Analysis

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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2011 Brno MotoGP Sunday Post-Race Round Up: If We Didn't See The Future Today, We'll See It Tomorrow

Race day turned up plenty of surprises at Brno, some good, some bad, and some, well, just surprising. The three races turned up a tense duel, a full-on fairing-banging barnstormer and, well, a MotoGP race with a surprise podium, and proved that the layout of the Brno circuit is one of the very best in the world.

The 125cc race saw Sandro Cortese win from Johann Zarco, but more importantly, it saw Zarco claw back a whole host of points from Nico Terol after the Bankia Aspar rider was forced out of the race with a mechanical problem. Zarco would once again be denied victory, coming home 2nd to Sandro Cortese, but Zarco's championship prospects improved drastically, cutting Terol's lead from 32 to just 12 points, and throwing the title race open again.

In the Moto2 class, Stefan Bradl is still firmly in control of the championship, but he too is starting to leak points to Marc Marquez. At Brno, Bradl limited the damage to just 4 points, and still leads by a very generous 43-point margin, but with Marquez on a roll, a single DNF by Bradl would blow the championship open again.

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2011 Brno MotoGP Saturday Round Up - The Three Aliens, A Rejuvenated Rossi, Motegi, And CRT

The weather gods have really got it in for MotoGP this year. The Brno round looked like being warm and dry just a week ago, but that turned out to be hopelessly optimistic. It started raining on Friday night, and only stopped in the middle of the FP3 session for Moto2. That was not before both Casey Stoner and John Hopkins had crashed, however, Stoner coming away unscathed, while Hopkins was far less lucky, breaking one finger and fracturing another, and ruling himself out of the Brno race.

It was an undignified and completely undeserved end for the American, who has been deeply impressive since he stopped drinking and concentrated on racing. Hopkins had competed in three different series on three consecutive weekends, racing as a World Superbike wildcard at Silverstone and scoring pole and a couple of top ten finishes, then getting a podium at the Brands Hatch BSB triple header last weekend, before coming to Brno and posting a very decent pace on the Rizla Suzuki MotoGP machine. What Hopkins has proved over the past 6 months is that he deserves a second chance at MotoGP, and the way things look at the moment, that's not entirely out of the question.

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2011 Brno MotoGP Friday Round Up - On Lap Records, Testing, New Bridgestones, And Motegi

The summer break officially ended at 9:15am this morning, when the peace which reigned in the wooded Moravian hills was split asunder by the crackle of a pack of howling 125cc two strokes. Though the wooded Moravian hills are wonderful when silent, the addition of racing motorcycles offered a vast improvement, as many of the people who have already crowded the paddock and track agreed.

Fastest man of the day is Dani Pedrosa, the Repsol Honda rider untouchable in the morning, smashing the race lap record and getting within a couple of tenths of the pole record straight off the bat. Pedrosa was a tenth slower in the afternoon, allowing his teammate Casey Stoner to close the gap, from just under a second to less than four tenths. But the break has done Pedrosa good. Having spent the period leading up to Laguna Seca either in hospital, at the physiotherapists or at the racetrack, having a mental break had made a big difference.

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2011 Brno MotoGP Thursday Round Up: On Tires, Motegi, The 1000s, And Horsepower Hill

There's a palpable sense of excitement in the MotoGP paddock now that it has once again reconvened in Brno. The riders love the track - Stoner put it in his top 3, along with Mugello and Phillip Island - and the region, and most have been off their bikes for long enough that they are starting to get antsy again. Nicky Hayden put it best: "I like racing motorcycles, so it's not like I was looking forward to the break," the American said, though he was looking a lot more relaxed than the last time I saw him at the Sachsenring.

There are two more factors adding to the excitement. One is the fact that it looks like being a warm and dry weekend, with rain only falling after 5pm, once the riders have cleared the track. After a season plagued with cold and damp conditions, a dry weekend is just what the riders have been crying out for. The good weather also comes as the tire regulations have been changed, Bridgestone acquiescing to the riders' requests for more tires and more choice. They will now have three different front tires to choose from instead of two, and they will also have a choice in the allocation of rear tires.

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2011 Brno MotoGP Wednesday Round Up - The Race, The 1000s, And Silly Season

MotoGP is back from its summer break, and though the fans only had to face two weekends without the series - and one of those saw a World Superbike event - they are breathing a collective sigh of relief that the Four Aliens and their mortal cohorts are back on track once again. And with good reason: Brno is a fantastic circuit, both in terms of layout and location; the wide track and series of left-right and right-left combinations offer a lot of different lines and passing opportunities - even for 800cc MotoGP machines - and the steep wooded hills of Moravia make for great viewing and some tough challenges.

As if to reward us for our patience, the Brno MotoGP round offers very rich pickings indeed. For Sunday's race is just one dish from the smorgasbord of intrigue and interest that is likely to be forthcoming. There is also Monday's test, the first public appearance of Honda's and Yamaha's 1000cc bikes - though not of the Ducati, more of which later - a much-anticipated event. Then there's Silly Season: Brno is traditionally the point at which teams start making their plans more concrete, and contract conversations stop being quite so casual.

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The Trouble With The Ducati Desmosedici: An Exhaustive Analysis

Valentino Rossi's move to Ducati was a match made in marketing heaven, the combined selling power of the world's most famous motorcycle racer and the world's most iconic motorcycle brand would surely prove to be a veritable sales steamroller. Casey Stoner had already proven that the bike was capable of winning races - though it clearly had a problem with the front end - and with a seven-time MotoGP champion and the crew that helped him win those titles, success would be quick to come.

If sales of merchandise are anything to go by, then the move was definitely a success, MotoGP circuits coloring red as Rossi fans stocked up on Ducati gear, the red still tinged with Rossi's traditional yellow. But a look at the results sheets tells a different story altogether. Though the Italian is 5th in the championship standings (and just 2 points off 4th), Rossi has consistently crossed the finish line between 25 and 30 seconds after the winner took the checkered flag. So far, Rossi has taken just a single podium - arguably gifted to him, with Dani Pedrosa being taken out by Marco Simoncelli, and then Simoncelli being punished with a ride-through - and has found himself in the battle for 5th or 6th. By any measure, Rossi's move to Ducati must be counted a disaster, the combination a massive disappointment to fans, followers and even fellow riders.

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