InFront Fires Warning Over Moto1

It was both expected and inevitable. After Carmelo Ezpeleta introduced a proposal to run prototype bikes powered by 1000cc production engines to the Grand Prix Commission meeting held at the Sachsenring last weekend, in an attempt to cut the astronomical costs in MotoGP, a response was sure to come from InFront Motor Sports, the body that owns the rights to World Superbikes.

It took just a week, but today, at the Brno round of World Superbikes, the Flammini brothers issued a statement to the effect that they would fight any such move with all the legal means at their disposal. The statement issued reads:

 

With reference to several declarations published recently by daily newspapers and weekly magazines, according to which the organizer of the Grand Prix World Championship is reported to be evaluating the possible participation of bikes equipped with production based 1000 cc engines in the MotoGP class, Infront Motor Sports wishes to make the following statement.

Infront Motor Sports does not consider a similar idea either to be realistic or feasible in view of the existing contracts between the FIM and Infront Motor Sports itself and in view of the specific characteristics of the World Superbike and MotoGP championships.

We believe therefore that such a project will not have any follow-up. Nevertheless, wherever future developments should render necessary any action of defense of the rights of Infront Motor Sports, as well as those of all the teams, manufacturers, riders, sponsors and media who have invested in the Superbike and Supersport World Championships, such action will be immediately set in motion at all levels.

Lorenzo Postpones Yamaha Decision A Few Weeks

Silly season for the MotoGP class is in a strange, almost schizophrenic state. The paddock is swirling with rumors - though admittedly, this is its usual state -  yet few moves or announcements are forthcoming. Normally, we would be in the middle of rider announcements, but one man has been holding up all progress in the annual rider merry-go-round.

Jorge Lorenzo's contract with Yamaha is up at the end of the 2009 season, and the Spanish sensation is dragging his feet over a contract renewal and trawling the market to test his value. He has an offer on the table from Yamaha, but has been openly flirting with Honda, with talk of the Repsol Honda team being divided into two separate teams, along similar lines to the Fiat Yamaha garage now.

Jorge Lorenzo at Donington

First, though, Lorenzo must decide whether his future lies with Yamaha or not. The Spaniard had a meeting with senior Yamaha executives Lin Jarvis and Masao Furusawa at Donington last night, where Yamaha and Lorenzo, together with his manager Marcos Hirsch, discussed the situation at great length.

Riders Complain About Lack Of Grip At Donington

Sunday is MotoGP's swansong at Donington, the last time that the world's premier racing series will ever visit the classic Leicestershire track. You would think that the circuit owners would want to make an extra effort, to make the final MotoGP meeting here go with a bang.

This is not the impression the riders got. Grip levels were low, according to several riders, with Valentino Rossi complaining the track was as slippery as it has ever been. "Usually when you go to a track, on the kerbs you have the paint, the asphalt is green, it is ready for the start," he told reporters. "Here it looks like they clean a little bit, say it's OK, go for the last time and on Monday, they start the work for the Formula 1."

The weather was also a factor, but the condition of the track made riding very difficult. "Also rain-sun-rain-sun, this year the grip is very bad." Rossi said. "Also in the wet, compared to the Sachsenring, at the Sachsenring it is possible to touch the knee, ride, make good angle, here is very very tricky to ride the bike." The condition of the track had Rossi concerned about lasting the distance on Sunday: "If I have to make 30 laps under this condition, in the wet, is very difficult. So we have to stay calm and concentrate for 30 laps, take the rhythm and go."

Saturday Photos From Donington Park


Donington Park is still beautiful in the summer


Casey Stoner had a tough day on Saturday


Bradley Smith - a very popular pole sitter

FIM Clarifies "Rookie Rule" - Less Than 9 Races Make A Rookie

Words are tricky things. Immediately after the announcement of the so-called rookie rule, debate immediately broke out over the meaning of the words "rookie" and "factory team." The response of Dorna and the FIM has been a little too akin to that of Humpty Dumpty in Lewis Carroll's Through The Looking Glass, insisting that when they use a word, it means exactly what they choose it to mean, neither more nor less.

Of course, this was not going to be a tenable situation for long. Speculation was rife in the press that factory teams could consider signing promising young stars such as Marco Simoncelli, Alvaro Bautista or Ben Spies for the last few races once they'd secured (or failed to secure) their current championships, then claim that because they'd been under contract in 2009, they should no longer be regarded as "rookies" and could go straight to factory teams for 2010.

So MotoGP's rule-making body, the Grand Prix Commission, has acted to prevent this and issued a definition of the term "rookie." The definition basically means that any rider who hasn't taken part in 9 races in the previous season must be considered a rookie, and will therefore not be eligible to race for a factory team. The definition is clearly designed to preempt any attempt at getting around the ban on rookies, as riders will basically have to compete for half a season before they are no longer rookies.

The definition issued by the FIM follows below:

2009 Donington 250cc Qualifying Practice Result - Pole Taken At The Death

Result of the 250cc qualifying practice at Donington:

2009 Donington MotoGP Qualifying Practice Result - Pole Settled Late And By Less Than A Tenth

Results of the MotoGP qualifying practice session at Donington:

2009 World Superbikes Brno Superpole - Updated

Results of Superpole sessions:

Aspar Team Announces Ducati MotoGP Deal

Some news isn't really news. So it is with the announcement, made official today, that the Aspar team will be joining the MotoGP class in 2010, and that they will be running a Ducati.

Jorge Martinez, boss of the Aspar team, has been trying for the past 3 years to get into the MotoGP class, but his problem has always been securing machinery. Deals were mooted with Suzuki and Kawasaki, the Kawasaki deal falling through after a disagreement with the Japanese factory over the choice of rider. After Yamaha refused to supply extra bikes for Aspar, there were even hotly denied rumors that Aspar would be taking over the bikes of the Tech 3 team, which turned out to be based more on wishful thinking than on actual fact. 

Aspar's luck finally changed after Sete Gibernau's went sour. Once the controversial Spanish property millionaire Francisco Hernando pulled out of sponsoring the eponymous team fielding Sete Gibernau, the bike used by the team became vacant. Aspar had been widely tipped to take over the bike after news of the GFH team's pull out broke, and today's announcement is just confirmation of what had been widely trailed before. 

Under the terms of the deal, the Aspar team will receive a single bike for 2010, with the possibility of a second bike in 2011. The exact wording of the press release is that there is "the intention to add a further member to the Aspar lineup for 2011." This is not quite a cast-iron guarantee of a second bike for 2011, but with changes expected for that season to reduce the cost of racing and make more bikes (or perhaps just engines) available, the chances of expansion are good for the team which has dominated the 125cc and 250cc classes for so long.

2009 Donington 125cc Qualifying Practice Result - Polesitter A Crowd Pleaser

Result and summary for the 125cc qualifying practice at Donington:

2009 World Supersport Brno Qualifying Practice Result - Crutchlow Takes Pole

Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow finished qualifying for the World Supersport class at Brno exactly as he had finished it: On top of the timesheets. Eugene Laverty managed to close some of the gap to the young Englishman, but his Parkalgar Honda team still have over 8/10ths of a second to find to match Crutchlow's pace. The Kawasakis of Joan Lascorz and Katsuake Fujiwara round out the front row.

Result:

2009 Donington 250cc FP2 Result - Simoncelli Takes Command

Marco Simoncelli was the fastest of the 250 riders in the last of the morning's free practice sessions, beating early leader Hector Barbera towards the end of the session. Barbera headed 3rd place man Alvaro Bautista, who had a nasty crash down Craner Curves in the final minutes of the session, adding to the bruises he collected yesterday. Thomas Luthi rounds out the top four.

Results:

They Keep On Coming - Scott Jones' Photos From Friday At Donington


Captain Scarlet


So, you want to race motorcycles, hey?


Sting in the tail

2009 World Superbikes Brno QP2 Result - Biaggi Fastest Again

Max Biaggi was once again fastest in the second session of qualifying practice, now having topped all three sessions of practice for the Superbike class. Ben Spies was second quickest, ahead of Jakub Smrz on the Guandalini Ducati and Michel Fabrizio on the factory Ducati. Nori Haga continues to suffer, still only 18th fastest in the combined qualifying standings.

Combined results of both qualifying sessions, riders in bold go forward to Superpole:

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