KTM

2009 Jerez 125 And 250 Test - Day 1 - Bautista And Simon Lead A Thin Field

As if to emphasize the point that motorcycle racing is approaching once again, after the past three days of testing by the World Superbike and World Supersport field at Portugal's spectacular Portimao circuit, a reduced field of 250 and 125 riders took to the track a couple of hundred miles further east at Jerez.

But unlike the overflowing World Superbike paddock, the 250 and 125 tests were significant more for who was absent than for those present. The biggest name missing is of course reigning 250 champion Marco Simoncelli, but there's no doubt that the Italian Gilera man will be on the grid next year. For others, though participation is less certain, as sponsorship deals are still being haggled over in an attempt to finalize budgets.

And so none of the Pons team riders are present, which includes Hector Barbera and Simone Corsi, and neither of the Espargaro brothers will be testing either; Alex Debon is absent, his future still unclear; and Hector Faubel turned up at the track, but will not be riding until tomorrow.

Of the riders that did test today, Alvaro Bautista was the fastest, as might be expected of a serious title contender. The Spaniard finshed ahead of Swiss rider Thomas Luthi, and the Scot Honda rider Ratthapark Wilairot. Reigning 125cc champion Mike Di Meglio managed only the 6th fastest time, after a tumble in the morning which left him relatively unharmed.

As for the 125 riders, it was the Aspar Aprilia pairing of Julian Simon and Bradley Smith who topped the timesheets, ahead of the tiny Marc Marquez on the factory KTM. Britain's Scott Redding was fifth fastest, while American Cameron Beaubier, who stepped from the Red Bull Rookies Cup last year managed the 11th fastest time. The 125s shared the track with leading riders from both the Spanish CEV championship, as well as the Italian CIV championship.

Testing continues tomorrow, and concludes on Wednesday.

250 cc

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FIM Releases MotoGP Entry List: 19 In MotoGP, 22 In 250s, 29 In 125s

The FIM today released the provisional entry list for the MotoGP series, encompassing the MotoGP, 250cc and 125cc classes. As expected, the MotoGP class has 19 entries, the single tire rule freeing up the equipment for Sete Gibernau's team.

Perhaps the best news is the entry list of 22 riders for the 250cc class. With KTM's withdrawal from the class earlier this year, it looked for a while like there could be fewer than the minimum of 15 entries required for a World Championship to be organized. Since then, a number of privateer teams have entered Aprilia LE's, and Aspar has found sponsorship from the new Balatonring circuit in Hungary to provide former 125cc World Champion Gabor Talmacsi with factory equipment.

FIM Provisional Entry List 2009 

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Bartol: "New 600 Class Is Nonsense"

KTM have made no secret of their distaste for the new 600cc four-stroke class which is to replace the current 250cc class. Indeed, so upset were they at the new rules that they ended their 250 program a year earlier than planned, stating that they saw no point in pouring money into a class which was doomed anyway.

Some inside the paddock saw an ulterior motive for that withdrawal. They claimed that the real reason behind KTM's pull-out was to concentrate their resources on developing a bike to actually compete in the new 600 class. But now, in an interview with Motorcycle News, KTM's racing chief Harald Bartol has dismissed in no uncertain terms any notion that KTM would be interested in the new 600cc formula.

In the interview, Bartol calls the proposed regulations "complete and utter nonsense," and reiterates that KTM's decision to pull out of 250s was down to an economic decision. The new rules also go completely against KTM's racing ethos: "Why should we spend money and develop a new engine when the rules mean you can buy a better one in the shops?" Bartol told MCN.

The Austrian race chief also clearly alluded to who he thought was behind the move to the new 600cc four-stroke formula: "Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, Ducati, Aprilia and KTM is not interested in this class, so we know who is and who pushed," he said.

Read the full story over on the MCN website.

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250 Class Could Disappear In 2009

With the decision by KTM to withdraw from the 250cc class in 2009 - a decision taken in response to the proposed rule changes which would see the class becoming a 600cc four-stroke series - and the global financial turmoil causing a host of sponsors to pull out, the future of the 250 class is looking increasingly in doubt.

The combination of KTM and Polaris World pulling out took 4 bikes off the grid, immediately decimating numbers. And with other teams and sponsors as yet unsigned, at the moment, the class looks like falling well short of the minimum number of 15 bikes needed to run the class. If Dorna does not receive entries for 15 bikes, then FIM rules prevent the series from being called a world championship, which in turn would make the series an irrelevance in global terms.

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KTM Pull Out Of 250cc Class For 2009

The approaching demise of the 250cc class has claimed its first victim. With the two cylinder two stroke formula to be replaced by a 600cc four stroke class in 2011, KTM has decided to withdraw from the 250cc class from 2009.

Both KTM and Aprilia had voiced their deep opposition to the proposed rule changes, made in an effort to reduce costs in the 250 class. And now, KTM have turned their words into deeds, citing the fact that there is no future for the class as a reason to withdraw from 250s and concentrate their efforts in the 125 class, which is not expected to see major rule changes for the foreseeable future.

In the press release announcing the move, Winfried Kerschhaggl, head of KTM Racing said "We have decided for the GP 125 cc class because contrary to the 250 cc class, its existence is secured in the medium to long term." KTM's withdrawal will leave Aprilia as the only major manufacturer still active in the class, Marco Simoncelli's Gilera being basically just a rebadged Aprila RSA 250.

There may have been other motives behind KTM's withdrawal as well. 2008 was to be the year that KTM finally secured the world title they have been chasing in the series since they entered in 2005. Everything was in place: the bike had proven to be a race winner; Mika Kallio was in his second year in the class, and ready to challenge for the title; and Kallio would be assisted by Japanese veteran Hiro Aoyama, who had already shown himself capable of winning races and getting podiums, and could assist Kallio in taking points from his rivals.

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