After the initial leak by Ant West on his Facebook page on Monday, today, the Speed Master team confirmed that the Australian will be racing for the team in MotoGP in 2012. West will be racing as a CRT entry, and using an Aprilia RSV4-powered machine in the class. It is as yet unclear whether this bike will use an FTR chassis, or the chassis which Aprilia is believed to be developing for CRT machinery, based on the RSV4 road bike design.
It has been expected and even predicted for the past few months now, but it appears that the final confirmation is imminent. On Monday morning, web weekly GPWeek.com reported that Suzuki will not be racing in MotoGP in 2012. According to GPWeek's Michael Scott, Rizla Suzuki team members were informed by email last Friday that Suzuki would not be racing in 2012, but that work would continue on the 1000cc prototype with the hope of returning to the series in 2014.
The changes to MotoGP for 2012 are getting into full swing. After the first mixed test of old-style factory prototypes and CRT machines at Valencia, more projects for 2012 are starting to break cover.
Tom Sykes is to remain with Kawasaki for the 2012 World Superbike season, despite the Japanese manufacturer switching factory support from the Paul Bird Motorsports team to the Provec team that ran Kawasaki's World Supersport squad in 2011. The Yorkshireman impressed on the Kawasaki ZX-10R throughout the 2011 season, and his strong results earned him a new contract with the Japanese factory.
The final race of the 2011 MotoGP season was as forgettable for Nicky Hayden as the rest of the season had been. After a strong showing in practice and a good qualifying position, Hayden was taken out in the first corner in a multiple bike pile up caused by Alvaro Bautista, which also put an end to the races of Hayden's Ducati Marlboro teammate Valentino Rossi and Pramac Ducati's Randy de Puniet, as well as Rizla Suzuki's Alvaro Bautista. The aftermath of that crash left Hayden with a painful reminder, however: the American suffered a fractured scaphoid in the incident.
Ant West is to make a return to MotoGP in 2012, racing with the Speed Master team, which has entered the class under the new CRT rules. West made the announcement on his Facebook page - a small irony, as the last time he switched to MotoGP (with Kawasaki in 2007) he also announced the move using Social Media ahead of an official press release, at that time on his MySpace page.
When Stefan Bradl was given the chance to ride the 2011 Honda RC212V fielded by the LCR Honda team, the official explanation that it was as a reward for winning the 2011 Moto2 World Championship was accepted as plausible for about a day. From that point on, it became increasingly clear that this was to be a general audition for Bradl to secure a slot on the 2012 MotoGP grid.
After Nico Terol finally clinched the 125cc World Championship at Valencia, the Aspar press office went into overdrive, issuing a positive avalanche of press releases covering every aspect of Terol the rider and the title he won. They have been assembled below, starting with the official Dorna press release, and continuing with the pile of Aspar press releases:
Nico Terol – 2011 125cc World Champion
The 2011 MotoGP season is now officially over, and the first steps on the road to 2012 have been taken. Coming on top of a race weekend, two days of testing leave the MotoGP paddock exhausted, drained, and after an 18-race season, quite frankly sick of the sight of each other.
Alongside the on-track action, the final round of MotoGP at Valencia saw a flurry of activity to fill the final seats of the 2012 MotoGP grid. That process was not as easy as it could have been: the tragic death of Marco Simoncelli left the picture complicated at Gresini, and the continuing uncertainty over Suzuki's plans for 2012 made it difficult for riders to commit to the Japanese factory.
Press releases after the final day of testing at the MotoGP test in Valencia:
Bridgestone's 2012 tyres debuted successfully in Valencia
Official MotoGP Test
Valencia, Tuesday 8 – Wednesday 9 November 2011
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium. Rear (asymmetric): Medium, Hard
During the two-day official MotoGP test at the Valencia circuit, Bridgestone debuted the final specification 2012 tyres, providing them to all teams for the duration of the test.
For a complete picture of the times from the two days of testing, below are comparisons for all riders from both days of testing. The track improved a lot during the second day of testing, and everyone who rode both days set their fastest time on Wednesday, the second day of the test.
Final times from day 2 of the MotoGP test at Valencia:
Times at 3pm: