Latest MotoGP News
Casey Stoner battled back from a crash midway in the second MotoGP practice session to set fast time overall on a already scorching, both literally and figuratively, morning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The track surface, uneven and slippery even in the best of conditions, made the morning session an exercise in controlled sliding, if you were lucky and crashing if you weren't. Joining Stoner in the kitty litter were Hector Barbera and Valentino Rossi, who has been complaining all weekend about a lack of grip.
Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa set his fast time after the checkered flag had flown ending the session, followed milliseconds later by Stoner, who took the top spot away from the Spaniard by a mere .058 seconds. The duo displaced Pedrosa's team mate Andre Dovizioso, who had taken the top spot with a bit over 6 minutes left in the session.
Fiat Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo had his late flying lap impeded by Gresini Honda's Marco Melandri and had to settle for fourth.
The final rider in the 1:40's, Marlboro Ducati's Nicky Hayden, lanquished in the bottom half of the standings for the majority of the session and vaulted into fifth with eleven seconds left.
The impressively efficient press department at Indianapolis Motor Speedway collected and provided the following collection of quotes from fourteen of the seventeen MotoGP riders after the first session of free practice. Thanks to Paul Kelly and his staff for doing our job for us:
CASEY STONER (No. 27 Ducati Team, first): (Since you didn't run here last year, how hard was it to set up the motorcycle?): "We know genuinely the layout of the circuit. We know how the bike is going to react on a certain type – whether it's fast corners, slow corners, heavy braking or not. We had enough data from '08 just to start with, in general. There will be three or four different groups of circuits that we go to that we know what setup works. So we start with that rough idea; that's how we start every weekend. We'll know from previous years what roughly works on this style of circuit and then we just go from there. Out of the box it (the motorcycle) wasn't great. We tried one setting and completely went the wrong way, and it felt horrible. We came back and tried going a different direction and made another step and made it feel a little better, and we tried the last thing to make another improvement and sort of went backward again. We just have to go back and forth until we find that point where we're getting all aspects of the bike working."
The Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix has unleashed a veritable avalanche of official press releases about the future of the sport. The latest release is from the Aspar team concerning the extension of their contract with Ducati for 2011, but the release also hints at further developments in the future. The press release mentions Jorge Martinez' desire to field a two-man team on Ducatis for the 2012 season as well, which would appear to contradict rumors linking Aspar to Aprilia.
For rumors in the Spanish and Italian press have linked the Aspar to a deal with Aprilia to race a heavily modified version of their RSV4 bike in MotoGP in 2012, entering under the guise of a CRT team. Such a suggestion is plausible given Aspar's strong historic connection to the Noale factory, having raced and won many titles for Aprilia in the 125 and 250cc championships. However, given Aspar's strong ties to the Italian manufacturer, the chances of the Grand Prix Commission granting Aspar CRT status should he apply to race Aprilias seems rather slim. A deal with Ducati to race factory prototypes seems a much more likely chain of events.
ASPAR TEAM AND DUCATI TO CONTINUE IN 2011
Excellent relationship between Spanish team and Italian factory leads to fresh deal
Dorna Sports has just announced that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will host the MotoGP world championship for the fourth consecutive year in 2011, with a possible further extension to be negotiated. The round will be tentatively scheduled for August 26th-28th, 2011.
Dorna and Indianapolis Motor Speedway have just confirmed that MotoGP is to be back at Indy for 2011. The deal sees MotoGP returning for a single year in 2011, with a review to take place in light of the changes due to happen from 2012 onwards. The renewal sees the Indy GP scheduled for the same weekend next year as this year, with the race to be run on August 28th.
The press releases issued by Dorna and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway are shown below, but the Dorna press release contains an interesting hint about the future of MotoGP. Dorna boss Carmelo Ezpeleta mentions the changes coming for 2012, saying the agreement "permits all possibilities to be explored at the end of 2011 when the current contractual agreement with the MSMA and IRTA is reviewed, as MotoGP continues to develop into a new era in the sport in 2012." It has been widely hinted that Dorna intends to radically revise the agreement the company has with the manufacturers' association, the MSMA, and this would seem to confirm it. Rumors suggest Dorna wants to remove the exclusive right to make technical regulations which the MSMA currently holds, after the 800cc rules turned out to be such an expensive bust. Comments such as these by Ezpeleta - made in an entirely inappropriate context - strongly suggest there is much truth behind this, and that MotoGP is going to undergo a huge shakeup for the 2012 season.
As we predicted yesterday, the second-worst-kept secret in MotoGP was revealed today at Indianapolis, with the official confirmation that Ben Spies is to join the factory Yamaha team for 2011. The press release issued by Yamaha held very few surprises, though one or two interesting little details are available by reading between the lines. The first is that Spies is likely to take his American crew with him to the factory team, with Spies' reference to "his mechanics" almost certainly referring to crew chief Tom Houseworth and mechanic Greg Wood.
The second is that Fiat's departure from the factory Yamaha team now seems a given. The press release speaks only of Spies riding for the Factory Yamaha Team, rather than Fiat Yamaha, the team's current designation. The move has been widely anticipated, with Fiat heavily rumored to be leaving along with Valentino Rossi, and looking at ways of being involved in the Marlboro Ducati team. The press release follows below. Official photographs are available here and here.
MODERATOR: We said all the things, Jorge, 77 points, wins at Laguna, Indianapolis. You come here in very, very good shape.
JORGE LORENZO: Yes, I come here in very good shape. You know, all the things are going so well this year. There was sort of -- I got second position, so I couldn't ask for anything more. And we come here in a track that I love. In 2008 with a lot of rain and very hard conditions, I made my first podium in rain in my career, and last year I won. So it's always very positive that MotoGP comes here in America, and I'm happy for that.
MODERATOR: And just walking into the Motor Speedway is a special place, an iconic place, isn't it?
LORENZO: Yeah, very special with a lot of history and a lot of races here in the past. And obviously we are -- we want that this continues for long years, but I don't know whether it's going to happen for the next years.
MODERATOR: We sat here two weeks ago, not here but in the press conference in Brno in the Czech Republic, you said: "Now I think very hard about the championship. I have to be careful. Wins not so important but podiums. We just want to win the race again." Is it the same philosophy here, the same theory?
If Valentino Rossi's move to Ducati was the worst-kept secret in motorcycle racing, then his replacement at Yamaha was probably the second worst. Rumors of Ben Spies moving up to the Fiat Yamaha team should either Rossi or teammate Jorge Lorenzo leave started before Spies had even wrapped up the 2009 World Superbike title, and now that Rossi's departure has been confirmed, those rumors have move far beyond the realm of speculation.
Over the past few days, Ben Spies has tried in vain to fend off questions about his destination for 2011 in a range of interviews, including with David Williams of OnTheThrottle, veteran broadcaster Dave Despain of Speed TV, and now also during the pre-event press conference at Indianapolis. With each answer, Spies has become less and less evasive, and on Thursday, Spies finally admitted that an announcement would be imminent within the next couple of days. With an official announcement to be made at Spies' home MotoGP round at Indianapolis, there is really only one outcome possible, that Spies will be confirmed in the factory Yamaha team.
MotoGP's history at Indianapolis got off to a tempestuous start, quite literally. The inaugural Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix in 2008 took place in the shadow of Hurricane Ike, but despite the storm, and the global financial meltdown, the race has had a fairly strong attendance for the past two years, with 91,000 paying customers in '08, dropping to just over 75,000 last year, in the midst of the global recession. 2010, however, is the last year of Indianapolis' three-year contract to stage a MotoGP event, and as yet, no announcements about the future of the race have been made.
That could all change over the next few days. The Indianapolis Star is reporting that the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is close to signing an extension with Dorna to continue to stage a MotoGP event in 2011, and maybe beyond. According to the Indy Star, IMS CEO Jeff Belskus believes that there are "a couple of unresolved issues" to overcome, but Belskus is confident that a new deal will be announced before the end of the weekend.
Should you be considering heading to Indianapolis for the Red Bull Indianapolis GP, but are still undecided as to whether to go or not, here's news that may help you make up your mind. Obviously the visceral roar of MotoGP engines, combined with the thrilling spectacle of 41 Moto2 bikes heading into the first corner together is the main attraction of the weekend, but if you were worried about being bored outside the track, you need worry no more. For Indianapolis Motor Speedway has just released a comprehensive list of all activities taking place over the weekend, both on and off track. There's something for just about everyone here, and visitors to the race should be more worried about fitting everything in than finding things to do.
Our tip for the weekend? Whatever you do at the track - and the Cycle World Seminar and Riders for Health auction are two events we would drop in on - make sure you get to the State Fairgrounds on Saturday night for the Indy Mile flat track race. A race weekend doesn't get much better than watching the Mile on Saturday followed by the MotoGP race on Sunday. That is what motorcycle racing is all about. Here's the IMS press release:
RED BULL INDIANAPOLIS GP EVENTS CALENDAR: AUG. 27-29
Things To Do At Indy, Part 2: Walk The Pits, Bag Memorabilia At the Riders For Health Auction, Celebrate Downtown
Yesterday we told you about two must-see events taking place during the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix, today, we have more events making a trip to Indy worth your while. If you're looking for something to do either before the bikes hit the track or after they're done, then here's a few ideas: You can get a close-up view of the bikes during the pit walk on Friday morning; you can bid on some of the best motorcycling memorabilia available during the Riders for Health auction, also on Friday morning; and you can kick off the race weekend with the downtown event and bike parade at Monument Circle on Thursday. Details of the events below, from Indianapolis Motor Speedway press releases.
But if there's one thing you really shouldn't miss when you're at Indy, it's the Indy Mile, to be run at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. No matter what your taste in racing, there is nothing quite like the sight of 40 big V-twins thundering round mile oval track with no brakes. If you want to see racing at its best - and a paddock full of stunned MotoGP stars awe-struck by the racing - get to the Indy Mile on Saturday night. To get a taste of the Mile, check out Scott Jones' photos from last year.
Hiroshi Aoyama's rookie season in MotoGP has not been easy. The last ever 250cc World Champion entered MotoGP in a brand new team on a satellite Honda and had spent his time slowly getting up to speed, all the while struggling with a wrist problem. Then, just as the Interwetten Honda rider seemed to be getting to grips with the new class, fate dealt him a cruel blow in the form of a Sunday morning cold-tire highside at Silverstone for the British Grand Prix. Aoyama fractured his T12 vertebra, and was out for at least three months.
Rejecting surgery, Aoyama decided to let the fracture heal naturally. Speaking to MotoMatters.com at Brno on Saturday, Aoyama explained that the alternative would have been to have the vertebra above and below fused together, and though that would have allowed the Interwetten Honda rider to return to action more quickly, it would also have permanently restricted his range of motion, complicating the process of learning to ride. Aoyama's decision not to have surgery was vindicated two days later, when the Japanese rider tested the Interwetten Honda RC212V once again, and immediately set times faster than Alex de Angelis, the rider who had been drafted in to replace Aoyama during his absence.
No doubt many of MotoMatters.com's readers will be heading to the Brickyard, to attend the Red Bull Indianapolis GP. Obviously, the main reason to go to Indy is having the chance to see all three classes (125cc, Moto2 and MotoGP) racing in the US, but beyond the racing, the folks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway put on a lot more to hold the interest of race fans during the weekend. Here's two more reasons to head to Indianapolis, taken from press releases provided by IMS: The Cycle World Seminar and Yamaha Stars On Stage:
Cycle World Seminar
The standard joke in motorsports paddocks around the world is that the way to make a small fortune in motor racing is to start off with a large one. MotoGP - like all other forms of motorsports - costs a lot of money, and somebody has to pay for it. The question of how much MotoGP costs - and how much money it generates - is an interesting one, and not one to which many people have a ready answer.