2010 WSBK Assen WSS QP1 Result - Ten Kate Hegemony Continues

The Ten Kate World Supersport team are clearly determined to dominate their home round of World Supersport this weekend. After sweeping all opposition before them during the first session of free practice, Kenan Sofuoglu and Michele Pirro continued in the same vein during QP1. Sofuoglu sits on provisional pole, three tenths ahead of his teammate Pirro, but the gap to the rest has been reduced from huge to just dominant. Frenchman Fabien Foret sits in 3rd, half a second behind Sofuoglu, while Parkalgar Honda's Eugene Laverty took the final spot on the provisional front row, three quarters of a second off the pace of the young Turk.

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2010 WSBK Assen WSBK QP1 Result - Smrz Takes Top Spot

Jakub Smrz is on provisional pole for Sunday's World Superbike races, after taking the top spot from Johnny Rea with a few minutes left in the first session of qualifying. The Pata S&G Ducati rider was helped to first spot by Rea himself, after the engine of the HANNSpree Ten Kate rider's Honda CBR1000RR blew up in a very oily mess, causing the session to be red-flagged, while the marshalls cleaned up the mess.

Troy Corser finished the session 3rd, continuing his strong start at Assen on the BMW S1000RR, while Alstare Suzuki rider - and championship leader - Leon Haslam finished in 4th, and rounds out the provisional front row. 

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2010 WSBK Assen WSS FP1 Result - Ten Kate Team Tops Timesheets

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2010 WSBK Assen WSBK FP1 Result - Rea Takes First Blood At "Home"

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Assen WSBK Update: A Faster Track; Pitt, Resch And Yoshimura Absent

The volcanic ash cloud that caused the cancellation of the Motegi MotoGP round has had only a very limited effect on this weekend's World Superbike round at Assen. With nearly all of the material already in Europe, and most of the riders being based here as well, the World Superbike field will be nearly complete at the historic track of Assen.

Nearly, but not quite. Two teams will be missing from the start line at the Dutch track, one regular team and one wildcard. The missing wildcard is a victim of Eyjafjallajökull: In the flight chaos which ensued after the Icelandic volcano started spewing out clouds of ash, the Yoshimura Suzuki team was forced to cancel their travel plans from Japan to Europe, and skip the Dutch round of World Superbikes. The trip would not have been a problem for the rider, Yukio Kagayama, as the Japanese ex-WSBK man is currently racing in BSB and was in Europe already, but the team could not get the material or the personnel from their base in Japan to Europe in time for the race.

Dani Pedrosa To Test Stiffer Chassis In Jerez

After a torrid preseason of testing, with Dani Pedrosa finishing well down the order during several sessions at the official MotoGP tests at Sepang and Qatar, speculation started as to the causes of Pedrosa's mediocre performance. And when Pedrosa finished just 7th at Qatar, the buzz really started about whether one of MotoGP's aliens had finally gone missing.

Anyone watching practice and the race could quite clearly see what Pedrosa's problem was, however. His Repsol Honda RC212V shook and weaved going into corners, and again coming out of corners, causing the bike to shake its head all the way along Qatar's long straights. After qualifying, in a press debrief, when asked how it felt to ride a bike bucking and weaving like that, Pedrosa fixed his interrogator with a beady eye, before replying that it felt awful.

Much of the Spaniard's problems have been put down to the adaptation process to the new Ohlins suspension that Honda are using on all their bikes, but in a story on the website of Spanish sports daily AS.com, journalist Mela Chercoles explains that the suspension is not the issue. The problem, Chercoles learnt from Pedrosa, was the chassis and the swingarm. Pedrosa has asked HRC for a stiffer frame and a stiffer rear swingarm, to allow the Spaniard to gain the rear traction that Pedrosa and his crew have been chasing, while making the bike more stable under braking and on corner exit.

Nicky Hayden Interview: "You Feel The New Engine Much Better"

In the weeks and months before the races, both Miller Motorsports Park and Indianapolis Motor Speedway have been organizing press conferences with leading names in the World Superbike and MotoGP series respectively. This week, it was the turn of Indy, and with the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi being called off unexpectedly, we had the chance to talk to Marlboro Ducati rider Nicky Hayden, moderated as ever by IMS' press chief Paul Kelly. During the teleconference, Hayden talks about how much more ridable the 2010 Ducati Desmosedici GP10 MotoGP bike is, how the revised tire allocation procedure has affected the team's buildup, and how he still aches to win a dirttrack mile. Here's what the Kentucky Kid had to say to a bunch of journalists:

Kenny Noyes Interview: "Moto2 Is A Really Amazing Class!"

The 2010 season opener at Qatar also witnessed the birth of a brand new class. The Moto2 bikes - a prototype chassis housing a standardized Honda engine - had generated a lot of interest during the off season, not least because the class threw up a number of new and unknown names in the tests. One of the favorites to emerge from the preseason was American rider Kenny Noyes, riding a PromoHarris Moto2 bike for the Jack&Jones Banderas Racing team.

After finishing consistently in the top three during testing, Noyes had a difficult qualifying session, ending up just 30th on the grid. A tactical error, and being caught off guard by the adrenaline-fueled chaos of the last 10 minutes of qualifying saw Noyes 1.8 seconds off polesitter Toni Elias, at a track he had only seen before testing road bikes for a Spanish magazine. We caught up with Noyes a couple of hours before the Moto2 race was due to start at Qatar.

Kenny Noyes at Qatar, during the Moto2 race

MotoMatters.com: Nervous yet?

Kenny Noyes: Not now! [Laughs] I was real nervous before the first session, especially the first free session, going out there the first time in the World Championship, and learning the track. It's a lot to take in at once. But I kinda settled down as the weekend has gone on, and now I'm starting pretty far back, but we can only really go forward from here.

Assen WSBK Round To Go Ahead As Planned

The news that Dorna and the FIM had been forced to postpone the Motegi MotoGP round, scheduled to take place next Sunday, had plenty of fans worrying that a similar fate might befall this Sunday's Assen World Superbike round. But whereas the only way to get from Europe to Japan was by plane, a journey which had become nigh on impossible due to the ban on air travel throughout most of Europe, caused by the cloud of ash being spewed out by the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, the route from the previous WSBK round at Valencia to Assen went almost exclusively over land. And surface travel - though tricky in some places - is still largely unhindered.

Just to be sure, we contacted the World Superbike Series press officer, Infront Motor Sports' Julian Thomas, to make sure there the Assen WSBK round would be unaffected. "There shouldn't be any issues for the Assen World Superbikes round," Thomas told us. "The bikes are already all in Europe following the last round at Valencia, and so are the riders. There should also be no problems for the fans either, which are mainly local or from Germany and UK. The teams are organizing to get there by car as well."

FIM Officially Announces Postponement Of Motegi MotoGP Race - Finally

While news of the cancellation of next week's MotoGP race at Motegi has been seeping out to news outlets from teams, riders and officials inside MotoGP's organizing bodies, the official status of the race was that it was not canceled until the FIM (the sanctioning body for MotoGP) had spoken. Unfortunately, however, the discussions and decision-making all took place over the weekend, a period during which the FIM's offices in Switzerland are closed. Now that the weekend is over, the long-awaited official confirmation is here: The FIM has finally issued a statement announcing that the Motegi MotoGP race has been postponed until October 3rd, 2010. Here is the FIM statement:


FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix

Postponement of the Grand Prix of Japan

The recent vulcano eruption in Iceland has resulted in an ash cloud cover infiltration. Air traffic space over Europe has stopped all international travel in and out of Europe.

This case of ‘force majeure’ has obliged the Grand Prix Permanent Bureau composed of the FIM President Vito Ippolito and Dorna C.E.O. Carmelo Ezpeleta, with the agreement of the Grand Prix Promoter, Mobilityland Corporation, to postpone the Grand Prix of Japan planned on 25 April 2010.

Motegi MotoGP Round Canceled, Rescheduled For October 3rd

The cloud of volcanic ash which hangs invisibly over Northern Europe has claimed its first victim in the shape of a major sporting event. The disruption and cancellation of 80% of flights around Europe has caused the Motegi round of MotoGP, due to take place next Sunday, April 25th, to be canceled and rescheduled for October 3rd.

Reports of problems started to emerge earlier this weekend, as MotoMatters.com reported yesterday. Teams - most of whom are based in Europe, and were therefore caught up in the air travel chaos - reported they were monitoring the situation closely, hoping for improvement, and trying to reschedule flights as soon as possible. Dorna had even gone so far as to charter two wide body jets, capable of flying 600 people to Japan directly, to avoid teams getting caught up in the snarl of international air traffic.

Motegi MotoGP Round Not Yet Threatened By European Air Chaos

Located as it is under the flight path into Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport, a serene peace has reigned in the skies over MotoMatters.com headquarters for the past couple of days. The cloud of ash spewing out of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Southern Iceland has brought air traffic to a standstill over much of Europe, causing many thousands of flights to be canceled altogether. Stable weather over Northern Europe has meant that the ash cloud has drifted over large parts of Europe, right at the level where international air travel takes place, posing a lethal hazard for modern jet aircraft.

The situation is set to continue for at least all of Saturday and Sunday morning, and no guarantee that the situation will improve after that. The outburst has already affected sporting events in Europe, with several top European cyclists including Bradley Wiggins, Carlos Sastre and Alejandro Valverde forced to miss tomorrow's Amstel Gold Race, one of professional cycling's spring classics.

Photo Of The Day: Rossi's Red Hot Carbon Disks At Qatar

We have made no secret of our scepticism about MotoGP's season opening night race at Qatar. It delays the start of the season and is more about the spectacle of the lighting than the actual racing. But even we have to admit it produces some great side-effects. Here's our current favorite: Valentino Rossi during qualifying, trail-braking into a turn, his carbon-fiber disks lit up cherry red, as captured by MotoMatters.com's star photographer Scott Jones

Valentino Rossi at Qatar, brake disks lit up

Rossi Crashes During Training Without Injury

Staying in shape for MotoGP riders remains a tricky business. The only way to maintain their level of bike control is to ride motorcycles at speed, but with that comes the risk of a crash and possible injury.

The latest victim of the curse of motocross training was Valentino Rossi. Rossi crashed heavily on Thursday, training near Pesaro in Italy. The Italian was taken to hospital to have his shoulder checked out, but despite suffering some pain, Rossi escaped without injury. The Doctor is expected to race in Japan, and the injury should not affect his ability to race.

Rossi's crash was the second stroke of motocross mishap for the Fiat Yamaha Team, Jorge Lorenzo breaking a bone in his hand in February this year. That crash meant Lorenzo missed out on valuable testing time at Sepang, and had a serious impact on Lorenzo's pre-season preparation. The lack of injury to Valentino Rossi led the Italian website MotoCorse.com to question quite legitimately whether his crash qualifies as news at all. But as MotoCorse.com points out, Rossi is the biggest star in the sport, and if anything happens to the Italian, it automatically qualifies as news.

Moto2 Manufacturer FTR Boss Steve Bones: "There Is Still So Much To Learn"

In the hours between the warm up and the first ever Moto2 race, the tension down the far end of pit lane - which housed the Moto2 teams - grew and spread, cloaking the garage and pits like spider web and creating an almost tangible resistance to those passing through. I could almost taste it in the air as I passed through the paddock for a final time, before heading back to the press room to watch the races.

Things had barely been much less tense shortly after qualifying the day before, when I bumped into FTR boss Steve Bones, head of the chassis manufacturing firm supplying the Aeroport de Castello - Ajo team of Alex Debon, and the FIMMCO Speed Up team of Gabor Talmacsi and Andrea Iannone. Bones, looking simultaneously delighted and nervous, with FTR's M210 about to be put to the test for the first time, spoke to me briefly about the way things had been progressing for the Buckinghamshire-based chassis manufacturer.

"Overall, we're pretty pleased with where we are," Bones told MotoMatters.com. "Alex [Debon] is on the second row and Gabor [Talmacsi] is not so far behind. With the times this tight, we're happy to be close to the front." The debut of the Moto2 class had shown up how little any of the teams or manufacturers knew about the class, though. "There's still so much to learn," Bones added, highlighting aerodynamics as one area that FTR felt they could improve on.

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