The latest provisional entry list of Moto2 riders for the 2012 season:
Press releases from the 125cc and Moto2 teams after the race at Le Mans:
Another top 10 for RW Racing GP
There has been much lamenting of late that the MotoGP paddock has been full of talk and not much action. There have been plenty of complaints about the dangerous riding of certain riders, and not much evidence to back the accusations up with. Well, that certainly changed at Le Mans.
But before we get to the controversy - and there was plenty of it, and this time, it was real, not artificially stirred up by the media (mea culpa) - it behooves us to talk about the race. For there was a lot of interesting data that got buried under the polemic, which may prove key for the rest of the season.
The winner was entirely predictable, though the difficulty Casey Stoner had in securing the win, at least for the first third of the race, was rather less expected. Stoner, he said, had had about as near a perfect weekend as it was possible to have, blitzing every session and going on to win the race by an obscene amount - though obviously assisted by the removal of Dani Pedrosa and Marco Simoncelli from the proceedings. The Casey Stoner we saw at Le Mans this weekend was the Casey Stoner that most pundits had backed at the start of the year, after he had dominated much of preseason testing. With the 2011 Ohlins forks now working for him, Stoner looks like being a very hard rider to catch.
Ever since Valentino Rossi joined Ducati, the burning question of just how competitive the Desmosedici GP11 is has been clouded by Rossi's shoulder injury. The weakened shoulder - a result of training accident in which Rossi hyperextended his shoulder, fixed by surgery in November of 2010 - has made it very difficult to judge how fast Rossi could be on the bike if he could ride the Ducati unhampered by his shoulder. As a consequence, debate has raged among fans and pundits over how much or Rossi's deficit to put down to the shoulder, and how much to the bike.
Such shoulder injuries are relatively common in motorcycle racing - at Qatar, the list of riders recovering from post-season shoulder surgery was alarmingly long - as being thrown from a moving motorcycle at speed almost invariably causes some kind of damage to shoulders, arms and hands. Add to this the fact that the shoulder is one of the most complex joints in the body, and certainly the one with the largest range of motion, and you begin to understand just how big an effect a shoulder injury can have.
The announcement that the Jack&Jones team was pulling out of the Moto2 World Championship came as a something of a shock, for several reasons. Firstly, European fashion retailer Jack&Jones had been involved in motorcycle racing for several years; secondly, the withdrawal left both Kenny Noyes - Moto2's only American competitor, and a popular figure in Spain, where he is based - and Gabor Talmacsi - still a huge star in Hungary - out of a ride for 2011; but perhaps most surprising of all was the loss of face for Antonio Banderas, the Spanish / Hollywood actor who had backed the team.
The Moto2 entry list remains a work in progress, as teams granted starting places struggle with finding sponsorship, and alter their entries accordingly. The latest victim of sponsorship woes is the longest named team on the grid, the Jack&Jones By Antonio Banderas Racing team. The Jack&Jones squad had signed Kenny Noyes and Gabor Talmacsi to campaign the 2011 season, but after their title sponsor, the urban clothing brand Jack&Jones, decided to pull out of racing sponsorship, the team has been left without sufficient funds to continue.
With the weather greatly improved from Friday, our shooter-on-the-scene Andrew Gosling of TBGSport ventured beyond the confines of pitlane, and sent us back the following shots: