2011 Brno MotoGP Wednesday Round Up - The Race, The 1000s, And Silly Season

MotoGP is back from its summer break, and though the fans only had to face two weekends without the series - and one of those saw a World Superbike event - they are breathing a collective sigh of relief that the Four Aliens and their mortal cohorts are back on track once again. And with good reason: Brno is a fantastic circuit, both in terms of layout and location; the wide track and series of left-right and right-left combinations offer a lot of different lines and passing opportunities - even for 800cc MotoGP machines - and the steep wooded hills of Moravia make for great viewing and some tough challenges.

As if to reward us for our patience, the Brno MotoGP round offers very rich pickings indeed. For Sunday's race is just one dish from the smorgasbord of intrigue and interest that is likely to be forthcoming. There is also Monday's test, the first public appearance of Honda's and Yamaha's 1000cc bikes - though not of the Ducati, more of which later - a much-anticipated event. Then there's Silly Season: Brno is traditionally the point at which teams start making their plans more concrete, and contract conversations stop being quite so casual.

First, the race. Nearly three weeks off the bike will have allowed everyone some time to heal, with so many riders heading into the summer break pretty badly banged up. Jorge Lorenzo is nearly completely healed from his monster highside on Saturday at Laguna Seca, and will return as perhaps the healthiest of the championship frontrunners. Dani Pedrosa has taken another step towards full recovery, and is back in training, something he had had to abandon after the second operation to his collarbone, this time to secure the loose bone chip. His shoulder is still a little painful, but he is getting better every day.

Then there's Casey Stoner, who revealed after Laguna Seca just how badly he had been suffering with his neck, injured in his crash at Assen at the end of June. The break has done Stoner some good, but the recovery process will be long. Worryingly for his competition - and more particularly, Jorge Lorenzo - that did not stop him from winning at Laguna Seca, the Repsol Honda man seemingly unhindered by the neck injury.

Further down the grid, things are looking grim: the Pramac team, for example, are both still pretty badly hurt, Capirossi still recovering from his dislocated rib and Randy de Puniet from the huge crash at Laguna Seca which caused him to miss the race. His pelvis, fortunately, is not fractured, as was at first feared, but that does not make it any less painful. Just completing the race will be achievement enough for both men.

If you were the type of person who likes a wager, then the safe money says a Honda - any Honda - to win at Brno. The final section of the track, up what has been nicknamed Horsepower Hill to the final left-right combination before the start and finish line strongly favors the massive grunt that Honda somehow manages to squeeze from their 800cc RC212V. With Stoner fast regardless of his injury, the Repsol Honda rider is surely the favorite to extend his lead yet further, and a victory would take him at least a race clear of Lorenzo. But what the Yamaha lacks in horsepower it makes up for in agility, and a fully healthy Lorenzo - or at least, as fully healthy as any professional motorcycle racer is during the season - should be more than a match for Stoner on the Honda. Of course, Lorenzo will also have a resurgent Dani Pedrosa to deal with, and the Spaniard should be able to last the distance at Brno. Things could start to close up at the front.

The fourth Alien is still AWOL with bike issues, Valentino Rossi struggling to deal with the wayward Ducati. The GP11.1 has not produced the step forward he had hoped for, Rossi and Hayden stuck stubbornly around 6th place, and a long way off the pace. Monday brings a chance for both men to work on the GP11.1 - Hayden is to stick to the GP11 during the race, and give the GP11.1 a thorough shakedown on Monday - and also a chance to try some new parts. Speculation is rife as to what Ducati has brought for Rossi, with some in the paddock hinting that an aluminium twin spar frame could make an appearance, but that could just be wishful thinking. There will at least be new parts to test for the Ducati riders, though only for the 800 rather than the 1000. With 5 days of the maximum permitted of 8 already used up, Ducati is awaiting further significant updates from Borgo Panigale before taking to the track again with their 2012 bike. That is currently scheduled for Misano, after the race there in early September, at which point Rossi and Hayden should have enough to test.

And so we will see only the Yamaha and Honda 1000s on track at Brno, though that will provide a big clue as to what next year will bring. At Mugello, Ducati team boss Vito Guareschi told journalists that simulations showed that their 2012 bike should be half a second quicker than the 800 at the Italian track. With lap times at Brno some 8 or 9 seconds more than Mugello, there should be a similar margin between the 800s and the 1000s. Yet reports from Jerez suggest that the Honda 1000 was a full 2 seconds faster than the 800s, though the 1000 had much better conditions to ride in. However, take away 1 second for the better track conditions, and you're still left with a huge performance boost.

By the look of things, Honda's 2012 bike is going to be a rocketship, and the only bike likely to be capable of matching it is the Yamaha. Little has been seen of Yamaha's 2012 machine (other than a couple of spy videos, one of which is over on GPOne.com) and this will be the first test in the hands of the factory riders Jorge Lorenzo and Ben Spies. It seems reasonable to surmise that Yamaha are a couple of months behind Honda, but the late start might work to their advantage later on, as they will have more testing at the end of the year, with more possible updates.

Indeed, the 2012 season will be the main focus at Brno, as teams and riders will start to take shape. The six top factory rides are already in place for 2012, with Yamaha, Honda and Ducati having Lorenzo and Spies, Pedrosa and Stoner, and Hayden and Rossi under contract for next year respectively. There has been some scuttlebutt about Rossi negotiating with Honda for an extra bike, but the veracity of those claims were hard to verify. The hardened paddock cynics suggested that the rumor was being circulated at the request of Rossi himself, to put some pressure on Bologna, but that seems a little far-fetched. After all, the only thing that is needed to put pressure on Bologna is to show them the timesheets for this year.

The real action is not with the factories, but with the satellite machines. There will likely be a decision here from Honda on exactly how many bikes they will be running in 2012, with very strong rumors that there will be only 4. Honda has been hit hard by the Japanese tsunami - especially the car division, production having been badly affected, and consequently, profits too - and some hard bargaining will be going on with the board about the size of HRC's involvement. On the positive side, sponsors are looking at moving in to help - Viessmann is reportedly talking to LCR about backing a second bike in the LCR Honda team for Stefan Bradl, though Viessmann could also stick with the Kiefer team and move up as either a CRT or independent Honda entry - but on the negative side, MotoGP remains immensely expensive, and Honda may not be willing to put in the investment, no matter what the sponsors want.

Andrea Dovizioso and Marco Simoncelli look set to stay with Honda, though both will likely lose their factory backing. Dovizioso will lose his spot at Repsol Honda, and move to LCR Honda instead, while Simoncelli will stay with San Carlo Gresini. Unless, that is, his manager Carlo Pernat is to be believed, who would have us believe that Ducati is keen on signing the Italian, one of the factors feeding the Rossi-to-Honda rumors.

The fate of the Pramac Ducati squad is equally uncertain, Pramac reportedly having contacted Honda about satellite machines, tiring of their links with Ducati, especially as the GP11 remains such a handful to ride. Loris Capirossi looks set to retire - at last - while Randy de Puniet will almost certainly stay on somewhere, though he is not looking forward to another year on a Ducati. Karel Abraham and Hector Barbera will both stay put - though Abraham's position is much more certain that Barbera's - and both will stay with satellite Ducatis. Barbera could be joined by a second Spaniard in the Mapfre Aspar team, though it is unclear whether that will be Julian Simon - currently in Moto2 - or Alvaro Bautista.

Bautista's fate depends in part on what Suzuki will be doing for 2012, and at the moment, it looks like the team will be present, as will at least one factory bike. That could be a revised version of the 2011 800cc GSV-R, though, as this is the cheapest option for Suzuki to stay in MotoGP, though the Japanese factory has shown little stomach for racing in either World Superbike or MotoGP. There are also some questions about whether Suzuki will be a single-rider team, or whether John Hopkins will join Bautista to expand Suzuki's efforts.

At Tech 3, team boss is faced with something of a quandary, though much of his fate lies in the hands of Yamaha Japan. Cal Crutchlow has a two-year contract, though the Englishman has fallen foul of team boss Herve Poncharal for the last few races, the Frenchman increasingly frustrated at Crutchlow's string of crashes. Now at a track he has raced at again, Crutchlow should show some more competitiveness. If he doesn't, Poncharal has shown an interest in Stefan Bradl, but Randy de Puniet could also find a new home at the Yamaha satellite squad.

Colin Edwards' future is deeply uncertain, but much of the doubt surrounds the 2012 MotoGP machine. Edwards is likely to be asked to stay on for next season, and given a lead role in developing the new 1000cc bike for next year. That, however, would probably have to come out of Yamaha Japan's pocket rather than Poncharal's, and Yamaha, like Honda, is suffering, from the after-effects of the tsunami, the high yen and the falling demand for sportsbikes.

So far, there is much speculation, yet very little concrete news. Once the paddock fills with MotoGP's finest - as well as the newshounds that follow the circus - more, much more, will emerge. It's going to be a busy and fascinating weekend.

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Wow, if LCR got Dovizioso and Marquez, you'd have to hope they'd do a better job of looking after them than they have Stoner and Elias. Wonder if Marquez would cop the "if you don't use the set-up we think is right, we won't help" ultimatum?

... were that he was also given the "we know best, just ride it" treatment... and that was one reason he kept crashing the thing: they wouldn't lift the bike to give him more ground clearance.

Of course, that may be bollocks, and maybe being forced to pick the bike up while hanging so far off the side was part of what made him so fast now. However it was notable that his rate of crashing dropped dramatically when he went to Ducati in 2007.

You are correct , there was friction between Forcada and Stoner as he wouldn't accept that Stoner correctly knew what he wanted, thus going down the " I am older, I know best " path. He made some disparaging comments, (totally irrelevant to anything related to racing , such magnanimity.......... ) about Stoner, in a later interview.

Obviously he ( Forcada ) has since seen the error of his ways.........

He had so much faith in the kid that he decided to quit the lower categories and finally enter MotoGP in 2006.
And the Australian repayed him with 1 pole in the second race of the team in the top category and its first podium (2 tenths from victory) in only the 3rd race of the MotoGP outfit.
With 9 top6 results and 8th position in the championship Casey also brought LCR their best ever result in MotoGP (Checa was 14th in 2007 and Randy 15th, 11th and 9th in 2008, 2009 and 2010 respectively, 2011 is not worth mentioning).
I don't remember much bad blood between LCR and Stoner, for a rookie rider and a "rookie team" it was pretty good results.

I been spending these past 2 motogp free weeks watching the 2007 season and in Japan when Stoner secured the Championship, Cechinello sounded like he was literally in tears, just soo happy for Casey, like a proud dad, had nothing but great things to say

There has never been any hint of hostility between Casey and Lucio. Quite the opposite. Relationships between riders and technicians, though, are another story altogether........like I wouldn't have wanted to be Casey's Bridgestone guy a couple of races back, after he went backwards from 1st pos....... :-)

There is a rumour that Colin Edwards will stay in MotoGP but not with Tech3 anymore. Probably with some CRT team.

Source: Former WSBK team manager not MotoGP expert TV commentator Johan Stigefelt.

I'm waiting to see which current rider will jump on a CRT and fight for the last 4 positions. I'm a bit sceptic as to the succes of that initiative.

Elias, Hiroshi, and all Ducati riders (abraham aside) have been disappointing to say the least. Then again , we can't get a good feel for a Satellite rider's performance. Both Satellite Hondas are struggling to some extent. None of the Ducs are remotely close. Tech3 has been winning the satellite war. Someone should approach Yamaha with an offer they cannot refuse and start another team.

IMO Capirossi, Edwards, Elias, and Ayoama no longer belongs in the big class. If Colin is such a great development rider, Yamaha should hire him as a test rider.

Edwards has been the only satellite rider to podium this year. I think this is pretty good evidence that he still belongs in the class.

Good work there Dave, i love these kind of articles, please keep us updated!
My prediction:

Repsol Honda = Stoner & Pedrosa
Yamaha = Lorenzo & Spies
Ducati = Rossi & Hayden
Suzuki = Bautista & Hopkins
Tech 3 = Edwards & Laverty
Gresini = Simoncelli & de Puniet
LCR = Dovizioso & Bradl
AB Ducati = Abraham
Aspar = Barbera & Simon
Pramac = Guintoli & Elias
Marc VDS = Mika Kallio

I hope Marquez slots in this grid somewhere, otherwise next years Moto2 will be a forgone conclusion.

Any new goss on Suter chassis swaps, rider discontent, funny Dunlops?

I did some catching up on race videos while on holiday: is it just me or are all the moto2 bikes running enormous swingarm angles?

Never really occured to me, but Super Sic on the Duc might be a match made in heaven!!! If anyone could get heat to those tires and ride like they didn't give a hoot (aside from Casey of course) it would be Marco! He would either win the Championship or crash himself into retirement...

... but how many riders has that been said about before?

The recalcitrant nature of the Ducati as ruined or near-ruined the careers of several hard chargers. Hayden, although doing better than most, just hasn't been able to make his aggressive style work, and I doubt Simo would have any more luck.

I think Stoner had the advantage of not really knowing any better (plus obvious talent), and so just learned to ride what was there, rather than trying to compare it to what had come before. As David's excellent analysis of Ducati's woes discussed, the short CF front subframe of the Ducati doesn't offer the kind of feedback riders expect, so they can't ride it the way they would normally ride.

>>I think Stoner had the advantage of not really knowing any better

That's a pretty backhanded compliment. From the beginning of the problems with the Duc, Stoner has highlighted the same bike issues that every other rider, Rossi included, has. He provided the same feedback as other riders, was ignored by the factory just like the other riders, but unlike the other riders Stoner was able to win on it. In short, he has outperformed every other rider ever to ride the Ducati and every other rider in the paddock. How can you attribute that to anything but exceptional talent?


Whatever you think of Stoner off the track, nobody can dispute his speed and skill. But when it came to pushing a MotoGP bike to it's limits of grip, Stoner only had a single season on a very different bike for reference.

I'm not saying he wasn't or couldn't offer the feedback to engineers, simply that he hadn't really had time to develop his premier class habits on the LCR beforehand.

On the front, almost exclusively throughout his career from my recollection, a habit he continues with to this day on the rather sorted RCV. Marco and a fickle front end............

He's been just as susceptable to a highside as this year has shown, the best examples being Estoril and of course Assen when he took out JL - both being first lap incidents.

Simoncelli can't podium on a factory Honda - the best bike on the grid. So why would anyone think he would do better on the Ducati which is far from the best?

Am I the only one completely sick of reading comments disparaging Casey Stoner's aptitude re: bike handling?

Let it go guys, please; its boring & childish. Clearly Casey knows better.

None of us has ANY idea about what these guys know, to what degree & how to apply any of it even if we deludedly believe we could.


Didn't Melandri put something up on his twitter about the rumors. I believe it said he was joking about the Rossi-Gresini connection and he was angry that the press always make him out to be the paddock snitch. Don't know for sure, I don't twit.... errr tweet.

Are any CRT teams expected to test on Monday?

While they apparently are allowed to test whenever and wherever they want but isn't it about time that they show up on these events to check where they are?

And what about Bridgestone, does Bridgestone simply send them home a bunch of their super ultra stealth tec tires so they can test whenever they want?

Any links, damo???
Haven't seen/read the press conference in question yet (wherever in the www it is) and also didn't know about Adriana being pregnant. There's a fair chance he will be the only father in the paddock looking younger than his child... :-)

Perhaps now all of those journalists who have been riding Stoner like a show horse for the last couple of months over his Motegi stance can take a nice long swig from a glass of shut up, and spread the hatred around little more. The press conference not only confirmed his wife being pregnant, but also that Lorenzo and Rossi are just as much "ring leaders" as anyone else in boycotting the race.

Someone check the rule book. I had no idea that it was actually Adrianna that was racing in Casey's leathers. Why is this not a top story?!

Anybody who watches GP racing closely knows that they travel together.
When she comes home here to Adelaide to see her family, he comes too.
The massive diamond ring she sport was purchased from a local jeweller here in Adelaide, where they were married.
It's part of "their thing".
Would you take your pregnant wife to place where radiation exposure is likely?

If Casey goes to Motegi (and I think ultimately they all will), he would be likely to leave Adriana at home for the week. No way in hell I'd take my pregnant wife there.

But then being an Aussie girl she's probably pretty tough, and if she decides she's going, there's probably not much he could do about it!!!

"Would you take your pregnant wife to place where radiation exposure is likely?"

All right, I find it strange that now that Stoner has said his wife is pregnant, everyone seems to say "Ah, that makes sense, no wonder he was so dead set against going." He was pretty much vilified for saying he wouldn't go, various sources trotted out examples of how much radiation there really was, and that is wasn't worse than flying in an airplane or getting an X-ray or whatever, why is it now that Adriana is pregnant that his position seems more understandable now? Certainly she will fly on an airplane while she is pregnant but everyone would think he was crazy if she no longer came to races because he didn't want her to fly. But her not going to a location that is supposedly comparable for radiation dosage as flying is perfectly acceptable.

For the record I don't fault Stoner for his reticence to go to Motegi - experts are often wrong. If it were me, if I didn't want my pregnant wife to go, I wouldn't go either.

He was vilified for seeming to take a stance contrary to all available facts with no explanation. Wife being pregnant for the first time is definitely an occurrence to make people act a bit illogical and I think the press is acknowledging that fact. Especially since he came out and expressed the same. He usually sounds a bit whiny but this time came out and took it on the chin.

Recommended maximum exposures levels of chemicals and radiation are much lower for children then they are for adults. I would imagine that a fetus is even more susceptible to their negative effects than a stand-alone human.

>>There's a caveat for frequent fliers, however. Pilots, flight attendants and others who fly often may be exposed to more radiation than is considered safe during pregnancy. If you must fly frequently during your pregnancy, discuss it with your health care provider. He or she may limit your total flight time during pregnancy.


So Adrian may not be showing up at any of the coming races and maybe Casey was not acting so irrationally.


I see, so he threw out the "Won't somebody please think of the children" card and everybody said "Thats OK, Casey, we understand." At least it provides him an excuse to backpedal, other, that is, than the excuse Honda likely already gave him - go or you're out of a job. We did it to Biaagi and we'll do it to you.

Repsol Honda = Stoner & Pedrosa
Yamaha = Lorenzo & Spies
Ducati = Rossi & Hayden
Suzuki = Bautista & Hopkins
Tech 3 = Dovisioso & Crutchlow
Gresini = Simoncelli & Melandri
LCR = Bradl & De Puniet
AB Ducati = Abraham
Aspar = Barbera & Simon
Pramac = Iannone & Mattia Pasini
Marc VDS = Tom Luthi

After Marquez wins the title this year, I hope he goes straight to MotoGP because Moto2 is a meat grinder... And if he does go, a Red Bull Honda team would be quite interesting!