|Pos.||No.||Rider||Manufacturer||Fast Lap||Diff||Diff Previous|
|3||15||Alex DE ANGELIS||HONDA||1'31.043||0.949||0.279|
There can hardly be a greater contrast between Motegi, the track where MotoGP spent last weekend, and Phillip Island, where they are headed next. Motegi is pretty much a state-of-the-art facility, with spacious pit garages, excellent spectator facilities and an air-conditioned press area. Phillip Island, on the other hand, is like a trip back to the 1950s: The pit garages are about as sturdy as your average garden shed, the spectator seating consists mostly of grass, and the commentary positions sway gently in the winds which sweep across the Bass Strait and buffet the circuit.
Though Toni Elias had already leaked details of the deal at Indianapolis, today, Gresini Honda officially confirmed that the Spaniard would be joining the team for 2009. And the specifics of the deal seem to justify Elias' decision to make a return to the team he left at the end of 2007.
For Elias is to be provided with a factory-spec Honda RC212V to campaign in the 2009 MotoGP season. This will bring the total number of factory Hondas on the grid to 3, alongside the 2 bikes which the Repsol Honda team will have for Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso.
With the amount of progress that Honda has made on their 800cc machine since its introduction, the factory-spec RC212V should be the best machine on the grid next year. With rumors rife that Dani Pedrosa has been given one more year to win a championship for Honda, or else seek gainful employment elsewhere, there can be no doubting that Pedrosa and his personal manager Alberto Puig will be putting as much pressure as possible on Honda to produce a bike capable of dominating the competition.
In the press release confirming Elias' signing, the Gresini team also confirmed a few other details. Alex de Angelis will be riding the satellite spec version of the Honda RC212V, though it remains unclear whether de Angelis would be given the factory spec bike should Elias be injured during the season. Gresini also announced that San Carlo, an Italian manufacturer of potato chips and other snack products, will be sponsoring the team again next year.
The coming of a third Kawasaki to the grid has been talked about for a long time. But over the months, the option has gone from being a racing certainty, to off the table, to having a reasonable chance of success.
The uncertainty has arisen as a result of differences between Kawasaki and Jorge Martinez Aspar, the manager of the 125 and 250 Aspar teams, who was slated to run the project. Martinez had sponsorship to fund the project, but the sponsors were all Spanish, and demanded a Spanish rider to use to sell to their home market. Spanish media sources even intimated that just being Spanish wouldn't be enough, but that Martinez would be required to run a rider from the Valencia Autonomous Community (a region equivalent to a US state) to help promote the region to tourists.
At Motegi, the deal looked to be almost dead in the water, but now, Motorcycle News is reporting that it's back on again, with a surprising amendment. Matthew Birt's report states that Kawasaki is demanding that Shinya Nakano be given the ride over any Spanish riders.
There is no word as yet of Martinez' reaction to these demands, but an announcement is due before the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island. It remains to be seen whether Martinez can hang on to the sponsors for this project if they don't get a Spanish rider, which would put the project in jeapordy again unless the factory can come up with the money to fund it.
After months of speculation, finally the deal is done. Ben Spies will not be riding in MotoGP in 2009. But the triple AMA champion will be leaving America: as reported earlier, Spies will be joining the factory-supported Yamaha Motor Italia team in the World Superbikes championship.
Standing on the cusp of a championship is a strangely perilous position. You see the title within your grasp, you can almost touch it, taste it, but you know you have just a little bit more work to do before it is finally yours. It should be relatively easy. All you need to do is to stay out of trouble, and score enough points to get the job done.
After earlier speculation that Ben Spies was to take Colin Edwards' place at the Tech 3 Yamaha team, with Edwards moving back to the World Superbike championship where he won two titles, it looks like the swap is off. The British racing publication Bikesport News is reporting that Spies will be going to World Superbikes after all, joining the factory supported Yamaha Motor Italia team to ride the new long bang Yamaha YZF R1.
Yamaha's World Superbike team had already confirmed to MotoGPMatters that the team was interested in Spies, but BSN is quoting "sources close to Spies" that the American triple AMA champion has inked a deal to join Tom Sykes in World Superbikes. The official announcement is expected this week.
The move would still leave the door open for a swap. In Sykes and Spies, the Yamaha team would have two class rookies, neither of whom knows the bike or the tracks. Having Edwards move into the WSBK team, and pushing Spies forward into the MotoGP team would allow both Spies and Sykes to be partnered by men with experience of the tracks, making finding a setup for the bike that little bit easier.
For the moment, though, that's just speculation. That Spies will be on a Yamaha next year is virtually certain. That he will be riding in World Superbikes is extremely likely. But either way, Spies will finally have the chance to show what he is capable of on the world stage.
Billed as the AMA Superbike Finale at Laguna Seca, the last event of the season had an ominous feeling from its beginning early Saturday Morning. As I walked through the paddock I kept thinking of that Doors song, The End, as it plays over the beginning of Apocalypse Now; the dominant theme there in Monterey was that we were seeing not only the final race of the season, but the final appearance of AMA Superbike as we know it.
Since Colin Edwards finally wrapped up his contract to ride for Tech 3 Yamaha again next year, there's been little discussion of the situation at Yamaha, with all 4 seats firmly settled.
Or so it seemed. While the situation at Yamaha in MotoGP looked settled, the same could not be said for World Superbikes. The Yamaha Motor Italia team lost both its big name riders for next season, with Noriyuki Haga going to Xerox Ducati and Troy Corser joining BMW's fledgeling World Superbike effort. And so far, the team has only signed the British Superbikes star Tom Sykes to fill one of the seats.
So obviously, speculation has been rampant on who is to fill the other seat at the Yamaha factory Superbike team. Though Sylvain Guintoli tested for the team a week ago, the name that keeps popping up in this regard is the American Ben Spies. After Suzuki failed to provide him with the MotoGP ride he thought he had in the bag, Spies has been looking elsewhere, and specifically to other manufacturers, to provide him with a ride on the world stage.
But along with all the rumors linking Spies to the Yamaha World Superbike ride comes some even more intriguing speculation. During the BBC broadcast of the Motegi MotoGP round, commentator Matt Roberts mentioned that there was a strong rumor that Yamaha were trying to persuade Colin Edwards to give up his Tech 3 Yamaha seat and switch to World Superbikes to ride their brand new R1.
Now that it has been made official, and before the contract is awarded, which will undoubtedly containing a clause silencing any criticism of the tires or tire company, reaction to the announcement of a single tire rule from figures directly involved in the paddock is starting to emerge.
The full text of a statement released by Valentino Rossi after the Motegi race. Contains details of the race.
Yamaha Racing issued a press release with an interview with Valentino Rossi after he clinched his 6th MotoGP world title. It offers a fascinating insight into the mind of a world champion, and hints at his future. Here it is, in full:
Further information World Title Valentino Rossi
MotoGP Championship Standings After Round 15, Motegi
Full results of the 2008 A-Style Grand Prix of Japan at Motegi
After all the speculation, machinations and backroom dealing, the deed is finally done. This morning, 9am Japanese time, the Grand Prix Commission, the body in which teams, manufacturers and organizers decide on the rules which goverrn MotoGP, decided unanimously to switch the series to a single tire supplier. The Commission issued a timetable for the switch, which requires proposals from tire manufacturers to be submitted by October 3rd, the Friday of the Phillip Island Grand Prix, with a decision on those proposals from the Grand Prix Commission due on October 18th.
Michelin has already announced that they are considering submitting a proposal, and Dunlop Racing's Jeremy Ferguson told Eurosport commentators Toby Moody and Julian Ryder during the broadcast of the 250cc race that Dunlop was not interested in being the supplier for the MotoGP series. However, the favorite to get the contract is Bridgestone, as any other outcome would be unpalatable for the big name riders who have publicly switched to the Japanese tires in recent years.
The change will also mean the end of qualifying tires. With the FIM and Dorna effectively having control over the supply of tires, they will be able to restrict the types of tires available, and ensure that soft tires which only last a single lap will not be made available to the teams. According to Ezpeleta, the qualifying format will stay as it is, a single, hour-long session on Saturday, but qualification will be done on race tires.
|Pos.||No.||Rider||Manufacturer||Fast Lap||Diff||Diff Previous|
|15||15||Alex DE ANGELIS||HONDA||1'49.023||1.760||0.176|
|16||14||Randy DE PUNIET||HONDA||1'49.027||1.764||0.004|