Is the Motorland Aragon circuit a Honda track or a Yamaha track? On the evidence of Friday, it is first and foremost a Marc Marquez track. The reigning world champion may not have topped the timesheets – the two de facto factory Ducati riders, Andreas Dovizioso and Iannone did that – but he set a scorching race pace that only his Repsol Honda teammate could get close to, though Dani Pedrosa was still a couple of tenths off the pace of Marquez.
“This is one of my favorite tracks,” Marquez said afterwards, adding that he was happy with his rhythm and he had really enjoyed his day. The Spaniard may have lost any chance of wrapping up the title at Aragon with a win, but that didn’t make him any less determined to take victory here. The crash at Misano made no difference to his attitude. Was he afraid of crashing? “No. You can’t race and be afraid of crashing.” Marquez was pushing to the limit once again, laying down a marker for others to follow.
If the mood in Marquez’s garage was elated, things were different in the Yamaha camp. Though the gap to Marquez in terms of pace was not huge, it was still significant. Jorge Lorenzo was concerned. “We are slower than last year,” he told the media, “we are slower than at the test [in June].”
They had started the weekend using the set up which had worked well enough over the last four races for Lorenzo to finish second, but it simply was not working at Aragon. The plan was to revert to the set up used before Indianapolis, he said.
The problem for the Yamahas is grip, especially at the rear. Valentino Rossi was suffering the most of the Yamaha riders. “I’m not very satisfied,” Rossi said, “it was a difficult day.” Aragon was always a hard track for the Yamahas, Rossi explained, as the rear grip made it hard for them to maintain their corner speed.
The track is a tricky one to master. The asphalt provides a lot of grip, but getting the tires to work was tough. For the first five or six laps, the tires work well, but after that, grip drops drastically. Finding the right balance between front and rear grip, between getting drive while the rear spins and losing it all when it spins needlessly was hard.
As so often, Bradley Smith provided an eloquent explanation. The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider has an analytical mind, and the ability to explain himself clearly. Whether he is fast or slow at a track, he is capable of understanding the reasons, and putting it into words for us poor journalists.
When asked why the Hondas do so well at Aragon while the Yamahas struggle, Smith answered “I don’t really know what the answer is. But there certainly is a lot of grip, and the track seems to allow you the possibility to brake later here.” It was the type of grip that was key, he explained.
“There seems to be more rear grip here than at other tracks, especially in the brake areas. So where sometimes you see the Honda skating around on the brakes, here they’re able to brake late anyway. If you have a look at the race in Misano, Marc was able to take five bike lengths out of Valentino at some points. But that ability to do that is even more exaggerated here because the rear grip allows them to do it.”
The Twin Ring Motegi circuit is to be home to the Japanese round of MotoGP until at least 2018. Dorna today announced that a contract had been signed with the circuit for it to host the Japanese Grand Prix from 2014 to 2018. Motegi has been on the calendar since 1999, first running the Pacific Grand Prix before taking over the Japanese Grand Prix when Suzuka was axed from the calendar following Daijiro Kato’s death.
There had been some doubt about the future of the circuit in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Motegi is just over 120km away from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant which was badly damaged by the tsunami, and caused a massive leak of radiation.
After his race as a fully-inducted MotoGP racer, OnTheThrottle got a chance to talk to Ben Spies about his first race under the lights of Qatar and as a full-fledged GP racer. Spies talks about qualifying etiquette, the difference in style between WSBK and GP bikes, and how he feels he’s stacking up against the competition. See Ben explains all this and take questions from OTT’s live audience in their video interview after the jump.
Veteran MotoGP rider Loris Capirossi is set to start his 300th GP at Qatar this weekend, a record for the most GP starts by any rider. The 37 year old Capirossi easily out paces his nearest rival in this regard, Alex Barros, who started 276 races during his GP career. Likely to be one of the few riders to make it to 300 race starts, Capirex would have hit the benchmark in 2009 had the Hungarian GP at the Balatonring not been cancelled. Known for being injury free (knock on wood), Capirossi will likely add another 17 starts to this number, with it being anyone’s guess when the Italian hangs up his leathers for good.
Following the announcement on Thursday that Ben Spies will move to MotoGP in 2010, Yamaha now announces that it will enter the Texan as a wild card into the season-ending Grand Prix of Valencia.
25-year-old Spies will participate as a single rider entry of a Yamaha Factory Racing Team, using YZR-M1 test bikes brought over from Japan. The Valencia MotoGP race takes place 6-8th November, two weeks after the final World Superbike round at Portimao, Portugal.
Motorcycle News is reporting that the , after funding problems have struck construction of the brand new Balatonring circuit. Rumors of the tracks financial problems have been circulating since the end of last year, but MCN is now claiming to have received information from “senior MotoGP officials”. MCN is also reporting that a move to the brand new Portimao circuit in Portugal was mooted, as a replacement for the Balatonring round, but that this was discounted because it would be too close to the official Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril in early October. Given the current calls for cost-cutting in MotoGP, the more popular choice might be for the round to be canceled altogether. Skipping a whole weekend would cut down on expenditure significantly.
Rumors are about that Antonio Banderas has dropped some coin to buy the 125cc and 250cc World GP team, Motomondiale. It will cost the Spanish actor to the tune of €6MM to play in the upcoming 2009 GP season. Banderas isn’t the first celebrity to enter into the sport of motorcycling by purchasing a team, but he is the first masked avenger. Sorry, there’s no way this article was going to make it without a Zorro reference.
It seems almost fitting that this is the last week of testing for MotoGP before the winter ban sets in, and also that we discover that three Aprilia RSW 500’s (500cc 2-stroke GP bikes) are up for sale. These bikes were ridden by Tetsuya Harada in 1999, and in 2000 with Harada again, along with Jeremy McWilliams. More and pictures after the jump.
The Circuit de Catalunya, located in Montmelo outside Barcelona, Spain, is allowing the remains of loved ones (presumably former racing enthusiasts) to be scattered across the course.
The Circuit de Catalunya hosts both MotoGP and Formula 1 races, and is one of the largest racing stops for both tours.
I’ve sat on this story for a few days now, trying to figure out what exactly is going on? Is Aprilia once again digging up the Gilera brand as a sportbike entry? Is this wishful thinking by an Italian designer known for “concept” sketches? Is this poor reporting by the motorcycle blogsphere? Or all of the above?
Let me start from the beginning, and in the end I’ll let you decide.
Well that’s it folks, the MotoGP season is over. Not to spoil it, but Randy de Puniet was not the come-from-behind points winner for the rider’s cup. Click on the jump to see every dirty spoiler.