Behind the glamour, passion and engineering excellence that is MotoGP lies a world which receives a lot less attention, but is at least as important: the world of finance. For running a motorcycle road racing world championship costs money, and though the goal of any enterprise - including running a world championship - is to make a profit, in a world of declining motorcycle sales and economic uncertainty, making money in motorcycle racing is no easy feat.
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Dani Pedrosa has finally made a decision. After two days in hospital mulling over the best course of action, Pedrosa has finally decided to have surgery to have a titanium plate fitted to fix his right collarbone, just a month after having surgery to have the plate in his left collarbone removed.
When Valentino Rossi broke his leg at Mugello last June, he was forced to miss the next three races, the first time he had done so since entering the World Championship back in 1996. The first of the races Rossi missed was the British Grand Prix at the newly restored venue of Silverstone, the track layout modified especially for the return of MotoGP. As a result of that accident, Rossi was the only rider left on the grid who had not ridden at the Silverstone circuit, and as the track counted as new on the calendar, the Italian was still entitled to test there to learn the layout.
One of the advantages of not having a title sponsor is the freedom to use special liveries on your motorcycle as and when you see fit. Throughout the preseason, while Yamaha haggled over potential title sponsorship deals with companies such as Telefonica, Petronas and AirAsia, in the back of their minds, the Japanese factory knew that if they failed to secure a title sponsor, they would be able instead to use the season - and Jorge Lorenzo's #1 plate - to promote their own brand in their 50th anniversary year in world championship motorcycle racing.
The crash which saw Marco Simoncelli collide with Dani Pedrosa, earning Simoncelli a ride-through penalty and Pedrosa a fractured collarbone, has added another chapter to Pedrosa's long litany of injuries. Pedrosa fractured his right collarbone in the crash, just seven months after he broke his left collarbone in a crash at Motegi, and a month after surgery to remove the plate inserted after Motegi.
There has been much lamenting of late that the MotoGP paddock has been full of talk and not much action. There have been plenty of complaints about the dangerous riding of certain riders, and not much evidence to back the accusations up with. Well, that certainly changed at Le Mans.
The crash on lap 18 of the Le Mans MotoGP race could have serious consequences for Dani Pedrosa. The crash, caused when Marco Simoncelli cut across Pedrosa's bow entering the Chemin aux Boeufs esses, leaving Pedrosa nowhere to go but into Simoncelli's back wheel, saw Pedrosa flipped off his back and land heavily on his right-hand side. Pedrosa got up clutching his right shoulder, and was taken to the Clinica Mobile where X-rays diagnosed a broken collarbone.
The outlines of the future MotoGP calendar are becoming clear, as deals are being signed throughout the year. One key question left open was the future of the French MotoGP round, with the contract between Dorna and the event organizers coming to an end after this year's MotoGP round. There was never any question that France would be left without a Grand Prix, the only question was whether the race would continue to be held at Le Mans.
There's an old saying in racing: "When the flag drops, the production of bovine fecal matter stops." Though the phrase "production of bovine fecal matter" is usually replaced by something a good deal more succinct, colorful, and likely to get blocked by some internet filters. So once the bikes rolled out onto the track for a full day of timed practice, the bellow of MotoGP bikes finally silenced the complaining that had been going on on all sides since the bikes were rolled back into the trucks on Monday night after Estoril.
There was clearly something very nasty in the water at Estoril. For almost as soon as the riders rolled into the paddock in Portugal, the atmosphere soured badly, with verbal sparring matches breaking out between Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner, and Jorge Lorenzo and Marco Simoncelli. Rossi and Stoner clashed over the crash at Jerez, when the Italian accidentally took out the Honda man in a crash at turn 1. Lorenzo and Simoncelli, in turn, clashed over Lorenzo's accusations that Simoncelli was a dangerous rider, a claim refuted by the Gresini Honda rider.
Unsurprisingly, most of the attention this weekend went to the intrigues and infighting which characterized the MotoGP class. But while all eyes were on MotoGP, there were a couple of support races going on, and there was plenty to talk about in those classes as well.