Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain

Barcelona Moto2 Test: Day 1 A Washout

If the old aphorism that no news is good news holds true, then the news from the first day of testing at Barcelona simply couldn't be better. Rain all morning, followed by grey skies and more drizzle kept almost everyone stuck in the pits. Towards the end of the day, as the conditions improved a little, several riders tested the water, of whom Roberto Rolfo completed the most laps - 35 in total - to get a feel for his Italtrans STR Suter Moto2 bike. His teammate Robertino Pietri - son of the former AMA racer Roberto Pietri - went out with the same objective, but was forced back into the pits after just a couple of laps, after suffering an engine problem with the Supersport-spec CBR600 unit which the Italtrans team are using while waiting for the official spec unit to arrive.

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MotoGP 2012 1000cc Regulations: More Fuel, More Engines, "Claiming Rule"

The agenda for Wednesday's meeting of the Grand Prix Commission  - MotoGP's rule-making body - was clear: To thrash out some of the difficulties arising from their previous decision to revert MotoGP to 1000cc. Their hope was that after this meeting, the main points of the rules would be clear to everyone involved, and manufacturers and privateers could go off and start working on the machines which they will contest the 2012 MotoGP championship with.

Sure enough, after the meeting, the FIM issued a press release containing the new regulations agreed by the GP Commission, and it should come as no surprise that a host of details remain to be sorted out. The changes noted in the press release do point to some fascinating developments. Here are the main points for the 2012 regulations, which we will go into in more detail below:

Technical Specifications for 2012 for the MotoGP class

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Back On Track: Moto2 Testing At Barcelona On Wednesday, MotoGP And WSBK To Follow

After several long, dark months of near silence on racetracks around the world, motorcycle racing fans can ready themselves for a feast of on-track action. For 10 of the next 14 days will see every international race class on track testing, with the bonus of the opening round of the World Superbike championship to top it off. 

First up is a major outing for the Moto2 and 125cc classes at Barcelona's Montmelo circuit. A total of 42 riders are expected to take to the track, including the cream of the 125cc crop and some of the major players in Moto2. 

In the 125cc class, the four favorites for the title will face off for the first time. The Derbis of Pol Espargaro and Marc Marquez will be up against the Aprilias of Bradley Smith and Nico Terol, as the teams and riders prepare for the championship. 

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Graziano Rossi: "Valentino Will Stay With Yamaha Until He Retires"

The 2011 MotoGP Silly Season is already the biggest news of 2010, and the year is just a few weeks old. Shots have been fired over various bows in the runup to the summer, when negotiations with all four members of the Aliens - Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo, Casey Stoner and Dani Pedrosa, whose contracts expire at the end of 2010 - will commence.

The biggest target for all three major manufacturers - Yamaha, Honda and Ducati - is probably the nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi. So far, Rossi has been decidedly ambiguous about his own plans, flirting openly with Ducati one moment whilst avowing his loyalty to Yamaha the next. Rumors persist that Rossi is considering a switch to Ducati - fueled by the dreams and desires of 60 million Italians - and even Honda have hinted they would welcome a return. So the press, and especially the Italian press, seize on any opportunity to search for any hint of Rossi's intentions for 2011.

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Takahashi Out Of Team Scot "Due To Back Problems"

From the moment Gabor Talmacsi confirmed the rumors of a ride with the Team Scot Honda squad in MotoGP by turning up at Barcelona with a new sponsor and a contract, the writing has been on the wall for Yuki Takahashi. Despite the denials and promises from the team to try and find a way of accommodating both riders, in reality, it was merely a question of time before the Japanese rider would be forced to make way for the Hungarian, who was bringing a much-needed cash injection into the squad.

That time, according to the authoratitive Italian site GPOne.com, is now. Takahashi, it is being reported, has been withdrawn from the US Grand Prix at Laguna Seca, ostensibly to allow surgery to be performed for back problems Takahashi suffered in his crash at Barcelona. The surgery will require a recovery period of 3 months, leaving Takahashi sidelined for the rest of the season. Just how badly Takahashi required surgery remains open to speculation, but his back injury is extremely convenient.

Team Scot manager Cirano Mularoni was open about the problems faced running two riders without spare bikes. "It was a difficult situation," he told GPone.com," because contrary to what I had read, extra spares were not available for the RC212V, a situation which would have gotten worse after Brno, with the limit on the numbers of engines. Not to mention the problems we would have faced in a flag-to-flag race, where we would have been forced to change wheels instead of bikes." Just where Mularoni read that Honda had extra RC212V parts lying around is a bit of a mystery, for HRC have made no secret of their aversion to supplying any more bikes, especially since sales slumped in aftermath of the global financial crisis.

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Casey Stoner: Last Lap Rossi Pass At Catalunya Was "Silly Mistake By Lorenzo"

The last lap at Barcelona was one for the ages, with the lead swapping four times before the flag finally fell. In the post-race press conference with Casey Stoner, the subject of that pass almost inevitably came up, as Stoner passed Rossi in exactly the same place in 2007. Ever forthright in his opinion, Stoner was clear about how Rossi's victory came about. "It was a silly mistake by Jorge," Stoner said. "He was just that confident that he had it in the bag, that he braked too early. Even where he braked, I brake later than that. If you get a little bit better run up there, it's so easy just to run it up inside. You saw it was an easy pass."

"Jorge braked earlier than he had been braking all race. I was behind him earlier, and he was braking much later than that then." But Stoner didn't expect Lorenzo to make the same mistake in the future. "He was just thinking about getting a run for the line. But Jorge learns, and he'll learn from this mistake."

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Rossi vs Lorenzo - Dorna Shows That Very Occasionally, They Get The Internet

Dorna, the body responsible for organizing, promoting and marketing the MotoGP series, has traditionally done a fantastic job in selling the series to television broadcasters, making the series the second biggest form of motor racing on TV, behind only Formula One, with TV viewing figures not far off the numbers for F1, and hundreds of millions of TV viewers watching the sport online. Unsurprisingly, Dorna has come to think of its job as selling TV broadcast rights.

The tragic consequence of this concentration on old media is that they have singularly failed to grok the internet, as the expression has it. To Dorna, the internet is a threat, a force they can neither understand nor control, and what's worse, a medium without an obvious method of generating an income from. Exacerbating the problem is the rise of peer-to-peer technologies such as BitTorrent and video sharing websites like Youtube. Torrents of MotoGP races appear online within minutes of the events finishing, while clips of the most exciting and controversial parts of MotoGP races likewise flood onto Youtube almost immediately after they happen.

Youtube, in particular, has been a target of Dorna, the site's reputation for taking material subject to copyright claims down first, then asking questions about it later - effectively reversing the burden of proof - making Dorna's job a lot easier. Videos of MotoGP footage on Youtube tend to disappear within a few days of going up, with Dorna firing off takedown notices at a vast rate.

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2009 MotoGP Catalunya Race Report - Triumph Of The Will

A motorcycle racer must possess many qualities, both physical and mental, to be successful. They must have instantaneous reflexes; a gyroscope-like sense of balance; and a tough, wiry physique combining strength with low body weight. They must have the endurance of a triathlete combined with the fast-twitch muscle speed of an Olympic sprinter.

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2009 Catalunya Post-Race Test Times - Updated

Testing has started in the first of the extremely restricted test programs, the amount of testing having been slashed for cost-cutting purposes over the winter. Dani Pedrosa is sitting out the test, preferring to rest in the hope that his injured femur will recover in time for Assen, while the Tech 3 team are also absent.

Andrea Dovizioso is testing the new chassis for HRC, while Ducati is testing a new rear shock, the carbon fiber swingarm and some electronics updates, as well as a revised tail section which lifts the seat higher.

Yamaha has little to test, and so Jorge Lorenzo is mainly working on refining setup. According to MCN, Valentino Rossi is due test a revised version of the M1 engine, designed to last for two races, ready for the new regulations which come into effect after Brno. From then, the riders will have 5 engines to last 7 races, and Yamaha need to ensure that the new engine has not sacrificed performance for durability. As of 1pm, Rossi had yet to take to the track, though. Rossi is notorious for his hatred of early mornings, and will probably wait until the afternoon to make an appearance.

Update - Valentino Rossi took to the track during the afternoon session, run between 2pm and 6pm, but is without Jerry Burgess, who is headed back to Australia for the funeral of his mother, who died on Saturday. One incident of note was the consequences of a crash by Pramac Ducati's Niccolo Canepa: The Italian had crashed going very slowly (about 40 km/h, according to GPONe.com) while testing the carbon fiber swingarm. As a result of that crash, the swingarm cracked, underlining the risks of using CF as a structural material. However, both Canepa and Kallio were about half a second quicker with the new CF swingarm than they were on the aluminium one yesterday, so its benefits outweigh the disadvantages.

Final times (courtesy of GPOne.com)

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