Latest News

MotoGPOD Podcast Is Back

For the fans of Bob Hayes' great motorcycle racing podcast MotoGPOD, the podcast is back again! The podcast fell into neglect earlier this year after Bob, a military reservist, was called to active service. However, thanks to the valiant efforts of Jules Cisek (the driving force behind the RideOnTwo.com blog and forum) and Liam Shubert (a member of the Pramac d'Antin team, whose adventures you can read about on http://www.motoliam.com), MotoGPOD has been resurrected and is back on the internet. Jules and Liam are hoping to get the show back on a more regular basis, and keep it running until Bob returns from service and can start making the show again.

If you don't know the show, it's an informative discussion about all the stuff that's happening in MotoGP, and elsewhere in racing, with all sorts of background info and other tidbits thrown in for good measure. The latest episode features Liam Shubert giving us the lowdown on some of the testing that's being going on, and his thoughts on the new Honda RC212V.

And if you're a fan of motorcycle racing podcasts, there are two other shows you really want to catch: Rumblestrip Radio, an entertaining ramble around the world of motorcycling brought to you by "The Duke"; and the Soupkast</>, Superbikeplanet.com's inside dirt on all things related to motorcycle racing. If you have any other motorcycle racing or motorcycle-related podcast favorites, let me know, and we'll post them here.

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KTM "Won't Return To MotoGP"

In an interview with German Eurosport's MotorMagazin, KTM boss Stefan Pierer has stated categorically that they won't be returning to MotoGP any time soon. KTM had been linked with the Ilmor team, with rumors saying that KTM would take over the project from Mario Illien. However, after the disappointment of KTM's involvement with the Proton KR team, KTM are a lot more cautious about participation in premier class racing, conscious as they are of the very high costs involved.

Pierer admitted that there had been a brief conversation with Ilmor, but was dismissive of Ilmor's chances of success in MotoGP: "Without factory support, Ilmor don't stand a chance." He underlined his position by referring to the Ilmor X3's performance at the last two GPs and the winter tests conducted so far. "Their performance so far has failed to convince me", he said, expressing surprise that Ilmor's efforts have received such high praise elsewhere.

Pierer emphasized his committment to the smaller capacity classes, but also hinted at participation in World Superbikes, an option which will be viable with the launch of the RC8 sports bike, due some time next year: "At the end of the day, we want to present our products to our customers in competition", the KTM chief said.

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Ilmor Appoints Team Manager, Riders To Follow This Week

Although MotoGP followers will have to wait for the news they are awaiting most eagerly, the Ilmor SRT rider line up for next year, one more piece of the Ilmor puzzle has been put in place today, with the announcement of Mike Janes as the Ilmor SRT Team Manager. Janes has a long background in motor racing, but all of it of the four-wheeled variety, having previously worked predominantly in Formula 1, including stints with Cosworth, Williams, Jaguar and Red Bull. The move comes as a surprise, as it was widely expected that Harald Eckl, who was fired by Kawasaki last month after rumors of Eckl spending too much time advising the Ilmor team, would be first in line for the Ilmor job.

According to the press release, the Ilmor rider line up will be announced later this week. Stay tuned.

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Another Sponsor Goes - Camel Leaves MotoGP

Italian site MotoGrandPrix.it is carrying an official Camel press release stating that they are withdrawing from MotoGP sponsorship, leaving the official Yamaha factory team without a name sponsor. After earlier tobacco withdrawals (such as Fortuna and Winston in World Superbikes), it seems that big tobacco is abandoning motorcycle racing as advertising bans become ever stricter around the world. The press release gives no reason for the withdrawal, merely stating their gratitude to all concerned.

This begs the question of who will be sponsoring Yamaha next year. With Valentino Rossi, one of the biggest names in professional sports, you would expect potential sponsors to be lining up in droves to fund Yamaha. But so far, few names have been thronging for the hand of Rossi, Burgess and Edwards. Should any names surface, I'll post them here.

~~~ UPDATE ~~~

Racesport.nl is reporting that Yamaha stated that there is a strong chance that Yamaha may run the factory team under their own flag, without an external sponsor.

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McWilliams Injury Update After Jerez Tests

Ilmor today issued a statement on the condition of Jeremy McWilliams, who broke his leg and possibly fractured his collarbone in a high speed tumble during the final day of MotoGP testing at Jerez. The timing of McWilliams' injury is fortunate, coming as it does on the last day of testing before the MotoGP test ban comes into effect, preventing riders from testing between December 1st and January 20th. With McWilliams due to be unable to train for 4-5 weeks, the 8 week layoff will give him time to recover in time for a possible role within the Ilmor SRT team. Ilmor is due to announce their rider lineup for 2007 after the Jerz test, which has just concluded. How McWilliams' injury will affect his chances is hard to say.

The Ilmor press release is below:

Jeremy McWilliams Update

London 01.12.06: Ilmor are pleased to report that following his unfortunate crash yesterday (Thursday 30th) test rider Jeremy McWilliams is already on the road to recovery. McWilliams suffered a fracture to his left femur and has a suspected fracture to his collarbone, however speaking from the hospital this morning he sounded upbeat and very positive.

Commenting on the crash McWilliams said: "It was very fast and I took a bit of a tumble. The doctors here in Jerez have been great and they tell me that my leg fracture is really clean, it should take four to five weeks to heal - then I’ll be walking and able to take exercise again. I need to have an operation to have it pinned so I’ll be having that as soon as they have time to fit me in. Apparently I also have a broken collarbone but it doesn’t feel like it to me. Oh and I will lose a part of one of my fingers but as I keep telling people, I broke that one before and it wasn’t much use to me anyway!"

McWilliams went out on turn 4 at the Jerez circuit early yesterday afternoon on the third and final day of the official test. Initial data reports from the X³ show nothing to suggest a mechanical error.

Team Owner Mario Illien said: "First and foremost I’m pleased that it seems there will be no lasting damage to Jeremy, of course we want to get to the nature of the cause of the incident as soon as possible and I know the team are analysing data and footage from the crash now. Prior to yesterday afternoon, both our test riders McWilliams and Pitt had done a sterling job providing us with superb feedback on the bike allowing the team to adjust the bike’s set up and improve on the overall performance. With the exception of yesterday’s accident it has been a good test for us, we’re making progress. I would like to take this opportunity to wish Jeremy a very speedy recovery and I’m delighted, if a little shocked to hear him say he’s looking forward to getting back out on the X3!"

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Jerez November Tests - Day 2

Testing continues today at Jerez, where the weather gods are looking much more kindly upon MotoGP than yesterday, when much of the session was ruined by rain. Testing didn't get underway properly until lunchtime, due to parts of the track still being fairly damp from yesterday's rain, but by 2pm, everyone was out and riding. Motogp.com released the top 10 times as of 2pm, which are shown below. These times are not really representative of the state of play, with most of the riders having only put in some 10 laps or so. By the end of today, most will have put in 40 or 50, with varying set-ups and on different tires, which should give us a clearer picture of the relative standings within the paddock.

The top 10, as of 2pm:
1. Tady Okada, HRC - 1:41.857 (13 laps)
2. John Hopkins, Rizla Suzuki - 1:41.932 (10)
3. Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing - 1:42.381 (15)
4. Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda - 1:42.794 (15)
5. Colin Edwards, Yamaha Factory Racing - 1:43.079 (6)
6. Loris Capirossi, Ducati Marlboro - 1:43.100 (8)
7. Casey Stoner, Ducati Marlboro - 1:43.150 (14)
8. Chris Vermeulen, Rizla Suzuki - 1:43.650 (9)
9. Marco Melandri, Gresini Honda - 1:43.861 (18)
10. Shinya Nakano, Konica Minolta Honda - 1:43.930 (14)

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LCD TVs Replace Tobacco As Sponsor At Gresini

As widely expected, after Toni Elias appeared at Sepang with a large sticker on his screen, Gresini today announced a new sponsorship agreement with Taiwanese LCD manufacturer HANNspree. This is not HANNspree's first venture into motorcycle racing, as they earlier announced that they would be sponsoring the Ten Kate Honda team in World Superbikes, replacing another cigarette brand, Winston.

This agreement opens some interesting perspectives. First and foremost, it demonstrates that motorcycle racing is not as dependent upon tobacco sponsorship as it believes itself to be. Tobacco has always been an easy touch for motorsports in general, after being declared persona non grata by just about all other sports, and being banned from other forms of advertising. With more and more countries putting tobacco advertising bans in place for all sporting events, even motorsports are losing their attraction for tobacco sponsors. The one exception to this rule is currently Marlboro, who, because they have built a brand instantly recognizable by their colors alone, can afford to remove their brand name from sponsorship, and just carry their red and white colors.

The other noteworthy aspect of this agreement is the link with Ten Kate, the "official" Honda team in World Superbike. James Toseland's name has been linked very strongly with a move to MotoGP in the near future, and he was even in the frame for a ride with d'Antin Ducati for 2007, but he decided against moving to MotoGP for an uncompetitive ride. However, Dorna and the BBC would love to see the highly popular young Briton go to MotoGP, to enhance the series' popularity in the UK. And in lapping just over a second off MotoGP pace when he was given the opportunity to ride Dani Pedrosa's RC211V after the final Valencia MotoGP round, Toseland has shown that he is capable of being competive. With both Ten Kate and Gresini on bikes from the same manufacturer, funded by the same sponsor, a move to a competitive MotoGP ride just got a lot closer for Toseland.

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Jerez November Tests - Day 1

The first times are appearing for the first day of the final test of the year at Jerez. The session started rather messily, with Andrew Pitt being forced to return to the pits with mechanical problems on his Ilmor X3, and Ducati's test rider Vittoriano Guareschi suffering a crash, due to low track temperatures. After a break of about 30 minutes, everyone was back at work, though not for too long, as rain halted testing at around 1pm local time. Below are the times set so far:

1. Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Team - 1:41.745
2. John Hopkins, Rizla Suzuki - 1:42.161
3. Colin Edwards, Yamaha Factory Team - 1:42.293
4. Dani Pedrosa, Repsol Honda - 1:44.030
5. Loris Capirossi, Ducati Marlboro - 1:44.307
6. Chris Vermeulen, Rizla Suzuki - 1:44.394
7. Marco Melandri, Gresini Honda - 1:44.876
8. Casey Stoner, Ducati Marlboro - 1:45.574
9. Shinya Nakano, Konica Minolta Honda - 1:46.200
10. Jeremy McWilliams, Ilmor SRT - 1:47.216
11. Andrew Pitt, Ilmor SRT - 1:48.518
12. Vittoriano Guareschi, Ducati Test Team - 1:50.653

Fastest race lap for each of the manufacturers from the 2006 Spanish GP in March:
Ducati: Loris Capirossi 1:41.248
Honda: Dani Pedrosa 1:41.297
Suzuki: John Hopkins 1:41.598
Kawasaki: Shinya Nakano 1:42.017
Yamaha: Carlos Checa 1:42.161

Lap record:
2005, Valentino Rossi, Yamaha, 1.40.596

Pole record:
2006, Loris Capirossi, Ducati, 1:39.064

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Chaz Davies To Test For Ilmor

In remarkable news, Crash.net is reporting that British rider Chaz Davies is to test for Ilmor. Davies will be testing the Ilmor X3 at Jerez on Wednesday and Thursday, during the last two days of the three-day MotoGP testing session at the Spanish circuit. The announcement comes as a bit of a surprise, as Ilmor had previously announced that they would be testing with Andrew Pitt, Garry McCoy and Jeremy McWilliams at Jerez, and will be announcing their team line-up after the tests at Jerez. It was widely expected that the team would consist of two of those three riders, but Davies' appearance casts some doubt on that. Davies is currently signed to compete in AMA Formula Xtreme and Supersport in the US next season, but would undoubtedly leap at the chance of moving straight to MotoGP. This would also solve the BBC's requirement for a British rider, without having to sign a rider as old as McWilliams.

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