Latest MotoGP News
The recent spate of Saturday morning highsides is currently being put down to two factors. The first is a lack of grip caused by the cooler temperatures in the morning, a factor that nobody can do very much about. But the second factor is a lack of data, due to the Friday morning practice session being scrapped. With the riders out for the first time on Friday afternoon, in warmer temperatures and subsequent grippier tires, the teams and riders are being caught out in the cool of the morning.
But this problem is about to be addressed. According to reports in the Italian media (Sportmediaset and MotoSprint), MotoGP is about to return to four sessions of free practice, up from three. The "lost morning" on Friday is to be reclaimed, with all three classes in MotoGP having an extra session of practice reinstated on Friday morning. The measure is due to take effect from the Motorland Aragon Grand Prix in the middle of September, with the series returning to three free practice sessions and one qualifying session in the afternoon.
After the formal press conference which traditionally kicks off every MotoGP weekend, Casey Stoner stayed on to speak to the English-language journalists at the Dutch track. The subject turned to the cold-tire highsides which saw Valentino Rossi and Hiroshi Aoyama injured, and taken out of action for at least a couple of months in both cases. Stoner was clearly sympathetic to the plight of both Rossi and Aoyama, but when one journalist asked if something needed to be done to prevent such injuries, the Marlboro Ducati rider pointed out that it had always been that way in the premier class. "Look at the 500s," he told reporters, "the riders were always flicking themselves back then."
But when another journalist suggested that we do not want to see a return to the bad old days of the 500cc two-stroke bikes, Stoner became vehement. "It was my dream to ride them," Stoner told the press, and went on to point out that this tendency to shy away from danger is part of an underlying trend in the modern sport. "This sport's becoming wimpy," Stoner said, "if everyone's not wrapped up in cotton wool, and it's not walls here, and walls there, there's no danger to the sport any more."
Prior to the first day of practice at Assen, Nicky Hayden gave his usual press debrief, to talk about the upcoming weekend's race. With two MotoGP regulars out for the foreseeable future, and factory test riders in at Fiat Yamaha and Interwetten Honda, we seized the opportunity to ask Hayden why he thought that the teams went with test riders, rather than bringing in a young talented rider to get some experience on a MotoGP bike. Here's what Hayden had to say on the matter:
Q: We've got two test riders coming in to substitute for Rossi and Aoyama, who are both injured. Why is it so hard to find someone to ride these bikes?
Nicky Hayden: You know, I'm not sure. I don't know why Colin turned it down. He complains his bike was slow but then he didn't want to ride the factory bike. I didn't understand that. But you know, I'm not really sure, because it's not like you're trying to get somebody to fill the Ilmor, these are bikes that can win races.
As usual, the guys at OnTheThrottle.tv catch up with Monster Tech 3 Yamaha's Ben Spies after the race at Silverstone. In this episode, Spies talks to OTT's Dave Williams about his podium at Silverstone, his crash, the problems that the cool English weather caused for the tires, and the difficulties of trying to spot a pitboard when you're sliding out of a corner and firing off towards Turn 1. Here's what Spies had to say for himself:
The news that MotoGP fans have been waiting for for so long has finally been made public: Today, the Fiat Yamaha Team issued a press release announcing the replacement for Valentino Rossi. Contrary to the hopes and expectations of the fans, it is not going to be someone from the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team, nor a rider from Yamaha's World Superbike team. Instead, Yamaha - like Honda with Hiroshi Aoyama - have elected to put a test rider on the bike, and fill the vacancy with Wataru Yoshikawa until the start of the summer break.
The choice of Yoshikawa underlines the difficulties which MotoGP teams face in finding replacement riders. With testing severely limited, the Bridgestone spec tires requiring experience to get the best from them, and a limited number of engines to last the season, the risks of putting an untested rider on the bike have started to outweigh the benefits of any experience gained.
Below is the text of the official Fiat Yamaha press release:
Hiroshi Aoyama's horrible highside at Silverstone saw just 15 MotoGP riders take to the grid last Sunday for the race. And now that Aoyama has been examined more thoroughly, and the Interwetten Honda rider ruled out for at least two months with a fractured T12 vertebra, the prospect of just 15 riders on the grid for Assen, and 16 at Barcelona (by which time, the Fiat Yamaha team will have to replace the injured Valentino Rossi) was too much for the organizers, and measures have been taken to avert the declining numbers. From this weekend, Honda test rider Kousuke Akiyoshi has been drafted in to take Aoyama's place aboard the Interwetten Honda RC212V. Akiyoshi will also ride at Barcelona, filling the MotoGP team's immediate needs.
Hiroshi Aoyama's vicious highside during the morning warmup at Silverstone is to have consequences which reach further than the British Grand Prix. After landing very heavily on his back in the crash, the Interwetten Honda rider was examined in the Clinica Mobile in the Silverstone paddock, where the decision was taken to move him to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford for further examination. A CT scan found a suspected fracture of the T12 vertebra.
After a night of rest, Aoyama underwent another CT scan this morning, which confirmed yesterday's diagnosis. The Japanese rider is to be flown back to Barcelona, where he will undergo another examination, and where a course of treatment will be decided upon.
Q: What happened at the start.
CS: Ask my technician that, because it wasn't my fault.
Q: You weren't in second gear!
CS: No, the bike jumped and shuddered and shook, and it sounded like the bike basically exploded off the start, nearly stalled the thing and just started going horribly, and managed to keep it going. Got into the first turn and got shoved around and pushed around, and really spat out the back door.
I'm a little disappointed, because it would have been an easy second, maybe even battle with Jorge for the win, but I would have had to push for that.
Q: We seem to have gone from four Aliens to just one.
Jorge Lorenzo: But not the same, you know? Because in Mugello, it was Dani. It depends, not all the races will be like this.
We have the luck to be always in front in every practice of all the races, we are always in first position, second position, maybe third, and this gives me the confidence that I know that in the race, I can finish first or second. Also in this race, I knew I had a good pace.
Q: You have a huge lead in the championship. Are you thinking about race wins now, or about the championship?
JL: I don't think a rider can be racing thinking about the points. Because when you think about the points, it's impossible to win at this level, in the MotoGP class. So if we want to continue being on the podium and winning races, we have to think about enjoying every race, every practice.
Q: What do you think about Dovizioso's second place in the championship? Is Dovizioso your biggest rival, or is it Stoner or Pedrosa?
JL: You know for me, Pedrosa's faster than Dovizioso. But for me, Dovizioso is always there in the top four every race. So like in 250s, Dovizioso is the man of consistency, and maybe at the end of the championship he can beat Dani. But for me Dani has a little bit more talent, and he can win races.
While most of the silly season gossip focuses - quite understandably - on the fate of MotoGP's so-called Aliens, rumblings are also starting to emerge elsewhere. Perhaps the wildest of the other rumors currently doing the rounds concerns Loris Capirossi, whose tough season at the factory Rizla Suzuki team is starting to take its toll. According to the Gazzetta dello Sport (as reported by Autosport), and confirmed by GPOne.com, Capirossi's manager Carlo Pernat is looking around for a way to get Capirossi out of the clutches of Suzuki for next year.
Pernat has spoken to both Fausto Gresini and Lucio Cecchinello, looking to place Capirossi with one of the two Italian ex-riders. The LCR Honda option would require Capirossi becoming part of a two-rider team, something that would please Dorna immensely, but the problem for Cecchinello would be finding the budget. Perhaps a more realistic option for the Italian veteran would be a switch to Pramac, and making a return to Ducati, the manufacturer he scored his best results with.
Q: Are you happy with your setup for tomorrow?
Dani Pedrosa: Yes, pretty much.
Q: Like everyone, you haven't decided which tire to use yet?
DP: Yes, it's a tricky decision! Because now we were most of the time running with the soft tire, but then we tried the harder one. It's difficult to judge right now, because at the end with a soft tire, you improve a lot with the lap time, so it's not an easy decision. I think we have to see the weather tomorrow, to see if it's warmer.
Q: Do you think the soft tire has the life?
Q: That first session was very impressive, faster almost every lap. Was that a full race distance or not?
Jorge Lorenzo: It was 17 laps. Almost race distance.
Q: That looks like being race pace, that looks like being good enough to do what Dani did at Mugello.
JL: I don't know. I think that race pace will be 2'03.8, 2'03.9.
Q: And you don't know which tire you're going to use yet?