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.
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.
Calendar for the 2010 MotoGP, Moto2 and 125cc season:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Valentino Rossi continued his dominance at Sepang, picking up where he left three weeks ago and topping the timesheets at the end of the first day of testing at the Malaysian track. The Italian put in his fastest time early, and has spent much of the day working on the electronics, content with the work done on the engine and chassis at the previous Sepang test.
Casey Stoner was the second fastest man, and the only rider to get close to the Italian. Stoner has been testing a new carbon fiber swingarm on the Desmosedici GP10, as Ducati continues to work on incorporating the advantages the aluminium swingarm offers into the carbon fiber version.
Third and fourth fastest men were Andrea Dovizioso and Loris Capirossi, the two Italians throwing up a bit of a surprise. Dovizioso took half a second off his time from the previous test, the Repsol Honda team starting to integrate the data they collected three weeks' ago into finding a strong setup for the new Honda RC212V. Dovi's teammate Dani Pedrosa was less fortunate, suffering a slow speed fall that kept him off the track for a couple of hours, before returning and setting the 7th fastest time.
The FB Corse MotoGP bike took a step closer to finding its way onto the grid today. According to the Italian sports broadcaster Sport Mediaset, the team has been given a special dispensation by Dorna and the FIM to test the bike outside of the official MotoGP testing events, with a contracted rider rather than a test rider. As a consequence, Garry McCoy has until February 28th - this coming Sunday - to test the bike and demonstrate the machine is fast enough to make it a worthy entry to the MotoGP class.
Ever wondered what a MotoGP rider does during the off-season, and how they prepare? Well, veteran US broadcaster Greg White visited Nicky Hayden to find out, went for a cycle training ride and talked to him about 2010, recovering from his arm pump surgery and college basketball.
On the cycle ride:
Thanks to 2WheelTuesday for finding the video.
The agenda for Wednesday's meeting of the Grand Prix Commission - MotoGP's rule-making body - was clear: To thrash out some of the difficulties arising from their previous decision to revert MotoGP to 1000cc. Their hope was that after this meeting, the main points of the rules would be clear to everyone involved, and manufacturers and privateers could go off and start working on the machines which they will contest the 2012 MotoGP championship with.
Sure enough, after the meeting, the FIM issued a press release containing the new regulations agreed by the GP Commission, and it should come as no surprise that a host of details remain to be sorted out. The changes noted in the press release do point to some fascinating developments. Here are the main points for the 2012 regulations, which we will go into in more detail below:
Technical Specifications for 2012 for the MotoGP class
Each year, it seems, at least one title candidate manages to injure themselves in an accident and miss testing and preparation for the upcoming MotoGP season. In 2010, it appears to be Jorge Lorenzo's turn - the Fiat Yamaha rider got unlucky in a low-speed motocross crash and fractured a bone in his right hand at the end of last week. At the time, Yamaha reported that they expected Lorenzo to be forced to miss the second test at Sepang due to take next week.
Lorenzo returned to hospital for an examination yesterday, and though the injury and the surgery to fix the problem appears to be healing well, it may be more than just the Sepang test that Lorenzo misses. According to an interview with Hector Martin, Lorenzo's media handler, on the official MotoGP.com website, the injury may not heal fast enough for Lorenzo to take part in the final test session of the year at Qatar, on March 18th and 19th. "At the moment there are serious doubts as to whether Jorge will be fully recovered for the Qatar test," Martin told MotoGP.com "We must wait and see how his injury and rehabilitation go after he has his stitches removed, which will be next Friday or Monday."
After several long, dark months of near silence on racetracks around the world, motorcycle racing fans can ready themselves for a feast of on-track action. For 10 of the next 14 days will see every international race class on track testing, with the bonus of the opening round of the World Superbike championship to top it off.
First up is a major outing for the Moto2 and 125cc classes at Barcelona's Montmelo circuit. A total of 42 riders are expected to take to the track, including the cream of the 125cc crop and some of the major players in Moto2.
In the 125cc class, the four favorites for the title will face off for the first time. The Derbis of Pol Espargaro and Marc Marquez will be up against the Aprilias of Bradley Smith and Nico Terol, as the teams and riders prepare for the championship.
Smith returns to the Aspar fold, after failing to find a place in Moto2. In compensation, however, Smith will start the season with the best chance of becoming the first British World Champion since Barry Sheene in 1977. He knows the bike and the team, and his biggest challenge may come from his still growing body, as he inches north of 5'8, outgrowing the ideal size for a 125 racer.
A cursory glance at sales of new motorcycles provides an interesting insight into exactly where the future of motorcycling lies. Though its traditional home is Europe, North America and Australia, those markets are rapidly becoming just a tiny part of total motorcycle sales, with Asia claiming a rapidly expanding share of the global market. The recent marketing tours by Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi around India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand underline exactly how important these markets are to Yamaha and the rest of the Japanese manufacturers.