The Daytona Speedway Dinosaur Unsafe at Any Speed March 12th 2011 - If you tried to watch the Daytona 200 Mile Sportbike race on SpeedTV this past past weekend you know what a fiasco it was. And how deadly it could have been with some of the worst high speed crashes ever seen at a motorcycle roadracing event. No one goes to Daytona International Speedway anymore in person to watch the roadraces. It first started with Daytona Speedway refusing to make upgrade the facility to a spectator friendly / FIM safe and sanctioned race track where he might be having World Superbike and MotoGP races. If Indianapolis can build and FIM approved and sfe racetrack, why can't Daytona Speedway Association which has a lot more money at their disposal?
The AMA first agreed to do whatever Daytona Speedway Corporation wanted to keep that traditional track on the race schedule, followed 3 years ago by the AMA giving its Pro Racing Division to by the Speedway owned DMG / Daytona Motorsports Group who then castrated the premier Superbike Class to non existence. Taking us from what once was the biggest motorcycle roadracing event week in America, now possibly to the least enjoyable, least attended and most dangerous event on the AMA Pro Racing Calendar.
The exciting full-on factory Superbikes could no longer be featured in the legendary 200 mile Daytona race because of their horsepower and speed, which modern race tires could no longer cope with the combination of high speeds, the race distance between pit stops, and high horsepower bikes pulling heavy G's on the Super Speedway's banking. Remember 3 years ago when it rained on the scheduled Superbike Sunday race, and because the track is too dangerous to race on in the raain, the race was postponed to the next day, Monday, loosing all its spectators who had to drive back home and go to work the next day, and the SpeedTV coverage which had to leave for another scheduled event.
But the replacement class for Superbikes, the near stock 600 Daytona Sportbike class being has proved to be as unpopular for race fans as the Daytona Speedway Associations other essentially failed roadracing race series, the Daytona Grand Am Sports Car Championship with its ugly kit car looking prototypes and production race cars. The Speedway Association has tried to duplicate its successful NASCAR racing formula, into motorcycle and sport car roadracing, but it just doesn't work. Roadracing enthusiasts are just to knowledgeable of their sports to accept less than the best equipment and drivers.
We guesstimate less more than 3,000 spectators were in attendance at the Daytona roadraces this year, while just he weekend before the Daytona Supercross at the same facility pulled a huge audience of some 50,000 race fans. The Daytona Supercross race course, being laid out in the pit front grass, is visible by everyone in the main grandstand just feet away from the action. Its all about the Show: the track, the bikes, and the stars, none of which AMA Pro Roadracing, owned and managed by the DMG, is providing.
We already know that the Super Speedway and its high speed, high G-load bankings are unsafe for big bore Superbikes and their tires. Changes to superstock spec Superbikes and shorter races didn't work when the big bikes continued to use the traditional entire Daytona oval and infield road course. Even after after cutting the balls off the AMA Superbike Class machines and shortening the races, the tires weren't holding up. Then shortened 18-lap Superbike race (down from 57 laps and 200 miles) was removed from half the Speedway banking (Turns 1 and 2) and routed on an additional road course section in the south end of the infield, even further away from spectators.
Now at this year's featured 200 Mile race the 600cc Daytona Sportbike Class, heralded by the DMG as the privateer's big chance to make motorcycle roadracing affordable and popular in America, is suffering the same dangerous results of Superbikes on the high Daytona bankings. The tires are coming apart before the first scheduled pit stops. As the spec tire manufacturer, Dunlop's Mike Buckley explained, they had tested tires with the top teams at the Speedway some two months earlier when the temperature was 20 degrees cooler and the tires seemed fine. However, come race day in March with the track conditions being 20 degrees warmer, it was all coming apart, literally. The dark black asphalt of the newly repaved Speedway, which also took place during the winter break, helped to exasperate the tire temperatures and high speed conditions even more.
In Dunlop's defense, we have to point out there's no way Dunlop can make money supplying tires to a less than successful race series, with such a small track and TV audience. Besides their huge sponsorship fee that probably cost around six figures, then have to have two big rig transporter trucks with tires and tire changing technicians on the road and payroll for a full year. Then add in the huge additional cost of testing and building special tires just for one race weekend a year at Daytona Speedway. It's a loosing proposition all around for Dunlop, which is difficult to justify in the small, struggling American sportbike market. Particularly when buyers have so many good tire brand choices for other tire manufacturers who compete in MotoGP and World Superbike.
Jake Holden's chunking front tire early in the race (left) and near lap 12 (right).
Everything started to go wrong at this year's 2011 Daytona 200 race when front runner Jake Holden on the DNA Roberson Motorsports Ducati 848 had to pit early on lap 12 when his front tire started chunking. When the other riders came in for their scheduled stops around laps 18-19, many of them had to change tires too. Based on the earlier winter tests most teams were expecting to got the entire 200 mile race distance with perhaps just a rear tire change if at all, and certainly not a front tire change. So by the end of the first pit stops all the teams were out of their spare fresh mounted front tires.
Then on lap 27 Danny Eslik had the front end of his bike wash out in Turn 4 on the banking which running behind around rider. Was it the tire going bad, was it a gust of wind, was it the aerodynamics of drafting at that 170-180mph? Another possibility might be that some riders were now treating that corner of the banking as a turn to dive inside, rather than staying up high and riding the bowl in a straight line. And at that speed with a just 1-inch square front tire patch on the pavement, there just isn't any grip to turn the bike. In the TV replays it looked like Eslick was turning his bike to go below the rider in front of him and that's when the front wheel tucked under and he went down. Luckily he low sided off the crashed bike, and slid down to the bottom of the banking with nothing to hit. He was able to walk away. But it is really frightening when you crashing running wide open in a straight line and don't know why.
Eslick's crash brought out the red flag and the entire field was brought back to the starting grid in front of the pits. AMA Pro Racing Tech Inspector Al Luddington then made the correct decision that the entire race field be fitted with new front tires, both in light of the tire chunking issues and Eslick's front wheel crash. But most of the teams did not have any new front tires left to install on their bikes. So the race had to be delayed for 2 hours while Dunlop tire technicians back in the Paddock mounted new front tires for everyone.
Meantime, the race viewers at home watching the Daytona 200 Miler live on SpeedTV, had to sit though nearly the full 2 hours of red flag delay as the scheduled time slot for the broadcast clicked down the minutes. Then before we could see the race restart, SpeedTV cut it off to the next scheduled program, NASCAR Truck Race qualifying at Bristol Speedway. Most viewers had no way of knowing the restart and finish of the motorcycle race would be broadcast at 1 am Eastern/10pm Pacific in the Saturday night time slot originally schedule for delayed Daytona Superbike Race 1 broadcast. With the Superbike race push back to play after the Daytona Sportbikes.
When the Daytona 200 mile Supersport race did restart, it was shorted by Luddington to a 15-lap sprint race to the finish so the front tires would last. The traditional 200 Miler now become a 27 lap + 15 lap = 42 lap, 147 mile race. Again the race leaders would be grouped tightly in a pack of 8 bikes as they shared and used the draft on the banking to pass and re pass each other. It looked scary as hell because motorcycle roadracers have no side or rear vision, so you don't know who is coming past you and where. You just knew something bad was going to happen, and it did.
In NASCAR racing on the Super Speedways, including Daytona, all the car race teams have "spotters", a guy up on top of the grandstands and watching in full-time radio communication with their driver, constantly relaying to them where the other cars are next to them, which cars are attempting to pass and from which side, and where their driver can move his car on the banking without hitting anyone.
Plus in NASCAR you have a 2,600 pound race car designed for crashing safely with a full steel roll cage, safety seat, harness and belts, restraints and a Hans device around your neck. An AMA Pro roadracer gets none of this protection for the same racing on a Super Speedway. Just a .125 inch piece of cow hide you pray won't wear through when you stop sliding and tumbling from 180mph!
Don't even think about protection from impacts.
What we all feared, happened, as we watched the shorted Daytona 200 come to a very dramatic conclusion at the Start/Finish Line. The lead group of seven riders was five-wide and headed for the finish line, everyone chasing West. DiSalvo launched into third ahead of the final banking then slingshot into the lead, shuffling West and Zemke into second and third, respectively. As the podium finishers crossed the line, Knapp and Westby went down right behind them in a gasp-inducing crash—West having had his brake lever hit after contact with Herrin, and Knapp going down with nowhere else to go. It was one of the worst high speed race crashes we had every seen. It as a miracle everyone was able to slide, not tumble, and walk away from it.
What this year's AMA Daytona Supersport 200 race proved once again, after so many years of trying to fix what is broke, is that modern roadracing motorcycles have no business being on a high speed banked Super speedway. with concrete walls, blind drafting and minimal safety protection for the riders. On any size bike, at any speed, the tires can't be engineered to be safe. And the riders will never be safe in drafting and crashing at such high speeds.
What continues to amaze us is that Daytona Speedway and DMG won't spend the money to invest in the sport to build an FIM / FIA approved safe infield roadrace course, and design it so it is as exciting and comfortable for spectators as going to a Supercross. Indianapolis Motor Speedway did it and they have reaped the rewards by hosting World Championship races. Why Daytona Speedway wants to continue to promote and sanction low profit, unsafe club level quality roadracing for motorcycles and sports cars, we don't know. Other than pure ego and selfishness. While their lack of regard for safe motorcycle racing borders both on moral disregard.
Amazingly, the motorcycle industry itself seems afraid to speak out and demand changes. The DMG is the only promoter left in America interested in putting on a national series. It does so primarily because it wants to have more races at the tracks the Daytona Speedway Organization owns, without having to invest additional money to make those tracks suitable for motorcycle roadracing. No one in the motorcycle industry wants to talk about it - the manufacturers, the media, the teams and racers - particularly during the current economic crises which has devastated the motorcycle industry. This includes one TV network and two major motorcycle publications who have factory sponsored race teams in AMA Pro Roadracing. If DMG gets raked over the coals, it could just as easily decide to close down AMA Pro Roadracing as unprofitable and too much hassle.
Rather than fix the tracks, the classes, and return really make it profitable and exciting again for everyone.
AMA Pro Racing Explaination of Daytona Issues and Problems DAYTONA BEACH, FL, March 16th, 2011 - The opening round of the 2011 AMA Pro Road Racing season featured some of the most intense, unforgettable action the series has seen yet. It also featured difficult decisions, outright failures, and confusion and dismay among fans and participants, out of respect for whom AMA Pro Racing pens this lengthy release. The decisions made last weekend will be explained here in detail; the failures that occurred will be acknowledged and addressed.
As is common knowledge at this point, AMA Pro Racing's spec-tire partner, Dunlop, saw evidence of front-tire overheating in the aftermath of many Daytona 200 riders' first pit stops. Once a conclusion was reached, they immediately notified AMA Pro officials that in the interests of rider safety, the Daytona 200 would need to be stopped long enough to allow all participating riders to mount a fresh front tire, and the red flag was thrown within ten seconds of that communication. The length of the downtime that followed has led to significant speculation about several aspects of the day's events; the actual facts are detailed below.
Additional background: Initially, Dunlop advised AMA Pro that riders would need to swap their current fronts for fresh versions of the same tire before continuing the 200, and the paddock was instructed to do so. Once riders were pitted under the red flag, however, Dunlop reassessed the situation and decided, again in the interests of safety, that all riders would need to be fitted with entirely new-spec backup fronts then stored in Dunlop's garages. The execution of both Dunlop decisions were complicated (and lengthened) by the fact that many teams had neither extra fronts (relating to the first set of instructions), nor extra rims.
LENGTH OF THE RED-FLAG HOLD: The length of the downtime that followed the first red flag was wholly and solely dictated by the amount of time it took to get each of the thirty-eight Daytona 200 competitors re-fitted with new-spec tires that were warmed long enough to be safely raced on. The downtime included the paddock's attempts to comply with original instructions, the communication to the paddock of Dunlop's revised assessment, the process of getting the entire field's front rims re-fitted with new-spec rubber, and the time it took to safely warm new tires.
Dunlop's new-spec re-fitment process was non-stop. During this period, AMA Pro re-set the Daytona 200 re-start time several times based on communication with Dunlop about their progress. LTD Racing's Huntley Nash was the last rider in the class to receive a new tire, and in consultation with Nash's crew chief, Gary Medley, it was decided that 20 minutes was the minimum amount of time his tire needed to warm. The 3-minute board for the race's re-start was set for 20 minutes from that time.
TEAM LATUS RACING/JASON DISALVO: Because Team Latus Racing used the significant red-flag downtime to repair eventual race-winner Jason DiSalvo's Ducati machine, speculation has given rise to two rumors that will be addressed here: 1) That the red-flag hold was extended to give Latus time to re-enter the race; 2) That the Latus machine was out of AMA Pro's control at points during said downtime.
1) The most straightforward response to Item 1 can be found in the above paragraphs detailing how the red flag and restart occurred and were handled. In short, the length of the red flag was solely dictated by the time it took to safely address the tire problem. To that fact, AMA Pro would simply add that we are fiercely dedicated to treating all of our participating teams and manufacturers equally and fairly, and further, that the matter of our dwindling live TV time---- the importance of putting our series in front of a live, prime-time audience---- was also of great importance. There was no benefit to AMA Pro in a red track; only in a green one.
2) Once pitted, Latus staff asked AMA Pro officials the approximate length of the red flag. As the extent of the tire problem was not clear at that point, they were told 10 minutes. AMA Pro grid official Mike Lagenfeld asked the Latus team to move DiSalvo's machine from pit lane to behind the wall, as it was deemed to be in an unsafe position for the then-impending restart. From that point on, the Latus machine was at no time out of Mr. Lagenfeld's sight; Lagenfeld also periodically monitored both team and machine for 3- to 5-minute intervals. When Lagenfeld informed the Latus team that the delay would be a lengthy one, they requested clarity on the rules and were told that as long as the original frame was used, the rules permitted them to regrid. With an AMA Pro staff member on-site the entire time, Latus made all necessary repairs and were gridded and inspected by tech staff, who also confirmed that proper procedure for removal from pit lane and AMA Pro custody had been followed.
Related rules: 2011 AMA Pro Road Racing Rule Book, pages 25 (2.23.c.iii) and 27 (2.23.h).
TIMING & SCORING: AMA Pro Racing deeply regrets that some of our online Timing & Scoring operations were not representative of AMA Pro standards last weekend, and that our at-track operations briefly listed an incorrect finishing order for the Daytona 200 itself. This---- and the effect it had on our competitors and fans---- is entirely unacceptable to AMA Pro, and internal measures will be taken to ensure future rounds are unmarred by repeats of such.
Due to the last-lap red flag triggered by Dane Westby's and Taylor Knapp's crashes, an incident in which Josh Herrin was also involved, some confusion exists about how Daytona 200 finishers were scored. The explanation, as per AMA Pro rules, follows: Because the first five riders crossed the finish line prior to the red flag, their race was ruled complete. Once the red flag was thrown, however, the results of those remaining riders reverted to the previous lap. The exception to this is riders involved in a red flag, if fault is not then assigned. Those riders are moved to the back of their respective lap-groups, which put Herrin behind the four who'd already crossed the line, and put Knapp and Westby behind a group that had not yet taken the checkers (but in front of everyone a lap down).
Related rules: 2011 AMA Pro Road Racing Rule Book, pages 27 (2.23q) and 28 (2.25.a and 2.25.d).
RIDER CONDUCT: AMA Pro Racing has carefully reviewed footage of the closing stages of the Daytona 200, together with other pertinent information, and has regrettably found one rider's on-track actions to have been unacceptably dangerous to other riders. Notification and explanation of penalty will be mailed to the rider in question; once received, the details of that ruling will be shared publicly by AMA Pro.
Related rules: 2011 AMA Pro Road Racing Rule Book, page 83 (A2.3.p) (A2.3.u).
CONCLUSION OF THE 200/15-LAP SPRINT: The decision to restart and conclude the Daytona 200 as a 15-lap sprint was influenced by two factors: 1) All involved parties were entirely confident the new-spec tires could safely do 15 laps under DIS' unique conditions; 2) Several of the teams' and riders' strategies involved running the entire race on a single front tire, and thus many participants were absent the back-up rims required for a pit stop tire-change. Keeping both the competitors' and the tires' capabilities in mind, AMA Pro officials strongly felt a 15-lap race was the only acceptable conclusion relative to rider safety.
Thank you for reading. This type of detailed release represents a departure from traditional operations but is in line with AMA Pro Racing's commitment to running a fair, transparent series that participants and fans can be proud of. We welcome your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org. A copy of the 2011 AMA Pro Road Racing rulebook can be downloaded at http://amaproracing.com/assets/AMAPro-RR-2011-Rulebook.pdf.
Friday November 25th is Diavel Night at your Ducati Dealer. See details at right:
Casey Stoner looks set to dominate the start of the new MotoGP season with Honda.
2011 MotoGP World Championship
Qatar MotoGP Preseason Tests Conclude with Stoner on Top Qatar, Losail, March 14th,011 -
Casey Stoner struck the final psychological blow prior to the start of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship by setting the fastest time of the Qatar Test on Monday, as the last pre-season meeting concluded with the Australian top of the timesheet. An effort of 1'55.681 from the Repsol Honda rider placed him 0.064s ahead of team-mate Dani Pedrosa, who was the only other rider under 1'56” during the session.
The pair, who spent the five-hour second session finalising their set-ups for the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar which takes place at the circuit from Thursday to Sunday, were well clear of the rest of the field, with Yamaha Factory Racing's Ben Spies third at a distant 0.549s further down on Pedrosa as the American sought improved grip on his M1. The session got underway in difficult conditions with strong winds having dusted the track with a coating of sand, but after a slow start the riders began to adapt and competitive lap times were soon being laid down.
Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini) closed the session with a best effort of 1'56.433, whilst Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) at just six-thousandths of a second behind made it four RC212Vs inside the top five on the timesheet as the latter Italian made headway with electronics settings. Randy de Puniet of the Pramac Racing team was the final rider to get within a second of Stoner's time thanks to a late lap of 1'56.445, making him the highest-placing Ducati of the final day.
World Champion Jorge Lorenzo spent Monday in search of better acceleration in the lower gears, focusing on electronics and the swingarm on his M1. However, the defending World Champion ended up 1.026s down on Stoner and in seventh position. Close on his heels and also on an M1 was Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), with Ducati Team rider Nicky Hayden and San Carlo Honda Gresini's Hiroshi Aoyama completing the top ten and all within four-hundredths of a second of Lorenzo.
Héctor Barberá (Mapfre Aspar) and Álvaro Bautista (Rizla Suzuki) were next on the timesheet, both experiencing falls during the day, with Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) in 13th. The Italian also had a crash, at Turn 7, and closed the day 1.307s off top spot as his pre-season on the GP11 ended in a frustrating manner. His team-mate Hayden was one of a group of riders who fell inside the final hour.
Loris Capirossi on the Pramac Desmosedici suffered a similar fate and was eventually just under 1.7s off Stoner, with rookie Cal Crutchlow sustaining a finger injury on his left hand when his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine went down at Turn 10. The Brit was only able to complete 28 laps, finishing up 2.049s off top spot. Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) and Toni Elías (LCR Honda) completed the timesheet, and the pair both had crashes inside the final hour of the session.
This could be ominous - only Casey Stoner is smiling for this year's MotoGP class picture a Qatar
MotoGP 2011 Season Preview Losail floodlights to iluminate 2011 MotoGP season start
The wait for MotoGP fans around the world will finally end on Thursday when the first round of the 2011 season commences under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit with the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar. With the pre-season done and dusted the 17 premier class riders will step back on track at the venue just three days after completing the final pre-season Test there, as the business of racing gets underway.
Defending World Champion Jorge Lorenzo is the man whose crown the remainder of the MotoGP field will be targeting, and a range of suitors have put their names forward as title candidates for 2011 during pre-season.
The Repsol Honda trio of Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso have all been strong in testing in the lead up to the new campaign, with the RC212V having been the fastest machine across the two Tests at Sepang and the Qatar meeting just passed. Stoner has a fearsome record at Losail having won for three years consecutively from 2007-2009, including on his Ducati debut, a feat he will be eager to repeat on the Honda and having topped the timesheet in the final pre-season Test there on Monday. Pedrosa has been fast and, importantly, fit in pre-season and will aim for a first podium finish at Losail since 2008, whilst Dovizioso opened his campaign last year with a closely fought third place at the track.
Lorenzo himself has never finished off the rostrum when riding at Losail in the premier class, and took an impressive second place last season despite carrying a hand injury. The Factory Yamaha Racing rider’s new team-mate Ben Spies will be another man expecting to fight at the front in what promises to be a thrilling curtain raiser.
No doubt a great deal of attention will centre around Valentino Rossi, whose pre-season travails have added to the anticipation surrounding his race debut on the Ducati Desmosedici. The Italian was victorious in Qatar last season but in the lead up to 2011 a recovering shoulder and continuous efforts to get comfortable on the GP11 have made his adaptation to the machine a subject of much interest, with team-mate Nicky Hayden heading into his third season on board with the factory Ducati team.
San Carlo Honda Gresini pair Marco Simoncelli and Hiroshi Aoyama have enjoyed promising pre-season tests and will hope to convert those into results at the first round as they both enter their second season in the premier class. Other riders embarking on their sophomore MotoGP campaigns will be Álvaro Bautista, the sole rider for Rizla Suzuki this year, and Héctor Barberá (Mapfre Aspar Team).
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards has been in good form on the M1 whilst on the Desmosedici Randy de Puniet and Loris Capirossi commence new phases in their premier class tenures with the Pramac Racing team.
Toni Elías’ return to the MotoGP class will see the Moto2 World Champion tackling the 800cc RC212V of the LCR Honda team, and for MotoGP rookies Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing) and Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) an exciting new chapter in their respective careers begins. The latter will go into the opening round nursing a finger injury on his left hand however, which he picked up in a crash on the final day of the Test on Monday.
After a thrilling inaugural season in 2010 the Moto2 category revs up for its second year in the World Championship in 2011, and on Thursday evening 38 ambitious riders will line up for the opening practice session. Round 1 of the 2011 campaign commences just ten days after the conclusion of the final pre-season Test which took place at Jerez, and where the 600cc Honda engines were in full symphony for the first, and only, time prior to Qatar. The leading figures at the three-day meeting were Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing), 2010 125 World Champion Marc Márquez (Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol), Simone Corsi (Ioda Racing Project), Yuki Takahashi (Gresini Racing) and Thomas Lüthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2), who were the highest placing riders on the timesheet. The quintet will all be keen to carry that form into the opening round, but a host of other candidates will also be intent on making strong starts to 2011.
Last year’s Championship runner-up Julián Simón (Mapfre Aspar) and Andrea Iannone (Speed Master) who finished third will be amongst the expected challengers at the front, whilst Frenchman Jules Cluzel (Forward Racing) stood on the podium at Losail last year. Add to the mix names such as Mika Kallio (Marc VDS) and Aleix Espargaró (Pons Racing), both of whom have stepped down from MotoGP and will feel they have a point to prove, and riders who proved their progress last year in the category in Scott Redding (Marc VDS) and Alex de Angelis (JiR Moto2) and the first race promises another spectacular show.
Alongside the names of those who displayed their talents last year on a frequent basis will be those of some exciting newcomers to the stage on a full-time basis, when the field lines up for FP1 on Thursday. Kenan Sofuoglu gave a hint of his ability in the final two rounds last year when riding as a replacement for the Technomag-CIP team, and the Turkish rider is on board with the French squad in 2011. Michele Pirro (Gresini Racing) and Kev Coghlan (Team Aeroport de Castelló) will also embark on their debut Moto2 World Championship campaigns.
Also arriving in the Moto2 class as they graduate from the 125s are Pol Espargaró (HP Tuenti Speed Up), Bradley Smith (Tech 3), Randy Krummenacher (GP Team Switzerland Kiefer Racing) and Esteve Rabat (Blusens-STX), whilst the likes of Kenny Noyes (Avintia-STX), Anthony West (MZ Racing), Ratthapark Wilairot (Thai Honda Singha-SAG), Mike di Meglio (Tech 3), Claudio Corti (Italtrans) and Yonny Hernández (Blusens-STX) will all attempt to build on last season with a strong start in Qatar.
Mashel Al Naimi will provide a home interest for Qatari fans as he starts his second season in the World Championship, and will be joined by wildcard compatriot Nasser Al Malki on the QMMF Racing Team for this round.
125cc Grand Prix Season Finale
The final season of the 125cc two-stroke category will also kick off as the pursuit of the title sees 31 riders pit their wits against one another. With 2010 Champion Marc Márquez departed for the Moto2 class, the chase for the vacated title will play out amongst a group of riders hungry to make the best possible start at Losail. One man brimming with confidence will be last year’s race winner and Championship runner-up Nico Terol, one of the main title favourites in 2011.
The Spaniard’s primary threat is likely to come from within the same garage however, with Bankia Aspar team-mate and compatriot Héctor Faubel also holding winning experience at the circuit having taken victory in the 125 class in 2007. Faubel was also fastest at the Jerez Test ten days ago, where he finalised his preparations for his return to the category by finishing just ahead of Terol on the timesheet.
German duo Sandro Cortese (Intact Racing Team Germany) and Jonas Folger (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) have both enjoyed strong pre-seasons, the former now heading into his seventh campaign and with a Qatar podium from 2009 to his name, whilst other riders with enough experience to expect to challenge will be Ajo Motorsport pair Efrén Vázquez (who placed second in Qatar last year) and Johann Zarco. Sergio Gadea’s (PEV-Blusens-SMX Paris Hilton) readjustment to the class having returned from Moto2 has given the Spaniard some food for thought, but he will nevertheless be expectant at the opening round.
Aside from the more experienced heads there has also been a pre-season buzz surrounding the rookies who will initiate themselves on the World Championship scene this year. Spaniard Maverick Viñales (PEV-Blusens-SMX Paris Hilton) and Portuguese Miguel Oliveira (Team Andalucía Banca Cívica) have looked increasingly comfortable throughout the lead up to 2011, whilst Red Bull MotoGP Rookies Cup graduates Danny Kent (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) and Taylor Mackenzie (Phonica Racing) have also adapted well. All will hope that their progress continues under the floodlights in Qatar.
Other riders to look out for in the opening round will be 2010 Rookie of the Year Alberto Moncayo (Team Andalucía Banca Cívica), Mahindra Racing duo Danny Webb and Marcel Schrötter as the Indian team makes its World Championship debut, and the first Indian rider to compete in the World Championship Sarath Kumar (WTR-Ten10 Racing).
The Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar takes place across four days, starting on Thursday March 17th. The first practice session will be for the 125 category, and is scheduled to take place at 6pm local time.
Casey in the Pit Box. Honda intends to win back the MotoGP title wthis year with the best Anglo riders and mechanics.
Stoner Tops Friday Practive in Qatar, Bautista breaks leg in crash Friday March 18th - Casey Stoner topped the third and final practice session at the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar on Friday, continuing his dominance of the weekend to date having led both previous sessions. The Australian was fastest on Thursday and again in the earlier Friday session, rounding off the later 45-minute run with the best lap time of the weekend so far, an effort of 1’55.035.
It was an all-Repsol Honda top three on the timesheet, with Dani Pedrosa second and Italian Andrea Dovizioso third. The Spaniard was 0.158 off Stoner’s quickest lap, whilst Dovizioso was fractionally over seven-tenths off top position.
There was an improvement for the current World Champion, Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) as he got the edge over his team-mate Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing) and took fourth, with the top Ducati rider being Héctor Barberá (Mapfre Aspar Team) in sixth. Ducati Team rider Valentino Rossi was eighth quickest, 1.271s off top spot and with Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) ahead of him in the timings. Pramac Racing pair Randy de Puniet and Loris Capirossi completed the top ten.
Álvaro Bautista crashed inside the final ten minutes of the practice, and the Rizla Suzuki rider was stretchered off. A broken left femur was later confirmed, ruling the Spaniard out of the season-opener and with a decision on whether he will be operated on in Qatar or flown back to Spain still to be made.
Moto2 team owner Paris Hilton might say "That's Hot!" - as Lorenzo plays with fire under the Qatar lights.
Free Practice 2 Results:
1. Casey Stoner AUS Repsol Honda Team 1m 55.457s
2. Dani Pedrosa ESP Repsol Honda Team 1m 55.854s
3. Ben Spies USA Yamaha Factory Racing 1m 56.116s
4. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Repsol Honda Team 1m 56.172s
5. Jorge Lorenzo ESP Yamaha Factory Racing 1m 56.220s
6. Colin Edwards USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1m 56.259s
7. Marco Simoncelli ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini 1m 56.378s
8. Cal Crutchlow GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1m 56.518s
9. Valentino Rossi ITA Ducati Marlboro Team 1m 56.532s
10. Nicky Hayden USA Ducati Marlboro Team 1m 56.626s
11. Randy de Puniet FRA Pramac Racing Team 1m 56.688s
12. Hector Barbera ESP Mapfre Aspar Team 1m 56.735s
13. Hiroshi Aoyama JPN San Carlo Honda Gresini 1m 56.790s
14. Alvaro Bautista ESP Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1m 56.833s
15. Loris Capirossi ITA Pramac Racing Team 1m 57.304s
16. Karel Abraham CZE Cardion AB Motoracing 1m 57.683s
17. Toni Elias ESP LCR Honda MotoGP 1m 58.801s
Free Practice 3 Results:
1. Casey Stoner AUS Repsol Honda Team 1m 55.035s
2. Dani Pedrosa ESP Repsol Honda Team 1m 55.193s
3. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Repsol Honda Team 1m 55.740s
4. Jorge Lorenzo ESP Yamaha Factory Racing 1m 55.814s
5. Ben Spies USA Yamaha Factory Racing 1m 56.003s
6. Hector Barbera ESP Mapfre Aspar Team 1m 56.266s
7. Colin Edwards USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1m 56.302s
8. Valentino Rossi ITA Ducati Marlboro Team 1m 56.306s
9. Randy de Puniet FRA Pramac Racing Team 1m 56.362s
10. Loris Capirossi ITA Pramac Racing Team 1m 56.434s
11. Cal Crutchlow GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1m 56.437s
12. Hiroshi Aoyama JPN San Carlo Honda Gresini 1m 56.517s
13. Marco Simoncelli ITA San Carlo Honda Gresini 1m 56.540s
14. Nicky Hayden USA Ducati Marlboro Team 1m 56.586s
15. Karel Abraham CZE Cardion AB Motoracing 1m 57.275s
16. Alvaro Bautista ESP Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1m 57.601s
17. Toni Elias ESP LCR Honda MotoGP 1m 58.123s
Stoner Qualifies on Pole at Qatar Saturday March 19th - After dominating all three practice sessions at Losail Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda) clinched the first pole of the 2011 season, the 27th of his career, for the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar with a fine display in qualifying on Saturday evening.
The MotoGP class was presented with warmer temperatures and less wind compared to the two previous days during the hour-long qualifying session. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) was the only man who could compete with Stoner’s brilliance and took provisional pole off him during the session, but ended up 0.205s behind when Stoner blitzed his lap time with a pole position lap of 1’54.137. Pedrosa will now make his first ever front row start at the Losail International Circuit.
The final place on the front row went to Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) who finished 0.810s behind Stoner. Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team) was the surprise of the session with a great lap to finish fourth fastest, just four-hundredths slower than the current MotoGP World Champion. Ben Spies on the second factory Yamaha was fifth, with the top Ducati again Héctor Barberá (Mapfre Aspar Team) who was sixth fastest, 1.086s off the time set by Stoner.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 again produced a good showing with the sole British representative Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech) managing eighth place on the grid for his first MotoGP race, despite the awkward injury to his finger. Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso heads up the second row after timing in seventh fastest, whilst Valentino Rossi will start from the third row on his Ducati debut after setting the ninth fastest lap, precisely 1.5s off Stoner’s time. Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards completed the top ten in QP, which Álvaro Bautista missed after undergoing surgery on a fractured left femur he suffered in a practice session crash on Friday.
1. Casey Stoner (AUS) Repsol Honda Team 1'54.137
2. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 1'54.342
3. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Yamaha Factory Racing 1'54.947
4. Marco Simoncelli (ITA) San Carlo Honda Gresini 1'54.988
5. Ben Spies (USA) Yamaha Factory Racing 1'55.095
6. Hector Barbera (SPA) Aspar Team 1'55.223
7. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Repsol Honda Team 1'55.229
8. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1'55.578
9. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Ducati Team 1'55.637
10. Colin Edwards (USA) Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1'55.647
11. Randy De Puniet (FRA) Pramac Racing Team 1'55.656
12. Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) San Carlo Honda Gresini 1'55.724
13. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Team 1'55.881
14. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Pramac Racing Team 1'56.323
15. Karel Abraham (CZE) Cardion AB Motoracing 1'56.665
16. Toni Elias (SPA) LCR Honda MotoGP 1'57.992
Stoner steals victory in season opener Sunday March 20th - Casey Stoner, Repsol Honda, had a titanic tussle with his Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa at the Commercialbank Grand Prix of Qatar in the first round of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship to snatch 25 points on his debut ride with Repsol Honda. Stoner finished 3.440 seconds ahead of second placed Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing).
It had been eight years since a Honda rider won the opening round of the MotoGP season, the last rider to do so was Valentino Rossi in 2003 at Suzuka. Stoner has an impressive record at the Losail International Circuit after winning here in 2008 and 2009. The Australian claimed his 31st win of his career here this evening and his 24th in MotoGP.
The riders observed a one minutes silence in honour of the victims of the Japan earthquake ahead of the MotoGP race. The 22 lap race was run in the best conditions of the weekend with fairly high temperatures without the strong winds that had been feared. It produced a thrilling race with close encounters throughout the pack.
Stoner (27) and Pedrosa (25) traed the race lead a couple times before Casey eventually pulled away with a 3 second lead by the finish.
Pedrosa took the lead from the start of the race and then it was the reigning World Champion, Lorenzo who took up the mantle as race leader. What followed was fierce between the two Spaniards and Stoner, with the Repsol Honda’s eventually pulling an advantage. Stoner and Pedrosa swapped position for the lead on several occasions and at the midway point, the pole sitter, increased his pace and set off for the chequered flag. This left the two championship rivals from 2010 dueling it out for second place and it was the Yamaha rider who picked up the 20 points.
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) and Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team) were involved in a close battle for fourth place throughout the race and it was the Repsol Honda who took the first position off the podium. Dovizioso finished 5.942 behind Stoner.
Ben Spies (11) closes in on Rossi (46) to take over 6th place lat in the race.
There was much anticipation surrounding the debut of Valentino Rossi with the Ducati Team. The Italian finished seventh after racing Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing), after swapping places with the American, the Yamaha got the advantage over the Ducati to take sixth place.
Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was eighth, with Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) and Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini) completing the top ten. Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) managed to take 11th place on the last lap ahead of Héctor Barberá (Mapfre Aspar Team). GP debutant Karel Abraham (Cardion ab Motoracing) was the final rider to pass the chequered flag and earned himself three points, with just 13 riders finishing the first race of the season.
It was not the MotoGP return that Toni Elías (LCR Honda) had been hoping for. After languishing in 14th place at the back, he suffered a strange crash towards the end of the race which cost him two points.
It was a nightmare start for the Pramac Racing team after Randy de Puniet had a nasty highside on lap on causing his race to end early. His team-mate Loris Capirossi was hit by the Frenchman’s bike, crushing his hand and therefore had to retire from the race.
Stoner pounded out the fast laps to the end, winning the opening round of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship by 3.440s. The win was Honda’s first in the opening round of the championship since 2003, when Valentino Rossi started the season with a victory at Suzuka en route to the title.
The win was Stoner’s fifth at this track, with four in MotoGP and one in 250cc. It was also his 31st career victory and 24th in the MotoGP class. The victory puts him equal with three-time 500cc World Champion Wayne Rainey for seventh overall on the premier class wins list. Stoner began the 800cc MotoGP era by winning the World Championship in 2007 and, with engine displacement increasing to 1000cc in 2012, Stoner would like to finish the era with another world championship.
Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V): 1st
"After a great pre-season, we came into this race weekend and everything kept getting better and better for us. This morning in warm up we had a few issues getting a good feeling with the bike carrying a full tank of fuel and this issue also affected us in the early part of the race, but we knew as the fuel level decreased and the tyres aged, that our bike would come back to us. Dani (Pedrosa) came past and we decided to follow to see where he was strong and where I was weak. Then when I started to feel more confident with the bike and had more grip and better turning, we decided to push forwards and take advantage. Tonight the bike was fantastic, as it has been for all the sessions and I'm very proud to be racing for Repsol Honda and to take my first victory in the first race. It is a great way to start the season! I'm really happy with how everything has gone and the way the team has all worked together, a big thanks to Honda and my best wishes to Japan in this difficult time.”
Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha): 2nd, Time: +3.440
I think maybe I am more proud of that podium than a race victory, that’s how I feel tonight. I feel very proud of myself and my team who never gave up and worked to give me the best bike that they can. I put everything I have inside into my riding on the track for the race from the start to the end and was on the limit every lap. I almost crashed on one corner but I managed to stay on the bike and finished in second position which is the best that I could do.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V): 3rd +5.051
“I'm disappointed, not for the race I had, but for the physical problems I had again with my left arm. Already in practice I felt something, but I was not sure if it could be that bad, at the end I couldn't grab the handlebar and in the last seven-eight laps I couldn't use the clutch at all. I was just holding the arm and I was suffering a lot. The bike was perfect all race, I had the chance to win but I had a very hard time, one of the toughest races of my life. I don't know what can I do because should be OK after the rest I had this winter. I did the tests and everything was in order. In the winter tests I was a bit weak, but I felt alright, so I don't know what we have to do. I feel sorry for my team as well, because the bike was very good, fast, perfect also in the corners. I'm proud of how I've been riding, I've been fighting with Casey (Stoner) in this circuit as nobody else did in the past but at the same time I feel sad because I don't know what the future will bring. I know we will go to Jerez in two weeks, where the bike will run very well, and I'm very strong and fast, but I don't know what will happen.”
We just had to run this starting grid picture of Ben Spies at Qatar just to prove there is a front grandstand full of spectators, and team personel on the grid including umbrella girls, none of which we've ever seen on the MotoGP TV race broadcasts. Normally you get the impression they are racing on a deserted highway on the moon. Imagine the logistics of having painted on the Team Yamaha bikes "With You Japan" to support the Japanese earthquake tragedyas the bikes were probably already crated to ship to Qatar.
MOTOGP RACE: (22 laps = 118.36 Km)
POS / RIDER / NAT. / TEAM / MOTORCYCLE / TIME / KM/H / GAP
1 / Casey STONER / AUS / Repsol Honda Team / HONDA / 42'38.569 / 166.536 /
2 / Jorge LORENZO / SPA / Yamaha Factory Racing / YAMAHA / 42'42.009 / 166.313 / 3.44
3 / Dani PEDROSA / SPA / Repsol Jonnda Team / HONDA / 42'43.620 / 166.208 / 5.051
4 / Andrea DOVIZIOSO / ITA / Repsol Honda Team / HONDA / 42'44.511 / 166.15 / 5.942
5 / Marco SIMONCELLI / ITA / San Carlo Honda Gresini / HONDA / 42'45.927 / 166.059 / 7.358
6 / Ben SPIES / USA / Yamaha Factory Racing / YAMAHA / 42'49.037 / 165.858 / 10.468
7 / Valentino ROSSI / ITA / Ducati Team / DUCATI / 42'55.000 / 165.474 / 16.431
8 / Colin EDWARDS / USA / Monster Yamaha Tech 3 / YAMAHA / 43'04.862 / 164.842 / 26.293
9 / Nicky HAYDEN / USA / Ducati Team / DUCATI / 43'05.985 / 164.771 / 27.416
10 / Hiroshi AOYAMA / JPN / San Carlo Honda Gresini / HONDA / 43'07.489 / 164.675 / 28.92
11 / Cal CRUTCHLOW / GBR / Monster Yamaha Tech 3 / YAMAHA / 43'13.108 / 164.318 / 34.539
12 / Hector BARBERA / SPA / Mapfre Aspar Team MotoGP / DUCATI / 43'13.398 / 164.3 / 34.829
13 / Karel ABRAHAM / CZE / Cardion AB Motoracing / DUCATI / 43'16.526 / 164.102 / 37.957
Pole Position: Casey STONER 1'54.137 169.690 Km/h
Fastest Lap : Casey STONER 1'55.366 167.883 Km/h Lap 13
Circuit Record Lap: Casey STONER 1'55.153 168.193 Km/h 2008
Circuit Best Lap: Jorge LORENZO 1'53.927 170.003 Km/h 2008
Stefan Bradl wins in Moto2
Qualifying for the Moto2 race was a preview of what was to come, at least for one rider The pole position time of Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing-Kalex) was 1.736s faster than last year’s pole and the top 16 riders qualified faster than last year’s pole time.But it was Bradl who stood out. The 21-year-old German on the German chassis from Kalex Engineering sped to the lead with such pace that it left his rivals in awe. Lap after lap the lead grew until it was over 14s, at which point Bradl wisely backed off the pace. Still, he won by a handsome 7.710s.
Not as well defined was second place. Andrea Iannone (Speed Master – Suter) moved into the spot well in advance of the end of the race, but had to repel the repeated advances of a number of riders to secure the runner-up position. Swiss rider Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2-Suter) came from fourth with two laps to go to take third, passing Alex de Angelis (JiR Moto2-Motobi), the fourth place finisher, and fifth placed Yuki Takahashi (Gresini Racing Moto2-Moriwaki) over the final two laps.
MOTO2 RACE: (20 laps = 107.6 Km)
POS / RIDER / NAT. / TEAM / MOTORCYCLE / TIME / KM/H / GAP
1 / Stefan BRADL / GER / Viessmann Kiefer Racing / KALEX / 40'38.549 / 158.848 /
2 / Andrea IANNONE / ITA / Speed Master / SUTER / 40'42.879 / 158.567 / 4.33
3 / Thomas LUTHI / SWI / Interwetten Paddock Moto2 / SUTER / 40'43.686 / 158.514 / 5.137
4 / Alex DE ANGELIS / RSM / JIR Moto2 / MOTOBI / 40'44.474 / 158.463 / 5.925
5 / Yuki TAKAHASHI / JPN / Gresini Racing Moto2 / MORIWAKI / 40'45.170 / 158.418 / 6.621
6 / Simone CORSI / ITA / Ioda Racing Project / FTR / 40'52.766 / 157.927 / 14.217
7 / Jules CLUZEL / FRA / Forward Racing / SUTER / 40'52.806 / 157.925 / 14.257
8 / Michele PIRRO / ITA / Gresini Racing Moto2 / MORIWAKI / 40'53.050 / 157.909 / 14.501
9 / Bradley SMITH / GBR / Tech 3 Racing / TECH 3 / 40'57.459 / 157.626 / 18.91
10 / Julian SIMON / SPA / Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2 / SUTER / 40'57.723 / 157.609 / 19.174
11 / Aleix ESPARGARO / SPA / Pons HP 40 / PONS KALEX / 40'57.991 / 157.592 / 19.442
12 / Yonny HERNANDEZ / COL / Blusens-STX / FTR / 40'59.379 / 157.503 / 20.83
13 / Dominique AEGERTER / SWI / Technomag-CIP / SUTER / 40'59.386 / 157.502 / 20.837
14 / Esteve RABAT / SPA / Blusens-STX / FTR / 40'59.404 / 157.501 / 20.855
15 / Max NEUKIRCHNER / GER / MZ Racing Team / MZ-RE HONDA / 41'05.352 / 157.121 / 26.803
Pole Position: Stefan BRADL 2'00.168 161.174 Km/h
Fastest Lap (New record) : Alex DE ANGELIS 2'01.003 160.062 Km/h Lap 9
Old Circuit Record Lap: Thomas LUTHI 2'02.537 158.058 Km/h 2010
Circuit Best Lap: Stefan BRADL 2'00.168 161.174 Km/h 2011
Radical Ducati of Spain's Naked Cafe / Streetfighters
Above: We came across this cool naked streetfighterbased on a Ducati 1098/1198 Superbike built by the Ducati performance shop named Radical Ducati in Madrid, Spain Note the double sided swingarm, BST Carbon Fibre Wheels and more. Very tasty! Click to enlarge.
Radical designer Jose "Pepo" Rosell actually builds and sells a complete body kit to replace that of the previous generation Ducati 748/999 Superbike designed by Pierre Treblanch. These two customized bikes here use his Rad Fuel tank from the Kit.
And Below: Aanother Radical Ducati Streetfighter, this one named the STR1 and based on the last generation air-cooled Ducati Monster. It uses a lot of left over older stock Ducati Superbike components like the wheels and front forks, from other old production Ducati bikes. With these bikes for inspiration, just imagine the cool retro streetfighter you might build from an old bike and part. Click either picture to Enlarge. www.RadicalDucati.com.
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AMA Pro Racing Suspends and Fines Josh Herrin / Graves Yamaha for Finish Line Incident at
DAYTONA BEACH, FL (March 21, 2011) - AMA Pro Racing announced today that penalties and an accompanying fine have been assessed against Josh Herrin and Graves Motorsports, respectively, as the result of actions during the March 12 Daytona 200, specifically those related to the rider's last-lap approach to start/finish. As per the AMA Pro Road Racing 2011 Rule Book, rules A1.1, A2.1, A2.3.p, and A2.3.u, the details of the penalties and fine are as follows:
• Rider penalty: One-event suspension, to be applied at Infineon Raceway Round 2, May 13-15
• Rider penalty: Season-long probation, in effect through December 31, 2011, the violation of which shall result in further and more-serious penalties
• Team penalty: $7,500 fine, the entire proceeds of which will be applied to the purchase of additional Airfence
Both rider and team were notified of the above details in advance of this release, and the penalties do not prevent them from taking part in the May 2-3 official AMA Pro test at Miller Motorsports Park.
AMA Pro Racing thanks all involved parties for their patience. A copy of the 2011 AMA Pro Road Racing rulebook can be downloaded at http://amaproracing.com
Bridgestone extend role as Official Tyre Supplier with new three-year deal
Bridgestone and Dorna Sports have signed a new three-year deal that will see the Japanese manufacturer continue as the Official Tyre Supplier to the premier class of the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) MotoGP World Championship from 2012-2014.
The new contract means that Bridgestone will continue to provide tyres and technical support to every team and rider on the premier class grid as the championship enters the new era of increased engine capacity, up from 800cc to 1000cc.
Already the Official Tyre Supplier to the premier class since 2009, Bridgestone has received positive support from the riders, the FIM, Dorna, the Motorcycle Sports Manufacturers Association (MSMA) and the International Road Racing Teams Association (IRTA), all who have expressed a strong desire to continue the relationship.
Since entering the championship’s top category, then 500cc, in 2002, it took just two years for the first win on Bridgestone tyres. In 2009 Bridgestone was named the championship’s first Official Tyre Supplier, after just seven seasons of competition. As of the end of the 2010 season, four World Championship Titles, 70 Grand Prix victories and 197 podiums have been scored in the premier class using Bridgestone tyres.
Bautista has successful surgery on left femur
Sat, March 19th - Rizla Suzuki’s Álvaro Bautista is recovering in the Hamad Medical Corporation Hospital in Doha, Losail after a successful operation to repair his broken left femur.
Bautista crashed during yesterday’s final practice session and was immediately taken to the hospital after preliminary tests at the track showed that he had fractured his thigh bone. He spent a fairly comfortable – but painful - night in the hospital, before going for surgery this morning to re-align and pin the bone. He will be returning to Madrid as soon as his condition is stable enough to allow him to travel and will be immediately visiting renowned surgeon Dr. Angel Villamor to set about the first steps of his recuperation.
John Hopkins to
Rizla Suzuki will not be able to replace the injured Álvaro Bautista in tomorrow’s Qatar Grand Prix, after exhausting all possible scenarios to get the Rizla Suzuki GSV-R on the grid.
The two riders most likely to replace Bautista – who broke his femur yesterday - are both unavailable, with John Hopkins in America and unable to get to Qatar in time and Nobuatsu Aoki in Japan where travel is very difficult due the terrible earthquake and tsunami tragedy that struck his country last week.
The Suzuki management also made tentative approaches to several Moto2 riders that have MotoGP experience, but none of these riders were available due to commitments to their respective teams for the first race of the season.
Hopkins will join the team for the next round of the season at Jerez in Spain as a replacement for Bautista - while the Spaniard continues on his road to recovery.
Bautista is comfortable in hospital following the surgery to pin his left femur this morning, he plans to return to Spain early next week to begin his recuperation with a view to being back in MotoGP as soon as possible.
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Ducati Announces Dealer Premier “DIAVEL NIGHT” March 25th
March 25th marks the showroom arrival of Ducati’s latest creation
Cupertino, Calif. (22 March 2011) – Ducati North America is excited to declare March 25th as “Diavel Night”, an evening where showrooms across North America will host welcome events for the 2011 Ducati Diavel.
As the latest arrival in Ducati’s 2011 lineup, dealers will be throwing out all the stops with red carpet events to welcome the Diavel in style. Motorcyclists are encouraged to stop by their local Ducati dealer and see the Diavel up close and in person.
“We are eagerly anticipating the arrival of the Diavel in showrooms across North America,” said Jason Chinnock; Director of Sales and Marketing for Ducati North America. “Our dealer network has a wide range of creative events planned, and we are ready to welcome the Diavel just in time for riding season.”
Built to have a commanding presence while remaining lightweight and agile like all Ducatis, the Diavel takes the man-motorcycle relationship to the next level in absolute comfort. For connoisseurs of technology, ABS, Ducati Traction Control and Ducati Riding Modes deliver a confidence-inspiring sophistication while stunning looks, 162hp and 456lb of authentic Ducati performance drives a comfortable sport lifestyle that could only be dreamt of before.
For more information about the Diavel Night and a list of participating dealers, please visit the www.ducatiusa.com homepage.
Rebirth of Yamaha Factory Racing's new media website.
The revolution of the Team's media portal sees it become a state of the art interactive media resource delivering an enhanced online user experience. YamahaMotoGP.com will continue to provide up to date news releases, Team information and images for all the racing Media needs along with exclusive interviews with Yamaha Factory Racing members.
The site is now embedded with Yamaha Factory Racing's social media activities (Facebook/Twitter/YouTube: 'yamahamotogp') and features live Twitter feeds enabling users to view the latest tweets from a number of sources including riders Jorge Lorenzo ('Lorenzo99') and Ben Spies ('Benspies11') and connect directly to the Official Yamaha MotoGP Facebook community.
An extensive archive provides background information and historic details of the Team's past racing activities.To mark the launch the site will feature new exclusive interviews with riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies and Yamaha MotoGP Group Leader Kouichi Tsuji.
The public will now be able to access the Team's media website for the first time. This new facility allows them to step inside the world of Yamaha Factory Racing, follow races and practice sessions and stay informed of their favourite rider activities both on track and away from racing as they travel the world as ambassadors for Yamaha.
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HONDA CLAIMS VICTORY IN QATAR SEASON OPENER
March 2oth - Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda RC212V) continued the excellence he’d shown all weekend by leading a Honda onslaught in his first race as a member of the Honda family in the season-opening Grand Prix of Qatar under the desert lights of the Losail International Circuit. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) interrupted the Honda parade by finishing a distant second, with Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda RC212V) finishing third, Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda RC212V) fourth, and Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) a fighting fifth.
Stoner had showcased his abilities on the Honda RC212V throughout pre-season testing, as well as in the run-up to the race. On the first race weekend of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship, Stoner was fastest in all three practice sessions before taking the 27th pole position of his career with a blistering lap of the 5.380k circuit outside the capital of Doha.
Though Stoner was on the pole, it was Pedrosa who got the jump and Lorenzo who was in front by the end of the first lap. But that was the only one he’d lead. Stoner led the next lap, but wasn’t able to get away, with Pedrosa applying constant pressure. The Spaniard made a pass on the sixth lap as the pair put a second on Lorenzo.
The complexion of the race changed dramatically early in the second half as the fuel load went down and the tyres were worn. His confidence growing every lap, Stoner took the lead into turn 12, the first of the triple rights, and went to work. He set the fastest lap of the race on the 13th, a 1:55.366, with Pedrosa now 1.307 secs. back. More ominously, Lorenzo took .6 out of Pedrosa, who was in danger of losing second.
Stoner pounded out the fast laps to the end, winning the opening round of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship by 3.440s.
The win was Honda’s first in the opening round of the championship since 2003, when Valentino Rossi started the season with a victory at Suzuka en route to the title.
The win was Stoner’s fifth at this track, with four in MotoGP and one in 250cc. It was also his 31st career victory and 24th in the MotoGP class. The victory puts him equal with three-time 500cc World Champion Wayne Rainey for seventh overall on the premier class wins list.
Stoner began the 800cc MotoGP era by winning the World Championship in 2007 and, with engine displacement increasing to 1000cc in 2012, Stoner would like to finish the era with another world championship.
Lorenzo caught and passed Pedrosa, but Pedrosa used the visibly superior power of the Honda RC212V to power by on the front straight. The scenario would unfold again and again, but eventually Pedrosa couldn’t keep the pace because of physical problems with his left arm and had to slow. Still, he finished on the podium.
Just missing out was the third member of the Repsol Honda team. Andrea Dovizioso battled hard with fellow Italian Marco Simoncelli before seizing fourth decisively on the 17th lap. Dovi closed fast on Pedrosa at the end and was unhappy about missing the podium, but that opportunity was lost earlier while fighting with Simoncelli. Despite losing fourth place, Simoncelli was an ecstatic fifth after proving that he can run with the fastest riders in the world.
Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini RC212V) finished tenth in the first race of his second MotoGP season after an emotional start. The Japanese rider, and the rest of the MotoGP grid, observed a minute of silence prior to the race to honor the victims and survivors of the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
The return to the MotoGP class wasn’t a successful one for Toni Elias (LCR Honda MotoGP). The 2010 Moto2 World Champion continued to struggle to get heat into his rear tyre on a cool evening. His night ended with a nasty crash on the 20th lap. Elias was slow to get up, though it was soon clear he wasn’t injured.
Qualifying for the Moto2 race was a preview of what was to come, at least for one rider The pole position time of Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing-Kalex) was 1.736s faster than last year’s pole and the top 16 riders qualified faster than last year’s pole time.
But it was Bradl who stood out. The 21-year-old German on the German chassis from Kalex Engineering sped to the lead with such pace that it left his rivals in awe. Lap after lap the lead grew until it was over 14s, at which point Bradl wisely backed off the pace. Still, he won by a handsome 7.710s.
Not as well defined was second place. Andrea Iannone (Speed Master – Suter) moved into the spot well in advance of the end of the race, but had to repel the repeated advances of a number of riders to secure the runner-up position.
Swiss rider Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2-Suter) came from fourth with two laps to go to take third, passing Alex de Angelis (JiR Moto2-Motobi), the fourth place finisher, and fifth placed Yuki Takahashi (Gresini Racing Moto2-Moriwaki) over the final two laps.
Ducati's Rossi and Hayden Fight Hard in Qatar
March 20th, Race: Riding with characteristic grit and determination, Valentino Rossi finished the Grand Prix of Qatar in seventh place. The Italian rider dueled with Ben Spies for sixth place as long as the strength in his still-healing shoulder allowed, and he managed to maintain a good pace to the end.
After starting from the fifth row, Nicky Hayden rode a comeback race, steadily increasing his pace and finishing ninth after a series of nice passes.
Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro Team) 7th - “For sure we’re not here to get seventh-place finishes, but there are also positive things from this race, starting with the times, because we were lapping pretty quickly. I had a great start, and that was a nice feeling because the horsepower that this bike has really helps it to launch. Then I made a small error in the first turn, which is a shame because I got stuck behind Barbera for a few laps. Otherwise I would have been closer to Simoncelli and Dovizioso, since anyway there was a period when I lapped with them. I wouldn’t have beaten them though, because at the end of the race, I’m no longer able to ride like I have to.
I’m not referring to the Ducati because even last year, after I hurt my shoulder, I had the same problems in the latter parts of the races, and since the two bikes are so different, it means that it’s really a matter of me not being physically right. It’s not just that. We also have to improve the bike because the others have clearly made a step forward since last year.
Still, I learned a lot in this test and in this race, and we’ve already given very specific instructions about what must be done in the long term, in order to improve for the second half of the season for example. In the near term, on the other hand, we’ll work on the setup, we’ll keep gathering experience, and I’ll continue exercising and doing everything I can to recuperate physically.”
Nicky Hayden (Ducati Marlboro Team) 9th - “I got a bad start in the race, and then when De Puniet crashed, I just about ran over him and had to come to a complete stop. I’m happy I didn’t run into him, but that was a bad break, because I was dead last with a gap to the next person. I started picking my way through, and once I got into ninth, I got into a decent rhythm and started doing my pace. I was trying to catch Edwards because I thought it would’ve been nice to have a last-lap race with him, but I didn’t quite get to him. It’s been a tough weekend for me on and off the track, but everybody around here is working to the maximum. They’re the first ones in and the last ones out. I can’t be happy with the ride, but I came from dead last, and my fastest lap was my last one. We’ve got a lot of work to do, but it’s just one race, and no one can say we weren’t trying.”
Team Yamaha MotoGP Report from Qatar
Reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo delivered a perfect performance for the opening round of the 2011 MotoGP Championship under the floodlights of the Losail Circuit in Qatar tonight. The young Mallorcan started well off the line, leading the front pack briefly before settling into third behind Stoner and Pedrosa as they battled for the lead. With eight laps to go he hunted down Pedrosa and moved up into second. He surrendered the spot briefly for two laps then retook with a decisive pass, leaving the Spanish rider behind with an astounding burst of speed and posting 1.55.8 second lap times for the 20th and 21st laps. Lorenzo crossed the line in second for the hard won podium having closed the gap to lead rider Stoner to just 3.440 seconds.
Fellow Yamaha Factory Racing rider Ben Spies had a less successful start, getting caught up into the first corner and dropping to eighth as the pack settled. The Texan quickly closed in on Hector Barbera in front, dispatching him after three laps to begin the hunt for Valentino Rossi in sixth. After several laps maintaining a distance of just 0.1 to 0.2 seconds Spies made a pass at the end of the start finish straight but carried too much speed into the corner, running wide and tucking back in behind Rossi. He built up again and in a mirror of the first pass took Rossi at the end of the straight, making it stick through the first corner sequence and then echoed his team mate with a startling turn of speed, dropping to a 1’55.812 on the 18th lap. By the time he crossed the line in sixth the gap to Rossi had built to 5.96 seconds.
The Yamaha Factory Racing riders head to round two in Jerez in two weeks time with Lorenzo second in the MotoGP Championship standings on 20 points, team mate Spies sits in sixth with ten points.
Verlmeulen Returns to action in World Superbike
March 22nd - Kawasaki Superbike Racing Team rider Chris Vermeulen is planning on returning to action this weekend in round two of the World Superbike Championship at Donington Park.
It will be the first time the 28-year-old former World Supersport Champion will have raced since sustaining a serious knee injury at the opening round of last year's World Superbike Championship at Phillip Island in Australia.
The Australian MotoGP race winner had an operation to rebuild his knee last July and is now in the final phase of rehabilitation after such complex surgery but was forced out of his home race last month due to still not being 100% fit.
However this weekend, he aims to be back in action aboard the Paul Bird Motorsport-prepared Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R at the team's home round and at the circuit he knows well due to his British Championship experience.
Meanwhile team-mates Tom Sykes and Joan Lascorz will be determined to do well for their very own reasons going into Donington. Yorkshireman Sykes has fond memories of the Leicestershire track having nearly won a WSB race as a wild card in 2008 whereas the last time Spaniard Lascorz raced in the UK, he suffered a huge accident at Silverstone which ended his World Championship aspirations last year.
Both riders are hoping to improve on their performances in Australia a month ago with Sykes bringing the new bike home to a best result of eighth and coupled with the addition of Vermeulen, the team are hoping for a string of solid results.
Paul Bird, Team Owner: "It's great to welcome Chris back into the team and hopefully he can give a good account of himself now he's back to somewhere near full fitness. This is an important race for the team and I'm expecting all three riders to be strong this weekend, there should be no excuses. We all have good memories of Donington Park over the years and this is our best shot in ages so we're looking to be at the cutting edge as we know this bike is good enough."
The opening race gets underway on Sunday 27th March at 12.00 with race two at 15.30 and British viewers can catch the action live on British Eurosport.
Jim Gianatsis Editorial Director
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May 30 (Monday) United States
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June 12 Misano San Marino
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Sept 4 Nurburgring Germany
Sept 25 Imola Italy
Oct 2 Magny Cours France
Oct 16 Portimao Portugal
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2011 MotoGP March 20 - Qatar – Doha Losail
April 3 - Spain, Jerez Frontera
April 24 - Japan - Motegi
May 1 - Portugal, Estoril
May 15 - France, Le Mans
June 5 - Catalunya, Catalunya
June 12 - Great Britain, Silverstone
June 25 - Netherlands, Assen (Saturday Race)
July 3 - Italy, Mugello
July 17 - Germany,Sachsenring
July 24 - United States, Laguna Seca (Only MotoGP class)
August 14 - Czech Rep, Brno
August 28 - USA, Indianapolis
September 4 - SanMarino Misano
September 18 - Aragon - Motorland Aragon
October 2 - Japan, Motegi
October 16 - Australia, Phillip Island
October 23 - Malaysia, Sepang
November 6 - Valencia, Ricardo
2011 AMA Superbike March 10-12 Daytona Speedway
May 13-15 Infineon Racewy CA
May 28-30 Miller Motorsports UT
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DUCATI LAUNCHES THE OFFICIAL DUCATI CORSE IPHONE APP
The Ducati Corse App puts the MotoGP Championship in the palm of your hand!
Cupertino, Calif. (16 March 2011) - To celebrate the start of the 2011 MotoGP season, Ducati has released the official Ducati Corse Iphone App via the Apple App Store and iTunes.
Discover everything you need to know about the Ducati MotoGP Team with Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden and hold all the secrets of the Ducati Desmosedici in your hand. The new app is free and full of info direct from the Ducati MotoGP Team pit garage and factory in Bologna.
Receive rapid updates on races, results and championship standings right in the palm of your hand. All of this comes in addition to all the latest trackside news and a wealth of additional information from the world of Ducati.
Download it for free and you'll have constant on-the-go access to:
• News, events and facts from the Ducati MotoGP Team pit garage.
• Ducati rider profiles and Desmosedici GP11 data.
• Extensive image gallery with many photos to download and share.
• MotoGP championship calendar and constantly updated results and standings.
• Tons of additional content from the world of Ducati.
The Ducati Corse app is compatible with iPhone (3G or later), iPod Touch and iPad. It requires iOs 4.2 or later. For more information, please visit www.ducatiusa.com.
U.S. Grand Prix Racers Union to promote Oct. 8-9 AMA Racing Road Race Grand Championships
March 22nd, PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The country's fastest amateur roadracers will converge on the Putnam Park Road Course near Greencastle, Ind., for the AMA Racing Road Race Grand Championships on Oct. 8-9. The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) is pleased to announce that it is partnering with the U.S. Grand Prix Racers Union (USGPRU) to promote and sanction the event.
"We're excited to give AMA competition members a premier event on such an exciting track where they can showcase their talent against the country's best amateur roadracers," said AMA Director of Racing Joe Bromley. "In addition, we're looking forward to working with the USGPRU to assemble a solid program, a quality class structure and a well-run and timely weekend of racing."
"The USGPRU's vision for the AMA Racing Road Race Grand Championships is one of a capstone race weekend that brings together the top club-level teams from across the country to compete for the prestigious AMA Amateur National Championships in roadracing," said USGPRU President Stewart Aitken-Cade. "We are already working on an updated class structure and format, and will announce more details about the weekend's program shortly."
The AMA Racing Road Race Grand Championships will determine amateur national champions in numerous expert and novice classes that are broken down by combinations of bike displacement, weight, and intent (GP vs. Street). The event will run as a full doubleheader weekend combined with extended length races. The national championship for each class will be determined by the rider's best overall performance in two separate races.
Not only do riders get ample track time and an opportunity to race against the country's fastest amateur racers, but the best compete for the AMA Roadracing Horizon Award, which is awarded to the rider showing the most promise for success in the professional ranks. The Horizon Award will be awarded based on a rider's best two finishes in separate classes, allowing racers with only one bike and a limited budget to compete for the title.
Past winners of the AMA Roadracing Horizon Award have included Hayden Gillim, Miles Thornton, Jason DiSalvo, Ben Spies and Blake Young.
Other awards at the event include the AMA Racing Top Novice Award, the AMA Racing Youth Award -- presented to an outstanding racer under the age of 16 -- and the AMA Racing Vet/Senior Award, presented to a standout rider who's 30 years old or older.
The Putnam Park Road Course is a 1.78-mile road course with 10 turns. It is located 35 miles west of Indianapolis, about 1.5 miles south of U.S. 40. More information about the track can be found at PutnamPark.com.
Earthquake affects Japanese OEMs’ operations
Tuesday March 15, 2011
Production has been halted at two of Japan’s four major motorcycle manufacturers following Friday’s earthquake and resulting tsunami.
Honda reported its Kumamoto motorcycle factory and five of its Japanese automotive plants will cease production through March 20. Its North American operations have not been affected. The company lost one employee, a 43-year-old male, when the wall collapsed in a cafeteria at the Tochigi R&D Center, killing the man. Seventeen other employees were injured in the Tochigi area. Honda says it is cooperating with electricity conservation, and has donated 300 million yen (about $3.7 million), 1,000 generators and 5,000 gas canisters to recovery efforts, along with the staff to demonstrate use of the equipment. The company’s more than 29,000 North American employees are being offered a donation plan that Honda will equal dollar-for-dollar with no cap.
Suzuki Motor Corp. has closed all six of its Japanese plants, including its two facilities dedicated to motorcycles. Production at all plants will be suspended through Wednesday, and the company will reassess its plan to continue production before Thursday. The company is still investigating effects on its Japanese facilities, distributors and dealers.
Yamaha Corp. released little information on its motorcycle operations. The company said it’s still investigating the earthquake’s effects, and it will make more announcements if business operations will change. Yamaha has received no reports of employees injured; however, the company has yet to contact one employee of a Yamaha subsidiary.
All three companies expressed sympathies to the earthquake’s victims. Kawasaki, also based in Japan, had yet to release a statement related to the earthquake on its website as of Tuesday morning.