Please, no more "spec" talk!

For those fans of MotoGP who aren't properly afraid of Dorna's desire to imitate Formula One, rather than maintain a superior product, perhaps this news tidbit will shed some light on the road we have feared all along.

Now that Formula One already have spec-tires and spec-ECU's, and now that Dorna are seeking to establish both in MotoGP, this haunting promise/threat was issued from the Great Fiasco Machine himself, Max Mosely (speaking of a spec-engine formula, where "manufacturers" simply "re-badge" a spec powerplant, and presumably KERS is no longer life-threatening):

"I know there are those who say this is not the right move, but I'm talking about the real world. If Volkswagen, say, can buy a {road car} engine less expensively {than to build one}, they'll undoubtedly do it. After they put a VW badge on it, it's all the same. Unless we think very seriously about cutting costs, in the next 10 years, we'll be in trouble."

Considering that I proposed something akin to this a year ago for MotoGP - as a joke - I wonder why Mr. SS thinks people will pay to see a world-wide spec series any more than they didn't to see a U.S. one. 

Please, Mr. Ezpeleta, see this path for the foolishness that it is and quit now while you are still ahead!


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RIP Guido, More Than Just A Dog

Guido is dead. News that a dog has died does not generally make it onto the front page of websites about motorcycle racing, but as with every rule, there's always an exception. And in motorcycle racing, exceptions to the rule generally mean that Valentino Rossi is involved somehow.

The reason that Guido's death is garnering so much attention - even meriting a mention in Italy's most prestigious sports newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport - is that Guido is Valentino Rossi's dog.

But Guido was more than just a pet. The white bulldog was also Valentino Rossi's mascot, appearing on Rossi's helmet and his bike, as much lucky charm as household pet. Indeed, such was Rossi's attachment to the dog that Guido even starred in Quarantasei, a graphic novel produced by Milo Manara containing a fictional account of Valentino Rossi's adventures and eventual triumph in motorcycle racing. It must be said that Guido was very much the co-star of the book, the star of the show being Rossi's M1 motorcycle.

So, it is a sad day for Valentino Rossi, and our thoughts, and most likely the thoughts of thousands of Rossi fans around the world, go out to the Italian superstar. May Guido spend the rest of eternity chasing rabbits across the Elysian Fields. 

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Images From Indy - Wet And Dry

Unlike Laguna Seca, where we were fortunate enough to have sent Scott Jones to represent officially and provide us with some spectacular images, at Indianapolis, we were unable to arrange a press pass.

Luckily, there are other ways of obtaining photos from Indianapolis. Jules Cisek, whose work we have featured previously on, attended Indianapolis with an ordinary general admission ticket, and still manage to shoot some fabulous shots. Here's a selection:

Friday, in the rain

Scott Redding at Indianapolis 

The strokers were back in the USA. Scott Redding shows everyone how to ride a 125 in the pouring rain.


Mike di Meglio at Indianapolis 

Mike di Meglio didn't need that many lessons.


Hugo van den Berg at Indianapolis 

Hugo van den Berg, paddock giant.


Gabor Talmasci at Indianapolis

The Champ, in The Wet


Scott Redding and Kris Turner at Indianapolis

Scott Redding and Kris Turner, full pelt


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Puig: "Hayden Is A Hypocrite, And Can't Set Up A Bike"

It was universally acknowledged that you were unlikely to find a happy, family atmosphere in the Repsol Honda garage. But just how bad things were is only now starting to appear, as the end of a long and unhappy marriage looms at the end of three years. For now, the partners involved are starting to speak out.

Nicky Hayden has been the most reticent of the two sides of the garage so far, refusing to criticize Honda for their treatment of him since he won them their last world title. But in a recent interview with the Spanish daily newspaper El Pais, Hayden spoke out about what he believed was a fundamental flaw in the Repsol Honda setup.

Hayden felt that the team wasn't functioning as a team, with each side of the garage functioning independently and not sharing data to help develop the bike. "I don't like the fact that there's a wall separating the garages and that we're not sharing information," he told El Pais. "We're both on the same team, and we should be working together."

The problem, Hayden said, was not Pedrosa, but his manager. "[Alberto] Puig has too much influence on the team. In theory, he works for Dani, not Honda, but ..." he told El Pais.  When asked how much credit Pedrosa still has with Honda, Hayden replied "Dani is great rider, with a lot of talent. But Puig is the guy with all the power at Honda, not Dani. Unfortunately, it's Puig who runs Honda. I know I'm not supposed to say so, but that's the truth."

It seems that Alberto Puig was not at all pleased after this interview appeared in the Spanish press. For today, Puig has struck back in an interview with the official website, blasting Hayden with some damning comments. When asked about Hayden's objections to the wall dividing the garages, Puig told "all I can say is that Hayden may be bothered because now he can't access information and telemetry data from Dani's bike. With this information he was able to improve his riding, as he had all of Dani's references and now he can't use that any longer. He was simply copying as he never knew how to set-up a bike." 

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Ant West Talking To Ten Kate For World Supersport Ride

When Ant West signed up as a factory Kawasaki rider to race in MotoGP, he could hardly have suspected just how miserable his life was about to become. The Australian had spent years trying to get into racing's premier class, accepting some extremely questionable rides in 250s just to get a chance at MotoGP. Tragically for West, his arrival coincided with a sharp decline in Kawasaki's fortunes, and after some promising results in 2007, West's career has been on a downward spiral, propelled by the dismal performance of the Kawasaki.

After hoping for a long while to somehow stay in MotoGP, Ant West seems finally to have accepted his fate. The German motorsports site Motosport Total is reporting that Westy is in talks for a ride on "a competitive Honda in World Supersport." "Practically my only option is the World Supersport championship. On a Honda," West told Motorsport Total.

Although there are a number of teams fielding Hondas in the World Supersport series, Motorsport Total says that paddock whispers say West's manager is talking to Ten Kate about riding for the team. West wouldn't confirm that rumor, though he admitted "I know the team, and I'd love to ride for them."

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2008 MotoGP Phillip Island Race Report - The Art Of Racing

Ever since the long-lamented 990cc bikes roared into the sunset at the end of 2006 to be replaced by the 800cc machines, MotoGP has suffered a crisis of confidence. That final year of competition with the large capacity bikes produced some of the most exhilarating racing ever seen, yet after the introduction of the new formula, the racing changed overnight, suddenly becoming processional and rather too often, positively dull.

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Aspar: "I Can't Sell Nakano To My Sponsors"

The good news for MotoGP and Dorna at Phillip Island was that Kawasaki confirmed that they would provide a third ZXRR to compete in the 2009 MotoGP season. The announcement meant that MotoGP's rather thin grid would be filled out a little for 2009, taking the total up to 19 bikes, with a possible fifth Ducati raising that to 20.

The bad news was the conditions that Kawasaki was imposing on the deal. KHI in Japan is very keen for Shinya Nakano to return to the fold at Kawasaki, the Japanese rider having ridden for the team from 2004 to 2006. But Jorge Aspar Martinez, the man who is to run the team, doesn't want Nakano as a rider, as a Japanese rider would cause him problems with his sponsors.

"With all due respect to Nakano, he is not a rider I can sell to my sponsors," Aspar told Spanish magazine Solomoto. "I want to choose the rider, and I want a Spaniard."

The problem Aspar has is the amount of money Kawasaki wants from the team. Martinez is believed to have a Spanish telecom company lined up to sponsor the team, but because the effort would be promoting a product on the Spanish domestic market, he needs a Spanish rider to help the sponsors sell their product at home.

Aspar's preferred option is Spanish veteran Alex Debon, who is currently campaigning the Lotus Aprilia in the 250 class. Debon would be on development duty, helping to get the bike competitive enough for 2010, when Aspar hopes to bring Alvaro Bautista into MotoGP.

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Michelin Out, Bridgestone In, Fewer Tires For Riders

As we reported earlier, Michelin has decided not to submit a bid to become the sole supplier of tires for MotoGP. The press released announcing the move read as follows:

"Michelin has decided not to submit a bid to the governing body of the MotoGP World Championship. At the same time, Michelin regrets not being able to contribute to the organizers' important discussions to improve rider safety and reduce costs.

The spirit of competition has always been central to Michelin. Motor sports at the highest level are useful because competition among several tire manufacturers is a valuable stimulus for developing increasingly high-performance tires that will one day equip customer vehicles. Tires play a key role in a vehicle's performance and can make a considerable difference. This competition among manufacturers helps to make racing exciting.

The radial tire, which was invented by Michelin, has been improved through racing, and the improvements have since been passed on to consumers. Michelin's dual compound technology for motorcycle tires was first tested in MotoGP racing and is today integrated into premium products for the brand's customers. The MotoGP Championship organizers have decided to use a single tire supplier for the coming seasons, which effectively eliminates the competitive environment that has led to so much progress.

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2008 Phillip Island Qualifying Practice Report

After Phillip Island had been treated to a very mixed bag of weather on Friday, with balmy and dry conditions in the morning making way for a very cold and wet session in the afternoon, the paddock and fans were delighted to be greeted by much more stable conditions on Saturday. The morning free practice session, which saw Nicky Hayden nudge Casey Stoner off the top of the timesheets in the dying minutes, took place in cool but dry conditions, and the official qualifying practice started out under sunny skies, but not much warmer.

The opening minutes saw lap times drop down quickly down into the mid 1'30s, with Dani Pedrosa the first rider to crack the 1'31 barrier, and Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner taking another half a second off just a few seconds later. As is his custom, Stoner then chipped away at the times even further, perfecting his race setup to set the bar at a time of 1'30.124 after just 10 minutes of the session.

For the moment, Stoner's time was out of reach of the rest of the field, with everyone focusing on getting the bikes ready for race day. In the first 20 minutes, Stoner was clearly fastest, but he had Valentino Rossi, Dani Pedrosa and Nicky Hayden all running not far off his pace, and as the session approached halfway, that group was joined by Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea Dovizioso and James Toseland.

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Michelin Out, Won't Submit Proposal For Single Tire

Michelin has just announced that they will not be submitting a proposal to Dorna and the FIM for the contract to supply tires as the single tire manufacturer. This means that Bridgestone will be the sole supplier of tires for MotoGP in 2009, as heavily predicted, and as favored by most of the riders. 

More details as they emerge.

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