As had been widely anticipated, the Crescent Suzuki team have announced that they will be switching from the British Superbike series to compete in World Superbikes in 2012. The team, who were runners up in the BSB championship with John Hopkins, had been looking at competing in WSBK for some time now, their intention strengthened by a strong outing during the British round of WSBK at Silverstone back in July. The strong year in BSB convinced the team to move up to WSBK.
Race Direction have fined the Sepang Circuit for failing to warn the Moto2 riders at the start of the first session of free practice about a patch of wet track at Turn 10. The circuit was still very wet after an earlier bout of rain, and the first riders to arrive in the area - including Bradley Smith, Jules Cluzel, Yonny Hernandez and Marc Marquez - all suffered crashes, as the marshals were not displaying yellow flags to warn the riders of the danger.
Stefan Bradl has got his weekend off to a strong start by topping the timesheets in the second session of free practice, putting in a strong performance in the second half of FP2. The Viessmann Kiefer rider just sneaked ahead of Aleix Espagaro, with the fastest man of the morning, Dominique Aegerter, just a fraction behind in 3rd. Gresini's Michele Pirro set the 4th fastest time, with a little help from a tow by Bradl.
Dani Pedrosa has dominated the first day of practice at Sepang, adding the fastest time in the second session of free practice to his fastest time in FP1. If the Repsol Honda rider was impressive in FP1, he was terrifying in FP2, setting a lap a quarter of a second faster than last year's pole time, and close to a second faster than Casey Stoner's race lap record.
Dominique Aegerter caused a surprise in the first session of practice for the Moto2 class at Sepang, the Technomag CIP rider topping the timesheets by the narrowest of margins ahead of Interwetten's Thomas Luthi. Alex de Angelis followed in third, three quarters of a second behind, but just ahead of Andrea Iannone.
Dani Pedrosa topped the timesheets during the first session of free practice for the MotoGP class at Sepang on Friday. Pedrosa took the lead early and dominated from then on, ending the session nearly two-thirds of a second ahead of his Repsol Honda teammate and newly-crowned World Champion Casey Stoner. Stoner in turn just edged the third wheel on the Repsol wagon, Andrea Dovizioso, with Marco Simoncelli making it a Honda clean sweep of the top four places.
Press release previews from the Moto2 and 125cc teams ahead of Sunday's race at Sepang:
Dunlop's Moto2 Sepang Preview
From Phillip Island Dunlop heads straight to the tricky challenge of Sepang for round sixteen of the 2011 Moto2 Championship, the Malaysian Grand Prix, held on October 21-23 near to Kuala Lumpur.
Previews from the MotoGP teams ahead of this weekend's race at Sepang:
Bridgestone MotoGP Preview - Round 17: Malaysia
Tuesday 18 October 2011
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Hard, Ex Hard. Rear: Medium, Hard
The Malaysian Grand Prix, held at the Sepang International Circuit on 23 October, is the penultimate race of the season and the final long-haul event of the year, coming the week after the Australian round.
After an eight-hour flight from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur, the MotoGP circus has rolled up at the Sepang circuit ready to do it all again a week later. Fortunately for most of the teams, they have had a day or two in Kuala Lumpur to acclimatize to the sweltering Malaysian heat, quite a contrast to the blustery cool of Phillip Island.
Marc Marquez is to stay in Moto2 for another year. After all of the recent speculation, the 18-year-old Spaniard told the media at Sepang on Thursday that he had decided against switching to the MotoGP class after reviewing the options on offer to him. He will race for the Repsol-backed Catalunya Caixa Moto2 squad run by his mentor Emilio Alzamora aboard a Suter for 2012.
It has been clear for some time that 2012 would bring a major shake up in World Superbikes. With Yamaha announcing their withdrawal from the series and Althea looking doubtful of continuing, all the way up until Sunday afternoon at Portimao, it has been very difficult to sketch the outlines of a rider line up for next season. But after the hectic round of negoiating at the final round of the 2011 season in Portimao, at least part of the equation has become clear, and a relatively healthy-looking WSBK grid is starting to take shape.
As one season ends, the next season starts. After a day of rest in which a motley collection of journalists, ex-racers and celebrities got to ride the 2011 World Superbike machines (including Ducati legend Paul Smart), half of the WSBK grid took to the track on Tuesday to start testing for the 2012 season.
After the latest round of MotoGP at Phillip Island in Australia, Bridgestone issued their customary post-race press release. In it, Hirohide Hamashima talks about the paradox that Phillip Island presents in terms of tire performance. The press release follows below:
Australian Grand Prix debrief with Hirohide Hamashima
Round 16: Australian GP – Post-race debrief
Phillip Island, Tuesday 18 October 2011
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium. Rear (asymmetric): Medium, Hard