Latest MotoGP News

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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Bartol: "New 600 Class Is Nonsense"

KTM have made no secret of their distaste for the new 600cc four-stroke class which is to replace the current 250cc class. Indeed, so upset were they at the new rules that they ended their 250 program a year earlier than planned, stating that they saw no point in pouring money into a class which was doomed anyway.

Some inside the paddock saw an ulterior motive for that withdrawal. They claimed that the real reason behind KTM's pull-out was to concentrate their resources on developing a bike to actually compete in the new 600 class. But now, in an interview with Motorcycle News, KTM's racing chief Harald Bartol has dismissed in no uncertain terms any notion that KTM would be interested in the new 600cc formula.

In the interview, Bartol calls the proposed regulations "complete and utter nonsense," and reiterates that KTM's decision to pull out of 250s was down to an economic decision. The new rules also go completely against KTM's racing ethos: "Why should we spend money and develop a new engine when the rules mean you can buy a better one in the shops?" Bartol told MCN.

The Austrian race chief also clearly alluded to who he thought was behind the move to the new 600cc four-stroke formula: "Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Ducati, Aprilia and KTM is not interested in this class, so we know who is and who pushed," he said.

Read the full story over on the MCN website.

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Jerez November MotoGP Test - Day 2 Times

Testing continued today at Jerez, and despite the damp track in the morning and the continuing cool weather, lap records continued to be shattered. Once again, the battle was between Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa, and while Pedrosa was quickest for a good part of the day, in the end it was The Doctor who finished the day on the top of the timesheets, with a time 1/10th of a second quicker than Pedrosa's time from yesterday, and 7/10ths faster than the lap record here.

The two title hopefuls were also a second quicker than the rest of the field, just as they were yesterday, with Dani Pedrosa setting the 3rd fastest time, a tenth off his own fastest practice time here in March. There was little separating the group behind Pedrosa, with 6/10ths covering 10 riders.

The good news in that group was for the men who had been slow yesterday: Sete Gibernau took 2 seconds off his time from yesterday, and Nicky Hayden slashed a second and a half off his lap times, putting Gibernau up to 10th place, and Hayden up to 6th, just 0.04 seconds off Jorge Lorenzo's 3rd fastest time.

What is already clear is that this is shaping up to be a two-speed championship. Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa are a cut above the rest of the field, with Casey Stoner likely to join that elite group once he returns to action. Behind the front runners, the new tire regulations may have closed the field up, with times closer together than they were last year. But with at least three riders so far ahead, the racing may once again come down to a procession for the podium, followed by some great action fighting over 4th or 5th place.

Testing now ceases, apart from the last day of testing in Phillip Island for Suzuki and Kawasaki on Friday, and the riders and teams all head off for a well-earned break during the winter test ban, which lasts from December 1st to January 20th, though the riders won't be back on the track again until February 5th in Sepang. But though the riders will be able to relax a little, the teams, and especially the R&D departments, will be working flat out on improving the bikes, and getting them ready for the new season. There's still a lot to be done.

Times from Thursday's test: 

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Phillip Island Kawasaki And Suzuki Test - Day 2 Times

Suzuki and Kawasaki continued their testing at Phillip Island on Thursday, despite rain disrupting the morning session. Rain wasn't the only issue, as the Kawasaki riders also complained about the strong winds which Phillip Island, which sits on the very edge of the great Southern Ocean, is famous for.

The Kawasaki riders all managed to improve their times, with Marco Melandri matching his best time from the race weekend in early October with a 1'31.8, Olivier Jacque taking 3/10ths off his time from yesterday, and John Hopkins being nearly a second faster than yesterday. Suzuki released no times for today, stating that Loris Capirossi and Chris Vermeulen worked mostly on developing the new bike.

The interesting thing is that those were the times given in the official press releases, but the well-informed Italian site GPOne.com tells a different story. They show some fairly remarkable times for Capirossi and Vermeulen, with Capirossi running a 1'29.7, 3/10ths under Nicky Hayden's lap record set in October. The time given for Capirossi was provided by his manager, Carlo Pernat, who spoke to Capirex over the phone. However, GPOne.com also quotes Bridgestone tire technicians as saying that Capirossi would have run a 1'31.0, while Vermeulen set a 1'31.2.

 

Which of the various sets of times are accurate is impossible to say, though the word of Bridgestone technicians is probably more reliable than the manager of a rider, as managers tend to have a vested interest in presenting their riders in the best possible light. Below are both sets of times, and we leave it to the analytical powers of our readers to decide which is likely to be the more accurate.

Times according to Kawasaki:

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Jerez November MotoGP Test - Day 1 Times

So much for the safety argument. On the first day of testing at Jerez under the new tire regime, Dani Pedrosa took nearly 0.6 seconds off his existing lap record at the Andalucian circuit. It's almost impossible to stand in the way of progress, no matter how hard you try, it seems.

Pedrosa set his time while riding only a relatively few number of laps. Weather conditions this morning were cold, despite the sunshine, and the riders didn't really get under way until early in the afternoon. But while Pedrosa was fastest, the Yamahas are looking strongest, as Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and Colin Edwards were 2nd, 3rd and 4th fastest respectively.

The gaps are large, though, with Pedrosa 6/10ths faster than Rossi, who is in turn over a second quicker than Lorenzo, the rest of the field bunched up, until we get to the Ducatis.

And the Ducatis are clearly the slowest bikes at the test, with only MotoGP rookie Yuki Takahashi in last place. Former Ducati test rider and now Pramac rider Niccolo Canepa was the quickest of the Bologna bikes, a fraction faster than Marlboro Ducati's Nicky Hayden. Hayden is nearly 2 seconds behind Rossi, and 2.5 behind his former Repsol Honda team mate, though the Kentucky Kid is still getting used to the bike and the Bridgestone tires.

The man who could make the biggest difference to the standings has been watching from pit lane. Casey Stoner was present at the test, but unable to take part. The official Ducati press release stated that Stoner's wrist injury was healing well, and he hopes to begin training on a bicycle again soon.

Testing continues again tomorrow.

Times:

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Phillip Island Kawasaki And Suzuki Test - Day 1 Times

The MotoGP riders are back to work again today, though some earlier than others. The Kawasaki and Suzuki teams have decided to skip the official Jerez test in favor of a private test at Australia's Phillip Island circuit. The choice is particularly important for Suzuki, as the team has struggled to get results at the circuit, the bike being down on both power and suffering with edge grip problems.

So far, the times released from the test, are still some way off the pace they need to run. Marco Melandri is still getting used to the Kawasaki ZX-RR, this being only his 2nd full day of testing on the bike, after the Valencia test in October was curtailed due to rain. But already Melandri is as quick on the Kawasaki as he was on the Ducati during the race here in October, though 0.7 seconds slower than during practice here in October.

John Hopkins was considerably slower, but the American has had some pain from the ankle injury he suffered at Assen in June. The tendons are rubbing on the plate put in place to fix the ankle every time he changes gear, and both knee and ankle are swelling up and painful.

But the fastest Kawasaki rider was test rider Olivier Jacque. The Frenchman is working on a revised chassis, which will form the basis for the 2009 Kawasaki MotoGP bike, due to make its debut at Sepang in February. Jacque believes the chassis should make it possible for him to run consistent 1'31s, which would be faster than the pace of the Kawasakis during the race here.

The Suzukis were both quicker than the Kawasaki men, Loris Capirossi faster his team mate Chris Vermeulen by 4/10ths of a second. But just as at Kawasaki, neither man is close to the times they set in early October, when MotoGP raced here. So despite the revised electronics and suspension, Suzuki still has some work to do. 

Suzuki and Kawasaki will be testing at Phillip Island for two more days.

Times released from Phillip Island day 1

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Aprilia Testing, Day 2: Superbike, 125 and 250 Riders Times From Valencia

Aprilia's test continued today at Valencia, with the main attraction being Marco Simoncelli being given a run on Aprilia's RSV4 World Superbike machine. The Italian was immediately quick, and matched the time set yesterday by Shinya Nakano. But Nakano was even quicker, taking a second off the time he set yesterday, and matching the fastest lap set during the World Superbike round held here in April of this year.

In the 250 class, Alvaro Bautista was fastest again today, although Gabor Talmacsi equaled the Spaniard's time. Meanwhile, in the 125 class, it was Julian Simon who was quickest, over half a second ahead of his Aspar team mate Bradley Smith. Smith was also slower than Andrea Iannone.

The smaller classes will now pack up and go home for the winter break, as the test ban starts on December 1st. But before that, the MotoGP riders will take to the track in Jerez and Phillip Island.

Superbike
1Shinya NakanoAprilia1'35.3
2Marco SimoncelliAprilia1'36.3
3Alex HofmannAprilia1'37.3
250 cc
1Alvaro BautistaAprilia1'38.1
2Gabor TalmacsiAprilia1'38.1
3Mike di MeglioAprilia1'38.6
125 cc
1Julian SimonAprilia1'40.5
2Andrea IannoneAprilia1'41.0
3Bradley SmithAprilia1'41.1
4Sergio GadeaAprilia1'42.0

 

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More Payment Options Available For MotoGPMatters.com 2009 Racing Calendar

The MotoGPMatters.com 2009 racing calendar is proving to be a very popular item, with piles of calendars being shipped out of MotoGPMatters.com HQ to MotoGP fans around the world on a daily basis. But as popular as the calendar is, not everyone is happy with paying by Paypal, and some people have requested other forms of payment.

Now, we are pleased to say, we have added another way to pay: It is now possible to pay for your MotoGPMatters.com calendar using Moneybookers, an established and well-respected money transfer service. With Moneybookers, you can transfer funds using your credit card, by direct debit from your bank, or by debiting your Moneybookers account.

So with the gift-giving season - and the start of 2009 - rapidly approaching, now is the time to put in your order for the beautiful and extremely useful 2009 MotoGPMatters.com racing calendar. Each month features one of Scott Jones' beautiful photographs, as an 8.5 inch by 11 inch (Letter size, or about the same size as A4) print, above an 8.5x11 page containing a grid of the month, including a list of all of the MotoGP and World Superbike weekends, and a listing of the birthdays of the big names from MotoGP, the 250 and 125cc classes, and World Superbikes and World Supersport. There's also a brief description of the state of racing for that month.

A sample month layout looks like this:

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