The reports by Italian broadcaster Sportmediaset that Casey Stoner had allegedly signed for Honda - a report later denied by HRC manager Livio Suppo - unleashed the usual wave of speculation about Stoner's vacant seat at Ducati. The Sportmediaset reports also included suggestions that Ducati were pursuing Valentino Rossi hard, implying the Italian might be close to make the switch that every Italian is begging for, putting Valentino Rossi on a Ducati for 2011.
Every Italian but one, that is. In the Italian sports daily Gazzetto dello Sport, Rossi denied he was considering switching to Ducati. Acknowledging that he had an excellent friendship with Ducati Corse manager and technical guru Filippo Preziosi, he told the Italian paper that he was happy with Yamaha, and "99 percent sure" to stay with the Japanese factory. Preziosi confirmed that there were no serious talks with Rossi, and that Ducati did not expect to be able to sign the Italian, as Rossi had made it clear to them that he was happy with Yamaha.
When Troy Bayliss decided to retire at the end of the 2008 World Superbike season, there were many people who believed that the three-time world champion had made the decision in haste. Although Bayliss was 39, he had just won his third World Superbike title, and was looking as strong as ever. But, he told reporters, it was time to settle down in Australia, and he had promised his wife Kim that his racing days were over.
Or maybe not. Retirement, it seems, is not sitting well with Bayliss, and the Australian legend could well be about to return. A reader emailed rumors of a possible return a couple of weeks ago, but we dismissed those rumors out of hand. How wrong we were, for in interviews with both Superbikeplanet.com and GPOne.com, Bayliss has spoken freely about a return to racing.
Within hours of reports appearing on the Sportmediaset website that Casey Stoner has signed for Honda, the denials are starting to come in, as predicted here. GPOne.com - like Sportmediaset an Italian website, but probably the most reliable source of news from Italy - spoke to Honda Racing Corporation's Marketing Manager Livio Suppo, who denied that Stoner had already signed a contract.
"There are four great riders whose contracts are ending," Suppo told GPOne.com, "And it's clear that there will be interest in at least one of them. But at this moment, everyone is talking to everyone, but no one has signed anything."
Even before the 2010 MotoGP season began, it was clear that with the contracts of Valentino Rossi, Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner all coming to an end at the end of 2010, this year's silly season - the insanity of speculation, rumor and intrigue surrounding which rider will be going where from 2011 onwards - was going to be one of the most fevered in years. The background hum of rumors had already started last year, but now, the opening salvo has been fired in the Great Rider War of 2010.
At least, according to the excitable Italian press, that is. The Italian broadcaster Sportmediaset is reporting that Casey Stoner is the first domino to fall, having reportedly signed a contract with Honda for next season at Jerez. According to Sportmediaset, the move came about as a result of Stoner's close relationship with Livio Suppo, the former Ducati manager who moved over to HRC at the start of the 2010 season, to help Honda raise its sponsorship.
With two free weekends between Jerez and Le Mans for the MotoGP riders, a couple of prominent riders took the time to visit the World Superbike races at Monza, and catch up with friends and family. While Ben Spies was in the Yamaha garage catching up with some of the team members he won the WSBK title with last year, Nicky Hayden was in the Ducati hospitality, hanging out with his brother Roger Lee, currently racing with the Pedercini Kawasaki team. While he was there, the voice of World Superbikes Jonathan Green caught up with Nicky for OnTheThrottle, to talk about how Roger Lee is getting on, about how Nicky is getting on with the Ducati and whether the Kentucky Kid has any plans to join the World Superbike paddock.
Back in the days of the Roman Empire, the ruling class would stage contests whereby gladiators would fight to the death for the entertainment of the unwashed classes. The citizenry would typically get the day off from their labors for these "holidays" and these rituals of blood and death became extremely popular, so much so that the term "Roman Holiday" became a metaphor for the concept of deriving entertainment from the suffering of others.
Yesterday at Monza, a modern-day Roman, Max Biaggi, made his fellow competitors suffer and there's no doubt that the man called the Emperor and his paisanos in the audience, Italian or otherwise, enjoyed every second of his double win at the venerable northern Italy track.
Monza. It's a name that fairly quivers with racing history. There has been organized road-racing on this site since the early twentieth century and the bones of the old banked track still linger in the shadow of the modern cicuit, covered in vegetation, redolent with the vibrations of bygone triumph and tragedy. Italian is a musical language and names like the Curva Parabolica , Curva di Lesmos and the Variante Ascari are like the lyrics of a song whose accompaniment is the staccato rise and fall of finely tuned internal combustion engines.
It's the Monday after the latest World Superbike round at Monza, and as ever, Infront Motor Sports have highlights of the two World Superbike and one World Supersport races from the Temple of Speed at Monza up on their Youtube channel. So grab a coffee and start your working week off with a bang, as you enjoy the best parts from this weekend's races.
If the abbreviated, 2 minute versions have whet your appetite for more, and you want to see the full races, you can head on over to the website of the Italian broadcaster La7, and watch the races in full. Being screened on Italian TV, the races of course come with Italian commentary, which may be a problem for anyone unfamiliar with the language. However, given the strong results for the Italian World Superbike contingent, it shouldn't be necessary to be able to actually understand what the commentators are saying. Their tone should be informative enough. You can catch WSBK race 1 here, and WSBK race 2 here.
Monza World Superbike Race 1 highlights
With 14 different chassis manufacturers lining up on the grid in Moto2, it was inevitable that at least one would suffer problems. After a poor start to the season, the Mapfre Aspar team of Julian Simon and Mike di Meglio have decided to switch chassis from Le Mans onwards, according to reports on the Spanish website Motocuatro.com, the Spanish magazine Motociclismo and the Italian website GPOne.com. From the French Grand Prix on, the Aspar riders will be using the Suter MMX chassis which currently dominates the grid.
Results and summary of World Superbike race 2 at Monza:
Results and summary of the World Supersport race at Monza:
Results and summary of World Superbikes Race 1 at Monza:
Monza Superpole report and results - Updated and finalized: