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Phillip Island Kawasaki And Suzuki Test - Day 1 Times

The MotoGP riders are back to work again today, though some earlier than others. The Kawasaki and Suzuki teams have decided to skip the official Jerez test in favor of a private test at Australia's Phillip Island circuit. The choice is particularly important for Suzuki, as the team has struggled to get results at the circuit, the bike being down on both power and suffering with edge grip problems.

So far, the times released from the test, are still some way off the pace they need to run. Marco Melandri is still getting used to the Kawasaki ZX-RR, this being only his 2nd full day of testing on the bike, after the Valencia test in October was curtailed due to rain. But already Melandri is as quick on the Kawasaki as he was on the Ducati during the race here in October, though 0.7 seconds slower than during practice here in October.

John Hopkins was considerably slower, but the American has had some pain from the ankle injury he suffered at Assen in June. The tendons are rubbing on the plate put in place to fix the ankle every time he changes gear, and both knee and ankle are swelling up and painful.

But the fastest Kawasaki rider was test rider Olivier Jacque. The Frenchman is working on a revised chassis, which will form the basis for the 2009 Kawasaki MotoGP bike, due to make its debut at Sepang in February. Jacque believes the chassis should make it possible for him to run consistent 1'31s, which would be faster than the pace of the Kawasakis during the race here.

The Suzukis were both quicker than the Kawasaki men, Loris Capirossi faster his team mate Chris Vermeulen by 4/10ths of a second. But just as at Kawasaki, neither man is close to the times they set in early October, when MotoGP raced here. So despite the revised electronics and suspension, Suzuki still has some work to do. 

Suzuki and Kawasaki will be testing at Phillip Island for two more days.

Times released from Phillip Island day 1

1 Loris Capirossi Suzuki 1'31.5
2 Chris Vermeulen Suzuki 1'31.9
3 Olivier Jacque Kawasaki 1'32.4
4 Marco Melandri Kawasaki 1'32.5
5 John Hopkins Kawasaki 1'33.3

Yamaha, Honda and Ducati are running at Jerez in Spain today, and times should be released by the end of the day, local time. There is one surprise visitor present at the Spanish track, and that is Casey Stoner. The 2007 World Champion won't be riding at Jerez, as he is still convalescing from the operation he had at the end of October to fix the scaphoid problem he had. However, his presence in the Ducati garage, keeping a close eye on Nicky Hayden's progress on the Ducati GP9, is a sign of just how determined the Australian is to recover the title he lost this year. 

 

 

Aprilia Testing, Day 2: Superbike, 125 and 250 Riders Times From Valencia

Aprilia's test continued today at Valencia, with the main attraction being Marco Simoncelli being given a run on Aprilia's RSV4 World Superbike machine. The Italian was immediately quick, and matched the time set yesterday by Shinya Nakano. But Nakano was even quicker, taking a second off the time he set yesterday, and matching the fastest lap set during the World Superbike round held here in April of this year.

In the 250 class, Alvaro Bautista was fastest again today, although Gabor Talmacsi equaled the Spaniard's time. Meanwhile, in the 125 class, it was Julian Simon who was quickest, over half a second ahead of his Aspar team mate Bradley Smith. Smith was also slower than Andrea Iannone.

The smaller classes will now pack up and go home for the winter break, as the test ban starts on December 1st. But before that, the MotoGP riders will take to the track in Jerez and Phillip Island.

Superbike
1Shinya NakanoAprilia1'35.3
2Marco SimoncelliAprilia1'36.3
3Alex HofmannAprilia1'37.3
250 cc
1Alvaro BautistaAprilia1'38.1
2Gabor TalmacsiAprilia1'38.1
3Mike di MeglioAprilia1'38.6
125 cc
1Julian SimonAprilia1'40.5
2Andrea IannoneAprilia1'41.0
3Bradley SmithAprilia1'41.1
4Sergio GadeaAprilia1'42.0

 

More Payment Options Available For MotoGPMatters.com 2009 Racing Calendar

The MotoGPMatters.com 2009 racing calendar is proving to be a very popular item, with piles of calendars being shipped out of MotoGPMatters.com HQ to MotoGP fans around the world on a daily basis. But as popular as the calendar is, not everyone is happy with paying by Paypal, and some people have requested other forms of payment.

Now, we are pleased to say, we have added another way to pay: It is now possible to pay for your MotoGPMatters.com calendar using Moneybookers, an established and well-respected money transfer service. With Moneybookers, you can transfer funds using your credit card, by direct debit from your bank, or by debiting your Moneybookers account.

So with the gift-giving season - and the start of 2009 - rapidly approaching, now is the time to put in your order for the beautiful and extremely useful 2009 MotoGPMatters.com racing calendar. Each month features one of Scott Jones' beautiful photographs, as an 8.5 inch by 11 inch (Letter size, or about the same size as A4) print, above an 8.5x11 page containing a grid of the month, including a list of all of the MotoGP and World Superbike weekends, and a listing of the birthdays of the big names from MotoGP, the 250 and 125cc classes, and World Superbikes and World Supersport. There's also a brief description of the state of racing for that month.

A sample month layout looks like this:

 

2009 MotoGPMatters.com motorcycle racing calendar

If you want to place your order using Moneybookers, just click on the Moneybookers button below the number of calendars and the place you would like them shipped to below:

United States, excluding California

Order 1 Calendar For Shipping To The US:
$20.25

Order 2 Calendars For Shipping To The US:
$36.90
California Residents
Order 1 Calendar For California Residents:
$22.95
Order 2 Calendars For California Residents:
$39.50
Canada
Order 1 Calendar For Shipping To Canada:
US$ 25.95
Order 2 Calendars For Shipping To Canada:
US$ 41.90
Europe
Order 1 Calendar For Shipping To Europe:
EUR 19.50
Order 2 Calendars For Shipping To Europe:
EUR 35.45
Australia, New Zealand and South Africa
Order 1 Calendar For Shipping To AU, NZ or ZA:
EUR 21.95
Order 2 Calendars For Shipping To AU, NZ or ZA:
EUR 37.90

 If you prefer, you can of course still buy the calendar using Paypal as well. Just choose the relevant option, and click on Buy Now below:

Ordering 1 calendar

US & Canada Orders
Orders for Europe, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa
  

Ordering 2 calendars

US & Canada Orders - 2 Calendars
Orders for Europe, Australia, NZ and South Africa - 2 Calendars

If you can't find the number of calendars or your country of residence in the list above, just send an email to calendar@motogpmatters.com, and we'll provide you with pricing and shipping details.

Aprilia Superbike, 125 and 250 Riders Test Times At Valencia

While the MotoGP teams are warming up ready for the final test of the season, either at Jerez for the official IRTA test or in Phillip Island for the private test for Suzuki and Kawasaki, Aprilia was rolling out its equipment for all of the classes it will be contesting this year at Valencia.

Shinya Nakano and test rider Alex Hofmann were testing Aprilia's RSV4 World Superbike weapon, Nakano setting a time about a second slower than the times set at the World Superbike race here in April, while Hofmann was a good deal slower, but likely to be much busier actually testing equipment, rather than setting lap times. Meanwhile, Alvaro Bautista was quickest of the 250 riders, with Bradley Smith fractionally faster than his Aspar team mate Julian Simon on the 125s.

But there were two other noteworthy visitors at the test in Spain. The first was the British Maxtra team, rolling out at one of the first public appearances of the bike. The team, which is being run by British GP legend John Surtees, features an engine tuned by Aprilia's and KTM's former engine guru Jan Witteveen, and despite Michael Ranseder being pleased with the bike, saying "you can ride the bike very cleanly, but I have to get used to the bike, as it's so different to anything else I've ever ridden," the Maxtra team did not release lap times.

The other prominent visitor was Marco Simoncelli. Simoncelli did not ride today, but he will be out on Tuesday. Not on his Gilera, though, but rather aboard the RSV4 superbike. The ride is not a test, however, but just a reward for winning the 250 World Championship. Simoncelli has unfinished business in 250s and MotoGP, and is not yet ready to head off into World Superbikes.

Times from Monday's test at Valencia:

1 Shinya Nakano Aprilia RSV4 1'36.3
2 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia 250 1'37.1
3 Alex Hofmann Aprilia RSV4 1'38.0
4 Gabor Talmacsi Aprilia 250 1'38.0
5 Mike di Meglio Aprilia 250 1'38.8
6 Bradley Smith Aprilia 125 1'41.7
7 Julian Simon Aprilia 125 1'41.7
8 Andrea Iannone Aprilia 125 1'42.5
9 Sergio Gadea Aprilia 125 1'43.2

 

For Sale: MotoGP Bike

Well, strictly speaking, not a MotoGP bike, but former GP racing motorcycles don't come onto the market very often, and when they do, fans dedicated and wealthy enough to be able to secure these machines need to move quickly.

So collectors and fans will be delighted to learn that some very rare exotica is now up for sale. Aprilia is selling off some of its 500cc V twin RSW 500 V2 GP bikes, the bikes contested Tetsuya Harada and Jeremy McWilliams in the 1999 and 2000 500cc World Championships. The exact numbers on offer are not exactly clear, but at least 3 bikes will be on sale:

  • The bike which Harada used in the 1999 season;
  • The bike which Harada used in the 2000 season
  • The bike which McWilliams used in the 2000 season.

As you might expect for such rare and valuable machinery, the website discretely neglects to mention the prices the bikes are expected to raise, and as part of the purchase, buyers will have to sign a contract forbidding them discussing the technical details of the motorcycles with third parties, as the dimensions and details will still belong to Aprilia, under intellectual property law.

 

However, these are all mere details. The chance to own a racing motorcycle which took four podiums between 1999 and 2000 is not one that serious, and seriously rich, MotoGP fans are likely to pass up. Interested parties should contact Aprilia via their website. Below is a taster of what you will get for your money:

Aprilia RSW500 V2

Aprilia RSW500 V2

Aprilia RSW500 V2

Aprilia RSW500 V2

 

The Problem With Alice: Toni Elias Speaks

In motorcycle racing, as in all endeavors in life, some people do better than others. And whenever one competitor does better than another, the search starts for just why that should be.

In a team sport - which MotoGP is, despite the overriding importance of the ability of a single individual, the rider  - fingers are quck to be pointed at elements within a team, or even the team as a whole, when a team underperforms. Sometimes, such accusations are entirely justified, and there really is a single cause of the team's woes, but more often than not, when a team does not live up to expectations, the reality is a good deal more complicated than it might seem at first glance.

Two examples come to mind inside the MotoGP paddock. The first is the JiR Honda team, led by Luca Montiron. After JiR split from Pramac after the 2004 season, Makoto Tamada's results took a nosedive. What's more, a similar thing happened to Shinya Nakano when he joined the team, and the JiR team only saw success again after the team was effectively taken over by Team Scot once Andrea Dovizioso entered the MotoGP class. In this case, the cause seemed fairly straightforward: Montiron had talented riders and proven equipment, and yet the results were consistently mediocre at best. Once Montiron was pushed aside, the results saw a dramatic turnaround, justifying the conclusion that the problem was most likely to be Luca Montiron, and his ability to run a team.

The other example is what was this year the Alice Ducati team, owned by Pramac, and run for the first part of the year by Luis d'Antin. At first glance, conclusions about the team's poor performance could be put down to the same cause as JiR's: poor management. After all, Toni Elias and Sylvain Guintoli, two riders who had performed above expectations on other equipment, were suddenly struggling at the back of the field. Once Luis d'Antin was fired by the team, just prior to the Sachsenring MotoGP round in July, the results improved dramatically, Elias getting back-to-back podiums in Brno and Misano. But Elias' dismal performance in the final races of the year, as well as a closer examination of the history of the team paints a much more complicated picture than just poor management.

As a team manager, Luis d'Antin had been extremely successful in the past. His eponymous team won the Japanese Grand Prix in 2000, Norifumi Abe taking victory at Suzuka. And in the years that followed, the d'Antin bikes could be found in the first half of the field. D'Antin's fortunes took a downturn when he switched from Yamaha to Ducati in 2004, and neither the 2003 World Superbike champion Neil Hodgson nor his team mate, and WSBK runner up Ruben Xaus got the results they had shown they were capable of in World Superbikes.

Since then, d'Antin's relationship with Ducati has often been troubled. The team itself suffered many financial problems, with rumors of unpaid hotel bills and bills for parts dogging d'Antin right up until he left the paddock this year. But there was more to the team's problems than just financial mismanagement, as an interview with Toni Elias on Crash.net makes amply clear.

In the interview, Elias accuses Ducati of not supplying the team with the parts it needed to be competitive until after Luis d'Antin's departure at the Sachsenring. "When we finally received [the new parts] we made a leap in performance, and we got back in the top ten, so for me Germany is when the second part of the season began."

And to underline Ducati's role in all this. Elias points to what happened after he told the team that he would be leaving to join Gresini Honda at the end of the year. "I told Ducati what my plans were for 2009 in Motegi, and from that moment on the parts disappeared. From then on it was back to the lower half of the standings." After two podiums on improved equipment, Elias didn't finish in the top 10 again for the rest of the season.

So it seems that Ducati, and possibly Pramac, were engaged in a political powerplay, aimed at increasing Ducati's control over their satellite team. Ducati - in the person of Livio Suppo - have stated publicly several times that they are trying to turn the satellite team into a true junior team, much as they have in World Superbikes, following the lead set in Formula 1. It seems fair to assume that in order to achieve that goal, Ducati were not afraid to use whatever influence they had over the team to ensure that they achieved their long-term goals, even if it was to the detriment of short-term results.

Evidence of this strategy can be seen in what happened to the team members after the end of the 2008 season. The mechanics and engineers have spread out through various world championship paddocks, with members going on to join the Yamaha and Aprilia World Superbike efforts, Kawasaki's World Supersport team, and  Sete Gibernau's return to MotoGP with Onde2000. The parts and logistics engineer Liam Shubert, in a post over on his excellent blog MotoLiam.com, explained that the atmosphere and sense of togetherness so vital for running a team had disappeared over the last year, causing him to decide to leave the MotoGP paddock and return to the US.

These were all changes that had little to do with the way that Luis d'Antin ran the team, but were perhaps more to do with the shift of power which had accompanied the takeover of the team by the Pramac group, after purchasing the team from Luis d'Antin prior to the 2007 season. With the team management engaged in a slow struggle for control, is it any wonder that a team with clearly talented riders and the fastest bike on the grid - as proven by Casey Stoner - should find it so very hard to compete?

Aprilia Unveils Official Livery

We had already posted pictures of the brand new Aprilia RSV4 World Superbike machine from the test which took place at Portimao, after the final round of WSBK (pictures here). But now, Aprilia have unveiled the official livery that Max Biaggi and Shinya Nakano will be running next year. The color scheme is Aprilia's traditional red and black, but this time, without any of the white which was used on the old RSV Mille bike. Italian site Omnimoto.it has the scoop, but here's a taster:

Aprilia RSV4 Superbike

See all of the pictures over at Omnimoto.it.

 

The Thin End Of The Wedge - Electronics Next Target For Ezpeleta

One of the main arguments heard against the introduction of a single tire manufacturer was that any move to standardize tires would turn out to be just the first of a range of rule changes aimed at making the racing closer. Once Carmelo Ezpeleta got the tire rule through, ran the argument, then after that, he would try to introduce rules on traction control, electronic suspension, a standard ECU, until he finally achieved his goal of close racing, like we had in 2006, the final season of the 990s.

It didn't take very long for the naysayers to be proved right. In an interview with the Italian Motosprint magazine, Dorna CEO Ezpeleta revealed that he has already started talks with the manufacturers on limiting the role of electronics in MotoGP. "We need to discuss it, as it's been done in every motor racing series," Ezpeleta said. No changes were planned for 2009, but Ezpeleta stated that he believed regulating electronics would be "the next step."

Ezpeleta has been here before, having suggested that MotoGP needs a standardized ECU at the end of 2007. The Dorna chief was forced to withdraw that proposal, after unsurprisingly encountering stiff resistance from the manufacturers, who regard MotoGP as a technological showcase. But after having won a victory over the single tire rule, he may well be feeling confident he can push through further restrictions with much less resistance.

While making his arguments in favor of limited electronics, he also let slip the real reason for the move to a single tire. The move was ostensibly to reduce costs and improve safety by reducing corner speed, but Ezpeleta told Motosprint that he also expected to see the single tire rule "improve the spectacle." "I have lots of confidence in the control tire, also to see the riders closer to each other and to see races with more passing." No mention was made of the safety aspect of the rule, which is bearing ever more resemblance to the "safety" arguments used to reduce engine capacity from 990cc to 800cc.

Skeptics might argue that Ezpeleta's logic is flawed. While any attempt to reduce costs should be applauded, and each of the regulations being introduced seem at first glance to be a cheaper option, the problem is that rule changes are by their very nature expensive, and tend to increase, rather than decrease costs. 

Firstly, every rule change means that manufacturers often find themselves confronted with the need to throw away what they were doing previously and start all over again. This was obviously the case for the engine capacity reduction, but a similar thing is happening with the single tire. Manufacturers can no longer rely on finding tires to work with their bikes, they now have to change the bike around to work with the tires. For several manufacturers, that will mean throwing away their old swing arms, suspension and chassis, and starting again from scratch.

And instead of leveling the field, this merely strengthens the hand of the strongest teams. The tires provided by Bridgestone are based on the tires used by Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi this year, and so both Ducati and Yamaha already have bikes that work with the tires. Kawasaki and, to a lesser extent, Suzuki, however, can't get their bikes to work with the current tires, and where using a different carcass construction. With this option gone, Kawasaki and Suzuki will have to redesign their bikes to work with the new tires, further increasing their deficit on the top two.

As for limiting electronics, the lessons from the AMA are worrying. In the period that traction control was banned in that series, Yoshimura Suzuki used a sophisticated engine management package from Bazzaz Performance that cut back power delivery based on factors such as engine speed, throttle position, rate of acceleration and several others. It was a de facto TC system, but one that fell well within the letter of the law, while blatantly violating the spirit of the law. In the end, the AMA was forced to allow traction control, as it had become impossible to police. Perhaps even more worryingly, allowing the other teams to use TC as well changed nothing in the results: Ben Spies and Mat Mladin continued to utterly dominate that series, exactly as they had done before.

The only serious option for a rules body wishing to ban traction control is to get rid of electronics altogether. What this would mean is that, like in NASCAR, fuel injection systems would have to be replaced by carburettors, and to make absolutely certain, electronic ignition would have to be replaced by mechanical points.

The chances of the manufacturers accepting any such suggestion are absolutely zero, and so some other way will have to be found to limit the role rider aids play. And it also opens the question of what the point of MotoGP is. Currently, MotoGP defines itself in the rule book as a prototype racing series, but if the bikes on the road feature more and more sophisticated electronics than the bikes racing in MotoGP, that prototype label would start to look like too much of a pretense. If the aim of MotoGP is to attract the best riders and provide the closest racing, then fielding technologically inferior bikes will make it hard to attract those very riders to the series.

MotoGP has enjoyed a golden age since the introduction of the four-strokes, becoming once again the undisputed premier series. While no one would question that the series still houses most of the world's best riders, the arrival of BMW and Aprilia in the World Superbikes paddock means that MotoGP's main rival series will see 7 manufacturers competing, with an 8th (KTM) likely to join soon after. MotoGP's prominence is starting to look uncertain, and the continual tweaking of the rulebook is far from certain to fix this situation.

While having two strong series may be good for race fans in the short term, having two equally strong and competing series may damage both series in the long run. Sponsors will be confused and uncertain about which series they should be investing in, and both series could end up confusing casual spectators, and eating into each other's market share, instead of expanding the audiences for all forms of motorcycle racing. In today's harsh economic climate, and a recession, or at least very weak growth, expected to last for the next couple of years at least, that is a danger which needs to be avoided at all costs.

Want To Be A Race Mechanic? Ten Kate Are Hiring!

Everyone - well, almost everyone who reads this site regularly - dreams of one day perhaps making into the paddock of either MotoGP or World Superbikes, and being able to earn their living surrounded by the most exciting racing motorcycles in the world. The opportunities to make that leap are few and far between, and when they do come along, they are often surrounded by uncertainty.

So when an opportunity does arise, it is a pleasure to be able to alert eager readers to their chance to make it into the world of elite motorcycle racing. And now, just such a chance has come up.

The Ten Kate Racing team are looking for a race mechanic, to join their team of 28 who work on Ten Kate's World Superbike and World Supersport race efforts. The requirements are relatively straightforward: Ten Kate are looking for mechanics with some form of technical training, relevant experience working on motorcycles, and a car and motorcycle license. Experience in motorcycle racing would be an advantage. As the position is based in Holland, some knowledge of Dutch would also be an advantage, or at least the ability and willingness to learn it. 

The job of a race mechanic entails preparing the Ten Kate team's CBR600RR and CBR1000RR race bikes at their base in Nieuwleusen, The Netherlands, and preparing and repairing the bikes at the test tracks and race events during the World Superbike season. The job requires dedication, skill, passion, and a will to win, while still functioning well within a team. On offer is a contract for a year, which could be extended to a permanent contract if you perform well during that first year.

If you're interested, send your resume and a letter of application to Ronald ten Kate. You can find the e-mail and postal details over on the Ten Kate website, on this page (in Dutch). And if you do get the job, make sure you keep us up to date here at MotoGPMatters.com!

Thanks to Marien at MOTO73 for the tip.

The MotoGPMatters.com Motorcycle Racing Calendar Goes On Sale!

As promised, the MotoGPMatters.com 2009 Racing Calendar is finally available for purchase! At either US$15 for residents of the USA and Canada, or EUR15 for the rest of the world (both plus shipping and handling), the calendar is a must-have for any motorcycle racing fan, and is the perfect gift or stocking filler for lovers of bikes and great photography. It is also an indispensable aid in planning your life so you don't miss out on any of the great motorcycle racing we expect to see in 2009.

Each month features one of Scott Jones' beautiful photographs, as an 8.5 inch by 11 inch (Letter size, or about the same size as A4) print, above an 8.5x11 page containing a grid of the month, including a list of all of the MotoGP and World Superbike weekends, and a listing of the birthdays of the big names from MotoGP, the 250 and 125cc classes, and World Superbikes and World Supersport. There's also a brief description of the state of racing for that month.

MotoGPMatters.com 2009 motorcycle racing calendar

The calendar has been produced using an 4-color ink offset printing process, and is folded and saddle-stitched, with a hole drilled for hanging it on the wall. As a bonus, there is a double-page poster of the 2008 World Champion, Valentino Rossi, so there's no need to take it off the wall once 2009 is over.

Here's the pricing in full:

Country Price (US Dollars) Shipping &
handling
Total
US* 14.95 6 20.95
Canada 14.95 11 25.95
       

 * California residents must add 8.75% sales tax.

Country Price (Euros) Shipping &
handling
Total
European Union 14.95 4.55 19.50
Australia, New Zealand, South Africa 14.95 7 21.95
       

 

Shipping in the US and Canada is by Priority Mail, which should take 3 days to anywhere within the continental US, or 5 days to Canada.

Shipping in the European Union is by Priority Mail, which should take 1-4 days, depending on the destination. Shipping to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa is also by Priority Mail, which should take 6-10 working days.

Other shipping options are available, and pricing of both shipping and calendars may vary for orders of more than one calendar. Send an e-mail with your requirements to calendar@motogpmatters.com. For all other countries, please send an e-mail about the price and availability of shipping.

We are still working on a more efficient ordering system, but for the moment, we will be taking orders via a standard Paypal payment. Select the correct payment option below: 

Ordering 1 calendar

US & Canada Orders
Orders for Europe, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa

Ordering 2 calendars

US & Canada Orders - 2 Calendars
Orders for Europe, Australia, NZ and South Africa - 2 Calendar

PS: If you love the photos, Scott Jones will offer customers who buy a calendar a discount on full-size prints of any of the images from the calendar if you order them from his website, http://www.turn2photography.com/

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