Ant West

2011 Jerez MotoGP Race Day Round Up: The Feeding Frenzy

I'm sure I can take a pretty good guess at what you'd all like me to write about, but with your permission, I'll come to that in a minute. Valentino Rossi's excessively optimistic dive up the inside of Casey Stoner, and the ensuing fallout in its many varied forms will generate many millions of words in the future. It may even end up being the decisive moment in the championship, though we won't know that until November. But that crash will overshadow a few stories which deserve a little limelight of their own.

The rain at Jerez was the worst kind, the kind that makes the track greasy and wet, without providing a nice layer of water to help keep tires cool. The rain started early, a few spots appearing at around 8am, becoming gradually heavier over the course of the day, only stopping once the racing was done.

The conditions made the already slippery track absolutely treacherous, and though it produced a bizarre crashfest spectacular, those conditions also revealed an intriguing insight into the art of motorcycle racing. Grip was minimal, tires - especially the soft-compound Bridgestone wets - ran hot and stripped rubber, and mistakes and arrogance were punished mercilessly, intelligence, tire management and racecraft rewarded all the more.

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2011 MotoGP Qatar Day 3 Round Up - Get Ready To Rumble

The first race of the season hasn't even happened yet, but the Honda story is already starting to get old. The headlines are writing themselves, the only thing that an editor has to do at the moment is cast a cursory glance over the wording to check whether it was Casey Stoner or Dani Pedrosa who spotted the fastest time.

Despite the disparity with the rest of the field, qualifying actually turned into a pretty exciting spectacle. It was a race of two classes - the two lead Repsols matching each other's times, while the rest of the field battled valiantly for the rest of the places on the two front rows, but it still gave the viewers something to get engrossed in.

Stoner's 1'54.137 is a spectacular improvement over last year, cutting the best part of a second off his pole time from 2010. And it was the first time we got to see Stoner really pushing, starting to sling the Repsol Honda around like he used to muscle the Marlboro Ducati around in 2010. He admitted in the press conference that he had been a lot closer to the limit than he had been so far during practice, saying he had even managed to get close to tucking the front at one point. The bad news - at least for the competition - was that he had not been that comfortable on the softer tires, and felt he had better pace on the harder race tires.

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2011 MotoGP Qatar Day 2 Round Up - Magic Cogs

A long time ago, when I worked at a software company, we had a timekeeping system that consumed hours of our productive time as we tried to keep track of the projects we had worked on every week. One member of our team was smarter than the rest of us, however. He figured he knew roughly what projects he would be working on for the next couple of months, and would fill in his timesheets about 6 weeks in advance. He saved himself a whole heap of time doing that, while we struggled.

Compare and contrast the lot of a MotoGP headline writer. The way things are looking so far, we could fill in the headlines for all of the practice sessions and races for the next three or four MotoGP rounds well in advance, and get about 90% of them absolutely spot on. Put the following words in any order: Stoner, Repsol Honda, Pedrosa, Dominate, Clean Sweep. Throw in a couple of conjunctions, and you are set to go for quite some time.

It goes without saying that the Honda camp are happy, with both Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa half a second ahead of the rest. Stoner confessed to having spent some time watching videos from the 1997, 1998 and 1999 seasons, in which Mick Doohan, Alex Criville and Tady Okada battled all year long for the championship aboard Repsol Hondas. There was even a Yamaha fly in the ointment, in the shape of Max Biaggi, Jorge Lorenzo's hero as a child.

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Another Moto2 Chassis Switch: MZ To Swap To FTR Chassis For 2011?

Prior to the 2010 season, the Moto2 class spawned a huge burst of creativity, with 13 chassis builders supplying teams for the inaugural season. But by the combined processes of attrition and fear of not having what someone else had, that number had been whittled away, and the provisional entry list for the 2011 season featured just 7 chassis.

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Latest 2011 Moto2 Line-Up: West, Talmacsi, Fores All Confirmed

The Moto2 rider line-up for 2011 is slowly starting to take something resembling its final shape, with more and more riders signing contracts to ride next year. Kenan Sofuoglu's signing for the Technomag CIP squad provided one catalyst, provoking a spate of moves to secure the known quantities for next season at the Valencia test. The prime mover in that chase was the team that Sofuoglu turned down, with Gresini securing former Tech 3 rider Yuki Takahashi to take the place of the departing Moto2 champion Toni Elias, with Sofuoglu's former Ten Kate Honda World Supersport teammate Michele Pirro taking the second seat in the biggest team in Moto2.

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