MotoGP is looking eastward. As the involvement and interest from and in Asia has continued to grow in recent years, the importance of the region - beyond the historic role that Japan has played in the series, that is - to both the MotoGP series and the manufacturers has become increasingly evident. With Yamaha riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies visiting the region a couple of times over the winter, and Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta hinting at more races in Asia in coming years, the Asian dimension in MotoGP is set to grow in the near future.
There is good news and bad news for MotoGP fans. The bad news is that the MotoGP schedule has been changed - again. The good news is that the season now starts a day earlier, as the Qatar MotoGP round will once again be spread over four days instead of three, and start on Thursday, April 5th, 2012.
The Honda press office issued the following press release, reporting on the awarding of Best Grand Prix of 2011 to Mugello:
Magnificent Mugello takes IRTA Best Grand Prix Honours
Never in the history of the prestigious IRTA ‘Best Grand Prix' has a track won five times. Never has a track won in three different decades. But never has there been a track like the Mugello Circuit, the magnificent Tuscan venue north of Florence, which has been honoured as the winner of the 2011 IRTA Best Grand Prix.
The major leap forward which Honda's MotoGP bike has taken in the past two seasons has come in two distinct areas, the chassis and the electronics. Much of the work of sorting out the RC212V's chassis was done during the 2010 season, when the factory tried out five different chassis variations and several different swingarms, before getting the bike right early in the 2011 season. Parallel to the chassis, Honda spent two years improving their MotoGP bike's electronics, after poaching two of Yamaha's key staff to work on HRC's electronics package.
The Kawasaki World Superbike team issued the following press release after their private test at the Almeria circuit in southern Spain:
Kawasaki Racing Team Gets 2012 Season Underway With Test At Almeria
Newsflash, 20 January 2012
Joan Lascorz and Tom Sykes joined forces in the new-look Kawasaki Racing Team FIM Superbike World Championship squad for a first 2012 test at Almeria in Spain, on 19 and 20 January.
While Filippo Preziosi played his cards tantalizingly close to his chest at the Wrooom event, where Ducati launched their 2012 MotoGP challenger for the Marlboro Ducati factory team, satellite squad Cardion AB is being a lot more loose-lipped. Today, the team, which will be running Karel Abraham again in the MotoGP class, issued a press release full of some fascinating details about the satellite Ducati GP12 which Abraham will be racing this season.
Ducati test riders Franco Battaini and Carlos Checa (who also doubles as reigning World Superbike champion for Althea Ducati) have finally completed the shakedown test of Ducati's brand new Desmosedici GP12, bringing the watertight security lockdown at the Circuito de Jerez in southern Spain to an end. After Ducati Corse boss Filippo Preziosi described the bike as 90% new, there was massive media interest in the test, but after a mass of rumors emerged from previous Ducati tests, the Bologna factory tightened its grip on the situation.
The Honda Racing press office issued a press release and video after the Ten Kate World Superbike squad tested the 2012 CBR1000RR at Phillip Island. The video follows below, after the press release:
The objective of keeping costs at reasonable levels for the CRT entries has been underlined again today, when news emerged that a series of separate tests is to be organized for the teams in Europe. While the factory and satellite teams head to Sepang for the official MotoGP tests, the CRT bikes will be circulating in Spain, GPOne.com reports, with the two groups facing each other on the track at the end of March in Jerez.
The FIM today issued provisional entry lists for both the World Superbike and World Supersport classes for 2012, and once again, both classes look relatively healthy. The WSBK grid has grown from 22 to 24 - perhaps a side effect of the introduction of the single-bike rule in the World Superbike class - while WSS sees 32 riders take to the grid again, similar numbers to last year.
Go to Wikipedia today (Wednesday, January 18th) to search for information, and you will be met with a dark page bearing a stark warning: "Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge". The reason for Wikipedia's blackout is simple: they, along with other major internet companies such as Google, WordPress, Reddit, Tucows, Boing Boing and sites such Twitpic all oppose the legislation currently going through the US Congress to prevent so-called content piracy.
Press releases announcing that riders are going testing is the first sign of motorcycle racing's equivalent of spring. Today, Honda (no longer Castrol Honda, though Castrol remain as a "key secondary partner") announced that their World Superbike riders Johnny Rea and Hiroshi Aoyama are to go testing at Phillip Island this week, in the run up to the first WSBK round there at the end of February. The long wait is nearly over for race fans.
Below is the official press release from Honda:
Rea and Aoyama head for Phillip Island Superbike test
The missing star of Ducati's Wrooom launch event is to make its debut behind closed doors tomorrow. Ducati test rider Franco Battaini and 2011 World Superbike champion Carlos Checa are to take the redesigned GP12 for its first shakedown test at the Jerez circuit in southern Spain tomorrow, under the watchful gaze of team boss Vitto Guareschi.
Marc Marquez has undergone surgery to correct the double vision which has troubled him since his crash during practice at Sepang. The operation, carried out at the Ophthalmological Institute at the Hospital Clinico de Barcelona, was aimed at fixing the paralysis of one of the muscles that help rotate and stabilize the eye. The surgery was performed with only local anaesthetic, while Marquez also received some sedation to help him through the operation. After the successful surgery, Marquez now returns home to recuperate, and will have to rest for a few days.