HRC has officially announced now that Dani Pedrosa will miss the Dutch round of the MotoGP Championship. Breaking his collarbone back at the French GP, Pedrosa’s place on the disabled list was extended when it was discovered that bone fragments were still lurking in his shoulder. Pedrosa underwent yet another surgery to repair his collarbone, but his return to racing has been an uncertainty lately, as some in the assembled MotoGP press have suggested the Spaniard will sit out the rest of the season.
Whatever the status may be on Pedrosa’s return, the Ductch TT marks the third race absence for the Repsol Honda rider, and accordingly the team is obliged to replace him. Moving up San Carlos Gresini Honda’s Hiroshi Aoyama, the Japanese rider will swing a leg over the third Honda factory team bike, while Marco Simoncelli rounds out the group on the fourth factory bike that’s still nestled in the Gresini garage.
Quite a stir was made on Tuesday when news hit the interwebs (including on A&R) that an illegal fuel pump was found on Max Biaggi’s Aprilia RSV4 Factory race bike at Assen. With World Superbike regulations requiring that the fuel system be completely unmodified from stock, the story was two-fold as it appeared something about the #1 plated Aprilia was awry, and seemingly no penalty was levied by Race Direction.
Subsequent to this news Gigi Dall’Igna, Technical Director of Aprilia’s World Superbike program, has categorically denied anything illegal about Biaggi’s fuel pump, simply stating that the only difference between Biaggi’s pump and those on Camier and Haga’s RSV4′s was the number stamped on the side…which was different on every unit. In addition to this news, Infront Media Sports emailed Asphalt & Rubber last night, and further explained the situation, also explaining that no irregularities had been found on Biaggi’s race bike at the Dutch round.
It’s been a tough season so far for Max Biaggi. The reigning World Superbike Champion has had a decent start to the 2011 season, and currently sits second in the point standings after three race weekends, but his progress has been nothing like the blitzkrieg campaign he accomplished last year. Facing a non-factory Ducati that seemingly rides like a factory bike, Biaggi is 43 points behind Carlos Checa, while the devilishly quick WSBK rookie and former MotoGP contender Marco Melandri is only four points behind his fellow Italian.
Likely feeling the pressure to bring honor to the #1 plate, we’ve already seen Biaggi revert back to some of his old antics of the past. With the “slap” incident from Donington Park still fresh in peoples’ minds, more accusations come from riders that the Roman Emperor has been blocking and in the way during the Superpole qualifying event, and this time those accusations come from inside the Aprilia garage.
Carlos Checa started the second World Superbike race at Assen in pole position, after wise tire management left him the only rider in Superpole 3 on Saturday with an unused qualifying tire. He was joined on the front row by Jakub Smrz, Eugene Laverty, and Noriyuki Haga. It was the first front row start (other than that for Race 1) for the Irish rider in his WSBK rookie season.
Laverty’s teammate Marco Melandri had worse luck, crashing on his final lap in Superpole 3 and only qualifying eighth. The second WSBK race at Assen got off to a late start after the Supersport race had multiple red flags. It had become somewhat cloudier as the afternoon progressed, but hampered the racing little.
Carlos Checa started on his third straight pole of the 2011 World Superbike season at Assen, with Jakub Smrz, Eugene Laverty, and Noriyuki Haga sitting beside him on the front row after Saturday’s qualifying. Despite similar cool temperatures and a grey sky, considerably less drama surrounded the paddock Saturday in Assen than three weeks previously at Donington Park.
A contrite Max Biaggi started sixth, while rival Marco Melandri crashed on his final run in Q3 and qualified eighth. Melandri was unhurt, though teammate Laverty’s position on the front row showed the sort of pace their Yamahas were capable of for qualifying.
Second place starter Smrz had led most of the early practice and qualifying sessions, only to be beaten by tire management, as Checa was the only rider with a fresh qualifying tire for the final Q3 session. Chris Vermeulen did not make Superpole, but did start the race, after spending most of his time between Donington and this race testing his recovering knee across Europe.
The also-injured James Toseland was replaced by Dutch rider Barry Veneman after a testing crash left him unable to compete. Sunday morning was sunny, with Camier taking the lead during the morning warm-up. Haslam, Checa, Rea, and Melandri completed the fastest five, while Smrz was fourteenth, Laverty eighteenth, and Vermeulen nineteenth.
Having dominated the final qualifying session under a cloudy sky and in cool temperatures, Carlos Checa won pole (1:35.292) for the World Superbike round at Assen. The Spaniard won pole for the third race weekend in a row, added by the fact that he was the only rider to have a fresh qualifying tire for the third Superpole session. He will be joined on the front row for Sunday’s races by Jakub Smrz, Eugene Laverty, and Noriyuki Haga. Though none could touch Checa at the end, the Superpole sessions were marked by very close lap times, with the twelve riders in Superpole 2 covered by a half second. Only Marco Melandri crashed during the Superpole sessions, on his last lap while attempting to fight for pole. He was unhurt and qualified eighth.
Barry Veneman will replace the injured James Toseland at BMW Motorrad Italia for the World Superbike round at Assen. Toseland had surgery to implant wires in his wrist after a testing crash at Motorland Aragon left him with displaced bones and a lack of blood flow. With the surgery requiring at least six weeks of recovery time, Toseland was forced to sit out Donington Park and the next WSBK round at Assen. BMW Motorrad Italia did not replace Toseland for Donington, but has announced Dutch rider Veneman as the Briton’s replacement for the round held April 17th.
Veneman, who competed in 500cc MotoGP racing back in 2001, was a promising rider in Supersport and Superstock racing. He won a Dutch national championship in the mid-1990s, and much more recently he won the 2010 Le Mans 24 Hour endurance race with Suzuki. Not only a local to the Assen circuit, Veneman has been racing a BMW Superbike in the German national championship as well as participating in BMW Motorrad testing.