Well, true to form, Max Biaggi manages to grab the headlines again. And what's more, he did it in style, grabbing the world's attention at a top-secret, low-profile test of the Alstare Corona Suzuki superbike.
Three weekends. Three races. Three winners. The story of the flyaway races seems simple, put like that. But like so many simple tales, this does the story no justice: There is so much more to tell.
It all started at Sepang on Friday. From the start, Loris Capirossi seemed set to continue the dominance he had shown in Brno and impose his will at Malaysia, as he had done the previous year. The only person who looked capable of getting close was Dani Pedrosa. But then, during the second qualifying practice, Pedrosa suffered what looked at first a fairly innocent fall, catching his knee on the curbstones, and sliding off into the gravel. But it transpired that in catching his knee, he had badly gashed it, and broken his toe to boot. His injuries were so serious that there was some doubt that he would be able to make the race, dealing his title aspirations a severe blow.
At last, the Melandri Saga comes to a conclusion. Gresini Racing has finally announced that Marco Melandri has signed with Gresini for the 2007 season, to ride a Honda V4 800. No details of the deal have been announced, other than that both parties say they are very happy to be working together for next year. Reading between the lines, it seems like Honda has promised extra support for Melandri, the title runner up in 2005, and this is what finally swung the deal for him.
Gresini also stated that he was still looking for a team mate for Melandri next year, so that the team can compete at the very highest level. This does not bode well for Melandri's current team mate Toni Elias, who, after an outstanding debut season on the Yamaha, has struggled somewhat on the Honda.
Well, where just a few days ago, it seemed certain that Marco Melandri would be going to the factory Ducati team, now it looks increasingly like last year's title runner up will be staying with Gresini on a Honda next year. Both MotoGrandPrix.it and Crash.net are reporting that Fausto Gresini has matched Ducati's reported offer of € 3 million for next season, an offer which would also include strong factory support from Honda, and, surprisingly, Bridgestone tires. The mystery for all this is where the money is supposed to be coming from, as Altadis, the brand behind Fortuna, are leaving MotoGP, taking their large sponsorship budget with them.
After a friend asked me to explain the way the Manufacturers' Championship works, I decided to start a MotoGP FAQ, with answers to any questions I receive. The FAQ will be a growing and living thing, with regular updates, so keep an eye on it. If you have any questions you want answered, you can send them to me, and I'll do my best to answer them and add them to the FAQ.
Since I started this website, I have received a number of general questions, and seen a number of questions come in via Google. So I thought it would be a good idea to start collecting these questions into a FAQ, for use as a reference. If you have any questions for the FAQ, you can send them to me...
We'll start off with a question from a friend of mine:
How are the standings calculated for the Manufacturer's Championship?
As I'm sure many of you will know, the Riders' Championship isn't the only title being disputed during a MotoGP season. Besides the Riders' title, there are two other official titles up for grabs:
- The Manufacturers' Championship; and
- The Team Championship.
The scoring for these titles is the same as for the Riders' Championship, but the way points are awarded is slightly different:
Eurosport.com is reporting that Team KR will only have one bike for next year. The problem, as it is for so many MotoGP teams, is money. Team KR really need a major sponsor to be able to obtain two engines from Honda. Previously, Team KR had announced that they were hoping to field a full, two-rider team, but that plan has been shelved.
MotoGP.com is reporting that Ilmor have confirmed their entry as a wildcard at Estoril in Portugal. They will be debuting their 800cc 70° V4 bike, dubbed "X3", at the Portuguese Grand Prix on October 15th, with Garry McCoy riding, using Michelin tires. McCoy has been testing the Ilmor at a number of tracks over the last couple of months, including Albacete and Jerez.
The importance of this appearance is that it will be the first time that the new generation of 800cc bikes will hit the track in a public, timed event, and set the mark against which the current manufacturers' bikes will be measured against. The Ilmor has already made an impression, regularly running faster than the Ducati 800 at one test session in Barcelona a couple of weeks ago.
The Spanish sports daily AS.com is reporting that Carlos Checa could move to Pramac d'Antin next season.
I received an e-mail from a guy called Roko in Austria, with an excellent and clear overview of who will be where for 2007, plus some pretty good guesses for the unsigned riders. If you want to see who is doing what, check out the link below:
As a result of the yellow flag controversy at Phillip Island, the FIM has announced it will be reviewing procedures for dealing with yellow flags during the race (PDF file). This will include investigating the use of "new technology" to respond to incidents.
The FIM has announced new tire regulations to be used for the 2007 season.
Two points in the rules stand out:
2.9.3 Teams that are supplied by a tyre manufacturer that has achieved at least two MotoGP race wins in dry conditions since the first race of the 2005 season will be restricted in the quantity of slick tyres that each of the teams riders may use at a single event as follows:
During all practice sessions, warm up and the race a maximum of 31 slick tyres, specifically -
Front tyres: 14
Rear tyres: 17
When a tyre manufacturer, not subject to the limitation at the beginning of the season, achieves two MotoGP wins in dry conditions during the current season, it will become subject to the restrictions at the third event after the one where the second win was achieved.
When I left to travel to Spain for my vacation, I was mildly annoyed that I would be missing three weekends of racing, through some fairly catastrophic vacation planning. To add to my MotoGP misery, I was planning a camping holiday, and so wouldn't even have access to TV. So I comforted myself with the thought that at least I would able to follow the racing in the extensive coverage found in the Spanish mainstream press. I needn't have worried. There would be so much more than this.