Ever wondered what a MotoGP rider does during the off-season, and how they prepare? Well, veteran US broadcaster Greg White visited Nicky Hayden to find out, went for a cycle training ride and talked to him about 2010, recovering from his arm pump surgery and college basketball.
On the cycle ride:
Thanks to 2WheelTuesday for finding the video.
If there was any doubt that Ducati has set its sights on reclaiming the 2010 World Superbike title, then the last test of the preseason before racing starts in earnest will have put those doubts to rest. After allowing Leon Haslam and Suzuki top honors in the first session on Sunday, a Ducati has topped the timesheet ever since, ending the session with five bikes in the top six. Fastest over both days was Michel Fabrizio, the factory Xerox Ducati rider shattering Troy Corser's race lap record on Monday morning, after the track had dried and before the wind picked up too strongly.
Photo copyright Andrew Gosling
Results of the second and final session of testing for the World Superbike class at Phillip Island:
Results of Monday's first session of practice for the World Superbike class at Phillip Island. The session was delayed due to overnight rain, which took a while to dry out:
The first day of testing for the World Superbike class at Phillip Island was a chance for Ducati to stamp their authority on the series they have so often dominated. The Italian factory tackled this challenge with gusto, putting five bikes in the top six of the morning test session, and taking three of the four top spots in the afternoon. It was not the factory bikes that took top honors, however: In the morning session, Xerox Ducati riders Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio had to cede that honor the the Alstare Suzuki of Leon Haslam, while in the afternoon, it was the turn of the privateer Carlos Checa on the Althea Racing 1098R, edging the factory bikes into 2nd and 4th.
Checa's time in the afternoon was extremely impressive, just over a tenth off Troy Corser's official lap record, and nearly four tenths of a second faster than the next fastest man Fabrizio. Leon Haslam is continuing his apparently trouble-free transition to the Suzuki GSX-R 1000, claiming a permanent spot at the top of the field, though the Englishman was half a second slower during the afternoon session. The two Xerox Ducati teammates are once again closely matched, raising the specter of a repeat of last year, when Fabrizio stole valuable points from Noriyuki Haga in the Japanese rider's failed attempt to conquer the 2009 WSBK title.
Results of the second session of practice for the World Superbike class at Phillip Island:
Results of the first session of testing for the World Superbike class at Phillip Island:
The agenda for Wednesday's meeting of the Grand Prix Commission - MotoGP's rule-making body - was clear: To thrash out some of the difficulties arising from their previous decision to revert MotoGP to 1000cc. Their hope was that after this meeting, the main points of the rules would be clear to everyone involved, and manufacturers and privateers could go off and start working on the machines which they will contest the 2012 MotoGP championship with.
Sure enough, after the meeting, the FIM issued a press release containing the new regulations agreed by the GP Commission, and it should come as no surprise that a host of details remain to be sorted out. The changes noted in the press release do point to some fascinating developments. Here are the main points for the 2012 regulations, which we will go into in more detail below:
Technical Specifications for 2012 for the MotoGP class
With just over two weeks to go until the 2010 World Superbikes season kicks off at Phillip Island in Australia, the ever-assiduous staff at World Superbike headquarters have put together a video preview of the season to whet your appetite for the racing - as if that was necessary after a long cold winter. The video features a rundown of the teams and riders participating in the upcoming season, interviews with most of the protagonists, and highlights of the fantastic racing that made up the 2009 season.
So pour yourself a fresh beverage, pull up a chair and enjoy 25 minutes of World Superbike action. It's very nearly time to go racing again.
MotoGP's 2011 Silly Season - the period during which contracts are negotiated and hammered out for the 2011 season - got underway a little early. In fact, it got underway shortly after the 2010 Silly Season was over, some time around early September 2009, shortly after Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa signed one-year contracts with their current employers, Yamaha and Honda respectively. Their signings effectively meant that the contracts of Jorge Lorenzo, Dani Pedrosa, Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner will all finish at the same time, at the end of the 2010 MotoGP season, leading to a feeding frenzy of speculation, rumor and argument over who will be going where for 2011.
Most of this speculation has surrounded Valentino Rossi. The Italian has been linked with a switch to Ducati, an extension of his Yamaha contract, a return to Honda, a career jump to Formula One with Ferrari, and even retirement to go race in WRC. Most of it has come from the ever-industrious Italian media, but Rossi himself has not been shy of using the media to his own ends on occasion. He has himself hinted both that he has offers from Ducati and that he will end his career at Yamaha, two seemingly mutually exclusive possibilities, as well as flirting cautiously with both Formula One and retirement. Any and all such pronouncements have been pounced upon by the press and sliced, diced and analyzed for any indication of what The Doctor's true intent might be.
The news that MotoGP is set to change capacity and formula again for the third time in 10 years has caused as much concern as it has joy. Almost everyone concerned has welcomed the return to 1000cc, not least the riders, and many people also expressed the commonly-held opinion that the switch to 800cc was the worst thing to happen to the class. But many observers also pointed out that the change of formula, though aimed at cutting costs in the long term, meant yet more expenditure in the short term as the factories would be forced to develop a brand new engine once again.
That criticism is shared by the MSMA, the association representing the manufacturers in MotoGP. According to MCN's extremely well-informed MotoGP reporter Matthew Birt, the MSMA is pushing for the 800s to get a reprieve in 2012. Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta told Birt that 2012 regulations will allow two separate formulas to run side by side, as in the first year of the MotoGP four strokes in 2002. Having invested so heavily in their 800cc machines, the factories could continue to run the smaller capacity bikes against the 1000cc bikes, with the liter bikes restricted to a maximum bore of 81mm and four cylinders, as announced in Geneva at the end of last year.
Looking back at the two days of MotoGP testing at Sepang throws up only a few surprises. The Aliens continue to dominate, as ever, and Colin Edwards is still firmly in place as #5. Behind, the top 5, the picture is a little more interesting. Loris Capirossi's strong outing on Thursday shows that the Suzuki can be fast, but the GSV-R has a long history of being outstanding in testing, yet falling short during the season. Whether it's business-as-usual for Suzuki or a breakthrough will have to wait until the first few rounds have been run.
Ben Spies continues his methodical improvement, but with the Texan complaining of jet lag and telling reporters that he is still very much just learning, he should soon be edging Colin Edwards out of 5th spot and closing on the top 4. Spies is holding station with Andrea Dovizioso, the Italian improving but still looking for more pace.
The rain that held off yesterday finally came to Sepang on Friday, disrupting testing during the morning and at the end of the day. The rain in the morning combined with the limit on engines to persuade most of the riders to sit in the garage, or restrict their laps to a minimum. The track started to dry out at lunchtime, and from then, all 17 MotoGP riders, along with a couple of Yamaha test pilots, got to work on their testing program. By the time the rain came around 5pm, it was Valentino Rossi who had set the fastest lap, finishing ahead of Casey Stoner and Rossi's Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo. Dani Pedrosa completed the top four, the Aliens still clearly a breed apart in the MotoGP paddock.
While both Rossi and Stoner finished in the same positions as yesterday, both Jorge Lorenzo and especially Dani Pedrosa made a huge leap forward. Lorenzo jumped from 5th spot to 3rd, though he did not close the gap to his Fiat Yamaha teammate. Dani Pedrosa, on the other hand, closed the gap by over half a second, while working on the all-new Honda RC212V. Given that the bike has new Ohlins suspension, new electronics, a new chassis and a number of swingarms, there would appear to be plenty of room for improvement once the Repsol Honda team find the right setup for the bike.
The rain that threatened to ruin the first day of testing for 2010 luckily decided to stay away, but the session was still disrupted by the weather. Instead of water, it was the oppressive 40°C tropical heat that sapped the strength of the riders, limiting the amount of testing the riders could do. The rain finally came just before 5pm to cool the track from the scorching 50° Centigrade it was at most of the day, though only adding to the humidity.
Valentino Rossi ended the day with the fastest time, a comfortable half a second ahead of Casey Stoner on the Ducati. Stoner had suffered chatter for part of the day, and the hot asphalt made it difficult to judge the difference adjustments to the bike were making. The riders in 3rd and 4th place were a big surprise, Colin Edwards' 3rd spot slightly less so than Loris Capirossi's 4th fastest time. It's clear the Yamaha is good, but even the satellite bikes are so good that on their day, they can match the speed of the factory bikes, Edwards finishing ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and nearly a quarter of a second faster.
MotoGP makes a long-awaited return to action on Thursday, with the 17 official entries all taking to the track at Sepang. For the veterans, it marks the first time they will have ridden a MotoGP bike in nearly three months, their last outing being at the Valencia post-race tests in November last year. Even the rookies, who got extra tests at the end of 2009, have not been been on track since late December, with Marco Simoncelli and Hiroshi Aoyama the most recent to test here at Sepang before Christmas.
Wednesday saw the bikes already on track in the hands of the testers, who gave all of the teams' bikes a shakedown to ensure they are all working properly. This had been agreed as part of the cost-cutting measures limiting testing, allowing test riders an extra day on track to ensure that the teams would not lose any testing time to mechanical problems. Honda's Kosuke Akiyoshi was fastest, in a relatively meaningless 2'04.43, between three and four seconds off the pace the MotoGP riders will be aiming for at Sepang.