In this edition of RI: All the news and action from MotoGP; WSBK; the Isle of Man TT; Oz MX and AMA MX, with a packed weekend ahead.
Welcome to the 100th edition of Racing Insider – it’s gone quickly to get to the 100 mark this year partly because we started off by doing them every weekday, and we are happy to say that judging by the web stats this column is one of the favoured articles on MotoOnline.com.au.
This weekend’s grand prix in Catalunya, Spain, will be a pivotal moment in the 2009 world championship, but if you want to know who my money’s on then I’d have to say Jorge Lorenzo.
The local hero has proven his form at every race so far this year apart from his last home race at Jerez, so he’ll be eager to make amends for that incident and take victory on Sunday.
It won’t be easy though because the 22-year-old missed last year’s race after suffering a concussion in a price crash on the Friday, and last year’s winner Dani Pedrosa has been declared fit to race so he’ll be fighting to make up for his Mugello disaster.
The riders that all eyes will be on will once again be series leader Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi, both who finished behind Pedrosa on the podium last year and they both are in an increasing rivalry after Aussie Stoner one-upped The Doctor at his home circuit in the most recent round.
Good news for Suzuki is that they have a new engine for this weekend, although it’s not yet certain that they’ll use it during the race weekend, more likely waiting until Monday to debut it in the search for straight line speed.
And no, that wasn’t a typo, this round will be the first of the season where teams are actually permitted to test on the Monday after the race, and will actually be any team’s first test since the season commenced.
The guys who are up front and doing well won’t really mind either way, but guys who are struggling like Nicky Hayden will be eager to get out on track for a full day and test a massive amount of settings in a bid to make headway in the results department.
Plus, Ducati still isn’t yet concrete in what swingarm they like better – the carbon one or the more conventional aluminium. I believe that Casey will be testing the pair back-to-back on Monday and whatever solution they come up with he’ll be sticking with for the remainder of the year.
An interesting thing to keep an out for is whether or not Hayate Racing Team rider Marco Melandri will have new parts for his Kawasaki ZX-RR machine. Without any factory support it’s unlikely, although there have been whispers lately that his success has got Team Green somewhat excited for their MotoGP prospects once again.
But it’s reportedly not all roses for Hayate or Marco, because European press have recently said that if Kawasaki doesn’t come back next year as a factory effort then it’s very unlikely we’ll see the Dorna-supported black Hayate on the grid at all next year either.
Marco shouldn’t be too worried though, as a former 250cc World Champion and MotoGP runner-up, he’s certainly proven this year (as has Hayden) that his disastrous results last year were very much due to the Ducati not suiting him, because his form on the privateer Kawasaki has been exceptional. Expect him at Gresini Honda if he doesn’t land a factory ride elsewhere.
Great news has filtered in this week that Frenchman Regis Laconi is back home and on the road to recovery, already eyeing off the lap pool, cycle bike, and a return to Superbike competition.
It is still very uncertain if the likable Laconi will be able to compete again following his horrific spinal injuries suffered in the South African round of this year’s series, but it is very good news to hear that he is somewhat on his way to recovery and in good spirits.
Other World Superbike news this week has Aussie Brendan Roberts searching for a seat after losing his to Gregorio Lavilla, as we reported would be the case long ago here on MotoOnline.com.au.
The South Australian Superstock 1000 FIM Cup winner will find a place with Ducati somewhere I believe, but it is a cruel blow for him to lose his Guandalini Racing ride midway through the season.
Another man who recently lost his ride was Suzuki Supersport rider Barry Veneman, but it seems his Dutch ties have landed him a dream position on a third Ten Kate Honda in the class. Reports have him testing on Monday at Magny-Cours before racing at the upcoming Misano round alongside Andrew Pitt and Kenan Sofuoglu.
One other thing to note is that Troy Bayliss was scheduled to test Jamie Whincup’s Triple 8 Racing Holden yesterday at Queensland Raceway, although we haven’t received news yet if it went ahead or not. We’ll have the news posted as soon as it comes through.
The Isle of Man TT has been an incredible event so far in 2009 with many surprises including the fastest ever lap of the circuit set by Aussie Cam Donald last week before he was injured and forced out of the event the following day.
Since then the race action has been intense with John McGuinness winning the Superbike TT, his 15th ever and a new outright lap record for the circuit during a race, while Ian Hutchinson won the Superstock TT and opening Supersport race, and Michael Dunlop won the second Supersport race.
Dunlop is the son of Robert Dunlop and nephew of Joey, continuing the great road racing family’s dynasty on the island.
The TTXGP electric bike race and the iconic Senior TT are expected to take place today, all things going according to plan for the organisers after last weekend’s racing had to be delayed because of rain.
The disastrous news that Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Mike Alessi suffered a broken kneecap and underwent surgery after a practice accident means that this year’s title is blown wide open once again, but it does bring up the question whether or not the red plate is cursed in 2009.
Signifying the championship leader, first it was Ryan Villopoto who was forced out of the season with a knee injury while using the red plate and now it’s Alessi who has suffered a similar fate – although he’s expected back for the final four rounds or so.
It’s all good news for Australia’s Chad Reed though, because the two main title contenders are now out of the running and he’ll be fighting amongst the likes of Andrew Short and Josh Grant for this year’s title – also fighting against an illness as told in this Racer X interview.
The MX Nationals are back in action this weekend at Murray Bridge in South Australia, and it’s going to be an intriguing round to watch as CDR Rockstar Yamaha teammates Jay Marmont and Cheyne Boyd go head-to-head in the fight for the 2009 title.
They won’t be alone though as veteran Andrew McFarlane is coming on strong, as are the likes of Cody Mackie and a field of hungry riders out to make their mark in the mid-point of the season.
The Lites battle will resume between Matt Moss and Luke George, but the threat of rain for the weekend is high so this round could be one to upset the applecart in all riders’ quests for the championship.
American Josh Hansen will debut for Woodstock Honda, while Daniel McCoy is all but confirmed to be returning from injury in what will be his debut on the Cool Air Kawasaki.
These two are sure to throw a spanner in the works, although it’s not completely certain that McCoy will be back in action for the round as he continues to rehabilitate from sternum and wrist injuries.
Speaking of motocross while in Australia, how about Carey Hart’s drive in the Supercheap Auto Racing Holden yesterday in Queensland? Hart was invited along with P!NK for the event, where both got behind the wheel of the Holden V8s in a quick test on their day off.
That’s all for now. Enjoy the action this weekend and check back over the weekend for all the news and reports.