Gino Rea has topped the timesheets on the final day of testing at Valencia, taking advantage of the dry track during the morning session, before the rain came to stop play. The Londoner had been fastest on the previous day, when only a few riders were out on track due to the heavy rain, and having been fastest on the Friday and impressive on Wednesday, Rea looks set to secure a ride in Moto2 next year.
Suzuki has at last confirmed what we have all suspected since the middle of this year, and what veteran journalist Michael Scott reported in GPWeek: The Japanese factory is to pull out of the MotoGP series from 2012. The press release expresses their intention to keep working on their 1000cc MotoGP machine, with a view to returning to the series in 2014.
After a first day of useful testing for the Moto2 class at Valencia, the second day was a complete washout. The day started off wet, the rain getting heavier as the day progressed, severely limiting action on track. Just a handful of riders braved the conditions, including Alessandro Andreozzi, Scott Redding and Johann Zarco. Later in the afternoon, Toni Elias followed suit, the Spaniard taking one of the Aspar Suter's out for a spin as he closed on a deal with the team for 2012.
With the signing of Stefan Bradl to LCR Honda, the total number of confirmed riders in MotoGP has now grown to 16, including 12 on factory prototype machines (traditional MotoGP machines from Honda, Yamaha and Ducati) and 4 CRT entries (cheaper entries, mainly based on production engines).
As reported last week, LCR has finally announced that they have signed the 2011 Moto2 World Champion Stefan Bradl to race in MotoGP for the team next season. The German has signed a two-year deal with Lucio Cecchinello's LCR squad to race in MotoGP for 2012 and 2013.
The testing limits imposed as a cost-cutting measure in MotoGP have finally been lifted. At the meeting of the Grand Prix Commission in Valencia, MotoGP's rule-making body dropped the rules limiting testing to non-contracted riders outside of MotoGP's official tests, and allowed contracted riders (e.g. any rider currently racing in MotoGP) to ride the bikes at private tests.
Pol Espargaro was the fastest Moto2 rider out of the box on the first of three days of testing for the Moto2 class at Valencia. The Spaniard, who has switched to join Sito Pons' team for 2012, was two tenths faster than his new teammate Tito Rabat, who rode for the BQR team in 2011. Scott Redding was 3rd fastest, matching the time of Rabat and very pleased with the new bike, the Marc VDS team having switched to Kalex for 2012. Andrea Iannone was the first non-Kalex rider on the timesheets, the Italian also switching chassis, going back to use an FTR chassis for next season.
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