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Steve Bonsey Absent At IRTA Tests

The progress of the young American rider Steve Bonsey is being followed closely by some people in the paddock. Having been brought straight into GPs from dirt track at the behest of Kenny Roberts Senior, a bright future was ascribed to Bonsey. After two years in 125s, Bonsey was set to move up to 250s this year, the logical progression in the "European" school of motorcycle racing.

Unfortunately for the young American, he joined the Aprilia Madrid team right at the wrong time, just as the financial crisis hit the world economy. At the IRTA tests earlier this week, Bonsey's Aprilia Madrid were a no-show, with no evidence that the team would turn up at any point. The rumors in the paddock suggest that the team has folded, leaving the American without a ride. Whether Bonsey will get a ride with another team is as yet uncertain. There were suggestions linking him to another Aprilia team, but so far, nothing more reliable has appeared.

Bonsey's manager is in the paddock, and told reporters that he was talking to teams, but nothing had been sorted yet. It would be a shame if the American should fail at the second step on the path to MotoGP. 

2009 IRTA Test Jerez - Day 2 - Final Session A Washout

After heavy rain and thunderstorms disrupted the final minutes of the BMW M Award session, a wet track and overcast skies kept most of the field off the track for the final session. Only those still with testing to do took to the track, and only then after the rain had finished. Andrea Dovizioso was among the hardest working of the riders, and saw his hard work rewarded with the fastest time, ahead of Chris Vermeulen, once again demonstrating both his prowess in the wet and the progress of the Suzuki, and Marco Melandri, who has less to worry about the rear of the Hayate / Kawasaki when grip is down anyway.

Andrea Dovizioso, Repsol Honda, IRTA Test Jerez 2009

Despite the dismal weather, groups of diehard fans sat scattered around the track, waiting for the occasional bike to pass. They stuck it out all the way to the end, proof that MotoGP is still alive and well in Spain, no matter the problems which surround the series. We'll be back here in five weeks time, but before that, MotoGP heads for the freak show that is the MotoGP night race opener at Losail, Qatar. In two weeks' time, we'll be actually racing.

Times of the final session of testing from Jerez

Pos No. Rider Bike Time Diff Fast lap Total laps
1 4 Andrea Dovizioso Honda 1'51.488 0.000 20 20
2 7 Chris Vermeulen Suzuki 1'51.688 0.200 8 8
3 33 Marco Melandri Kawasaki 1'52.105 0.617 14 14
4 22 Vito Guareschi Ducati 1'52.228 0.740 15 18
5 69 Nicky Hayden Ducati 1'52.243 0.755 18 19
6 36 Mika Kallio Ducati 1'52.343 0.855 17 17
7 72 Yuki Takahashi Honda 1'53.678 2.190 16 16
8 65 Loris Capirossi Suzuki 1'55.147 3.659 4 4
9 88 Niccolo Canepa Ducati 1'55.219 3.731 22 23
10 14 Randy de Puniet Honda 1'55.465 3.977 7 8


Dominant Stoner Takes BMW As Rain Stops Play At Jerez

Casey Stoner did at Jerez what Casey Stoner seems to be capable of at any circuit. The Australian dominated the 45 minute special qualifying session at the official IRTA Test at Jerez, eventually taking the BMW on offer for the fastest lap by over 7/10ths of a second. The Ducati rider took control of the session just 8 minutes in, smashing the 1'40 barrier with a lap of 1'39.176, over a second up on the rest of the field.

The rest of the session saw the other riders edging closer, with Valentino Rossi looking like taking top spot from Stoner, until he was balked by a slower rider. But with just under 10 minutes of the session left, Stoner stomped on any hopes other riders might have been cherishing of bagging the BMW. The Australian slashed half a second off his previous time, putting in a lap of 1'38.646 to claim the special BMW M Award.

A few minutes later, the black clouds which had been threatening the track finally broke over the circuit, drenching the track and halting any chance of riders improving their times. The entire field headed back to the safety of the pits, and with 5 minutes of the official session left, it was effectively over.

Bad luck dogged James Toseland at Jerez. With 16 min to go, the Englishman hit a white line going into to Turn 3, and tumbled through the gravel at high speed. The accident caused the session to be briefly red flagged, as the medics transported Toseland and the remains of his Tech 3 Yamaha from the track. The rider was reported to be OK, but he looked badly banged up. The word so far is that Toseland suffered a concussion, but no official announcements have been made.

Nicky Hayden was slightly luckier than Toseland. The American ran wide into the gravel, but used all his dirt track skills to stay upright as he ran through the gravel at high speed.

Results of the BMW M Award.

Pos No. Rider Bike Time Diff
1 27 Casey Stoner Ducati 1'38.646 0.000
2 46 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1'39.365 0.719
3 65 Loris Capirossi Suzuki 1'39.757 1.111
4 99 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1'39.829 1.183
5 7 Chris Vermeulen Suzuki 1'39.848 1.202
6 36 Mika Kallio Ducati 1'40.149 1.503
7 4 Andrea Dovizioso Honda 1'40.168 1.522
8 59 Sete Gibernau Ducati 1'40.228 1.582
9 24 Toni Elias Honda 1'40.266 1.620
10 5 Colin Edwards Yamaha 1'40.305 1.659
11 69 Nicky Hayden Ducati 1'40.401 1.755
12 33 Marco Melandri Kawasaki 1'40.405 1.759
13 14 Randy de Puniet Honda 1'40.646 2.000
14 72 Yuki Takahashi Honda 1'40.814 2.168
15 15 Alex de Angelis Honda 1'40.869 2.223
16 52 James Toseland Yamaha 1'41.425 2.779
17 22 Vito Guareschi Ducati 1'41.485 2.839
18 88 Niccolo Canepa Ducati 1'41.551 2.905
19 64 Kosuoke Akiyoshi Honda 1'42.206 3.560


2009 IRTA Test Jerez Day 2 - FP2 Final Times

The switch from Central European Time to Central European Summer Time meant we lost an hour at Jerez this morning, the clocks going forward. So when practice opened at 10am this morning, the track had barely warmed, and the cold wind made wearing a coat highly advisable. As a consequence, most of the riders didn't hit the track until 10:45, with only the test riders out and circulating. 

Casey Stoner was one of the first official riders out, and was apparently entirely unhindered by the cool track temperatures. Within three laps, Stoner was under the existing lap record, and a tenth of a second quicker than his own time yesterday. Behind Stoner were the Fiat Yamaha pair, Jorge Lorenzo leading team mate Valentino Rossi once again, while Suzuki's Loris Capirossi was less than a tenth slower than Rossi, showing that Suzuki mean business this year.

Andrea Dovizioso was 5th fastest, but the Repsol Honda rider was already over a second behind Stoner, and nearly half a second slower than Capirossi.

The Dash For The Car is up next.

Final times from the morning session of testing at Jerez:

Pos No. Rider Bike Time Diff Fast lap Total laps
1 27 Casey Stoner Ducati 1'39.804 0.000 4 33 
2 99 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1'40.187 0.383 34 37 
3 46 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1'40.252 0.448 29 34 
4 65 Loris Capirossi Suzuki 1'40.330 0.526 20  29 
5 4 Andrea Dovizioso Honda 1'40.806 1.002 22  40 
6 7 Chris Vermeulen Suzuki 1'40.970 1.166 16 30 
7 69 Nicky Hayden Ducati 1'41.060 1.256 32  42 
8 33 Marco Melandri Kawasaki 1'41.207 1.403 15  32 
9 59 Sete Gibernau Ducati 1'41.243 1.439 23  23 
10 5 Colin Edwards Yamaha 1'41.513 1.709 23 
11 52 James Toseland Yamaha 1'41.516 1.712 16  26 
12 24 Toni Elias Honda 1'41.594 1.790 20  26 
13 36 Mika Kallio Ducati 1'41.600 1.796 43 
14 14 Randy de Puniet Honda 1'41.637 1.833 33  34 
15 15 Alex de Angelis Honda 1'41.640 1.836 24  25 
16 22 Vito Guareschi Ducati 1'41.711 1.907 35  35 
17 64 Kosuoke Akiyoshi Honda 1'42.058 2.254 17  31 
18 88 Niccolo Canepa Ducati 1'42.376 2.572 17  30 
19 72 Yuki Takahashi Honda 1'42.564 2.760 13  30 


Those MotoGP Rule Changes In Full - GPS Ban Slips Under The Radar

The FIM today sent out a press release containing the full details of the rule changes announced by Carmelo Ezpeleta and Vito Ippolito at Jerez yesterday. Most of these have been discussed yesterday, but a few changes appear to have been missed by Ippolito when he made the announcements, and these are things which are certainly worthy of our attention.

Some of these had already been announced, such as the ban on electronic suspension and ceramic composite materials for brake disks. But others are new, and rather puzzling. Potentially useful technologies such as variable valve timing and variable valve lift is essentially old technology, and available on a number of road vehicles, including Honda's VFR800 sports tourer. But more mysifying is the ban on variable exhaust systems. The question is, will this ban mean that systems like Yamaha's EXUP system - going on for 20 years old - would not be permitted?

Another incomprehensible rule is the ban on electronic steering dampers, available on Honda's CBR1000RR superbike for the past several years, and hardly either expensive or technically complicated.

But the rule which is likely to prove least effective is the ban on GPS systems. The rules state that as of 2010, the only GPS equipment allowed on the bike will be that placed there by Dorna for TV purposes, and that GPS system may not be connected to the bike's ECU or any other control system. While the aim is laudable, the workaround is both simple and expensive: A track map can be recreated in software based on the input of the wheel speed sensors, lean angle sensors, and brake sensors, and the system recalibrated every lap by the transponder as the bike crosses the line. The system won't be quite as accurate as using GPS data, but it will be good enough to continue the work that the teams are doing on variable engine maps for different parts of the track. And it will require a lot more work and a lot more data analysis to get it working properly, rather than the simple input of GPS data. 

All of the changes seem aimed at removing the influence of electronics in MotoGP, with the subsidiary aim to cut costs. Tragically, both of these aims are doomed to failure. The electronics are being removed from the bikes, but they are being shifted into the R&D departments and the garage, where more processing power is needed to recreate the functions being removed. The rules will force manufacturers to try and recreate in hardware the functions currently being provided by software. And hardware, in this case, physical engineering of components such as hydraulic steering dampers rather than electronic dampers, is a lot more expensive to design and produce. The computers may be taken off the bikes, but their influence will remain as great as ever. 

The changes to the regulations are shown in full below: 

FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix

- Changes to the 2009 Regulations -
The Grand Prix Commission, composed of Messrs. Carmelo Ezpeleta (Dorna, Chairman), Claude Danis (FIM), Hervé Poncharal (IRTA) and Takanao Tsubouchi (MSMA), in the presence of Messrs Vito Ippolito (FIM President), Ignacio Verneda (FIM Sport Director), Javier Alonso (Dorna) and M. Paul Butler (Secretary of the meeting), in a meeting held on March 28 in Jerez de la Frontera (Spain), decided to introduce the following amendments to the Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix Regulations.
MotoGP Class
For immediate application
1. Engine restriction from Czech Republic Grand Prix included
a) A rider can use a maximum of 5 engines until the end of the Championship.
b) New engines have to be sealed before use (practices, warm up, race).
c) A new engine will be deemed to have been used when the motorcycle exits the pit lane.
d) All used engines will have the exhaust ports additionally sealed at the end of each event.
e) A sealed engine can be reused at any time.
f) The penalty for using an unauthorized engine will be a deduction of 10 points from the total point of the Championship ranking of the rider concerned.
2. 2009-2010 tests
8 days in total. Venues and days will be announced.
3. Ceramic composite materials shall not be permitted for brake discs and pads.
4. Any pressurized hydraulic powered system is not allowed. Also engine lubricating oil cannot be used for any other purpose.
5. Electronic controlled suspension shall not be permitted.
6. EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) shall not be permitted.
7. Testing with non-contracted riders is allowed at any track, at any time, but it is subject to the following limitations:
a) Only tyres coming from the Tyre Supplier are allowed, and not more than 240pcs. per Manufacturer can be used from the 1st of January to the 31st of December including after-race tests.
b) After the MotoGP season has started, testing before a race included in the MotoGP Championship is limited to 2 tracks, and no later than 14 days prior to the race.
8. Testing for contracted riders:
a) Contracted riders are allowed to 2 after-race tests. The tyres used by the contracted riders will not be counted.
b) The winter test ban will be extended up to January 31st.
For 2010
1. Only one machine can be used during each MotoGP event.
2. A rider can use a maximum of 6 engines for the entire Championship.
3. A new event schedule will be announced.
4. Carbon composite front brake discs must be of one diameter only and two types of mass. The diameter will be 320mm only.
5. The maximum fuel injection pressure is 10 Bar.
6. MMC (Metal Matrix Composite) & FRM (Fiber Matrix Material) shall not be permitted.
7. Temperature sensor for the tyre will not be permitted.
8. From 2010 to 2012, the rim width shall be limited to 2 sizes for front and 1 size for rear for each manufacturer. Wheels diameter shall be limited to 16.5 inches only.
9. Variable exhaust system shall not be permitted.
10. Variable Valve Timing system and Variable Valve Lift system powered by electric and/or liquid, shall not be permitted.
11. Connecting rod shall not be a hollow structure but less than 2mm oil pass tunnel is permitted.
12. Twin clutch system (known as DSG) shall not be permitted.
13. Automatic transmission shall not be permitted. But manual transmission assisted by small force shall be permitted.
14. Consecutive Variable Transmission shall not be permitted.
15. Only DORNA can supply GPS unit just for entertainments such as TV broadcasting, which can’t connect to CPU unit by any kind of system.
16. Electric/electronic steering damper system shall not be permitted.
17. Minimum weight of motorcycle shall be the existing one + 2 kg. (ex: 150 kg for 4 cylinders).
18. Only 5 persons can work on the machine in the pits.
19. Riders who enter the Championship for the first time (Rookies) must be entered by a non factory Team.
Moto2 class
MSMA unanimously proposed “One Make Engine Regulation”. Manufacturers will be consulted to know if they are interested.


The Dictator Disappears - Gibernau Loses The Equatorial Guinea Link

Sete Gibernau's team revealed its new livery here at Jerez yesterday, a rather handsome blue, green, white and red color scheme, vaguely reminiscent of the special livery Gibernau ran in 2006 at Mugello when he was partnered with Loris Capirossi at Ducati. But one thing was prominent by its absence from the bike - a reference to Equatorial Guinea, the small African nation run by the 14th worst dictator in the world, according to Parade Magazine. This is something of a surprise, for the team was originally entered under the banner of Guinea Ecuatorial, the Spanish name for the country, where Francisco Hernando, the man funding the team, is engaged in building a holiday resort complex.

Further research reveals that the whole team has been quietly rebranded. Any association with the dictator is gone, replaced instead by Grupo Francisco Hernando and Nueva Edificacion 2000, another - and less tainted - project run by the Spanish construction group. Even the team has been renamed: Instead of the Guinea Ecuatorial team, it is now called the Grupo Francisco Hernando team.

Over the years, MotoGP has had some sponsors of debatable ethical standards, and discussions have flared up from time to time as to whether it's good for motorcycle racing to be linked to products like tobacco. But while we can argue about the choice of people to use tobacco products or not, brutal dictatorships which routinely engage in torture are not the kind of association that MotoGP needs. Good riddance. 

2009 IRTA MotoGP Test Jerez Day 1 - Final Times

Final times from day 1 of the IRTA test at Jerez:

Pos No. Rider Bike Time Diff Fast lap Total laps
1 99 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1'39.791 0.000    
2 46 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1'39.861 0.070    
3 27 Casey Stoner Ducati 1'39.906 0.115    
4 7 Chris Vermeulen Suzuki 1'40.572 0.781    
5 5 Colin Edwards Yamaha 1'40.579 0.788    
6 65 Loris Capirossi Suzuki 1'40.650 0.859    
7 4 Andrea Dovizioso Honda 1'40.821 1.030    
8 15 Alex de Angelis Honda 1'40.900 1.109    
9 69 Nicky Hayden Ducati 1'40.987 1.196    
10 24 Toni Elias Honda 1'41.049 1.258    
11 52 James Toseland Yamaha 1'41.122 1.331    
12 33 Marco Melandri Kawasaki 1'41.160 1.369    
13 14 Randy de Puniet Honda 1'41.168 1.377    
14 36 Mika Kallio Ducati 1'41.226 1.435    
15 72 Yuki Takahashi Honda 1'41.362 1.571    
16 59 Sete Gibernau Ducati 1'41.737 1.946    
17 88 Niccolo Canepa Ducati 1'41.851 2.060    
18 64 Kosuoke Akiyoshi Honda 1'42.286 2.495    
19 22 Vito Guareschi Ducati 1'42.324 2.533    

Lap Record: Valentino Rossi, 2005, 1'40.596



KTM's KERS System Banned In 125s

The news that KTM was testing a KERS system for their 125cc race bikes was something of a eureka moment for those who follow any form of motorsport. If there is one place that a KERS system makes sense, it is on a small capacity motorcycle - the relatively small power gain available through KERS is of more use to a bike which starts off with relatively little power to begin with. It was obvious that KERS on a 125cc bike is an absolute no-brainer.

That very realization that KERS was a no-brainer has proven fateful for the system. In a meeting of the Grand Prix Commission held today, the body ruled that the KERS system as it was being used by KTM should be declared illegal under the current wording of the rules, which state that the bikes must be "propelled by an internal combustion engine." 

This point could be argued either way. The KERS system obtains its energy from the speed lost during braking, speed gained as a result of the internal combustion engine. But it is unarguably a supplemental system, which of itself does not operate using the principle of internal combustion. Long and expensive lawsuits could have been fought over this, such is the vagueness of the rules.

In the end, though, it wasn't the fear of cheating which caused the GP Commission to ban KERS, but rather costs. Despite the system as it exists today being relatively cheap, the GP Commission feared that costs could spiral out of control if teams felt they needed to develop KERS to be able to compete. The cost-cutting mantra has become "the new patriotism" as one motorsports commentator has taken to calling it, by which she means that anything put forward in the name of cost-cutting is accepted without argument, just as in the post 9/11 period any argument on the balance between security and liberty could be overruled by making it an issue of patriotism.

But this won't necessarily mean that this is the end of KERS. KTM has been advised that a simple request to the MSMA for a wording change to the rules would be sufficient to make KERS legal again. It could be back sooner than we think.

2009 IRTA MotoGP Test Jerez Day 1 - 3:30pm Update

Times shortly at 3:30pm

PosNo.RiderBikeTimeDiffFast lapTotal laps
146Valentino RossiYamaha1'40.1890.0002534 
299Jorge LorenzoYamaha1'40.5590.3705764 
327Casey StonerDucati1'40.5860.39722 23 
45Colin EdwardsYamaha1'40.8500.66135 42 
57Chris VermeulenSuzuki1'40.9190.73031 43 
633Marco MelandriKawasaki1'41.1600.97153 53 
74Andrea DoviziosoHonda1'41.3121.12340 44 
869Nicky HaydenDucati1'41.3481.15946 53 
952James ToselandYamaha1'41.3811.19248 53 
1024Toni EliasHonda1'41.4061.21746 46 
1165Loris CapirossiSuzuki1'41.6761.48726 34 
1215Alex de AngelisHonda1'41.8381.64941 42 
1336Mika KallioDucati1'41.8971.70834 38 
1414Randy de PunietHonda1'42.2152.02636 41 
1572Yuki TakahashiHonda1'42.2532.06439 41 
1659Sete GibernauDucati1'42.4562.26723 23 
1788Niccolo CanepaDucati1'42.8282.63925 30 
1864Kosuoke AkiyoshiHonda1'42.9392.75036 40 
1922Vito GuareschiDucati1'43.0532.86416 28 


New MotoGP Rules - 6 Engines And 1 Bike In 2010, And No Rookies On Factory Teams

In a press conference held today during the IRTA tests at Jerez, Vito Ippolito, the president of the FIM, and Carmelo Ezpeleta, CEO of Dorna, announced a series of measures aimed at cutting costs in MotoGP. More details to follow, but here are the rule changes:

  • At the end of the 2009 season, teams will only be allowed to use 5 engines for the last 7 races. This leaves the previous rule unchanged, answering speculation that the number of engines could be reduced after the Hungarian MotoGP round was dropped from the calendar, which would have meant 5 engines having to last for 8 races.
  • For 2010, each rider will have 6 engines to last the entire 18 race season. The engines will be sealed, and Dorna will be able to monitor remotely which engines are being used as the riders exit the pit lane.
  • The penalty for any infraction of this rule is that the rider will be docked 10 points from his championship points total. The manufacturer will also have 10 points deducted in the manufacturer standings, regardless of whether the rider was on a factory bike or a private bike.
  • Testing will be limited to 8 days in total next year, with just 2 tests during the season after the races at Catalunya and Brno.
  • As of 2010, only one bike per rider will be permitted. Teams will be allowed to scrutineer one machine for each rider. If a rider damages a chassis, a replacement chassis will have to be offered for technical inspection.
  • Friday is under discussion. Talks are still ongoing about whether the Friday afternoon practice session will be dropped.
  • Wheel rim widths are to be limited to two different sizes for front wheels, and one different size on the rear.
  • Only 5 technicians will be allowed to touch the bike during practice sessions. Once practice sessions are over, more people will be allowed to work on the bike, but this number will be limited to 5 during practice.
  • The minimum weight will be increased by 2kg for all engine configurations.
  • In 2010, no rider eligible for Rookie of the Year will be allowed to go straight to a factory team. Instead, they will have to go to a private or satellite team for at least one year, after which they will be eligible to join a factory team.

On the Moto2 series, the MSMA had put forward a proposal to turn the series into a spec engine series. The MSMA felt this would be the best way of preventing costs spiralling out of control, by basically removing the pressure of competition, leaving the teams free to focus on chassis development.


Mike Webb, technical director for MotoGP, clarified the rules on wheel rim width for us. "It was a spot of poor translation," he told us, when we asked about the wheel rim widths. The information published earlier that the rim width would be limited to two inches on the front and three on the rear was incorrect. It is the quantity of permitted widths which has been limited, not the width itself.