The next logjam in the motorcycle racing silly season looks like it is about to be burst. According to the British sites MCN and Visordown, Ben Spies has made up his mind, and will be making the switch to MotoGP in 2010. Spies is to replace James Toseland at the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team, turning Tech Trois into the Texas Two, as the young American will be racing alongside fellow Texan Colin Edwards. Edwards is rumored to have signed a contract with Tech 3 boss Herve Poncharal - taking a pay cut of $500,000 - but Tech 3 has yet to make an official announcement.
The biggest surprise in the 250cc championship this year has been Hiroshi Aoyama. The Japanese rider has always been strong in the class, winning regularly, but never able to fight for a title. Heading into the 2009 season, the title race looked like being a straight fight between Marco Simoncelli and Alvaro Bautista, yet it is Aoyama who leads the championship. A feat made all the more remarkable by the fact that the Scot Honda team is fielding an outdated bike on a shoestring budget, and pitting themselves against the well-stocked war chests of two full factory challengers in Bautista and Simoncelli.
Intrigued by Aoyama's success so far, we caught up with the amiable Japanese rider on the Saturday before the Indianapolis Grand Prix, to ask about the season so far and his plans for the future. Here's what he had to say.
MotoMatters: Tell me about how how you arrived in this team.
Hiroshi Aoyama: OK, last year I used to ride a KTM and at the end of the season they decided to stop with this project. It's a pity, but the decision was already made at the last race or one or two races before.
So when we finished the season, normally you know what you are going to do next season, but I didn't know anything, because there was nothing available. It was too late, other teams had already decided, so it was quite difficult to find another team. But at the beginning of this year, we find this team, I was lucky, I had a lot of cooperation to find this team, Team Scot.
MM: Did Honda help you to find this team, or was it you and your manager?
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Result and summary of the 250cc race at Misano:
The 250cc race at Misano proved to be a decisive one for the championship, with one candidate ruling himself out of contention. At the start of the race, Hector Barbera got away early, soon being joined by Marco Simoncelli and Mattia Pasini, two local boys keen to make an impression. The front three seemed happy to run together for the first half of the race, only passing each other when the pace seemed to be dropping.
Results of the warm up session for the 250cc class at Misano:
Result of Qualifying Practice for the 250cc class at Misano:
Hiroshi Aoyama will start from pole for the 250cc race at Misano tomorrow, after just edging out Hector Barbera towards the end of the session. Barbera had been quick at first, but local boy Marco Simoncelli kept his Gilera at the top of the timesheets, only to find himself nudged out into 3rd at the end. Mattia Pasini, from just a few kilometers away in Cattolica, took the final spot on the front row, while Hiroshi Aoyama's main title threat Alvaro Bautista could manage only the 8th spot on the grid.
Local boy Mattia Pasini was fastest in the second session of free practice for the 250cc class at Misano. The Team Toth Aprilia rider took an early lead and never gave it up, despite strong and sustained challenges from Pepe World's Hector Barbera. Metis Gilera's Marco Simoncelli was 3rd fastest in the session, getting ahead of the championship leader Hiroshi Aoyama on the Scot Honda in the final third of the session. Aoyama finished ahead of his main title rival Alvaro Bautista, who could manage only the 5th fastest time.
Pepe World Aprilia's Hector Barbera dominated the first session of free practice at Misano today, walking away with the fastest time of the day and a lead of nearly half a second back to 2nd place man Team Toth's Mattia Pasini. The lead changed hands several times during the session, but it was always Barbera who kept taking it back, and taking it back in style.
Result and summary of the 250cc race at Indianapolis:
Results of the 250cc Warm Up Session: