MotoOnline.com.au fills you in on all the latest news from around the world in this action-packed edition of Racing Insider.
Laguna Seca’s Red Bull U.S. Grand Prix again was a very intriguing race, but this time for completely opposite reasons than one year ago when Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner went at it in what was arguably the race of the season.
This year we saw a surprise winner in Dani Pedrosa, the Spanish former world champion who put Honda back in the winner’s circle for the first time in over a year after his last win at Catalunya in 2008.
But the interesting part this year was Dani’s apparent lack of pace in practice and qualifying while the Yamahas of Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo blitzed the field, although come race time – especially the first half – Pedrosa was almost unstoppable.
Dani almost made the vital mistake of giving The Doctor an opening on the final lap of the race when he slowed down too much, but apart from that he didn’t really put a foot wrong after qualifying on the second row.
The win also marked Pedrosa’s first ever victory on Bridgestone tyres after his dramatic mid-season switch towards the end of last year.
Rossi would have been disappointed not to win his second race in a row at Laguna, but he will be thrilled that the Monterey County named 5 July Valentino Rossi Day – seriously! The Italian also picked up a ‘key’ to the circuit in an award ceremony during the weekend.
The Rossi/Lorenzo battle continued and this time it was Rossi who got the better, but not because of a lack of trying from the second Spaniard on the podium in the first American round of the year.
While Rossi extended his world championship lead with second, hats off must go to Jorge after a massive high-side crash in qualifying almost put him out of the title chase – it was initially feared that he broke his femur but later confirmed as a partially dislocated collarbone.
Either way it was almost disastrous for Lorenzo, so he’ll be absolutely thrilled to score a good haul of points and to finish on the podium for the round before a slight break until the series hits the Sachsenring in Germany.
Australia’s own Casey Stoner again struggled with his mystery illness that has plagued him and was set to visit popular American Doctor Arthur Ting in Northern California on Monday, so let’s hope that they can find exactly what’s wrong before it’s too late.
Casey has lost points at these last three rounds, but the promising thing is that he says the Desmosedici has what it takes to win, he just needs to be up to the task of riding it at full tilt for the full race distance.
One rider who was pleased at Laguna was Nicky Hayden on the second of the Ducati Marlboro machines, and what a deserving ride it was by the local favourite. It seems as though he is finally getting the better of the Ducati after finishing in front of a number of big names even though it was at his home round.
Hayden’s special livery for Laguna looked trick (we wouldn’t expect anything less) and Ducati has even released a Hayden replica 848 in the States with that colour scheme – indicating how important he is in their marketing campaign in the U.S.
Two riders we expected better performances from was former podium placers at the circuit Chris Vermeulen and Colin Edwards, but for whatever reason it just didn’t happen for them.
CV is struggling to make the Suzuki work on tyres that better suit the Yamahas and Ducatis, also having an altercation in the early stages with Loris Capirossi, while Edwards just didn’t get his YZR-M1 to steer good enough in order to perform at his best.
Apart from that there was a spate of crashes including Capirossi, Sete Gibernau and Gabor Talmacsi, while Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s James Toseland was black flagged after failing to see a stop and go penalty for jumping the start – since confirming that he didn’t see the sign.
Speaking of Talmacsi and the Scot Honda team, we said last week that Yuki Takahashi was sitting out the weekend with wrist injuries, but right before the round it was confirmed that Taka has been displaced for the season by Hungarian Talmacsi.
This isn’t Talmacsi’s fault, but it is a sign of the times that money talks, and considering the Scot team was on the brink of collapsing then it was probably their only choice.
Looking toward next year is somewhat frightening as Hayate Racing has pretty much confirmed they won’t be on the grid with what will then be the almost pre-historic (in MotoGP terms) ex-Kawasaki ZX-RRs, while there is speculation that Gibernau’s Grupo Francisco Hernando Ducati team could also pull out due to the financial crunch.
That would leave the series below the Carmelo Ezpeleta’s reported magic number of 18 as the minimum for the championship, and if Laguna Seca was anything to go by (Mika Kallio’s team didn’t go due to his finger injury sustained at Assen) then at some races there will be only around 12 finishers or less if you allow for a few crashes etc.
Here’s something to ponder. European reports are circulating this week that we could have a Moto1 class in the future, which would be MotoGP chassis and production-based 1000cc engines in a similar format to what is currently being adopted for the 600cc Moto2 class.
Details are short at the moment, but where there’s smoke there’s fire, and Euro journalists are usually close to reality in their reports as to what may happen with the series next.
It’s speculated that MotoGP will remain with prototype 800s, but perhaps we will see the 1000cc production-based bikes in the class together, making for a cheaper alternative for teams to compete. If this idea does lift off the ground then expect it to eventually be a full 1000cc class, which in some circumstances isn’t a bad idea.
The only problem is that MotoGP has always been a totally prototype series and all of those questions relating to if it’s too close to Superbike will be back again, just like it was with Moto2 and World Supersport.
We shall wait and see what happens!
Former Celani Suzuki rider Karl Muggeride has been released from the team for the remainder of the season in favour of Italian Alex Polita, who was originally only selected to replace the Aussie while he healed from a back injury.
Muggas joins fellow Aussie Russell Holland on the sidelines after he too lost his ride in Supersport, so it seems that riders without money to bring to teams are on the chopping block right now as teams struggle to fund their seasons.
Also out of the series is the entire PSG-1 Corse Kawasaki outfit, announcing that it has decided to call it a day and leave lone rider Matteo Baiocco on the sidelines for 2009.
PSG-1 was the factory Kawasaki team before Paul Bird Motorsport took over, so it is a shame to see yet another promising team leave the series due to money issues that are affecting everyone this year.
In more positive news, both Max Neukirchner and Makoto Tamada will be back testing for Suzuki and Kawasaki respectively at the upcoming Imola test, rejoining the series after injury had forced the factory stars out of recent races.
The AMA Superbike Championship ran alongside the MotoGP round at Laguna, but it will long be remembered as a farce after AMA Pro Racing sent out a pace car without the riders receiving a clear enough indication that it was coming out on track.
The pace car was first picked up by the leaders over the blind crest at turn one (on the main straight), forcing them to almost slam into it and each other and making a very dramatic scene in front of the world’s best teams according to reports.
Rockstar Makita Suzuki’s Mat Mladin won in a Suzuki sweep ahead of Blake Young and Aaron Yates, but Mat has said that the pace car debacle overshadowed his victory for that particular round, and also that the riders are somewhat restricted of what they can say because of the possibility of a penalty/fine from the AMA – which is a major problem in this day and age.
The Daytona Sportbike class was actually an interesting battle on the weekend as Ben Bostrom made his return to the class for Yamaha on the YZF-R6 and was in a major battle with Aprilia RSV1000R-mounted Chaz Davies.
Bostrom managed to win the race in the end, but it certainly is interesting to see a Japanese 600cc four-cylinder beat an Italian 1000cc twin-cylinder that was considered a Superbike just a few short years ago.
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Airwaves Yamaha has Leon Camier on the right track for the championship in British Supers after he again won at Knockhill on the weekend, but it is Josh Brookes who continues to make a mid-season impact with his form for the factory-backed HM Plant Honda team.
Brookes scored pole position and again finished on the podium in his first visit to the circuit, making up for his visa problems that forced him to miss the opening round and then also his unfortunate incident with Sylvain Guintoli at Donington.
The news wasn’t so great for Brookes’ South Australian teammate Glen Richards, who suffered a broken femur in a qualifying spill, ending his title hopes in his return to the Superbike category.
With Richards ruled out of the remaining rounds of the season, wouldn’t it be excellent if they kept the team all-Aussie and moved Jason O’Halloran to a factory ride? I doubt it though, as Tommy Hill is also in search of a ride after losing his Althea Honda WSBK gig.
It would be an ideal time for O’Halloran to make a switch after impressing in his rookie BSB season after his SMT Honda team owner Robin Croft revealed at Knockhill that they are in desperate need for a sponsor or it will in fact be the team’s last round.
Word has spread from the V8 Supercar side of the fence that the ASBK could possibly be at the Phillip Island V8 round in September, yet confirmation is yet to come from V8 Supercars Australia.
Shifting away from all of this four-wheel talk in regards to the ASBK, confirmation has come through from the International Entertainment Group that Superstock 1000 bikes will have their own race within the Superbike ranks for the Eastern Creek, Mallala and final ASBK round (venue yet to be announced).
The surprise has been that not only will there be prize money up for grabs for Superstock (B- and C-graders only) riders who compete in the Superbike ranks, but also added prize money for the top Superbike privateers in those three rounds in what IEG has called a Triple Challenge.
There may be a new challenger for top privateer in those rounds though, with former Australian Superbike and Supersport Champion Adam Fergusson rumoured to be contesting the remaining rounds on a Ducati 1098 run by Michael Fraser. Watch this space…
Suzuki’s initial testing on the K9 GSX-R1000 was delayed last Friday due to a lack of parts, but it’s expected that the team will make its debut with the bike at Winton on Friday before again testing at Eastern Creek before the race next month.
This year’s American Motocross Championship continues to be spectacular with JGR Yamaha’s Josh Grant becoming yet another first time 450 class winner at Red Bud last weekend.
Australia’s Chad Reed won the opening moto and finished second overall to retain his championship lead, and if he can continue on at this rate then his rivals are going to find in extremely difficult to catch him in the second half of the series.
Grant’s Kiwi teammate Cody Cooper finished a solid fourth overall, while Reed’s Rockstar Makita Suzuki teammate Michael Byrne was seventh and remains top five in the points.
Australia almost had a podium in the Lites class with Brett Metcalfe, although he had to settle for fourth and also moved up to fourth in the championship.
American Motocross bad boy Jason Lawrence made his return to the series and actually qualified second before having a harder time of it in the motos, but the good news is that he actually finished moto two, albeit in 10th place.
The story will go on, but let’s hope for his sake that he can finally pull it all together and make a career out of motorcycle racing, one of the only things he seems to get right on occasion.buy Undead