Testing continues in Sepang, as MotoGP riders continued their first week of shaking down the new 1,000cc era machines. For the second day of testing, teams spent the sessions comparing settings and parts to the previous day, looking for clearer paths of development. For Yamaha, this meant testing suspension and electronic settings, while Honda tried different chassis with Casey Stoner. With weather hot and humid, Stefal Bradl got baptized with his first MotoGP gravel trap excursion, though the German was thankfully uninjured from the spill.
Progress on the all-new factory GP12 continued in the Ducati Corse garage, though the Italian team was short a rider after Nicky Hayden parked his bike after 16 laps. The American rider has been struggling with his broken shoulder, which still lacked the strength to properly ride at the Malaysian track. Quiting the day’s session earliy, Ducati’s test rider Franco Battaini took over for Hayden, and completed the day’s work with Valentino Rossi. Photos and results after the jump.
If you want to get a quick feel of how the 2012 MotoGP Championship is shaping up from a very knowledgeable person in the MotoGP paddock, then today’s video from Yamaha Racing’s Lin Jarvis is your best bet. Taking some time from his duties of running Yamaha’s MotoGP team, Jarvis talks about the tests underway in Sepang, Malaysia, and is generally optimistic about the season.
Of course sometimes what isn’t said is more important than what is said, and in this season preview you won’t hear a single word about the most important change to MotoGP: the claiming rule teams. Simple omission, or are the OEMs beginning their face-off with Dorna on the future of MotoGP?
In addition to testing the factory Ducati Desmosedici GP12 “Phoenix” this week at Sepang, Valentino Rossi is also trying out a new lid from AGV. Aside from the carbon fiber goodness, and of course the Rossi stickers (which add 5hp & $200), AGV’s prototype helmet sports a noticably pronounced rear spoiler. Tucked in behind the windscreen, it is obvious why the Italian helmet manufacturer designed such a large protrusion off the back of the prototype helmet, as it looks to be clearly helping the flow off the back of the helmet, across the rider’s hump, and down his backside.
Yes, that’s all well and good, but what has this writer really salivating is that reports from Malaysia say the windscreen’s field of view is HUGE. I think the exact words described to me were, “it’s like watching a flat screen TV with your nose against the monitor.” While I love my AGV AX-8 Dual Sport (I rocked it hard at the BRD RedShift SM prototype test), I just can’t get that same enthusiasm behind AGV’s road race line. Having ridden with both the AGV T2 and AGV GP-Tech, my biggest complaint is that the field of view on both these helmets feels restricted (a common complaint apparently from riders used to Arai’s helmet design).
With rain the night before, MotoGP’s first day of testing in Sepang got off to a late start, with riders not taking to the Malaysian track until well into the day. Noticeably absent from the day’s test was reigning-World Champion Casey Stoner, as the Australian’s back seized during stretching before the first session. Casey is expected to ride Wednesday (Tuesday evening US time), though former-teammate Andrea Dovizioso is a question mark, as the Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider was too sick for a media debrief last night.
For the Ducati camp, initial results are looking positive, as the factory Ducati Desmosedici GP12 had its first shakedown from riders Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden. Still recovering from his broken shoulder, Hayden only put in 25 laps on the new GP12 “Phoenix” before calling it a day and letting test rider Franco Bataini finish the day’s testing for him. Rossi on the other hand had a full-day with the Ducati Corse’s GP12, and was already impressed with the bike and the progress Ducati had made with it.
“I’m happy because first impressions are important, and already in the first few laps, I could tell that I like the bike,” said the nine-time World Champion. “Ducati did a good job in a just a short time. The bike is beautiful, but more importantly, it’s nice to ride. The riding position has improved a lot, and it’s better on braking and corner entry. I can brake like I want to and take the lines that I like, and I feel comfortable in general.”
In many ways, MotoGP’s return to the Sepang International Circuit (ironically, SIC for short), is like returning to the scene of the crime, as the motorcycling community was robbed of one of its most memorable and rising stars. It was only a few months ago that MotoGP fans watched Marco Simoncelli perish during the first laps of the Malaysian GP, and since that tragedy, today is the first chance for many in the GP community to return to that fateful track.
When Yamaha’s MotoGP team lost its sponsorship from Petronas, it seemed like the buzzards had begun circling around the Japanese company’s racing efforts. Thankfully for GP racing fans, our friends at MotoMatters got word that Petronas’ departure was making way for a new sponsor, JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corporation.
Now formally announcing that JX Nippon Oil will sponsor Yamaha Racing’s factory MotoGP squad, our pre-season attention can now shift to see if Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies will have some new livery on display when Yamaha makes its formal 2012 team unveiling…oh, and how fast the 2012 Yamaha YZR-M1 will be against the factory Ducati Desmosedici GP12 and Honda RC213V. Something mildly related to all this is after the jump.
While Ducati Corse is busy playing hide-the-Desmosedici at Sepang, HRC is all business in Malaysia this week, and has debuted its 2012 Honda RC213V MotoGP-contender. Honda isn’t saying too much about the RC213V, simply stating that the race bike is all new, but is also a continuation of the company’s design with the 800cc Honda RC212V. Testing the Honda RC213V over the course of last season, reigning-World Champion Casey rode the new 1,000cc machine three times in 2011, while teammate Dani Pedrosa swung a leg over the RC213V twice (missing one test because of injury).
With testing at Sepang to start Tuesday local time (later tonight for us Americans), we won’t have to wait long to see how the Honda stacks up against the factory Ducati Desmosedici GP12 and the yet-to-be-seen 2012 Yamaha YZR-M1. With Dani Pedrosa besting Stoner at the Valencia test, there should be a good battle within the Repsol Honda team for the World Champsionship title defense. If Pedrosa can stay healthy, he could be a real threat to stoner. Though, the Australian won 13 of last season’s 17 races, making him the favorite going into the 2012 season. Photos after the jump.
You may have been misled by some eager journalists today and yesterday, if you saw a Ducati Corse livery-clad Ducati Desmosedici GP12 that some sites were passing off as the first shots of the “90% new” GP12. With the alleged new GP12 looking surprisingly similar to the aluminum-framed “GP0″ that was tested at Valencia, Valentino Rossi’s mechanic has now Alex Briggs confirmed that the photos taken were not of the all new “GP12 Phoenix” that the factory team will race this season. While the Ducati lords can taketh away, they can also giveth, and Valentino Rossi himself has posted the first photo of the factory Desmosedici GP12, and the bike is clearly different.
After the tragic events at the cancelled Malaysian GP, and the subsequent tragic death of Marco Simoncelli, there were whispers regarding whether Valentino Rossi and/or Colin Edwards would retire after the incident that cut-short SuperSic’s life. These whispers and thoughts turned into idle chatter, which then lead to unfounded speculation.
It is of course only natural in this FOX News world that we live in that every possible angle and outcome be explored before any sort of precedent for those mental exercises presents themselves. Perhaps a lessen on the difficulties of basic human communication, even the most well-intended and honest speculation can be misperceived and distorted as it is retold, which in this case lead to a mass hysteria that the nine-time World Champion would retire from MotoGP racing.