MotoGP fans have been rubbing their hands in anticipation of this weekend's final round of the championship.
Marc Marquez again emerged from Valencia's second practice with the top time, leading both teammate Dani Pedrosa and championship challanger Jorge Lorenzo. Marquez set the fastest time of the weekend thus far with a 1'31.220 that put him more than one-tenth ahead of current world champion Lorenzo. Marquez needs only to finish fourth or better (if Lorenzo wins) to claim the championship as a rookie. The Yamahas of Cal Crutchlow and Valentino Rossi rounded out the top five.
MotoGP rookie and championship points leader Marc Marquez pounced at the end of FP1 at the Valencia circuit Friday to set a fast lap of 1'31.557, a mere 18-thousanths faster than second-fastest rider Jorge Lorenzo. In this case, that .018 must feel like an hour for Lorenzo who sits second in the championship and needs to finish Sunday's final race of the 2013 season several places in front of his Spanish rival if he is to win the championship. Dani Pedrosa's 1'31.581 took third fastest, another six-thousandths behind Lorenzo.
Valentino Rossi has decided to seek a new crew chief. After 14 seasons working together, in which the pair have amassed 7 world championships, Rossi and Jeremy Burgess are to part ways, and Yamaha are actively seeking a replacement for the Australian veteran. Rossi had taken the decision after a disappointing season with Yamaha, after being unable to match the pace of his teammate Jorge Lorenzo, and Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa.
Honda today officially unveiled one of the most eagerly anticipated motorcycles of recent years, and a key bike in the future of MotoGP. At the Valencia circuit, Honda unveiled the Honda RCV1000R, their production MotoGP racer, for entry in the Open class, which is to replace the CRT class for last year. The bike is a close sibling of the factory Honda RC213V raced by Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa, Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl, with a few modifications to make the bike cheaper to produce.
Mixed emotions greet the final race of most MotoGP seasons. There is sadness at the prospect of four months or more without racing. There is interest and expectation, as fans look past the race weekend to the test which immediately follows, when the bikes for next year appear and the riders switching teams get their first shot at a new ride. And there is excitement of course, at the prospect of a race to wrap up the season. But with the title usually already decided in advance, there is only pride at stake, and not much more to play for.
There is a lot of fascinating news coming out of this week's EICMA motorcycle show in Milan: the boom in smaller capacity motorcycles, an upgraded Fireblade, a massive push from MV Agusta, details of which can be found on our favorite general motorcycling website Asphalt & Rubber. But the show is also making headlines which will affect motorcycle racing as well.
For the first time in a long time, the MotoGP circus heads to the final race of the year at Valencia with not one, but two championships still undecided (and if there hadn't been that first-lap incident in the Moto2 race at Motegi, it could even have been three).
Casey Stoner has concluded three days of testing at the Sugo circuit in Japan. The retired champion managed to put in a lot of laps in dry conditions, after previous tests he has participated in have been rained off. Stoner tested both the 2013 and 2014 Honda RC213V, but the Australian ran out of time to do further testing on Honda's RCV1000R production racer.
HRC issued a press release after the test was completed, which appears below:
Casey Stoner completes productive three day test at Sugo Circuit
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What might happen in MotoGP at Valencia