Ilmor have finally made up their minds about who will be riding the Ilmor SRT X3 next year. On Monday, they announced that Jeremy McWilliams (42) and Andrew Pitt (30) will be joining the team for 2007. The line-up is as expected, after McWilliams and Pitt spent a lot of time testing the bike at Valencia and Jerez. However, it is a little surprising for someone of McWilliams' age to be given the ride. Most riders are a long way past their sell by date by the time they hit 40, and McWilliams is 42.
As the dust settles on a long and arduous MotoGP season, you would think that the teams and riders would be ready for a long and well-deserved break.
In an interview with German Eurosport's MotorMagazin, KTM boss Stefan Pierer has stated categorically that they won't be returning to MotoGP any time soon. KTM had been linked with the Ilmor team, with rumors saying that KTM would take over the project from Mario Illien.
Although MotoGP followers will have to wait for the news they are awaiting most eagerly, the Ilmor SRT rider line up for next year, one more piece of the Ilmor puzzle has been put in place today, with the announcement of Mike Janes as the Ilmor SRT Team Manager.
Ilmor today issued a statement on the condition of Jeremy McWilliams, who broke his leg and possibly fractured his collarbone in a high speed tumble during the final day of MotoGP testing at Jerez. The timing of McWilliams' injury is fortunate, coming as it does on the last day of testing before the MotoGP test ban comes into effect, preventing riders from testing between December 1st and January 20th.
Times are in from the final day of testing before the winter test ban starts on December 1st. I'll examine these times in more detail later, but here are a few notes:
Testing continues today at Jerez, where the weather gods are looking much more kindly upon MotoGP than yesterday, when much of the session was ruined by rain. Testing didn't get underway properly until lunchtime, due to parts of the track still being fairly damp from yesterday's rain, but by 2pm, everyone was out and riding. Motogp.com released the top 10 times as of 2pm, which are shown below. These times are not really representative of the state of play, with most of the riders having only put in some 10 laps or so.
The first times are appearing for the first day of the final test of the year at Jerez. The session started rather messily, with Andrew Pitt being forced to return to the pits with mechanical problems on his Ilmor X3, and Ducati's test rider Vittoriano Guareschi suffering a crash, due to low track temperatures.
I found your comment right after I posted about this:
Thanks for the heads up!
The rider line-up for the 2007 MotoGP season is all but complete. Only two seats remain unclaimed: Ilmor, the newcomer to MotoGP, has yet to announce who will be riding the Illien/Suter-developed Ilmor X3 bike for next season. Many names have been linked to the project, and a gaggle of riders have already tested the bike, but Ilmor have now announced that they will finalize the team at the Jerez tests from 28-30 November.