The earthquake and ensuing disaster that devastated Japan's northeast coast has weighed heavy on the hearts of everyone in the MotoGP paddock. With so many factories and suppliers based in Japan, everybody in the paddock knows at least one person who was affected in one way or another. The minute's silence before the start of the MotoGP season opener at Qatar was just one expression of their sympathy, and it was a moment which touched the Japanese members of the paddock very deeply.
Press releases from the teams after the MotoGP race at Qatar:
Casey Stoner keeps reigning in Qatar
Final line up for the 2011 MotoGP season:
Here at MotoMatters.com, we have never been keen on posting press releases without any commentary to explain the background to them. But the circumstances of the first MotoGP test of the 2011 season at Valencia are so extraordinary - Valentino Rossi's long-awaited Ducati debut, for example, as well as the first outing for Casey Stoner on the Honda - that we are prepared to make an exception. Here are all today's press releases, featuring expertly massaged opinions and heavily doctored ride quotes:
LORENZO AND SPIES FIRST AND THIRD AT VALENCIA TEST
Preparations for next year are starting to get into gear, with testing for 2011 already underway. After wrapping up his World Superbike season, Cal Crutchlow got his first outing on Yamaha's MotoGP bike at the Fukuroi test track in Japan, as he got ready to move into the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha squad for 2011. The elements did not look kindly on Crutchlow, however, most of the test taking place in the wet, though the young Briton also got a few laps in under relatively dry conditions. Crutchlow will be hoping for better conditions at Valencia, for the first official outing on the Yamaha M1. He will not be alone, as the Valencia post-race test will also see Valentino Rossi's first outing on the Ducati and Casey Stoner's first test on the Honda.
The question of who would be partnering Cal Crutchlow at Herve Poncharal's Monster Tech 3 Yamaha squad next season has been exercising several minds, not least that of Poncharal himself. As was demonstrated so vividly during the search for a replacement for Valentino Rossi during his absence through injury, there are worryingly few candidates to come into MotoGP and be competitive quickly. With Cal Crutchlow joining the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team for 2011 as a rookie from World Superbikes, having someone who knows both the tracks and preferably the bikes is imperative for Poncharal's team.
Since Cal Crutchlow announced that he will be moving to MotoGP for 2011, to race with the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team, the old question of whether World Superbike riders can be fast on a MotoGP bike has raised its head. Ben Spies has certainly shown that he has been capable of being competitive since switching to MotoGP, but many people believe that this is down to Spies' exceptional talent, which he so clearly demonstrated by winning the World Superbike title at his first attempt, racing on tracks he had never seen before.
The comparisons with Spies are inevitable, as Crutchlow struggles on the bike that Spies was so dominant on, with both fans and parts of the media voicing their belief that Crutchlow has not yet shown that he deserves a shot in MotoGP. Crutchlow's former manager, and the man who helped him win the World Supersport title at his first attempt, disagrees.
Moderator: Good morning, everybody. I'm John Gardner, the media manager for Miller Motorsports Park, and we're back for another teleconference with the riders in the HANNspree Superbike World Championship. Today we're pleased to have with us Cal Crutchlow, who rides the No. 35 Yamaha YZF R1 for the Yamaha Sterilgarda team. Cal, of course, won both ends of his home race in Silverstone last month, he's been on the podium seven times this season and has five poles. In 2009, he was the World Supersport Champion before graduating to the Yamaha World Superbike team this year. He is currently fifth in the championship with 217 points behind Max Biaggi with 397, Leon Haslam with 339, Jonathan Rea with 288 and Carlos Checa with 224 heading into the penultimate race of the season at Imola on the 26th of this month. As you all probably know, Cal has been chosen to move up to the Monster Energy Tech 3 MotoGP Team for next year, so we have quite a bit to talk about. Cal, welcome and we thank you for being here with us today.
Cal Crutchlow: Thank you very much. Thanks for inviting me along.
Moderator: So here we are. We've got two rounds left to go in the season, four races total. You are fifth and you're just about seven points behind Checa. What are your objectives for the remainder of this season?
Cal Crutchlow: Well, I suppose I always said moving into World Superbike was going to be difficult, so to finish in the top six this year was my plan. And I exceeded my expectation and in the standings am fifth, and actually shaved seven points off fourth. I hope to grab that fourth in the championship I suppose in the last four races. It's going to be difficult. Carlos Checa is a MotoGP winner and World Superbike race winner. And the boys in the front are not going slow this year, so if I can grab fourth, I'll be ecstatic and it will be good to move into MotoGP on good terms and holding my head high, I suppose.
Motorcycle racing paddocks have never been good at keeping secrets, but this year seems to be particularly bad. As predicted by MotoMatters.com on Thursday, the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team have confirmed that Cal Crutchlow will be riding their MotoGP bike next year. Crutchlow and Tech 3 have agreed a two-year deal for 2011 and 2012, giving Crutchlow a chance to get accustomed to MotoGP machinery without the immediate pressure to perform. The switch back to 1000cc for 2012 should also make Crutchlow's job in his second year a little bit easier, the bikes expected to be a little more like the Sterilgarda Yamaha World Superbike he has raced this season.
Below is the press release from Tech 3:
Cal Crutchlow joins Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team