Bautista In Talks With Suzuki For 2010, Simoncelli To Gresini?

Regardless of the outcome of this year's 250cc championship, that series' two biggest names will be leaving for greener pastures at the end of the year. Both Alvaro Bautista and Marco Simoncelli intend to step up a class for the 2010 season, though they seem set to go in quite different directions.

The man whose future seems clearest is Alvaro Bautista. For according to the Spanish website Motoworld.es, Bautista is in negotiations to join the Rizla Suzuki team in 2010. Motoworld.es is reporting that representatives for the Spanish 250 star have been talking to Paul Denning about joining Suzuki, as Bautista is determined to sign with a factory team, which leaves Suzuki as the only option. The Hamamatsu factory was given a dispensation from the so-called Rookie Rule which prevents riders eligible for the Rookie Of The Year award from going straight to a factory team, as Suzuki only fields two bikes and does not have a satellite squad which they can use to nurture newcomers to the class. 

According to Motoworld.es, Bautista is most likely to be replacing Chris Vermeulen at Suzuki, as the Australian has an offer from another team for next season, though the site does not say which team that might be. Like Bautista, Vermeulen is keen to remain on factory equipment, and at the moment, there are appear to be very few factory seats open.

2009 Jerez MotoGP Qualifying Report

Going into Saturday afternoon's MotoGP qualifying session at Jerez, it was unusually hard to say who was likely to take pole. At Qatar, Casey Stoner had destroyed all-comers, and had also dominated the IRTA test here a month ago. But after two sessions of free practice, any of five men looked possible candidates for pole position. Valentino Rossi had utterly dominated Friday's free practice session, with Loris Capirossi and Casey Stoner some way behind, but Saturday morning was a different kettle of fish. In FP2, it was local heroes Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo who blasted the opposition, with Casey Stoner once again forced to settle for 3rd.

And as the green lights went and the riders rolled out of pit lane and onto the track, it was the two Spaniards who quickly made the early running. Lorenzo took the first shot at pole, but Dani Pedrosa soon took it away from the Mallorcan with a much more serious attempt in the low 1'40 bracket. With times in free practice regularly hitting the mid 1'39s, it was clear that there was plenty left to go.

With so much of practice already scrapped as part of the cost savings measures, the first half of qualifying was set further refining race setup, the teams looking for settings that will work with the hard tires they expect to use in the race. But as the clock ticked down past the 20 minutes to go mark, riders started to sling on the softer of the two compounds available and chase grid positions for the race on Sunday.

As a reminder of what we lost when we lost the special qualifying tires, Randy de Puniet made some of the early running, quickly getting up into 2nd, and then losing out in the final section after registering blazing times through the first three parts of the track. But it wasn't until the 15 minutes to go mark had passed that qualifying began in earnest.

2009 Jerez 250cc Qualifying Practice Result - Another Spaniard Makes It A Home Pole Clean Sweep

Results and report for the 250cc Qualifying Practice session at Jerez:

2009 Jerez MotoGP Qualifying Practice Result - More Joy At Jerez For Spanish Fans

Full results of the MotoGP Qualifying Practice at Jerez:

Official: Honda To Be Moto2 Supplier, Practice Back To One Hour

The Grand Prix Commission met today at Jerez, to discuss a number of rule changes. Below is the press release issued by the GP Commission, more reaction to follow:

The Permanent Bureau composed of Messrs. Vito Ippolito (FIM President) and Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna CEO) in a meeting held on May 2 in Jerez de la Frontera (Spain), unanimously decided to introduce the following amendment to the Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix Regulations.

Application 2010

Moto2 class:

Amongst various offers received, it has been decided that the single engine supplier will be Honda who offers high level performance engine. The horse power will be over 150.

Next year only this category will also be open to the current 250cc motorcycles.

___________________________________________________________

The Grand Prix Commission, composed of Messrs. Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna, Chairman), Claude Danis (FIM), Hervé Poncharal (IRTA) and Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA), in the presence of Messrs Vito Ippolito (FIM President), Ignacio Verneda (FIM Sport Director), Javier Alonso (Dorna) and M. Paul Butler (Secretary of the meeting), in a meeting held on May 2 in Jerez de la Frontera (Spain), decided to introduce the following amendments to the Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix Regulations.

Application from May 15, Le Mans Grand Prix.

1.13.1

On recommendation of the FIM Grand Prix Safety Commission, the event schedule has been modified as follows 

FRIDAY FREE PRACTICE
125cc: 12.40-13.40
MotoGP: 13.55-14.55
250cc: 15.10-16.10

2009 Jerez - Red Bull Rookies Race To Be Available Live Online

The Red Bull Rookies Cup has been set up as a breeding ground for talent, and with Marc Marquez and Cameron Beaubier currently doing well in the 125cc championship, is proving to be exactly that. The only problem for fans who are keen to find out about the stars of tomorrow is that the races are not screened anywhere.

Red Bull have recognized that, and will be showing the races live online on the Red Bull Rookies Cup Website. The first race will be shown online today at 4:15pm CEST. The races so far have always proved to be incredibly close and some of the best racing of the weekend, so they are well worth checking out.

2009 Jerez 125cc Qualifyfying Practice Result - Home Joy For Spanish Fans

Results of the 125cc Qualifying Practice at Jerez: 

2009 Jerez 250cc FP2 Results - Simoncelli Makes A Triumphant Comeback

After a difficult day yesterday, Marco Simoncelli ended the second session of free practice for the 250 class with the fastest time. The Italian had started the day in terrible shape, well out of the top 10, but after the halfway mark, Simoncelli found something which catapulted him to the top of the timesheets. Hiroshi Aoyama continues to impress on the Scot Honda, leading for much of the session, ending practice with the 2nd fastest time. After dominating yesterday, Alvaro Bautista finished third. However, it all means very little, as the grid will be settled in qualifying practice this afternoon.

Results of the 250cc FP2 session:

2009 Jerez MotoGP FP2 Results - Spanish Favorites Top Second Session

Dani Pedrosa ended the second session of MotoGP free practice on top of the timesheets at Jerez this morning, demonstrating that the Spaniard is clearly in form. Pedrosa deposed Casey Stoner from his usual spot atop the tables halfway through the session, dipping into the 1'39s. Pedrosa and Stoner were soon joined by Jorge Lorenzo as the three men capable of running consistently in the mid 1'39 bracket, Lorenzo putting in a couple of extremely impressive runs which bagged him the 2nd fastest time, and coming close to matching Pedrosa's fastest lap several laps in a row. In the end, the top three were separated by less than a tenth of a second.

Randy de Puniet continued the strong start yesterday, taking 4th ahead of Andrea Dovizioso. Colin Edwards was the next fastest Yamaha, ahead of Valentino Rossi, who was consistently a long way off the times of the front men. Rossi's time could be attributed to the conditions, with both track and air temperature well down on yesterday afternoon.

Good news for Nicky Hayden, too. After spending the first half of practice languishing in the nether reaches of the timesheets, the Kentucky Kid finally found a couple of changes which helped propel him up to the 10th time of the morning. The way Hayden leapfrogged from 16th to 10th suggests a setup change helped the American fix an issue, and offers hope for improvement later this afternoon.

The grid for the race will be set this afternoon, in the sole Qualifying session.

Results of FP2:

2009 Jerez 125cc FP2 Result - Simon Takes Round Two

Julian Simon took round two of the Aspar team battle at Jerez, setting the quickest time in the second session of free practice for the 125cc class at Jerez. Team mate Bradley Smith was relegated to 2nd spot, over 3/10ths of a second slower than Simon, with Andrea Iannone just behind him in 3rd. Scott Redding put in another good session to finish 7th, while fellow Briton Danny Webb could not repeat his form of Friday afternoon, ending the session in 16th spot. American Cameron Beaubier also dropped a couple of spots down to 24th place.

Full results of the 125cc FP2 session at Jerez: 

Honda To Be Awarded Moto2 Contract?

The Moto2 saga is edging to a conclusion, and the well-connected Italian site GPOne.com is reporting the preliminary results. GPOne.com sums the series up in Jeopardy! style: Honda, free, Ten Kate, open, today or tomorrow. Which are the one-word answers to the most important questions surrounding the class.

Put less briefly, the class will look as follows: Honda will be awarded the engine contract for the Moto2 series, and will make the engines available to Dorna. Dorna will make the engines available to the teams at zero cost. The engines will be farmed out to the Ten Kate Racing workshop in the Netherlands for maintenance, as Ten Kate have a lot of experience with Honda's four-stroke racing engines. Tires for the class will be open to competition, so there will not be a spec tire, and the decision is expected to be formally announced today or tomorrow.

With these measures, Dorna hopes to have a grid of 28 bikes competing in the Moto2 class next year, and GPOne.com says that contrary to earlier reports, the 2010 season will not see mixed grids. This means that 2010 will see the middleweight class featuring only the 600cc four strokes, with the 250cc two strokes sent off to an early grave, or more likely dispatched to race in various local series (or grace collectors' front rooms, no doubt).

2009 Jerez 250 FP1 Result - Bautista Edges Aoyama

Alvaro Bautista got his weekend off to the best possible start at the Spaniard's home round. The Aspar Aprilia rider set the fastest time in the first session of free practice for the 250 class, edging out the Honda of Hiroshi Aoyama by just 0.1 of a second. Aoyama had been the man to beat for much of the first session, and it was only with 5 minutes of the session left that Bautista knocked him off the top spot. The Japanese rider was unlucky not to get the fastest time back, after Matteoni Racing's Jules Cluzel balked Aoyama on the run into the final corner on Aoyama's very last, very hot lap.

Swiss Caffe Latte rider Thomas Luthi was 3rd fastest, beating out a resurgent Mattia Pasini and class rookie Gabor Talmasci. Reigning champion Marco Simoncelli continues to have a difficult title defense, the shaggy-haired Italian spending a lot of the time in the pits and looking uncharacteristically unhappy after only managing the 8th fastest time in the session. Practice continues tomorrow morning.

Full results of the 250cc FP1 session at Jerez:

2009 Jerez MotoGP FP1 Result - Rossi Does A Stoner On The Field

Valentino Rossi stamped his authority in the first session of free practice for the MotoGP class. Rossi set the fastest time with over half an hour of the session left, and then kept getting faster. Rossi took a lead of over half a second, and never let his lead drop under a couple of tenths. The Italian was the only rider to crack the 1'40 barrier, and then proceeded to string together a whole series of laps on the 1'39s.

Loris Capirossi was 2nd fastest, after setting a fast lap with a minute to go in the session. Before that, the Suzuki rider had been mid-pack at best, but he pulled a very quick lap out of the bag to improve at the end.

Capirossi's fast lap forced Casey Stoner down into 3rd spot, the Australian seeming to struggle at the track at which he has never finished on the podium. Stoner spent a lot of time in the pits, in heated discussions with his engineers, and it looks like some of the Ducati's old handling problems may have resurfaced. The 2007 World Champion will hope to find something tomorrow morning, to put him back in touch with the Fiat Yamaha of Valentino Rossi.

Rossi's team mate Jorge Lorenzo is 4th fastest, the Yamaha clearly working well here, as witnessed by Colin Edwards in 6th. Edwards is the Yamaha filling in the RC212V sandwich, with Andrea Dovizioso the first Honda home in 5th, while Randy de Puniet surprised the crowds by putting his LCR Honda in 7th spot. The Playboy sponsorship is clearly working for the Frenchman.

2009 Jerez 125cc FP1 Result - Smith Wins The Battle Of The Aspars

Bradley Smith drew first blood in the first session of free practice for the 125cc class. The Briton swapped the top spot with his team mate Julian Simon for most of the session, with Andrea Iannone finishing in 3rd place. Iannone crashed on his final lap while pushing to improve. German rider Sandro Cortese took fourth, ahead of the final Bancaja Aspar rider Sergio Gadea. Scott Redding was the next British rider down in 7th, while Danny Webb finished 10th. American Cameron Beaubier set the 22nd fastest time.

Full results of the 125cc FP1 session

A Change Of Heart At Honda - It's Honda's Fault If Pedrosa Doesn't Win

Pity poor Honda. The company has formed the backbone of the MotoGP class - and the 500cc two strokes before that - since the mid-1990s. Without the 6 bikes that HRC puts on the grid year on year, MotoGP would be in a very difficult place. And yet still the company continues to be the target of a barrage of abuse and vituperation on message boards and fan sites around the world. How could this be?

Ask any MotoGP fan and they will tell you that it is Honda which has driven the decisions which - from a fan's perspective - have ruined MotoGP. It was Honda that killed the 990s and demanded the switch to 800cc, a move which took a lot of the spectacle out of the racing, and it was Honda that killed off the two-strokes in the 250 class, and demanded their replacement with the Moto2 series. Whether there is any truth in these assertions is irrelevant, that is the way that the fans see it, and that image is hard to shake off.

These claims all stem from a perception that at Honda, what matters is the bike, not the rider. Whenever Honda has won championships, it has been quick to claim the credit, yet when riders on other brands of motorcycle have kept Honda from the title, the factory has been quick to blame the rider, rather than the equipment they gave him to compete on. This perception was further strengthened in Valentino Rossi's biography, in which he claimed he left Honda because he felt under-appreciated, and annoyed at the emphasis placed on the bike, rather than rider skill.

So it is truly remarkable to read that Honda seems to have had a change of heart. According to Colin Young of SpeedTV, Shuhei Nakamoto, vice president of HRC, has said that if Dani Pedrosa does not win the MotoGP World Championship this season, the blame will not lie with Pedrosa, but with Honda. "This is the Honda way," Young quotes Nakamoto as saying. "If we win the championship then the rider is good, if we don't win the championship then bike is not good --- this is the Honda way."

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