The second day of testing for the Moto2 class at Barcelona took place under far better conditions than the first. The day started off relatively sunny and dry, but damp patches and a cool track made for a treacherous track, which caught many riders out. The main victims were Roberto Rolfo and Alex Debon, two of the men tipped for success in the class, who both suffered serious shoulder injuries. Rolfo dislocated his shoulder and will be out for four weeks, while Debon fractured a collarbone and is likely to be out for a similar period. The Spaniard was taken to Valencia in the afternoon to undergo surgery to set the collarbone. Rolfo's injury came at a time when the Italian was doing well. He had just set the second time of the day behind American Kenny Noyes when he went down on a damp part of the track. In addition to Rolfo and Debon, the list of fallers included Thomas Luthi, Fonsi Nieto, Raffaele de Rosa and Julian Simon, though these riders came away relatively unscathed.
At the end of the day, it was the Japanese rider Shoya Tomizawa who reported the fastest time on a Suter MMX, ahead of Frenchman Jules Cluzel, also on a Suter, with the Colombian Yonni Hernandez in 3rd aboard a Blusens BQR. But while the teams are still using a mixture of engines - with a power difference of over 15 horsepower in some cases - the times need to be taken with a very large helping of salt, especially as these times have been released by the teams, rather than recorded by the official timekeeping.
If the old aphorism that no news is good news holds true, then the news from the first day of testing at Barcelona simply couldn't be better. Rain all morning, followed by grey skies and more drizzle kept almost everyone stuck in the pits. Towards the end of the day, as the conditions improved a little, several riders tested the water, of whom Roberto Rolfo completed the most laps - 35 in total - to get a feel for his Italtrans STR Suter Moto2 bike. His teammate Robertino Pietri - son of the former AMA racer Roberto Pietri - went out with the same objective, but was forced back into the pits after just a couple of laps, after suffering an engine problem with the Supersport-spec CBR600 unit which the Italtrans team are using while waiting for the official spec unit to arrive.
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.
Racing is rapidly approaching, and a spate of bike launches have taken place over the last week of so, few of which we have been able to give the coverage or publicity they deserve. Yamaha, however, have made our job extremely easy, providing photographs and video of both the MotoGP and World Superbike launches. Today was the turn of the 2010 Yamaha World Superbike team to unveil its livery. Sterilgarda remains as title sponsor to the team, and Cal Crutchlow and James Toseland have the task of taking up the mantle left behind by departing champion Ben Spies.
The launch also revealed some interesting changes to the 2010 Yamaha YZF-R1. Power is up by 8 horsepower compared to last year, with the benefits coming across the rev range, while the bike is also 3kg lighter. The radiator and lower fairing have been redesigned for better aerodynamics, while also increasing cooling. And the fuel tank has been simultaneously lightened and had its capacity increased. You can read more about the new R1, as well as find out about who and what Sterilgarda is exactly on the Yamaha Racing website. And you can judge the changes for yourself from the photos below:
It is a truism that motorcycle racing fans love to collect items connected to their favorite sport. If your budget can't quite stretch to a genuine FTR Moto2 bike, then Indianapolis Motor Speedway can help you out, while helping to do good. The legendary US racetrack is auctioning off a collection of various memorabilia for an excellent cause, the American Red Cross' relief effort in earthquake-stricken Haiti.
Jorge Lorenzo's challenge for the 2010 MotoGP title suffered a minor setback this morning, when the Spanish star fractured his right hand in a motocross accident. Lorenzo was taken to hospital for treatment, where he underwent surgery to rectify the problem, having a titanium plate fitted in his hand. Lorenzo will miss the next test at Sepang at the end of the month, but should be fit in time for the following test prior to the MotoGP season opener at Qatar.
The press release shown below contains full details of the incident, but the accident reveals the problems faced by motorcycle racers. That racing is dangerous is universally acknowledged, but the very act of practicing machine control, only possible on some form of motorcycle or other, whether it be motocross, supermoto or track bike, exposes the rider to the risk of injury. At least the nature of Lorenzo's injury mean that he will not miss any of the season.
JORGE LORENZO INJURES HAND IN TRAINING ACCIDENT
Fiat Yamaha Team rider Jorge Lorenzo has undergone surgery in his right hand following an accident whilst training near his home in Barcelona yesterday, Thursday 11th February.
One of the main ideas behind the brand new Moto2 class is to reduce the cost of racing. There are very few people indeed who can afford the million euros it reportedly cost for an Aprilia RSA250, and even fewer that Aprilia was willing to supply them to. But Moto2 changes all that; for a tenth of the cost of a competitive 250, you can race a machine just as competitive as the factory Aprilia 250 once was.
Such is the cost level of Moto2 that ownership is not limited to race teams. Private individuals with a healthy savings account can now get their hands on a pukka Moto2 racing machine for use as the ultimate track day machine. For British manufacturer FTR MOTO is making 10 limited edition Moto2 replicas available for purchase. The machines will be painted in the colors used by the legendary 'Rocket' Ron Haslam, and come with a World Supersport spec Honda CBR600RR engine, a set of Spidi leathers, an Arai helmet and three days of tuition from Haslam himself.
More details on the offer below, but MotoMatters.com visited FTR's facility just a week or so ago, and were given an insight into the process of designing and building a Moto2 bike. An article about this visit will be appearing in the runup to the 2010 inaugural Moto2 season. Stay tuned.
FTR TO PRODUCE LIMITED EDITION HASLAM ELF HONDA SPECIALS
After months of speculation and controversy, the FB Corse Team finally unveiled their MotoGP machine and team at the offices of a radio station in Milan today. At the official launch, which had been delayed from the end of January, the team presented their FB01 three cylinder 800cc MotoGP bike, designed and built by Oral Engineering, as part of a project originally started for BMW several years ago.
After being dropped by the German manufacturer, development of the bike has continued on the test bench. But the FB01 is yet to turn a wheel on track. "We will continue to test on the dyno, and expect to take to the track towards the end of February," Mauro Forghieri, the bike's designer, told MotoCorse.com. The reason the bike had not been tested was because it was unclear how such testing would be viewed by Dorna and IRTA. The team is still not officially entered into MotoGP, though FB Corse say that this is just a formality. Once the team is entered with Garry McCoy as the official rider, McCoy would be subject to the same testing regulations as the rest of the field. The other teams and manufacturers would have to agree to allow FB Corse do private testing with McCoy before the Australian could safely take to the track.
In another warmup for the 2010 World Superbike season, which thankfully is getting ever closer, Miller Motorsports Park organized a telephone press conference with Jason DiSalvo, the Triumph Factory Racing World Supersport team's new signing. DiSalvo spoke at some length to reporters about his recent test at Portimao, which was his first outing on the Triumph Daytona 675, about adapting to the Pirelli tires, about racing in Europe and about training outside in the frozen northeast, during what is now being referred to as "Snowmageddon II". Below is the transcript of the press conference:
Moderator: Good afternoon, everybody. Welcome to Miller Motorsports Park’s second teleconference with riders of the World Supersport and World Superbike championships. This week we have Jason DiSalvo, who rides for the BE1 Triumph Factory Team in World Supersport Championship.
Jason has been a fixture in American racing for a number of years. He raced in AMA from 1999 through 2009. Made his way up from Superstock and Supersport up to the Superbike class, where he raced from 2005 to 2009. He started racing when he was 4. He has spent some years in Europe doing 125GP racing. He was the youngest rider ever to race in an FIM-sanctioned 125GP race. And we're glad to have him here. So, hello, Jason.
With just over two weeks to go until the 2010 World Superbikes season kicks off at Phillip Island in Australia, the ever-assiduous staff at World Superbike headquarters have put together a video preview of the season to whet your appetite for the racing - as if that was necessary after a long cold winter. The video features a rundown of the teams and riders participating in the upcoming season, interviews with most of the protagonists, and highlights of the fantastic racing that made up the 2009 season.
So pour yourself a fresh beverage, pull up a chair and enjoy 25 minutes of World Superbike action. It's very nearly time to go racing again.
MotoGP's 2011 Silly Season - the period during which contracts are negotiated and hammered out for the 2011 season - got underway a little early. In fact, it got underway shortly after the 2010 Silly Season was over, some time around early September 2009, shortly after Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa signed one-year contracts with their current employers, Yamaha and Honda respectively. Their signings effectively meant that the contracts of Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa, Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner will all finish at the same time, at the end of the 2010 MotoGP season, leading to a feeding frenzy of speculation, rumor and argument over who will be going where for 2011.
Most of this speculation has surrounded Valentino Rossi. The Italian has been linked with a switch to Ducati, an extension of his Yamaha contract, a return to Honda, a career jump to Formula One with Ferrari, and even retirement to go race in WRC. Most of it has come from the ever-industrious Italian media, but Rossi himself has not been shy of using the media to his own ends on occasion. He has himself hinted both that he has offers from Ducati and that he will end his career at Yamaha, two seemingly mutually exclusive possibilities, as well as flirting cautiously with both Formula One and retirement. Any and all such pronouncements have been pounced upon by the press and sliced, diced and analyzed for any indication of what The Doctor's true intent might be.
The fact that Kevin Schwantz believes Ben Spies will win a race in his first season, as we reported over the weekend, should hardly come as a surprise, given Schwantz' long association with the young Texan. Spies excellent times at the first test of the year at Sepang confirmed that the Texan is making the necessary progress towards that goal, but most observers regard it as a little too early to tell.
To get the view of Ben Spies' team manager on the question, MotoMatters.com spoke with Herve Poncharal, and put Schwantz' bold claim to the Frenchman. The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 manager was much more cautions than Spies' mentor and former world champion Schwantz. "Kevin obviously has a lot of confidence in Ben," Poncharal said. "Obviously you can never rule out the possibility of a win. Colin came very close to winning at Donington last year," Poncharal said, but the task ahead was not simple. "I really hope Kevin is right, but winning on a regular basis is not easy."
Before Spies can beat the Fantastic Four, he first has to catch them, Poncharal pointed out. "The first step is to stay with top four, then to try and beat them. But to stay with them is already tough," the Frenchman told MotoMatters.com.