Result and summary of the 250cc race at Brno:
Result and summary of the 125cc race at Brno:
Result of the MotoGP warm up session:
Result of the 250cc warm up session:
Result of the 125cc warm up session:
After HRC President Tetsuo Suzuki announced that Honda had reached a "basic agreement" with Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso, and at the same time ruled out any role for current Fiat Yamaha star Jorge Lorenzo, it looked as if Lorenzo's options had run out. Now that his flirtation with Honda was over, Jorge Lorenzo would surely have no other option than to accept the rumored 3.5 million euro deal to re-sign with the Fiat Yamaha squad.
Not according to the authoritative Spanish motorcycling magazine Solo Moto. With Ducati's vulnerability painfully exposed by Casey Stoner's mystery illness, the Borgo Panigale factory is turning to Jorge Lorenzo for assistance. With executives from Philip Morris, Ducati's main sponsor, present at Brno, Solo Moto is reporting that the tobacco firm has supported Ducati in putting in a bid for Lorenzo's services. Money will not be an issue in this case, as both Marlboro and Ducati are aware that with none of the other Ducati riders looking able to get the Desmosedici on the box, the extensive investment by both companies is likely to go to waste.
As long as Casey Stoner's condition remains undiagnosed, and therefore the probability of his returning to racing remains unknown, both Philip Morris and Ducati face a difficult gamble. There is a very good chance that Stoner's condition will turn out to be relatively straightforward and easy to treat, and the Australian can make his scheduled return at Estoril. But the worst case scenario - however unlikely - is that the Australian is suffering a more serious condition, taking him out of circulation for the remainder of the season, and possibly even longer.
Results and recap of qualifying practice for the 250cc class at Brno:
Normally, the arrival of the senior figure from a manufacturer's racing organization at a race track means that a number of questions which linger of the future of a team are about to be cleared up. Such was the expectation when HRC President Tetsuo Suzuki turned up at Brno, the assembled journalists assuming they would hear that contracts had been signed and a lot of loose ends tidied up. That, at least, was what paddock scuttlebutt indicated prior to Suzuki's arrival.
At the press conference given by the HRC boss on Friday morning, that was more or less what was presented, but after the press had interpreted Suzuki-san's pronouncements to mean that contracts had been signed with both Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso, HRC issued a press release pointing out that the phrase used was in fact "basic agreement," by which they meant that agreement had been reached in broad terms, but that there were still a few details to be cleared up before contracts could be officially signed.
This was perhaps the first sign that not everything was as it seemed. Spanish TV, mischievous as they can occasionally be, immediately headed over to Dani Pedrosa's manager Alberto Puig to enquire about Pedrosa's new contract. Puig immediately denied that any contracts were signed, but told TVE that they were indeed close to a deal, with only a few details to be ironed out.
Results and recap of qualifying practice for the MotoGP class at Brno:
Results and summary of qualifying practice for the 125cc class:
On the face of it, the rules limiting the number of engines to be used for the rest of the season are clear enough: Each rider will have just 5 engines to use for the remaining 7 races. But as MotoGP fans and followers began to contemplate the official one-day test to be held on Monday, after the Brno round of MotoGP, questions immediately began to arise over which engines could be used in those tests.
The rules seemed ambiguous. The relevant parts of the regulations had been announced at the last meeting of the Grand Prix Commission on July 25th, at the British Grand Prix in Donington. Under section 2.3.6 of the rules, the following subsections had been added:
1.) In the MotoGP class the number of engines available for use by each rider is limited. For the 2009 season a maximum of 5 engines may be used by each rider for the final 7 scheduled races of the season, that is from and including the Czech Grand Prix until the end of the season. Should a rider be replaced for any reason, the replacement rider will be deemed to be the original rider for purposes of engine allocation.
6.) To prevent the running of a used, allocated engine outside of MotoGP events, all allocated engines will have security seals placed over either exhaust or inlet ports (on at least one cylinder bank, in the case of V-type engines) before leaving the circuit. Teams wishing to re-use such an allocated and sealed engine must request the Technical Director to remove the security seals. If the Technical Director or his staff find that the security seals are not intact, the engine will be deemed to be a new engine in the allocation, with the appropriate penalty.
This seemed to indicate that non-allocated engines had to be used for the tests, but we were not sure, so we turned to the man whose job it is to know, MotoGP Technical Director Mike Webb. He explained the situation simply and clearly as follows:
Spaniard Hector Barbera topped the timesheets in the 250cc class once again, leading the second session of free practice from the halfway mark. Barbera had taken the top spot from early leader Roberto Locatelli, and it took a late surge by the championship favorites to displace him from the top 4. Alvaro Bautista ended the session in 2nd, a tenth behind Barbera, while Hiroshi Aoyama set his fastest lap on his final attempt to jump up to 3rd, ahead of Bautista's Aspar team mate Mike di Meglio. Reigning champion Marco Simoncelli could only manage the 7th fastest time, though he was just 3/10ths of a second off the leader Barbera.
Jorge Lorenzo once again topped the timesheets at Brno during the second session of free practice, but unlike yesterday afternoon, when it was all but a runaway for the Spaniard, the competition was a lot tighter on Saturday morning. Lorenzo took an early lead, cracking straight into the 1'56s, before setting the bar at 1'56.458. Only team mate Valentino Rossi could follow at first, and the closest he could get was to within a third of a second.
But as the session entered its second half, Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa picked up the pace and started to close the gap. With 24 minutes to go, Pedrosa had cut his deficit to just 0.004 of a second, and it took Lorenzo until the final minutes of the session to respond, cutting a further 10th of a second from his time, lapping in an astonishing 1'56.331. To put that into perspective, the current pole record is 1'56.191. It is held by Valentino Rossi, who set it in 2006, on a 990cc Yamaha M1, using super-sticky qualifying tires, which were banned this year.
Rossi ended the session in 3rd place, behind Lorenzo and Pedrosa, having closed the gap a little, but still nearly half a second behind his team mate. Colin Edwards was 4th fastest, ahead of a resurgent Loris Capirossi. Mika Kallio once again won the battle of the Marlboro Ducatis, leaping ahead of his team mate Nicky Hayden with 14 minutes of the session left.
There are a lot of badly kept secrets in the paddock, and one of the very worst kept was the fact that Marco Melandri would be making a return to the Gresini Honda team next season. Since the rumors started to emerge - at about the same time as Marco Simoncelli announced his signing for the Gresini team at Assen - Melandri has tried to play them down, quipping that although journalists were writing that he'd been signed by Gresini, nobody had told him.
But to paraphrase the bard, the rider did protest too much. For today, Fausto Gresini officially announced that Melandri will be joining the Gresini team for 2009. The deal has been on the cards since it became clear that Kawasaki's backing for Hayate would be a one-year affair, and Melandri has seized the opportunity with fantastic aplomb, getting far more out of the barely developed ZX-RR than anyone thought it had in it. His ability and strength of will has been rewarded with the Gresini ride, with team boss Fausto Gresini acknowledging the long history the two parties share: "Melandri is a huge part of the Gresini story and we have had great results together," Gresini said in a press release.
The tricky problem of the single factory-spec RC212V which Gresini have at their disposal has been settled in Melandri's favor. Speaking yesterday to the press, HRC president Tetsuo Suzuki made it clear that Simoncelli would get a satellite-spec machine, but that Honda's aim is for the satellite machines to be just one or two races behind the factory bikes. That has quite obviously not been the case over the past two and a half seasons, but with Honda now starting to catch Yamaha and Ducati in the development race, a return to Honda's former policy looks increasingly feasible.