After a brief respite at Valencia, the rain was back in full force at the Jerez test for the Moto2 and 125cc class, so bad that it was causing flooding in the nearby towns of Cadiz, Conil and Chiclana. The handful of kilometers that separated the Jerez circuit from the flood-affected areas were sufficient to spare the assembled riders most of the problems, other than being cold and wet for much of the session.
The rain dried up in the afternoon, though the track remained tricky, and by the end of the day it was Alex de Angelis who proved best at mastering the difficult conditions for the Moto2 riders, his time of 1'55.835 still over 13 seconds off track record pace. De Angelis finished the day ahead of Tech 3's Raffaele de Rosa and Gresini's Toni Elias, with Swiss rider Thomas Luthi in 4th position.
De Rosa's 2nd place is remarkable turnaround for the Italian, as at Valencia and Barcelona he had been outclassed by his teammate Yuki Takahashi. De Rosa wasn't the only rider whose relative standing changed on a wet track: Heroes of the previous test at Valencia Julian Simon and Kenny Noyes dropped down to 10th and 12th respectively in the wet, two seconds off the pace set by Alex de Angelis.
The weather gods, having given the Moto2 class its first break at Valencia, have struck back with a vengeance at Jerez. The first morning of the three-day test has so far been rained off, with only Toni Elias and Sergio Gadea having braved the conditions, and lapping well over the 2 minute mark, over 20 seconds off the pace. With the wet weather expected to continue for the remainder of Saturday at least, not much is likely to happen today, and the teams will have to hope for better conditions tomorrow.
When the riders are out on track, you can follow the action via live timing, which is available online, and shown embedded below:
Results of the Daytona 200:
American Superbike Race II Results and Notes
Warmup Times from Daytona
The status of the FB Corse project has been shrouded in mystery ever since the Italian team announced they would be contesting the 2010 MotoGP season. Though the bike has been officially presented, and details about the three-cylinder MotoGP machine widely circulated, the bike has yet to turn a wheel in public, and no one knows whether the bike is even capable of achieving race speeds. This latter point has caused some concern inside IRTA, the organization representing the race teams and charged with ensuring the quality of the teams involved. IRTA boss Mike Trimby told MCN last week that FB Corse would not be allowed to take part in MotoGP until the bike had demonstrated its competitiveness, by lapping at a Grand Prix circuit within three seconds of race pace.
FB Corse has now risen to that challenge. Today, the team issued a press release stating that Garry McCoy is to test the FB01 at Valencia on the 15th and 16th of March, before running a timed test in front of Franco Uncini, who will be watching the test on behalf of Dorna. A representative from IRTA will also be present to monitor the test, to ensure the team is proficient enough to be allowed into the MotoGP paddock.
Results of American Superbike Race 1
It's always good to make the boss happy. Jordan Suzuki's Aaron Yates made his boss, Michael Jordan, very happy by taking the inaugural American Superbike pole of the 2010 season and the team's first pole ever at Daytona International Speedway. Jordan, who was perched on the pit wall surrounded by his entourage, smiled broadly and fist-bumped every one in his proximity when the session ended with his rider on top. Second place qualifier Larry Pegram claimed to have a traction control problem that sabotaged his session in the waning moments. Pegram was also a bit irritated at 4th place qualifier Blake Young 's supposed following tactics. Rockstar Makita Suzuki's Tommy Hayden merely had his brother, former MotoGP World Champion Nicky Hayden, in his pit to consult with when he took the third slot. Jake Zemke had to qualify on his back-up bike after the motor on his National Guard Suzuki blew late in the last practice session.
American Superbike Final Qualifying
Motomatters.com is on site at the Daytona International Speedway! Daytona Sportbikes are currently on track practicing. Weather this morning is a bit chilly but is expected to warm up to the mid-sixties (f) by this afternoon. Updates forthcoming!
As much as they will be missed, there was one very clear reason the 250s were replaced by the Moto2 class: Cost. The virtual monopoly that Aprilia had in the 250cc class meant that the Italian factory could ask whatever it liked for a competitive bike, and could pick and choose the riders to bless with competitive material. If you wanted to win races and have a shot at the title, you had little choice but to stump up the million plus euros that Aprilia was asking for a factory-spec RSA 250. It was possible to compete on the cheap - a privateer LE spec machine could be had for as little as 250,000 euros, though engine and chassis upgrades were still extremely expensive - but the only chance of success (and therefore publicity) would come in the rain, when the power advantage of the top bikes disappeared.
Julian Simon was the fastest man over the three full days of testing at Valencia, the first time the Moto2 bikes had been on track with the official spec engine. The Mapfre Aspar rider topped the timesheets on Tuesday, finishing ahead of Kenny Noyes on the Banderas Jack&Jones bike and Toni Elias on the Gresini Moriwaki. The top ten was virtually unchanged from Tuesday, only Alex de Angelis improving his time, though not his position.
Where previous tests have provided little comprehensible information due to poor weather and wildly differing engine specs being used, Valencia offered a prolonged period of dry track and the introduction of the spec Honda CBR 600 engine, meaning that for the first time, it is possible to make some comparisons and draw some conclusions. And there are certainly some interesting perspectives being opened up. The fact that springs most prominently to your attention is the dearth of 125 riders at the top of the timesheet, the sole exception being the reigning 125cc World Champion Julian Simon. But to call Simon a 125 rider is to do him an injustice, Julito spent two years racing 250s before making the step into Moto2, and has clearly lost none of his experience of bigger bikes.
The final day of testing started a washout, with the overnight rain continuing into the morning, and leaving the track soaked. For about half the field, this was the signal to pack up and head to Jerez, where the Moto2 class will continue to test from Saturday, but a sizable group remained. Only a few braved the wet conditions of the morning, Ant West topping the timesheets early, the Australian renowned for wet weather riding, having taken his only 250cc victory in a downpour in 2003.
Once the track dried up in the afternoon, the track saw more action, but few riders bettered their times from Tuesday. Alex de Angelis was one exception to the rule, and the three tenths of a second he took off yesterday's time put him firmly atop the timesheets, exactly half a second quicker than Monday's fastest man Toni Elias, and nearly nine tenths faster than Tech 3's Yuki Takahashi.
The second day of testing at Valencia saw some fairly big shakeups in the timesheets, with some riders making big steps while others barely improved, but at the end of the day, the same bunch of names sat at the top of the timesheets that had been there at the end of Monday. The order, though, was slightly different, with Julian Simon the fastest man of the day, the Aspar rider getting stuck just outside the 1'36s, his best time a lap of 1'37.156, which would have qualified him in 7th place at the last 250cc race here at Valencia.
Simon's progress was matched by Kenny Noyes of the Banderas Jack&Jones team, both men improving their times by some three tenths of a second, despite considerably cooler temperatures at the Cheste circuit. Yesterday's fastest man, Toni Elias, could not go any faster on Tuesday, ending the day with a time a hundredth slower than his best lap yesterday. Claudio Corti of the Forward Racing team - the remnants of last year's Hayate squad - once again finished 4th, while Tech 3's Yuki Takahashi improved to 5th place, less than half a second off Simon's best time.
The first day of testing with the official Honda engine is over for the Moto2 class, and finally we have some kind of indication of both what the lap times and what the relative strengths of each rider, team and chassis are. And those indications are throwing up some very interesting surprises.
The name at the very top of the timesheet is very far from a surprise: Ever since it was clear that Toni Elias would be returning to MotoGP's middle class, he has been favorite to take the title. Elias got his campaign off to a good start, lapping in the mid 1'37s, a respectable pace which would have put him in 12th on the grid for the last ever 250cc race here just over 4 months ago. The name of Julian Simon, reigning 125cc World Champion is no real shocker either, the Mapfre Aspar rider also being hotly tipped by both fans and insiders.
Places 3 through 5 are more of a surprise, though they range from an insiders' tipped rider to a complete wildcard. Kenny Noyes in 3rd may come as a surprise to MotoGP fans, but anyone who has kept half an eye on the Spanish CEV Formula Extreme championship in recent years will know the American's name, and will know that he is fast. Noyes has had some experience on Moto2 bikes already, having tested immediately after the race at Valencia.
Spring. The very word implies motion. Hope springs eternal. Spring forward, fall back. To a motorcycle racing fan, spring implies the kind of motion that we live for -- the beginning of the racing season. Never mind that, in Australia, February is more like late summer -- the excitement the follows the start of a major series transcends mere geography.
The World Superbike championship came into the traditional opener at Phillip Island with questions to be answered and a giant hole to fill. The questions all revolved around the vacuum left by departing champion Ben Spies. Pundits have been working overtime as to ascertain which of the dozen or so potential race winners would accede to the vacant throne. We got some answers from the first round, namely, that until further notice, the championship is wide open and it ain't over 'til it's over.
Race One: Got a Rocket in my Pocket