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.
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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.
After struggling at the MotoGP test in Sepang with a lack of strength in the shoulder he injured during winter training, Nicky Hayden is to undergo shoulder surgery to try to examine and correct the damage sustained. In a press release issued by Ducati on Sunday evening, the American announced that the damage suffered in his shoulder was worse than at first thought, and riding at the tests in Malaysia had highlighted the problems in his shoulder.
Marc Marquez has been forced to pull out of next week's Moto2 test at Valencia with continuing vision problems. The vision problems were a result of his crash during practice at Sepang, caused when marshalls failed to display a flag while there was water on the track. The Spaniard underwent an operation to correct a partial paralysis of the superior oblique muscle in his right eye on January 16th, and had originally planned to return to the track at Valencia, for the Moto2 test scheduled for February 8th-10th.
The MotoGP bikes have been back in action for three days now - four, if you count Randy de Puniet and the other Aprilia ART (as Aprilia's CRT bike is called) riders' outing at Valencia - and fans and followers now have some real meat to chew over. The days of endless speculation based on nothing more than ill-informed gossip and rumor is over; the days of endless speculation based on slightly better-informed gossip, rumor and lap times are here.
With the excitement of MotoGP bikes being back on track subsiding to more manageable levels, the riders and teams were back hard at work again on Wednesday. The track had improved sufficiently to see times start to drop to where they might reasonably be expected to be.
The MotoGP bikes are finally back on track - though it took a little longer than expected, after an overnight rain shower left the track damp in the morning. Much had been expected of this test, and it has delivered already, after just a single day. In fact the test has been almost perfect, real bikes running on a circuit putting an end to the intrigue and subterfuge that play such a major role in every winter break, whilst raising enough new questions to pique the interest of anyone with a passion for motorcycle racing.
The second day of testing at Valencia for the Aspar and Speed Master teams saw all three Aprilia-mounted riders improve their times significantly, despite conditions being much worse. Temperatures dropped significantly from yesterday, and a cold wind picked up making the track too cold to ride during the morning, the riders only taking to the track at noon.
So the day that MotoGP fans have been waiting for throughout the long, dark, bikeless winter break has nearly arrived. In a few short hours time, the MotoGP bikes will be tearing up the track in Malaysia once again in preparation for the 2012 season. Indeed, all day Monday, a few MotoGP bikes - the cynics and naysayers would refute that the Aprilia CRT bike is a MotoGP bike, but they are wrong - have been howling round Valencia, but as that is a private test it has not impinged upon the consciousness of MotoGP fans as much as Sepang has.
MotoGP is back at last, and while the factory bikes are being unveiled in the tropical heat of Malaysia, ready for the first day of test at Sepang on Tuesday, the Aprilia CRT bikes of Aspar and Speedmaster took to a much colder track at Valencia. By the end of the first day, Randy de Puniet - who has experience of the bike, having ridden it at Jerez at the end of last year - set the fastest time, with a lap of 1'35.3, his Aspar teammate Aleix Espargaro 1.4 seconds behind de Puniet, while Speed Master's Mattia Pasini was 2.5 seconds off the pace of the Frenchman.
Yamaha has confirmed that Japanese oil company JX Nippon will be partnering the Yamaha MotoGP team as sponsor in 2012. As uncovered by Greek website motograndprix.gr and reported here earlier this month, JX Nippon will be using their sponsorship of the Yamaha MotoGP team to promote the ENEOS brand, a range of performance oil products sold worldwide.
Just hours after Ant West announced on his Facebook page that he would not be racing in MotoGP, as he was unable to find the sponsorship to fund his ride at the Speed Master team, the team issued a press release announcing West's replacement. Italian rider Mattia Pasini is to take West's place, and ride the Speed Master Team's Aprilia CRT bike in MotoGP for 2012.
MotoGP's long winter break is drawing to a close, and the testing season is about to kick off once again. For the last couple of years that's been very easy to follow, as everyone headed to the official MotoGP tests organized by IRTA. With the introduction of the Claiming Rule Teams, however, MotoGP's testing schedule has become a lot more complex, as some of the CRT teams will be joining the test in Sepang, while others will be remaining in Europe.
Popular Australian rider Ant West is to retire from motorcycle racing. The popular Australian made the announcement on his personal Facebook page, citing the failure to raise sufficient sponsorship to be able to pay for a ride for 2012. West was signed up to ride an Aprilia CRT machine for the Speed Master team in MotoGP in 2012, but was unable to find the 250,000 euros that the team had demanded he bring to the ride.
MotoGP is looking eastward. As the involvement and interest from and in Asia has continued to grow in recent years, the importance of the region - beyond the historic role that Japan has played in the series, that is - to both the MotoGP series and the manufacturers has become increasingly evident. With Yamaha riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies visiting the region a couple of times over the winter, and Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta hinting at more races in Asia in coming years, the Asian dimension in MotoGP is set to grow in the near future.