Ever since Sete Gibernau turned up at the Catalunya Grand Prix at Barcelona, and spent a lot of time in both the Kawasaki and Ducati garages, rumors have grown increasingly stronger that the Spanish former GP star would be back in MotoGP next year. After testing the Ducati at Mugello, and the problems which Marco Melandri had been having, it was even suggested that Gibernau could have made a reentry into MotoGP after the Summer break.
The Misano race may have seen plenty of action on track, it is as nothing compared to the flurry of activity which seems to have gone on behind the scenes. In the shadow of the absolute bombshell announcement that Dani Pedrosa was switching Bridgestones effective immediately, a good deal of business went on as riders and teams sorted out more details of who as to go where.
The latest news to come out of Italy will cheer the hearts of a lot of MotoGP fans: Toni Elias will be back in MotoGP next year. He won't be on a Ducati, however. According to GPOne.com, the Spaniard will be riding for Jorge Martinez' Aspar team aboard a Kawasaki. The Alice Ducati team had told Elias he was free to find another ride, but after two successive podiums, that is a decision they are starting to regret. No details of the deal with Martinez have been announced, which means it is far from finalized, but Elias looks like a strong bet to be on a third Kawasaki.
Another deal which is said to be signed, but not yet officially announced, is the renewal of Alex de Angelis' contract with Gresini Honda. Fausto Gresini has had a tough time signing riders recently, as every time he looked to be close to signing one, they upped and signed with another team. First it was Marco Melandri who went on to join Kawasaki. Then, Toni Elias, whose impressive recent form had made him another strong candidate for the Gresini seat, went the way of Melandri, and headed over to Team Green.
The Misano MotoGP round saw the paddock dive into the very heart of silly season, with contracts close enough to being signed for details to leak out, but still so many rumors muddying the water that news taken as hard fact could still easily turn out to be complete fiction.
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Full results of the Grand Prix of San Marino and the Riviera di Rimini at Misano:
Motorcycle News' Matthew Birt is reporting that Dani Pedrosa will be switching to use Bridgestone tires effective immediately after the Misano race. It was widely anticipated that the Repsol Honda team - or at the very least, Dani Pedrosa's side of the garage - would be switching to the Japanese rubber for next season, after Pedrosa expressed his disgust with Michelin's failures in no uncertain terms after the Brno round. Pedrosa's unhappiness went so far that his manager, Alberto Puig, even tried to organize a boycott of the Brno GP by the Michelin riders, on the rather questionable grounds of safety. Michelin dismissed this claim, saying that the tires may have been off the pace, but there were no safety issues. MCN also revealed that HRC's manager Masumi Hamane was actually behind this attempt.
Now, in a shock and unprecedented move, Pedrosa will switch tire brands in the middle of the season. Pedrosa and Repsol Honda organized the deal with Bridgestone and Dorna to allow the Spaniard to make the move immediately. Dorna needed to be involved, as the rules state that the FIM and Dorna must be informed if teams decide to switch tire makers mid-season. Again, according to MCN, only Pedrosa will switch to Bridgestones, with Pedrosa's ostensible team mate Nicky Hayden remaining on Michelins.
Nicky Hayden is to skip Sunday's race at Misano. After skipping Sunday morning's warmup, the American elected to skip the race. Hayden is still suffering too much pain from the heel injury he sustained at the X Games Supermoto event, and was a couple of seconds off the pace.
Hayden is hoping that skipping the Misano race will allow him to heal more quickly, leaving him in a better position to contest the next event, the Indianapolis GP. Hayden regards this as his home GP, being the nearest race to his native Owensboro, Kentucky, and is determined to do well there.
Nicky Hayden took no part in proceedings during warmup, electing to sit out the session to spare his heel injury. He is likely to race. Casey Stoner was in obvious pain from his wrist, but that didn't stop him from stomping all over the opposition again.
The fact that four MotoGP races are being broadcast on network television in the US is great for the profile of the sport, but not so good for regular fans. For it means searching about on schedules to find exactly when the race is going to be broadcast.
Fortunately, there's the TV Racer website, which was evidently created to cope with exactly this kind of problem. And it tells us that the Misano MotoGP round is to be broadcast in the US on Speed, rather than on CBS. Broadcast time is 11pm EDT. So set your DVRs accordingly.
The weather has been a factor at just about every race so far this season, usually by being treacherous, changeable and unreliable, so the relief with which several days of calm, predictable and warm weather is being greeted is entirely understandable. With no exceptionally cool mornings, or dry days followed by wet days, teams and tire makers are glad to be able to work consistently on a setup, and getting ready for the race.
Full results of the Qualifying Practice for the Grand Prix of San Marino and the Riveria di Rimini at Misano.
|Pos.||No.||Rider||Manufacturer||Fast Lap||Diff||Diff Previous|
|9||14||Randy DE PUNIET||HONDA||1'35.628||1.263||0.079|
|10||15||Alex DE ANGELIS||HONDA||1'35.739||1.374||0.111|
Circuit Records: New circuit (alterations at Turn 3)
The first day of practice at Misano took place under a hot Italian summer sun, heralding what looks like the first race weekend with completely predictable weather conditions for a very long time this year. No prizes for guessing who as fastest in both sessions, as Casey Stoner did what he always does: riding out of pit lane to the top of the timesheets.