After Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden spoke to the press on Tuesday, Wednesday saw the turn of Ducati Corse boss Filippo Preziosi to talk to the press about the Desmosedici GP11 MotoGP bike, the influence that Rossi had had on the development direction, and the changes to be made. Summed up in a single word, those changes would best be described as radical: as reported yesterday, the new bike will have an altered forward subframe/airbox, modified triple clamps, revised swingarm and new 42mm forks, rather than the 48mm Ohlins used by all of the Ducatis (as well as the Yamahas and Hondas) except for Casey Stoner during 2010. The changes to the chassis are aimed at making the Desmosedici easier to turn, as well as providing improved feedback, and better feel for the rider, especially at extreme angles of lean.
More surprisingly, the engine has also undergone a major revision. The engine internals have been modified to provide a flatter torque curve, making for a bike that is easier to ride, with a less vicious power delivery. Ducati will be sticking with the Big Bang firing order, though Preziosi said they will retain the option to switch to the screamer at a later date. Electronics systems have also been altered, with Ducati working on anti-wheelie systems and on the traction control system.
The relationship between MotoGP organizers Dorna and Suzuki has been very strained for the past few months. Rumors that Suzuki would pull out of MotoGP emerged over the summer of 2010, and after a meeting in Japan was postponed after the Motegi MotoGP round, Suzuki eventually announced they would be fielding just a single machine in 2011, with Alvaro Bautista riding it.
Since that announcement, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta has made his unhappiness with Suzuki very clear, issuing veiled threats of legal action to force the Hamatsu factory to live up to the terms of their contract. Unfortunately - for Dorna at least - the terms of the contract do not appear to specify the minimum number of bikes that a factory must run in MotoGP, and Suzuki has seized upon this loophole to run just the one bike.
The moment that MotoGP fans have been waiting for since June last year, when the rumors of his switch to Ducati first emerged, has finally arrived. Valentino Rossi today appeared before the press at the annual Ducati Wrooom! event, held in the Italian skiing resort of Madonna di Campiglio, free at last to talk about his move to Ducati.
The move itself was barely discussed, though. The two big topics Rossi talked about to the press on Tuesday were the state of his shoulder and his experience riding the Ducati Desmosedici. On both subjects, the news was rather mixed, Rossi expressing both his concern about both the bike and his shoulder, as well as his hope that both would improve.
The photos are already all over the internet, and will be filling up the pages of the motorcycle racing press (or what remains of it). That doesn't prevent us from jumping on the bandwagon, and publishing a few of the press shots released by Ducati of Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi in full Ducati Corse getup. Click on the photos for desktop-sized images, and enjoy!
After what seems like an eternal wait, Valentino Rossi is about to make his first official appearance as a Ducati rider on Monday evening, when the MotoGP team is presented at the annual Wrooom event that the Bologna factory host together with Ferrari at the Italian ski resort of Madonna di Campiglio. Since Rossi's switch to Ducati was announced back in August 2010, Ducati, Rossi and Yamaha have masterminded a remarkable media blackout, meaning that nobody has been able to speak to the Italian about the move, despite the obvious fan demand and media pressure. Instead, the fans have been forced to make do with the impressions filtered through third parties, such as Filippo Preziosi at the Valencia tests, or more recently, Jerry Burgess in the Italian magazine Motosprint.
MotoMatters.com headquarters is a whirlwind of boxes, paint, wallpaper, hoovering and packing tape (duct tape, naturally). Because of the move, there is little or no time to keep our loyal readers up to date with the world of world championship motorcycle racing.
With the holiday season almost upon us, teams are clearing their desks before heading off for their Christmas and New Year's break. That explains the blizzard of press releases being issued. The latest HRC missive concerns Dani Pedrosa's condition, and his progress during his recovery. The Spaniard broke his collarbone in Motegi in early October, after the throttle on his RC212V stuck open, causing him to crash heavily. The collarbone was plated, but bruising and swelling caused Pedrosa a number of problems while racing. Below is the HRC update on his condition:
DANI PEDROSA TO RESUME FULL TRAINING IN JANUARY
Repsol Honda Team rider Dani Pedrosa is now in the final stages of recovery from the shoulder injury he sustained last October and is excited to return to training in early January.
The Spaniard will spend a full month working on his physical condition to ensure that he is in the best possible shape for the first MotoGP test of 2011 at Sepang, Malaysia, from February 1st to 3rd.
Below is the press release issued by HRC after the private test of the Honda test team, where Ten Kate Honda World Superbike rider Johnny Rea was allowed to test Honda's RC212V MotoGP bike. No times were released:
HRC MOTOGP TEST AT SEPANG ENDS 2010 ON TRACK DEVELOPMENT WORK
The HRC MotoGP test team brought curtain down on the 2010 season on-track when they wrapped up the three-day test at Sepang Malaysia today. The test session was scheduled to end yesterday but was extended to include a three-hour session this morning due to time last to heavy rain yesterday afternoon.
The test team and HRC test rider Kousuke Akiyoshi were happy with the data gleaned while verifying information and technical data gathered at the last team test session, held at Valencia in early November.
The HRC test was also a happy experience for Ten Kate Honda World Superbike team rider Jonathan Rea. The Ulsterman was given the opportunity to test the RC212V as a reward for his WSB performances in 2010. Race completed the test alongside Akiyoshi running for 40 laps in fine sunny weather with temperatures close on 30 degrees for the morning session.
Ten Kate Honda World Superbike rider Jonathan Rea is at Sepang, testing a Honda MotoGP bike for the first time. Below is the press release issued by Honda after the first day of testing:
HRC RESUMES MOTOGP TESTING AT SEPANG
HRC MotoGP test session Sepang Malaysia. Opening day of three-day test
The HRC R&D Team began a three-day test session at the Sepang circuit, Malaysia today in preparation for the 2011 MotoGP season.
Alongside HRC test rider, Kousuke Akiyoshi, who is continuing the development of the RCV212, HRC also invited Jonathan Rea, the Honda Ten Kate World Superbike Team rider to join the test.
Jonathan Rea made his very first ride on a MotoGP machine today and HRC is pleased to give him the possibility to test ride the RCV212 for the first time.
After having adjusted the riding position on the RC212V to suit his stature, the 23 year old Rea, from Ballymena, Northern Ireland, went on track today joining Japanese rider, and Suzuka 8-hour team-mate Akiyoshi.
Akiyoshi and Rea made the most of the warm weather at the 5.548km circuit to complete almost full day’s work with the Honda RC212V stopping for just one hour due to a short rain shower.
If MotoMatters.com has seemed to be relatively dormant over the past few days, there's a very good reason. MotoMatters.com HQ is being relocated, from the Netherlands' oldest university town to a small town in the east of the country, close to the city at the heart of Operation Market Garden. As a consequence, MotoMatters.com staff - or more specifically, your humble correspondent - is spending an inordinate amount of time on matters such as removing old wallpaper, packing up a couple of years' worth of MotoGP memorabilia, and sorting through those piles of papers that have been sitting there doing nothing for the past thirteen years we have been in the house.
During the winter test ban, MotoGP's equivalent of the dog days of summer, the social media website Twitter has turned into a goldmine for journalists, from both the traditional and the new media alike. With so many high-profile riders, managers, mechanics and other members of the paddock active on Twitter, nuggets useful for filling empty column inches keep popping up almost by magic.
There's good news and bad news for the opponents of electronics in motorcycle racing from today's meeting of the Grand Prix Commission, held in Madrid in Spain. MotoGP's rule-making body met to discuss changes to the regulations for the 2011 and 2012 seasons, and electronics was one of the subjects under discussion.
But the first order of business was to rearrange practice. The changes made in the cost-cutting frenzy between the 2008 and 2009 seasons have finally been scrapped once again, and the four-practice schedule used by MotoGP for so many years before makes a welcome return. The schedule had been partially reinstated at the end of the 2010 season, with four sessions of 45 minutes replacing the three one-hour sessions which had been used for the past two seasons. Though the reception was overwhelmingly positive, the one complaint that riders had being that the 45 minute sessions left little time to make changes during the session.
That problem has now been solved, as the GP Commission has agreed to return to four one-hour sessions for the MotoGP class from 2011. The Moto2 class will see four sessions of 45 minutes on each race weekend, while the 125cc class will have two sessions of 45 minutes on Friday and Saturday morning, and two sessions of half an hour in the afternoons.