The fears that the MotoGP grid would once again be short of full strength at Estoril have been allayed, at least for the time being, with the news that Loris Capirossi is to attempt to race in Portugal, despite the pain from his fractured foot. The veteran Italian is far from healthy, with a torn adductor muscle in his leg and multiple fractures in his right foot, but Capirossi heads to Estoril hoping that he will be able to race despite his injuries.
With the 2010 season already over, the 2011 World Superbike grid is gradually starting to take shape, with most of the seats filled, despite a host of riders involved in WSBK's version of musical chairs. One name who appeared to have been left standing as the music started to wind down was double WSBK champion James Toseland. The British rider had returned to World Superbikes this season from MotoGP with the factory Sterilgarda Yamaha squad, but Toseland had not adapted fast enough to WSBK to retain his seat for next season, and was looking to be out of a job for 2011.
The perilous state of the MotoGP grid has long been a topic of conversation among MotoGP fans. The grid threatened to drop to just 15 bikes earlier this year, but intervention from Dorna allowed Pramac to keep running two machines instead of dropping to one, and a sponsorship boost from Repsol helped Honda field three riders in its factory team, freeing up space at Gresini for Hiroshi Aoyama.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Moto2 championship has been the rise to the forefront of some complete unknowns, in terms of riders, teams and manufacturers. While 2010 champion Toni Elias was the rider most widely tipped for the title at the start of the season, very few people expected Simone Corsi, Jules Cluzel or the sadly lamented Shoya Tomizawa to be such a regular feature at the front of the grid. Likewise, the Aspar and Gresini teams were expected to do well, while the names of Marc VDS Racing and Technomag were completely unheard of.
Preparations for next year are starting to get into gear, with testing for 2011 already underway. After wrapping up his World Superbike season, Cal Crutchlow got his first outing on Yamaha's MotoGP bike at the Fukuroi test track in Japan, as he got ready to move into the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha squad for 2011. The elements did not look kindly on Crutchlow, however, most of the test taking place in the wet, though the young Briton also got a few laps in under relatively dry conditions. Crutchlow will be hoping for better conditions at Valencia, for the first official outing on the Yamaha M1.
Further confirmation - if any was needed - that Valentino Rossi will be taking his entire crew with him to Ducati when he leaves. After Jeremy Burgess told Henny Ray Abrams at Phillip Island that he will be leaving Yamaha with Rossi, Rossi's mechanic Alex Briggs finally came clean on his Twitter page: "Next year I will be working at Ducati with the rider & all the gang.
The dates of the official tests for the World Superbike series were announced today by Infront Motorsports, the organizers of WSBK. The locations of the two official tests are no surprise: the first three-day test is to be held at Portimao, on Portugal's Algarve coast, from January 26th through 28th, 2011.
MotoGP's silly season is almost at an end, with only a few loose ends left to tie up. The names of the riders are all known now, though contracts remain to be signed and announcements to be made, as the final details of deals are hammered out among the various parties.
The three flyaway races at Motegi, Sepang and Phillip Island on three consecutive weekends have taken their toll on the grid, with Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa missing all three races after fracturing a collarbone at Motegi, and Rizla Suzuki's Loris Capirossi ruled out of the Phillip Island MotoGP race due to a torn muscle suffered during qualifying, adding to a fractured foot and ankle from a crash at Sepang. Pedrosa is almost certain to rejoin the grid at Estoril in 10 days' time, but Loris Capirossi is now looking doubtful for the Portuguese Grand Prix.
If the news that Valentino Rossi was going to switch to Ducati for the 2011 MotoGP season was the worst-kept secret in the paddock, the fate of Jerry Burgess and the rest of Rossi's pit crew was probably the best-kept secret. Although it was widely expected that Burgess would follow Rossi to Ducati, all questions on the subject put to the Australian and the rest of the crew were met with a positively sphinx-like silence. Even hardened paddock veterans couldn't get a straight answer out of Burgess, Briggs, Ansiau, Stephens or any of the other members of Rossi's entourage.
When the 125cc class is replaced by the 250cc Moto3 class in 2012, the last of the two strokes will disappear from the Grand Prix paddock. The demise of the 125cc two-strokes was largely down to lack of manufacturer interest: KTM had pulled out at the end of the 2009 season, Honda has not supported a factory effort for several years now, leaving only Aprilia on the grid, along with the Derbi-badged clones.
Although at first glance, the most important motorcycle racing even taking place over the weekend was the Australian MotoGP round at Phillip Island, a far more significant race was taking place in Macau, China. There, 98 of the 101 federations that compose the FIM (Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme, motorcycling's governing body) met to elect a new president. The choice facing the assembled national federations was between the current president Vito Ippolito and French candidate Jean-Pierre Mougin.
After a seemingly endless holdout, and countless rumors of an imminent signing, Aprilia have finally announced a new deal with 2010 World Superbike champion Max Biaggi. The deal had been long anticipated, and the announcement was expected to come at Aprilia's special championship celebration, which took place at Noale on Saturday, but was delayed until after the weekend so as not to get snowed under in a deluge of news from this weekend's MotoGP round at Phillip Island.
It was an open secret for some time, but now it has been officially announced: Mika Kallio is to leave the Pramac team with immediate effect, and miss the last two races of the season at Estoril and Valencia. Speculation has been rife all year about problems for Kallio, including reports of personal problems in the Finnish media. The press release and Kallio put the Finnish rider's problems down to a nagging shoulder injury that Kallio picked up in a crash at Le Mans, earlier this year.