The first official free practice session for the Moto2 bikes was a strange and exciting affair, with the timesheets changing rapidly and continuously. The 41 bikes that crowded track made it difficult for the riders to get a fast lap in, but the track slowly cleared, and times plummeted as the riders and teams got used to the track.
Just a few days before the season is about to begin, and the Moto2 class is to take to the track for the very first time, a new provisional entry list for Moto2 has been issued by the FIM. The new list contains two changes, one minor (Stefan Bradl changing his number from 4 to 65), and one major. The big change is the dropping of Belgian rider Vincent Lonbois by the Marc VDS Racing team, which is also fielding British rider Scott Redding, and his replacement with former 125 and 250 star Hector Faubel.
Almost everything about Moto2 is new: A new formula, new bikes, new riders - at least, a significant number of new riders. To introduce all this novelty to our readers, and give them a peek into the new series, here's a selection of photos taken at the Moto2 at Jerez, which took place this weekend. All photos courtesy and copyright of Honda Pro Images:
At the end of the three days of testing for the Moto2 class at Jerez, Forward Racing's Claudio Corti comes away at the top of the timesheets. The Italian, riding a Suter for the former Hayate team ended the final day as the fastest rider, just a fraction ahead of the time Toni Elias set on Saturday. Elias himself dominated much of the test, but a nasty crash in the final session saw the Gresini rider forced off track between turns 1 and 2 when a much slower 125cc rider blocked Elias' line, leaving him no choice but to hit the deck. Elias was immediately flown back to his hometown of Barcelona to undergo medical examination and and treatment if necessary. Elias has a suspected fracture of his left hand, as well as heavy bruising to his left hand and left foot. The Gresini rider is expected to be fit enough to race in the season opener at Qatar.
Tech 3's Yuki Takahashi was the fastest man on the second day of testing for the Moto2 class at Jerez, just squeaking ahead of Marc VDS Racing's Scott Redding and Ant West on the MZ. Takahashi's time was half a second slower than yesterday's fastest man Toni Elias, who today was just 5th fastest and three quarters of a second slower than his time from Saturday.
So far, this final Moto2 test has shown how close the field has become in the class, and shaken up the list of favorites a little. The top 20 riders are all within a second of each other, with 20th place man Karel Abraham just 0.938 behind Takahashi. Kenny Noyes, the American who has been so fast in the earlier tests is now down the order in 12th, though still only half a second off the fastest time at Jerez, while Scott Redding had been languishing near the bottom of the timesheets in previous tests, and has now leaped up into 2nd spot. Testing concludes tomorrow.
When MotoMatters.com learned that FIM President Vito Ippolito would be visiting Utrecht, just a few miles from MM HQ, we seized on the opportunity to corner the Venezuelan and ask some of the burning questions surrounding motorcycle racing. Questions such as: How will the new MotoGP rules help to cut costs? Exactly what definition of "production bike" is used in the contract between the FIM and Infront Motor Sports for World Superbikes? How will Moto2 affect rider development? And what about electric vehicles and the TTXGP?
Ippolito was extremely forthcoming on all these subjects, and answered the questions with patience and clarity, helping to clear up some of the biggest mysteries in motorcycle racing. For a man who had just arrived after an international air journey, the FIM President was helpful, patient and graceful, and went out of his way to answer our questions. The man's passion for the sport and for motorcycling in general shone through, making Vito Ippolito one of the most interesting interviews we have had to date.
As the interview took place on February 17th, shortly after the Grand Prix Commission had issued a statement with the new 2012 MotoGP regulations, allowing 1000cc and 800cc bikes to run together in the same class, and introducing the concept of the Claiming Rule Teams, basically privateer teams allowed to run production engines, that's where we started our questioning:
MotoMatters: Have you seen the new rules issued by the Grand Prix Commission from today at Barcelona?
Vito Ippolito: I didn't read it all, because I was flying during the meeting.
MM: They announced that 800cc and 1000cc would be racing together, plus a new category, the so-called Claiming Rule Teams.
Much has been made of the quality of broadcast by MotoGP's organizers, Dorna. The camerawork and onboard footage is very highly rated by the fans, and has received plaudits from the international media around the world. The only complaint that fans have had - apart from a lack of access in some countries - has been the fact that the broadcasts have not yet been available in High Definition.
Fortunately for the fans, this is about to change: This season, a number of broadcasters around the world are to show the races in HD quality. Viewers in the US, Australia, New Zealand, France, Belgium, Scandinavia, Portugal, Hungary, Brazil, Singapore, the Middle East and in Africa will get to see the races in HD from Qatar, with other countries expected to start showing HD as the season progresses.
Since the announcement that the Motorland Aragon circuit was to take the place of Hungary on the 2010 MotoGP calendar, the internet has been abuzz with people trying to find out about the new facility near Alcañiz in northeast Spain. The track's website shows maps of the 5.077 kilometer circuit and even a diagram showing the amount of elevation at the track, giving a more graphic demonstration of the 50 meter elevation difference between the highest and lowest points, as well as the 7.2% drop of the "Sacacorchos" or Corkscrew corner at Turns 8 and 9.