Latest MotoGP News
The Yamaha team have a long history of running special liveries several times a year, and 2010 is to be no exception. At Laguna Seca, Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi are due to run a special paint scheme, to celebrate half a million Fiat 500s being produced. This will be no ordinary paintjob, though. The Fiat On The Web team have come up with an entertaining way for MotoGP fans to help create the livery.
By heading on over to the special M1 Laguna Seca Fiat Yamaha team website, you can upload a photo and have it placed on the bike. You can choose whether you want your picture to appear on Valentino Rossi's bike or on Jorge Lorenzo's M1, but you will need to hurry. The website has only been online for a few minutes as this story is being posted, but already the spots on the fairings are disappearing fast. So if you ever fancied a ride on a Yamaha YZR-M1, this is probably the best chance you will ever get.
The Le Mans MotoGP race turned into a bit of a mystery for a couple of riders. Casey Stoner lost the front for no apparent reason, and Dani Pedrosa, who had looked strong all race, lost two places on the last lap of the race. Afterwards, Pedrosa spoke to the press, explaining that his problems at the end of the race had been caused by a rear brake which had failed. The Repsol Honda rider also expressed his frustration at the continuing problems with the RC212V. Here's what Pedrosa had to say.
Q: What happened at the end? Was your front tire gone?
Dani Pedrosa: No, I couldn't stop the bike. I was all the time off line and I was making mistakes.
Q: Because you were riding defensively?
DP: Not really, I wasn't closing with two laps to go, but my rear brake was finished, and I don't know. I didn't know I had no rear brake, I could push and it felt OK, I just felt I was not stopping for the last 10 laps or so. But I had Dovizioso behind, so I couldn't say "I'll brake a little bit earlier and make no mistakes," because he would get past easily. So I still had to brake very hard, but you could see that in the middle of the corner I was off line. So finally in the last lap, I lost two positions, just because of mistakes. It's disappointing.
Behind the glamorous facade of MotoGP lies a hard-nosed world of contracts, money and taxes the fuels the show. It is not a side that is revealed very often, but two recent news stories have revealed MotoGP's darker side.
The first story was turned up by Roadracing World magazine. Papers filed with the courts in the US revealed that Ben Spies and his management company Speez Racing LLC have been ordered to pay $1.9 million in damages and costs against Spies' former manager Doug Gonda and his company, Protac Inc., Roadracing World's research has turned up. The dispute arose as a result of a conflict between Speez Racing and Protac about, among other things, Spies not obtaining a ride in MotoGP for the Texan for 2009. Speez Racing also alleged that Protac had not been involved in the contract that Spies signed with Yamaha for 2009, and that there had been problems with logistics for three international races caused by Protac, as well as alleging a string of other breaches of contract.
After crashing out at the Le Mans Grand Prix this weekend, a visibly upset Casey Stoner spoke to the press, to give his side of events. The Marlboro Ducati rider was upset, but most of all, he was mystified why he had crashed. There was nothing in the data to explain it, and he did not believe he had done anything wrong. He spent nearly 15 minutes talking to a throng of reporters in a crowded Ducati hospitality unit. Below is a nearly complete transcript of that conference, with only some sections where Stoner repeated himself removed.
Q: Front end Casey?
Casey Stoner: Yeah, I lost the front end for about 15 to 20 meters before it actually went down. I'd pretty much ground through my elbow protection there trying to keep it up, but it was a lost cause. After a while the rear end just followed it round and it was game over.
You know I'd pushed that bike around really hard all weekend, because we didn't want the same problems that we'd had at Jerez and Qatar. I pushed it as hard as I possibly could, and it never faltered, it never wobbled, it never did anything. The rear had a couple of moments which we were trying to improve all weekend, but nothing with the front.
Over the past week or so, internet forums and bulletin boards across the US have been ablaze with complaints about the coverage of the French MotoGP Grand Prix at Le Mans. Or rather, the lack of it. For Speed TV - who have the broadcast rights for MotoGP in the USA - had originally planned to show the Le Mans MotoGP race only on Tuesday, two days after the event. Hundreds of emails have flooded into the station's inbox complaining about the lack of live coverage.
Those complaints appear to have helped. The French Grand Prix is now appearing on TV schedules as being shown live on Sunday morning, at 8am Eastern Time. So for anyone based in the US wanting to watch the race live, or record it to watch later, set your DVR to record, and hope the new schedule is correct. After the flood of complaints, a flood of thank you emails to Speed may help ensure that the races are all covered live.
While the first day of practice at Le Mans was - unusually - a crash-free affair, day 2 got off to a bad start, with falls in the 125 and MotoGP classes, as riders pushed too hard on a cool track. In the MotoGP class, Ben Spies, Alvaro Bautista and Mika Kallio all had big crashes, both Bautista and Spies highsiding spectacularly.
Things looked worst for Spies, the Texan being stretchered off to the Clinica Mobile, but after inspection - and worries about a fractured metatarsal bone in his left foot - Spies was pronounced badly bruised, but healthy. Spies and Kallio are both expected to ride this afternoon, the injuries not serious enough to prevent them.
With the bikes finally back on track at Le Mans, the flood of rumor and innuendo that has dogged every MotoGP press conference and rider debrief in France dwindled to a mere trickle. Instead of questions of who has been talking to who, and who was seen in which hospitality, Friday's debriefs actually talked about the conditions on track.
That did not prevent the same Italian journalist who harassed Jorge Lorenzo about his manager, Marcos Hirsch' visit to the Ducati hospitality. And once again, Lorenzo hammered out the same old story: Marcos is talking to Filippo Preziosi about his new Multistrada. And no, I have not spoken to Ducati yet.
When Lorenzo did get to talk about the bike, he said he was happy with the setting, which they'd brought with them from Jerez. There'd been a problem with his number one bike early on, and so Lorenzo had gone out on his second bike. He'd spent most of the first part of the session just getting a feel for the track again. "I always adapt to the bike first, and only then start modifying the setup," Lorenzo explained.
But the Yamaha is so good it doesn't really need much tweaking. "Le Mans suits the Yamaha," Lorenzo said, explaining that this went as far back as when Max Biaggi was riding the M1 here in 2002, when Biaggi scored a podium here in the first year of the MotoGP era.
Since rumors that Casey Stoner had already signed a contract with Honda broke a few days after Jerez, the atmosphere in the motorcycle racing media has become positively frantic. The three-week delay between Jerez and Le Mans has certainly not helped, with a string of stories leaking out from Italy and Spain that Honda had signed Stoner, that Ducati had offered Valentino Rossi a contract, that Honda had targeted a "dream team" of Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo for their 2011 line-up. Most of those stories probably bear some relation to reality, but that relationship is extraordinarily tenuous with some of them.
That fevered atmosphere spilled over into the pre-event press conferences and rider debriefs here at Le Mans. Normally, the talk is all of what new parts riders have, and what they expect of the weekend, but apart from the questions put at the official press conference by the host and TV commentator Nick Harris, the only thing that the assembled press wanted to talk about was the future of the Fantastic Four; Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that the wealth of chassis choices in Moto2 is a double-edged sword. With so many frames to choose from, and the field so incredibly tight, teams are looking for the reasons why their riders are not performing as they had hoped and expected, and putting the failure to perform down to their choice of chassis.
The Mapfre Aspar team were the first team to team to make the jump. The Aspar team, fielding 125cc World Champion and former 125cc champ Mike di Meglio, decided to drop the Italian RSV chassis they had been using since the start of the year, and switch to the Swiss Suter chassis, currently favored by the bulk of the Moto2 paddock. The steel trellis RSV chassis - though stunningly beautiful and one of the few departures from the standard aluminium beam chassis being used elsewhere - has had problems with weight, and Aspar had complained that the pace of development was not meeting the team's demands.
Aspar's dropping of the RSV chassis left just one rider using the Italian frame: Karel Abraham of the Czech Cardion AB team. But like the Aspar riders, Abraham had also been struggling with the setup of the chassis, as well as with aerodynamics, and like the Aspar team, Cardion AB have also decided to drop the Italian manufacturer's chassis.
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A training accident has claimed yet another victim in the 2010 MotoGP season, with Rizla Suzuki's Alvaro Bautista the latest rider to suffer injury. Bautista fell during motocross training on Thursday, fracturing a collarbone in the process. On Friday, the Spaniard underwent surgery to fix the problem, having a plate fitted on what surgeons described as a clean fracture.
Bautista appears to have been lucky with the nature of the fracture. With the plate fitted, the team expects Bautista to be able to race at Le Mans, though, as the team press release puts it, with some pain and restricted movement. Finding a suitable replacement could have been tricky, though with the World Superbike teams on a hiatus next weekend, Alstare Suzuki rider and Frenchman Sylvain Guintoli would have been likely to get the nod, as Guintoli is both popular at home, and unlike his teammate Leon Haslam, not in the race for the WSBK title.
The reports by Italian broadcaster Sportmediaset that Casey Stoner had allegedly signed for Honda - a report later denied by HRC manager Livio Suppo - unleashed the usual wave of speculation about Stoner's vacant seat at Ducati. The Sportmediaset reports also included suggestions that Ducati were pursuing Valentino Rossi hard, implying the Italian might be close to make the switch that every Italian is begging for, putting Valentino Rossi on a Ducati for 2011.
Every Italian but one, that is. In the Italian sports daily Gazzetto dello Sport, Rossi denied he was considering switching to Ducati. Acknowledging that he had an excellent friendship with Ducati Corse manager and technical guru Filippo Preziosi, he told the Italian paper that he was happy with Yamaha, and "99 percent sure" to stay with the Japanese factory. Preziosi confirmed that there were no serious talks with Rossi, and that Ducati did not expect to be able to sign the Italian, as Rossi had made it clear to them that he was happy with Yamaha.
Within hours of reports appearing on the Sportmediaset website that Casey Stoner has signed for Honda, the denials are starting to come in, as predicted here. GPOne.com - like Sportmediaset an Italian website, but probably the most reliable source of news from Italy - spoke to Honda Racing Corporation's Marketing Manager Livio Suppo, who denied that Stoner had already signed a contract.
"There are four great riders whose contracts are ending," Suppo told GPOne.com, "And it's clear that there will be interest in at least one of them. But at this moment, everyone is talking to everyone, but no one has signed anything."
Even before the 2010 MotoGP season began, it was clear that with the contracts of Valentino Rossi, Dani Pedrosa, Jorge Lorenzo and Casey Stoner all coming to an end at the end of 2010, this year's silly season - the insanity of speculation, rumor and intrigue surrounding which rider will be going where from 2011 onwards - was going to be one of the most fevered in years. The background hum of rumors had already started last year, but now, the opening salvo has been fired in the Great Rider War of 2010.
At least, according to the excitable Italian press, that is. The Italian broadcaster Sportmediaset is reporting that Casey Stoner is the first domino to fall, having reportedly signed a contract with Honda for next season at Jerez. According to Sportmediaset, the move came about as a result of Stoner's close relationship with Livio Suppo, the former Ducati manager who moved over to HRC at the start of the 2010 season, to help Honda raise its sponsorship.
With two free weekends between Jerez and Le Mans for the MotoGP riders, a couple of prominent riders took the time to visit the World Superbike races at Monza, and catch up with friends and family. While Ben Spies was in the Yamaha garage catching up with some of the team members he won the WSBK title with last year, Nicky Hayden was in the Ducati hospitality, hanging out with his brother Roger Lee, currently racing with the Pedercini Kawasaki team. While he was there, the voice of World Superbikes Jonathan Green caught up with Nicky for OnTheThrottle, to talk about how Roger Lee is getting on, about how Nicky is getting on with the Ducati and whether the Kentucky Kid has any plans to join the World Superbike paddock.