It has been talked about for a long time, but finally it looks like being a reality. Today, MTV announced that they will be airing the long-awaited reality show based around Nicky Hayden's life in MotoGP. The show, unsurprisingly called "The Kentucky Kid," is a two-hour long special charting Hayden's claiming of the 2006 world title over the last two races of the season, and the ill-fated defense of his title during the 2007 season.
The show has caused controversy among MotoGP fans, with many hardcore followers fearing the trivialization of the sport, and an influx of what they usually call "clueless teenage girls," among other, less printable names. But the show could also raise the profile of MotoGP in the US, especially among the key 15-30 demographic, which would surely be a welcome development with the US due to host two MotoGP rounds in 2008.
"The Kentucky Kid" is due to air on November 16th, at 10pm ET/PT on MTV. If and when the show will be shown in Europe, Australia, and other places around the globe is not yet known.
The Valencia MotoGP round is steeped in tradition, despite only having been the final round since 2002. The most interesting part of that tradition is the rolling out of the 2008 MotoGP bikes for the first official test on the Tuesday and Wednesday following the race. But before that can happen, there's the end-of-year test for journalists, former racers and miscellaneous celebrities (this year including Michael Schumacher and Gerhard Berger), who all get to try out some, or for the really lucky ones, all, of the 2007 MotoGP bikes. The teams all loathe this with a vengeance, as well you might expect, handing the machine they have slaved on and pampered all year long over to a bunch of hamfisted writers who are never going to approach 60% of the machine's potential. There is little they can do about it, however, as the manufacturers' marketing departments all see it as a vital part of selling more motorcycles.
But having the world's press hanging around the track for a couple of days with little to do means that for the teams, it is an excellent time to announce their plans for 2008. As a consequence, we have been flooded with announcements on tires, teams and anything else you care to think about.
For the moment, we'll stick to tires. On Sunday evening, as everyone was expecting, Yamaha announced that Valentino Rossi would run Bridgestones, and be joined by Jorge Lorenzo. They also announced that though the two men would share a garage, that garage would have a giant wall running the length of it, keeping the two sets of tire technicians apart. The fact that it would help keep the two biggest egos in the MotoGP paddock apart was not mentioned explicitly, but did not really need to be. The question remains how Jorge Lorenzo will handle this news, as one of the conditions which Lorenzo gave for joining Yamaha was that he would be on equal equipment with Valentino Rossi. Lorenzo has also mentioned in numerous interviews that he was looking forward to learning a lot from the Italian multiple world champion, a prospect which is also looking ever less likely.
Davide Brivio, manager for the factory Yamaha team, admitted to Motorcycle News that the switch to Bridgestone tires was a risk. With Valentino Rossi being the only Yamaha rider to use the Japanese rubber, he will have no data to fall back on, and the other manufacturers using Bridgestones all have at least a year's experience with the tires. What's more, the chances that Michelin will come back strongly in 2008 are very high, as evinced by the improving results they have shown over the past few races. It should be clear by the time we hit Mugello whether Rossi has made the right choice.
As for Michelin, they seized the opportunity of Yamaha's, or rather, Valentino Rossi's announcement to make an announcement of their own. They told the waiting press to much fanfare that Repsol Honda would be staying with Michelins, with both Dani Pedrosa and Nicky Hayden expressing their trust in the French tire firm. The announcement rings hollow, however, when you consider that what they were actually announcing is that they had managed to persuade someone not to leave. They now have 12 months to prove to Dani Pedrosa (Nicky Hayden's contract will expire at the end of 2008, with renewable questionable, if Hayden has any sense) that they can make winning tires again, or else the MotoGP series could return to being a de facto single tire series, but this time with Bridgestone rather than Michelin at the helm.
The series took a step closer after Sunday, with the news that Tech 3 Yamaha would not be using Dunlops in 2008. No announcement was made as to what they would be using, but the assumption is it will be Michelins. The loss of Dunlop is a real shame, as the Dunlop project had made huge leaps forward over the past two years, and was within 6 months or so of being truly competitive, if their current rate of progress had continued. Dunlop will have to console themselves with being ruling the 125 and 250 series instead.
Injuries and illness are taking their toll at Valencia this morning, with the results of various crashes over the past two days starting to tell on the riders. Chaz Davies has been forced to pull out of Sunday's race, with his crash towards the end of qualifying causing a suspected cracked scaphoid to add to his cracked fingertips from an earlier crash. Davies' withdrawal means the end to his current MotoGP career, as the Welshman will be returning to the AMA for next season.
Valentino Rossi was out during the warmup, and looks probable to try and take part in the race. Though he may well be riding, he certainly won't be competitive, as The Doctor was lapping some 2.6 seconds off the pace during the warm up session. Rossi will be concentrating on extending his streak of races competed, never having missed a race in his career, and in trying to secure 2nd place in the Championship. To do this, all he needs to do is score a single point to stay ahead of Dani Pedrosa, and with a reduced field, his chances are looking good.
Carlos Checa is the other rider who could be helping Rossi to gain points, as the Spanish veteran is still suffering with a mystery illness. Internal scans have failed to turn up the problem, despite Checa being kept in hospital overnight on both Friday and Saturday night. Checa failed to take part in this morning's warmup, and is looking doubtful for the race.
The FIM officially announced changes to the tire regulations today. As expected, the single tire rule has been called off entirely, its purpose having been served by forcing the tire manufacturers to agree upon new rules. Instead, the tire allocation has been expanded, and the testing restrictions have been eased. Here is a summary of the new rules:
- Tire limits are lifted from 31 to 40, with 18 front tires and 22 rear tires available to riders during the race weekend;
- Tire companies can choose on GP circuit to test at, after the race has been held there, but current MotoGP riders will not be allowed to take part in the tests;
- If a track is resurfaced, and for new tracks, tire and motorcycle manufacturers can test there at least 4 weeks prior to the event. Once again, current MotoGP riders will not be allowed to take part, only official test riders.
You can find the full text of regulations over on the FIM website (PDF file).
Valentino Rossi has spoken to the press about his crash during today's Qualifying Practice session. "I immediately realized my hand was broken, but I didn't know how bad it was" he told reporters. "I hit my lower back quite hard as well, and actually it hurts quite a lot, but luckily there is no damage there," the Italian continued.
He further revealed that he was not sure whether he would be able to race tomorrow or not. Rossi has never missed a race in his career, a record he would like to maintain, but with no championship at stake, he may decide it is the wiser course of action to rest and recuperate, to be able to concentrate on preparing for next season, when he will be even more determined to take back the championship. "I remember last year in Assen the pain was more or less the same, but then I was challenging for the championship. Tomorrow, I am challenging for second place; it's not quite the same," Rossi said, hinting strongly that he may be less motivated to race than at Assen last year, where he also broke his wrist.
Rossi will decide whether to race tomorrow morning, in consultation with Dr Costa of the Clinica Mobile.
Less than 10 minutes into today's Qualifying Practice session, and Valentino Rossi's terrible season continues to the end. Rossi crashed very heavily coming out of Turn 1, the bike completely destroyed, Rossi whipped back and forth before being tossed off the bike. Rossi was very slow to get up, obviously very shaken, but even worse, he was holding his right wrist in a great deal of pain. He was taken to the medical center with an ice pack on his wrist.
Rossi has already set a time likely to be good enough to have qualified, but was clearly in so much pain that his participation in doubt for tomorrow. More news as it becomes available.
~~~ UPDATE ~~~
It's been confirmed that Valentino Rossi has fractured 3 bones in his right hand. He is also complaining of back pain. He has said he will try and ride tomorrow, but is very doubtful for the race.
It happened the last time he jumped ship, and it looks like it could happen again: Motorcycle News is reporting that Valentino Rossi could be prevented from taking part in any MotoGP tests until the end of the year, this time with Michelin stopping Rossi from testing on Bridgestone tires until the contract between Yamaha and Michelin expires at the end of November. As the FIM enforce a winter test ban which starts on December 1st and runs until mid-January, Rossi may not get to ride the new M1 until the January 22nd test at Sepang.
The Doctor has been here before, of course, as Honda held Rossi to the terms of his contract at the end of the 2003 season, banning him from riding the Yamaha M1 until January 1st 2004. Despite having a lot less testing under his belt than the competition, and starting on a clearly inferior bike, Rossi went on to win the first race of that season, and take the championship, establishing his reputation once and for all. So the question is, would a test ban slow him up at all?
Ben Spies has not had a lot of luck when it comes to testing the Suzuki GSV-R MotoGP bike. Twice he has had tests of the bike scheduled, and twice those tests have been rained out, in Japan and in Sepang. After the washout at Sepang, it looked like that would be the AMA Superbike Champion's last chance of testing the bike this year, as the Rizla Suzuki team felt they would be too busy in Valencia helping new signing Loris Capirossi's find a base setting on his first time on the bike, and putting Chris Vermeulen to work on the 2008 GSV-R, making handling a test for Spies too difficult.
But it looks like it could be third time lucky for the Texan, as Cycle News is reporting that Ben Spies will be given a chance to test the Suzuki at Valencia after all. Spies is slated to test on Monday, with the possibility of running on Tuesday and Wednesday as well, if Monday goes well, and the team can manage the workload with Capirossi and Vermeulen easily enough.
That only leaves the weather capable of getting in the way, a very real factor, as Spain's Southeastern coast has been lashed by intense rainfall and severe flooding over the past few weeks. So far, though, the outlook for Monday is dry, but cloudy. Spies will surely be praying to all and any weather gods he may know of that it stays that way.
As most of you know by now, we occasionally feature MotoGP photography from sources off the beaten path here at MotoGPMatters.com. A couple of months ago, someone who posts as RLCanon over on the Adventure Rider website posted up a couple of pictures from his visit to the Misano MotoGP round. We liked them a lot, and we hope you like them too.
Our thanks for being given permission to use these pictures, and if you liked these, there's a couple more fantastic images here.
Pramac d'Antin have just confirmed what we had reported earlier, that Toni Elias will ride for the Pramac d'Antin Ducati squad next year. This leaves the teams rider line-up for 2008 looking very different from their 2007 riders, two long-time MotoGP veterans.
Elias' signing brings the MotoGP silly season almost to a close, leaving only the Team KR seat open, although their plans are not yet finalized.