As expected, Casey Stoner took first blood of the 2012 MotoGP season, the Repsol Honda rider staging a late charge to set the fastest lap of the session. Stoner dislodged Jorge Lorenzo from top spot, the Factory Yamaha rider having shown a very strong pace throughout. Third fastest was Nicky Hayden, the factory Ducati man just under half a second off the pace of Stoner, an impressive showing by the American.
Thomas Luthi brings his strong testing form into Qatar, topping the first session of free practice for the Moto2 class. Luthi put his Interwetten Suter ahead of the Pons bikes of Tito Rabat and Pol Espargaro, while Marc Marquez ended the session as 4th fastest.
Championship favorite Maverick Vinales put his name in the history books by becoming the first ever rider to top an official Moto3 practice session. The Spaniard ended the session two tenths ahead of Louis Rossi, and half a second ahead of Luis Salom.
2012 is a year of transition for MotoGP. The return of the 1000cc bikes is just the start of the changes that will transform the series over the coming years, in an attempt to contain the costs of the series which spiraled out of control during the 800cc era, but for now, we have the mouthwatering spectacle of the fastest motorcycles ever to grace a racetrack.
When Suzuki announced that they would be pulling out of MotoGP at the end of the 2011 season, they were keen to emphasize that the withdrawal was only temporary, saying they were planning a return to MotoGP in 2014. Though many paddock regulars were sceptical about such a suggestion, Suzuki are sticking to their guns, it seems.
The first batch of press releases from the MotoGP teams ahead of the season opener at Qatar:
Repsol Honda Team head to Qatar to begin Defence of Titles
The 2012 MotoGP World Championship officially starts this weekend in Qatar, the small Peninsula off the Persian Gulf, noted for hosting the only race of the calendar under floodlights. The Grand Prix of Qatar is, without any doubt, one of the most spectacular races of the season.
Dani Pedrosa has issued a formal apology to his fans over his arrest for attempting to cheat during an exam for his yachtmaster certification. In a written statement from his lawyers and disseminated to the Spanish media, Pedrosa stated that he had "taken some bad advice and made a mistake."
Press releases from the WSBK teams and the WSBK press office after the one-day test at Imola:
THE ALTHEA RACING TEAM CONCLUDES OFFICIAL TESTING AT THE IMOLA CIRCUIT
Imola (Italy), Monday 2nd April 2012: following on from Carlos Checa and Althea Racing’s brilliant double win in yesterday’s SBK races, the team was back to work today, at the same circuit of Imola, to participate in official testing with both Checa and Davide Giugliano.
Tragedy overshadowed the World Superbike test held on the day after the Imola round of WSBK. Kawasaki rider Joan Lascorz crashed heavily between Tosa and Piratella, breaking his collarbone and shoulder blade, and fracturing his T6 vertebra. Lascorz was airlifted to the local Bologna hospital, where he underwent surgery to treat his injuries.
Dani Pedrosa was arrested and released by Spanish police in Valencia on Saturday, March 31st for allegedly attempting to cheat during an examination required to obtain Yachtmaster certification. The Spaniard was arrested as part of an operation by the Spanish Guardia Civil national police force against a network involved in helping people cheat while sitting their yachtmaster exams, under the auspices of the Valencia regional government.
In a week's time, the first race of the 2012 MotoGP season will be wrapped up and finished, and with a full preseason of testing behind us, it's time to take a look at the upcoming year. A lot is expected of the new season, and there's a lot to talk about, with a return to 1000cc MotoGP bikes, a brand new Ducati GP12, the advent of the CRT bikes, and much, much more. Time to make some predictions for the 2012 season.
Predicted Final 2012 MotoGP Championship Standings:
A round-up of the weekends events at the Imola round of the World Superbike championship.
Carlos Checa isn't loved by the Italian fans because he rides a Ducati; he's loved because he rides a Ducati well. Checa proved that he's a champion by winning what looked like a hard couple of races to win. Sykes was on his best ever form and Haslam wasn't one to gift anyone a win. Just because his supposed number one rival for the championship, Biaggi, was outclassed this weekend doesn't mean Checa was gifted the double.
Press releases and videos from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after the races at Imola: