Results and summary of the Moto2 race at the Motorland Aragon circuit:
There are a number of subjects that it feels like we've been talking about forever this season. The two biggest are obvious: Valentino Rossi's battle with the Ducati Desmosedici, and Motegi, so it becomes tedious to have to talk about them again. But the reason we keep talking about them is simple. They are big. These are the stories that really matter. So we have to keep talking about them.
The subject of Motegi will not be relevant for long. In two weeks' time, the MotoGP circus will alight at the Japanese circuit, most of whom carrying large packages containing food, and for the more paranoid, even water. All of the MotoGP riders will be there, Valentino Rossi announcing at Thursday's press conference that he would be going to Motegi, and HRC issuing a press release announcing they would have eight (count 'em, eight) riders at Motegi, with Japanese veterans Shinichi Ito and Kousuke Akiyoshi entered as wildcards.
Results of qualifying for the Moto2 class at Motorland Aragon:
Marc Marquez headed the timesheets in the Moto2 class at the Motorland Aragon circuit, the Catalunya Caixa rider smashing his own lap record at the circuit by over a second. The Spaniard was quick throughout the 75 minute session - an extra 30 minutes having been added after a power failure caused the loss of FP2 on Friday afternoon - finishing three tenths head of Alex de Angelis, and over four tenths ahead of Marc VDS Racing's Scott Redding. Thomas Luthi took 4th spot on the timesheets, just creeping ahead of current championship leader Stefan Bradl. But the Viessmann Kiefer rider still has some work to do: Bradl is over half a second slower than his title rival Marquez, and will need to find a couple of tenths in this afternoon's qualifying session to get close enough to start from the front row.
For the second time this season, the MotoGP series has lost an afternoon to extraordinary circumstances. At Assen, it was a blown engine during Moto2 practice combined with pouring rain to force the cancellation of FP2 sessions for all three classes, while at the Motorland Aragon circuit today, a defective transformer saw all power lost at the circuit, forcing the cancellation of FP2 for the MotoGP and Moto2 classes. The lack of power meant that all of the facilities at the circuit shut down, meaning a lack of power for timing, in the pit garages, and more importantly, in the circuit control tower. Without the ability to monitor the track via CCTV and reliably communicate with all parts of the track, having racing motorcycles circulating posed too much of a danger to the safety of the riders. As a result, the decision was taken to cancel practice for the rest of the afternoon, despite power returning intermittently as the UPS and backup transformer took over.
Marc Marquez ended the first session of free practice for the Moto2 class at Aragon on top of the timesheets, but his margin was very slim. The Spaniard just crept ahead of Pons Kalex' Aleix Espargaro, who had led for a large part of the session, by just two-hundredths of a second. Marquez' time was set on the 2012 version of the Suter Moto2 machine, the Catalunya Caixa team having persuaded Eskil Suter to allow Marquez to use the new chassis after three days of testing at Valencia.
Andrea Iannone ended the session in 3rd, finishing just ahead of Marc VDS Racing's Scott Redding, while Alex de Angelis set the 5th fastest time. Ant West's crew chief change - adding veteran engineer Warren Willing to lead the MZ team - appears to be paying dividends, the Australian putting his MZ-badged FTR into 7th, just behind Simone Corsi on the Ioda Racing FTR, and ahead of championship leader Stefan Bradl
Somehow, the big news always seems to break on Thursdays. Probably because we don't have any real action to talk about, and so all the focus is on speculation, spying, or off-track events, but without motorcycles going round on track, we still have plenty to talk about.
On Thursday at Aragon, there were three subjects on everyone's minds: Motegi, Rossi's Mugello chassis and 2012 (though the latter two are to a large extent the same subject, given that Rossi and his crew gave up on 2011 almost before the season had started). The short version of those subjects is that everyone is going to Motegi, Rossi (the final official holdout) announcing that he did not have sufficient reason to stay away; Rossi came clean in the press conference and admitted to testing an aluminium chassis at Mugello, it later emerging that he would be riding it this weekend; and silly season is in full swing, with lots of fevered speculation about who will be going where for 2012.
The FIM today announced the provisional dates for the 2012 MotoGP schedule. The season kicks off in Qatar on April 15th, with a fortnightly schedule of races until Assen, when the Dutch, German and Italian rounds take place on consecutive weekends. The series then heads across the Atlantic for two US rounds at Laguna Seca and Indianapolis, before returning to Europe for three more races. A triple-header in Asia and Australia follows, before the season wraps up at the traditional final round at Valencia on November 11th.
Reading the notes on the calendar, it is clear that the schedule really is very provisional indeed. The rounds at Jerez, Estoril and in Germany are all labeled "Subject to contract," with doubts especially strong about the Portuguese and German rounds of MotoGP. Estoril has still to sign a contract with Dorna, and given the extreme austerity measures in place in Portugal, the circuit is unlikely to receive much assistances from the Portuguese government. Attendance at the circuit is also one of the lowest of the year, meaning gate receipts fall well short of being able to cover the sanctioning fee.
In something of a surprise move, the German Automobile Club ADAC have announced that the German round of MotoGP will not be held at the Sachsenring in 2012, the German regional paper Freie Presse are reporting. At a press conference held at the East German circuit, which is owned by the ADAC, the organization told the media that the losses suffered by the Sachsenring were just too great to allow them to sustain the event. The event lost 600,000 euros in 2010, and despite cost-cutting to the tune of some 1.25 million euros and raising ticket prices by 10% this year, the ADAC was projecting a deficit of some 850,000 for 2012. The raising of the sanctioning fee demanded by Dorna from 2 million to nearly 4 million euros for 2012 meant that the ADAC no longer viewed the race as a viable prospect.
Press releases from the 125cc and Moto2 teams after Sunday's races at Misano:
It was a good weekend for MotoGP at Misano. We had two-and-a-half great races, two championships were opened up again and one took a step closer to the inevitable conclusion it has been moving towards almost since the start of the season. The weather was good - with just a sprinkling of raindrops to keep everyone honest - the crowds were up - on last year at least - and if the home crowd didn't exactly get what they came to see (a Rossi victory), at least they went home with hope in their hearts after a pretty strong race by the Italian, all things considered.
That they were less than happy with Jorge Lorenzo's victory - the third Spanish victory of the day, and the second time the Spaniards had cleaned up at an Italian Grand Prix, a particular thorn in the side of Italian MotoGP fans - as was witnessed by the booing during the podium ceremony, which Lorenzo responded to by cupping his hand to his ear as if he couldn't hear. Lorenzo said afterwards he found it disappointing that fans responded like that, acting more like soccer fans than racing fans, saying that he was sure that Valentino Rossi would disapprove of such behavior. Rossi agreed - up to a point - but after making all the expected noises, he added "This is Italy!" and said that his advice to Lorenzo was not to take any notice of it.