Air At Last: Hayden Gets Air Valve Engine For Donington

MotoGP news sites everywhere will be having to work a little bit harder from this Sunday: After months and months of speculation, HRC has finally announced that Nicky Hayden will give Honda's new pneumatic valve engine its first official outing at Donington Park this weekend. According to Mike Nicks at Crash.net, Hayden will only have the air valve engine at his disposal, and will not be using the steel spring power plant at all at the British Grand Prix.

The move makes a lot of sense for Hayden, who has never got along with the old engine since its introduction last year. Hayden told HRC engineers he had a better feeling with the new bike, and considering his current lowly position in the championship standings, he has little to lose. Hayden will be hoping that he can put the extra horsepower and revs to good use at the British track.

Hayden's Repsol Honda team mate Dani Pedrosa will be sticking with the steel spring engine, the Spaniard managing to win 2 Grand Prix and holding 2nd place in the title race on board the old bike. Pedrosa will be happy to let his team mate test the reliability and performance of the engine in a few races before deciding on a switch himself. Luckily for news editors, as now they can just switch their speculation from the question of when Hayden will get the new engine, to when Pedrosa will make the switch.

Gibernau At Mugello: Approaching Melandri's Times After Just 40 Laps

The news that Sete Gibernau would be returning to MotoGP to test the Ducati Desmosedici bikes raised a flurry of interest when it was announced last week. It launched a veritable firestorm of speculation about a possible return to racing, and whether the arrival of Gibernau made Marco Melandri's position at Ducati even more precarious. There was also the question of whether nearly two years away from racing would have dulled Gibernau's race reflexes so much that he would no longer be competitive. Only test times from Mugello would tell.

After two days of testing, we finally have times to base a judgment on. Frustratingly, though, weather conditions in Mugello are more British than Italian, meaning that so far Gibernau's track time has been limited to just 20 laps on both Tuesday and Wednesday, and even those laps have been ridden under track conditions which are far from ideal.

Despite the damp, Gibernau is still apparently in good shape. On Wednesday, the Spaniard set a fastest lap of 1'52.6 on the GP9, which uses the new carbon-fiber chassis. Although still 4 seconds off the pole record, and 2 seconds slower than the fastest race lap, that's a perfectly respectable time for a rider who hasn't ridden a MotoGP bike for 21 months, and has only ridden an 800cc MotoGP bike in a few tests at the end of the 2006 season, especially under less than perfect conditions.

Vermeulen To Return To WSB?

Suzuki has had a difficult time in MotoGP. The team has built up a reputation for signing promising riders who never manage to make the big breakthrough into the very top flight of MotoGP. First came John Hopkins, signed after a very brief stint at WCM Yamaha, after racing Formula Xtreme and Supersport in the AMA. Hopkins has been on the verge of a major breakthrough almost all of his career, but has never quite managed to get a win. A lot of this may be put down to the lack of competitiveness of the Suzuki throughout the years, but that still leaves Hopper without a win.

Chris Vermeulen is a similar case. Signed after the Australian came up just short of the World Superbike title, despite a brilliant year on the Ten Kate Honda Fireblade, choosing to join a factory team instead of waiting for another year in World Superbikes looked like a smart move on Vermeulen's part. And unlike Hopkins, Vermeulen has managed to get a win, at Le Mans in 2007 in the pouring rain.

Despite Vermeulen's victory, the first ever for Suzuki in the four-stroke era, his results continue to be a mixed bag. Qualifying has always been a weakness for Vermeulen, as has his starts. Once underway, the Australian's lap times are often among the fastest in the field, but with a big group of riders to fight his way through, the front runners are too far gone for him to catch.

Welcome To The New MotoGPMatters.com Website.

Hopefully, you will already have noticed the difference. The new MotoGPMatters.com website is finally in the air!

After two and a half years of struggling along on software which was not really up to handling the loads being placed on it, we have finally migrated all of our existing content to a brand new system, which will be a vast improvement on the old site.

Gibernau To Test Ducati At Mugello In June

One of the more notable paddock visitors at the Grand Prix at Barcelona was former MotoGP hero Sete Gibernau. Hardly surprising, as the Barcelona circuit is right in Gibernau's backyard, and the Spaniard still has a lot of friends in the paddock. What was more interesting was the length of time Gibernau spent talking to engineers and team managers. The Spaniard even dropped a couple of casual hints that he could possibly be interested in getting back into MotoGP in some capacity, should the opportunity arise.

Spies To Replace Capirossi At Donington

The Montmélo circuit at Barcelona seems to be hexed for Loris Capirossi. After his terrifying first-corner crash there in 2006, which ended his chances of taking the MotoGP title that year, 2008 was only a little kinder. During this year's race, the Italian was sent flying into the gravel by Alex de Angelis, fracturing a bone in his right hand. Unlike 2006, however, Capirossi's injury means that the Suzuki veteran will be forced to miss at least the British Grand Prix at Donington in 10 days' time.

Pre-race MotoGP Test Schedule At Indianapolis Motor Speedway

As Indianapolis is a new track this year, the MotoGP riders will get to test at the track before the actual race takes place in September. The date for this test has been announced as July 1st and 2nd.

2008 Catalunya Post-Race Testing - Day 2

Times courtesy of GPOne.com:

2008 Catalunya Post-Race Testing - Day 1

Testing was rather eventful, with Casey Stoner setting the fastest time on the new carbon-fiber frame Ducati Desmosedici GP9, the bike scheduled to race next year. Both Nicky Hayden and Dani Pedrosa switched back and forth between the steel-valve Honda RC212V and the new pneumatic valve engine, but Pedrosa had a nasty highside on cold tires, and was forced to retire. Testing of the bike will now be down to Nicky Hayden for tomorrow. Hayden was 4/10ths quicker on the new bike than on the old bike during the race weekend on race tires.

2008 Catalunya MotoGP Race Report - Leading From The Front

Ask a dozen riders what their favorite race was, and you'll get a dozen different answers. But as different as those answers may be, in the end, they divide out into two camps. On the one hand, there are the Racers, the riders who love nothing more than to battle with their rivals all race long, only to pass them in the final corner and go on to take the win. On the other, there are the Winners, the riders who only care about getting away from the pack and dominating the opposition. The Racers love to win by fractions of a second, the Winners love to win by minutes.

This issue doesn't just divide racers, it also divides fans. Some enjoy nothing more than watching their favorite rider put in lap after perfect lap, gapping the competition by a second or more every time the cross the line. To them, their pleasure in racing is in watching a motorcycle being ridden as fast as humanly possible, the rider attempting to ride the bike at its very limit every inch of the track. For these fans, riders are like brain surgeons, exercising their skill to the utmost of their ability.

Race results and championship standings
round_number: 
7
2008

2008 Catalunya MotoGP Race Results

2008 Catalunya Warmup Times - Rossi Leads From Edwards

2008 Catalunya Qualifying Report - Down To The Wire

Qualifying practice at the Catalunya Grand Prix at Barcelona, Spain, got underway in warm, humid conditions, under overcast but dry skies. The weather has been like this all weekend, with rain overnight, and occasional smatterings during practice, rendering the track incredibly slippery. After Friday's crashfest, the riders were a little more circumspect this morning, especially once it started to rain with 15 minutes of the session to go.

2008 Catalunya Qualifying Report - Down To The Wire

Qualifying practice at the Catalunya Grand Prix at Barcelona, Spain, got underway in warm, humid conditions, under overcast but dry skies. The weather has been like this all weekend, with rain overnight, and occasional smatterings during practice, rendering the track incredibly slippery. After Friday's crashfest, the riders were a little more circumspect this morning, especially once it started to rain with 15 minutes of the session to go.

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