Monday, September 21, 2009

SBK: Showdown at Imola.

Lately, the flow of racing endorphins has dried up for motorcycle junkies. There hasn't been any bike racing on the world scene since Labor Day weekend (ok, so there has been BSB and *yawn* endurance racing). The sight of once-proud motorcycle journalists posting trivia like a list of the ages of racers as news items is a pitiful one and the most heated topic of discussion is the silly season. Cold Turkey is an ugly experience indeed.

Luckily for us, the drought is nearly over and the World Superbike series will resume this weekend at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, near Imola, Italy. When we last met at the Nurburgring, American rookie sensation "Big" Ben Spies had wrested the lead in the series from Xerox Ducati's "Nitro" Noriyuki Haga as a result of the Texan's win in race one and second place in race two while Haga was knocked went down as a result of contact with Ten Kate Honda's Jonny Rea. At the end of the day, Spies found himself atop the leader board, 18 points ahead of Haga.

With 6 races left in the season, the championship has become Spies' to lose. The Yamaha Italia team tested at Imola last July and Spies was at or near the top of the time sheets most of the time. Spies was also fast at the season-ending Portimao test last year on a bike he'd never seen before. That leaves Magny Cours as the only track that the American has no prior seat time at, not that lack of track knowledge has been much of an impediment to his meteoric rise to the top.

Nori looks to have mostly recovered from the broken wrist and shoulder blade incurred at Donington Park in June. Haga finished a close second to Spies in Race one in Germany and was running at the the front before he was taken out. Haga's Xerox Ducati team mate, Michel "Mr. Fabulous" Fabrizio hasn't provided much of an assist to Haga, other than his failed pass in race 1 at Brno that sent both himself and Spies into the kitty litter.

The most improved rider as of late has been young Ulsterman Jonny Rea who has taken to his Ten Kate team's new Ohlins suspension like a duck to water. Teammate Carlos Checa has had a recurrence of his annual bout of "Checa's Syndrome", a mysterious condition whereby his results get better as contract time nears.

The real news during the hiatus has concerned the Silly Season in both the SBK and MotoGP paddocks. When it was announced prior to the Indianapolis MotoGP round that Ben Spies had signed with Yamaha for 2 more years, Yamaha stated that the team "foresaw" that Spies would be in SBK in 2010 with a possible bump up to the Tech 3 satellite team in Moto GP. Reports in MCN (it *must* be true!) that Spies had committed to appearing in MotoGP in 2010 seem to indicate the the tuning fork crystal ball was cloudy and the future is a lot closer than it seemed a few weeks ago.

Spies' departure could and probably will set in motion a veritable domino effect of team restructurings and rider placements in the weeks to come. Most likely, we'll start to see some official movement soon, maybe this weekend. Whatever happens, us racing junkies will be comfortably numb with a fresh supply of our favorite drug.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Canepa Saves Seat; Kallio Re-Signs? is reporting that Niccolo Canepa has retained his ride at Pramac Ducati -- for now. Despite heavy rumors to the contrary, Canepa, against the wishes of Paolo Campinoti, Pramac Team boss, will not lose his ride for the last 4 races of the season to newcomer Aleix Espargaro, despite Espargaro's beating the Genovese rider in his substitute appearances on the finicky Desmosedici. Reportedly, a provision in Canepa's contract couldn't be overcome w/o heavy litigation. In other Pramac news, it looks like, as expected, Finn Mika Kallio has agreed to terms and has signed for another year at the team.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Spies to Tech 3 in 2010?

MCN (It*must* be true!) is reporting that American Ben Spies will join fellow Texan Colin Edwards on the Tech 3 Yamaha satellite team in 2010. Announcement will reportedly happen at the Imola WSBK round weekend after next.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Espargaro in at Estoril?

Spanish site is reporting that Aleix Espargaro, who impressed the MotoGP paddock with striking performances in relief of Mika Kallio (including a frankly amazing 5th fastest lap at Misano) on the heretofore finicky 800cc Desmosedici has agreed to a deal that would see him on the Pramac Ducati in Portugal and possibly for the rest of the MotoGP season. Ducati is apparently making sure that they have a full complement of riders should Casey Stoner be unable to appear at the next round. If Stoner does return as expected, Niccolo Canepa will probably be forced to step aside in favor of the frankly surprising Spaniard. Canepa and his manager are reportedly meeting with Pramac brass today to determine the young Italian's future with the team, which includes a possible Moto2 ride in 2010.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

SBK: Hopper Likely to Miss "Rest of the Season"

More bad news for John Hopkins. "Hopper" has been plagued by injuries in his rookie World Superbike season and in the aftermath of a horrific crash at the Nurburgring that left the American unconscious for 16 minutes, it looks like that season is at a merciful end. In a video on Youtube, Hopkins revealed that he had to surgery at Dr. Ting's for torn ligaments and tendons in his left shoulder, scaffoid damage,a bone separation in his right wrist that required the bones to be fused, and tendons repaired in his previously injured hip.Also, CT scans revealed Hopkins had bruising and bleeding on the brain that will need to be monitored for 6 to 8 weeks with no dangerous activity allowed, which makes it likely that he won't race again this year.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Suzuki Superbike Rumors

A spate of interrelated 2010 Suzuki WSBK rumors have wafted in through the ether in the last few days. Let's take a look:

1. Alstare Suzuki bids adieu to Yukio "Crash" Kagayama?. Team owner Fat Frankie Batta has made no secret to the fact that he needs two top riders on the team in order to be competitive (he also thinks he needs 2-3 million more Euro, but that's a different story). Batta reckons that the currently injured Max Neukirchner fills the bill, but the other current rider, Yukio Kagayama, doesn't. Kagayama is intermittantly fast, to be sure, but he historically suffers from a distinct inability to keep the machinery out of the scenery. With no podiums in 2008 and but one in 2009, the good will that he garnered with his 2007 Suzuka 8-hour win may not be enough to keep him on the factory team. Current rumors have Kagayama heading back to British Superbikes or to a rumored new Suzuki team that we'll discuss in a bit...

2. If Kagayama is gone, who'll ride for Alstare? Frankie Batta has a wish list of potential riders, allegedly starting with Soon To Be Departed From MotoGP riders Chris Vermeulin and James Toseland. Trouble is when Frankie goes to Tokyo to talk to Suzuki brass, he always has big dreams that don't get funded. Also, Vermeulin is allegedly high up on Aprilia's wish list and Toseland is reportly cozying up to former employer Ten Kate Honda, who are reportedly trimming their roster to two riders for 2010.

3. Yoshimura Suzuki in World SBK? With their long-time #1 rider Mat Mladin retiring back to the outback and Suzuki's direct involvement in the American AMA/DMG superbike series heavily rumored to be at an end, Yoshimura is reportedly casting their nets upon international waters. Reps of the California based company were reportedly at the Nurburgring to scope out the scene and to meet with reps of a European Superstock team and are supposed to renew the conversation at Imola. Other rumors indicate that a Yoshimura team could be a lily-pad for factory favorite "Crash" Kagayama.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Espargaro in, Canepa out at Pramac?

Reports from Europe indicate that Aleix Espargaro, replacement rider for Mika Kallio at Pramac Ducati, underwent successful surgery today for compartment syndrome ("arm pump") in his right forearm, at the USP Hospital San José de Madrid. Why you ask, is this important? Wasn't Espargaro a temporary replacement rider without a steady gig in MotoGP or anywhere else, FTM?

Whispers across the pond indicate that Espargaro might become a permanent (for the rest of this year anyway), replacement for Niccolo Canepa. It's no secret that Ducati has been disappointed in Canepa's performance to date in the premiere class, although to be fair, Superstock to the big show was a huge leap for the 21 year-old Genovese rider. Adding fuel to the rumors is the quickness that the surgery was performed after yesterday's San Marino race. With 3 weeks before the Estoril round, Espargaro should have ample time to return to fitness.

MotoGP: Misano Results

1. Valentino Rossi ITA Fiat Yamaha Team 44min 32.882 sec
2. Jorge Lorenzo SPA Fiat Yamaha Team 44min 35.298 sec
3. Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda Team 44min 45.282 sec
4. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Repsol Honda Team 44min 59.212 sec
5. Loris Capirossi ITA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 44min 59.421 sec
6. Toni Elias SPA San Carlo Honda Gresini 45min 1.168 sec
7. Mika Kallio FIN Ducati Marlboro Team 45min 3.066 sec
8. Marco Melandri ITA Hayate Racing Team 45min 4.639 sec
9. Chris Vermeulen AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 45min 4.791 sec
10. James Toseland GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 45min 11.229 sec
11. Aleix Espargaro SPA Pramac Racing 45min 19.555 sec
12. Randy de Puniet FRA LCR Honda MotoGP 45min 24.923 sec
13. Niccolo Canepa ITA Pramac Racing 45min 36.080 sec
14. Gabor Talmacsi HUN Scot Racing Team MotoGP 45min 55.229 sec

Alex de Angelis RSM San Carlo Honda Gresini lap 1
Colin Edwards USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 lap 1
Nicky Hayden USA Ducati Marlboro Team lap 1

de Angelis took out Edwards and Hayden in the first corner in an ill advised hairball move. Pedrosa got out to an early lead but was overtaken by Rossi who wedged him in between himself and Lorenzo. By time Lorenzo got by Pedrosa, there was no catching the Doctor.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

DeAngelis to Tech 3?

Usually reliable Spanish site is reporting that Tech 3 Yamaha and San Marino native Alex DeAngelis have agreed on terms that would see the soon to be former Gresini Honda rider ride for the French team alongside American Colin Edwards in 2010. This move, if true, almost certainly means that Englishman James Toseland and Australian Chris Vermeulin will depart the series to return to their World Superbike roots. This also means that current teammate Toni Elias has a high probability of returning to Pramac Ducati alongside Finn Mika Kallio.

MotoGP: Misano Qualifying

Screaming last lap puts "The Donkey" on the pole...

1 46 Valentino ROSSI YAMAHA 1'34.338
2 3 Dani PEDROSA HONDA 1'34.560 0.222 0.222
3 99 Jorge LORENZO YAMAHA 1'34.808 0.470 0.248
4 24 Toni ELIAS HONDA 1'34.907 0.569 0.099
5 5 Colin EDWARDS YAMAHA 1'35.184 0.846 0.277
6 69 Nicky HAYDEN DUCATI 1'35.223 0.885 0.039
7 15 Alex DE ANGELIS HONDA 1'35.343 1.005 0.120
8 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO HONDA 1'35.492 1.154 0.149
9 14 Randy DE PUNIET HONDA 1'35.554 1.216 0.062
10 65 Loris CAPIROSSI SUZUKI 1'35.561 1.223 0.007
11 36 Mika KALLIO DUCATI 1'35.601 1.263 0.040
12 33 Marco MELANDRI KAWASAKI 1'35.785 1.447 0.184
13 7 Chris VERMEULEN SUZUKI 1'35.790 1.452 0.005
14 52 James TOSELAND YAMAHA 1'36.070 1.732 0.280
15 44 Aleix ESPARGARO DUCATI 1'36.228 1.890 0.158
16 88 Niccolo CANEPA DUCATI 1'36.264 1.926 0.036
17 41 Gabor TALMACSI HONDA 1'37.091 2.753 0.827

Friday, September 4, 2009

Spies commits to Yamaha for two more years

Press release from Yamaha Europe:

Ben Spies to stay with Yamaha in 2010 and 2011

Yamaha Motor Company., Ltd and Yamaha Motor Europe N.V. are delighted to announce that an Agreement has been concluded with Ben Spies for his participation with Yamaha for 2010 and 2011. The program foresees a season in 2010 with the Yamaha World Superbike Team based in Gerno di Lesmo, Italy and a switch to Yamaha's satellite MotoGP team for 2011.

Laurens Klein Koerkamp, Racing Manager Yamaha Motor Europe said - "We got to know Ben this season in our Yamaha World Superbike Team as a very talented, professional and dedicated person whom we are thrilled to continue working with. Not only is the relationship between Ben, the team and Yamaha in general very successful but also it's a pleasure to work with him. This early agreement permits Yamaha and Ben Spies to now fully focus on their 2009 World Superbike campaign in their challenge to achieve their first World Superbike Championship titles together."

Lin Jarvis, Managing Director of Yamaha Motor Racing said - "We are truly excited about the prospect of Ben's arrival into our future MotoGP program. Ben is doing a great job for Yamaha in his first season in the World Superbike Championship. He is in great shape to challenge for the title this year and we will be rooting for him at the remaining four events this season. Ben's primary mission is to win both his and Yamaha's first World Superbike title. After that when Ben eventually makes the move to the MotoGP championship we will be ready for him and, in line with the new MotoGP regulations, we will create a place for him within the Yamaha satellite team and give him the support he needs for his next challenge.

Ben Spies:

"I am very happy to say that I will remain a part of the Yamaha family and will continue in the WSB series for 2010. This is an exciting period of my racing career and I look forward to even more. Yamaha has been great in the warm welcome that I have received entering the world level and I want to thank them for all they have done, and giving me their trust for a next career step into MotoGP in 2011."

Edwards Staying at Tech 3?

In an interview on, Colin Edwrds revealed that he will probably be returning to Tech 3 Yamaha in 2010.

“Yamaha want to keep me, It is just a matter of me and Herve coming to an agreement and we are pretty much there."

Edwards also remarked that his teammate was as yet undecided but wouldn't be adverse to having fellow American Ben Spies along in the TT box.

"As regards a team-mate I don’t know yet, we’ll see what the scenario is there. I would like to see ‘Team Texas’, that would be cool. I don’t know if he is as colourful in front of the camera as I am but I’ll give him some tips!

Misano FP1

1. Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1m35.304s
2. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1m35.430s + 0.126s
3. Dani Pedrosa Honda 1m36.080s + 0.776s
4. Alex de Angelis Gresini Honda 1m36.096s + 0.792s
5. Andrea Dovizioso Honda 1m36.316s + 1.012s
6. Colin Edwards Tech 3 Yamaha 1m36.350s + 1.046s
7. Mika Kallio Ducati 1m36.419s + 1.115s
8. Loris Capirossi Suzuki 1m36.508s + 1.204s
9. James Toseland Tech 3 Yamaha 1m36.588s + 1.284s
10. Nicky Hayden Ducati 1m36.608s + 1.304s
11. Randy de Puniet LCR Honda 1m37.056s + 1.752s
12. Toni Elias Gresini Honda 1m37.057s + 1.753s
13. Aleix Espargaro Pramac Ducati 1m37.126s + 1.822s
14. Chris Vermeulen Suzuki 1m37.134s + 1.830s
15. Niccolo Canepa Pramac Ducati 1m37.306s + 2.002s
16. Marco Melandri Hayate Kawasaki 1m37.454s + 2.150s
17. Gabor Talmacsi Scot Honda 1m37.869s + 2.565s

MotoGP: Misano

Two For The Show

Well, here we are, 5 days, half a world and a virtual universe away from the working-class neighborhoods of Speedway, Indiana. Misano, located on the Adriatic coast of Italy is a seaside resort town that just happens to have a world-class racetrack nearby. There must be something in the water around these parts (or vino, as the case may be) because fast motorcycle racers are born and raised here in abundance. Marco Melandri, Andrea Dovizioso, Alex DeAngelis and, oh yeah, some guy named Valentino Rossi all hail from nearby.

The MotoGP championship comes to The Doctor's "home" race a hammer and tongs battle between Rossi and his young Mallorcan teamate, Jorge Lorenzo. As we may remember, Rossi, in a rare display of poor judgment, threw away half his points lead at Indianapolis and made the title chase not as foregone a conclusion as the pundits had been saying.

With 5 races remaining on the calendar, every venture onto the track, be it practice, qualifying or the race itself has become a take-no-prisoners war between the Fiat Yamaha riders. The off-track battle has become equally heated with each side being sure to take maximum advantage of statements made to the press in an attempt to get inside the head of his rival.

Against that backdrop, we have a number of lesser dramas being played out, most notably riders without a gig for next season. Homeboy Alex DeAngelis, his Gresini bridges in smoking ruins behind him after this week's comments about a lack of team support, wants to show that his finish on the box at Indy wasn't a fluke and that he shouldn't be relegated to the murky world of Moto2. Over at Tech 3, Colin Edwards and James Toseland are auditioning, along with a cast of thousands, for the 2 most sought after rides remaining for 2010.

Over here across the pond, Americans are coming into the three-day Labor Day weekend with a veritable plethora of motorcycle racing to choose from. With the AMA, WSBK and MotoGP all being contested, we're going to need that extra day to recover from the excitement.

Bold Predictions

1. Rossi
2. Lorenzo
3. Pedrosa

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Hayden Re-signs with Ducati

Press release from Ducati Corse:


Ducati Corse is hereby pleased to announce that Nicky Hayden will sign a one year extension to his current agreement and will line up alongside Casey Stoner in the Ducati Marlboro Team for 2010.

"The confirmation of Nicky is the right reward to a rider who has shown to perfectly embody the frame of mind that characterizes Ducati - Passion, Determination and Commitment." said Claudio Domenicali, Ducati Motor Holding General Manager. "We have always considered Nicky to be an important asset to the Ducati 2010 strategy and we are very happy that he will remain in the Ducati Marlboro Team.* His progression through the season has been constant up to the podium in Indianapolis and we are certain that the experience he has gained will be decisive for a 2010 season full of success"

"This has been a very good week and this news just adds to that," commented Nicky Hayden. "After the good result in Indy, now to renew the deal with Ducati is exactly what I wanted. I'm very happy. I always had faith and believed that we could achieve good results. I'm excited for these last five races of the 09 season, and if you look at the progression we have made from the start of the season to the middle, hopefully we will continue this through to the end. I just wish to say a big thanks to all the guys who made this happen, especially everybody in Ducati as well as all our sponsors and I'm sure I'll be able to do a good job next year and to continue to build with, and be part of, the Ducati family"

*Editorial translation: "None of the other riders we approached would touch the Desmosedici with a 20 meter pole for a trunk load of Euro. Nicky already has a couple of sets of red leathers and we won't have to repaint the hospitality unit. "

Pedrosa Re-Signs with Honda?

According to, Dani Pedrosa, despite receiving a rumored "lucrative offer" from Marlboro Ducati, has resigned with Repsol Honda. This is hardly much of a surprise as most reports had the Catalunyan close to an agreement with HRC. The Ducati is rapidly becoming the new "bike you can't pay me enough to ride", ala the Kenny Roberts dirt track TZ 750. The signing will supposedly be announced next week and is rumored to be a one-year deal.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

MotoGP: Indy!

It's only been a couple of weeks chronologically since Brno but a veritable eon in Gossip/Intrigue years. Everyone with even a passing interest in MotoGP has been aware of the Jorge Lorenzo attention whoring contract situtation. Will he sign with Ducati for big bux? Will he have a rare attack of good sense and re-sign with Yamaha? If he does jump to Ducati, who will go where? :nailbiting

All that folderol came to a screeching halt yesterday when Lorenzo decided not to commit career suicide to re-sign with Yamaha. Suffice to say that the rest of the silly season will probably not be nearly as dramatic.

Back to the matter at hand, which, in case you've forgotten, is racing. Valentino Rossi leads the title chase by 50 points, not an insurmountable amount to be sure, but you'd be a brave man indeed to risk much in the way of a bet against him. Last year at Indy in a monsoon the Doctor made it look easy and this year, if the good lord's willing and the creek don't rise (or even if it does), it looks to be more of the same.

Of course, if the weather cooperates, the competition should have more for the doctor. By competition, I mean Jorge "I never really meant to leave Yamaha" And Dani Pedrosa. The Honda was very strong here last year and Pedrosa is reasonably healthy. Expect Mini-P's teammate Andrea Dovizioso to be near the front as well.

Homeboy Nicky Hayden will look to do his best and this year that translates to 5-6th place. Now that Lorenzo isn't being fitted for red leathers, Hayden will probably be confirmed at Ducati for 2010, maybe this weekend or shortly thereafter.

This is America, and a circus would be woefully incomplete without a sideshow or two. Kevin Schwantz will take a parade lap on his 1993 title winning Suzuki and Kenny Roberts will reportedly take the bike they couldn't pay him enough to ride, the truly evil TZ-750 based dirt tracker, for a spin around the Indy Mile. Rumor has it that Valentino Rossi will give the TZ a shot, but this commentator is somewhat dubious.

Speaking of this commentator, I'll be at Indy (I rode halfway there today) and will hopefully post some pitiful pix and commentary when I can.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lorenzo Re-Signs with Yamaha

According to, Jorge Lorenzo has re-signed with Fiat Yamaha, for 1 year instead of the two that the team seeking. Everybody's happy. Expect to see announcements shortly that the Repsol Honda duo of Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso have signed and for Ducati to give Nicky Hayden another year to figure out the Desmosedici. Still up in the air is the line-up of the Tech 3 Yamaha team with Colin Edwards' future largely in the hands of fellow Texan Ben Spies.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ryder on Radio

Roger Edmundson and Julian Ryder live on racefanradio 12PM ET 8/24/09

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lorenzo to Ducati -- Not so done deal?

The folks at are reporting that Ducati has made an offer to Lorenzo (through his agent) but Lorenzo has not accepted. Also, contrary to what was published in El Periodico, RTVE is claiming that Ducati team boss Livio Suppo did not stop off in Barcelona prior to winging his way to the US.

Lorenzo to Ducati -- Done Deal?

That's what the folks at motocuatro are saying.

The dominoes start to fall...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Nicky and 'tino -- Together Again?

More from the Bizarro universe that this year's MotoGP Silly Season has become.


If Jorge Lorenzo takes a dump on Yamaha and signs with Ducati for Mega-Euro, then the #1 candidate to replace him at Fiat Yamaha becomes...

Wait for it...

None other than Nicky Hayden!

According to those wacky Italians over at, Rossi has already given his stamp of approval to the deal...

Pedrosa Plan "B" for Ducati?

Mela Chercoles, writing in, is reporting that Ducati has talked to Dani Pedrosa about moving over to the red team in 2010. Reportedly, discussions are not as advanced as the widely publicized approach to Jorge Lorenzo, but it is an indication of how batshit crazy concerned Ducati is over Casey Stoner's (ostensibly) temporary departure from the team.

Lorenzo's Manager to Meet w/Ducati?

Rumors that Jorge Lorenzo would make a shock jump to the factory Ducati MotoGP team have been thick as flies on roadkill in the aftermath of the Brno round. Now, Spanish site is reporting that Marco Hirsch, Lorenzo's manager, will be meeting with Ducati representatives in Barcelona today to discuss final terms of the offer. Ostensibly, Casey Stoner's place in the team (or lack thereof) will also be discussed.

Hopper Turns Down Pramac ?

Italian site is reporting that John Hopkins has passed up the opportunity to ride Mika Kallio's GP09 Desmosedici at Indianapolis and Misano. Hopper allegedly wanted a deal for next year to be tied to the fill-in which the team refused to do. Mattia Pasini tested the bike at Brno but anniounced that he would continue in the 250 class. Spaniard Aleix Espargarò is expected to occupy the seat.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Aprilia in Moto2?

Spanish site is reporting that Aprilia will supply at least 5 complete motorcycles (sans engine) in the nascent Moto2 class in 2010. Supposedly, two will go to the Aspar team, two will go to Metris Gilera and one will go to the Cardion AB team. Price has not been announced but it is speculated that the bikes will be more expensive than the competition (suter, moriwaki et al).

State of the Silly Season -- Back to the Grind

The MotoGP season has started back up with a bang and with six races to go, the team line-ups for next year have become simultaneously more concrete and more speculative. We expected to see a lot of announcements on the subject at Brno and we did see a few, but the overall picture isn't a whole lot clearer that it was going in.

Fiat Yamaha -- Forget about Rossi, He's got a contract for next year, he's leading the world championship standings going away, God's in his heaven and all's right with the world. Over on the Jorge Lorenzo side of the wall things are, how you say -- interesting. It was expected that after his performances as of late, the rider still known as the Lunatic would accept the chump change 100% salary increase from Yamaha and seethe quietly (well, as quietly as Jorge is capable of) in the shadow of his illustrious colleague. An announcement by new HRC president Suzuki that Lorenzo wasn't being considered anymore by the Evil Empire seemed to cement this state of affairs. Time for the dog and Jorge show where the rider has to force a happy expression while feigning complete satisfaction on being second banana for far less money than he thinks he's worth. Then Casey Stoner announced that he was calling it quits for a bit, mate, with resultant hyperspeculation and general hand-wringing about what was really going on with the tightly-wound Aussie. Rumors quickly surfaced that not only was Ducati not really letting on what they actually knew about the situation, but the CEO of Phillip Morris was at Brno with a modest proposal for a certain fast young Mallorcan. Current conjecture is that Lorenzo was offered in the neighborhood of 6.5 - 8 million Euro to see how he looks in red leather. This is a very nice neighborhood indeed, but not one without drawbacks. We could write epic epistles on the nature of the Beast from Bologna and what happens if Stoner really is just taking a breather and knocking back a few tinnies with Troy Bayliss in the outback, but the bottom line is that Yamaha is probably no closer to Lorenzo's signature on a deal than when the weekend started and maybe farther away.

Tech Three Yamaha -- If Herve Poncheral isn't grinning like a Cheshire with canary on his breath, then he should be. he's got the Best Bike in the Paddock, satellite division, and a queue of riders at his door longer than at an American unemployment office. Colin Edwards, James Toseland, Chris Vermeulin, Toni Elias, Randy DePuniet, Ben Spies, Nicky Hayden, Alex DeAngelis, Mika Kallio and a cast of thousands have all put in their applications for the job, with some willing to work for nothing, sleep in the transporter and sweep up the shops in the down periods. With the Lorenzo affair still in a state of flux, TT is no closer to finalizing their rider line-up than before Brno, which is not an altogether sad state of affairs for Mr Poncheral.

Repsol Honda -- Pedrosa and Dovizioso re-up for 2 years. Mr. Suzuki says we can take that check to the bank and cash it. Whoops, the boss should have checked with the negotiating team before he got egg drop soup on his face. The glare from the kleig lights at the press conference had barely abated when Alberto Puig (rhymes with spooge), Pedrosa's puppet master, was giving Spanish TV a little press conference of his own -- No deal yet, no how, no way. Things are supposedly proceeding toward both riders signing, but rumor has it that the nature of Puig's involvement with the team is the fly in the ointment that has delayed doing the deal.

Gresini Honda -- Two Italian Marcos (Simoncelli & Melandri), one happy Italian sponsor, two unhappy current riders looking for jobs.

Other Satellite Honda -- Lots of speculation here, mostly centered around whether or not there'll be a seventh (or eighth) Honda on the grid in 2010. As with the rest of life, the central theme here is "money talks, bullshit walks". Scot Honda is thought to be courting current rider Gabor Talmacsi and his Hungarian Hydrocarbon Handbag and are also thought to possibly be in line to get a Honda supported ride for current 250 series leader Hiro Aoyama. LCR Honda would like to retain the services of Randy DePuniet, but RDP is thought to be far up on Tech Trois wish list. If RDP goes away, then Thomas Luthi with his clutch of coffee cash could buy his way in.

Ducati -- Casey Stoner has a deal for next year but (see Fiat Yamaha) whether or not he'll be physically able to perform is still (way) up in the air. Nicky Hayden has probably seen his bargaining power increase in the wake of Stonergate and with his encouraging results (aside from the Donington tire debacle)as of late. Mika Kallio was brought up to the bigs in what was thought to be an audition for Hayden's ride. Kallio is about as fast as the Kentucky Kid but when he tried to push a bit harder, he took a couple dirt naps, one in practice, one in the race. Score on the weekend: Nicky, sixth place, Kallio, two dumped Desmosedicis, charged to Casey Stoner's 5 engine account. As one wag put it -- "At this rate, Casey might not have anything to come back to this season". Most pundits speculate that Hayden will be resigned, maybe at Indy.

Satellite Ducati -- Ducati, in the person of Livio Suppo ahs stated publicly that they'd like to retain the services of Mika Kallio, but with the factory team currently needing help and with the prospect of Casey Stoner not returning, that might not be at Pramac. Also, there is recent word that Kallio has contacted Tech Trois Yamaha and has let them know that he's interested, just like half the riders in the world with an FIM license. If Kallio goes away, Toni Elias is looking for a job. As for Nicolo Canepa, the step from Superstock champion to MotoGP has been too steep and Ducati is rumored to be looking for a place for him in WSBK. Possible replacements include Mattia Pasini. Over at the newly minted Aspar Ducati team, Hector Barbera has been telling anyone who'll listen that he's got a deal to ride Sete's old bike, cemented by a cool million euro personal sponsorship. However, no official announcement was made at Brno and coupled with rumors of Ducati's deep dissatisfaction with Aspar's failure to sign Alvaro Bautista, there is just the slightest cloud of doubt over that deal.

Suzuki -- With the signing of Alvaro Bautista, Paul Denning has finally gotten the top 250 rider that he's been lusting after, lo these many years. Loris Capirossi is supposedly 99% on his way to resigning and Chris Vermeulin is all alone by the telephone, hoping that all his calls aren't from WSBK teams.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Brno Test

Rain shortened the last test of the year, with the afternoon pretty much shot. Gabor Talmasci and Nicky Hayden crashed in the am, Both apparently unhurt. All eyes were on the Suzuki box, but they couldn't see anything as the team had erected screens to keep prying eyes from spying the latest hush-hush hardware from Hamamatsu. Repsol Honda tested Ohlins suspension and Fiat Yamaha had a host of new bits, reportedly including 2010 frame and long-life engine.

Brno post GP Monday test
– best times (laps)
1. J. Lorenzo - Fiat Yamaha - 1’56.2 (52)
2. V. Rossi - Fiat Yamaha - 1’56.6 (38)
3. D. Pedrosa - Repsol Honda - 1’56.7 (53)
4. L. Capirossi - Rizla Suzuki - 1’57.5 (43)
5. A. Dovizioso - Repsol Honda - 1’57.8 (53)
6. T. Elias - San Carlo Honda Gresini - 1’57.8 (39)
7. C. Vermeulen - Rizla Suzuki - 1’57.9 (61)
8. N. Hayden - Ducati Marlboro - 1’57.9 (64)
9. M. Melandri - Hayate Racing - 1’58.0 (56)
10. M. Kallio - Ducati Marlboro - 1’58.1 (65)
11. N. Canepa - Pramac Racing - 1’58.1 (69)
12. G. Talmacsi - Scott Racing - 1’59.0 (58)
13. M. Pasini - Pramac Racing - 1’59.6 (66)

The 7 Million Euro Man?

Italian Motorcycling site Motosprint is reporting that Ducati/Marlboro/Phillip Morris has offered Jorge Lorenzo nearly 7 Million Euro to jump to the Borgo Paginale based team. If true, this means that Ducati is a lot more worried about the return of Casey Stoner then they let on (like, duh). Perhaps more interesting than the huge pile of money is that Lorenzo would be the #1 rider and control development, even if Stoner returns.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Rossied Again!

"He's (Lorenzo) been Rossied again!"

That's how commentator Nick Harris put it and a more apt description of the race at Brno you will not find. Rossi got out to a lead from the start, with Dani Pedrosa inserting himself between The Doctor and his Fiat Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo. Lorenzo finally got ahead of Pedrosa about a four laps in and set off in pursuit. What a pursuit it was! Lorenzo and Rossi swapped fast race laps, seemingly at will until Lorenzo got ahead with about 6 laps to go. On the next lap Rossi went for the lead and Lorenzo, ever Por Fuero, tried to return the favor on the outside, lost the front and probably his shot at the 2009 world championship. A lonely Dani Pedrosa held on to second and Toni Elias dispatched Andrea Dovisioso for the last step on the box. Hard to believe there isn't a spot in MotoGP for the tiger. This round of the much touted "Battle for the Factory Ducati Ride" went to Nicky Hayden who put in a solid performance to come in 6th. New team mate Mika Kallio binned his second Desmosedici of the weekend on the penultimate lap when he ran into the back of Marco Melandri after Melandri passed the Finn cleanly. Rossi's victory puts him 50 points ahead of Lorenzo in the title chase.

Brno MotoGP

1. Valentino Rossi ITA Fiat Yamaha Team 43min 8.991 sec
2. Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda Team 43min 20.757 sec
3. Toni Elias SPA San Carlo Honda Gresini 43min 29.747 sec
4. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Repsol Honda Team 43min 30.409 sec
5. Loris Capirossi ITA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 43min 30.529 sec
6. Nicky Hayden USA Ducati Marlboro Team 43min 34.535 sec
7. Colin Edwards USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 43min 34.667 sec
8. Alex de Angelis RSM San Carlo Honda Gresini 43min 43.100 sec
9. James Toseland GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 43min 44.608 sec
10. Randy de Puniet FRA LCR Honda MotoGP 43min 48.815 sec
11. Chris Vermeulen AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 43min 49.767 sec
12. Niccolo Canepa ITA Pramac Racing 43min 59.652 sec
13. Gabor Talmacsi HUN Scot Racing Team MotoGP 44min 8.179 sec

Michel Fabrizio ITA Pramac Racing
Jorge Lorenzo SPA Fiat Yamaha Team
Mika Kallio FIN Ducati Marlboro Team
Marco Melandri ITA Hayate Racing Team

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Red Bull Rookies Cup -- Brno Race 1

01 - Florian Marino - FRA - 13 laps in 29'21 .034
02- Danny Kent - GBR - + 0.034
03- Alejandro Pardo - ITA - + 0.304
04- Jacob Gagne - USA - + 0.493
05- Sturla Fagerhaug - NOR - + 0.952
06- Daijiro Hiura - JPN - + 0.997
07- Nelson Major - FRA - + 1.296
08- Jakub Kornfeil - CZE - + 1.308
09- Alexander Kristiansson - SWE - + 1.520
10- Mathew Scholtz - RSA - + 2.299
11- Brad Binder - RSA - + 7.748
12- Harry Stafford - GBR - + 10.826
13- Kevin Calia - ITA - + 15.089
14- Nico Thoni - AUT - + 16.979
15- Arthur Sissis - AUS - + 17.063
16- Joshua Hook - AUS - + 17.669
17- Benny Solis - USA - + 17.685 17
18- Deane Brown - GBR - + 19.481
19- Juan Perello - SPA - + 24.059
20- Alessio Cappella - ITA - + 32.807
21- Xavier Figueras - SPA - + 33.549
22- Hayden Gillim - USA - + 33.649
23- Daniel Ruiz - SPA - + 57.334
24- Dylan Mavin - AUS - + 59.722
25- Fraser Rogers - GBR - + 1′05.641

Pedrosa Signs for Honda? Not so fast...

Yesterday's surprise announcement that HRC had signed both it's riders and Pedrosa/Puig's response to the contrary continues to play itself out. Apparently the sticking point in the negotiations is Alberto Puig (sounds like spooge) himself. According to Spanish newspaper El Periodico, Honda brass wants Puig to take a much reduced role (if any) in the operation of the team. Pedrosa now virtually controls development of the RC212V with Puig participating to the point of being present in meetings with the Japanese engineers responsible for the project. At yesterday's press conference, New (There's been a lot of turnover in this position as of late) HRC Head Honcho Suzuki sidestepped the issue by stating that the structure of the organization was in flux and the company had not decided Puig's role.

Brno Qualifying

1 46 Valentino ROSSI YAMAHA 1'56.145
2 99 Jorge LORENZO YAMAHA 1'56.195 0.050 0.050
3 3 Dani PEDROSA HONDA 1'56.528 0.383 0.333
4 24 Toni ELIAS HONDA 1'56.817 0.672 0.289
5 5 Colin EDWARDS YAMAHA 1'56.954 0.809 0.137
6 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO HONDA 1'57.108 0.963 0.154
7 15 Alex DE ANGELIS HONDA 1'57.775 1.630 0.667
8 69 Nicky HAYDEN DUCATI 1'57.803 1.658 0.028
9 65 Loris CAPIROSSI SUZUKI 1'57.811 1.666 0.008
10 36 Mika KALLIO DUCATI 1'57.994 1.849 0.183
11 7 Chris VERMEULEN SUZUKI 1'58.087 1.942 0.093
12 88 Niccolo CANEPA DUCATI 1'58.208 2.063 0.121
13 14 Randy DE PUNIET HONDA 1'58.298 2.153 0.090
14 52 James TOSELAND YAMAHA 1'58.331 2.186 0.033
15 33 Marco MELANDRI KAWASAKI 1'58.477 2.332 0.146
16 84 Michel FABRIZIO DUCATI 1'58.680 2.535 0.203
17 41 Gabor TALMACSI HONDA 1'58.749 2.604 0.069

Kallio and Rossi crashed late in the session.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Stoner Rumors

By now everyone with a passing interest in MotoGP is painfully aware of Casey Stoner's withdrawal for the next three races due to his lack of fitness precipitated by a mystery disease. That's the official line, anyway. Rumors have been running rampant that a.) Stoner won't be back this year due to chronic burn-out or b.) Stoner and Ducati are splitsville, permanently.

Now, the Spanish press is reporting that the CEO of Phillip Morris (parent company of Marlboro) is in attendance at Brno. Probably meant to be there all along, right? Probably got nothing at all to do with the rumor that Marlboro Ducati *may* need a top rider and Jorge Lorenzo just *may* be available, now would it?

Pedrosa Signs for Honda? Maybe not!

Alberto Puig (rhymes with spooge) has reportedly told Spanish TV network TVE that contrary to HRC's morning announcement, his protege Dani Pedrosa has not signed a contract with Honda. Doubtlessly an actual deal isn't far off, but why would Puig go out of his way to publicize the gaffe?

Silly Season Stuff

Matt Roberts of the BBC is tweeting that the much-rumored Alvaro Bautista/Suzuki deal is done and will be announced on Sunday. According to the commentary during practice, Hector Barbera is telling everyone who will listen that he will, in fact, be riding for Aspar in 2010. Barbera is reportedly bringing in a cool 1 million Euro into the deal from personal sponsorship.

Brno FP1

1. Jorge Lorenzo SPA Fiat Yamaha Team 1min 56.595 sec
2. Valentino Rossi ITA Fiat Yamaha Team 1min 56.994 sec
3. Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda Team 1min 57.584 sec
4. Colin Edwards USA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1min 57.741 sec
5. Andrea Dovizioso ITA Repsol Honda Team 1min 58.172 sec
6. Toni Elias SPA San Carlo Honda Gresini 1min 58.295 sec
7. Mika Kallio FIN Ducati Marlboro Team 1min 58.302 sec
8. Alex de Angelis RSM San Carlo Honda Gresini 1min 58.497 sec
9. Loris Capirossi ITA Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1min 58.582 sec
10. Marco Melandri ITA Hayate Racing Team 1min 58.739 sec
11. James Toseland GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1min 58.764 sec
12. Nicky Hayden USA Ducati Marlboro Team 1min 58.821 sec
13. Chris Vermeulen AUS Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1min 59.041 sec
14. Randy de Puniet FRA LCR Honda MotoGP 1min 59.055 sec
15. Niccolo Canepa ITA Pramac Racing 1min 59.531 sec
16. Gabor Talmacsi HUN Scot Racing Team MotoGP 1min 59.979 sec
17. Michel Fabrizio ITA Pramac Racing 2min 0.423 sec

Pedrosa and Dovizoso Re-Up with Repsol.

Honda management announced today that current factory riders Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso have been signed to new 2-year contracts. It had been widely supposed that any contract offered would be 1 year in length, giving Gresini Honda newcomer Marco Simoncelli a shot at a factory seat in 2011. In the killing two birds with one stone department, HRC President Tetsuo Suzuki also revealed that Honda had been in discussions with Jorge Lorenzo but could not arrive at an acceptable deal. This revelation is a sneaky PR bomb by Honda, pretty much ending all remaining speculation about where Lorenzo will ride in 2010.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Repsol to Test Ohlins Suspension

MCN (It must be true!) is reporting that the factory Repsol Honda team will be testing Ohlins suspension components at the test following the Brno round. Honda riders have been dissatisfied with how their Showa components have been interacting with this years spec Bridgestone tires. This comes on the heels of Ten Kate Honda's recent change from White Power to Ohlins for their CBR1000RRs

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MotoGP: Brno

Gut Czech

The so-called summer break is nearly over and racers and MotoGP junkies (you know who you are) alike are eagerly anticipating the return to action at the Automotodrom Brno, in the rolling hills of the southeast part of the Czech Republic. The nearby city of Brno is located on the confluence of ancient trade routes, which is fitting because, in many ways, Brno has always marked a turning point in the MotoGP season.

The summer break has always been a time for the riders and teams to relax, recharge and generally prepare for the long arduous journey that is the second half of the season. It has also been a time when rumors and innuendo run rampant about who will be doing what for whom and where they'll be doing it. Much bandwidth and ink has been expended in this forum and other venues on that subject, so we won't go down that perilous route too extensively. Suffice to say that announcements will probably be made this weekend that will determine the future for a number of riders and will bring team rosters into better focus.

Another turning point in this season is the new rule on engine restrictions that will become effective. Riders will be limited to 5 engines from here out to the end of the season at Valencia. If an unfortunate exceeds that number, then he will be docked 10 points. Some have pointed out that the rule might favor a front-runner with points to give and that it also favors the factory teams who have more resources at their disposal. Yamaha, in the person of Valentino Rossi, has tested a "long-life" engine, but this commentator is unaware of any other rider who has done so. It remains to be seen if the new, ostensibly more durable, motors give away any performance.

The test that customarily follows Brno has historically been a time when we caught our first glimpse of hardware destined for the season to come. This year the test has been reduced to one day and there hasn't been much speculation about new bits making their way to the Czech Republic. There have been whispers that Suzuki will test yet another iteration of their "new" engine, which has been a disappointment to Chris Vermeulin and Loris Capirossi in it's outings to date. Reports are also coming in that Mattia Pasini will get a test ride on a GP09 Ducati.

The biggest story this weekend, however, is the absence of 2007 World Champion Casey Stoner. Stoner, who has been batting a mysterious ailment that has nauseated him and sapped his strength and endurance, has, upon advice of his doctors, elected to sit out the next three rounds in an attempt to get back to health. This action has prompted a shuffing of talent at Borgo Paginale, with Pramac Ducati's Mika Kallio assuming Stoner's seat on the factory squad and Michel "Mr Fabulous" Fabrizio moving over from the Ducati factory SBK team to take Kallio's place.

Tanned, rested and ready, Valentino Rossi comes into this round with a 25 point advantage over his nearest rival, with literally a race to give. The Doctor has been at the top of his game during the shank of the season, and is coming to a track where he has had much success, with 4 wins and two second places in his eight years in the premiere class.With that kind of success rate and his recent performances, it would be hard to bet against him this weekend.

With Stoner's absence, Rossi's teammate at Fiat Yamaha, Jorge Lorenzo, has become the only really credible threat to battle the Doctor for the title. Lorenzo has done well here in the lesser classes, but hasn't beaten Rossi since Mugello. Indeed, Rossi has taken the young Mallorcan to school, most notably in Barcelona and Germany, making an emphatic point about who is still #1 in the factory garage. Rumors that Lorenzo would bolt to Honda in 2010 have all but evaporated and it is widely believed that it will be announced at Brno that he will stay with the tuning fork marque.

Bold Predictions

1. Rossi
2. Lorenzo
3. Someone else


Hi! This is the first of what I hope will be many posts about my obsession -- Motorcycles. I've been riding since I've been about 10 years old and am fascinated with nearly everything two wheel. I particularly love roadracing, so expect to see a lot of stuff about that, but I won't confine myself. I like to tour and sport ride, so you'll probably see some posts about that, too. Basically, everything moto will be fair game. Hope you enjoy the content!