The Last Of Scott Jones Photos From Qatar

The Usual Suspects

Don't walk away

History awaits

We don't need no stinkin' ant-wheelie

Ant West has been left to ride the MZ chassis, a fate that has doomed him to the very back of the grid

It's the desert. At night. Of course it's cold.

Lights. Camera. Action!

Alex de Angelis and his team have turned yellow for 2011

Jules Cluzel continued where he left off in 2010

Yonny Hernandez trying to bottom the forks on his Blusens-STX FTR

Thomas Luthi, one of many fast German speakers in Moto2

It took Bradley Smith until the first race to get his head round Moto2. But once he did, he was impressive

A young, fast Spaniard on a Repsol-badged Honda. Where have we seen that before?

The only view a lot of MotoGP riders are likely to get of the Repsol Hondas this season.

German rider + German bike + German team = Win

Yuki Takahashi has big shoes to fill, now he's on Toni Elias' bike. So far, he's doing just fine

British bike, British rider, British bike

Two brothers and a son. Aleix Espargaro leads Pol, with Axel Pons, son of Sito, right on his tail.

Cal Crutchlow follows in the footsteps of Ben Spies and James Toseland. He made a strong debut, despite a duff shoulder and a grated finger

The recurrence of Dani Pedrosa's shoulder problem is a serious concern for the Spaniard

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Last timje I was at a major race, Laguna Seca '79/'80/'81, I rode my Honda CBX the 400+ miles to see my heroes! I saw Freddie Spencer ride the space bike, the NSR500 . . . an oval pistoned/32 valve 500cc 4 stroke! I was standing 10' BEHIND THE BIKE, when the mechanics were warming it up a few minutes prior to him taking it out for practice. Watching the tac, pop to 14 while the mechanic 'blipped' the throttle is a picture that is cemented in my mind! I stood next to Lawson's Kawasaki 'superbike' and thinking that was the coolest bike EVER . . . dreaming about ridding it on the street! Or at least a bike that LOOKED that cool!

What's my point? I'm heading to 'Seca this year for the GP and a buddy of mine told me that you can't get anywhere near the bikes, let alone within 10' for pics! Nothing like when I was there last . . . yeah I know, it was 30 yrs ago, but isn't this 'separation' hurting the sport? The same buddy attended the WSBK at Salt Lake and said, as far as he was concerned, he wouldn't go back to Seca and the GP . . . .WSBK was WAY MORE 'fan friendly'! I'll ride my bike down to Seca this year and see how much its changed.

Any comments from you guys that have attended races 25+ years ago and today. I know . . . I'm dating myself!

3B43, I'm not sure what your friend is talking about because I was at Laguna last year for the GP and I have TONS of great pictures of not only the bikes but a lot of the riders as well. However, in order to get close you have to spring for a paddock pass. The general admission wont get you close. I think its an extra $50 for the paddock pass, but its well worth it if you want to be close to the action. I'll be there this year too, so maybe we'll see you there!

Major bike shows often have a few race bikes on display. For example in January 2005 I went to a biggest (or only) bike show in my country. Yamaha booth had Rossi's 2004 M1 which could be touched (nearly cut off a fingertip - the cf fender had sharp edges). I also got some nice close up pics of Nakano's Kawasaki. For some reason there were a lot more people ogling the latest and largest Yamaha cruisers than the M1.

2011 reminds him of 2007, new team, new bike and smoking fast from the very first test! We all remember how it ended, and so does he.

I have Laguna Seca pics of Yvon DuHamel that I took, during the race, from the inside of turn nine (turn 11 now) less than 8 ft from the apex back in 1975 . You could walk almost anywhere in those days. The entire track was fenced by temporary snow fencing (wood stakes and wire).

I'd reckon that about the time they lengthened the track was when the place lost it's charm and access. Like most big sporting circuses these days unless you have big bucks you will be segregated to the general admission areas which limit views with high walls, serious fences, sight blocking bridges, new buildings etc. Not to mention the security goons, cops, ticket display requirements.

I think you will be disappointed unless you go for the spectacle of the show.

A shameless plug for a company I work for:
If you do come I recommend the San Carlos Agency for vacation home rentals, many with garages that are cheaper and nicer than crappy sold out local hotels. Biker friendly. Tell them Sean sent you. I could use the work prepping the houses.

I dont know but it is a true work of art.

Oh's like 2 MotoGP world champions showing a WSBK world champion the love, lol! It's funny to see Ben getting "sandwiched" by 2 fellas who are actually not bigger than him. As they say, the quietest dog bite the hardest! That's what I like about Ben. Karl is actually "normal" size too! Tallest guy in 2nd row!

Thats typical Rossi. Trying to intimidate people all the time.

Wonder that he didn't have his legs further out as well.

That would be Messrs Rossi AND Lorenzo. So...typical both? :P

But I don't think Spies really cares anyway, as long as he beats them on the track.

Maybe Bradl was so fast because of that front fender that wraps all the way around the brake calipers! If I was on another team I would be asking for the same front fender, looks like its worth .5 sec a lap!!

I still can't get my head around how Ant West went from wet race winner in SuperSport as a replacement rider to backmarker in Moto2. And to add insult to injury, the sponsor is Damen Leathers. MZ is German and Damen in German translates to women. Unfortunate coincidence? I hope so!

And is Karel Abraham the new Sete? He seems to have the hair for it. Battle of the hairdryers with Simoncelli :P

Nice snaps once again - love it :D

Nothing wrong with West's ability. If the bike is crap, there isnt much you can do about it. Unless, pray for rain.

Speaking of hair, Simochelli looks a " twit" with that hair band on his head for the photos.

No comment about Lorenzo, Spies and Hayden with their " rapper caps". :-)

The bike is a horrorshow. Before PI they were welding it again (this is ongoing) to get it up to pass scrutineering.
It weighs more than a goldwing and handles like one. It's so bad, he's not even a contender in the wet...

I have been going to Laguna since the 80's. The real difference I see is everything is sectioned off more than back then. Back in the day you could pretty much walk up and touch the bikes, (if you were a little crazy and trying to get the teams to ban people from being around.)

Now, with a Paddock Pass, you can get close. I have been close enough to the Motogp Bikes to touch them. Sometimes the mechanics will start a bike up on the Paddock side of the garage and let you smell the fumes, feel the power of the bike.

So no, it is not like back in the day. But if you are there for three days, get down there on Friday, in the morning, and you may catch them warming the bikes up or going through diagnostics right in front of the fans.

I think that rider lineup has one telling feature that will be very poignant at the end of the year.

Check out the only guy with a big grin on his face :)