Alex de Angelis

Kawasaki Fallout: Hopper vs Edwards, Melandri vs De Angelis?

The withdrawal of Kawasaki from MotoGP - which Ian Wheeler, the team's press officer has told Motorsport-Total.com that he knows nothing about - is likely to blow the MotoGP riders market completely open once again. With the MotoGP merry-go-round seemingly all done and dusted before the end of the season, the sudden availability of two big name riders is likely to have satellite team managers consulting their lawyers.

Of the Kawasaki pairing of John Hopkins and Marco Melandri, Hopper is likely to be the name most in demand. Hopkins is the rider carrying the Monster Energy sponsorship, and with Kawasaki out, Monster's budget is likely to go to whoever signs the American. And in a time of hardship, that money will be very welcome indeed.

The most probable casualty of the Hopkins / Monster duo is Colin Edwards. The Texan's position in the Tech 3 Yamaha squad had already become less certain after Bridgestone were awarded the single tire contract for MotoGP. Edwards has been closely associated with Michelin for a very long time, and was their lead development rider in MotoGP until their forced withdrawal. With the tire development role gone, along with the Michelin money which was said to be funding Tech 3, Herve Poncharal may feel that Hopkins and his Monster millions are a far more attractive proposition.

The problem for Poncharal is that Edwards is not in the employ of the Tech 3 Yamaha team, but has a contract with Yamaha directly. Consequently, Poncharal has less control over the hiring and firing of the Texan than he may wish. And with Yamaha seats in the other major racing series all filled, it may prove difficult to convince Edwards to move elsewhere.

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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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Honda - Is Its MotoGP Program In Trouble Or Not?

Ever since Honda dropped a bombshell on the world of car racing by announcing that it would be pulling out of Formula One and selling its F1 team, speculation has been rife that the fall out from the global financial crisis must surely have an effect on Honda's efforts in motorcycle racing. And since that moment, a stream of news articles has appeared on the subject.

The trouble is, the news has been confusing, if not downright contradictory. Spokespeople for Honda are saying the company's F1 withdrawal will not affect Honda's MotoGP efforts one minute, only for other parts of the company to tell the press that of course they are considering all of their options. It's difficult to follow, and hard to know just what effect the decline in Honda's financial fortunes will have.

To help clear up the confusion - or perhaps to add to it, here's a summary of the news so far:

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Jerez November MotoGP Test - Day 2 Times

Testing continued today at Jerez, and despite the damp track in the morning and the continuing cool weather, lap records continued to be shattered. Once again, the battle was between Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa, and while Pedrosa was quickest for a good part of the day, in the end it was The Doctor who finished the day on the top of the timesheets, with a time 1/10th of a second quicker than Pedrosa's time from yesterday, and 7/10ths faster than the lap record here.

The two title hopefuls were also a second quicker than the rest of the field, just as they were yesterday, with Dani Pedrosa setting the 3rd fastest time, a tenth off his own fastest practice time here in March. There was little separating the group behind Pedrosa, with 6/10ths covering 10 riders.

The good news in that group was for the men who had been slow yesterday: Sete Gibernau took 2 seconds off his time from yesterday, and Nicky Hayden slashed a second and a half off his lap times, putting Gibernau up to 10th place, and Hayden up to 6th, just 0.04 seconds off Jorge Lorenzo's 3rd fastest time.

What is already clear is that this is shaping up to be a two-speed championship. Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa are a cut above the rest of the field, with Casey Stoner likely to join that elite group once he returns to action. Behind the front runners, the new tire regulations may have closed the field up, with times closer together than they were last year. But with at least three riders so far ahead, the racing may once again come down to a procession for the podium, followed by some great action fighting over 4th or 5th place.

Testing now ceases, apart from the last day of testing in Phillip Island for Suzuki and Kawasaki on Friday, and the riders and teams all head off for a well-earned break during the winter test ban, which lasts from December 1st to January 20th, though the riders won't be back on the track again until February 5th in Sepang. But though the riders will be able to relax a little, the teams, and especially the R&D departments, will be working flat out on improving the bikes, and getting them ready for the new season. There's still a lot to be done.

Times from Thursday's test: 

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All 2009 Hondas To Run Pneumatic Valve Springs

Interesting news from HRC, and a sign of just how seriously they are taking the 2009 season. Italian site GPOne.com is reporting that HRC has decided that every Honda RC212V on the grid next year will be equipped with an engine which uses pneumatic valve springs. This reverses a previous decision that the satellite bikes would all be running the former Pedrosa-spec engine, which utilized conventional steel-spring valves, but HRC has decided that running single type of valve return actuation in all of the bikes they run is the more efficient option.

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Jerez November MotoGP Test - Day 1 Times

So much for the safety argument. On the first day of testing at Jerez under the new tire regime, Dani Pedrosa took nearly 0.6 seconds off his existing lap record at the Andalucian circuit. It's almost impossible to stand in the way of progress, no matter how hard you try, it seems.

Pedrosa set his time while riding only a relatively few number of laps. Weather conditions this morning were cold, despite the sunshine, and the riders didn't really get under way until early in the afternoon. But while Pedrosa was fastest, the Yamahas are looking strongest, as Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and Colin Edwards were 2nd, 3rd and 4th fastest respectively.

The gaps are large, though, with Pedrosa 6/10ths faster than Rossi, who is in turn over a second quicker than Lorenzo, the rest of the field bunched up, until we get to the Ducatis.

And the Ducatis are clearly the slowest bikes at the test, with only MotoGP rookie Yuki Takahashi in last place. Former Ducati test rider and now Pramac rider Niccolo Canepa was the quickest of the Bologna bikes, a fraction faster than Marlboro Ducati's Nicky Hayden. Hayden is nearly 2 seconds behind Rossi, and 2.5 behind his former Repsol Honda team mate, though the Kentucky Kid is still getting used to the bike and the Bridgestone tires.

The man who could make the biggest difference to the standings has been watching from pit lane. Casey Stoner was present at the test, but unable to take part. The official Ducati press release stated that Stoner's wrist injury was healing well, and he hopes to begin training on a bicycle again soon.

Testing continues again tomorrow.

Times:

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MotoGP 2008 Valencia Test Times Day 1 - Finalized

Times from the first day of testing at Valencia. These will be updated as soon as official times are available. All times were set using the new standard tires provided by Bridgestone, with a choice of either a soft or a hard compound available. For comparison, see the fastest lap each rider set during the race on Sunday.

Times courtesy of GPOne.com and Motociclismo.es

Times at 5pm, the end of the test:

1Casey StonerDucati1'32.46431 / 54
2Dani PedrosaHonda1'32.67224 / 60
3Valentino RossiYamaha1'32.92120 / 34
4Chris VermeulenSuzuki1'33.14241 / 67
5Loris CapirossiSuzuki1'33.32537 / 75
6Alex de AngelisHonda1'33.37535 / 77
7Jorge LorenzoYamaha1'33.55041 / 44
8Andrea DoviziosoHonda1'33.67538 / 57
9John HopkinsKawasaki1'33.76044 / 74
10Marco MelandriKawasaki1'33.78247 / 75
11Randy de PunietHonda1'33.83239 / 80
12Nicky HaydenDucati1'33.96074 / 79
13Toni EliasHonda1'34.12978 / 81
14Sete GibernauDucati1'34.45121 / 52
15Mika KallioDucati1'34.79357 / 60
16Olivier JacqueKawasaki1'34.92548 / 71
17Niccolo CanepaDucati1'34.99559 / 62
18Yuki TakahashiHonda1'35.20372 / 73
19Gabor TalmacsiAprilia1'38.47255 / 57

 

Fastest lap of each rider during the race on Sunday:

Pos.No.RiderManufacturerFast LapDiffDiff Previous
11Casey STONERDUCATI1'32.582  
22Dani PEDROSAHONDA1'32.7960.2140.214
346Valentino ROSSIYAMAHA1'33.0750.4930.279
44Andrea DOVIZIOSOHONDA1'33.3130.7310.238
569Nicky HAYDENHONDA1'33.3930.8110.080
65Colin EDWARDSYAMAHA1'33.3990.8170.006
756Shinya NAKANOHONDA1'33.5500.9680.151
865Loris CAPIROSSISUZUKI1'33.6261.0440.076
915Alex DE ANGELISHONDA1'33.8391.2570.213
1048Jorge LORENZOYAMAHA1'33.8841.3020.045
1121John HOPKINSKAWASAKI1'34.0351.4530.151
1233Marco MELANDRIDUCATI1'34.1171.5350.082
1352James TOSELANDYAMAHA1'34.1501.5680.033
1414Randy DE PUNIETHONDA1'34.2251.6430.075
1550Sylvain GUINTOLIDUCATI1'34.4621.8800.237
167Chris VERMEULENSUZUKI1'34.5952.0130.133
1724Toni ELIASDUCATI1'34.6342.0520.039
1813Anthony WESTKAWASAKI1'34.7152.1330.081

 

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2008 Indianapolis MotoGP Qualifying Report

For most of this year, qualifying has followed a reasonably predictable pattern. A couple of laps after his out lap, Casey Stoner would seize pole position, gradually turning the thumbscrews on the rest of the field. About halfway through the session, Randy de Puniet would be the first rider out on qualifying tires and snatch pole from Stoner. His glory would be short-lived, however, lasting only until Stoner threw on the first set of qualifiers, then the process would repeat itself, the only real question being how big Stoner's margin would be over the rest, and whether Valentino Rossi would manage to qualify on the front row.

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De Angelis Back With Gresini, Elias To Kawasaki?

The Misano race may have seen plenty of action on track, it is as nothing compared to the flurry of activity which seems to have gone on behind the scenes. In the shadow of the absolute bombshell announcement that Dani Pedrosa was switching Bridgestones effective immediately, a good deal of business went on as riders and teams sorted out more details of who as to go where.

The latest news to come out of Italy will cheer the hearts of a lot of MotoGP fans: Toni Elias will be back in MotoGP next year. He won't be on a Ducati, however. According to GPOne.com, the Spaniard will be riding for Jorge Martinez' Aspar team aboard a Kawasaki. The Alice Ducati team had told Elias he was free to find another ride, but after two successive podiums, that is a decision they are starting to regret. No details of the deal with Martinez have been announced, which means it is far from finalized, but Elias looks like a strong bet to be on a third Kawasaki.

Another deal which is said to be signed, but not yet officially announced, is the renewal of Alex de Angelis' contract with Gresini Honda. Fausto Gresini has had a tough time signing riders recently, as every time he looked to be close to signing one, they upped and signed with another team. First it was Marco Melandri who went on to join Kawasaki. Then, Toni Elias, whose impressive recent form had made him another strong candidate for the Gresini seat, went the way of Melandri, and headed over to Team Green.

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2008 Misano Post-Race Test Times - Pedrosa Quickly Up To Speed

Times from the post race test at Misano, courtesy of GPOne.com

1Dani PedrosaHonda1'34.65276 laps total, best time on air valve engine
2Shinya NakanoHonda1'35.44623
 Dani PedrosaHonda1'35.555spring valve engine
3John HopkinsKawasaki1'35.87969
4Randy de PunietHonda1'35.97228
5Ant WestKawasaki1'36.10176
6Alex de AngelisHonda1'36.12037

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