Carlos Checa confirmed today that he is seriously in contention to ride the Pramac Ducati at Estoril and Valencia in place of Mika Kallio. In a video posted on Twitter, Checa is shown testing the Ducati Desmosedici GP10 at Mugello today, evaluating whether he is ready to race the GP10 or not. A decision is expected sometime shortly after the test.
Below is the video Checa just posted:
The fractured collarbone Dani Pedrosa sustained at Motegi could not have come at a worse time for the Repsol Honda rider. Pedrosa and his team had finally sorted the Honda RC212V, and with Pedrosa on blistering form, were starting to reel in Jorge Lorenzo. Actually snatching the championship from the Fiat Yamaha rider looked to be almost impossible, but they were going to make it as tough as possible for Lorenzo all the way to the end. The crash also came at the first of three flyaway races on three consecutive weekends, giving Pedrosa virtually no time to recover from the triple fracture. Complicating things further was the distance Pedrosa would have to travel to seek medical assistance, flying from Japan back to Barcelona for surgery, and then back out to Malaysia or Australia for his next race.
In the end, Pedrosa decided to skip the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang, but the Repsol Honda team have just announced that Pedrosa will be back at Phillip Island. The Spaniard was due to fly out to Australia on Monday, giving him as much time to recover and prepare for the race as possible. Pedrosa's fractured collarbone is healing well, the titanium plate holding the fragments together doing its job perfectly. But the Repsol Honda man is still suffering with stiffness in his neck and shoulder, and will be receiving physiotherapy in Australia to help deal with the problem. Pedrosa's objective is to hold on to his 2nd place in the MotoGP Championship, where he leads Valentino Rossi by 47 points. With just three races to go, that should be an achievable goal, though Pedrosa will have to score points consistently to ensure his place in the standings is safe.
After a promising rookie year in MotoGP, Mika Kallio has struggled in 2010 on the Pramac Ducati. So mediocre has his form been the past six month, that Kallio has decided to call it quits early. According to reports in the Spanish media, Kallio will not be riding the last two races of the season for the Pramac Ducati squad, and his season will end after Sunday's race at Phillip Island.
Taking his place will be yet another Spaniard: After an outstanding year in the World Superbike championship aboard a Ducati 1198R, finishing 3rd behind Max Biaggi and Leon Haslam, and well ahead of the factory Xerox Ducatis of Noriyuki Haga and Michel Fabrizio, the 38-year-old veteran Carlos Checa is to replace Kallio at Estoril and Valencia. Checa last rode in MotoGP back in 2007, when he raced for the LCR Honda squad currently fielding Randy de Puniet, after which the Spaniard moved to World Superbikes.
With MotoGP grid sizes currently shrinking almost on a daily basis, judging by the news from Sepang, it was clear that something would have to be done to stem the losses. The latest count was just 15 bikes on the grid in 2011, with Pramac and Suzuki down to one bike each, and Interwetten Honda out altogether.
The latest paddock rumors from Sepang - assembled by our friends over at GPOne.com - suggest that Dorna is stepping in to shore up grid numbers for next year, by providing support in a couple of key situations. The first move is to help get Toni Elias back into MotoGP. The way that Elias has dominated the brand new Moto2 championship, culminating in the 2010 title he secured at Sepang, has generated a huge call for the popular Spaniard to be given a ride in MotoGP. Elias' options looked very good, either taking the second bike at Suzuki, replacing the departing Loris Capirossi, or else taking over Randy de Puniet's seat at LCR Honda, should the Frenchman have plumped for the Suzuki seat before Elias. Once the second bike at Suzuki disappeared - looking more like a racing certainty with every passing day - that plan fell through, leaving Elias to look for a ride in Moto2.
Official quotes from Yamaha on Jorge Lorenzo's championship:
QUOTES FROM JORGE LORENZO FOLLOWING HIS CHAMPIONSHIP VICTORY
"This is my first title in the premier category and my dream has come true! This is really the maximum a motorcycle rider can achieve in his career so we have to celebrate and enjoy these hours, minutes and seconds like it's the end of the world. You imagine this moment in your head your whole life but when it comes you don't know how to act or what to say. I am trying to be relaxed, to speak clearly and not say anything crazy! I'm so tired right now; I just need to be alone in a room for a few minutes, just thinking about what I've done!
I want to thank so many people, it's difficult to find the words but I have to mention Yamaha, all my team, Bridgestone and everyone involved. And of course thank you very much to my fans, who have been with me every step of the way.
The perfect situation today would have been to win, but it wasn't to be this time. I made a good start and was riding well and I thought I could go away from Andrea at one point, but then he overtook me and then Valentino as well, and I thought there were too many risks today to fight for the victory; it was better to wait until the end of the race.
Official MotoGP.com profile of Jorge Lorenzo:
Jorge Lorenzo - 2010 MotoGP World Champion
Jorge Lorenzo’s route to MotoGP glory has been paved with record-breaking achievements, and first began with an encounter with minicross competitions aged just three. Lorenzo competed in this format in addition to trial, minimoto and junior motocross in his native Mallorca over the next few years, then followed up a 50cc Copa Aprilia title by entering the Spanish Championship with special permission, aged just thirteen.
Setting a record unlikely to ever be broken, Lorenzo subsequently became the youngest ever rider to enter a World Championship race. Turning fifteen – the minimum age for Grand Prix participation back then - on the second day of practice for the 2002 Spanish race at Jerez, he made his debut onboard a Derbi 125cc at a track where he would enjoy much success over the next few years.
In just his second season he took his first Grand Prix victory at Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, where his impressive “round the outside” overtaking manoeuvre on Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa won him the nickname “Por Fuera”. In 2004 he sealed a further three triumphs, before making the move up to the 250cc category a year later and taking four poles and six podiums in his maiden season.
Results and summary of the MotoGP race at Sepang:
Spain has had a remarkable sporting summer: The national soccer team won the 2010 World Cup, cyclist Alberto Contador won this year's Tour de France and Rafa Nadal is ranked #1 in the world as a tennis player, winning Wimbledon and the French Open along the way. Andrea Dovizioso's crash at Aragon ensured that there would be a Spanish MotoGP champion for only the second time in history, and the first since Alex Criville in 1999, and Andrea Iannone's bad weekend at Motegi ensured there would be a Spanish Moto2 champion as well.
At Sepang, Spain can ensure a clean sweep of all three championships, the first time that a single nation has won the three major championships since Italy produced winners in the 125, 250 and 500cc classes back in 1975. Just a handful more points will rule British rider Bradley Smith out of the 125cc title race, ensuring that all three 2010 champions will hail from Spain. Below is a rundown of who needs how many points to clinch the title in each of the three classes at Sepang on Sunday.
The dwindling of the MotoGP grid has accelerated to a full-scale hemorrhage. Earlier in the week, it emerged that Hiroshi Aoyama's Interwetten Honda team is on the verge of pulling out for 2011, and yesterday, news leaked from Suzuki suggests that the factory Suzuki team will cut its involvement to just a single bike for next season. With two bikes gone from the already sparse MotoGP grid, only the addition of Karel Abraham and the Cardion AB team have saved MotoGP's modesty, bringing the probable line up for next year to 16.
Today, things got even worse for MotoGP, however, with news emerging from the Pramac Ducati camp that the team is to halve their rider lineup next year, down from the two-man effort of Mika Kallio and Aleix Espargaro to just a single rider, either Loris Capirossi or Aleix Espargaro. Capirossi - whose seat left vacant at Suzuki will not be filled, it seems - and his manager Carlo Pernat are insistent that they have a contract with Pramac for next season, and there is no doubt that team manager - and CEO of the Pramac concern - Paolo Campinoti is very keen to have Capirossi in the satellite Ducati squad. Aleix Espargaro, however, still has a contract with Pramac to ride for next year, though the Spanish rookie seems content to accept that he will be out of MotoGP next season, and is already talking to both Aspar and Pons in Moto2 for 2011.
Results and summary of qualifying practice for the MotoGP class at Sepang:
Jorge Lorenzo ended the second session of free practice at Sepang on top of the timesheets, just ahead of Marlboro Ducati's Casey Stoner. Lorenzo found enough extra speed to top the timesheets, perhaps in part because he used the new, faster spec engine in his Fiat Yamaha YZR M1. Lorenzo's teammate Valentino Rossi ended the session in 3rd, a quarter of a second behind Lorenzo, and with Stoner between the pair of Yamahas.
Loris Capirossi had a nasty crash on his first lap out of the pits in the session, and took no further part in the session.
As we saw just recently, the MotoGP calendar is drawn up with great care, to avoid clashes with the schedule of Formula One. The first draft of the 2011 MotoGP schedule underwent major changes, after several races on the F1 calendar were moved about. In general, MotoGP tries to plan their races so that they are in a different timezone to Formula One, so that the races don't overlap and MotoGP loses its TV coverage to F1. That is not always possible, however, and sometimes, Dorna has to get creative to avoid a schedule.
This year, that scheduling sees the MotoGP round at Sepang fall in the same weekend as the F1 GP in Japan, forcing the MotoGP race to be run later in the afternoon than its usual 2pm (local time) slot. The MotoGP race is scheduled to begin at 4pm local time, to avoid the clash with Formula 1 in Japan. That decision has not found favor with everyone, however: At Sepang, Valentino Rossi was openly critical of Dorna for scheduling the start so late. The problem, Rossi pointed out, was that by starting the race at 4pm, it almost certainly guaranteed that the race would be run in the tropical afternoon storms. "Everyone knows that after about 3:30 here it is almost certain to rain," Rossi told the Italian-speaking media. "At 2pm, it's 90% certain not to rain, but at 4pm, it's the same 90% certainty that it will rain, it's really stupid."
The sight of just 16 bikes taking to the MotoGP grid has been all too common this year, with 6 of the 14 rounds of MotoGP so far starting with at least one of the permanent riders missing and no replacement. But 16 bikes is looking increasingly likely to be a full grid next season, as British motorcycle weekly Motorcycle News is reporting that Suzuki is likely to field just a single machine in 2011. According to MCN, several members of the Suzuki team were told on Thursday night they are free to seek offers elsewhere, including veteran engineer Stuart Shenton, currently crew chief to Loris Capirossi.
Rumors have been floating around the MotoGP paddock for many months that Suzuki was considering pulling out, and an announcement on the team's future was expected at Motegi, after a meeting between top management of the Suzuki factory and Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta. That meeting was pushed back until after the weekend of the Japanese Grand Prix, and it now appears that Ezpeleta has been unable to persuade them to change their minds. According to MCN, the factory will field just a single bike for 2011, with a promise of increasing their involvement again when the formula changes back to 1000cc in 2012.