After many years of success in the World Superbike and World Supersport series, Ten Kate is to take their first steps in the MotoGP paddock. The Dutch race shop has been contracted by Gresini to supply race-prepared Honda CBR1000RR engines for Gresini's CRT machine in MotoGP, along with the fly-by-wire electronics system the Ten Kate team developed together with Cosworth for their World Superbike machine.
The death of Marco Simoncelli at Sepang earlier this year was utterly tragic, but some good will yet come from the popular Italian's demise. On Thursday, Simoncelli's parents, girlfriend and sister announced that the final documents had been signed to create the foundation set up in Marco Simoncelli's name. The Marco Simoncelli Fondazione has been set up as a non-profit organization, with the aim of helping those in dire need.
The Spanish petroleum giant Repsol is one of the mainstays of MotoGP. Repsol has backed Honda's MotoGP team for over 15 years, and the oil company is expanding its interest in the series. After adding backing for Marc Marquez in the Moto2 category last year, Repsol today announced that it will be supporting teams in all three categories of Grand Prix motorcycle racing in 2012.
The end of the year is the traditional time to be handing out awards (we at MotoMatters.com will be doling out a few of our own in the next week or so), and this year, MotoMatters.com has been extremely lucky to be on the receiving end of one. In the recent Silverstone Media Awards organized by the Northamptonshire race track, home to both MotoGP and Formula 1, MotoMatters.com was voted Best MotoGP Blogger.
With all the debate and discussion over the changes coming to MotoGP for 2012 - 1000cc machines, the appearance of the Claiming Rule Team machines, arguments over exactly what the Aprilia bike is, and the ongoing talks over the imposition of a rev limit and spec ECU for 2013, it is easy to overlook the fact that it is not just the bikes which are changing. All four of MotoGP's so-called Aliens are out of contract at the end of next season, as well as just about every other rider on the MotoGP grid.
The switch from Ducati to Honda worked out extraordinarily well for Casey Stoner. The Australian was fast in testing, took victory in his very first race aboard the Honda RC212V at Qatar, and despite a temporary glitch at Jerez, where he was knocked off his bike by Valentino Rossi, the man who had taken his place at Ducati, was leading the championship by the time the MotoGP circus rolled into Assen for the Dutch TT, and would not relinquish it again, going on to secure his second world championship in dominant style, winning 10 races and taking pole 12 times along the way.
MotoGP's rule-making body, the Grand Prix Commission, adopted a number of changes to the MotoGP rules in a meeting on Wednesday. As expected, the testing restrictions were dropped, now to be limited by tire allocation. Other changes adopted include an increase in the minimum weight, the introduction of rear-facing red lights to be carried in wet conditions, a slight tweak to the 107% qualifying minimum time, and explicitly granting authority to impose penalties on event organizers.
There has been much speculation on the legality or otherwise of the Aprilia RSV4-based bike to be used by a number of teams operating under the CRT rules in MotoGP in 2012. With the presence of so many members of the Aprilia test team at the recent Valencia and Jerez tests, and first Alex Hofmann and then Randy de Puniet riding a World Superbike spec RSV4R, there were claims that the Aprilia CRT machine was a clear violation of the principle behind the Claiming Rule Team concept.
Motorcycle racing is spreading its wings. After the World Superbike series announced its first incursion into Russia for 2012, MotoGP's return to South America was cemented today, with the contract signed between Dorna and the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina. The Argentinian circuit has signed up to host a MotoGP race for three years starting in 2013, the series returning to the continent of South America after an absence of 8 years.
I spent more time on the grid in 2011 than ever before and one of the interesting benefits of this was the level of details I started noticing in some of the helmets. On TV, or even at trackside, it's difficult to see exactly what the helmet designers have done to make each rider's crash hat unique.
The MotoGP schedule for the 2012 season has been tweaked a little, and there is some good news for fans: the season starts seven days earlier, with the Qatar MotoGP round having been moved up a week to April 8th. The move is in response to the Formula One calendar, which sees the Chinese Grand Prix scheduled for April 15th, the date originally planned for Qatar, and so the decision was taken to start the MotoGP season a week earlier.
After a slow start, the 2012 Moto2 grid is starting to fill out, as teams are starting to find riders for the upcoming season. The provisional grid now stands at 30 riders, with 2 more names likely to be confirmed some time in the next few weeks. With Dorna aiming for a maximum of 32 entries in the class, there is little room for new names to appear in the final run up to the 2012 season opener at Qatar in April.