MotoGP

Lorenzo Confirmed For Qatar Test

As predicted, Jorge Lorenzo will take part in the Qatar tests due to take place at the end of this week. Yamaha today issued a press release confirming his intention to ride in the tests, the final opportunity for testing before the 2010 season gets underway at Qatar on April 11th.

The news had been expected, for Lorenzo had been increasingly optimistic about his chances of making a return in his posts on Facebook and Twitter. The Spaniard is not yet fully recovered, though, so his times will be difficult to judge. Lorenzo will be forced to ride with a specially-made brace and special gloves, to provide support for the fractured metacarpal he suffered. Lorenzo described his predicament in a press statement issued by the Fiat Yamaha team as follows:

Lorenzo Likely To Test In Qatar

Jorge Lorenzo is almost certain to take part in next week's final MotoGP test at Qatar. The Spaniard's participation in the test had been in doubt since Lorenzo broke his wrist during a motocross accident in early February. The injury had already caused Lorenzo to skip the second test at Sepang, and with testing limited to just six days before the season starts in April, Qatar would be the final chance for the Fiat Yamaha rider to test before the championship commences.

Lorenzo has spent a lot of time in physical therapy since his injury, squeezing it in between a full program of personal appearances for several sponsors, as well as appearing on a Spanish TV show. But his recovery has gone better than expected: On Thursday, Lorenzo announced on his Facebook page that he would make a decision on whether to ride at Qatar on Monday, but after physiotherapy on Friday, he announced that he thinks he will be able to take part at Qatar.

Hungarian MotoGP Round Uncertain After Bank Withdraws Loan

The future of the Balatonring circuit near Hungary's Lake Balaton is once again uncertain, after the Hungarian Development Bank MFB refused to underwrite a loan needed for completion of the project, according to the Hungarian business news service MTI-ECO. The loan of 15.3 billion Hungarian Forints HUF (around 57.6 million Euros or 79.3 million dollars) was part of a total package of of over 35 billion HUF in government subsidy needed to complete the 40 billion HUF project.

The MFB refused to underwrite the loan after undertaking a due diligence process. Under the terms of the loan, the state would be providing 70% of the financing of the project, while receiving a 30% stake in the Balatonring circuit. Due diligence revealed that no calculations had been done on the return on investment of the project, making it impossible to judge the value of investing in construction of the circuit. A statement issued by the MFB said that the bank had negotiated with investor about the business risks, but that the investor could not accept the conditions which the MFB had put on the loan.

Rossi: "I Would Feel Like A Traitor Going To Ducati"

Just over a month ago today, Valentino Rossi vowed to stop talking about his future in the press. But like everyone who has vowed to give up smoking or lose weight at the start of a new year, Rossi has found that such resolutions can be incredibly difficult to maintain. For at the ceremony on Thursday night where Rossi was presented with the "Winning Italy Award" in recognition of his work in improving Italy's public image abroad, Rossi was once again tempted into making statements on where he will be riding next season.

In response to questions about how much longer he will stay in MotoGP, the Italian living legend put the fears of MotoGP fans and organizers to rest: "I am again enjoying the sport and the desire to compete, so I think I will continue for some more years," Rossi told the press. Rossi could not avoid the question on all of Italy's mind, either. When asked about a potential switch to Ducati, Rossi was very clear: "An Italian on an Italian bike would be nice, yes. But I think I want to stay with Yamaha, which is also a little bit Italian. I would feel like a traitor if I acted any other way, because I feel very good with them."

Suzuki Reveal 2010 MotoGP Livery

After Yamaha and Ducati revealed their 2010 bikes, today it was the turn of the smallest of the manufacturers, Suzuki. The Rizla sponsorship remains, with the brand strengthened by having the livery designed by the famous American firm of Troy Lee Designs. The traditional Rizla powder blue remains, but the darker elements make the bike look squatter and rather more brooding. Much more like a MotoGP should look.

Suzuki also released the specifications of the bike, but like the specs provided by every manufacturer in MotoGP, they do not reveal any real information of note, such as bore, stroke, V angle, etc. The engine has received significant upgrades over the winter, to produce more horsepower and better engine characteristics, an improvement which saw both Loris Capirossi and Alvaro Bautista leap up the timesheets during the last test at Sepang. Suzuki has a strong record of testing at the Malaysian track, but they tend to start slipping backwards as the season goes on. With the veteran/rookie pairing of Capirossi and Bautista, perhaps this is the year that Suzuki turns the corner.

Here's Alvaro Bautista's bike:

Riders For Health Auctioning Exclusive Paddock Passes For Every MotoGP Race

The one place that everyone wants to be at a MotoGP race is in the paddock. Simultaneously, it is one of the most difficult places to get into, as, quite simply, Dorna does not sell passes into the paddock. The usual way - other than in a professional capacity, or working as a marshal - is to purchase a VIP package through one of the very few specialist travel companies authorized to issue paddock passes, such as our friends over at Pole Position Travel.

But now, MotoGP's (and MotoMatters.com's) official charity organization Riders For Health are providing an extra route into the paddock. Today, the charity announced that they will be auctioning off pairs of paddock passes for each of MotoGP's 18 races this season, with the money raised going towards Riders' outstanding work providing primary health care in Africa. If you want to get into the paddock and have a chance of meeting your own personal hero (be it Valentino Rossi, Bradley Smith or even Jerry Burgess), then read the press release below carefully, and dig deep for Riders.

Exclusive MotoGP paddock pass auction for Riders

James Toseland Video Interview: On Portimao, British Riders And WSBK

Whenever fans talk of their dreams of being a world famous motorcycle racer, they have in their minds the image of travelling from circuit to circuit, and focusing on nothing but racing. Of course, life isn't like that, and one of the duties of a factory World Superbike rider is to turn up at motorcycle shows, corporate PR events and a host of other occasions to help market the brand helping to pay their wages. James Toseland understands this, and performs this task admirably, taking advantage of the situation to practice his second passion, playing the piano, at such affairs.

Toseland is currently in Rome for the MotoDays exhibition, helping Yamaha to launch their brand new FZ8 naked bike. While he was there, our friends over at GPOne.com took the opportunity to catch up with him, and did a short video interview with the Sterilgarda Yamaha rider. In the interview, Toseland talks about the transition from MotoGP to World Superbike, his expectations of Portimao, and why so many British riders are in the World Superbike series. Here's the video from GPOne.com:

Freddie Spencer's Championship Bikes For Sale

Ask some of the veterans of the MotoGP paddock who the greatest racer of all time was, and you'll get a fairly short list of names, usually including Valentino Rossi, Giacomo Agostini, Kenny Roberts, Eddie Lawson and Kevin Schwantz. But the answer to that question is almost always followed up by the words "And then there's Freddie Spencer, of course..." Spencer's career was cut short by a wrist injury, but before he was forced to retire, the young American shocked the world by being the only man to win both the 500cc and 250cc World Championships in the same year. Fast Freddie was precocious, sensitive and blindingly, mind-bogglingly fast.

Since retiring from racing, Spencer's fortunes have been very mixed. The Louisiana native ran a successful riding school and was the motorcycle racing commentator for the US SpeedTV channel, but both of those ventures have gone sour. Spencer's riding school was forced to shut down at the end of 2008, after financial problems saw the instructors go unpaid and the bikes repossessed. Spencer's commentary work also dried up, with Daytona legend Scott Russell taking his place in the commentary booth.

Passing The Torch

Since the rumblings began emanating from the machinations of Colin Edwards’, Hervé Poncharal’s, and Lin Jarvis’ closed-door meetings to figure out how to get Ben Spies and Tom Houseworth into MotoGP in 2010, and the subsequent announcement last Fall, one of the most popular ways to cast the story (and indeed, one of the few speculative avenues that doesn’t automatically involve Silly Season 2011) is to suggest that the tensions between Colin Edwards and James Toseland will somehow be amplified in the arrival of the superior abilities of Ben Spies. I realize magazines and newspapers need to manufacture material in the off-season to sell copies, and we who post on The Web need to draw traffic when potential advertisers don’t care that the sport is on hiatus. But I am here to tell you that this particular road is a dead end street. Headlines of “Tension at Tech 3”, “Monster Battle Brewing”, and “Trouble in Paradise” (a city in Texas, but not home to either rider), can be summarily ignored.

McCoy To Test FB Corse On March 15th And 16th

The status of the FB Corse project has been shrouded in mystery ever since the Italian team announced they would be contesting the 2010 MotoGP season. Though the bike has been officially presented, and details about the three-cylinder MotoGP machine widely circulated, the bike has yet to turn a wheel in public, and no one knows whether the bike is even capable of achieving race speeds. This latter point has caused some concern inside IRTA, the organization representing the race teams and charged with ensuring the quality of the teams involved. IRTA boss Mike Trimby told MCN last week that FB Corse would not be allowed to take part in MotoGP until the bike had demonstrated its competitiveness, by lapping at a Grand Prix circuit within three seconds of race pace.

FB Corse has now risen to that challenge. Today, the team issued a press release stating that Garry McCoy is to test the FB01 at Valencia on the 15th and 16th of March, before running a timed test in front of Franco Uncini, who will be watching the test on behalf of Dorna. A representative from IRTA will also be present to monitor the test, to ensure the team is proficient enough to be allowed into the MotoGP paddock.

2010 MotoGP Calendar

Calendar for the 2010 MotoGP, Moto2 and 125cc season: 

Special Offer - MotoMatters.com 2010 Racing Calendar Reduced To Clear

The MotoMatters.com 2010 Motorcycle Racing Calendar has been a huge hit, and is now adorning the walls of homes and offices around the world, helping hardcore motorcycle racing fans plan their weekends around their favorite sport. With each race weekend clearly marked, keeping up with when the next race is now incredibly easy for the lucky souls who purchased the calendar. But those who have not yet done so are about to get even luckier: We have slashed a sizable chunk off the purchase price, to help sell the last few copies we have in our storerooms.

On top of the price cut, we will also be offering a free Riders for Health sticker (graciously provided by the US chapter of Riders) to the first 15 people to place an order. 10% of the purchase price already goes to Riders for Health, and the bonus sticker is our way of showing our support to this outstanding organization, and can be your way of joining the mass of people who have helped Riders become what it is today.

MotoGP Sepang Test: Audio Interviews With Casey Stoner And Nicky Hayden

At the end of the day at each MotoGP event, journalists crowd into hospitality suites and pit garages to question the riders on how the day went, and find out what they have been riding on. Unfortunately, those interviews are not usually available online during the racing season. However, our good friends over at GPOne.com have been recording these interviews at the current MotoGP test at Sepang, and have put up edited versions for their readers to listen to.

Sepang 2 Test Day 2 Times - Rossi Leads An Australian And Three Americans

Valentino Rossi finished the second day of testing at Sepang in the same style he finished the first day: On top of the timesheets, with a comfortable lead over his closest rival Casey Stoner. The Italian smashed his existing pole record on a used tire early on the session, before going on to work on the electronics of his Fiat Yamaha M1. At the end of the day, Rossi pronounced himself very happy with the progress of the Yamaha, and even took time to try the Yamaha Test Team's bike, setting the 15th fastest time in the process on a bike not set up for him.

Rossi finished nearly a quarter of a second faster than Casey Stoner, the Australian having also lapped under Rossi's previous pole record. There was also good news for Stoner's teammate, 2006 World Champion Nicky Hayden. After struggling yesterday, Hayden improved his time by over 1.5 seconds, setting his best ever testing result on the Ducati. The Kentucky Kid had complained of a lack of strength from the arm pump surgery he had just a couple of weeks ago, but a day back on the bike was sufficient to sort those problems out too. Hayden took it a little easier than his usual marathon testing sessions, with 10 other riders doing more laps than the American.

Yamaha To Stick With 800cc M1 In 2012

The new MotoGP regulations for 2012 have the MSMA caught on the horns of a dilemma: In the long run, the 1000cc formula should be cheaper than the current crop of 800s. In the short run, the switch requires that the factories design a new engine based on the new limitations imposed by the rules. With the factories still reeling after the global economic crisis has left their finances in turmoil, a significant investment to develop a brand new engine is not an attractive prospect at all.

Consequently, at the meeting the MSMA held at Sepang three weeks ago, the factories agreed to allow the 800cc bikes to remain in the class as a separate category for the foreseeable future. The 800cc bikes were to be given a 3 kilogram weight advantage over the 1000s, but were to be subject to the same fuel, engine limits and 81mm maximum bore restriction to be imposed on the liter bikes. This would allow the factories to get more value out of the 800cc bikes they have already poured so much investment into, and prevent them from having to persuade their management boards from dipping heavily into the rapidly-dwindling coffers to develop a new bike.

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