The day's second free practice session took place under overcast skies, though it stayed dry throughout. And the fastest two men of the morning's practice were fastest once again for most of the afternoon. But this time, Casey Stoner didn't dominate the session like he had in the morning. In fact, it wasn't until 10 minutes from the end that Stoner finally managed to better the time set by Suzuki's John Hopkins. Once faster, though, he proceeded to set a series of blistering laps within half a second of the existing lap record set by Loris Capirossi during last year's race.
When it comes to racetracks, the most damning accusation that MotoGP fans can make is that a particular circuit is a "cookie cutter track." What they mean by this is that the track consists of a bunch of symmetrical, computer-designed turns stuck together to resemble something which has just rolled off a production line, rather than grown organically with the landscape to seamlessly become one with its environment, and the tracks they point to when using this term of abuse are places like Shanghai in China and Sepang in Malaysia.
It's finally official: Loris Capirossi has finally announced that he has a one year deal to ride for Suzuki for 2008, with an option for 2009. The Italian veteran held a press conference at Brno today, remarkably enough in the Ducati hospitality area, at which he made his decision public. "I have a good feeling about Suzuki: They have a lot of 500cc titles, and it means I will still be riding for a factory team, which was important," Capirossi said. He also confirmed that he had offers from both Kawasaki and from the satellite Pramac d'Antin Ducati team, which he rejected.
For weeks now, ever since Marco Melandri signed with Ducati, effectively pushing Loris Capirossi out of the picture at the Bologna factory, speculation has been rife that the Italian veteran would turn his back on the factory with which he had become virtually synonymous. Many teams were named, but it became increasingly clear that there was only one destination which Capirex could realistically arrive at.
Finally, a little better news for the Gresini Honda team. Both Marco Melandri and Toni Elias passed fitness tests on Monday, and have been cleared to ride at Brno. Elias is still recovering from a broken femur and Melandri is still suffering with a broken ankle he suffered at Laguna Seca. The Gresini duo spent two hours riding Honda CBR 600 sports bikes around the Misano circuit, to test their condition, which revealed that they are both capable of riding, albeit with some pain.
Well, the previous batch of photos from Jules "Popmonkey" Cisek proved such a success that we thought we'd provide some more. Reader Scott Jones e-mailed us to let us know that he had some photos of Laguna Seca, and he kindly agreed to let us feature a few here. We hope you agree with us that they are well worth a gander.
If you've never seen one, this is what the tail of a Kawasaki Supersport bike looks like
Ben's spare leathers
Choices, choices ...
So that's what they make
Raid your piggy bank, and check down the back of the sofa ...
No, not that 46
Another key piece in the 2008 MotoGP jigsaw puzzle is about to fall into place. Reports are appearing on several news sites that Loris Capirossi will make an official announcement about which team he will be joining on Thursday, the eve of the Czech Grand Prix at Brno.
As we predicted just a couple of days ago, the Italian authorities appear to have declared open season on Italian MotoGP riders. After Valentino Rossi was stung with a tax demand for 112 million Euros, now it's Loris Capirossi's turn.
As expected, Ivan Silva has been called in to replace Alex Hofmann on the Pramac d'Antin Ducati. Hofmann is still recovering from the very nasty hand injury he suffered during the first free practice session at Laguna Seca, where he was speared by the track rookie Sylvain Guintoli at the Corkscrew. Although is hand is recovering, the injury is so serious that he is unable to take part at Brno. Hofmann's next target will be a return at Misano on September 2nd.
More reports on Valentino Rossi's tax problems are coming to light, and it's worse than ever. The Italian tax authorities have submitted a tax demand for 112 million Euros to Rossi, consisting of 46 million Euros in taxes not paid over the 60 million he earned during the period between 2000 and 2004, plus a fine and interest.
The site design has been modified again, adding a logo I've been playing around with for a long time now. The logo is based on a photo taken at the 2006 US Grand Prix by Jules Cisek, also known as Popmonkey. You can find more of his work at Jules' motorcycle photography gallery.
After his impressive first outing on the Pramac d'Antin Ducati at Laguna Seca, setting the 13th fastest lap time during the race on a bike he'd never ridden before at a track he'd never visited before, Chaz Davies was a hot favorite to take Alex Hofmann's ride once again at Brno, if the German was unable to ride due to the hand injury he sustained at Laguna. But before he could stand in, he would first have several obstacles to negotiate.
With the MotoGP circus poised to descend upon the Czech circuit at Brno, the residents of MotoGP's sick bay are turning their thoughts to the possiblity of a return to action. Gresini Honda's Toni Elias, who suffered a spiral fracture of the thigh at Assen, has said that he is determined to return at Brno, although he believes he will only be able to ride at 60%.
News emerged today that the Italian tax authorities are investigating Valentino Rossi for tax evasion over some 60 million euros over the period between 2000 and 2004. The tax evasion stems from the authorities' claim that although Valentino Rossi was living in London at the time, he was merely resident there, and not domiciled for tax purposes, making Rossi liable for Italian income tax.