensue, a deafening racket of firecrackers.
Marc Marquez has been forced to pull out of the Moto2 season finale at Valencia, handing the 2011 Moto2 title to Stefan Bradl. Marquez is still suffering slight double vision from the crash he had during FP1 at Sepang. His vision had improved massively in the past week, but he was still suffering issues with his right eye, something that was causing him problems looking to his right. Marquez had held out hope that his vision would improve quickly enough to be able to try to qualify and then race, but it was not to be.
With Marquez' withdrawal, Stefan Bradl is now officially 2011 Moto2 World Champion. The Viessmann Kiefer rider came into Valencia leading by 23 points, and a 13th place finish would have been enough to clinch the title for him, even if Marquez had won the race. With Marquez out, no one is close enough to take the title from the German, Bradl finally achieving his goal of beating his father Helmut. While father Helmut had won five 250cc races, the German had never been a world champion, and now son Stefan has gone one better.
Despite his withdrawal, Marquez retains 2nd place in the championship, and will be crowned rookie of the year in Moto2. Speaking yesterday, the Spaniard said that whether he was champion or not, he was very happy with the season had gone, and had exceeded his expectations.