Catch up on all the latest racing news and gossip from around the world with Racing Insider #104 right here on MotoOnline.com.au.
Welcome to another edition of Racing Insider, this time coming after an incredible weekend of racing action and in between back-to-back MotoGP races – it’s been a good couple of weeks to be a motorcycle racing fan!
Eight-time MotoGP World Champion Valentino Rossi put on yet another epic display to take victory number 100 of his career in the Dutch TT at Assen last weekend and he’ll have the opportunity to back it up one week later in the United States at Laguna Seca this weekend.
Vale is now within striking distance of Giacomo Agostini’s record of 122 career grand prix victories, and even the great man himself has recently to Italian papers that he believes Rossi has what it takes to eclipse his mark with a couple of seasons.
Jorge Lorenzo proved once again that he is GP racing’s next big star after he all but matched Rossi in Assen after a bad start, but he’ll be looking for more at Laguna Seca this year after suffering a nasty opening lap highside one year ago.
As for Casey Stoner and Ducati, they’ll be hoping to get redemption on Rossi this year after their amazing battle last year, but Stoner’s intriguing illness has been limiting him for the past couple of races and he isn’t completely confident of a recovery before hitting the U.S.
Just a quick note on Stoner from Assen was that he was really mad after qualifying when Sete Gibernau reportedly held him up and was on the racing line, causing Stoner to voice his opinion and call for more penalties in grand prix racing.
One rider who many are hoping to lift his game this weekend is Nicky Hayden, who had a decent race at Assen, but he knows as well as anybody that home track advantages aren’t that crucial in the modern world of electronics in bike racing.
Australia will be cheering on Chris Vermeulen and his Rizla Suzuki team, who are going for their third straight podium at Laguna Seca – a circuit where CV has also won in World Superbike – and after a strong race at Assen I wouldn’t bet against Chris for the top three.
On the eve of the Assen race it was announced that 250cc World Champion Marco Simoncelli would be joining the San Carlo Gresini Honda team as expected and well publicised, and you can almost guarantee that he’ll be at Repsol Honda in 2011.
Simoncelli will have a factory bike next year that will be the same as the Repsol team’s, yet he’ll be in a non-pressure situation with the new ruling that rookies can’t join factory teams.
It looks as though both Toni Elias and Alex de Angelis are out of luck at Gresini, with Marco Melandri expected to rejoin the team, but also mentioned as possible candidates even include Ben Spies.
Some other news that has been revealed is that Team Scot Honda have stopped Yuki Takahashi from competing at Laguna Seca this weekend, instead focussing on replacement rider Gabor Talmacsi as Taka’s injuries from Catalunya are still affecting him apparently.
Another rider out of this weekend in Mika Kallio, who injured his finger in the high-speed crash towards the end of the race at Assen last Saturday, but Ducati or Pramac Racing will not be replacing him for the weekend and will run just Niccolo Canepa.
Just finally for our MotoGP section, the ruling that teams and riders will be allowed two bikes in 2010 is a smart one after many months of speculation that the proposed rule of one bike per rider was coming in.
Teams essentially need two bikes and in the end it was realised that two bikes really don’t cost the teams that much more to run per rider, and the risk of only having one bike and completely ruining it in a crash was too risky, which would cause teams to have a spare bike at each round in spare parts anyway – which is just as expensive but with more work.
That’s right, Moto2 has once again made our Racing Insider despite the class not even competing yet, but the news that Dunlop will be the control tyre when the series is introduced next year is a good decision in my opinion.
Not only has the FIM and Dorna remained loyal to Dunlop, but the Japanese manufacturer has supplied the 125cc and 250cc Grand Prix categories for a long time and have had great success in the lower classes.
Both Alex Criville and local star Jurgen van den Goorburgh completed demonstration laps on Moto2 bikes at Assen last weekend, making their debuts at a GP race and exciting many onlookers watching over the pit wall.
The sound of them is just incredible for a 600cc production engine and I can’t wait for them to hit the grid next year. Here’s a video of their demo laps that I found on YouTube .
Well we’ve all seen the results from Donington Park where Yamaha’s Ben Spies took a dominant double victory, but it was the demise of Noriyuki Haga in race two that has narrowed the championship gap down to 14 points after it had previously gotten up to 80 points!
The championship race is now wide open and Haga has undergone surgery to his broken forearm and had a plate and screws inserted, but the good news is that he should be back in time for the next round at Brno in a few weeks – keeping his title hopes alive.
Scans revealed fractured vertebrae in Haga’s back that were feared to require surgery, but then it was realised that these were actually previous injuries and that they had mended themselves over time.
There was action aplenty at Donington, but I must say that the form of Aprilia in qualifying and race one was great to see, before both Shinya Nakano and lead rider Max Biaggi crashed in race two.
In fact, when Biaggi ran wide and came back on the track without looking and rammed into Alex Polita was a careless manoeuvre, and the SBK organisers actually fined him for it. Even worse news for the former four-time world champion was that he reportedly fractured his right foot in the incident.
We’ve had an update on the injured Regis Laconi and it seems that he is serious about returning to racing, even eyeing off a comeback next year! It was be miraculous to see, but for some reason I’d prefer to see him settle with his career achievements and call it a day for safety reasons.
There has been much discussion about the addition of the Aussie Racing Cars at Eastern Creek’s next round of the Woodstock Bourbon Australian Superbike Championship, with some stating that the cars will be taking away from track time for the bikes and also that they’ll leak oil and bring up dirt onto the track etc.
These are all very understandable arguments, but it must be realised that these cars are coming to our ASBK event and the bikes will always be favoured over them, and I’m sure that the International Entertainment Group is professional enough to ensure the safety of the motorcycle competitors.
In fact, the Aussie Racers run motorcycle engines, and I’m not sure that their engines would leak anymore than what a sidecar or even a historic bike might over the course of the weekend – which hardly ever happens!
Some have said that they are at the bottom end in the car racing spectrum, but I disagree. I think they are unique, enjoyable to watch, and the drivers in them have included V8 Supercar stars at selected events in recent seasons including Russell Ingall so they mustn’t be rated too badly!
I personally would say that the series has its own fan base and that the ASBK will have a few extra fans at the round just to see the Aussie Racers, also introducing them to the action of the bikes.
As for the bikes at the Phillip Island V8 Supercar round in September it still looks like it will be happening, which will be another feather in the cap for IEG. Some would argue that the V8 fans aren’t going to go out and buy a Honda CBR1000RR just because they see Glenn Allerton win on one at the round (of course they aren’t), but I believe there’s every chance in the world that those fans may spark a new interest in Australia’s premier road racing series and bikes in general.
Either way, the ASBK isn’t its stale old self anymore and IEG has injected some new life into the series. It’s ideas like these and movements like these that are going to assist domestic bike racing well into the future. Even if it does fail to work alongside the cars, at least they are trying new things.
In other ASBK news, Suzuki will debut its new 2009 model GSX-R1000 at Winton on Friday, so check back with MotoOnline.com.au for their progress. Kawasaki has been testing at Eastern Creek already, while the Pro Con Racing Honda team competed at the St George club round last weekend.
With the Australian calendar having Motocross first before Super X it leaves many awaiting the Supercross season to show their stadium potential, but it seems as though the addition of Super X may see riders switch teams in between the nationals and Supercross seasons.
Last year we saw Cameron Taylor switch from Honda to Suzuki in between the series, as well as the addition of Jake Moss to Serco Yamaha and Dan Reardon to Woodstock Honda in guest roles.
The question is, who will we see switching roles this year? A few American riders are said to want to come down under, as will a few of our Aussie exports once again who are looking for race practice.
We’ve already seen Brent Landman switch from being a support rider to factory rider with Honda and he’s done a top job in his guest role, so there’s a possibility that we could see him in the big truck for Super X fulltime.
One to watch will be Daniel McCoy, who was supposed to ride for Cool Air Kawasaki in the nationals but has been out so far with injury, so it’s unclear at this stage if he’ll be on green for Super X. Since he finished fourth in the series last year it would be wise to get him on your team for this year if you’re a team manager.
Tickets have gone on sale this week, and I don’t know about you, but I’m pumped! Can’t wait.
The miraculous return of Mike Alessi to ride at Thunder Valley last weekend was short lived when Josh Grant took him out in race one, forcing him to sit out the remainder of the day, but considering it’s been just two weeks since he broke his knee and had surgery it was crazy that he was even lining up.
Chad Reed still retains the points lead for Rockstar Makita Suzuki after finishing fourth in Colorado, just one position ahead of Michael Byrne who continues to improve and impress in his return from injury.
One rider who deserves a mention for his performance in Colorado is Jake Moss, but in our Moto Talk interview with him yesterday he admitted that he didn’t even remember the round after he was knocked out in moto two. Jake ran up front for fourth in moto one before having a DNF in moto two, but he still managed 10th overall.
Speaking of the Moss twins, Jake’s brother Matt is currently in the States testing with a number of teams, and when I spoke to Jake yesterday he was just leaving the track with Matt after getting in some practice. Once both of these brothers are over there together I really think they have the potential to make their mark on AMA Motocross.
Kawasaki’s Luke George made his AMA debut at Thunder Valley under lights on Saturday, putting in a very solid qualifying effort for eighth on Ryan Morais’ Pro Circuit Kawasaki practice bike, but his race results weren’t so good after some bad starts as he finished just out of the top 15 in both races. He did show that he has the pace though, which is the most important thing for any rider looking to impress in guest a ride.
That’s it for this week.