Assen Gets A Street Circuit Back - Solex Style!

As a rule, the official pre-race media events on both World Superbike and MotoGP tend to be rather bloodless, even dull affairs. A select group of big name riders participate in a local tradition in a picturesque setting, as a tribute to the culture of the country the series is visiting, and to help publicize the race. In Valencia the riders helped cook a giant Paella dish, and in Qatar, they rode camels. 

Normally, when visiting Assen, the organizers would try to do something typically Dutch and eminently forgettable, such as visit a wooden shoe factory or a windmill, or go and watch cheese being produced. Fortunately, this year the organizers of the World Superbike round at Assen came up with something a little less obvious, and far more entertaining: They organized a Solex race through the streets of the city of Assen. The Solex - a type of moped with a small petrol engine mounted directly over the front wheel, which it drives using a rubber wheel - has a cult following in Holland, after becoming vehicle of choice for Holland's first '60s youth cult, the Nozems. So the bikes are still hugely popular, and a surprisingly common site on the streets and cycle paths of Dutch cities.

The atmosphere of the Solex race was heightened by dressing the riders - Noriyuki Haga, Ben Spies, Johnny Rea and local Supersport men Barry Veneman and Arie Vos - in 1960s helmets and full-length leather overcoats. And luckily for us, the Dutch motorcycling blog Oliepeil was there to capture the whole occasion on film:

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2009 MotoGP Motegi Preview - Splendid Isolation

There are many things that fans love about MotoGP: The banshee wail of the worlds fastest racing motorcycles; The thrill of watching the best motorcycle racers in the world scrap it out in tough, race-long battles; The extraordinary levels of skill required to put in an inch-perfect lap, and knowing that nobody could have ridden a motorcycle faster. But there's more than just the on-track action which attracts the fans.

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2009 World Superbikes Assen Preview - Double Dutch

The World Superbike series completes its spring migration this weekend, reaching the most northerly point of the season, after starting at its most southerly point just three races ago. For the teams and riders of the series are gathering at Assen, to do battle on the emasculated version of what was once called the Cathedral of Racing.

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MotoGP Practice Sessions To Be Extended To One Hour Again

One of the biggest changes made to the MotoGP series as a result of the cost-cutting measures introduced over the winter has been the reduction in the length of practice. The Friday morning sessions have been scrapped, and the three remaining sessions have been cut from 1 hour in length to just 45 minutes. The aim was to reduce the number of miles put on the engines, reducing the amount of maintenance the engines would require.

But the reduced practice time came under a lot of criticism at Qatar, the first time this was tried in practice. The short sessions left the riders - especially the rookies - much less track time to get used to the bikes, and put huge pressure on the teams and riders to hurry through changes to settings, without enough time to think them through properly. The Grand Prix Commission was sympathetic to these concerns, and studied proposals to fix the issues.

Now, a compromise has been found, according to Motorcycle News. The Grand Prix Commission is due to meet prior to the Motegi Grand Prix, and will approve the sessions will be extended to one hour again, to give the riders more time to get the bikes sorted out. But to enforce the object of the rules - reduced engine mileage, making the bikes last longer between engine rebuilds - a limit will be placed on the number of laps the riders will be allowed to do, depending on the length of the track, ensuring that more time does not equal more laps.

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First Run Out For Moto2 Bikes In Spanish Championship

The transition from 250cc two strokes to 600cc four-stroke Moto2 bikes  has been nowhere near as smooth as the move from 500cc two-stroke GP bikes to the 990cc MotoGP machines. The main culprit for the difficulty is a question of semantics, and arguments about how to define production racing. To avoid a confrontation between Infront Motor Sports, who run the World Superbike series, and Dorna, who run MotoGP, a decision has been made to make the series a single engine manufacturer series, getting round the problem of production engines altogether. Hopefully.

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The Last Of Scott Jones' Photos From Qatar

Sadly, we are coming to the end of the fantastic photos Scott Jones took for MotoGPMatters.com at the opening round of MotoGP in Qatar. So enjoy the final shots, as the next race Scott will be attending will be the World Superbike round at Miller Motorsport Park in Utah at the end of May, before he makes it to the Red Bull US GP at Laguna Seca on the 4th of July weekend.

Colin Edwards, Qatar MotoGP

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Lorenzo Lanzi To Replace "Underperforming" Rider In WSBK - But Who?

Intrigue haunts the World Superbike paddock at the moment, after rumors emerged that British rider Tommy Hill was to be replaced at Althea Honda. There was a quick response from the Althea Honda team, who issued a press release officially denying the story. The press release stated: "With reference to reports on several websites and forums regarding the substitution of our Superbike rider Tommy Hill with Lorenzo Lanzi, the Honda Althea Racing team wishes to deny this news, which is considered to be totally groundless."

A comprehensive denial. So what is fueling the rumor? Part of the problem is the replacement rider being named: Lorenzo Lanzi is an undeniably talented rider, and a winner at Valencia last year. The Italian started the season riding for Stefano Caracchi's KTM Scuderia Corse team in the Italian Superbike championship, but on the eve of the first round of the season, Caracchi and Lanzi have issued a joint statement announcing that Lanzi had been released from his contract to allow him to pursue opportunities in World Superbikes.

That press release is one of the things fueling the speculation, for it is refreshingly honest in why Lanzi is being released:

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Even More Of Scott Jones' Great Photos From Qatar

The photos from Qatar taken by Scott Jones have been extremely popular, just as we expected. And luckily for us, Scott still has plenty more where they came from. Below are some of Scott's photos taken during practice and qualifying, and over the next couple of days, we'll put up some more from race day. Enjoy, and stay tuned!

Nicky Hayden's Ducati blown up during practice at the Qatar MotoGP

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2009 MotoGP Qatar Race Report - Rain Of Terror

It's been a long winter. It's been five and a half months since the MotoGP bikes burnt rubber in anger on a race track, with only the amuse-bouche of the official IRTA Test at Jerez two weeks ago to still MotoGP fans' hunger. And with the winter test schedule curtailed as part of the extensive package of cost-cutting measures introduced after the global economic crisis blindsided MotoGP - along with the rest of the world, so it seems - even the scraps gleaned from testing were fewer and further between.

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Yamaha - Petronas Sponsorship Worth $8 Million A Year

The MotoGP race at Qatar brought more than just controversy over night races, and rain in the desert; It also brought some good news too. At the event, Yamaha announced that it had clinched a sponsorship deal with the Malaysian oil giant Petronas, due to last for three years. The deal sees the Petronas name appearing on the team clothing, and on the belly pan of both Fiat Yamaha M1s.

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Kawasaki To Get Moto2 Spec Engine Deal?

Ever since it was realized that any attempt to field modified road bikes in Moto2 would be scuppered by a nuclear strike from Infront Motor Sports, the organization that runs World Superbikes and has an exclusive contract with the FIM to race production motorcycles, Dorna, the FIM and the teams have been casting about for a solution. What they came up with to avoid the confrontation with the Flammini brothers was for the the engines to be supplied by a single supplier, thus handily sidestepping the "production" problem altogether.

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The Ducati Desmosedici's Carbon Fiber Frame

Here at MotoGPMatters.com, we are not given to recycling press releases. They are freely available both on the teams websites, and on many other news websites (though some make the effort to turn the press release into a story, and others state baldly that the information is just a press release). But sometimes, we are sent a press release that we are sure our readers would be interested in as well.

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