Ever since Valentino Rossi ended the first Valencia MotoGP test in lowly 15th place on the Ducati Desmosedici, one-and-three-quarter seconds behind fastest man and former teammate Jorge Lorenzo, there have been calls for radical changes to Ducati's MotoGP machine. Those calls have only intensified as the season has progressed, the switch from the GP11 to the GP11.1, the destroked version of Ducati's 2012 MotoGP machine, having brought little improvement until a few key parts were introduced at Brno.
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We'd been waiting for it for a long time - longer than we had initially hoped for, after the planned 1000cc test at Mugello morphed into an 800cc test, the Brno test taking its place - but finally, we got to see the 2012 MotoGP bikes out on track, in public and undisguised. Honda and Yamaha pitted their latest creations against one another in full view of the public, and the results were not quite as expected beforehand.
Race day turned up plenty of surprises at Brno, some good, some bad, and some, well, just surprising. The three races turned up a tense duel, a full-on fairing-banging barnstormer and, well, a MotoGP race with a surprise podium, and proved that the layout of the Brno circuit is one of the very best in the world.
The weather gods have really got it in for MotoGP this year. The Brno round looked like being warm and dry just a week ago, but that turned out to be hopelessly optimistic. It started raining on Friday night, and only stopped in the middle of the FP3 session for Moto2. That was not before both Casey Stoner and John Hopkins had crashed, however, Stoner coming away unscathed, while Hopkins was far less lucky, breaking one finger and fracturing another, and ruling himself out of the Brno race.
After a busy few weeks of racing, with impressive performances in the BSB and World Superbike championships, John Hopkins' luck ran out at Brno on Saturday morning. The American, appearing at the Czech Grand Prix as a wildcard for Rizla Suzuki, crashed in very wet conditions, breaking one finger and fracturing another, ruling him out of further participation for the weekend.
The summer break officially ended at 9:15am this morning, when the peace which reigned in the wooded Moravian hills was split asunder by the crackle of a pack of howling 125cc two strokes. Though the wooded Moravian hills are wonderful when silent, the addition of racing motorcycles offered a vast improvement, as many of the people who have already crowded the paddock and track agreed.
MotoGP is back from its summer break, and though the fans only had to face two weekends without the series - and one of those saw a World Superbike event - they are breathing a collective sigh of relief that the Four Aliens and their mortal cohorts are back on track once again.
Though highly anticipated, the return of the 1000cc machines to the MotoGP from 2012 could end up having an unexpected effect on grid numbers. Reports have been rife that Honda will be reducing their involvement in MotoGP from 6 to just 4 bikes from 2012, dropping the third Repsol Honda and leaving the San Carlo Gresini Honda with just a single bike for 2012.
Valentino Rossi's move to Ducati was a match made in marketing heaven, the combined selling power of the world's most famous motorcycle racer and the world's most iconic motorcycle brand would surely prove to be a veritable sales steamroller. Casey Stoner had already proven that the bike was capable of winning races - though it clearly had a problem with the front end - and with a seven-time MotoGP champion and the crew that helped him win those titles, success would be quick to come.
As the 2012 MotoGP calendar starts to take shape, it is becoming increasingly clear that Indianapolis Motor Speedway wants to be a part of it. In response to complaints from a number of riders about the varying surfaces around Indy's road course, IMS has taken it upon itself to completely resurface the interior section of the road course, from Turn 5, where the riders leave the historic oval for the second time, all the way through to Turn 16, where the road course rejoins the oval once again to head along the front straight.
The Motegi round of MotoGP is now cleared to go ahead as planned. Today, the FIM issued a press release announcing that the official results had come back from ARPA, the independent Italian agency commissioned by Dorna and the FIM to measure radiation levels in and around the Motegi circuit, and that the official report backs up the findings of the preliminary report the FIM and Dorna had received last week, after which they had issued a press release.