Since its inception, the Red Bull Rookies Cup (and its predecessor, the MotoGP Academy) has proved to be a rich source of talent for the MotoGP series. Top riders such as Bradley Smith and promising youngsters such as Sturla Fagerhaug and Jonas Folger have come through the system, with a steady flow of more youngsters coming through all the time.
If anyone thought that the media storm surrounding Valentino Rossi's switch to Ducati for the 2011 MotoGP season would die down once the announcement had been made official, they were to be proven utterly wrong. First, there was the saga of whether Yamaha would release Rossi early from his contract to allow the Italian to test the Ducati at Valencia, then there was the excitement and drama of the Valencia test itself.
Ratthapark Wilairot, the Thai rider who raced for the Stop&Go Moto2 team in 2010, has been seriously injured in a road traffic accident in his home province of Chonburi, Thailand, according to reports from StayOnTheBlack.com. Wilairot was reportedly traveling as a passenger on a motorcycle piloted by a friend, when the pair crashed at 3am on Monday morning.
There may only have been four riders at the Phillip Island World Superbike test - Max Biaggi and Leon Camier of the Aprilia team, and Eugene Laverty and Marco Melandri of Yamaha - but that was reason enough for our good friend Andrew Gosling of TBG Sport to go shoot a few snaps. As always, it was well worth the effort. Enjoy!
The rain that had been hanging over the World Superbike test for the first two days finally came on the third and final day. But the factory Yamaha and Aprilia squads were still lucky, with the rain only starting to fall late on Thursday morning at Phillip Island, before disappearing again in the afternoon, giving the riders a couple more dry sessions at the Australian circuitl. It was Eugene Laverty who made best use of the session, putting on a set of soft tires to set the fastest time, with a lap of 1'31.5.
The Moto2 entry list remains a work in progress, as teams granted starting places struggle with finding sponsorship, and alter their entries accordingly. The latest victim of sponsorship woes is the longest named team on the grid, the Jack&Jones By Antonio Banderas Racing team. The Jack&Jones squad had signed Kenny Noyes and Gabor Talmacsi to campaign the 2011 season, but after their title sponsor, the urban clothing brand Jack&Jones, decided to pull out of racing sponsorship, the team has been left without sufficient funds to continue.
The weather finally turned halfway decent for a test, with the sun out and temperatures rising for the World Superbike test at Phillip Island in Australia. The improved conditions saw Max Biaggi once again top the - admittedly very limited - timesheets with a lap of 1'32.3, but 2010 World Superbike champion - out on an Aprilia bearing the #1 plate - was only a couple of tenths faster than both Yamaha's Eugene Laverty and Biaggi's Aprilia teammate Leon Camier. Slowest man of the day was Laverty's teammate Marco Melandri, but even Melandri was just three tenths off Biaggi's fastest .
Reports of testing are starting to sound increasingly like a broken record, with weather being a constant factor preventing the teams from testing properly. The second day of testing for a small group of World Superbike riders at Portimao turned into another washout, with heavy rain and cold temperatures wracking the Portuguese coast.
Whichever hemisphere the World Superbike riders choose to test, finding somewhere warm and dry remains an almost impossible task. While BMW, Suzuki and Honda shelter from the rain in Portugal, Aprilia and Yamaha are circulating in less than ideal conditions at Phillip Island in Australia. Though the track was dry, Max Biaggi described conditions as "like winter," according to GPOne.com.
The wet weather continues to thwart any attempts at testing racing motorcycles. After the Moto2 test at Jerez was largely lost to rain, the first day of testing for a large part of the World Superbike paddock at Portimao suffered a similarly damp fate. With rain falling nearly all day, the assembled riders barely got out onto the track, posting just a few laps before heading back into the pits.
Two weeks after having his right shoulder operated on, to rebuild and restore the rotator cuff and glenoid ligament, Valentino Rossi was back at the hospital again. This time, fortunately, it was only to allow Doctor Giuseppe Porcellini to remove the stitches left after surgery, rather than anything more serious.
2012 is the year that everything will change.
The weather at Jerez turned miserable on the final day of the Moto2 test there, bringing the action to a premature end at the Andalucian circuit. Only the few riders brave enough to venture out early managed a few dry laps, the rain arriving shortly after noon.
Good news for MotoGP fans in the UK, and everyone else capable of receiving Eurosport (such as via the Eurosport player). Everybody's favorite (English-language) MotoGP commentary team will be back in action for 2011.