Estoril, Portugal

MotoGP Engine Usage Analysis Post Assen: Honda Leads, Yamaha Struggles, Ducati In Trouble

With seven races of the season gone, we can start to draw some conclusions from the engine allocation lists provided by the teams so far. Below is a factory-by-factory rundown of the engine situation, together with a table of the engine usage so far.  


The story of Ducati's engines is a tale in two parts: the present, represented by the satellite machines; and the future, represented by the factory riders of Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi. 

The engine usage of the satellite teams shows that Ducati learned its lessons from last year and are producing pretty solid satellite engines. All of the satellite riders are just about right on schedule, with all of them having taken 3 engines each, and all 3 of those engines active. The only question mark hangs over Hector Barbera's #1 engine, which has 31 sessions on it and has not seen action since Silverstone. 

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Mike Leitner Interview: "You Never Hear Dani Complaining He Is Too Small"

The weight controversy rumbles on in MotoGP, with the taller and heavier riders - most notably Marco Simoncelli - complaining about the unfair advantages that lighter riders have. Our earlier analysis suggested that if such an advantage did exist, it was hard to see it in the results the riders had obtained, despite the intuitively obvious advantage that lighter weight would appear to convey. That in itself suggested that any advantages that a smaller, lighter rider may have are offset by the disadvantages, and so at Estoril, we went in search of answers.

The obvious place to start when looking for answers as to whether lighter riders have an advantage or a disadvantage is the crew chief of the lightest rider on the grid, Mike Leitner of the Repsol Honda team, chief mechanic to Dani Pedrosa. We spent fifteen minutes at Estoril questioning him about the reality behind being a lighter rider in MotoGP, and his answers were very enlightening. Here's what Leitner had to say.

MotoMatters: There's been a lot of talk recently about rider weight and the advantages that lighter riders, with Marco Simoncelli complaining that Dani has an advantage in acceleration because he is lighter. Do you think that lighter riders have an advantage?

Mike Leitner: I think we should start by speaking generally. I think in MotoGP we are looking mainly for traction. I think that one big issue for bikes with 250 horsepower is to put the power on the ground. So for me, I would wish Dani is 15 cm taller and I would wish he is 10 kilos heavier!

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Rossi Claims Stoner "Obstructed" Him At Estoril Test

There was clearly something very nasty in the water at Estoril. For almost as soon as the riders rolled into the paddock in Portugal, the atmosphere soured badly, with verbal sparring matches breaking out between Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner, and Jorge Lorenzo and Marco Simoncelli. Rossi and Stoner clashed over the crash at Jerez, when the Italian accidentally took out the Honda man in a crash at turn 1. Lorenzo and Simoncelli, in turn, clashed over Lorenzo's accusations that Simoncelli was a dangerous rider, a claim refuted by the Gresini Honda rider.

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2011 Estoril Moto2 And 125 Round Up - On Too Little Talent, And Too Much Talent

Unsurprisingly, most of the attention this weekend went to the intrigues and infighting which characterized the MotoGP class. But while all eyes were on MotoGP, there were a couple of support races going on, and there was plenty to talk about in those classes as well.

The least interesting, or rather, the least surprising, was Nico Terol's crushing victory in the 125cc class, the Bankia Aspar rider's third win in a row in the third race of the season. To say that Terol is dominating the season would be like suggesting that Osama bin Laden was not generally regarded as having liberal views on religious tolerance. The Spaniard has rarely been off the top of the timesheets this year, commonly topping practice by as much as a second. The races have been even more blatantly unbalanced, Terol usually backing off with a comfortable lead after just one-third distance.

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2011 Estoril Post-Race MotoGP Test Roundup - On Hindsight, Updates And Insults

Hindsight, as they say, is always 20/20, and MotoGP tests following a race usually tend to bear this out. Teams suddenly find the time to try the setup changes they had figured out over the weekend but never quite got round to making to the bike to use in the race.

A case in point was Cal Crutchlow, who had had a moderately successful race on Sunday, coming home on Sunday. Crutchlow himself was far from pleased, however; the team were using a 15mm shorter wheelbase on Crutchlow's M1 than on any of the other Yamahas, intending to try a longer wheelbase during warmup on Sunday. The wet track on Sunday morning put a stop to this, so when Crutchlow got a chance to try the bike on Monday with the longer wheelbase, the fact that he rocketed to the sharp end of the timesheets confirmed two things: One, that the revised setup was working; and two, that Crutchlow could be troubling the front group sooner rather than later. Crutchlow's times on Monday were downright impressive, now all he has to do is ensure the team get the setup right on Sunday, and not on the day after at the test.

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2011 Estoril MotoGP Race And QP vs Test Times Comparison

Though the raw times themselves from the test provide interesting data, comparing the test times to the times set during the race weekend make for an educational exercise. Comparing the best test time to the times set during free practice and the race, it was Cal Crutchlow who made the biggest improvement, with Marco Simoncelli the rider showing the second-best improvement. Jorge Lorenzo improved almost as much as Simoncelli, with Casey Stoner, Ben Spies, Nicky Hayden and Alvaro Bautista bettering their times by over a second.

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