Archive - Jul 2009
The grids for MotoGP have been falling steadily since the start of the four-stroke era, but that process has accelerated since the introduction of the 800cc bikes. Every year, the grids have become thinner, any upward trend proving tragically all too temporary, as we saw with the withdrawal of Kawasaki at the start of the season, and later Sete Gibernau's Grupo Francisco Hernando team pulling out.
The reasons for this are simple and well-known: MotoGP has simply become too expensive. The cost of running a satellite team with a pair of bikes is around the 7-8 million euro mark, and even then, you first have to persuade a manufacturer to supply the bikes, something the manufacturers have not proven to be keen to do. A range of plans have been drawn up to counter the problems, and proposals are on the table to drastically cut costs, including a proposal from the manufacturers to lease just engines at a much more affordable price than the 1.7 million euros that a pair of bikes currently costs.
But the MotoGP grid could be set to expand in 2010, even without additional help from the manufacturers. The French website Moto Caradisiac is reporting that the former World Supersport team Gil Motor Sport will be fielding two riders in MotoGP next year, together with technical support from Eskil Suter's Suter Racing Technology company. The two rider team, to be run by Gil Motor Sport's boss and French eccentric Jean Christophe Ponsson, will be using bikes produced by Suter and based on Ilmor's jewel-like X3 power plant.
The news is confirmed by a statement on the Gil Motor Sport website, which reads:
Of the big three Hot Young Things looking to enter MotoGP next year, only the fate of one of them is already settled. Marco Simoncelli has signed a deal to ride for Gresini Honda in MotoGP in 2010, while the futures of 250cc star Alvaro Bautista and World Superbike sensation Ben Spies have yet to be decided. Spies future is not entirely in his own hands, depending in part as it does on where Jorge Lorenzo decides to ride next season, leaving Alvaro Bautista as the next candidate to decide where he will be riding in 2010.
According to the Spanish media, that decision is now less than a couple of weeks away. After the British Grand Prix at Donington, Bautista told the press that he would be taking the next couple of weeks to make up his mind on where he will be riding next year. The main and most obvious candidate is the new Aspar MotoGP team due to be started next season, Jorge Martinez finally getting his wish to run teams in all three classes, with Ducati having assigned Sete Gibernau's old bike to the Aspar team for 2010.
This option has an obvious benefit and an obvious downside. The benefit is that Bautista's contract would not be with Aspar, but directly with Ducati Corse, putting the Spaniard in line to move up to the factory Ducati slot, should he prove able to ride the Ducati Desmosedici to its full potential. And therein lies the danger: So far, no one other than Casey Stoner has proven capable of doing so week in, week out.
The FIM today announced the provisional calendar for the 2010 MotoGP season. The provisional calendar looks broadly similar to this year, but there are a few key changes. Firstly, the British Grand Prix, now moved to Silverstone, is much earlier than its counterpart at Donington, moved up over a month to early June. This disrupts the traditional pairing of the Italian and Catalunya Grand Prix, with the Barcelona round being put back to early July, instead of the first or second weekend after the Mugello round.
One interesting point to note is the inclusion of a "reserve circuit". After the effects of the financial crisis, together with permit problems, meant that Balatonring circuit was not completed in time for the planned race in the middle of September this year, the FIM and Dorna have wisely elected to have a backup plan, in case the situation repeats itself. That is an entirely realistic prospect, as the Balatonring circuit continues to be dogged by problems.
Should the series need to switch to the reserve circuit, then it would mean that Spain would see four Grand Prix run on its soil. The Motorland Aragon Circuit is a brand new track which has been built near Alcañiz, Aragon, Spain, a couple of hundred kilometers inland from Barcelona. The circuit is trying to attract both Formula One and MotoGP, though whether the Spanish economy is strong enough to sustain four MotoGP rounds has to be in doubt.
Provisional 2010 MotoGP Calendar
One of the most remarkable transformations this year has been Randy de Puniet's change from crash test dummy to fast, consistent finisher. MotoGPMatters was fascinated by this change, so we caught up with de Puniet in LCR Honda's rather splendid hospitality unit.
MotoGPMatters: Last year, you got 61 points, and after just 9 races you're already up to 58 points this season (this was before RDP's podium at Donington). How do you explain that?
Randy de Puniet: Last year I had many crashes during the race and the practice, and I decided to change many things at the end of the season, and we also changed the tire. I think for me this was a good step. I feel more confident with the Bridgestone front tire. That's why I have better results and less crashes this year. Also, I know the bike and the team better, because it's my second year in this team. I think I've had a good season so far at this moment.
MGPM: Does your style suit the Bridgestone front more than the Michelin front? Is this from a 250 riding style?
RdP: The problem was not that Michelin was worse than Bridgestone, the problem was that with Michelin it was impossible to find the limit. Many times when I was in the gravel, I say "why did I crash?" Many times, many times. With the Bridgestone you have a better contact feeling and you know where you are. That's why I think this is better for me.
MGPM: So you know when you're almost at the limit?
MGPM: Do you think this is a little like Casey Stoner in his first year on the LCR with the Michelins, when he had lots of front end crashes. As soon as he gets on the Bridgestones, he stops crashing.
RdP: Maybe, maybe.
MGPM: You also changed your trainer at the end of the season as well. Why, and how did that affect you?
Ducati riders Nicky Hayden and Casey Stoner spoke to the press after the race at Donington, explaining their decision to use wet tires for the race. Below is a transcript of what they told the press:
Nicky Hayden: I hadn't won a race in three years, I thought, you know what, I've got nothing to lose, why not roll the dice. I knew the chances were probably a little bit against me, but this track can get slick quick. And I mean, it was spitting rain. On the first lap, second lap, all I needed is what we have now [it's raining more heavily by now, Ed.]. It was a gamble that I took, we took, it was my choice, though. I'll take the responsibility.
Livio Suppo: As I said before, there's no blaming. We share the good, we share the bad, right. Sometimes we do mistakes, sometimes the rider makes mistakes, but I underline, if there's a safety issue, I will never oblige a rider [to make a decision].
Q: When did you realize it wasn't go to go your way?
Result and summary of the MotoGP race at Donington:
Results of World Superbikes race 2 at Brno:
Results and summary of the 250cc race at Donington:
Results and summary of the 125cc race at Donington: