The bikes are out on track at the final test of the year at Brno, and the first times are starting to appear. The field is still a little empty, as Valentino Rossi is yet to emerge from his motorhome, while the Tech 3 Yamahas of Colin Edwards and James Toseland have been crated up ready for their journey to the next Grand Prix at Indianapolis. Randy de Puniet is giving his fractured ankle a rest.
The Hondas are out testing Ohlins suspension, in a move which could mirror their switch in World Superbikes, where the factory-backed Ten Kate team has made a similar switch to Ohlins. Now that Yamaha has sold the Swedish suspension firm back to its founder, Honda feels comfortable testing the shocks as possible replacements for the Showa units which are produced by a Honda subsidiary.
As it's still early, the times are not much to write home about, though Dani Pedrosa has already dropped into the 1'56 bracket. What is interesting is that David de Gea is circulating on the Blusens Moto2 bike, putting in some important tire testing for Dunlop. At 11am, his times would have made him the 15th fastest rider during the 250 race.
More updates as the day goes on.
Times at 11am (courtesy of GPOne.com):
After much dithering and dallying, and pretending that nothing had been settled, Alvaro Bautista finally came clean after the MotoGP race at Brno and announced that he will after all be joining Suzuki in MotoGP. In a press conference, the Spaniard confirmed that he has signed a two-year deal with Suzuki, as had been widely leaked and reported in the run up to the Brno race.
Bautista's hand was forced by the new rookie rule, which prevents new entrants to the class from going straight to a factory team. As the only factory without a satellite team, Suzuki is exempt from this rule, and as Bautista was keen to be on a factory squad, this was his only option in MotoGP.
Bautista's team mate is most likely to be Loris Capirossi. The Italian veteran has been dropping hints all weekend that he is close to a deal with Suzuki for one more year, and only has a few details to tie up. This leaves Capirex' current team mate Chris Vermeulen out of the team at Suzuki, and in search of a seat elsewhere. Vermeulen is said to have offered to ride for the Tech 3 team basically for free, but there's a long line of others offering to do the same, so the competition is fierce.
Seats are starting to fill up surprisingly quickly in MotoGP, and we have gone from knowing very little to having most of the loose ends tied up in the space of just a few days. However, rumors continue to circulate about Jorge Lorenzo, and about Hiroshi Aoyama, and about Thomas Luthi's Caffe Latte team having the funds for an extra Honda in MotoGP. So though the picture is clearer, it is very far from over. There's plenty of news still to come.
Results of the MotoGP race from Brno:
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: