At day two of round two at Sepang, MotoGP’s riders once again had to contend with the changing Malaysian climate, as rain continued to make an appearance the Sepang International Circuit. Sidelined for the day, HRC played it safe with its riders after one of Dani Pedrosa’s engines failed during the previous day’s testing, thus making the day strictly a Ducati and Yamaha affair. With Yamaha taking the top four spots on the timesheet (lead by Ben Spies), it is clear to see at this point in the game where Ducati is with its development of the GP12.
With the engine of Dani Pedrosa’s Honda RC213V suffering a failure on Tuesday, HRC decided to sideline all Honda riders for the second day of testing at MotoGP’s second Sepang testing week. Giving up the ghost on Pedrosa’s 36th lap, HRC flew the motor back to Japan last night for Honda engineers to examine. However with the engine not arriving at HRC’s race shop until around lunch time today, Honda chose to sideline its factory and satellite riders until a determination for the failure could be ascertained.
When it comes to motorcycles that pitch more tents than a Boy Scout Jamboree, the Honda CBR1000RR probably isn’t at the top of your list. That’s not a slight to the venerable CBR, but Honda has always been more of a “function over form” type of brand. That being said, I never thought I would see that when Honda would give up its technological dominance in production sport bikes, but for 2012 the Honda CBR1000RR will have to fight the battle of being low-tech offering in war where electronics are the new horsepower.
While the 2012 Honda CBR1000RR is likely not to come out the victor in sport bike sales figures this year, the Japanese company has a very good chance of dominating at the Isle of Man TT in a few months. Of course it helps when you have “King of the Mountain” John McGuinness at the helm of your TT bike, but we’ve got hand it to the Japanese brand, as the TT Legends scheme that McGuinness and Simon Andrews will race at the IOMTT and Northwest 200 makes us forget all about the fact that the Fireblade comes sans an sort of electrical aids. Get your computer desktop ready, jumbo resolution photos await you after the jump.
On Monday, we got a chance to swing a leg over the Lightning Motorcycles electric superbike at Infineon Raceway. While a full review is till to come, the initial report is basically that Lightning’s bike pulls like a freight train when you get on the throttle, and despite how “big” it is, the electric superbike handles surprisingly well, even around the crucible that is
Sears Point Infineon Raceway. During our test, Lightning Motorcycles’ Richard Hatfield tipped us off to a video with Ted Rich at the helm of the Lightning, with AMA Superbike rider Jake Holden giving chase (and video) on his BMW S1000RR race bike.
Lapping around Chuckwalla Valley Raceway, Holden and his BMW look like they could have gotten past the Lightning in several spots, though Rich and the Lightning certainly hold their own in the video. The Lightning’s straight-line speed is more than evident, as it pulls away from the 200+hp BMW S1000RR with ease, and as we experienced at Infineon, the bike is now slouch in the turns, and continues to develop in advance of the electric motorcycle racing season. Check out the video after the jump.
Returning to Malaysia for a second round of testing, MotoGP’s first day at Sepang was delayed by torrential rain. Coping with the water and intense humidity, MotoGP riders did get to spend some laps around the Southeast Asian circuit, with Casey Stoner once again dominating the time sheet. Apparently not getting the memo that fatherhood makes you slower on the race track, Stoner was the only rider to get into the 2’01 lap times, and did so seemingly at will during his 16 lap testing day. Second quickest was teammate Dani Pedrosa, who was a quarter second back, while Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo was over half a second back from Stoner, and third quickest for the day. Noticeably quick was Alvaro Bautista, who continues his dark horse status, as the Spaniard was fifth quickest and even bested Nicky Hayden, who lead the Ducati contingency.
“It was really hard to leave Switzerland,” said new father Casey Stoner. “Ally woke up for a feed at the same time as I was leaving for the airport and I didn’t really want to leave. The first day of testing has gone well. We started off where we left last time, but the track conditions have been a little worse. We have some work to do. This morning we managed to compare a few things back to back. We’ve tried a new set of brake discs to try and reduce the brake fade that I’ve been having at the last test, so that’s been an improvement. We’re trying a few other things with set up to shorten the wheelbase and get a little more traction. We have a couple of things we can try to change the stiffness and also move the weight around a little bit to try and upset the chatter and reduce the frequency. This afternoon I have no doubt we would have gone a second or a second and a half faster, but the rain came out and the track didn’t dry up enough to warrant going out, so we’ll wait until tomorrow.”
Luca Bar must be in his lab cranking out designs, because the talented young Italian motorcycle designer has rendered up the heavily rumored and eagerly awaited MV Agusta Rivale. Based on the 675cc three-cylinder engine found in the soon-to-be-delivered MV Agusta F3 and the soon-to-be-unveiled MV Agusta Brutale 675, the MV Agusta Rivale is expected to be a rival (see what we did there?) to the Ducati Hypermotard 796.
Considering that MV Agusta is expected to unveil the Brutale 675 at EICMA later this year, we would expect to see the Rivale break cover in 2013 as a 2014 model. The fact that we haven’t see prototypes of the bike “spied” out in the wild also lends itself to this theory, though the Italian company has reportedly already trademarked the “Rivale” name in foreign markets. Taking what we know about the MV Agusta’s design philosophy with the F3 and Brutale 675, Luca has rendered the shape he imagines the MV Agusta Rivale to take.
Not too long ago I gave a presentation at the San Francisco Dainese Store about MotoGP & social media, and one of the interesting points that came up from the discussion was the fact that Casey Stoner did not have a Twitter account. With former-World Champions Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi racking up 400,000 & 600,000 follower respectfully, the current-MotoGP World Champion was voiceless in the online space, which only fueled further the perception that Stoner’s interests in MotoGP resided only with racing on Sunday afternoons.
When the Moto2 Championship was conceived, the racing public was pitched the idea of exotic prototype racing machines that would be built around production-based motors. Immediately the idea of a grid full of Bimota-like machines began to tickle our fancy, however the reality has been that Moto2 chassis designs have been far-more grounded in their approaches and configurations.
Though we did see Bimota build a Moto2 racer with the Bimota HB4, it is motorcycles like the Vyrus 986 M2 that we really want to see filling the Moto2 grid. Of course with the spec-engine rules, races are being won and lost by just the smallest differences in chassis specifications, making the use of exotic designs a venerable game of Russian roulette. Don’t tell any of this to Rondine though, as the Italian firm is working hard on a unique Moto2 design of its own.
As is the custom with World Supebike racing and with Race 1 out of the way, the WSBK grid lined up to it all again. Treating fans to a double-dose of motorcycle racing, you would think that the second race would be a repeat of the previous, but it was anything but that. Exciting from the first lap to the very last, the 2012 World Superbike Championship was off to a great start with its season-opener at Phillip Island, Australia. Continue on for results.