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A Timing Comparison Between The Irta Test And The 2006 MotoGP Race

With the full timesheets in hand from MotoGP.com, I crunched some numbers on the test data, just to get a real feel for how fast the 800s are. I compared times from the longest runs I could find, a 24 lap run for Randy de Puniet on Day 2, and a 25 lap run for Dani Pedrosa on Day 3, and compared the times set with the times set by Capirossi when winning last year's race.

The numbers are remarkable. On the Saturday, a day which started misty, and with far from ideal conditions, De Puniet, who set the 8th fastest time overall, ran a sequence of laps which were under 8 seconds slower than Capirossi's time for the same distance. That pace would have given him 3rd place during the race weekend, an astounding result.

But here's something even more astounding. On Day 3, in the afternoon session after the Qualifying Practice, where Dani Pedrosa narrowly missed out on a BMW Z4, the tiny Spaniard ran a race simulation of 25 laps. He ran those laps a full 3 seconds faster than Capirossi's race-winning pace, lapping over 0.1 seconds faster per lap.

There can be no doubt that Pedrosa was in excellent form on the Sunday, as Valentino Rossi, Colin Edwards and Nicky Hayden all ran similar race simulations during the same session, but were all significantly slower. What a season awaits us ...

The times:

Capirossi, Race, 2006
Lap no. Lap time Top speed
2 1'41.25 280.7
3 1'41.42 277.6
4 1'41.8 276.4
5 1'41.57 279
6 1'41.41 276.9
7 1'41.8 277.6
8 1'41.8 275.9
9 1'41.93 276.6
10 1'41.98 274.7
11 1'41.8 277.4
12 1'41.98 278.5
13 1'41.85 276.6
14 1'41.89 277.7
15 1'41.91 278.8
16 1'41.91 276.7
17 1'41.92 276.4
18 1'42.09 278.4
19 1'41.89 278.6
20 1'42.25 277.6
21 1'41.76 278.3
22 1'42.17 275.8
23 1'41.94 277.1
24 1'42.16 277.7
25 1'42 278.1
26 1'42.08 277.8
Total time 42'26.54
Average lap: 1'41.86
Avg. speed: 277.48
De Puniet, 8th fastest, day 2 Irta test, 2007
Lap no. Lap time Top speed
50 1'42.57 260.9
51 1'41.82 262.9
52 1'41.73 262.5
53 1'41.58 262.6
54 1'41.99 262.1
55 1'41.72 262.6
56 1'41.99 262.9
57 1'42.17 261.7
58 1'42.01 261.8
59 1'42.08 262.8
60 1'42.09 261.8
61 1'41.99 261.6
62 1'42.23 261.2
63 1'42.18 262.5
64 1'42.06 264.6
65 1'42.15 264.3
66 1'42.15 263.5
67 1'42.25 263.4
68 1'42.16 263.3
69 1'42.65 262.6
70 1'42.56 262.6
71 1'42.56 262.2
72 1'42.7 261.4
73 1'42.32 263.4
74 1'42.42 262.8
Total time 42'34.11
Average lap: 1'42.16
Avg. speed: 262.56
pedrosa, 5th fastest, day 2 Irta test, 2007
Lap no. Lap time Top speed
3 1'42.64 265.9
4 1'42 267.1
5 1'41.63 267.1
6 1'41.46 265.1
7 1'41.3 264.8
8 1'41.48 263.6
9 1'41.59 264.3
10 1'41.84 264.8
11 1'41.76 265.4
12 1'41.54 267.1
13 1'41.37 266.1
14 1'41.44 266.4
15 1'41.63 264.4
16 1'41.72 266.4
17 1'41.68 267.2
18 1'41.87 267.3
19 1'41.87 265.8
20 1'41.71 266.9
21 1'41.87 265
22 1'41.48 266.4
23 1'41.8 267
24 1'41.79 265.7
25 1'42.46 267.1
26 1'41.95 264.4
27 1'41.67 265.6
Total time 42'23.57
Average lap: 1'41.74
Avg. speed: 265.88

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Yamaha To Present Fiat Sponsorship On Monday

With so much talk of the lack of sponsors in MotoGP over the last few weeks and months, one mystery is soon set to come to an end. The question of who would sponsor Valentino Rossi's Factory Yamaha team was a worrying one, for if no one could be found to fund the biggest name in MotoGP, what chance would the smaller teams have of finding sufficient funding?

The mystery is set to be resolved on Monday, according to MotoGrandPrix.it. They are reporting that Yamaha will present Fiat sponsorship on Monday. The deal had been rumored for several weeks, especially as Valentino Rossi is expected to switch to the World Rally Championship after he retires from racing. Rossi would then race the new rally version of a Fiat Punto due to be launched later this year.

~~~ UPDATE ~~~

It seems the deed is done. More here.

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Yamaha To Present Fiat Sponsorship On Monday

With so much talk of the lack of sponsors in MotoGP over the last few weeks and months, one mystery is soon set to come to an end. The question of who would sponsor Valentino Rossi's Factory Yamaha team was a worrying one, for if no one could be found to fund the biggest name in MotoGP, what chance would the smaller teams have of finding sufficient funding?

The mystery is set to be resolved on Monday, according to MotoGrandPrix.it. They are reporting that Yamaha will present Fiat sponsorship on Monday. The deal had been rumored for several weeks, especially as Valentino Rossi is expected to switch to the World Rally Championship after he retires from racing. Rossi would then race the new rally version of a Fiat Punto due to be launched later this year.

~~~ UPDATE ~~~

It seems the deed is done. More here.

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Official IRTA Test At Jerez, Day 3, Qualifying Practice

And The Winner Is .....

The reasoning behind the switch to 800 cc for MotoGP, namely, that it would slow the bikes down, has been exposed for the sham that it is this afternoon. The season has yet to officially begin, but already Valentino Rossi has shattered the pole record at Jerez, taking over 6/10ths of a second off Loris Capirossi's time set during the 2006 qualifying session, setting an astonishing time of 1'38.394. If anyone doubted The Doctor's determination to reclaim his title, today's display must surely have dispelled any such doubts.

Rossi's dominance was far from complete, however, as Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa swapped the lead with the Italian for much of the session. But at the end of the session, Pedrosa came up just 0.133 seconds short of Rossi's blistering last lap, to clinch 2nd place. Behind Pedrosa, the Yamaha - Honda pattern repeated, with Colin Edwards taking 3rd ahead of reigning World Champion Nicky Hayden, the two Americans running a good deal slower than their respective team mates. The difference was so great that Hayden's time, good enough for 4th place, was over a second behind Valentino Rossi's record pace.

In 5th place, Randy de Puniet confirmed his pre-season form, with a 1'39.832, fractionally ahead of Casey Stoner on the Ducati. Stoner's team mate Loris Capirossi took 7th, ahead of Suzuki's Chris Vermeulen, and Kenny Roberts Jr on the Team KR KR212V. Carlos Checa rounded out the top 10. The man who had dominated the last two days of practice, Marco Melandri, finished down the field in 14th.

It is clear that, apart from Rossi and Pedrosa, the field is pretty close. 4th to 15th places were separated by less than a second. But the news is not so good for Honda. With the exception of the Repsol bikes, the Hondas were only to be found a way down the field, with the satellite bikes only managing to finish from 10th place on, running comparable times to the Dunlop-shod Tech 3 Yamahas.

One more practice session remains, terminating at 6pm local time, the last session before the season commences in Qatar on March 10th.

01 Valentino Rossi Yamaha YZR M1 800cc 1'38.394
02 Daniel Pedrosa Honda RC212V + 0.133
03 Colin Edwards Yamaha YZR M1 800cc + 0.906
04 Nicky Hayden Honda RC212V + 1.162
05 Randy De Puniet Kawasaki ZX-RR + 1.436
06 Casey Stoner Ducati Desmosedici GP7 + 1.479
07 Loris Capirossi Ducati Desmosedici GP7 + 1.493
08 Chris Vermeulen Suzuki GSV-R 800cc + 1.649
09 Kenny Roberts Jr KR Honda KR212V + 1.706
10 Carlos Checa Honda RC212V + 1.706
11 Toni Elias Honda RC212V + 1.808
12 Shinya Nakano Honda RC212V + 1.848
13 Makoto Tamada Yamaha YZR M1 800cc + 1.913
14 Marco Melandri Honda RC212V + 2.002
15 Olivier Jacque Kawasaki ZX-RR 800cc + 2.157
16 Alex Hofmann Ducati Desmosedici GP7 + 2.287
17 Alex Barros Ducati Desmosedici GP7 + 2.644
18 Kousuke Akiyoshi Suzuki GSV-R 800cc + 3.411
19 Sylvain Guintoli Yamaha YZR M1 800cc + 3.821
20 Vittoriano Guareschi Ducati Desmosedici GP7 + 4.614
21 Andrew Pitt Ilmor X3 + 4.632
22 Shinichi Itoh Ducati Desmosedici GP7 + 4.679
23 Jeremy McWilliams Ilmor X3 + 4.808

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Official IRTA Test At Jerez, Day 3, Morning Session

The day started foggy once again, leaving the riders stuck in the garages once again. Luckily, the mist started clearing later as the morning progressed, and the riders were able to get out and start running laps, in preparation for this afternoon's official qualifying session, where the fastest rider will win a BMW car.

The session was dominated by the Yamahas and Dani Pedrosa once again, with both Colin Edwards and Dani Pedrosa heading the timesheets for much of the session. Shortly before the session ended, the qualifiers went on, and the standings started shifting. By the end of the session, the Yamahas had confirmed their domination, Valentino Rossi eventually setting a 1'39.363, just 0.3 seconds off the pole record held by Loris Capirossi. Team mate Colin Edwards finally had to give up his first spot to Rossi, but remained the only other rider to lap under 1'40, with a 1'39.799. Ducati's Casey Stoner took 3rd, lapping fractionally above 1'40, ahead of his team mate Loris Capirossi.

Nicky Hayden seemed to have found a few answers in the morning session, setting the 5th fastest time on his Repsol Honda, though still nearly a second slower than Valentino Rossi. Suzuki's Chris Vermeulen was also much improved in 6th, ahead of Shinya Nakano and Hayden's team mate Dani Pedrosa. Carlos Checa and Marco Melandri finished up the top 10, with Melandri over 2 seconds slower than Rossi.

The action continues shortly after 2pm, when the official qualifying practice kicks off.

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Official IRTA Test At Jerez, Day 2

The weather managed to play havoc again at the second day of the official Irta test at Jerez, with much of this morning's session lost entirely to fog. Once again, Suzuki's Kousuke Akiyoshi was the only rider to brave the unwelcoming conditions, the rest of the teams choosing to remain in the safety of the garages, waiting for the weather to improve. That improvement started around lunchtime, and soon afterwards, everyone was out trying to make up for the time they had lost yesterday and today.

By the time the faster times were being set, it was the two riders most heavily tipped to win the 2007 championship who sat at the top of the timesheets, Yamaha's Valentino Rossi just holding an edge from Honda's Dani Pedrosa. It looked like the session might end that way too, until Marco Melandri repeated yesterday's feat of stealing the top spot, running a lap of 1'40.383. Rossi took second fastest, 0.025 seconds behind, but nearly 2/10ths ahead of Dani Pedrosa.

The biggest surprise was Alex Hofmann's 4th fastest time on the Pramac d'Antin Ducati, over a tenth behind Pedrosa, ahead of Melandri's team mate Toni Elias. Casey Stoner was the second fastest Ducati in 6th ahead of Carlos Checa and Randy de Puniet on the Kawasaki. Colin Edwards was down in 9th, ahead of Makoto Tamada, who has seemingly got the Dunlops working well, and Nicky Hayden, who must be very disappointed to be down in 11th spot. Shinya Nakano took 12th spot on the Konica Minolta Honda, ahead of Chris Vermeulen on the Suzuki, down in 13th, and the last rider to be within a second of Melandri's fastest time.

Loris Capirossi followed in 14th, ahead of Olivier Jacque and Kenny Roberts Jr. Alex Barros took 17th spot ahead of Sylvain Guintoli. The Ilmor's brought up the rear, 4 seconds behind Melandri, a long way behind, but getting closer each test.

Here's a list of who was on qualifiers and who wasn't for as far as I have been able to find out:
Marco Melandri - Qualifier
Valentino Rossi - unknown, but he insinuated he used a race tire
Dani Pedrosa - unknown, but probably a qualifier
Alex Hofmann - Qualifier
Toni Elias - Qualifier
Casey Stoner- Race tire
Carlos Checa - unknown, but probably a race tire
Randy de Puniet - Qualifier
Colin Edwards - Race tire
Makoto Tamada - unknown
Nicky Hayden - Race tire
Shinya Nakano- Race tire
Chris Vermeulen - Race tire
Loris Capirossi - Race tire
Olivier Jacque - Race tire
Kenny Roberts Jr. - unknown, but probably a race tire
Alex Barros - Race tire
Sylvain Guintoli - unknown
Shinichi Ito - unknown
Kousuke Akiyoshi - unknown, but probably a race tire
Vittoriano Guareschi - unknown
Jeremy McWilliams - Race tire
Andrew Pitt - Race tire


1 Marco Melandri Honda Gresini 1'40.383
2 Valentino Rossi Yamaha Factory Racing 1'40.408
3 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda 1'40.581
4 Alex Hofmann Pramac d'Antin 1'40.748
5 Toni Elias Honda Gresini 1'40.952
6 Casey Stoner Ducati Marlboro Team 1'41.071
7 Carlos Checa Honda LCR 1'41.096
8 Randy de Puniet Kawasaki Racing Team 1'41.151
9 Colin Edwards Yamaha Factory Racing 1'41.204
10 Makoto Tamada Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3 1'41.234
11 Nicky Hayden Repsol Honda 1'41.259
12 Shinya Nakano Konica Minolta Honda 1'41.269
13 Chris Vermeulen Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1'41.363
14 Loris Capirossi Ducati Marlboro Team 1'41.590
15 Olivier Jacque Kawasaki Racing Team 1'41.777
16 Kenny Roberts Jr. Team Roberts 1'41.783
17 Alex Barros Pramac d'Antin 1'41.845
18 Sylvain Guintoli Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3 1'42.364
19 Shinichi Ito Ducati Marlboro 1'43.209
20 Kousuke Akiyoshi Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1'43.610
21 Vittoriano Guareschi Ducati Marlboro 1'44.143
22 Jeremy McWilliams Ilmor GP 1'44.458
23 Andrew Pitt Ilmor GP 1'44.589

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Official IRTA Test At Jerez, Day 1

The first day of the official IRTA test, the last test before the season finally gets underway, started inauspiciously. The weather gods, who were so unkind to MotoGP last season, continued to display their fickle nature, with the morning's session almost unusable, with the track neither wet nor dry. The Jerez track has been fairly well drenched throughout the 250 and 125 tests which took place earlier in the week, and the track surface stubbornly refused to dry throughout the morning, yet not wet enough to run rain tires, leaving little to be learnt from such a changeable surface. Only the hard-working test riders, Ducati's Vittoriano Guareschi and Shinichi Ito, and John Hopkins' replacement at Suzuki, Kousuke Akiyoshi were out putting in the laps before lunchtime, the rest of the riders preferring to stay inside a warm garage.

Ironically, it was the first proper rain shower which brought the riders out on to the track, keen to learn from the properly wet conditions. The riders' appearance seemed to appease the entity in charge of the waterworks, as the rained eased, then stopped after an hour or so, and the Southern Spanish track started to dry out properly. But though the action picked up a little, it remained a pretty low key affair, until about an hour from the end of the session, at which point a frenzy akin to the last ten minutes of qualifying broke out, with everyone out running hot laps.

So, thought times were set and a pecking order established, the conditions were far too variable to be able to draw reliable conclusions from the day's results. Even Marco Melandri's fastest time is 2 seconds slower than Valentino Rossi's race lap record, and over 2.6 seconds slower than Dani Pedrosa's fastest time set the last time the MotoGP grid was here, back in November.

But Melandri, Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa were all fast, with Carlos Checa a little way behind, Alex Barros hot on the Spanish veteran's heels. The big surprises were further down the timesheet, with Valentino Rossi setting only the 13th fastest time, nearly 2 seconds behind Melandri, and reigning World Champion Nicky Hayden down in 19th, over 3.3 seconds slower. But conditions being the way they were, the times were all fairly meaningless.

The test continues tomorrow, with everyone hoping for better conditions.

1 Marco Melandri Honda Gresini 1'42.563
2 Casey Stoner Ducati Marlboro Team 1'42.634
3 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda 1'42.796
4 Carlos Checa Honda LCR 1'43.206
5 Alex Barros Pramac d'Antin 1'43.214
6 Randy de Puniet Kawasaki Racing Team 1'43.315
7 Loris Capirossi Ducati Marlboro Team 1'43.475
8 Alex Hofmann Pramac d'Antin 1'43.673
9 Toni Elias Honda Gresini 1'43.687
10 Shinya Nakano Konica Minolta Honda 1'43.817
11 Colin Edwards Yamaha Factory Racing 1'43.845
12 Chris Vermeulen Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1'44.052
13 Valentino Rossi Yamaha Factory Racing Team 1'44.494
14 Olivier Jacque Kawasaki Racing Team 1'44.659
15 Makoto Tamada Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3 1'45.081
16 Sylvain Guintoli Dunlop Yamaha Tech 3 1'45.208
17 Vittoriano Guareschi Ducati Marlboro 1'45.603
18 Shinichi Ito Ducati Marlboro 1'45.826
19 Nicky Hayden Repsol Honda 1'45.901
20 Kousuke Akiyoshi Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1'47.191
21 Kenny Roberts Jr. Team Roberts 1'45.937
22 Jeremy McWilliams Ilmor GP 1'47.191
23 Andrew Pitt Ilmor GP 1'49.365

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Akiyoshi To Replace Hopkins At Jerez IRTA Test

After John Hopkins nasty crash on the last day of testing in Qatar, in which he broke a bone in his wrist, it was patently obvious that Hopper would not be able to take part in the official IRTA test which starts on Friday at Jerez in Spain. And now, MotoGrandPrix.it has ended the speculation of whether Chris Vermeulen would be the sole Suzuki rider at Jerez with a report that Hopper is to be replaced by Kousuke Akiyoshi for the duration of the test. Akiyoshi is active in Japanese Superbikes, and put in a creditable performance when appearing as a wildcard rider at the Japanese Grand Prix in Motegi last September, finishing 13th in the race, behind Chris Vermeulen, and qualifying in 12th spot, as fastest Suzuki.

Hopkins is expected to be fit enough to race at the season opener in Qatar on March 10th. After Qatar, he will have two more weeks to recover, giving his wrist a decent chance of recovery.

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Team KR: Does King Kenny Play Poker?

After Thursday's shock announcement that Kenny Roberts Sr may withdraw from the 2007 MotoGP season if a sponsor is forthcoming, questions are starting to be asked about Robert's sincerity. King Kenny is known to have a few sharp moves under his hat when it comes to negotiating tactics, and voices were raised almost immediately that this was just a negotiating tactic, to put pressure on either Dorna, or a potential sponsor, to speed up affairs.

It now seems that this reading of events may not be so far from the truth. Speculation on the internet and sources close to the paddock seem to suggest that Team KR already has a sponsorship contract signed and sealed, and that Roberts Sr's announcement was more about pressuring Dorna, and attracting attention to the perilous state of sponsorship in MotoGP, than an actual threat. With the season due to start in just 3 weeks time, we'll find out soon enough whether this was just a bluff, or whether Kenny really is holding an empty hand.

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Bombshell: Team KR May Withdraw From 2007 MotoGP Season

Superbikeplanet.com has an interview with Kenny Roberts Sr in which King Kenny states he may be forced to withdraw from the 2007 MotoGP season due to a lack of funds. This would be a remarkable failure, as the story of Team KR is one of the most interesting in the entire paddock.

What the story does highlight, however, is the chronic and frankly incomprehensible lack of funding for MotoGP. With 320 million fans worldwide, you would think that companies would be chomping at the bit to pour money into motorcycle racing, but nothing could be further from the truth. And the fact is, there are no easy answers why this should be the case. So, if you love MotoGP, want to help, and work for a large organization, drop your marketing department a line. If your company is interested in trying to do business in Southern Europe, there is no better investment for their marketing dollars. You've got nothing to lose but the five minutes or so it will take you to write the e-mail.

~~~ UPDATE ~~~

I just finished reading the article, and it's a great analysis of what's wrong with corporate sponsorship. Very soon, viewing figures for MotoGP will catch and then pass those of Formula 1. And yet Dutch bank ING have just poured $100 million dollars into Formula 1, an amount of money for which you could run nearly the entire MotoGP field. MotoGP is where the bang for the buck is. Write those e-mails tomorrow.

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