Seldom has a MotoGP season been more eagerly awaited than the 2011 season. We seem to say this every year, but this year it is almost certainly true. The 2010 season gave a foretaste of what MotoGP can do sometimes, with moments such as Jorge Lorenzo catching and then passing Dani Pedrosa at the Jerez Grand Prix, and Valentino Rossi's bitter battle with Lorenzo at Motegi engraved firmly in our memories. With another year of development on the bikes and experience for the riders, this season promises the closest racing ever seen in the 800cc class.
Here's the first round of press release for Qatar for the MotoGP teams and riders:
MOTOGP TO STEP BACK INTO THE SPOTLIGHT AT LOSAIL
Mapfre Aspar rider Héctor Barberá ready to start the season with a positive result
The first round of press releases are here, in the run up to the season opener at Qatar. Here's what the 125 and Moto2 teams have to say so far:
REDDING AND KALLIO RARING TO GO!
Scott Redding and Mika Kallio head to the Middle East looking for a good start to the season, as the 2011 Moto2 World Championship gets underway this weekend at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.
One of the key questions still open with respect to Moto3 has been cleared up. The Grand Prix Permanent Bureau (the FIM and Dorna) has decided to award the spec ECU contract to the Italian firm Dell'Orto. Here's the official press release:
FIM Road Racing World Championship Grand Prix
Decision of the Permanent Bureau
A press release issued by HRC, in which HRC boss Shuhei Nakamoto talks about the situation at the HRC facility and among their suppliers, about Motegi and about the prospect for racing in 2011:
Interview with Shuhei Nakamoto, HRC Executive Vice President
What happened in Japan is devastating, and we are all hoping that the rec overy process will be as fast as possible. What is the situation for HRC - how will this disaster effect the racing activities this coming year?
Combined times from both days of the final MotoGP test at Qatar:
The catastrophic earthquake that hit northeastern Japan on March 11th caused devastation beyond comprehension to a large section of the Pacific nation, the tsunami the quake triggered adding further destruction. Even though the thoughts of everyone either involved in or following MotoGP were first and foremost with the nation of Japan and its people, they could not help but consider the fate of the Japanese Grand Prix, due to take place on April 24th.
What a difference a day makes. On Sunday, the desert was calm, temperate, really quite pleasant overall, at least until the temperatures started to drop and the dew came. Monday was a different proposition altogether; Twitter was ablaze with reports of a sandstorm blowing over the Losail circuit.
All of the press releases received so far after the end of the MotoGP test at Qatar:
Spies Satisfied After Final Pre-Season Test Session in Qatar
The biggest threat on the track this evening for Yamaha Factory Racing riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies was not other riders but fiercely strong winds blowing across the Losail circuit in Qatar. The final pre-season MotoGP test session before next weekend's opening race was a battle against the elements.
Final times from Day 2 of the MotoGP test at Qatar:
Latest times from Day 2 of Qatar MotoGP test at 10:15pm:
Latest times from Qatar MotoGP test. The wind has dropped and stopped gusting, so times are faster:
Latest times from the second day of testing at Qatar, at 8:15pm. It's very windy, and there's some sand on the track:
The big technical news of MotoGP testing, in case you missed it, is Honda's mystery gearbox. Speculation has centered so far on a system either identical or similar to the Xtrac Instantaneous Gearchange System, which uses a system of ratchets to allow two gears to be engaged simultaneously while driving only one.