Weather severely limited the on-track action at Aragon today, as a field of CRT riders thinned out by a lack of parts rolled up in Alcañiz for the first of a two-day test. High winds and cool temperatures meant that it was impossible to keep the tires at working temperature out on track, forcing the teams to abort their testing efforts for the day, and work on a revised program for Friday, the final day of the test.
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The introduction of the Claiming Rule Team regulations into MotoGP has divided fans and followers into two distinct camps. The anti camp have decried the CRT machines as thinly disguised World Superbike machines, claiming that allowing the use of production machinery into MotoGP is a betrayal of the spirit of Grand Prix racing.
Marc Marquez has been spotted riding a Moto2 bike once again, for the first time since suffering a nerve injury that caused double vision at Sepang back in October 2011. The 2011 Moto2 runner up was seen today at the Alcarras circuit, where a number of British Superbike teams were testing ahead of the 2012 BSB season.
The weight increase in the MotoGP class introduced for 2012 - from 153kg, as originally agreed when the 2012 regulations were drawn up back in August 2010, to 157kg - has had many repercussions. The addition of 4kg to the 1000cc MotoGP machines has been blamed for causing the chatter that Honda's RC213V suffers from, and for complicating the pursuit of the ideal weight distribution for both Honda and Yamaha, which the two Japanese factories had spent most of 2011 perfecting ahead of the 2012 MotoGP season.
At last a full day of testing: though Thursday started out overcast, the rain that threatened through the final day of the Sepang MotoGP test never really came in earnest, with only a few drops of rain keeping the riders off the track for an hour or so in the afternoon. After two days which were largely lost to the weather, worked was stepped up to an almost frantic pace to make up for lost time.
With the three days of testing at the MotoGP class' second visit to Sepang now over, some preliminary conclusions can be drawn on the progress or otherwise that the teams have been making over the course of the two tests. Below are two comparison tables: the first one compares the improvement shown by the riders over the three days of the Sepang 2 test, while the second table compares the best times from the Sepang 1 and Sepang 2 tests, and the difference between the two.
It never rains but it pours. That old proverb applies both literally and metaphorically to the MotoGP test at Sepang, with rain - a solid, heavy, tropical downpour - once again confining the riders to their garages at the Malaysian circuit, for the second day in a row, and severely limiting track time. A couple of good dry hours in the morning, and that was it. From then on, the only testing that went on was in the wet, and though useful, it is not what the MotoGP field came to Malaysia for.
The justification for flying halfway around the world to go testing in Sepang is simple: While Europe is still dealing with the after-effects of winter, plagued by cold, wind and rain, the temperature at Sepang is reliably warm, and despite the usual tropical storms in the afternoon, the chance of having a dry track to test on is very good.
Where the first MotoGP test at Sepang at the end of January was an emotionally-charged affair - returning to the Malaysian circuit for the first time since the tragic death of Marco Simoncelli, and with massive anticipation of the brand new GP12, designed and built in record tempo over the winter break - the second test there seems almost humdrum in comparison.
Marc Marquez' recuperation is proceeding apace, but he is still not at 100%. That is what the Spaniard told a press conference today at the presentation of one of his personal sponsors, Garmin, the manufacturer of navigation equipment. Though his vision is still improving, he is still not fully fit and is uncertain of being fit in time for his planned return on March 7th in a private test at Portimao, and even his appearance in the season opener in Qatar a month later is not absolutely certain.
Work to improve safety at the Sachsenring circuit has received FIM approval today, allowing construction to start to extend runoff at the track. The gravel traps at Turn 1 - at the end of the front straight - and Turn 10 - the fast left kink before cresting the hill at the top of the Waterfall - are to be extended to make the track safer, in response to requests from the MotoGP riders made in the Safety Commission.
The Portuguese MotoGP Grand Prix is to go ahead on May 6th as scheduled. After a long delay, the FIM today confirmed that the Estoril round of MotoGP is to go ahead, and the 2012 calendar will remain the full 18 races.
Nicky Hayden has returned home after successful surgery on his shoulder. The Ducati rider had damaged his shoulder in a training accident - on his first time back on a motorcycle after recovering from a broken wrist, sustained in the final race of 2011 at Valencia - and though the initial diagnosis only showed up a cracked shoulder blade, further examination after the Sepang test showed damage to his glenoid labrum, the cartilage which holds the upper arm in place in the shoulder socket.
Valentino Rossi underwent surgery today to remove the pin in his right tibia, the final memento of his monster crash at Mugello in June 2010. The surgery, carried out at the Cervesi hospital in Cattolica, not far from Rossi's home in Tavullia, was performed by Dr Giannicola Lucidi and Dr Marco Trono, while Professor Giuseppe Porcellini, the surgeon who fixed the shoulder Rossi injured earlier that year in a motocross crash.