That Ben Spies will be moving to MotoGP in 2009 is common knowledge. For over a year now, Spies has talked openly of wanting to make the switch to the premier class of motorcycle racing, and has always spoken of doing so with Suzuki. A logical choice, given Spies' (relatively) long association with the marque. But lately, progress towards this goal has stalled, as problems have arisen over the price of leasing a GSV-R from Suzuki.
The proposed changes to the 250 class - with the 250 cc two-stroke twins likely to be replaced with rev-limited, spec ECU 625cc four-stroke inline fours - is having an unexpected effect on the MotoGP class. With KTM and Aprilia currently mainstay of the 250 class, the Japanese manufacturers having withdrawn factory support some time ago, the two European factories are extremely displeased with the new proposed measures. But unless they can persuade all of the manufacturers gathered in the MSMA to vote against the proposals, the two strokes are doomed.
MotoGP, like all forms of motorcycle racing, generates a great deal of passion among its followers. And passion is an emotion which always has a need to find expression in one form or another. That passion is what prompted me to set up this website, and prompts me to keep it running.
The Eurosport commentators Toby Moody and Julian Ryder mentioned it during the broadcast of the race, and now several other sources are confirming it. HRC will be wheeling out its pneumatic valve engine earlier than expected. After Honda decided not to bring the engine to Le Mans for the tests which are currently under way, it seemed the first place the air valve engine could make an appearance might be the test after the Catalunya round of MotoGP in Barcelona.
The three painted lines marking the spot where MotoGP line up on the grid cram a lot of tension into a tiny space. After rolling out of the pits, and round the track for the sighting lap, the riders are in their element doing something they know and understand, riding a powerful motorcycle around a race track. But that release from pre-race tension is all too brief, for it is the prelude to the worst 15 minutes of a rider's life. Once they round the final corner and roll up to their starting position, they are trapped once again inside those few lines of paint, forced to stand idle while the clock ticks away the endless seconds before the race actually starts.
Then, once the bustle of the grid is brought to an end by the 1 minute board, and the bikes head off round the track for the warm up lap, the riders know that things are about to get worse. As they return to the confinement of those three stripes of paint, that sickening feeling in the pit of their stomach intensifies. For though they know they will only be held in that painted prison for a few seconds, restrained by just a red light, they have just long enough to ponder the fact that what they do next is irreversible. No room for error, no second chances, and no quarter given when the flag drops, but until then, motorcycle racers, people who are fundamentally defined by what they do, can do nothing. Just wait. And worry.
The second day of MotoGP practice at Le Mans had started in spectacular fashion. At the start of the morning FP3 session, Jorge Lorenzo had a nasty crash, ending up tumbling through the gravel trap at the end of the straight for the Chemin aux Boeufs chicane. A visit to the Clinica Mobile revealed that Lorenzo had been incredibly lucky: the Spanish champion, riding with two fractured ankles and fractured bones in his feet, had not injured himself any further.
The first day of free practice took place under cool, overcast but mostly dry conditions, with rain spotting the track only during the final moments of FP2. During both sessions it was Dani Pedrosa who was setting up his stall as the man to beat. Pedrosa was there or thereabouts almost from the moment they rolled onto the track, and it's clear that he means business.