The schedule for the official tests has been announced. The MotoGP and smaller classes will test separately. Highlight of the test season is as ever the official IRTA test at Jerez, also known as Grand Prix Zero. Here, a BMW coupe will be up for grabs during a special qualifying session held on the last day.
|December 1 - January 20||Winter test ban|
|March 1-3||Losail||Qatar||Night Test|
|March 28-29||Jerez||Spain||Official IRTA Test|
125 and 250 class
At the end of the season, Yamaha's top engineers usually give a presentation on the inner workings of their championship-winning M1. So it was earlier this week, but during that presentation, comments were made which were even more interesting than the notes on the MotoGP bike.
Shigeo Kitagawa, head of projects for Yamaha's racing department, told journalists that they could also be interested in supplying equipment for the new four-stroke class which is to replace the current 250s in 2011. "In the past, we had a near-monopoly in the 250 class with our TD 250 and TZ 250," Kitagawa said. "At the moment, we are engaged in MotoGP, but that doesn't mean to say that once the rules are clarified, Yamaha won't be interested in producing a low-cost machine, especially if it could also be used in national championships."
So far, the consensus has been that the 250 replacement class - due to consist of 600cc four strokes - will be Honda's plaything. But with Yamaha's long history in 250s, plus their failure to win a World Supersport title since 2000, there's every reason to assume that Yamaha have an interest in getting involved. Whether the 600s are as interesting as the 250s have been remains to be seen. But with more than one manufacturer involved, the class is starting to show potential.
Central European Summer Time ends at 3am Sunday morning, and while that means an extra hour in bed for most Europeans, it could end up confusing the many MotoGP fans who live elsewhere. For with the clocks going back an hour in Europe, that could throw the schedules of fans based in the US or Australia into disarray.
The final round of MotoGP in Valencia, Spain, is due to start at the regular race start time of 2pm. But that is 2pm CET, or Central European Time, rather than CEST, Central European Summer Time. Clocks in the US and most of Australia aren't due to change for another week, so for fans there, the race may be an hour later than they thought it would.
It goes beyond the scope of this website to list the race start time in every possible time zone - the official MotoGP.com website has a nifty time zone checker for that - but by using the invaluable tools on the Time And Date website at http://www.timeanddate.com/, we can calculate that the race will start at 9am EDT or 6am PDT in the US, and midnight at EDT in Australia, for fans in Sydney.
If you want to see what time the race will start in your time zone, then check this page on the Time And Date website.
The FIM announced a minor change to the 2009 MotoGP calendar today. The Misano round of MotoGP will be held a week earlier than previously scheduled, moving it to the week after the Indianapolis MotoGP round.
|May 17th||France||Le Mans|
|July 5th***||United States||Laguna Seca|
|July 26th||Great Britain||Donington Park|
|August 16th||Czech Republic||Brno|
|September 6th||San Marino & Riviera di Rimini||Misano|
|October 18th||Australia||Phillip Island|
|November 8th||Valencia||Ricardo Tormo - Valencia|
* Evening race
** Saturday race
*** Only MotoGP class
After the success of the MotoGP silly season roundup page, we thought it would be useful to draw up a similar list for the 250cc class. The class is looking rather shaky for 2009, as KTM have pulled out of the class due to the impending rule changes due to come into effect in 2011. If Dorna have not secured 15 entries for this championship, then they will be forced to cancel the series, as the FIM rules require a minimum of 15 competitors for any series to be called a world championship.
|Gilera||The Gilera is basically just a rebadged Aprilia, as Piaggio own several brands they can compete on|
|Marco Simoncelli||The 2008 World Champion was reputedly offered a lot of money to make the step up to MotoGP, but then Piaggio offered Marco even more money to stay.|
|Mattia Pasini? Simone Corsi?||After the withdrawal of Polaris World due to the collapse in the Spanish housing market, Mattia Pasini was suddenly available. Pasini has reputedly asked for a lot of money to sign for a team, though his manager has said that he "now acknowledges market realities." |
Simone Corsi is currently 3rd in the 125cc championship race, and has been strong all season.
|Team Aspar||The dominant team in 125 and 250 racing. Missed out on moving to MotoGP, so will be doubly committed to winning the 250 crown.|
|Alvaro Bautista||The favorite to take Simoncelli's crown. Incredibly talented, but can occasionally lose his head.|
|Hector Faubel? Mike Di Meglio?||The second seat is wide open. Faubel is currently under contract to Aspar, but has hardly set the world on fire. He is Spanish though, something Aspar's sponsors like. Di Meglio isn't and is arguably a bigger threat, and so may not find favor with the Valencian.|
|Aspar '2'||The B team, reportedly to be run with Hungarian money.|
|Gabor Talmacsi||The reigning 125 champion had too many problems to defend his title this year, and will be too old to take another shot in 2009. Is clearly extremely able, and should suit a 250 better than the 125.|
|WRB-Pons||Sito Pons returns to the grid at last, to the joy of many. Pons last managed a team in MotoGP, losing out by his association with Max Biaggi.|
|Hector Barbera||Very fast, and very wild. A permanent fixture in 250s, and a permanent title challenger.|
|Axel Pons?||Axel is Sito's son, who suffered a horrific crash in the Spanish 125 championship, and is now nearly back to full fitness. Question marks remain over whether he can jump straight into the 250 class from the Spanish series, despite the very high level of competition.|
|Lotus Aprilia||Run by Dani Amitriain, which fielded Alex Debon this year, and was Jorge Lorenzo's former team.|
|Mike Di Meglio? Hector Faubel?||See above|
|Aleix Espargaro?||The brother of teenage 125 sensation Pol Espargaro, Aleix is a decent mid-pack rider.|
|Thomas Luthi||Luthi was brilliant in the 125s, and has been competitive in the 250s too. Not as strong as Bautista, but has had some bad luck, and a few bad crashes too.|
|Karel Abraham||The Czech rider has had this team built around him by his father, who owns the medical equipment company which sponsors both the team and the Brno MotoGP round. A mid-pack rider.|
|Ratthapark Wilairot||Great to see riders from outside Europe, the US or Australia. Wilairot has done very well considering the equipment he has been on. Consistently one of the fastest privateers, doubly handicapped by being on a Honda.|
|Esteve Rabat?||Rabat is currently riding for Repsol KTM in the 125 class, and is another product of the Puig stables. But Rabat has yet shown the promise of Puig's other proteges.|
|Repsol Derbi?||The team to be run by Alberto Puig. Puig initially wanted KTMs, but after KTM pulled out, Puig approached Aprilia. Repsol, however, were unhappy at racing Aprilias, and so Puig persuaded them to accept Derbis instead. Despite the fact that a Derbi is a rebadged Aprilia.|
|Esteve Rabat?||The most likely backup rider, as Rabat is already working with Puig|
|Mike di Meglio?||See above. De Meglio would be Repsol Derbi's number 1 rider, as reigning 125 champion, but Repsol may prefer a Spaniard.|
Rides and teams in bold are definite, others are speculation and unsure.
Well, the influx of young riders from the 250 class seems slowly to be staunching: After Jorge Lorenzo decided to stay in 250s for one more year (I will have more to say about this during the off-season), the only man capable of taking the title from him has also announced he'll be staying in the class next year. According to the Italian site MotoOnline, Andrea Dovizioso has signed a 2 year contract with Honda, staying in 250s for 2007, and moving to MotoGP in 2008.