The life of a MotoGP rider can seem utterly sublime to outsiders. Flying around the globe to ride the most advanced motorcycles on the planet at some of the best tracks in the world sounds like a pretty idyllic existence. Combine this with a very generous salary, a three-day work week and continuous VIP treatment - including a fresh supply of attractive young companions - and for anyone who loves motorcycles, it is hard to imagine a better life.
After Colin Edwards got bumped off the factory Yamaha team to make way for rising star Jorge Lorenzo, it looked like the Texas Tornado's career in MotoGP was starting to wind down. Edwards himself fueled the speculation, with talk of a possible return to the US to finish his career riding for Yamaha in the AMA Superbike series.
Since then, though, two things have happened that have made Edwards change his mind.
As regular readers of this website may know, it is not often that we get to attend a MotoGP race. Without the access provided by a press pass, it would be nigh on impossible to provide the kind of coverage that readers of MotoGPMatters.com have come to expect from trackside. And obtaining press accreditation for MotoGP events is no easy feat for online publications, as websites that cover motorcycle racing are required to make a financial contribution before obtaining media access.
With the USGP at Laguna Seca three days away, MotoGP riders Jorge Lorenzo and Chris Vermeulen appeared at one of San Francisco’s most popular tourist areas, Pier 39, to greet fans and sign autographs. Sitting in front of the Hard Rock Café, the MotoGP duo was joined by several riders from the Red Bull Rookies series, and a bit later by popular American riders Ben and Eric Bostrom, who compete in the AMA Superbike series.
Eighteen months after the MotoGP class reduced its capacity from 990 to 800cc, ostensibly in the name of safety, the number of worried faces at Dorna is increasing. It's been 29 races since a race was won thanks to a pass made on the last lap, and complaints have been growing that MotoGP has lost much of its former shine.
As always, whenever there's a problem, the search starts for a culprit - or at least a scapegoat - and the current favorite explanation is the growth in scope and power of electronics, with special scorn reserved for the role of traction control in MotoGP. The increased sophistication of electronics is almost universally blamed for the dearth of close racing over the past season and a half.
As always prior to many MotoGP events around the world, the outstanding charity Riders for Health, set up by Randy Mamola and Andrea and Barry Coleman, will be holding an auction of some extremely desirable items before the US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca. Some of the items up for grabs include Nicky Hayden-signed memorabilia, VIP passes to the Yamaha party at the Monterey Aquarium, Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix poster autographed by the Yamaha Weekend of Champions and VIP passes to the Legends of Laguna Seca induction party honoring Eddie Lawson and Kenny Roberts. All things and experiences to covet, and with the proceeds going to Riders for Health, your money will be going to actively save lives, and help leverage motorcycles at what they do best: provide access under difficult circumstances.
If the thought of all that memorabilia isn't enough to persuade you, several big names from the MotoGP paddock, past and present, will be appearing to talk about life in the paddock. Guests are likely to include Randy Mamola, Wayne Rainey, Marco Melandri, James Toseland, Colin Edwards, Ben Spies, Randy de Puniet, Toni Elias, Sylvain Guintoli, Kevin Schwantz, Dean Miller and Herve Poncheral.
The auction is on Thursday, and is scheduled to start at 4:00 P.M. at the Riders for Health Turn 4 Hospitality Suite near the paddock. If you're going to attend the Laguna Seca Grand Prix, don't miss this great event.
Dani Pedrosa's crash at the Sachsenring could have more serious consequences than he feared. After examination by Doctor Mir at the Dexeus Institute in Barcelona, the Spaniard's injuries, especially to his left hand, are fairly serious, and will require more treatment and observation before a decision can be made on whether Pedrosa will be able to take part in the US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca next weekend. Dr Mir told reporters that a decision would be made within 32 hours, but that inflamed tendons were adding to Pedrosa's broken finger, making riding a motorcycle extremely difficult.
It seems entirely self-evident: the winner of any given motorcycle race on any given Sunday will be the best rider, on the best bike, with the best tires. The rider with the most horsepower, the sweetest handling and the stickiest rubber - and the skill to leverage this magic triptych - should, barring incident, win every race.
Full result of the 2008 German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring.
Warmup took place on a wet track with a drying line. But rain is expected to arrive in the next couple of hours, so it looks like being a wet race.
|Pos.||No.||Rider||Manufacturer||Fast Lap||Diff||Diff Previous|
|6||15||Alex DE ANGELIS||HONDA||1'30.631||2.474||0.119|
|8||14||Randy DE PUNIET||HONDA||1'30.905||2.748||0.031|
Just a quick reminder for all our US-based readers. The German round of MotoGP from the Sachsenring will NOT be broadcast by Speed TV, the usual broadcaster. Instead, the Sachsenring MotoGP race will be broadcast by CBS, in a time-delayed broadcast. Fans wanting to watch the 125cc and 250cc races, those races will be shown in Speed TV.
For details, head over to http://www.tvracer.com/ where they have a complete schedule of racing broadcasts on all US networks.
The Sachsenring isn't the only race to be shown by CBS. The US network will be showing the two US rounds of MotoGP from Laguna Seca and Indianapolis live, and the Czech Grand Prix from Brno time delayed.
After the damp morning practice, during which Dani Pedrosa finally pipped Casey Stoner to the post setting the fastest time in the dying seconds of the session, the big question in the afternoon was whether the Pedrosa could repeat this during qualifying, or whether Stoner would dominate as he had on Friday. It was a question Stoner seemed determined to answer in a hurry. He went straight to the top of the timesheets on his 2nd lap, and by lap 4, he was close to the previous pole record pace, with a time of 1'22.082, less than 7 minutes into the session.
Under normal circumstances, that time would have stood for most of qualifying, while the riders worked on their race setup, before breaking out the soft qualifiying rubber. But the possibility of showers disrupting practice meant that a number of riders took a very early qualifier, gambling that such a move could pay off if the rain started to fall for real. Alex de Angelis, Randy de Puniet and Colin Edwards all took a very early qualifier, with Edwards taking provisional pole well before the halfway mark, with a lap of 1'21.794.
Worryingly for Edwards, that time was only 0.2 seconds faster than the 1'21.996 set by Casey Stoner, in the middle of a long run on race tires. Qualifiers can generally be relied on to take close to a second off of your best time, so Edwards' 0.2 second advantage was looking more like a 0.8 second deficit, once Stoner got serious.
That Marco Melandri is unlikely to sit out the 2nd year of his contract with Ducati in 2009 was an open secret. But now, that open secret has become something akin to a public announcement. Alberto Vergani, Melandri's manager, told GPOne.com's Alberto Cani that Melandri will not be with Ducati for 2009. The Italian's contract with Ducati allows the contract to be dissolved by mutual consent with no financial penalty, despite rumors to the contrary. And with Melandri in his current form, there can be no doubt that the consent will be very much mutual.
Vergani had other interesting things to say to Cani. When asked about Melandri's future, Vergani stated that the most likely option for the Italian is a return to Fausto Gresini's satellite Honda squad, where Gresini continues to be a great admirer of Melandri. He confirmed that Kawasaki has also expressed an interest in Melandri, but denied that Melandri could end up on a Kawasaki before the 2008 season is over.
On the question of whether Melandri could quit Ducati before the season is out, Vergani was clear: "Our intention remains to finish the season with Ducati. Marco wants to tackle the problems he's been having, it's a question of saving his honor," Melandri's manager said. This does not mean that Melandri will not leave before the season is out: "That is, if Ducati doesn't have other ideas."
|Pos.||No.||Rider||Manufacturer||Fast Lap||Diff||Diff Previous|
|4||15||Alex DE ANGELIS||HONDA||1'23.065||0.722||0.130|
|7||14||Randy DE PUNIET||HONDA||1'23.604||1.261||0.048|