The least surprising news revealed by Filippo Preziosi in the press conference he gave at Valencia today was that Ducati will be testing an aluminium perimeter frame on Tuesday and Wednesday. The fact that Ducati have been building such a frame came to light in mid-August, Ducati sources letting slip that the factory was building such a frame. But the existence of such a chassis was always officially denied, at least until today.
Latest MotoGP News
With the 2012 season is about to start on Tuesday morning, the 1000cc bikes taking to the track at 10am, the last few empty seats in MotoGP are starting to fill up. The latest rider signing was expected some time ago, Pramac Ducati finally announcing that they have signed Hector Barbera for the 2012 season. Barbera was the top satellite Ducati rider during 2011, and was the man who looked most comfortable aboard the GP11. Barbera had originally intended to stay on with the Aspar team, but when Jorge Martinez decided to switch to CRT status, Barbera elected to jump ship to Pramac.
The last race of the year is always one for farewells, but we had an awful lot of goodbyes on Sunday at Valencia. The last ever race for the 800cc MotoGP bikes, the last ever race of Loris Capirossi's very long and highly colorful career (some paddock wags suggesting that the first win of his career came against a rider called Maximus Decimus Meridius), the end of the two-stroke Grand Prix era, with the 125cc bikes making way for the Moto3 machines.
It seems somehow fitting that the last ever qualifying session for the 800cc MotoGP bikes should be dominated so utterly by the man who has dominated the 800cc era. Despite the fact that Casey Stoner won only the first and the last 800cc titles, he still has the most pole positions and wins in the period between 2007 and 2011. Stoner ended the penultimate day of the 2011 season in style, matching Mick Doohan's record of 12 pole position in a single season and beating everyone else on the grid by over a second.
Marco Simoncelli is to receive a fitting tribute at Valencia on Sunday. Paolo Simoncelli, Marco's father, had asked for a minute of "casino" (an Italian word that translates as chaos or noise) instead of a minute of silence, but Marco is to get all this and a little more.
Marc Marquez has been forced to pull out of the Moto2 season finale at Valencia, handing the 2011 Moto2 title to Stefan Bradl. Marquez is still suffering slight double vision from the crash he had during FP1 at Sepang. His vision had improved massively in the past week, but he was still suffering issues with his right eye, something that was causing him problems looking to his right. Marquez had held out hope that his vision would improve quickly enough to be able to try to qualify and then race, but it was not to be.
Some semblance of normality has returned to the MotoGP paddock now that the bikes are back on track, and everyone is back doing what they are supposed to be. "For me, I was happy to be here, be around the team, see all the tributes honoring Marco and see everybody showing a lot of class and a lot of respect," Nicky Hayden said. "It's still kind of there at the back of everybody's mind, but it don't change what I do. We're racers, we ride motorcycles." His teammate Valentino Rossi agreed.
It's a good thing that we're going to go racing again. Marco Simoncelli's tragic death at Sepang has cast a very heavy and very dark pall over the MotoGP paddock, and two weeks of inaction - the one thing that motorcycle racers cannot bear, along with just about everyone else in the paddock - meeting again at Valencia with the purpose of racing has given some direction again.
The Misano World Circuit is to honor Marco Simoncelli by renaming itself after the Italian, who died in a tragic accident in Sepang. In a press statement issued today, the track announced that it was in talks with Simoncelli's family, the foundation that has been set up in his name and with the fan club to find the best way to name the circuit after Simoncelli.
Even as Paris Hilton jets her way across the Atlantic to attend the final race of the Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing 125 team she lends her name to, there appears to be trouble brewing for the American socialite.
Jorge Lorenzo has been forced to miss the final MotoGP race of the year at Valencia. The 2010 MotoGP World Champion needs more time to recover after surgery to the finger he damaged in a crash at Phillip Island three weeks' ago, and Lorenzo has decided to withdraw, as he cannot ride at the level required for MotoGP.
Marc Marquez' crash at Sepang has had massive consequences. After missing the Sepang race with double vision from the crash, Marquez' deficit grew to 23 points. The symptoms have not disappeared entirely yet, and so Marquez has been forced to withdraw from the final round of the Moto2 championship at Valencia, handing Stefan Bradl the 2011 title.
The paddock is about to reconvene at the final round of the year at Valencia and return to the normal business of racing, or at least, as normal as possible less than two weeks after the death of Marco Simoncelli in a tragic accident at Sepang, and there are still a few empty seats to fill on the 2012 MotoGP grid. The slots at the Ducati, Honda and Yamaha factory teams are filled, as are the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha satellite seats, and of course Karel Abraham at the Cardion AB team, but beyond that, MotoGP's silly season for 2012 is still in full swing.
In part 1 of this series, we discussed the new 1000cc rules for 2012, especially those for the so-called Claiming Rule Teams, the privateer teams which will be allowed to use engines from production bikes if they so wish. In part 2, we discussed Infront Motor Sports' objections to those new rules as organizers of the World Superbike series, and why their objections are likely to fail.