2009 Jerez 125 Afternoon Session - Simon Unstoppable Again

In the 125cc class, the afternoon session of the final day at Jerez followed the same pattern of almost every other session here so far. Bancaja Aspar's Julian Simon dominated completely, leading the field by over 7/10ths of a second. Simon has opted to fit an older version of the forks to his Aprilia RSA, whilst others, such as Danny Webb, are using the 2009 version, which are causing problems for some riders. For now, Simon's decision has paid off very well indeed.

The race for second was a lot closer, KTM's Marc Marquez taking second spot by just two thousandths of a second from Sandro Cortese on the Ajo Aprilia, while Derbi's Pol Espargaro - riding hurt after a crash - took fourth just a few hundredths behind. Simon's team mate Sergio Gadea rounded out the top 5.

In the morning, Bradley Smith got to within one tenth of a second of Simon's fastest time, but the British rider didn't take part in the afternoon hour. This left Scott Redding the fastest Briton in 8th, one spot ahead of Danny Webb. American Cameron Beaubier, moving up to the MotoGP class through the MotoGP Academy program finished 16th.

The teams have one final test left, a two night affair at Qatar, before the season kicks off. If you don't have Julian Simon in your fantasy MotoGP team, now would be a good chance to switch.

Session 2 times (afternoon session)

2009 Jerez Irta Test Day 3 - 250 Afternoon Session - Simoncelli Dives Under Pole Record

Marco Simoncelli ended the three-day IRTA test on the top of the 50 timesheets, smashing the pole lap record by over 0.4 seconds. The Italian Gilera rider was nearly two tenths quicker than his Spanish title rival Alvaro Bautista, but both men were well under Dani Pedrosa's pole record at the Andalucian track which dates back to 2005. 

Big surprise of the afternoon was Jules Cluzel, who took his Matteoni Racing Aprilia to the third fastest time of the day, and the fourth fastest time of the three-day test, an impressive performance from the young Frenchman, all the more so because he set the time on an LE spec Aprilia, rather than a full fat factory spec RSA bike. Clusel is the second LE rider to get among the top 250 tier, after Lukas Pesek was fourth fastest on Thursday on a similar bike. It certainly looks as if the difference in performance between the million euro RSA and the 250,000 euro LE is a lot less than it was in previous years, though whether this is down to Aprilia easing up on the development of the RSA bike as the 2011 demise of the class approaches.

Full times from both sessions will follow as soon as they are available.

Session 2 times (afternoon session)

Playboy Deal With LCR Honda On

Lucio Cecchinello, boss of the LCR Honda team, is well-known for his innovative approach to raising sponsorship for the team. Through the years that the team has raced in MotoGP, LCR has showcased a number of different sponsors all featuring on the fairing for a few individual races, rather than for a full season. Cecchinello calls this approach the "Event Title Sponsor" format. So when news appeared earlier this week that Playboy was set to sponsor the LCR Honda team, the press were surprised that Cecchinello would be dropping this tried-and-tested approach. 

But we had all been wrong-footed. Despite Cecchinello having met with senior Playboy officials in Italy last week, the Italian team owner had not secured Playboy as a title sponsor. Instead, Playboy will be sponsoring LCR in the same way the team's other sponsors have, on an event-to-event basis. The deal is with the publisher of the Italian edition of Playboy, and will see Randy de Puniet carry the iconic Playboy logo on the bike for the Spanish and Japanese Grand Prix, as well as the IRTA tests which kick off for the MotoGP class at Jerez tomorrow morning.

Although the sponsorship deal is only for the first few races - it was timed to help with the relaunch of the Italian magazine, though attempts to include the season opener at Qatar failed because of advertising restrictions in that country - Cecchinello is talking to other editions of Playboy looking for similar deals. If it all pans out as the team hopes, then the Playboy logo could appear at more races during the year. 

2009 Jerez IRTA Test 250s and 125s Day 3 Update - Simoncelli And Iannone

The final day of testing for the junior classes at Jerez is well underway, and after a cloudy and chilly start, the sun is out and it's warming up nicely. Out on track, the riders are filling the air with the sweet smell of two stroke fumes, but the lap times set so far are still slower than the faster times of yesterday and Wednesday.

In the 250 class, it's Marco Simoncelli who's topping the timesheets as of midday ahead of Hector Barbera, who has just pushed Hiroshi Aoyama down into third. Alvaro Bautista is down in 11th, though the Spaniard has yet to run many laps.

For the 125 boys, Julian Simon just leapt to the top of the timesheets, deposing Andrea Iannone from the top spot he had held previously. Stefan Bradl is in third, a huge improvement after a few difficult days, and after crashing and bruising his hand yesterday. Britain's Bradley Smith is sixth fastest,  two places ahead of Scott Redding. American Cameron Beaubier is yet to take to the track.

More updates after the end of the session at 2:50pm.

2009 IRTA Test 125 Class - Day 2 - Simon Continues Reign Of Terror

The sun is shining, temperatures are soaring, and you'll never guess who's the fastest of the 125 riders on the second day of the official IRTA test at Jerez. Coming as a complete shock to absolutely no one, Bancaja Aspar's Julian Simon continued to top the timesheets, leading from Red Bull KTM's Spanish flyweight Marc Marquez in the morning, and Ongetta Team's Andrea Iannone in the afternoon. The only bright spot on the horizon - apart that is from the hot Andalucian sun - is that Simon's margin over the competition has dropped, with Marquez getting to within a tenth of a second, while Iannone closed the gap to just 0.065 seconds. 

The good news for Bradley Smith was his pair of third places, though the British rider was over three quarters of a second slower than his team in the afternoon. The other two Britons also saw an improvement from yesterday, Scott Redding setting the 6th fastest time ahead of De Graaf's Danny Webb in 7th. American rookie Cameron Beaubier finished 18th fastest in both sessions.

The China cup ended in a draw again, with Haojue's Michi Ranseder fastest in the morning, while Tomo Koyama was quickest on the Loncin in the afternoon.

Testing finishes tomorrow, and as MotoGPMatters will be at the track, we'll have a round up of all three days testing.

Session 2 times (afternoon session)

2009 IRTA Test 250 Class - Day 2 - Bautista Edges Barbera

Alvaro Bautista shone under the Spanish sun at Jerez on Thursday, topping the timesheets in both sessions. But Bautista didn't have it his own way: During the 250-only afternoon session the Mapfre Aspar rider was only barely faster than compatriot Hector Barbera, and only just over a tenth of a second quicker than title rival Marco Simoncelli on the Gilera.

Aspar's two rookies coming up from the 125 class also showed well. Gabor Talmacsi - technically in his own Balaton Racing Team, but under the Aspar umbrella - was slower in the morning session, but by the afternoon, had jumped up to 5th. Reigning 125cc champion Mike di Meglio went the opposite way, taking 2nd spot in the morning, while dropping to a still highly respectable 6th fastest during the afternoon session.

Surprise of the day was Lukas Pesek, climbing into the top 4 in the afternoon, despite only having an Aprilia LE, rather than the factory spec RSA the other top riders are running.

Meanwhile, injuries are starting to take their toll. After crashing heavily yesterday, Axel Pons - son of former 250 champion and team manager Sito - was forced to sit out today's session, while Vladimir Leonov also crashed again heavily in the morning, though he rode again during the afternoon.

Testing finishes tomorrow, before the MotoGP bikes take to the track. MotoGPMatters will be at trackside, and will bring you a summary of the three days of testing, as well as trying to track down Stevie Bonsey.

Session 2 times (afternoon session)

2009 IRTA Test 250 Class - Day 1 - Barbera Fastest In Afternoon

On the first day of testing at the official IRTA test at Jerez, it was Hector Barbera who finished the day fastest, with a fast lap in the dying minutes of the second afternoon session. The day had started overcast, but the afternoon saw sunnier skies and warmer temperatures. Rather strangely, most of the 250 men put in their fastest time in the cooler morning session, with the exception of Barbera.

Title favorites Alvaro Bautista and Marco Simoncelli finished second and third fastest, Simoncelli faster in the morning, while Bautista was quicker in the afternoon, despite both men going slower. Former 125 champion Gabor Talmacsi was also quick, staying with a couple of tenths of Barbera in the morning session, but giving up over half a second in the afternoon. Talmacsi has been consistently in touch with the title candidates, and could prove a challenge once he hits his stride in the class.

The other surprise package was Ratthapark Wilairot on the Thai Honda. The Thai rider was consistently in the points last year, and was 3rd quickest in the morning session, and not far off the two leaders. 

Mattia Pasini was not so lucky. The Team Toth rider had a huge crash in the afternoon, and banged up both himself and his Aprilia. Pasini was joined in the gravel traps by Russian rider Vladimir Leonov, who is building something of a reputation as a crasher, having crashed out of the Estoril test three times.

Testing continues tomorrow.

Session 2 times (afternoon session) 

2009 IRTA Test 125 Class - Day 1 - Simon Dominates Once Again

The first day of testing for the 125 class at Jerez saw Julian Simon continue his domination of preseason testing. The 125 class returnee - Simon raced in the 250 class with Repsol KTM last year - has topped almost every session of 125 testing he has participated in this winter, and he doesn't look like slowing down.

Only Andrea Iannone managed to better Simon this morning, but the Italian Aprilia rider had to cede over a second to the Spaniard in the afternoon. Simon's compatriot Marc Marquez was the other man to be near the top of the timesheets, finishing third fastest in the morning, and fourth fastest in the afternoon.

British rider Bradley Smith was the worst of the Bancaja Aspar riders, finishing in 11th and 7th spot behind his team mates Julian Simon and Sergio Gadea. Smith is one of the title favorites for 2009, but he has yet to make the kind of impression in testing that his team mate Simon has. Fellow Brits Scott Redding and Danny Webb were further down the order, Redding finishing 9th and 10th, while Webb only managed the 20th and 18th fastest times, despite having an Aprilia RSA at his disposal.

Haojue won the battle of the Chinese manufacturers in the morning, Michi Ranseder finishing ahead of Loncin rider Alex Masbou, but the roles were reversed in the afternoon, with Masbou taking the 24th time, just ahead of Ranseder.

Cameron Beaubier, the sole American in the 125 class, finished a respectable 14th in the afternoon, up five places from the morning. Beaubier, who came up from the Red Bull Rookies cup last year, is having a solid debut so far.

Testing continues tomorrow.

Session 2 times (afternoon session) 

2009 Season MotoGPMatters.com Fundraising Drive!

If you're reading this, then you already know the kind of job MotoGPMatters.com does in providing in-depth coverage of the MotoGP and World Superbikes championships. But as ever, it is our aim to keep making the website better, bringing you more news and better analysis from the world of motorcycle road racing. To achieve this aim, we will be providing coverage from track side at a number of events this season, keeping you up to date with the news as it happens.

The season kicks of with David Emmett (Kropotkin) reporting live from the IRTA Tests at Jerez starting from Friday, followed by coverage from the third round of the World Superbike series at Valencia in a week's time. A week after that, Scott Jones will be heading to Qatar to bring you some more of his stunning photos live from the MotoGP season opener at Qatar. More coverage is to follow, as we will also be reporting live from several other MotoGP and World Superbike rounds.

Of course, all this costs money. Some of this is provided by advertisers (such as our friends at Power Sport Dynamic, who are offering a fantastic package for the Turn 5 Chalet at the US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca on the July 4th Weekend), while more is provided by the kind donations of regular readers of the site. But if we are to achieve our ambitious goals for this season, we will need more help.

So we are calling on you to help us out. Join the crowd of generous contributors who have already donated to MotoGPMatters.com by clicking on the Donate button below, and sending us some funds to help towards making the site even better. All donations are warmly welcomed and deeply appreciated, and if you're unsure of how much to send us, look at what a subscription to your favorite magazine costs. 

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2009 Provisional 125 Class Entry List

The provisional 125cc class entry list for the 2009 MotoGP season, as released by the FIM earlier this month:

No. Rider Country Team Bike
5 ALEXIS MASBOU FRA LONCIN RACING LONCIN
6 JOAN OLIVE ESP DERBI RACING TEAM DERBI
7 EFREN VAZQUEZ ESP DERBI RACING TEAM DERBI
8 LORENZO ZANETTI ITA ONGETTA TEAM I.S.P.A. APRILIA
10 LUCA VITALI ITA CBC CORSE APRILIA
11 SANDRO CORTESE GER AJO INTERWETTEN DERBI
12 ESTEVE RABAT ESP BLUSENS APRILIA APRILIA
14 JOHANN ZARCO FRA WTR SAN MARINO TEAM APRILIA
16 CAMERON BEAUBIER USA RED BULL KTM MOTOSPORT KTM
17 STEFAN BRADL GER VIESSMANN KIEFER RACING APRILIA
18 NICOLAS TEROL ESP JACK & JONES TEAM APRILIA
24 SIMONE CORSI ITA JACK & JONES TEAM APRILIA
29 ANDREA IANNONE ITA ONGETTA TEAM I.S.P.A. APRILIA
32 LORENZO SAVADORI ITA FONTANA RACING APRILIA
33 SERGIO GADEA ESP BANCAJA ASPAR TEAM 125cc APRILIA
35 RANDY KRUMMENACHER SUI DEGRAAF GRAND PRIX APRILIA
38 BRADLEY SMITH GBR BANCAJA ASPAR TEAM 125cc APRILIA
44 POL ESPARGARO ESP DERBI RACING TEAM DERBI
45 SCOTT REDDING GBR BLUSENS APRILIA APRILIA
53 JASPER IWEMA NLD RACING TEAM HONDA
60 JULIAN SIMON ESP BANCAJA ASPAR TEAM 125cc APRILIA
66 MATTHEW HOYLE GBR HAOJUE TEAM HAOJUE
69 LUKAS SEMBERA CZE MATTEONI RACING APRILIA
71 TOMOYOSHI KOYAMA JPN LONCIN RACING LONCIN
73 TAKAAKI NAKAGAMI JPN ONGETTA TEAM I.S.P.A. APRILIA
77 DOMINIQUE AEGERTER SUI AJO INTERWETTEN DERBI
87 LUCA MARCONI ITA CBC CORSE APRILIA
88 MICHAEL RANSEDER AUT HAOJUE TEAM HAOJUE
93 MARC MARQUEZ ESP RED BULL KTM MOTOSPORT KTM
94 JONAS FOLGER GER ONGETTA TEAM I.S.P.A. APRILIA
99 DANNY WEBB GBR DEGRAAF GRAND PRIX APRILIA

2009 Provisional 250 Class Entry List

 The provisional 250 cc class entry list for the 2009 MotoGP season, as released by the FIM earlier this month:

No. Rider Country Team Bike
4 HIROSHI AOYAMA JPN SCOT RACING TEAM 250cc HONDA
6 ALEX DEBON SPA AEROPUERTO-CASTELLO-BLUSENS APRILIA
7 AXEL PONS SPA PEPE WORLD TEAM APRILIA
8 BASTIEN CHESAUX SUI RACING TEAM GERMANY HONDA
10 IMRE TOTH HUN TEAM TOTH APRILIA APRILIA
12 THOMAS LUTHI SUI EMMI - CAFFE LATTE APRILIA
14 RATTHAPARK WILAIROT THA THAI HONDA PTT SAG HONDA
15 ROBERTO LOCATELLI ITA METIS GILERA GILERA
16 JULES CLUZEL FRA MATTEONI RACING APRILIA
17 KAREL ABRAHAM CZE CARDION AB MOTORACING APRILIA
19 ALVARO BAUTISTA SPA MAPFRE ASPAR TEAM APRILIA
25 ALEX BALDOLINI ITA WTR SAN MARINO TEAM APRILIA
28 GABOR TALMACSI HUN BALATON RACING TEAM 250cc APRILIA
35 RAFFAELE DE ROSA ITA SCOT RACING TEAM 250cc HONDA
40 HECTOR BARBERA SPA PEPE WORLD TEAM APRILIA
48 SHOYA TOMIZAWA JPN CIP MOTO - GP250 HONDA
51 STEVIE BONSEY USA APRILIA MADRID APRILIA
52 LUKAS PESEK CZE AUTO KELLY - CP APRILIA
55 HECTOR FAUBEL SPA THAI HONDA PTT SAG HONDA
56 VLADIMIR LEONOV RUS VIESSMANN KIEFER RACING APRILIA
58 MARCO SIMONCELLI ITA METIS GILERA GILERA
63 MIKE DE MEGLIO FRA MAPFRE ASPAR TEAM 250cc APRILIA
75 MATTIA PASINI ITA TEAM TOTH APRILIA APRILIA
77 AITOR RODRIGUEZ SPA APRILIA MADRID APRILIA

2009 Provisional MotoGP Class Entry List

The provisional entry list for the 2009 MotoGP season, as released by the FIM earlier this month:

No. Rider Country Team Bike
3 DANI PEDROSA SPA REPSOL HONDA TEAM HONDA
4 ANDREA DOVIZIOSO ITA REPSOL HONDA TEAM HONDA
5 COLIN EDWARDS USA MONSTER YAMAHA TECH 3 YAMAHA
7 CHRIS VERMEULEN AUS RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP SUZUKI
14 RANDY DE PUNIET FRA LCR HONDA MOTOGP HONDA
15 ALEX DE ANGELIS RSM SAN CARLO HONDA GRESINI HONDA
24 TONI ELIAS SPA SAN CARLO HONDA GRESINI HONDA
27 CASEY STONER AUS DUCATI MARLBORO TEAM DUCATI
33 MARCO MELANDRI ITA HAYATE RACING TEAM KAWASAKI
36 MIKA KALLIO FIN PRAMAC RACING DUCATI
46 VALENTINO ROSSI ITA FIAT YAMAHA TEAM YAMAHA
52 JAMES TOSELAND GBR MONSTER YAMAHA TECH 3 YAMAHA
59 SETE GIBERNAU SPA GUINEA ECUATORIAL TEAM DUCATI
65 LORIS CAPIROSSI ITA RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP SUZUKI
69 NICKY HAYDEN USA DUCATI MARLBORO TEAM DUCATI
72 YUKI TAKAHASHI JPN SCOT RACING TEAM MOTOGP HONDA
88 NICCOLO CANEPA ITA PRAMAC RACING DUCATI
99 JORGE LORENZO SPA FIAT YAMAHA TEAM YAMAHA

Haojue: Ranseder Demands Progress On Engine

The entry of the brand new Haojue (formerly Maxtra) Racing team into the 125 class of MotoGP has not run smoothly. Talk of trouble between the team and engine guru Jan Witteveen have continued to rumble on, as we have reported previously. But this trouble is now starting to affect the riders, as Michael Ranseder revealed on his website on Friday.

In a post looking forward to the IRTA tests due to take place at Jerez this week, Ranseder complains that the Haojue is down on horsepower, and that team needs to find a solution if they are to be competitive. "Obviously our bike is missing a few horsepower," Ranseder writes on his website. "And on this subject, the two sides - the chassis engineers at Harris on the one hand and the engine technicians at Jan Witteveen's company on the other - keep passing the buck to each other. I have made it very clear to both sides that we have to find a solution as soon as possible, otherwise the competition will just blow by us on the straights."

Ranseder expressed the hope that the new parts the team was due to receive at Jerez could help the situation. "Our engine produces around 50 HP on the dyno. With the new carburettor and improved electronics we had at Valencia we should be able to extract another couple of HP. The exhaust system has also been thoroughly reworked since then. Harris have had another close look at the airbox, to try and track down the loss of power. As I have said several times already, there's little to complain about as far as the chassis is concerned, but we are still a long way short in terms of engine development."

LCR Honda Close To Playboy Sponsorship Deal

It's common knowledge that finding sponsors for MotoGP is a difficult proposition, despite the sport's immense appeal and excellent demographic profile. Indeed, a lack of sponsorship is the biggest threat currently facing MotoGP in today's financial climate, a threat which has led Dorna and the Grand Prix Commission to introduce a range of proposals aimed at cutting costs - though the jury is still very much out on the effectiveness of those proposals.

While most teams aim at securing a big name as a single title sponsor - Marlboro, Repsol, Fiat and Rizla supporting factory Ducati, Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki efforts respectively, while San Carlo supports the Gresini Honda team and Monster Energy are due to be unveiled as the Tech 3 Yamaha sponsors - that has been beyond the reach of some teams. Over the past two years, Lucio Cecchinello's LCR Honda team have had a novel strategy for dealing with this problem, securing a string of smaller title sponsorship deals for individual races, featuring companies such as GIVI, Eurobet and Lee Jeans. This has been a successful if risky way of funding the team, making it easier to persuade companies to fork over smaller amounts of money, but leaving the team's finances less predictable over the course of a year.

Now, though, Cecchinello is also close to securing a title sponsorship deal for his eponymous team. Sources in Italy are saying that Playboy Magazine will be sponsoring LCR Honda for the 2009 MotoGP season. The story was uncovered by the Italian motorcycling website motocorse.com, who revealed that Cecchinello had been spotted at the same restaurant in Florence as Hugh Hefner, founder and Chief Creative Officer of Playboy Enterprises Inc. Cecchinello later admitted to GPOne.com that he was in talks with Playboy about title sponsorship, and he was about 70% certain of closing the deal. 

Herve Poncharal: "I Want Spies For 2010"

With Ben Spies tearing up the World Superbike paddock and already being hotly tipped for the championship, talk has already started of a possible future in MotoGP. Though such talk is perhaps a little premature, just two rounds in the WSBK season, but it is clear that Spies has made a devastating impact, and looks almost certain to end up in MotoGP at some point in the future.

The question is, of course, just where he'll go. That he will stick with Yamaha goes without saying: In recent years, Yamaha has shown itself very astute at selecting riders with championship potential, but this very adroitness leaves the factory with something of a problem. With Valentino Rossi set to stay in MotoGP with Yamaha for at least two more years, and Jorge Lorenzo already his annointed successor, Yamaha's embarrassment of riches leaves them no room for Spies in the factory team.

Knowing that Yamaha will want to keep Spies on board, Tech 3 Yamaha boss Herve Poncharal has already launched a bid for the Texan's throttle hand. In an interview with the French automotive portal Caradisiac.com, Poncharal stated his hope of obtaining Spies' services for next season. "Frankly, Ben Spies has astounded me," Poncharal told Caradisiac.com. "It's obvious that he's an exceptional rider. I want to have him for 2010! We talked to him last year, just as we did with Simoncelli. Ben Spies has made a big impression so far, he has more than earned a place in MotoGP. It's obvious to me that he'll be there in 2010, and I hope it will be with us."

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