As we rapidly approach the high water mark of speculation about 2007, more rumors emerged about Casey Stoner. The Italian website Motograndprix.it is reporting that the young Aussie may be out of MotoGP next year.
Crash.net as a story with more details on the Ilmor 800 project. In short, they hope to enter MotoGP next season with their V4 800 with a two-rider team and a budget of $20 million. They also hope to contest the Portugal and Valencia GP rounds in October this year, with either Max Biaggi or Alex Barros riding the bike.
As I mentioned previously, it's that time of year again, and the rumors keep rolling in. Crash.net is reporting that Ducati team boss Livio Suppo has given his approval to James Toseland joining Pramac d'Antin Ducati for 2007. Toseland is currently riding a Ten Kate Honda in the World Superbike class, but has made no secret of his desire to move up to MotoGP.
Spanish motorcycle magazine Motociclismo.es has an article about possible personnel changes in MotoGP for 2007. The main rumor concerns Andrea Dovizioso, who is said to want to move up the MotoGP class, unless Honda vastly improve their 250 for next season. Dovizioso's name is being linked with the LCR Honda currently being ridden by the young Australian Casey Stoner.
That tires play an important role in MotoGP has been made abundantly clear this season.
Qualifying practice at Brno on Saturday started strangely, but turned into an old-fashioned thriller. Anyone trying to read the signs before practice started would have had a great deal of difficulty, with the names on the timesheets yo-yoing between the top and mid-sheet. What was clear by Saturday morning is that times were going to be fast, after Loris Capirossi clocked a track record in the third Free Practice session.
As a result, no one was really surprised to see Capirossi set the fastest time just a few minutes after the start of the official Qualifying Practice, with a 1:58.399, and before 10 minutes of the session had elapsed, five riders had all put in 1:58s. As all these times had been set on race tires, as the riders searched for the right setup before attempting an actual qualifying time, notice had already been served that Sunday's race was going to be very very fast indeed.
~~~ UPDATED ~~~
Since I posted this, Dorna and the FIM have announced the official 2007 MotoGP calendar. You can read about it in this post.
Valentino Rossi heads the timesheets after FP2 at Brno, after putting in a blistering time on qualifiers. The big surprise is Randy de Puniet on the Kawasaki in 2nd. The Bridgestones must be working well, as both 2nd place de Puniet and 3rd place Loris Capirossi are using them. The Dunlops aren't doing too badly either, as Carlos Checa put in a very respectable time in 7th.
Crash.net is reporting that Honda will wait until after the Japanse at Motegi to test its 800 cc prototype of next year's bike. Several manufacturers are rumored to have their new 800cc prototypes sitting in their garages waiting to be tested after this weekend' race at Brno, and Honda's decision not to test could be seen as a sign that they want to focus on the 2006 championship, rather than the 2007 championship.
After three weeks of official rest and relaxation, but actual frantic negotiations about 2007, the MotoGP circus descends on Brno in the Czech Republic this weekend. Set amidst wooded hills west of the city of Brno, in the east of the Czech Republic, Brno is the last of the former road tracks which MotoGP visits. Once upon a time, as at Assen and the Sachsenring, racing took place over the public roads around here, but, like the Sachsenring, eventually a separate track was built to accommodate.
And Brno resembles the Sachsenring in more ways: set among similar woods, it also has surprising elevation changes, making setting bikes up to handle lifting the front as they charge up the hill as well as remaining stable under hard braking very difficult indeed. But Brno differs from the Sachsenring in two important aspects: The track is much longer and much wider. In fact, the track is so wide, (up to 50 feet in places) that it's hard for riders to keep their lines: make a single mistake, and you end up running so wide that everyone passes you up the inside. This also means that overtaking is a breeze, which is of course a very double-edged sword. As most of the corners are in chicanes or combinations, getting past in one corner leaves yourself wide open running into the next.
After three weeks of enforced idleness after the thrills of Laguna Seca, the MotoGP circus goes back to work this weekend at Brno in the Czech Republic, refreshed and relaxed from their mid-season break. At least, that's the official story. Unofficially, the MotoGP circus goes back to work frazzled and frayed from three weeks of intense negotiation, speculation, contemplation and insinuation. Mobile phone bills are astronomical, keypads are worn down to the bare metal from frantic dialing, and Dr Costa's Clinica Mobile is awash with irritated ears, inflamed thumbs and chronic hoarseness, as the 2007 MotoGP season commences.
For the summer break is traditionally the start of what journalists tend to call the silly season, but if you're a rider, team owner, sponsor, mechanic, PR guru or even catering kitchen staff, it's deadly serious. With no races to interrupt, and everyone away from their teams, negotiations about who wants to be where, or even just somewhere next season are in full swing. And this year's round of rumors and speculation is just as wild and surprising as the season's races have been.
In yet another blow for the troubled Sete Gibernau, the Spaniard will have to miss out on this weekend's Brno Grand Prix, after a scan of his collarbone showed it was still not strong enough to hold up to the strains of racing. This will be the third race the corner incident at Catalunya has caused the luckless Spaniard to miss, as previous surgery kept him away from the Assen and Donington rounds. The only bright point for Gibernau is that he has another three weeks to recover, as the race after Brno is at Sepang in Malaysia on September 10th.
Pramac d'Antin Ducati rider Alex Hofmann will once again replace Gibernau at Brno. Crash.net has more details of the story.
The Spanish motorcycle magazine is reporting that Nicky Hayden is to star in his own TV show on MTV. The magazine claims that Hayden was due to make a pilot of the show for the global music channel, but that they decided to go straight to production after the Kentucky Kid won the Laguna Seca US Grand Prix last month. Negotiations are currently underway between International Racers and MTV about the show. Dorna will also be involved in the project.
The online version of the Spanish sports newspaper AS.com is reporting that Max Biaggi is negotiating with Ducati for a MotoGP ride in 2007. His contract with Suzuki for the World Superbike ride which never happened is said to have finished as of July 31st, leaving him clear to negotiate with other teams as of now.