For the second time this season, the MotoGP series has lost an afternoon to extraordinary circumstances. At Assen, it was a blown engine during Moto2 practice combined with pouring rain to force the cancellation of FP2 sessions for all three classes, while at the Motorland Aragon circuit today, a defective transformer saw all power lost at the circuit, forcing the cancellation of FP2 for the MotoGP and Moto2 classes.
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Somehow, the big news always seems to break on Thursdays. Probably because we don't have any real action to talk about, and so all the focus is on speculation, spying, or off-track events, but without motorcycles going round on track, we still have plenty to talk about.
Valentino Rossi is to use the new aluminium chassis at Motorland Aragon this weekend, which was first tested last week at Mugello on Ducati's 2012 1000cc machine. The Italian told the press conference at Aragon that the test at Mugello had gone very well, and the new chassis - built by British Moto2 manufacturer FTR - had improved the feeling from the front end of the Ducati. As a consequence, they had decided to use the new chassis at Aragon this weekend, to use it as a development platform for next year.
The FIM today announced the provisional dates for the 2012 MotoGP schedule. The season kicks off in Qatar on April 15th, with a fortnightly schedule of races until Assen, when the Dutch, German and Italian rounds take place on consecutive weekends. The series then heads across the Atlantic for two US rounds at Laguna Seca and Indianapolis, before returning to Europe for three more races. A triple-header in Asia and Australia follows, before the season wraps up at the traditional final round at Valencia on November 11th.
In something of a surprise move, the German Automobile Club ADAC have announced that the German round of MotoGP will not be held at the Sachsenring in 2012, the German regional paper Freie Presse are reporting. At a press conference held at the East German circuit, which is owned by the ADAC, the organization told the media that the losses suffered by the Sachsenring were just too great to allow them to sustain the event.
We already know that 2013 will be a big year for MotoGP in the Americas. With the addition of the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, the total number of MotoGP rounds in the United States will increase to three, with Austin joining Indianapolis and Laguna Seca on the calendar. And according to reports in the Argentinian press, there could be a fourth round of MotoGP in the Americas, with a South American race joining the three North American rounds of the series.
Another major stronghold in the resistance to the Japanese round of MotoGP has crumbled: the Yamaha Factory Racing team has announced that the team and both of its riders will attend the Motegi MotoGP race on October 2nd of this year. The announcement means that both Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies will be present at Motegi, lining up alongside the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team - the first team to officially announce they would be going - of Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow, as well as Hector Barbera and the Mapfre Aspar team.
The factory Yamaha team concluded a 1-day test at Misano on Monday, taking the 2012 Yamaha MotoGP machine out for the second time, after an earlier test at Brno. The test had originally been planned as a public test together with Honda and Ducati, but Ducati withdrew from the Misano test in July, and Honda pulled out shortly after the Brno test, both factories saying that they had nothing to test. As a result, the test morphed into a private test, leaving a small band of journalists to twiddle their thumbs in the press room, with no access to times and no access to the pit lane.
While MotoGP fans (and teams, and journalists) eagerly await the arrival of the 2012 MotoGP calendar, which is due to be announced at the next MotoGP round at Aragon, the outlines of next season are starting to become clear. The weekend of the Misano round saw two important announcements made about rounds expected to be on the calendar next year, but which had not yet been confirmed.
It was a good weekend for MotoGP at Misano. We had two-and-a-half great races, two championships were opened up again and one took a step closer to the inevitable conclusion it has been moving towards almost since the start of the season. The weather was good - with just a sprinkling of raindrops to keep everyone honest - the crowds were up - on last year at least - and if the home crowd didn't exactly get what they came to see (a Rossi victory), at least they went home with hope in their hearts after a pretty strong race by the Italian, all things considered.
Qualifying at Misano ended up giving an accurate reflection of the key battles in all three classes (or four if you include WSBK Superpole at the Nurburgring, where Carlos Checa sits on pole, with rivals Max Biaggi and Marco Melandri alongside him on the front row). In MotoGP, there was little to choose between Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa, the three men qualifying within 0.180 of each other, and well ahead of the rest of the field. In the Moto2 class, Stefan Bradl held off the assault of Marc Marquez to secure his seventh pole of the season.
The story that has been brewing for the best part of three months has finally reached a conclusion: Bridgepoint, the private equity firm that owns Dorna, MotoGP's organizers, has acquired Infront Sports & Media, the sports marketing firm that owns Infront Motor Sports, the organizers of World Superbike series. Infront yesterday issued an official press release announcing the acquisition, with Bridgepoint purchasing the company from its three major shareholders.
At Misano on Friday, there was an event that will change the face of MotoGP forever. War was declared - in the nicest possible terms - and the silhouette of the future was vaguely discernible for those who wanted to see it. There were also some bikes on track, so let's turn to those first.