Sete Gibernau

Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - MotoGP: ballet or battle?

Rossi’s COTA penalty came from MotoGP’s ever-growing rulebook, so is there a chance that micromanagement could ruin MotoGP?

And so to Jerez, the place where MotoGP’s modern era of gladiatorial combat began at 2.45pm on Sunday, April 10, 2005.

Bumping and barging have been going on ever since people started racing motorcycles, but Valentino Rossi’s last-corner attack on Sete Gibernau at Jerez 2005 was probably the start of the tactics we now know so well.

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Memory Lane 2009 - Scott Jones' Photos From Qatar

It is a tradition to look back at the end of the year, and pick out the highlights of the season. Certainly for us at MotoMatters.com, the highlights have been Scott Jones' beautiful photos. Having paddock access for the first time meant that Scott could attend more races and take better photos. Over the next few days, we'll be going back and selecting a few of our favorites from among the very many beautiful shots Scott took for us. If you see any photos you'd like to have on your wall, then drop Scott an email to ask about pricing. And if you want to help us do it all over again in 2010, then head over to the donate page and send us a contribution. Here are some of Scott Jones' photos from Qatar to help persuade you of the wisdom of that decision.

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The Sealed MotoGP Engine Numbers - An Analysis Of What It Tells Us

Yesterday, Dorna released  a list of engines presented to MotoGP's Technical Director Mike Webb to be officially sealed. The seals are placed to comply with the engine limit which comes into effect at Brno, which stipulates that each rider is only allowed to use 5 engines until the end of the season. The teams only needed to submit 1, or at most 2 engines to be sealed before practice started, but instead most submitted 3 or even more. That demands some kind of explanation, and so we decided to take a closer look at the numbers.

Here's the full list:

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Sete Gibernau's GFH Team Pulls Out Of MotoGP Championship

It's been a tough season so far for MotoGP, with the withdrawal of Kawasaki before the start of the season, the Japanese factory finally yielding to pressure from Carmelo Ezpeleta and Dorna to provide machinery and limited support for a single season for Marco Melandri. Then came the rider switch at Team Scot, Gabor Talmacsi stepping in, bringing Hungarian oil money to rescue the team which was close to financial ruin.

Now, another dark day for the series, as Sete Gibernau's Grupo Francisco Hernando team has just announced that they will be pulling out of MotoGP with immediate effect. The reasons given for the withdrawal are unsurprising - the global financial crisis - but the announcement came as a shock to Sete Gibernau. In the press release, the Spanish veteran stated "The person most surprised by this decision was me. Everyone in the team worked hard to keep the project on track. On a personal level, it was  a brave gamble, taken with the hope of building a successful project which would achieve targets we had set for ourselves as each Grand Prix passed."

Gibernau said he was very disappointed that the project had foundered at this stage. "It's truly a pity that we are forced to abandon the project at this stage, just when we were convinced we were on the verge of achieving the results we were looking for. I'd like to thank the team, my personal sponsors, the fans and all the press, the treatment I have received, which has repaid in full the hard work and efforts which I have put in to return to racing after two years out of the World Championship. Your support has made me be happy to be racing in MotoGP again," Gibernau added.

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First Fantastic Photos From Thursday's Superkart Race At Laguna Seca

MotoGPMatters.com is once again fortunate to have Scott Jones live at Laguna Seca, shooting some more of his superb photos. The first of his shots come from Thursday's Day of Stars Superkart challenge, where champions young and old took each other on around Laguna Seca, in anticipation of this year's Red Bull US Grand Prix.

Right helmet, wrong suit.

Fast Eddie's hat

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2009 Catalunya MotoGP Qualifying Report

Qualifying for Sunday's Catalunya Grand Prix took place in intense heat, making the conditions difficult for both riders and bikes. The riders were thankful that this was the first outing for Bridgestone's asymmetric dual compound tires, for the combination of very high track temperatures and the Barcelona track's endless right handers made a very hard compound necessary on the right-hand side of the tire, but a relatively softer compound on the left-hand side.

The heat meant that the early running was made by the riders on the hardest of the tires available, the extra-hard rear and the hard front, the compounds the teams are almost certain to be using in the race tomorrow. It was Jorge Lorenzo who took practice for the race to the greatest extreme, the Spaniard starting out the session with a monster run of 17 laps, over two thirds of race distance.

It wasn't just a long run, however, Lorenzo also demonstrated he was on race pace, taking the top spot after just a couple of laps, briefly ceding it to Andrea Dovizioso, then snatching it back, the first rider to lap under 1'43, with a time of 1'42.990. A lap later, Lorenzo took another two tenths off his time, setting out a marker of where race pace will be, and following it up with a long string of laps in the high 1'42s and low 1'43s.

The only person capable of following was Lorenzo's Fiat Yamaha team mate, Valentino Rossi. Rossi too ran low 1'43s, taking a provisional 2nd place on the grid with a quarter of the session gone. The other candidates for victory tomorrow were all running mid-1'43s, a couple of tenths off Rossi's pace.

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Gibernau To Return At Barcelona, Despite Injury Concerns

Sete Gibernau is to make his return to the track at the Grand Prix of Catalunya in Barcelona in a week's time. Gibernau broke his collarbone in an awkward highside at Le Mans and was forced to pull out of the race there. The Spaniard was flown to Barcelona, where the collarbone was set in an operation and Gibernau started his recovery.

Gibernau now feels ready to race at Catalunya, though he will not be 100% fit. "I can't promise that I'll be at full fitness, but I'm very motivated to get out there for the first practice," Gibernau said at the official presentation of the Catalunya race.

There is more than a hint of irony in Gibernau's returning to race at the Montmelo track, just outside Barcelona. It was at this circuit in 2006 that Gibernau suffered the injury that would lead to his retirement at the end of that season. The Spaniard suffered a badly broken collarbone in a huge first-corner pile up, when he clipped his brake lever on erstwhile team mate Loris Capirossi's Ducati, sending both men off into the gravel and out of the race.

Many may question the wisdom of Gibernau racing at Barcelona, despite the Spaniard's understandable eagerness to race in front of his home crowd. Gibernau has a long history of collarbone and shoulder problems, and at 36, he doesn't heal as quickly as he did when he was younger. Gibernau's good fortune, if you could call it that, was that at Le Mans he broke his collarbone in a place which had not previously been broken, which allowed the bone to heal better. But having broken his collarbone so many times, he must surely be running out of places where it hasn't been broken.

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Gibernau Breaks Collarbone, Will Miss Le Mans Race

Sete Gibernau's race weekend is already at an end. With 15 minutes of the second session of free practice remaining, the Spanish veteran highsided at the Dunlop Chicane. He immediately grabbed at his shoulder, and upon examination at the Clinica Mobile, was found to have a double fracture of his left collarbone. The injury means Gibernau will play no further part in the proceedings, and will not race at Le Mans.

The break is bad news for Gibernau, who has a long and painful history of collarbone fractures. Gibernau still has pain from previous shoulder problems, having broken his collarbone at Estoril and in the huge first corner crash at Barcelona back in 2006. Gibernau is scheduled to return to Barcelona as soon as possible, where he will meet with Dr. Ginebra of the Dexeus Institute to evaluate whether the injury will require yet more surgery, or whether it will heal with just rest.

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Ducati Recognizes Problems, Reorganizes Hayden's Pit Crew

One of the most perplexing issues of the 800cc era has been the question of the Ducati Desmosedici GP7, GP8 and GP9. The remarkable and incredibly innovative motorcycle has one world title and 18 victories to its name from just 39 races, a strike rate impressively close to 50%. But look more closely at those awe-inspiring results and you see a much darker side to the Ducati, a side which makes a nonsense of all those victories.

Of the 18 victories recorded on the 800cc Desmosedici, 17 were taken by Casey Stoner, as was the 2007 world title. Of the 394 points which gained Ducati the constructor's title in 2007, 367 were scored by Stoner, the Australian only beaten by another Ducati three times that year, and beating his team mate Loris Capirossi - the man who had been a title contender in 2006 - by over 200 points, or 11 points a race, on average. In 2008, Stoner could "only" manage to best Toni Elias, the next Ducati rider, by 188 points. So far this season, Casey Stoner has already racked up 54 points, 75% more than the other four (!) Ducati riders combined.

Anyone doubting that the problem is with the bike need only look at the riders who have been teamed with Casey Stoner. Loris Capirossi is a three-time world champion, with two titles in the 125 class and one in 250s; Marco Melandri is another former 250 champ, as well as a MotoGP runner-up; while current team mate Nicky Hayden is one of an elite group of riders - including Casey Stoner - to have beaten Valentino Rossi to the MotoGP title. This is no ragtag crew of journeymen and also-rans, these are among the very best riders in the world, and yet they have all proven incapable of taming the Bologna Beast.

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