Michel Fabrizio, replacement rider for Toni Elias at Fortuna Honda, has broken his collarbone during the third Free Practice session at Donington, meaning he won't be able to take place in the race. Fabrizio was to partner the already injury-plagued Marco Melandri. The team may need another replacement rider for the German GP at the Sachsenring in 2 weeks time.
The two MotoGP rookies led the timesheets again on Saturday morning. Casey Stoner quickest , ahead of Dani Pedrosa, who lead yesterday's practice sessions. Times are extremely fast, in the low 1:28 seconds bracket, but what is more impressive is that Pedrosa's 1:28.478 was set in the middle of an 11 lap run, which included 7 sub 1:29 second laps.
Dani Pedrosa dominated both of Friday's free practice sessions at Donington. His last run during FP2 was particulary impressive, going out for ten laps and setting consistent low 1:29s. The only person to be able to match that kind of consistency was his former 250 rival Casey Stoner.
In injury news, Marco Melandri seems to have staged a near full recovery, as his times were also consistently fast, while Valentino Rossi is obviously a lot more comfortable than last week, but is still suffering a little, and may find it hard to ride a full race. Loris Capirossi went out during the morning session, but did not appear during the afternoon's session, as he was experiencing too much pain from the internal injuries sustained at Catalunya.
As for times, Pedrosa dominated, John Hopkins put in a couple of good laps to come second, with Stoner third. Checa put in a surprising display, setting the 11th time on the Dunlops which have been so poor so far this season. The times are also pretty close, as the top 12 are covered by less than a second.
In another stroke of synchronicity, in the weekend that former WCM rider Michel Fabrizio is to return to MotoGP for a race, his former team, WCM, have announced that they will once again return to MotoGP in 2007, with a two bike team. For more details, see the BBC news item. No news on what bikes they will be riding, but with a possible shortage of bikes on the grid as a result of the move to 800 cc next year, this can only be good news for MotoGP.
An English Summer Afternoon
DFX Honda World Superbike rider Michel Fabrizio is to replace Toni Elias, who was injured in a fall at Assen last week, on the Fortuna Honda for this weekend's Donington Grand Prix. Fabrizio is no stranger to MotoGP, having run last year on the WCM Harris bike as team mate to James Ellison. The Honda RC 211V is a different proposition to last year's WCM bike, which was loosely based on a Yamaha R1 engine, before being totally rebuilt under pressure from the MSMA. Fabrizio's ride will only be for one Grand Prix, as Elias is expected to return for the German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring on July 16th.
Revenge Of The Racetrack
Just watched the MotoGP warm-up, and from watching the responses after the session finished, it looked like Rossi will be riding, but Capirossi will miss out. Rossi was slow, but faster by nearly half a second faster than qualifying yesterday. His wrist was strapped.
Capirossi got off the bike looking about 90. He could be seen shaking his head when talking to his team, and it seems very unlikely he could last race distance with the chest injuries he is suffering. Capirossi is having problems breathing and tensing his stomach muscles, making it very difficult to brace himself while braking and accelerating.
Crash.net is reporting that leading Formula 1 designer John Barnard is teaming up with Ricardo plc, "one of the world's leading powertrain, driveline and transmission technology providers", to build a bike to run in MotoGP. Barnard is no newcomer to MotoGP as he was previously involved in the Team KR project with Kenny Roberts in the period that they were trying to build their own V5 engine, which never became truly competitive.
The question on everybody at Assen's lips, whether Valentino Rossi was fit enough for qualifying, has been answered, and the answer is: just. Rossi was only out for 2 sessions, and did 13 laps, but he qualified, with an almost respectable 1:40.298. Respectable for a man who complained that he couldn't brake or get on the gas, that is.
Valentino Rossi seems to be suffering from the injuries sustained during his crash in the 1st Free Practice session yesterday. He did not emerge onto the track until 20 minutes into the session, where he rode 3 laps before returning. He came out once more, towards the end of the session very briefly, apparently returning straight back to the pits. Most disturbing of all for the Italian world champion must be his lap times: his fastest lap time was a 1:58.614. That's 21 seconds slower than the fastest lap this session.
In a previous item, I discussed the changes that have been made to the track at Assen, especially the changes to the North Loop. Thursday was the first day that the riders got to ride the track in anger, and to learn what the new Circuit Van Drenthe at Assen is really like. Here's a compilation of rider comments on the changed layout at Assen, taken from interviews from MotoGP.com:
In this afternoon's Free Practice session, Texas Tornado Colin Edwards was fastest, setting a 1:38.144.
Toni Elias is flying back to Barcelona today, after injuring his shoulder in a fall during the first free practice session. A bone chip was found in his shoulder at the hospital, and he has suffered some ligament damage.