Prior to the first day of practice at Assen, Nicky Hayden gave his usual press debrief, to talk about the upcoming weekend's race. With two MotoGP regulars out for the foreseeable future, and factory test riders in at Fiat Yamaha and Interwetten Honda, we seized the opportunity to ask Hayden why he thought that the teams went with test riders, rather than bringing in a young talented rider to get some experience on a MotoGP bike. Here's what Hayden had to say on the matter:
Q: We've got two test riders coming in to substitute for Rossi and Aoyama, who are both injured. Why is it so hard to find someone to ride these bikes?
Nicky Hayden: You know, I'm not sure. I don't know why Colin turned it down. He complains his bike was slow but then he didn't want to ride the factory bike. I didn't understand that. But you know, I'm not really sure, because it's not like you're trying to get somebody to fill the Ilmor, these are bikes that can win races.
Q: What happened at the start.
CS: Ask my technician that, because it wasn't my fault.
Q: You weren't in second gear!
CS: No, the bike jumped and shuddered and shook, and it sounded like the bike basically exploded off the start, nearly stalled the thing and just started going horribly, and managed to keep it going. Got into the first turn and got shoved around and pushed around, and really spat out the back door.
I'm a little disappointed, because it would have been an easy second, maybe even battle with Jorge for the win, but I would have had to push for that.
While most of the silly season gossip focuses - quite understandably - on the fate of MotoGP's so-called Aliens, rumblings are also starting to emerge elsewhere. Perhaps the wildest of the other rumors currently doing the rounds concerns Loris Capirossi, whose tough season at the factory Rizla Suzuki team is starting to take its toll. According to the Gazzetta dello Sport (as reported by Autosport), and confirmed by GPOne.com, Capirossi's manager Carlo Pernat is looking around for a way to get Capirossi out of the clutches of Suzuki for next year.
Pernat has spoken to both Fausto Gresini and Lucio Cecchinello, looking to place Capirossi with one of the two Italian ex-riders. The LCR Honda option would require Capirossi becoming part of a two-rider team, something that would please Dorna immensely, but the problem for Cecchinello would be finding the budget. Perhaps a more realistic option for the Italian veteran would be a switch to Pramac, and making a return to Ducati, the manufacturer he scored his best results with.
With MotoGP returning to Silverstone after a 24-year hiatus, and the layout modified to make the track faster and more flowing than the configuration used by the World Superbike series previously, the general consensus after day 1 is positive. All of the riders had already been round the track on the scooter, and all were convinced it would be a fast and challenging circuit.
"It's beautiful," Jorge Lorenzo said of the Silverstone track. "The measures of the track are good, it is a very long track, very wide, a lot of changes of tarmac. It is very similar to the new tracks like Turkey and China. The other top riders concurred, praising the width of the track and especially it's high speed nature. "The track is fast, it has very long straights, the new part has some very fast and slow corners, but in general, I think it is a fast track," Dani Pedrosa said.
Marlboro Ducati's Nicky Hayden concurred. "It looks fast," the Kentuckian said. But like Dovizioso and Lorenzo before him, Hayden warned that impressions gained from a scooter are often deceptive once you climb aboard a 230hp MotoGP bike and take to the track. "It's one thing to go round on scooter, bicycle, feet," Hayden said, "But till you go round it behind that bubble, everything changes at speed."
With MotoGP due to head to Assen in just over a week, here's a taster from the World Superbike round back in April. Friend of MotoMatters.com Michel Hulshof of Sports Photography used his expert local knowledge to grab some beautiful shots from the two WSBK races. Michel grew up just a stone's throw away from the iconic Dutch circuit, and it shows. You can see more of his work on his website, or you can follow him on Twitter, under the user name @ProNikon.
The dream is over. The millions of Ducati fans around the world who have had such a tough year in 2010, seeing Michel Fabrizio and Noriyuki Haga struggle with the Ducati 1198R, the rumors that three-time World Champion Troy Bayliss would make a return to World Superbikes were as if their prayers had been answered. The rumors had been rumbling since the beginning of the year, but when Bayliss tested the Ducati at Mugello earlier this year, breaking the Superbike record at the track, Bayliss himself started fueling the rumors, commenting that he was giving a comeback serious consideration.
But in a press conference held at Misano, given during the World Ducati Week festival, Bayliss shocked the assembled press by announcing that he is still officially retired, and that he intends to stay that way permanently. The comeback he had prefigured was now completely off the cards, and Bayliss had made his peace with retirement.
After crashing out during the race at Mugello, a disappointed Nicky Hayden spoke to the press about what happened. Here's the transcript of that debrief:
Q: That looked like a Casey crash.
NH: Yeah, I just, I got a terrible start, it didn't help things at all when I let the clutch out and the bike bogged. You know, from the first corner to the end of the first lap, I recovered a lot of positions. Even the next couple of laps, I felt OK, but then when I got clear track, it was strange, I couldn't really make a lap time. At Le Mans it was the same, I felt like after warmup, I could go a lot faster. Yesterday in the afternoon, I could do mid 1'50s quite steady with the harder tire. But this afternoon, it was just impossible to make the lap time. I was pushing the front a lot more in the race than I had been all weekend, I went back and forth a bit with Melandri, and I just followed over that crest, and … I was a little bit inside, because the lap before, I got in too hot and ran wide. And I just lost the front. It was pretty quick, and I didn't have my knee down enough at that point to try to save it, and that was it.
Q: The track wasn't dirty there was it?
Valentino Rossi put the fear of God into his rivals on the first day of practice at Mugello, leading the session almost from start to finish. He had spent Thursday explaining that his shoulder injury was worse than expected, and dampening expectations. There was no such thing on Friday afternoon, though, as Rossi smashed Casey Stoner's race lap record by over a quarter of a second.
The one question mark over that time was the fact that Rossi used a soft tire to set it, but Rossi thought the soft tires might actually last the entire race. Rossi intends to test that tomorrow, but even if the soft tires don't look like they'll last, the rest of the MotoGP field need to be worried, as the Fiat Yamaha rider was still faster than everyone else on the harder compound.
During the rider debrief, Rossi spent more time explaining about his shoulder injury. "The shoulder gives me pain, the condition is a little better than Le Mans. It's especially better while changing direction, and now I can stay behind the fairing, which was not possible in Le Mans and Jerez. But I have pain when I have to stop hard," Rossi told the assembled press.
With the MotoGP paddock reconvened at Mugello - and it really is a stunning setting for a motorcycle race - the atmosphere is hectic and frenzied, and it's only just Thursday. There are many reasons for that atmosphere, but mostly, it comes down to two key facts: 1) We're in Italy, and 2) We're at Mugello.
Being in Italy means that some riders are on double duty, with Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso doing their usual press debriefs in addition to appearing at the press conference. The usual Thursday pre-event press conference was positively heaving, the room packed to the rafters and all seats taken, a change from most other Thursday conferences. It's not just that every Italian newspaper has sent extra journalists to the round, but journalists from around the world are seizing the opportunity to attend one of the most spectacular races of the year, and follow it up with a few days in Tuscany.
It's not just journalists either: the teams are in the same position. One team representative said they had ten times the number of guests here that they have at other races, sponsors grabbing their chance to spend a long weekend in Tuscany, and enjoying the food and wine the region is rightly famous for.