Staying in shape for MotoGP riders remains a tricky business. The only way to maintain their level of bike control is to ride motorcycles at speed, but with that comes the risk of a crash and possible injury.
The latest victim of the curse of motocross training was Valentino Rossi. Rossi crashed heavily on Thursday, training near Pesaro in Italy. The Italian was taken to hospital to have his shoulder checked out, but despite suffering some pain, Rossi escaped without injury. The Doctor is expected to race in Japan, and the injury should not affect his ability to race.
Rossi's crash was the second stroke of motocross mishap for the Fiat Yamaha Team, Jorge Lorenzo breaking a bone in his hand in February this year. That crash meant Lorenzo missed out on valuable testing time at Sepang, and had a serious impact on Lorenzo's pre-season preparation. The lack of injury to Valentino Rossi led the Italian website MotoCorse.com to question quite legitimately whether his crash qualifies as news at all. But as MotoCorse.com points out, Rossi is the biggest star in the sport, and if anything happens to the Italian, it automatically qualifies as news.
One of the things that the Fiat On The Web team do when the attend MotoGP races - apart from supplying coverage of the weekend on Twitter and on their blog and Facebook pages - is to shoot interviews with the protagonists of the weekend. Restrictions imposed on them prevent them from doing video interviews with Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi, and while this is a shame for them, in a strange way, it is good for the hardcore MotoGP fans, as it means they interview the riders' team managers instead. So instead of the same interviews you see on TV and on MotoGP.com with the riders, instead, you get a perspective from the pit garage, and some background on how the team viewed the race, rather than just the riders. So here's Valentino Rossi's team boss Davide Brivio and Jorge Lorenzo's team boss Wilco Zeelenberg talking about the first MotoGP race of the season at Qatar.
As the digital world continues its relentless drift into the world of the mobile device, both MotoGP and World Superbikes series are starting to catch up. Last week the World Superbike series announced the availability of its WSBK iPhone app in the iTunes store, and this week, MotoGP has followed suit, with its own live timing app for iPhone and iTouch.
Roger Lee Hayden was not the only guest on the OnTheThrottle.TV live video show after this weekend's racing. Monster Yamaha's Ben Spies also came on the show, to talk about his first race as a fully paid-up member of the MotoGP paddock. Here's what Spies had to say about how qualifying and racing went:
Results and summary of the MotoGP race from Qatar:
Results of the Warm Up session for the MotoGP class at Qatar:
Results of QP for the MotoGP class:
Casey Stoner started on Saturday where he left off on Friday, firing to the top of the timesheets in the second session of free practice for the MotoGP class at Qatar and never relinquishing his spot. The Marlboro Ducati rider's chief opposition came from Valentino Rossi, but every time the Italian close the gap on Stoner, the Australian put in another fast lap and opened it back up. By the end of the session, Rossi had closed the gap from yesterday, though, cutting Stoner's advantage by two tenths to just 0.34 seconds.
Randy de Puniet confirmed his strong start from yesterday, pinching 3rd place ahead of the factory Repsol Honda of Andrea Dovizioso. Jorge Lorenzo struggled early, but came good on his final lap, the Fiat Yamaha leaping from 10th up to 5th in the standings. This pushed Pramac Ducati's Mika Kallio down to 6th, an excellent result from the Finnish rider, while Monster Yamaha's Ben Spies ended up 7th, building on his start from yesterday.
Results of the FP2 session of the MotoGP class:
A new season means new jobs not just for riders, but also for mechanics, press officers, hospitality staff and many other people inside the MotoGP paddock, as the off-season team shuffle moves personnel about. In the Fiat Yamaha Team, the biggest change was the departure of Daniele Romagnoli as manager of Jorge Lorenzo's side of the garage, and his replacement by Wilco Zeelenberg, former 250 and World Supersport star, and manager of Yamaha's championship-winning World Supersport team last year.
MotoMatters.com caught up with Zeelenberg at the end of the day at Qatar, and sat down for 10 minutes to talk about his new role. How was he getting on as manager to Jorge Lorenzo? "I'm fitting in very well," the Dutchman said. "There's a good atmosphere in the team and everyone is working very well together."
Fitting in to the job had been relatively easy for Zeelenberg. "The job I am doing here is basically the same as I did in World Supersport," he said. "Just the surrounding hype is much bigger."