Analysis

2011 Aragon MotoGP Friday Round Up: Events, The One Thing You Can't Plan For

Friday was a weird one. Normally, I'd be talking about who was fast (Pedrosa), who was not (Rossi), and the implications of the new chassis being used in MotoGP and Moto2, but instead, Friday at Motorland Aragon was all about transformers, UPSes, backup systems and the complex electronics that control them.

Power started going at around lunchtime, the lights and power in the media center cycling on and off continuously for a couple of minutes, before cutting out entirely. It immediately became clear that it was not just the media center, however, as teams came streaming out of garages both into pit lane and out of the rear for a communal gathering to try to figure out what had happened. Power came back after lunch for a short period, allowing the 125cc class to run their FP2 session, before going out again directly after that. There then followed a period of about an hour in which journalists wandered round looking quizzically at each other, while harried members of the Motorland Aragon staff rushed around trying to figure out what was going on.

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2011 Aragon MotoGP Thursday Round Up: Motegi, Metal Frames, And Marquez

Somehow, the big news always seems to break on Thursdays. Probably because we don't have any real action to talk about, and so all the focus is on speculation, spying, or off-track events, but without motorcycles going round on track, we still have plenty to talk about.

On Thursday at Aragon, there were three subjects on everyone's minds: Motegi, Rossi's Mugello chassis and 2012 (though the latter two are to a large extent the same subject, given that Rossi and his crew gave up on 2011 almost before the season had started). The short version of those subjects is that everyone is going to Motegi, Rossi (the final official holdout) announcing that he did not have sufficient reason to stay away; Rossi came clean in the press conference and admitted to testing an aluminium chassis at Mugello, it later emerging that he would be riding it this weekend; and silly season is in full swing, with lots of fevered speculation about who will be going where for 2012.

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2011 Misano MotoGP Sunday Round Up: On The Hammer, Lost Sleep, And Idiotic Moves

It was a good weekend for MotoGP at Misano. We had two-and-a-half great races, two championships were opened up again and one took a step closer to the inevitable conclusion it has been moving towards almost since the start of the season. The weather was good - with just a sprinkling of raindrops to keep everyone honest - the crowds were up - on last year at least - and if the home crowd didn't exactly get what they came to see (a Rossi victory), at least they went home with hope in their hearts after a pretty strong race by the Italian, all things considered.

That they were less than happy with Jorge Lorenzo's victory - the third Spanish victory of the day, and the second time the Spaniards had cleaned up at an Italian Grand Prix, a particular thorn in the side of Italian MotoGP fans - as was witnessed by the booing during the podium ceremony, which Lorenzo responded to by cupping his hand to his ear as if he couldn't hear. Lorenzo said afterwards he found it disappointing that fans responded like that, acting more like soccer fans than racing fans, saying that he was sure that Valentino Rossi would disapprove of such behavior. Rossi agreed - up to a point - but after making all the expected noises, he added "This is Italy!" and said that his advice to Lorenzo was not to take any notice of it.

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2011 Misano MotoGP Saturday Round Up: The Season In A Nutshell, And Hope Springs Eternal

Qualifying at Misano ended up giving an accurate reflection of the key battles in all three classes (or four if you include WSBK Superpole at the Nurburgring, where Carlos Checa sits on pole, with rivals Max Biaggi and Marco Melandri alongside him on the front row). In MotoGP, there was little to choose between Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa, the three men qualifying within 0.180 of each other, and well ahead of the rest of the field. In the Moto2 class, Stefan Bradl held off the assault of Marc Marquez to secure his seventh pole of the season. And in the 125cc class, Frenchman Johann Zarco lines up on the grid, with the championship leader Nico Terol on the outside of the front row, in 3rd. These men will share out the handful of world championships between them, with the losers being left only with thoughts of revenge for next year.

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2011 Misano Friday MotoGP Round Up: How Set Up Is A Big Deal, And The Future Of MotoGP Is Here

At Misano on Friday, there was an event that will change the face of MotoGP forever. War was declared - in the nicest possible terms - and the silhouette of the future was vaguely discernible for those who wanted to see it. There were also some bikes on track, so let's turn to those first.

Fastest man on Friday was Jorge Lorenzo, after a radical change to the setup of his Yamaha, and a return to the settings the reigning World Champion used back at Mugello. From 6th and nearly a second down on Friday morning, Lorenzo leapt to the top of the timesheets, breaking through the 1'39 barrier, and going four tenths faster than the existing race lap record. On Friday, with another day of practice yet to come.

The change had meant Lorenzo could get the bike turned and out of the corners more quickly, and had given the Spaniard more confidence in the front of the bike. It was something that had worked at Mugello, but as Mugello had had new and grippy asphalt, the team had discarded it as a basis for the future at tracks where grip levels were not so high. They had then gone chasing setup, making changes to try and find the few tenths that they were behind the Hondas, but all to no avail. Now back at the front, Lorenzo looked happier and more relaxed than he had been for a long time, and that in itself should give pause for thought.

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2011 Misano MotoGP Thursday Round Up: A Legend Retires, Motegi Is On, And Ducati Sort Of Denies Building A Twin Spar Chassis

Coming to Misano always feels like a vacation, but then that's hardly a surprise given that Misano lies on Italy's Adriatic coast, and the stretch of coast from Gabbice Mare just south of Misano to Trieste on the Slovenian border is Italy's vacation heartland, and is lined with restaurants, hotels, and seafront stores selling the most incredibly gaudy junk imaginable. It is truly a magical place.

And for so many riders, teams and crew, Misano is not so much a holiday as a homecoming. Andrea Dovizioso is from Forli, 30 minutes' drive away, Mattia Pasini is from Rimini, Alex de Angelis is from San Marino, and Marco Simoncelli is from Cattolica, though as our waiter pointed out to us yesterday, he actually lives in Coriano, a few miles back from the coast.

The laid-back atmosphere may also be a side-effect of both the scorching Italian weather - the mercury barely drops below 30ºC during the day, and only a little cooler during the evening - and of a latent jet lag, the teams, riders and assembled hangers on barely off the plane from the Indianapolis round of MotoGP last weekend.

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2011 Indianapolis MotoGP Post-Race Round Up: Of Championships, Champions, Asphalt And Rubber

Two-thirds of the way through the 2011 season and this is the point where decisive blows are struck in title fights. Indianapolis was no different: though the championships in all three classes are a long way from settled, the three leaders each have a race in hand after Indy. Nico Terol leads the 125cc championship by 26 points, Stefan Bradl has a lead of 28 points in Moto2, and Casey Stoner holds a comfortable 44-point advantage over Jorge Lorenzo in the MotoGP class.

The way the three championship leaders secured their advantage at Indianapolis could well prove to be pivotal. In the 125cc race, Nico Terol dusted the field from the lights, putting a second a lap on everyone else and just disappearing. It was reminiscent of his displays earlier this year, when he won four of the first five races with ease. After a mid-season slump, and especially after the mechanical that saw him DNF at Brno, Terol is back, and has seized the 125 championship by the scruff of the neck again. It is hard not to feel sorry for the sympathetic Frenchman Johann Zarco, the Air Asia Ajo rider having made a huge leap forward this season, but when a rider is in the form that Terol is in, they are incredibly hard to beat. Terol's championship is taking on an air of inevitability, and once that seed is planted in the minds of his rivals, the fight is nearly over.

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2011 Indianapolis MotoGP Friday Round Up: On Slippery New Asphalt, And Bridgestone Yet Again

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is an immensely successful motorsports venue, but its very success worked against it on the first day of practice. After complaints last year that the track was too bumpy and the kerbs were raised too much, the infield part of the circuit was completely resurfaced and many of the bumps were removed. The MotoGP riders were almost unanimously impressed by the effort put in by Indy, and the change was universally appreciated as a sign that IMS was keen on keeping MotoGP at the facility for the immediate future.

The praise soon evaporated after the Friday morning session of practice, however. Like all newly-laid tarmac, the track was very dirty, and the Spanish contingent especially were complaining bitterly about the lack of grip. "I never tried asphalt so slippery," Jorge Lorenzo said after FP1, and several riders commented that the track was like riding in the wet. "You can't lean the bike in the corners," Dani Pedrosa added, "And the tires are destroyed."

The root of the problem is the lack of use that the infield track gets, being employed solely by MotoGP and the (very) occasional track day run by former MotoGP legend Kevin Schwantz. As a result, the track is dirty and has very little rubber laid down on the surface, meaning the track was immensely slippery for the first session. The fact that there are only 17 MotoGP bikes circulating didn't help either, with so few bikes not helping to lay down very much rubber at all.

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MotoGP Engine Usage Analysis Prior To Indianapolis: Honda, Yamaha And Suzuki Comfortable, Ducati Faces A Dilemma

As MotoGP heads into the final stretch of the season, with just over a third of the races left to go, it's time to have another look at the engine situation in MotoGP. With each rider now well into their allocation of 6 engines to last the season, the trends are becoming clear. So who is in trouble, who has engines to spare and which manufacturer has done the best job of producing an engine that works. Below is a run down of each factory, subdivided by team and rider.


Honda

As expected, Honda's RC212V engine is virtually bulletproof, especially in its factory configuration. The four full-fat factory Hondas on the grid (Marco Simoncelli is also riding a factory Honda RC212V, along with the three Repsol men) have seen 3 motors withdrawn (for an explanation of the terms used, see the legend at the bottom of the page) between them, and all of those engines had around 30 sessions on them and at least 4 races. The satellite spec RC212Vs of Hiroshi Aoyama and Toni Elias have not stood up quite so well, though Elias has also had to share his engine allocation with Ben Bostrom during the US round at Laguna Seca.

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2011 Brno MotoGP Test Round Up: All Hail The Thousands!

We'd been waiting for it for a long time - longer than we had initially hoped for, after the planned 1000cc test at Mugello morphed into an 800cc test, the Brno test taking its place - but finally, we got to see the 2012 MotoGP bikes out on track, in public and undisguised. Honda and Yamaha pitted their latest creations against one another in full view of the public, and the results were not quite as expected beforehand.

That a Honda RC213V - that's twenty-one three, not two thirteen, for the superstitious among you - should be fastest at the test was expected, Casey Stoner posting a time of 1'56.168 in the final hour before the test finished. Stoner had already had two days of testing on the 2012 bike, and the times being bandied about the paddock - about as reliable as any gossip from inside a small and deeply political community, i.e. not at all - was that Stoner had been two seconds faster than the 800s at the track earlier in the year, though the conditions for the 1000cc test were much more favorable.

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