The Moto2 class produces a huge dilemma for the organizers of the MotoGP championship. The huge entry field has proven to cause major problems at the start, with multiple-rider pile ups in the first corner a firm fixture during Moto2 races. And yet the class has been extremely popular, producing close, exciting racing, and throwing up plenty of surprise contenders.
The class has also functioned extremely well as a proving ground for the future of MotoGP, shaking out the best of the chassis manufacturers and priming them for the new MotoGP formula in 2012, which will see heavily modified production engines in prototype chassis compete against factory prototypes. Specialist engineering outfits around the world, such as British firm FTR and the Swiss-based Suter, have seized the opportunity of building Moto2 chassis and are pondering the lessons learned when it comes to working on chassis for MotoGP bikes. Moto2 has done much the same for the teams and team personnel, separating the goats from the sheep and readying them to take on running a 2012 MotoGP production prototype when the rules change.
The paddock's response to the leniency of the punishment for Toni Elias and the Gresini Moto2 team has been one of puzzlement. After all, for testing during the summer break, a period during which all testing is prohibited, Elias was only punished by being excluded from a single session, and the team handed a 3000 euro fine. That, some said, was a pretty good price to pay: an affordable fine and the loss of 20 laps on a crowded track against some 90 uninterrupted laps on an empty circuit. Such a light penalty might set a precedent, and speculation has been rife that others could follow in Gresini's footsteps.
One of the first names to be suggested as likely to benefit from extra testing was the Rizla Suzuki squad of Loris Capirossi and Alvaro Bautista. The Suzuki GSV-R is suffering from a serious lack of development this year, and could really benefit from extra testing time. Suzuki team boss Paul Denning has previously been rumored to be considering extra testing, and so MotoMatters.com caught up with the Suzuki boss to get his opinion of the punishment for Elias.
Moto2 championship leader Toni Elias' weekend at Brno has gotten off to a rather poor start. The Gresini Moto2 rider has been punished for testing the Moriwaki Moto2 bike at Misano last weekend. Race Direction has ruled that the test was against the rules - as it was a private test at a circuit on the calendar during the official summer break - and has handed the team a 3000 euro fine, and banned the Spaniard from taking part in Friday's first session of free practice at Brno.
The Gresini team did not lodge an appeal, accepting full responsibility for a clear error of judgement. The team had not read the rules carefully enough, and had not thought about the possible ramifications of the test. With Elias sitting on a comfortable 42-point lead over 2nd place man Thomas Luthi, Elias will be happy to accept just a fine and being forced to miss a single session of practice.
Over the course of the year, the press relations people at two of the venues hosting international motorcycle racing in the US - Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Miller Motorsports Park - have hosted some fascinating teleconferences with the stars of the MotoGP and World Superbike series. Yesterday, it was the turn of Indy, and in the capable hands of IMS' communications manager Paul Kelly, the press got a chance to talk to the youngest two of the Hayden brothers, Nicky and Roger Lee. Obviously, much of the talk was about their recent experiences at the Red Bull US GP at Laguna Seca, but Nicky and Roger also got a chance to talk about a few other subjects as well: Rog talked about his upcoming Moto2 ride at the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on August 28th, while Nicky talked about the strength of racing in Owensboro, Kentucky, and how important Indy is as a home race. Here's the transcript:
MODERATOR: Welcome everyone to this teleconference for the Red Bull Indianapolis GP. Our guests are two of the prominent members of the first family of American motorcycle racing, the Haydens of Owensboro, Ky. Nicky and Roger Lee Hayden. A little bit of background on both.
Just a few days before the season is about to begin, and the Moto2 class is to take to the track for the very first time, a new provisional entry list for Moto2 has been issued by the FIM. The new list contains two changes, one minor (Stefan Bradl changing his number from 4 to 65), and one major. The big change is the dropping of Belgian rider Vincent Lonbois by the Marc VDS Racing team, which is also fielding British rider Scott Redding, and his replacement with former 125 and 250 star Hector Faubel.
Faubel had originally been signed to ride for the SAG team alongside Ratthapark Wilairot, but financial differences left the Spaniard out in the cold. Faubel then looked to the 125cc class, where he was lined up to take a third Aspar bike alongside Bradley Smith and Nico Terol, but that too foundered on a lack of funds. Faubel has finally found a home with the Marc VDS Racing team run by former Kawasaki MotoGP manager Michael Bartholemy, but this has come at the cost of Bartholemy's compatriot Lonbois.
The entry list for Moto2 still carries the "Provisional" tag, though few changes are likely in the 6 days before the bikes finally hit the track at Qatar. After that, though, there could well be more changes.
Moto2 entry list:
Almost everything about Moto2 is new: A new formula, new bikes, new riders - at least, a significant number of new riders. To introduce all this novelty to our readers, and give them a peek into the new series, here's a selection of photos taken at the Moto2 at Jerez, which took place this weekend. All photos courtesy and copyright of Honda Pro Images:
At the end of the three days of testing for the Moto2 class at Jerez, Forward Racing's Claudio Corti comes away at the top of the timesheets. The Italian, riding a Suter for the former Hayate team ended the final day as the fastest rider, just a fraction ahead of the time Toni Elias set on Saturday. Elias himself dominated much of the test, but a nasty crash in the final session saw the Gresini rider forced off track between turns 1 and 2 when a much slower 125cc rider blocked Elias' line, leaving him no choice but to hit the deck. Elias was immediately flown back to his hometown of Barcelona to undergo medical examination and and treatment if necessary. Elias has a suspected fracture of his left hand, as well as heavy bruising to his left hand and left foot. The Gresini rider is expected to be fit enough to race in the season opener at Qatar.
Tech 3's Yuki Takahashi was the fastest man on the second day of testing for the Moto2 class at Jerez, just squeaking ahead of Marc VDS Racing's Scott Redding and Ant West on the MZ. Takahashi's time was half a second slower than yesterday's fastest man Toni Elias, who today was just 5th fastest and three quarters of a second slower than his time from Saturday.
So far, this final Moto2 test has shown how close the field has become in the class, and shaken up the list of favorites a little. The top 20 riders are all within a second of each other, with 20th place man Karel Abraham just 0.938 behind Takahashi. Kenny Noyes, the American who has been so fast in the earlier tests is now down the order in 12th, though still only half a second off the fastest time at Jerez, while Scott Redding had been languishing near the bottom of the timesheets in previous tests, and has now leaped up into 2nd spot. Testing concludes tomorrow.
Results from the first day of testing for the Moto2 class at Jerez, courtesy of Bikeracing.it: