Though the gift-giving season may be past, the motorcycle racing season is still a long way off. To help ease the wait, and to aid you in planning your life around the MotoGP and World Superbike racing series, as befits a true race fan, you can still get your hands on one of our beautiful 2010 Motorcycle Racing Calendars. With January one quarter gone, you will have missed eight days of looking at Scott Jones' beautiful action shot of Colin Edwards, but February's stunning shot of Valentino Rossi, brakes lit up at Qatar, should more than compensate you for that, along with 10 other fantastic photos and a double-page spread of the 2009 World Champion Rossi.
As the New Year begins, we approach the final instalments of our trip down memory lane, and what a memory it was! The first lot of photos from Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a truly remarkable facility, steeped in history unlike almost any other racetrack I have visited. Only Monza comes close, both places being haunted by racing's rich past. More to come tomorrow.
If you enjoyed the previous instalments of photos from the German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring, you'll love the final collection from Scott Jones. If you want more after that, you'll have to wait until Donington, like the rest of us.
The first batch of images are in from Scott Jones, here at the Sachsenring, and once again, they are real gems. There'll be plenty more to come over the next few days.
The three hot properties all tipped to make the jump up to MotoGP next season are making the established riders nervous. Most of the worry has so far been concentrated in the Tech 3 Yamaha garage, with both the American World Superbike rider Ben Spies and the Italian 250 champion Marco Simoncelli being expected to be filling seats there next year. But at least one of either Colin Edwards and James Toseland may be able to sleep a little easier this weekend, as the competition may not be as fierce as they had feared.
The Italian sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport is reporting that far from going to Yamaha, Marco Simoncelli has signed a two-year contract with Honda to ride in MotoGP. With the new rule preventing rookies from going straight to a factory team, Simoncelli would have to spend 2010 with the Gresini Honda team, presumably as the recipient of Toni Elias' factory-spec RC212V. For 2011, Simoncelli could then make the step up to the full factory Repsol Honda team, if his results are good enough.
Such a move seems to be entirely logical, but it remains a risk. Since the switch to the 800cc formula, Honda has failed to dominate, as they did with the 990s and the 500cc bikes before that. The victims of these problems have been the riders on the satellite teams, with HRC understandably concentrating all their efforts on the factory teams to the detriment of the satellite riders. This year, Toni Elias has suffered exactly the same fate, with the Gresini team yet to receive updated parts for his ostensibly factory-spec Honda. If Honda finds itself in the same position again next year, there are no guarantees that Simoncelli coud suffer exactly the same fate.
It's an open secret that MotoGP could see another wave of rookies enter the class in 2010. The two main protagonists in the 250 championship, Alvaro Bautista and Marco Simoncelli, are both widely expected to go to MotoGP, while American World Superbike sensation Ben Spies has been linked with MotoGP, but has publicly been keeping all his options open.
While many people feel that Marco Simoncelli's fine, imposed for forcing Alvaro Bautista off the track in a reckless pass, was less than surprising, the protagonist himself is less than impressed. According to the Spanish sports daily AS.com, the Italian feels that the punishment was totally unjustified, and a product of the double standards applied in the 250 class.
"The punishment is completely unfair," Simoncelli said, "When the Spanish riders do this kind of thing, nothing ever happens." Speaking in the press room at Mugello, the Italian then went on to sum up a string of maneuvers pulled by Bautista, Alex Debon and Hector Barbera which disadvantaged others yet went unpunished. "The rules should be applied equally to everyone, and today's punishment was unfair," Simoncelli added.
The 250cc race at Mugello turned into the usual thriller, with close-fought racing all the way to the flag. The passes were mostly the kind of robust hooliganism we have come to expect from the 250 class, but one move in particular went a little too far. On lap 11, while dicing for the lead with Alvaro Bautista, Marco Simoncelli exited Casanova and tried to dive up the inside of Bautista going into the Savelli corner. It was a move that was never going to be successful, but it didn't prevent him from trying the move anyway.
As Bautista cut back towards the apex of Savelli, he found Simoncelli right in his blind spot, and Bautista smashed into Simoncelli's fairing. Even worse, the collision had unbalanced both riders, and they both ran wide and off into the gravel, handing the lead of the race over to Mattia Pasini, Simoncelli rejoining 5 seconds behind Pasini, and Bautista over 9 seconds behind the leader. Both men were lucky not to have fallen, a testament to their skill and a reward for all the training both men do on motocross bikes.
The incident was serious enough for Race Direction to decide immediately to investigate the matter, and after hearing testimony from the two riders, Race Direction decided to punish Marco Simoncelli with a fine and by issuing the Italian with a warning, meaning that if he tries anything like this again, he could face suspension for one or more races.
The incident does little for Simoncelli's repuation at Mugello. Last year, the Italian swerved violently down the front straight, causing Hector Barbera to clip Simoncelli's fairing with his front brake, catapulting the Spaniard up the straight at over 250 km/h. Simoncelli received a warning for that incident too, and a year later, he is punished for a similarly harebrained move. Perhaps this time Simoncelli will have learned his lesson.
The text of the decision issued by the FIM is displayed below:
The FIM today announced the official number of entries for the Moto2 class, and the numbers are stunning: 47 teams submitted entries, for a total of 91 riders. Any worries about a lack of entries have now been completely discarded, the huge numbers offering Dorna and the FIM an embarrassment of riches.
The press release from the FIM also offered one interesting detail: All of the entries submitted were for Moto2 machines, with the exception of one two-rider team. That team is believed to be Gilera, if reports over at GPOne.com are correct.
After the cold drizzle of Le Mans, MotoGP hit Mugello under a sweltering Tuscan sun. The heat met with no complaints, however, as everyone in the paddock is sick to death of the wet weather which seems to follow them wherever they go.
As the bikes took to the track, Valentino Rossi did his best Casey Stoner impression, being fastest out of the gate, and staying on top for the first 20 minutes of the session. At that point, the rest of the Fantastic Four started to catch up, and leapfrogged each other for the lead. First Casey Stoner took the top spot, then with 32 minutes left Jorge Lorenzo took back the fastest time for the Fiat Yamaha team, only for Stoner to take it back again 5 minutes later.
With a quarter of the session left, Valentino Rossi reasserted himself atop the timesheets as Master of Mugello, but his team mate refused to be impressed. The young Spaniard took top spot again with 11 minutes to go, smashing the race lap record in the process and cracking into the 1'49s. Lorenzo then continued to set a string of lightning fast laps, eventually running three laps inside the 1'49s.
Valentino Rossi was left down in 2nd spot, just under 2/10ths off his Fiat Yamaha team mate, but capable of about the same kind of race pace. If The Doctor planned a spot of psychological warfare at Mugello, by coming out fast and trying to dominate practice, he ended up hoist by his own petard, coming up against a truly remarkable Jorge Lorenzo. But Rossi always has something special at the Tuscan track, so no doubt he'll be even faster tomorrow.