Dani Pedrosa

More Images From Day 1 At Donington

Another report and some more fantastic photos from our man on the ground Scott Jones of Turn2Photography. Scott is currently attending the British Grand Prix at Donington Park as a spectator, as official accreditation from Dorna is virtually impossible to come by. Here's Scott's view of the first day of qualifying at Donington:

Notes from Donington

Friday seemed like last year’s Saturday in terms of the number of fans in attendance, according to a friend who chalked up the impressive workday crowd to James Toseland’s popularity at his home GP. We overheard one child tell a friend he met at the track that his mum had phoned his school to say he had been vomiting all night and had to stay home, at which point she piled him into the car and headed for the races. Toseland’s name and number 52 dominate the apparel for sale, and from the shirts and hats appearing among the crowd it is hard to say who is currently more popular: Rossi or Toseland.

Rossi seems to be respecting Toseland’s stature on home turf, playing less to the crowd than he usually does on neutral territory. He seemed focused on his lap times, a man at the office, so perhaps he was more worried about Stoner’s lap times than he was his popularity in Britain.

Marco Melandri seems as at sea as ever. We watched the morning practice at the Foggy Esses, and more times than not, or so it seemed, Melandri struggled to find his braking point, often sailing in too hot and running the lefthander deep, having to look over his shoulder to see if his path back onto the racing line would encumber other riders.
 

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Air At Last: Hayden Gets Air Valve Engine For Donington

MotoGP news sites everywhere will be having to work a little bit harder from this Sunday: After months and months of speculation, HRC has finally announced that Nicky Hayden will give Honda's new pneumatic valve engine its first official outing at Donington Park this weekend. According to Mike Nicks at Crash.net, Hayden will only have the air valve engine at his disposal, and will not be using the steel spring power plant at all at the British Grand Prix.

The move makes a lot of sense for Hayden, who has never got along with the old engine since its introduction last year. Hayden told HRC engineers he had a better feeling with the new bike, and considering his current lowly position in the championship standings, he has little to lose. Hayden will be hoping that he can put the extra horsepower and revs to good use at the British track.

Hayden's Repsol Honda team mate Dani Pedrosa will be sticking with the steel spring engine, the Spaniard managing to win 2 Grand Prix and holding 2nd place in the title race on board the old bike. Pedrosa will be happy to let his team mate test the reliability and performance of the engine in a few races before deciding on a switch himself. Luckily for news editors, as now they can just switch their speculation from the question of when Hayden will get the new engine, to when Pedrosa will make the switch.

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Pedrosa Out For At Least 3 Weeks

The operation on Dani Pedrosa's hand has left him in a bit of a quandary. With an injury which would keep ordinary mortals away from motorcycles for at least six week, Pedrosa has been told by his doctors that he could be back riding within 3 weeks, which would be just in time for the official IRTA test at Jerez from February 14th. That, however, is a risk: If his hand isn't healed properly, then riding early could aggravate the injury, endangering the start of his season. On the other hand, if he waits until the test at Qatar the end of February, that would leave him just those two days of testing to develop and prepare his 2008 Honda RC212V before the start of the season.

So far, the Spanish triple world champion seems to be erring on the side of caution. At a press conference in Barcelona, Pedrosa told journalists "for now, my priority is to work on recovering (from the injury) quickly." He was reticent his plans for returning to testing: "we'll see over the next few days whether we can attend particular tests or not".

More details from the press conference are available over on Motociclismo.es, with an English summary on Autosport.

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Pedrosa Out Of Sepang Test, Likely To Miss Phillip Island

Dani Pedrosa's ill fortune at Sepang continues. His fiery crash at the end of testing on Tuesday resulted in a fractured hand, and is on his way home. As expected, the Repsol Honda rider will miss the remainder of the test in Malaysia, but the situation is looking bleak, as Pedrosa is also highly likely to miss out on the Phillip Island test next week, with the next test at Sepang in the first week of February also looking doubtful.

Sepang has been cruel to Pedrosa over the years, as he injured himself badly there in a practice crash during his rookie season. The excruciating pain from the gaping hole in his leg did not prevent the tough little Spaniard from finishing on the podium, however.

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Pedrosa: "I'll Be The Best Help Hayden Can Get In Valencia"

In an interview with Spanish sports daily Marca, Dani Pedrosa has promised to help Hayden in Valencia. "I was very upset at what happened in Estoril," the diminutive Spaniard said, "but I'll be the best help possible in Valencia".

Pedrosa was extremely apologetic for the incident at Estoril, which saw the Spaniard take out his American team mate, turning Hayden's 12 point title lead into an 8 point deficit. "I want to win, but not at the cost of my team mate's title race."

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Pedrosa, Hayden and Repsol Honda - An Accident Waiting To Happen

In Turn 6, on the 5th lap of the Portuguese Grand Prix in Estoril, the race, Nicky Hayden's title hopes, and a large part of the world's motorcycling fans exploded. Seconds after Dani Pedrosa's impetuous passing attempt on Hayden, taking both riders out, even the official MotoGP website's live video feed went into meltdown, depriving thousands of shocked US fans of the aftermath of the resultant crash, and the thrilling end to a literally unbelievable race. A wave of shock went through all who watched, and once incredulous brains had finally come to terms with what had happened, the same question filled millions of heads: How could this have been allowed to happen?

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Punishments At HRC After Pedrosa Destroys Hayden's Title Hopes?

The excellent US roadracing magazine RoadRacerX has a story on it's website that punishments might be on the cards for key HRC personnel after Dani Pedrosa shattered Honda's best chance of taking a World Championship since Valentino Rossi left, with an ill-advised pass. The kamikaze pass on team mate Hayden is widely being blamed on HRC's failure to instigate team orders, allowing Pedrosa to believe he was fully justified in taking any risk necessary to win races, in a desperate attempt to close the 34 point deficit Pedrosa had on Nicky Hayden.

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Michelin Tires At Laguna Seca - A Comparative Study at Superbikeplanet.com

Superbikeplanet.com (or Soup, as it is known in the vernacular) has a great set of comparison images of the Michelin tires at the end of the Laguna Seca race. What is really obvious is that the Yamaha uses its rear a lot harder than the Honda does. Either they have traction control working better, or they have a smoother torque curve. Well worth a look.

You can find the images here.

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2006 Donington MotoGP Round - Qualifying Practice

Dani Pedrosa confirmed his dominance at Donington after qualifying on pole for Sunday's race. Pedrosa's name was near the top of the standings for over half of the qualifying session, first behind fellow 250 rookie Casey Stoner, before taking over the lead with 15 minutes to go. With just over a minute to go of qualifying, the diminutive Spaniard then smashed Valentino Rossi's lap record by over 2/10ths of a second.

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Riders Respond To The Track Changes At Assen

In a previous item, I discussed the changes that have been made to the track at Assen, especially the changes to the North Loop. Thursday was the first day that the riders got to ride the track in anger, and to learn what the new Circuit Van Drenthe at Assen is really like. Here's a compilation of rider comments on the changed layout at Assen, taken from interviews from MotoGP.com:

 

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