Hector Barbera was the fastest man on track for the 250cc class at Phillip Island, but the Spaniard paid a heavy price for his efforts, falling heavily on his back and badly bruising it. Barbera finished over half a second ahead of 2nd place man Raffaele de Rosa, the Scot Honda rider carrying on the strong form he showed at Estoril. Both Jules Cluzel in 3rd and Mike di Meglio in 4th did much the same, setting times very close to De Rosa's.
Phillip Island, Australia
Valentino Rossi was the fastest man out of the blocks in the MotoGP class at Phillip Island, the cool but sunny weather and dusty track conditions keeping the Italian well off lap record pace. The Italian was just over a tenth faster than Casey Stoner, the birthday boy (he turned 24 today) the only rider close to matching Rossi's time. But a few spots of rain later in the session prevented the Australian from making an attempt at the top of the timesheets.
Pol Espargaro made the early running in the first session of free practice for the 125cc class. The Spaniard, winner of two of the last three races, was over a quarter of a second faster than the championship front runners. Bradley Smith was fastest of that group, just edging out Nicolas Terol and Smith's team mate and the man looking to secure the championship this weekend, Julian Simon.
If one thing has become clear since the switch to the new 800cc formula, it has been the importance of the crew chief. With set up being an increasingly vital part of racing in MotoGP (get it wrong and you're nowhere, as Valentino Rossi found out at Estoril), the role of chief engineer has come under increasing scrutiny.
This seems to have motivated Daniele Romagnoli's decision to leave Yamaha at the end of this season. The experienced engineer was Colin Edwards' crew chief at the factory Yamaha team until the arrival of Jorge Lorenzo, who brought with him his own preferred option of crew chief, Ramon Forcada. With Forcada's arrival, Romagnoli was promoted to team manager of Lorenzo's side of Fiat Yamaha's divided garage.
This is the final, official version of the 2009 MotoGP calendar. After being in doubt for a long time, the Hungarian Grand Prix was eventually canceled over problems with the track. It will now make its debut on the calendar in the spring of 2010.
Phillip Island, Australia
Phillip Island, Australia:
The opening round of the World Superbike championship had a lot to live up to. Billed as the most open championship for many years, the series once again looked completely unpredictable, and capable of producing close, exciting racing. And after a long, dark winter, the fans would not be disappointed, in either the World Superbike or World Supersport classes.
In World Superbikes, all eyes were on Ben Spies. Still an unknown quantity with no points of reference between his native AMA championship, where the Texan is coming off three consecutive titles, and the current World Superbike field, one of the biggest questions in the paddock was just how good Spies would be once the flag dropped. Taking pole position in the new Superpole format had proven that Spies was fast, at least over a limited number of laps and with a clear track, but WSBK fans were yet to be convinced of Spies' ability to stand his ground amidst the hurly burly of an average World Superbike race. Taking on a single rider, even one of the caliber of Mat Mladin, is one thing; taking on the charging horde of Haga, Biaggi, Neukirchner, Checa, Rea, Corser, Fabrizio et al is quite another.
World Superbikes Race 1
The World Superbike season has barely started, and already the controversy has started. The first blow was landed before the first race had even started: Alstare Suzuki team boss Francis Batta complained to the Italian press that the Aprilia RSV4 that Max Biaggi used to grab the runner up spot in Superpole was illegal. "The Aprilia is a prototype, and as such, is not allowed to race here in SBK. We will wait until after the race to make a formal complaint," he told the Italian broadcaster La7.
In the hours since the race, word of any official protest being lodged is yet to emerge, and so the statements made by Batta should probably be put down to the flamboyant Belgian's hot temper, rather than a genuine statement of intent. And given the results of Sunday's two Superbike races, where both Max Biaggi and Shinya Nakano finished outside the top 10, Batta may have decided to keep his powder dry, and wait for a more opportune moment.
But even if the Alstare boss does go ahead with his complaint, it is likely to fall on deaf ears. The Aprilia RSV4 1000 Factory has been homologated and approved by the FIM, making them officially legal in World Superbikes. According to Twowheelsblog.com, Batta's complaints center around the Aprilia's fuel injection system, which Alstare mechanics are claiming is the system as homologated. According to the FIM rules, the race bikes must use the same fuel injection system as used on the homologated machine. But any violation would be immediately apparent once the scrutineers get their hands on the machines at the technical inspection.
Full results of Race 2 from the 2009 Phillip Island World Superbikes Round: