Alex de Angelis

Dominant Stoner Takes BMW As Rain Stops Play At Jerez

Casey Stoner did at Jerez what Casey Stoner seems to be capable of at any circuit. The Australian dominated the 45 minute special qualifying session at the official IRTA Test at Jerez, eventually taking the BMW on offer for the fastest lap by over 7/10ths of a second. The Ducati rider took control of the session just 8 minutes in, smashing the 1'40 barrier with a lap of 1'39.176, over a second up on the rest of the field.

The rest of the session saw the other riders edging closer, with Valentino Rossi looking like taking top spot from Stoner, until he was balked by a slower rider. But with just under 10 minutes of the session left, Stoner stomped on any hopes other riders might have been cherishing of bagging the BMW. The Australian slashed half a second off his previous time, putting in a lap of 1'38.646 to claim the special BMW M Award.

A few minutes later, the black clouds which had been threatening the track finally broke over the circuit, drenching the track and halting any chance of riders improving their times. The entire field headed back to the safety of the pits, and with 5 minutes of the official session left, it was effectively over.

Bad luck dogged James Toseland at Jerez. With 16 min to go, the Englishman hit a white line going into to Turn 3, and tumbled through the gravel at high speed. The accident caused the session to be briefly red flagged, as the medics transported Toseland and the remains of his Tech 3 Yamaha from the track. The rider was reported to be OK, but he looked badly banged up. The word so far is that Toseland suffered a concussion, but no official announcements have been made.

Nicky Hayden was slightly luckier than Toseland. The American ran wide into the gravel, but used all his dirt track skills to stay upright as he ran through the gravel at high speed.

Results of the BMW M Award.

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2009 IRTA Test Jerez Day 2 - FP2 Final Times

The switch from Central European Time to Central European Summer Time meant we lost an hour at Jerez this morning, the clocks going forward. So when practice opened at 10am this morning, the track had barely warmed, and the cold wind made wearing a coat highly advisable. As a consequence, most of the riders didn't hit the track until 10:45, with only the test riders out and circulating. 

Casey Stoner was one of the first official riders out, and was apparently entirely unhindered by the cool track temperatures. Within three laps, Stoner was under the existing lap record, and a tenth of a second quicker than his own time yesterday. Behind Stoner were the Fiat Yamaha pair, Jorge Lorenzo leading team mate Valentino Rossi once again, while Suzuki's Loris Capirossi was less than a tenth slower than Rossi, showing that Suzuki mean business this year.

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2009 IRTA MotoGP Test Jerez Day 1 - 1pm Update

The track is drying at Jerez, though more due to the wind than the sun, the skies are still cloudy, if not quite leaden. But the times are now definitely starting to drop. So far, Loris Capirossi is topping the timesheets, finally emerging from the pits to prove that the Suzuki genuinely looks fast. James Toseland is currently second, ahead of the Playboy LCR Honda of Randy de Puniet.

Valentino Rossi was the last of the late wakers, finally entering his pit garage shortly after 1pm.

Times shortly after 1pm

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2009 IRTA MotoGP Test Jerez Day 1 - 12:10 Update

The track at Jerez is slowly drying out, but the action on track is still sporadic. Bridgestone only has four rain tires for each rider here at Jerez, so riders are choosing to stay in the pits. The track is in that horrid inbetween stage where it's tricky on slick tires, but too dry for full wets.

The biggest shock of the second hour of testing was of Brawn GP proportions: Marco Melandri spent a good 20 minutes at the top of the timesheets on the Hayate / Kawasaki / Hai Karate bike. But shortly before noon he was deposed by James Toseland, who went out as the track began to dry more fully, and times began to drop dramatically.

So far, James Toseland and Jorge Lorenzo have been the real workhorses at Jerez, pounding in lap after lap, while others are hoping for better conditions to appear. Despite the relative lack of action, and the indifferent weather, crowds are out in force, and mobbing any rider brave enough to appear. Valentino Rossi's motorhome is easy to identify - it's the one surrounded by fans - and Fiat Yamaha have sectioned off the area around their transporters with barriers, to prevent the crowds from thronging into the trailers and probably the garage as well, given the chance.

Judging by the reception Sete Gibernau is receiving, the Grupo Francisco Hernando team should have sectioned off their carrier as well. Gibernau risks being crushed to death under the weight of fans wanting to have their picture taken with the Spaniard. Gibernau is clearly still a star.

Times shortly after noon: 

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Ezpeleta Says Friday Practice Likely To Go In 2010

MotoGP is right in the middle of team launch season, and most of these are fairly meaningless events - Yamaha's launch was "virtual" which turned out to mean they posted some stuff up on the website, while Repsol Honda's launch was virtual for Dani Pedrosa, as the injured Spaniard had to attend by satellite link. And if the factory team launches are fatuous, then satellite team launches, tragically, would seem to be almost entirely irrelevant.

Except for the launch of Fausto Gresini's San Carlo Gresini Honda team, that is. For while the rider interviews consisted of the usual platitudes - Toni Elias feeling like he is coming home, Alex de Angelis believing he is stronger than last year - the team had a special guest present at the launch. Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta was also present, and the enquiring minds over at Italian site GPOne.com seized the opportunity to grill the Spanish MotoGP boss

Their time was well spent, as Ezpeleta once again laid out his view of where MotoGP will be heading in the years to come. For Ezpeleta, the chief issue facing MotoGP was to cut costs. "We have introduced measures to cut costs. The only problem facing MotoGP is one of costs," Ezpeleta said. The Dorna CEO told GPOne that the Grand Prix Commission will be meeting after the IRTA tests at Jerez to discuss more dramatic cost-cutting measures. 

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2009 Qatar Night Test Day 3 - Stoner Nearly A Second Ahead

On the final day of testing at Qatar, Casey Stoner did his usual trick of trouncing the field, his fastest time of 1'55.744 just 6/10ths off his own lap record, and nearly a second faster than his nearest competitor. Stoner did relatively few laps, and is still in some pain from his recuperating scaphoid, but declared himself happy with its progress, calling his wrist "almost OK", although he did tell GPOne.com that he was unhappy with the number of laps he had put in on the Ducati. The only worry the Australian had was in areas which involved heavy braking for left handers with the bike tipped over. Stoner had been testing electronics settings to match the new carbon fiber swingarm Ducati is using on the GP9, and decided to call it a day at 11pm, after the track began to lose grip as it cooled.

Stoner's nearest competitor was a bit of a surprise: Jorge Lorenzo was second fastest on the final day of testing, after complaining in previous days that he was struggling to cope with the Bridgestone tires. He obviously found some kind of solution, though his time still left him just under a second slower than Stoner.

Lorenzo may have been slower than Stoner, but he was also nearly a quarter of a second faster than his Fiat Yamaha team mate. Both Lorenzo and Rossi had been focusing on race simulations, putting in long runs to test how the bike ran on the spec tires. Lorenzo's times were impressive: a long run of 1'57s, finishing with a few laps in the 1'56s.

Chris Vermeulen finished the day 4th, the Suzuki clearly improved over the winter, raising hopes that the bike may show a return to its 2007 form. But the form of the Suzukis was perhaps not the biggest news of the night.

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