Yamaha has released a statement saying that factory MotoGP rider Jorge Lorenzo underwent successful surgery to his left ring finger in Melbourne after Sunday’s Australian GP. Lorenzo injured his hand during a violent tankslapper coming out of Turn 12 during the race warm-up session at Phillip Island. The tragic incident caused the Spanish rider to miss racing in Australia, effectively handing the 2011 MotoGP Championship to Casey Stoner. Thankfully however, early reports indicate the injury will not be career-threatening, and Yamaha is reporting that as a result of the surgery, no functionality will be lost in either Lorenzo’s finger or his hand.
Despite multiple showers, MotoGP managed to dodge having wet any sessions for the Australian GP. With the weather always unpredictable at Phillip Island, concern on what was above quickly turned to concern on the track, as Jorge Lorenzo suffered a weekend-ending finger injury after a violent tankslapper sent the Spaniard to the tarmac in Turn 12. Out of the Australian GP, the incident all but assures Casey Stoner of clinching the 2011 MotoGP Championship at his home GP, and on his birthday no less.
The bad news continued for Yamaha, as Ben Spies announced that he would not race at Phillip Island as well, too battered and concussed from yesterday’s 167 mph get-off. Also a scratch was Australia’s own Damian Cudlin, who was filling-in for the injured Hector Barbera in the Mapfire Aspar Ducati squad. Cudlin’s second chance at riding a Ducati in a MotoGP race, the Australian also had to sit this race out because of injuries sustained during a T4 high-side on Saturday morning.
With the grid down to just 14 riders, the new front row consisted of Casey Stoner, Marco Simoncelli, and Alvaro Baustista. Lorenzo’s misfortune is an obvious boon to the Rizla Suzuki squad, who have found a new intensity these past few races. With Spie’s, and subsequently Yamaha’s, withdrawal from the Australian GP, Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa also got a boost, moving from the middle of the third row, to the outside of the second row. Teammate, and rival for third in the Championship, Andrea Dovizioso certainly can’t be pleased with that circumstance of that situation.
With all eyes on the picturesque island track, MotoGP fans eagerly awaited to see if a new World Champion would be crowned today. Continue reading to find out more.
Within an hour of the news that Jorge Lorenzo had been medically ruled out of competing at Phillip Island, Ben Spies has also said he won’t compete because of his injuries from his crash on Saturday. Going off the track at 167 mph, Spies suffered injuries to his chest and head in the high-speed off. Likely bruising and possibly cracking his ribs, Spies valiantly took part in the Australian GP’s warm-up session this morning, though lapped at a considerable slower pace and complained of concentration problems. In too much pain to ride in this afternoon’s race, Spies’ retirement for the weekend means that Yamaha Racing is out for the GP down under.
Jorge Lorenzo has been deemed unfit to compete in the Australian GP, after injuring his finger during the Warm-Up session at Phillip Island. Encounter a major headshake, Lorenzo hit the ground hard as his Yamaha YZR-M1 rounded the corner onto the front straight. Grasping his left hand afterwards, it has become apparent that Lorenzo has injured his ring finger in the crash.
Early reports state Lorenzo severed the tip of his finger, while reporters outside the Phillip Island Medical Center were briefed that the tip of his finger had been lacerated and split open. Regardless of the extent of Lorenzo’s unfortunate injury, the impact for this weekend is that the still reigning-World Champion will not compete in the Australian GP this week, effectively handing Casey Stoner the 2011 MotoGP Championship if the Australian can finish 6th or better in this afternoon’s race.
With suspicious skies, qualifying for MotoGP’s Australian GP got underway today. With the weather always variable at Phillip Island, riders saw sun, clouds, and a light spitting of rain before taking to the qualifying session. Normally a favorite track with the GP riders, Phillip Island has been plagued with a bumpy and torn-up surface, which dominated the discussion after Friday’s debriefings. With the Australian track announcing that the GP circuit would be resurfaced before the 2013 season, there is at least a remedy on the way, though it doesn’t bode well for the 2012 Australian GP.
Despite the surface conditions, Casey Stoner primarily lead the charge through the Free Practice sessions, though not in as dominant of a fashion as one would have expected. Finishing FP3 just over half a second quicker than Lorenzo, Stoner is still the paddock favorite to win tomorrow’s race, though his chances of clinching the Championship here at home seem slim. Able to keep the Australian within their reach, Jorge Lorenzo and Marco Simoncelli have given Stoner chase, though none of them have been able to take the top position on the timesheet from the Aussie.
MotoGP is coming to Phillip Island this weekend, as the premier motorcycle racing series gets set for the Australian GP. With only three more races left on the 2011 calendar, it is possible that Phillip Island could decide the 2011 MotoGP Championship, and points leader Casey Stoner is keen on winning the title in from of his home crowd. After a bobble at Motegi, Stoner saw Jorge Lorenzo claw back four more points in the Championship, thus leaving some margin for the Spaniard to prolong the Championship run (Lorenzo still has a mathematical chance at winning the Championship, we might add). With that being said though, Stoner is the betting favorite for the title, and could still very well clinch at home in Australia. To do so, one of six outcomes needs to occur.
Dorna and Phillip Island have been embroiled in a debate over moving the Australian GP to an earlier venue — a subject that seems to come up every time the premier series comes to the fabled island circuit. After Phillip Island rebuked the idea of moving its date for the MotoGP Championship, choosing to instead balance the race later in the calendar against other major events that come to Oz, namely Formula 1 (March 27th) and World Superbike (February 27th).
Not one to take rejection lightly, Dorna put Phillip Island on notice, suggesting that while the two parties did have a contract that saw the race pegged to the month of October, that agreement was only valid if Phillip Island kept its FIM homologation. This statement presumably suggested that Dorna would influence the FIM to remove accreditation for PI to run MotoGP events, should the Australians hold their ground. With neither party budging, serious concern began to grow over the Australian track.
With the MotoGP Safety Commission meeting today in Qatar, the issue of moving the Australian GP was broached and decided upon, with the Commission choosing to keep MotoGP’s stop in Phillip Island during the month of October. Glad to see his home race intact, Casey Stoner still had some thoughts on the issues surrounding the Australian GP date. Click after the jump to see his thoughts.
In the background of MotoGP, a quiet battle has been raging since the Australian GP at Phillip Island. A venue always threatened with inclement weather, the Australian track always manages to muster sunshine on race Sundays, despite the fact that they have all the makings weather-wise for a good regatta, not a motorcycle race. Despite this reality, the issue of running the Australian GP earlier in the race season comes up every time MotoGP gets a whiff of rain, wind, or kangaroos that could threaten the coastal track, as the late scheduling of the GP has historically been during the country’s rainy season.
Pressure to move the Australian GP to earlier in the season seemingly found its stride this past season, as Valentino Rossi and a number of other riders openly expressed their frustration with the circuit’s weather, and the pending safety concerns it meant for the riders. Talking during last season’s race, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta seemed all but certain that the venue would find an earlier slot in the calendar for 2011, despite the scheduling conflicts with WSBK and Formula 1 in the earlier months of this new year, and the nagging problem that Phillip Island doesn’t want to move the venue date.
Fielding questions at the Ducati/Ferrari Wrooom event, Ezpeleta again was asked about the issue with Phillip Island, and his response to the track’s position that its contract with Dorna prevents a change in the calendar positioning (PI is contracted until 2016). Talking to the assembled press, Ezpeleta fired a clear warning shot across the bow of the Australian track when he said the track’s homologation could come into question if calendar changes aren’t accepted. “We are talking with them. It’s true, they have a contract, but their circuit is subject to homologation,” said Ezpeleta. “If it (the Phillip Island track) is not homologated, the contract will be void.”
Repsol Honda fans were delighted to hear that Dani Pedrosa would return to MotoGP racing for the Australian GP at Phillip Island this weekend, but the good news was short-lived, as today the Spanish rider has decided not to race on Sunday. Participating in both Saturday sessions, Pedrosa could only muster a 15th place position for the MotoGP race grid, battling with the pain from his broken collarbone.
Realizing that his return to racing since his injury two weeks ago at Motegi was too much too soon, Pedrosa has obviously been battling too fresh of an injury, and was unable to meaningfully compete at the GP level. Accordingly the Repsol Honda squad has announced the mutual decision that Pedrosa will not race at Phillip Island, and instead pegs the Spaniard’s return to occur at Estoril for the Portuguese GP in two weeks.