Latest MotoGP News

Film Star Antonio Banderas To Run MotoGP Team?

Actors and racing are a potent combination, though usually a mess of contracts prevent any active involvement by the former in the latter, for fear any injuries incurred the actors involved might either delay expensive film production schedules, or worse, terminate an actor's career permanently.

There have been honorable exceptions, of course, the most famous being Paul Newman, whose greatest racing achievement was a 2nd place in the Le Mans 24 hour endurance car race. But usually, all actors can do is to run a team, as the least dangerous way to be involved in a sport they love, without risking injury.

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FIM Boss: "We Must Reduce The Role Of Electronics In MotoGP"

The role which electronics play in modern motorcycle racing is a continuing cause of discussion, or perhaps controversy would be a better word. Almost everyone inside and outside racing has had their say on the matter, some more publicly than others. Opinion remains deeply divided between the "rider purists" and the "racing purists", with both sides expressing their opinions increasingly forcefully.

Now, a new voice has been added to the debate. In an interview with Octavio Estrada of Prototipos Racing, published on the Spanish website DailyMotos.com, FIM President Vito Ippolito has spoken out against the use of electronics in MotoGP, saying that "MotoGP must not make the same mistake that Formula 1 has made, where the role of the driver is reduced to a minimum."

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Better Hurry If You Want The MotoGPMatters.com In Time For Christmas

With a week to go until Christmas, time is running out for gift shopping. And not only is it running out for gift shopping, it's running out for anyone in the US wanting delivery of the gorgeous 2009 MotoGPMatters.com motorcycle racing calendar. Under normal circumstances, USPS Priority Mail shipping would mean that the calendar could be delivered to your door within 2-3 days, but with the postal rush for the Holiday Season, even that cannot be guaranteed.

So if you want to be sure of gladdening the heart of your favorite MotoGP fan on Christmas morning, you need to get your order for the 2009 MotoGPMatters.com motorcycle racing calendar in today, and we will rush down to the post office to ensure it hits the mail on time. And with stocks starting to run low, you need to decide sooner rather than later.

For readers based in Europe, they too need to hurry if they still want a calendar before Christmas, while readers in Australia and New Zealand will need to send an e-mail to calendar@motogpmatters.com to enquire about the cost of express shipping.

The Calendar

Featuring a host of gorgeous photographs by Scott Jones, as well as a full listing of MotoGP and World Superbike weekends clearly marked on each month, it's the perfect schedule planner for motorcycle racing fans who don't want to miss the best racing on the planet. Printed using a four-color offset process, providing rich and beautiful photographs, the calendar measures 11" by 8.5", or 11" by 17" when folded out, with a photograph above a month grid.

Below is a sample month to give you an idea of the layout:

motogp motogpmatters calendar 2009 jorge lorenzo

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Moto2 Class Confirmed In Spanish Championship For 2009

Shortly after the regulations for the new Moto2 class were announced, the RFME - the Spanish Motorcycling Federation, the organization which runs motorcycle racing in Spain - expressed an interest in running the new class as part of the Spanish CEV Championship. And now, just a few days later, the Spanish Federation has made good on that statement: In a press release issued today, the RFME announced its intention to run a Moto2 class alongside the existing CEV championship.

Exact details have not been released yet - the RFME say that they expect to release the exact technical and sporting regulations shortly - and the series will only go ahead if the RFME receive enough entries for all of the CEV rounds currently scheduled. But the hope is that enough teams will be interested to take part, and that this series will serve as a proving ground for the point at which the Moto2 class replaces the 250cc class in 2011.

The entry list for the Moto2 series will be worth watching very closely. Both the number of entrants, and the parties who choose to build bikes for this will point the way to the success of the series. Several parties are believed to be interested in the series - Moriwaki having already built a prototype - but that interest may not translate into actual participation. Oscar Gallardo, the man who runs the CEV championship, told AS.com that the series would need two weeks' notice to organize. As the CEV is due to start on April 19th, we should now exactly how much interest there is by the beginning of April.

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Honda Could Announce MotoGP Withdrawal On Friday

Honda's future in MotoGP has been an almost constant subject of debate since the announcement that the Japanese motoring giant was withdrawing from Formula One on December 5th this year. The situation was only made worse by American Honda's decision to withdraw from the AMA Superbike championship next year, announced exactly a week later. And now, it looks like there could be three "Black Fridays" in a row for Honda's involvement in racing.

For this Friday, December 19th, Honda CEO Takeo Fukui is due to deliver his end-of-year speech, and if reports from the Spanish press are to be believed, there is a real possibility that Fukui will announce the withdrawal of Honda from MotoGP. Both AS.com and Motociclismo.es have picked up a story by the weekly magazine Solo Moto, which quotes a spokesman from HRC as saying that "all of our projects are currently under consideration."

The problem, as you most likely guessed, is due to the global economic crisis. Honda's margins are under severe pressure, with sales slowing worldwide, a fact confirmed by a drop of nearly 27% in new car registrations in Western Europe. And as profits fall, Honda is coming under extreme pressure from investors to cut costs. Investors reacted positively to both Honda's F1 pullout, as well as their withdrawal from the AMA, despite the vast difference in budgets for the two activities, and Solo Moto believes that MotoGP is their next target.

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FIM Releases MotoGP Entry List: 19 In MotoGP, 22 In 250s, 29 In 125s

The FIM today released the provisional entry list for the MotoGP series, encompassing the MotoGP, 250cc and 125cc classes. As expected, the MotoGP class has 19 entries, the single tire rule freeing up the equipment for Sete Gibernau's team.

Perhaps the best news is the entry list of 22 riders for the 250cc class. With KTM's withdrawal from the class earlier this year, it looked for a while like there could be fewer than the minimum of 15 entries required for a World Championship to be organized. Since then, a number of privateer teams have entered Aprilia LE's, and Aspar has found sponsorship from the new Balatonring circuit in Hungary to provide former 125cc World Champion Gabor Talmacsi with factory equipment.

FIM Provisional Entry List 2009 

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Ezpeleta: "The Electronics Aren't To Blame"

There are many people around the world with opinions about MotoGP - some more informed, some less - but there is one voice that is always listened to, when its owner chooses to speak. That man is, of course, Carmelo Ezpeleta, the CEO of Dorna, the body which runs MotoGP. Ezpeleta is both admired for the huge strides in popularity and exposure that MotoGP has made under his leadership, and despised for what some see as the crippling of MotoGP, by switching from the old 990cc formula to the 800s.

Ezpeleta's critics' greatest fear is that he will continue to meddle with MotoGP rules, in the hope of achieving certain competitive outcomes. Both the new tire regulations and the switch from 990cc to 800cc were done on the pretext of safety, in the hope of slowing bikes down. But the cynics take the fact that both the 800s and the new single tires have seen lap records shattered as proof of their argument that Ezpeleta is interfering in the hope of making the racer closing.

The Spanish MotoGP chief has made no secret of his desire to limit the role of electronics in racing, but in an interview with the Spanish weekly magazine Motociclismo, translated and annotated by Speed TV's Dennis Noyes, Ezpeleta reveals some remarkable insights.

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Still Shipping In Time For Christmas: The MotoGPMatters.com 2009 Motorcycle Racing Calendar

Christmas is rapidly approaching, and I'm sure that like me, many of you are running out of gift ideas. Luckily for anyone who is a race fan or knows a race fan, the ideal affordable motorcycle racing gift is still on sale: The 2009 MotoGPMatters.com motorcycle racing calendar!

Featuring a host of gorgeous photographs by Scott Jones, as well as a full listing of MotoGP and World Superbike weekends clearly marked on each month, it's the perfect schedule planner for motorcycle racing fans who don't want to miss the best racing on the planet. Printed using a four-color offset process, providing rich and beautiful photographs, the calendar measures 11" by 8.5", or 11" by 17" when folded out, with a photograph above a month grid.

Below is a sample month to give you an idea of the layout:

motogp motogpmatters calendar 2009 jorge lorenzo

So get your orders in quickly so that we can get this to you in time for the gift-giving season, and before we run out. Orders can be made by Paypal, as shown below. For orders of more than 2 calendars, or for shipping options outside of the countries shown below, send an e-mail to calendar@motogpmatters.com.

Orders for 1 Calendar

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Moto2 Bikes To Run In Spain In 2009, With 250s In 2010

With the ink for the brand new Moto2 regulations still damp on the page (summarized here), proposals are already being made to start racing the bikes as soon as possible. According to Spanish sports daily AS.com, the Moto2 bikes could get their first outing alongside the Spanish CEV series in 2009.

Oscar Gallardo, the former Dakar racer who now runs the Spanish championship, told AS.com that the CEV could get a series up and running very quickly, if they had sufficient bikes. "We would need a minimum of 10 to 15 bikes to organize a championship, something we could do very quickly. The 2009 CEV is due to start on April 19th in Albacete, it would be feasible to organize a Moto2 championship with about two weeks' notice."

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FIM Unveils "Moto2" - 600cc Four-Stroke Regulations To Replace 250s

The FIM today finally announced at least a preliminary version of the rules for the new four-stroke class to replace the 250s. Many of the proposals had already leaked out, and even been discussed publicly, but now that the basic proposals are out in full, a much clearer picture of the goal of the regulations is starting to appear.

The main points of the regulations, which are due to come into force in 2011, can be summarized as follows:

Engine:

All engines must be conventionally aspirated (e.g. no turbos) four-stroke engines with a maximum capacity of 600cc, using a maximum of 4 cylinders. The following maximum engine speeds will be enforced using an electronics package to be supplied by the organizers:

4 cylinder engines16,000 RPM
3 cylinder engines15,500 RPM
2 cylinder engines15,000 RPM

Valves will be as conventional as possible, with no pneumatic valves or variable valve timing or lift allowed. Valves must be of an iron-based alloy, ruling out the more expensive alloys.

Fuel Injection and Exhaust Systems:

Fuel systems are to be as conventional as possible, too. Throttle bodies must be circular, with a single control or butterfly valve. Variable inlet tract systems are banned, as are variable length exhaust systems and direct injection. Throttle body internal diameters will be limited as follows: 

4 cylinder engines42 mm
3 cylinder engines48 mm
2 cylinder engines59 mm

Fuel injection pressures will be limited to 5 Bar, and spec fuel injectors will be used. The engines must use conventional, commercially available unleaded fuel.

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Scott Jones and David Emmett Guests On Formula1Blog.com Podcast

For those of you who have ever wondered what the voices sound like behind the website, here's a chance to find out. Both Scott Jones and David Emmett (aka Kropotkin) appeared on the Formula1Blog.com podcast this week, where we had a long and in-depth discussion of all things MotoGP. We thought it was fun to do, and a pretty interesting discussion ensued, about the 2008 season, the 2009 season, and why Carmelo Ezpeleta keeps taking his ideas for new technical regulations from Bernie Ecclestone.

There's also a chance to win 5 MotoGPMatters.com calendars by answering a single - very tricky - question about MotoGP. You can listen to the podcast here.

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Honda - Is Its MotoGP Program In Trouble Or Not?

Ever since Honda dropped a bombshell on the world of car racing by announcing that it would be pulling out of Formula One and selling its F1 team, speculation has been rife that the fall out from the global financial crisis must surely have an effect on Honda's efforts in motorcycle racing. And since that moment, a stream of news articles has appeared on the subject.

The trouble is, the news has been confusing, if not downright contradictory. Spokespeople for Honda are saying the company's F1 withdrawal will not affect Honda's MotoGP efforts one minute, only for other parts of the company to tell the press that of course they are considering all of their options. It's difficult to follow, and hard to know just what effect the decline in Honda's financial fortunes will have.

To help clear up the confusion - or perhaps to add to it, here's a summary of the news so far:

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Bulgaria In Running For MotoGP Round

Over the past couple of years, it seems as if MotoGP has been pulling out of Asia and returning to Europe, the continent where the series was born. First came the withdrawal from Turkey, after new track owner Bernie Ecclestone upped the sanctioning fees for the spectacular Istanbul circuit. Then, earlier this year, Dorna announced that MotoGP will not be returning to Shanghai in China next year, after poor attendances combined with incredibly restrictive customs procedures made staging the Chinese Grand Prix a difficult, expensive and unrewarding experience.

The Istanbul round saw Indianapolis take its place on the MotoGP calendar, and next year, the Balatonring in Hungary will replace Shanghai. And according to the Bulgarian press agency FOCUS, Bulgaria will be the next country to host a MotoGP round. FOCUS is reporting that Claude Danis, the FIM's safety director, stated that a new Bulgarian track currently under construction will be added to the MotoGP calendar in 2011. The circuit, designed by Adamo Leonzio, will be "out of this world" according to its designer, though further details are being kept secret while negotiations are ongoing.

There is still some confusion as to whether the race will take place in 2011 or not. Other news sources in Bulgaria are reporting that construction will start in 2011, and that a MotoGP round will be run there at some unnamed point in the future.

If MotoGP is to visit in 2011, then the Sepang MotoGP round would appear to be the most likely candidate for replacement. Sepang has a contract to host a MotoGP race until 2010, which would dovetail nicely with the Bulgarian plans. In its favor, however, Sepang is an excellent place for winter testing, as the tropics are one of the few places where the weather is suitable for racing motorcycles in February and March, the midst of the testing season.

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Surgery Update: Elias, Hopkins, Gibernau All Have Metalwork Removed

The testing ban may provide some rest and relief for the MotoGP riders, but the period traditionally starts with a general crowding of operating theaters around the globe. This year was no different, and it was the turn of Toni Elias, Sete Gibernau and John Hopkins to put themselves under the knife once testing finished.

Elias was up first, and had a screw removed from his leg, which was put in to help heal the painful spiral fracture he suffered after a vicious crash at Assen's Ramshoek corner in 2007. Surgeons in Barcelona encountered no problems taking the screw out, and Elias is already working on his physical rehabilitation program.

Sete Gibernau was up next, at the same Dexeus medical center in Barcelona, this time to have a plate removed from his collar bone. The plate was put in during Gibernau's 2006 season, replacing an earlier plate which had been bent during the horrific first-corner crash at Barcelona that year. At first, it seemed that that crash had ended Gibernau's career, but a divorce during 2007 breathed new life in to the Spaniard's will to race. According to Gibernau's doctors, the collarbone is now strong enough to manage without the plate.

The final patient was Kawasaki's John Hopkins, who had all of the metalwork removed from his left ankle, which had been put in place after a crash at Assen, in the same corner that had broken Elias' leg a year earlier. Hopkins was particularly pleased to have the plates removed, as the plates had been rubbing on his tendons when he changed gear, causing his ankle and leg to swell up, as well as causing a great deal of pain. While they were there, the surgeons at Dr Ting's clinic in California also cleaned up Hopkins' knee, injured in the same crash.

All three men should be fit and ready to return to testing at the end of January in Phillip Island in Hopkins' case, and at Sepang in early February in the case of Toni Elias and Sete Gibernau.

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Simoncelli: "I Turned Down A Million Dollar MotoGP Contract"

As the MotoGP silly season hit full swing around July, the one name that was on everyone's lips was that of Marco Simoncelli, the man who went on to win the 250cc title. Rumors were rife about who had offered the young Italian a contract, and great was the surprise when Simoncelli announced that he would be staying in 250s for next year. Since then, speculation has abounded about just who was offering what to Simoncelli to move up to MotoGP.

In the latest issue of the Italian Riders magazine, Simoncelli reveals just what was on offer. The Tech 3 Yamaha team were the first to approach Simoncelli, Carlo Pernat, the Italian's manager, told the magazine. "Then came an offer from Ducati, for either the factory or for the satellite team. And finally, both Honda Gresini and Suzuki were interested," Pernat said. The salary he turned down? One million dollars.

"I don't want to serve another apprenticeship year," Simoncelli stated, in explanation of why he turned down the offers. "If I keep on going as fast again next year, the offers will still be there."

Simoncelli also revealed where his nickname - Super Sic - came from, and with it, a clue to the improvement in his form in 2008. "Sic isn't an abbreviation of Simoncelli," Aligi Deganello, his crew chief revealed. "It's an acronym for Sbattersene I Coglioni (an extremely anatomical Italian phrase translated very loosely as taking it to the limit - Ed.) We decided, after two bad years, we had to roll up our sleeves, silence the critics and open the gas."

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