The MotoGP paddock was hit hard by Shoya Tomizawa's tragic death during the Moto2 race at Misano, and here in Aragon, everyone seems to be saluting the fallen Japanese rider in one form or another. Every bike on the grid is carrying a #48 sticker in honor of Tomizawa, with some carrying his number on their leathers or helmet, while others have stickers on the front mudguard (for an example, see Neil Spalding's photo from his Twitter page). Japanese rider Yuki Takahashi is wearing a black armband to commemorate his friend and compatriot.
The first session of practice for a Grand Prix class is over at Motorland Aragon, and an Italian spoiled the Spanish party in the Moto2 class, Andrea Iannone setting the fastest time in FP1. The FIMMCO Speed Up rider just sneaked ahead of Mapfre Aspar's Julian Simon, while another Italian finished in 3rd, Claudio Corti pushing his Forward Racing Suter round the track just two tenths slower than his compatriot Iannone.
With the paddock reconvened at the Motorland Aragon circuit in Alcañiz, Shoya Tomizawa's tragic death at the last race in Misano is still very much at the forefront of everybody's minds. During the traditional pre-event press conference, Gresini Moto2 rider Toni Elias proposed a fitting tribute to the fallen Technomag CIP rider. The Spaniard suggested that Tomizawa be posthumously awarded the Michel Metraux trophy, presented to the best privateer of the season, in recognition of his achievements and as a mark of respect.
Elias' proposal has been made possible by a recent change in the system for awarding the trophy, which previously went to the best-placed privateer in the 250cc class. With all of the Moto2 riders now officially privateers, the system has been changed to peer selection system, with all of the riders in the Moto2 class choosing their best rider of the year at the end of the season.
Despite the fact that the Moto2 grid has nearly 40 regular riders, the class has also featured a regular stream of wildcard riders as well. With the Spanish CEV championship the only series featuring a competition for the Moto2 bikes, it is unsurprising that most of those wildcard riders have come from Spain. More of a surprise, perhaps, was that one of the riders in the running for the title in Spain is actually a young Scot, the British rider Kev Coghlan, who rides for the Monlau Competicion team in the CEV aboard an FTR machine.
Coghlan was a wildcard at Silverstone back in June of this year, but the young Brit will also be racing in this weekend's Moto2 round at Aragon, a track he already has some experience of, having raced here in the Spanish championship. Coghlan started out racing Supersport in Spain, and was closely involved in the development of the FTR Moto2 chassis throughout the end of 2009.
Reason enough, then to catch up with Coghlan, something which MotoMatters.com did at Silverstone. We spoke to him on the Saturday after qualifying, and the day before the British Grand Prix. Coghlan had a tough weekend at Silverstone, qualifying in 30th and ending the race in 22nd. Here's how he saw his weekend at Silverstone, and how he got there:
MM: How did you end up racing in Spain?
KC: Budget really. Trying to get off of a 125 and basically, everybody was just asking stupid money to run in British Supersport, and I got the offer to go out there with a free ride, and basically I just jumped at the chance. It was a good series out there as well, learned a lot from it and got some good opportunities to come into Moto2.
MM: It's also an advantage because you're racing some of the Grand Prix tracks. You're racing Jerez, you're racing Valencia, you're racing Barcelona.
The crash at Misano which killed Shoya Tomizawa was tough on both Scott Redding and Alex de Angelis. The two riders, who were following the Japanese rider when Tomizawa crashed, could not avoid the fallen Technomag CIP rider and struck him, both also crashing as a result. Of the two, Scott Redding came off worst, suffering a nasty gash in the back which required stitches to treat.
Of course, Redding's physical injuries were only minor when compared to the psychological trauma the young Briton suffered. Being involved in a fatal incident at the still relatively tender age of 17 is a lot for the young mind to bear, and there were question marks over Redding's willingness to return to racing.
The announcement of the official 2011 MotoGP calendar - albeit the provisional one - has been a long time coming. Normally, the provisional calendar is settled at the Brno round of MotoGP, but the series' desire not to clash with Formula One means that the Grand Prix Commission has had to wait for the FIA to release the F1 calendar before finalizing their own. With the F1 calendar now provisionally released, the MotoGP calendar is expected to be released this weekend at the Aragon round.
The move to drop Friday morning practice - introduced for the 2009 season as a cost-cutting measure - has never been popular among either riders or fans. The riders and teams feel they are wasting their time, sitting around on Friday morning kicking their heels waiting for the afternoon session to kick off, and the fans miss out on an opportunity to watch the bikes out on track. Rookies, such as Interwetten Honda's Hiroshi Aoyama and his crew chief Tom Jojic, also lamented the lack of an extra session of practice, as the time between the sessions allowed the riders and their crews to go over the data collected.
The investigation opened by the Rimini public prosecutor's office into the death of Shoya Tomizawa is drawing to a close, according to reports by the Italian press agency ANSA. The charges of culpable homicide (equivalent to criminally negligent manslaughter) which had been brought against "persons unknown" are likely to be dropped, the reports say. The autopsy on the 19-year-old Japanese rider revealed that Tomizawa had in fact been dead on arrival at the Ospedale Ceccarini di Riccione hospital, having died in the ambulance during the short journey to the circuit. The cause of death was identified as chest trauma, Tomizawa's lungs and heart having been irreparably damaged in the impact.
The Technomag CIP team today released the following statement, from the team and from Shoya Tomizawa's family, on the death of the 19-year-old Japanese rider's death:
The family of Shoya Tomizawa, the Technomag-CIP team and its partners, and the Technomag company wishes to express their homage to an exceptional son, rider and colleague.
Shoya Tomizawa was one of the rays of sunshine in the paddock and within his team. He never missed an opportunity to dedicate a smile or a ‘hello’ to anybody he encountered. He enjoyed having fun with his colleagues but was also a very professional rider who was spirited, and fully concentrated on the development of his bike after every ride. All were impressed by his talent and his refined style of riding. He worked hard to give his maximum not only for himself but for everybody in his team, who had become a second family with whom he spent most of his free time between races.