Yamaha today issued a press release containing an interview with Wilco Zeelenberg, the team manager for Jorge Lorenzo. Zeelenberg plays a pivotal role in Lorenzo's success, advising Lorenzo and crew chief Ramon Forcada on where the 2012 World Champion is gaining or losing time at a circuit. He acts as both a rider advisor, as well as providing key set up input for Forcada. He is always worth listening to, and the press release interview, shown below, is no exception:
Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager Wilco Zeleenberg Q&A
Yamaha Racing caught up with Yamaha Factory Racing's Team Manager Wilco Zeelenberg recently at Assen to ask a few questions about the current season in MotoGP and his continuing role alongside reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo...
Has your season started as you expected?
“Well, I would say better! After the first two races we’re leading on points tied with Marquez which is a bit of a surprise as we expected Dani to be there, closer anyway than Marc. For the Championship it’s great to have another guy instead of Casey up there which is what was needed.”
Jorge is a very accomplished rider, is there another step forward in his learning this season?
Jorge Lorenzo, on his final lap of the first Jerez free practice, nipped Honda's Dani Pedrosa by .003 for the top spot. Pedrosa, who led most of the session, was relegated to second. Valentino Rossi finished third, a little less than three-tenths off the pace. Cal Crutchlow, who held a top-three spot for most of FP1, finished fourth and COTA winner Marc Marquez came in at fifth, nearly eight-tenths from the top time. Actually, fifth marked a dramatic improvement for the rookie who appeared to struggle early in practice. None of the riders managed to reach Crutchlow's top time from the test here earlier in the year of 1'39.511. Expect times to continue to drop in the warming conditions.
The MotoGP paddock is assembled in all its splendor at Jerez, and it is positively bulging at the seams. Shiny new hospitality units (very shiny, in the case of the Go&Fun Gresini unit) now pack the paddock, the existing units larger and new units added, causing the paddock to loosen its belt and expand into the adjacent car park, sequestering part of the area previously reserved for team and media cars. Under a bright blue Andalusian sky, it really is looking at its most appealing.
The expanded paddock makes you understand why IRTA decided to ban Moto2 and Moto3 riders from having their motorhomes in the paddock, all of them now expelled. The riders themselves are less impressed. "It was nice to have somewhere you could zone out during the day, and relax," Scott Redding said of the change. Sitting in the hospitality and watching the world go by was very pleasant, but still left him on his guard, he explained. Private quiet time was gone.
And it also removes part of the socialization process which young riders used to undergo, with the Moto2 and Moto3 men wandering around the paddock chatting to team members and other riders, everyone getting to know each other, and catching up on the latest news and gossip. It was part of what made the paddock feel like a village; a small Italian village, high in the mountains, with an inexplicably male-dominated population. The Moto2 and Moto3 riders added much to the fun of the place, spending most of their evenings challenging each other to wheelie competitions on mountain bikes and scooters. The paddock loses much with the change, feeling more like a workplace than a community.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams ahead of this weekend's race at Jerez:
Suzuki's MotoGP contender has made another 'surprise' appearance, this time being spotted in Japan. The respected US publication Cycle World has their legendary technical editor Kevin Cameron break down the changes to the bike between the first time it was spotted and this time, and his analysis makes for fascinating reading.
According to Cameron, the bike remains an inline four, though the exhaust has been modified from a four-into-two-into-one to a four-into-one. The firing order - the Cycle World story says it retains a big-bang firing order, sounding like Yamaha's M1 - also remains, but the chassis and swingarm has undergone major changes. Flexibility has been added to the swingarm, and the bike looks physically smaller.
So we're back in Europe. Despite the eerie beauty of the night race at Qatar, despite the magnificent splendor of the Circuit of the America's facilities, Jerez still feels like the first proper race of the MotoGP season. The paddock is set up in its full regalia, and all of the hospitality trucks present; the fans will be out in full force - or at least much fuller force than in the previous two races, despite the entirely respectable attendance figures at Austin - and everyone knows the score: where the track entrance is, where the truck park is, where the media center is, what the schedule is. Things have now returned to normal, and we are about to embark on the meat and potatoes section of the championship.
And here we highlight precisely where the weakness of MotoGP lies: Jerez feels like home, and everyone in the paddock immediately feels much more comfortable here than at the previous two races. It is symptomatic of the Eurocentric (and Iberocentric) nature of MotoGP and world championship racing in general that the paddock is so very far inside its comfort zone here. If MotoGP is to expand to the world, this is one thing which urgently needs addressing.
Yet it is hard not to feel comfortable at Jerez. The city still has much of its old world charm, and sports a veneer of wealth from its former role at the center of the trade with the New World, at the height of Spain's conquest of South and Central America. There are also signs of decay; one of the largest motorcycle dealerships on the main drag into town from the circuit has a 'for rent' sign up, though it is still open for business. Downtown, the beggars on the street have changed: no longer is it just those who have clearly always struggled on the fringes of society; now, ordinary men and women ejected from their homes in the wake of mass unemployment and the crisis in Spain's banking system stand, heads down, throwing themselves upon the mercy of passers by. It is a hard sight to bear, in one of the most beautiful places the MotoGP circus visits all year.
MotoGP fans will get a small glimpse of Ducati's future at Jerez this weekend. Ducati test rider Michele Pirro is due to make his first wildcard appearance of the season at the Spanish track. Most significantly, Pirro is to ride Ducati's so-called lab bike at Jerez, which contains a number of major updates to the Desmosedici GP13.
Though it is unclear exactly what Pirro will be riding - in the Ducati press release, Vitto Guareschi says only that Pirro's Ducati "will have some new development parts that will help us to focus on the development for the rest of the championship" - it seems likely that he will be racing the bike he has been busy testing. This machine, first seen at the Sepang test, was also the bike Pirro spent a lot of time testing at Jerez.
The 2013 MotoGP season has only just got underway, but as is seemingly customary in MotoGP now, thoughts are already turning to next year. With eight of the twelve men on factory prototypes on two-year contracts, the most attractive seats already appear to be taken. There is no room for any movement at either the factory Yamaha or factory Honda teams, and only one seat potentially available at the factory Ducati team. Both satellite Honda seats are taken for 2014, as is Bradley Smith's seat at the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team.
Despite this, there are some intriguing possibilities being played out. The most desirable seat still left is almost certainly the second Monster Tech 3 Yamaha seat currently occupied by Cal Crutchlow. Despite the Englishman's outstanding performance since last year, Crutchlow may not be able to hold on to his seat. There have been credible reports since 2012 that Yamaha have a keen interest in Moto2 title favorite Pol Espargaro, and in the run up to the season opener at Qatar, rumors emerged that Espargaro is already in talks with Yamaha for 2014.
As ever after a MotoGP race, Bridgestone issued a press release debrief with a senior engineer. This time it is the turn of Masao Azuma, who explains the difficulty of selecting tires for a new track, how the tires performed in the unexpectedly cool weather conditions, and the positive feedback the CRT tires received from the riders. The press release appears below:
Americas MotoGP™ debrief with Masao Azuma
Wednesday 24 April 2012
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft & Medium; Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
The inaugural Americas Grand Prix at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas was a race to remember as Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez became the youngest ever race winner in the premier class, claiming victory ahead of his teammate Dani Pedrosa and Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo who finished in third place.
Track conditions at Circuit of the Americas varied greatly over the race weekend but for the main event on Sunday, sunny skies and a track temperature of 45°C greeted riders for their first taste of racing at this impressive venue.
Q&A with Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
Ben Spies will not take part in the Spanish MotoGP round at Jerez scheduled to take place on May 5th. The Texan has been advised to withdraw to undergo further physical rehabilitation after suffering severe muscle pain in his back and chest at Austin.
The problems are a result of the extended recovery period from the surgery he had on the shoulder he injured at Sepang in October last year. Injuries to shoulder ligaments are notorious for taking a long time to heal, and for patients to recover their full strength, and it is this which has been dogging the Texan. With his right shoulder still very weak, Spies has been forced to try to compensate using his back and chest, and this is placing too much strain on his muscles while riding. The Ignite Pramac rider will have further rehab to deal with the strained muscles, and get him ready to return at the Le Mans round of MotoGP in just over three weeks' time.
Below is the press release from the Ignite Pramac team on Spies' condition:
Ben Spies to miss Jerez race
Unfortunately, the pain felt by the Ignite Pramac Racing Team rider at the end of the warm up during last weekend in Austin (Texas), has had more serious consequences than expected.
As a result, Ben Spies will not be able to race at the next round of the Championship, held on May 5th in Jerez, Spain.
2013 Austin MotoGP Sunday Round Up: Of Record Breakers, Deserved And Undeserved Attention, and Banquo's Ghost
Another day, another record. Marc Marquez now takes the place of Freddie Spencer as both the youngest rider ever to take a premier class pole, and youngest rider ever to win a premier class Grand Prix. If you had any doubt that Marquez is something special, then the inaugural round of MotoGP at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas should have removed it. Marquez is on the path which all great riders take, scoring a podium in his first race, pole and a win in his second. This is what preternaturally talented riders do: learn fast, and race fast, and win soon.
The manner of Marquez' win was what was most impressive. Together with his team, the Spaniard elected to run the harder rear tire, holding station when everyone else (except for fellow Honda rider Stefan Bradl) chose the softer of the two options. After overshooting the start, he slotted in behind his Repsol Honda teammate - a rider in his 8th season of MotoGP - evaluated how wear was affecting his rear tire, then pushed hard to pass Pedrosa in a strong and gutsy move through turns 5 and 6. He then nursed a front tire that had developed a minor problem home to take his maiden win in MotoGP, and take two of Spencer's records, both of which had stood since 1982. His win was not just a matter of talent, but also of great maturity, and of having the backing of arguably the strongest crew in the paddock.
Press releases from the teams, Bridgestone, and the Circuit of The Americas after Sunday's MotoGP race in Austin: