Inside MotoGP

News and Commentary from the MotoGP World

Jamie Hacking Save at AMA

May 9th, 2009

During last weeks AMA Daytona SportBike race at Barber Motorsports Park Jamie Hacking had the most amazing save I have ever seen in motorcycle racing. He ended up in 8th place after this spill, but incredibly managed to fight back into 3rd place.

His quote from the incident: “I was hanging on the bike for dear life and just dragging along the side of it. The wall started coming up and I thought, ‘okay, now I need to start worrying about myself, it looks like I’m out of the way of everybody else,’ so I managed to climb back up on the bike.”

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MotoGP Race Preview and Predictions: Jerez

May 1st, 2009

Here I look at the prospects of each rider for this weekends race in Jerez. I have them listed in the order I think they will place. There are quite a few riders who have the potential to be on the podium this week and many of them have a lot to prove. Some want to win their first race of the season, some want to do well in front of a home crowd and some want to improve on last week’s disappointing results.

Valentino Rossi - He has yet to win a race this season and will be really motivated to do so. His free practice times on Friday are showing that he can do it.

Casey Stoner – Casey’s brake problems cost him the race last week. He has slipped to third in the overall rankings and will be looking to get back on top. He dominated in the winter testing at Jerez, so he will be tough to beat.

Jorge Lorenzo – Not only is this race in Spain, it will be his 22nd birthday on Monday as well. He got the better of Rossi last weekend, but I don’t think he’ll be able to do it again with all the pressure.

Dani Pedrosa – He has had a remarkable comeback from his injuries. This Spaniard will be looking to repeat his podium performance in front of a home crowd.

Loris Capirossi – Capirossi has been performing well at Jerez and is likely to continue. The Suzuki’s haven’t seemed to live up to their potential in actual races yet, but this might be the race to show that bike can get some serious championship points this year.

Colin Edwards – He had an incorrect wet race electronics set-up in Motegi which slowed him down a lot, but other than that he has been performing well this season. He’ll be out to get a podium after being very frustrated last week.

Andrea Dovizioso – With a very consistent year – two 5th place finishes – he could have podium potential this year, but has yet to show that something extra that will get him there.

Mika Kallio – Has shown that he can ride the Ducati and put in a great race last week, moving steadily through the field into 8th place. He should be able to keep up these good results and maybe even start to improve them.

Chris Vermeulan – Shifting problems last week dropped him to tenth place in the race. He hopes to do better than the mid-pack results he has had during the season so far.

Marco Melandri – Has been surprisingly good on his ex-Kawasaki. He should be able to place fairly well – for now. As the other bikes improve, his factory-less bike is in danger of slipping down the time sheets.

Nicky Hayden – Bad luck has been following him. He is desperate to show that he can put in some good results on the Ducati, but just hasn’t has the chance to do so. The weather should remain good this weekend in Jerez, allowing Nicky to get in some much needed time on the bike.

James Toseland – He has continually struggled with his Yamaha this season and will probably continue to do so.

Sete Gibernau – The returning Spaniard has not been able to regain his former glory and has not done well on the Ducati. Putting on a good show in front of his home crowd will be a tall order.

Alex de Angelis – Slipping from 6th in Qatar to 13th in Japan was not a good sign. He has some work to do if he wants to get close to the podium.

Randy de Puniet – He has not been terribly impressive this year, but at least he is not falling as much as past seasons. He will probably continue to struggle somewhere in the pack.

Toni Elias – The front tire grip on his Honda has been giving him problems (as evidence by his low-side last week), and he will probably continue to struggle with this.

Yuki Takahashi – Hopefully he will be riding a bit more carefully this week so he won’t take anyone down with him. I don’t expect a lot of improvevment from him yet.

Nicollo Canepa – Has been outclassed in MotoGP. His transition from student to full time rider will take some more time.

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Motegi Race Review: Mixing Things Up

April 28th, 2009

The race in Japan was much more interesting to watch than the season opener in Qatar. There was much more of a fight for the podium – and some surprises.

The first surprise was to see Jorge Lorenzo on the top spot of the podium. Everyone was expecting the usual suspects – Rossi or Stoner, but Lorenzo managed to fight his way passed Rossi and stay there – showing he is a serious contender this year.

Another surprise was Dani Pedrosa. Because of his injuries and lack of track time he was not a favorite for the podium. He got one of his rocket starts that he is known for and managed to stay near the top the whole race. He and Rossi put on a great show of passing each other for a while before Rossi managed to put a gap between himself and the Spaniard. But Pedrosa himself was surprised and pleased to be in third.

Casey Stoner must have been very disappointed in the results. He got an awful start and didn’t really get a good rhythm until part way through the race. He finally did manage to get a pace that was similar to the leaders – but it was too late and he had to settle for fourth.

Marco Melandri had a very good race, ending up in 6th. This was a great result for a bike with no factory support anymore. It must have Kawasaki questioning their decision to pull out of MotoGP. Melandri is showing that he might have a great season – way better than last years anyway.

Poor Nicky Hayden can’t catch a break. After bike troubles in practice at Qatar and than an awful high-side in the Qatar qualifying, Nicky was looking forward to a better race. Yuki Takahashi made sure that his Nicky’s luck wouldn’t change – he rammed him and took him out of the race.

Again, Mika Kallio is showing that he might be the only one besides Stoner who can ride the Ducati. A very respectable 8th place after starting 17th on the grid is a great showing for a rookie.

So far the season looks like it will be interesting – Lorenzo has 41 points, Rossi is only one behind and Stoner has 38 points. Dani Pedrosa is in 5th with 21 points, but now that he is healthy it looks like he will be a real threat too. I can’t wait to see what happens in Jerez this weekend.

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MotoGP Links Wrap-Up: April 23, 2009

April 23rd, 2009

Canepa Slowed By Playstation Compatability Issues In Preparation For Motegi GP – The Ducati rookie couldn’t get his Playstation to work in Japan, so he couldn’t learn the track by playing the MotoGP game.

Capirossi Suspects Qatar Chassis Crack – Loris Capirossi thinks the chassis on his Suzuki cracked sometime on Sunday, making it difficult to control.

MotoGP: Spies could replace Toseland in 2010 – Toseland needs to prove that he belongs in MotoGP.

Motegi MotoGP: Valentino Rossi concerned about gloomy forecasts – The weather is not looking promising for Motegi this weekend, this could really limit the already shortened test sessions available.

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MotoGP Links Wrap-Up: April 20, 2009

April 20th, 2009

Here are some interesting MotoGP links from the past few days.

MOTOGP: Moto2 Protoypes Impress in CEV Qualifying – A first look at the bikes that will take place as part of new class that debuts next year and will replace the 250cc class.

Motegi MotoGP: Practice to revert back to one-hour format – But number of laps will be limited. The 45 minute practices just don’t leave the teams enough time.

Ezpeleta reflects on unique circumstances for Qatar opener – Dorna’s CEO talks about the decision to delay the race in Qatar.

Pedrosa claims “ten degrees more movement” for Japan date – His knee is getting better, but he did hurt his elbow in the collision with De Angelis.

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MotoGP Links Wrap-Up: April 18, 2009

April 18th, 2009

I have decided to start a new feature on this site, a MotoGP link wrap-up. Every now and then (depending on how much news is out there), I’ll link to some of the more interesting news stories, commentary and other links I have come across. Here is the link wrap-up for today:

Rossi nominated for Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award – Valentino has been shortlisted with 5 other athletes for this prestigious award.
Qatar MotoGP: 800cc top speed beats 990 best – The 800cc bike were supposed to be slower.
Desmosedici GP9 Monocoque Carbon Fibre Frame – Some details on the new Ducati frame design.
2009 MotoGP Calendars – Add all the MotoGP race dates to your Outlook, Yahoo, Mac, Google or Lotus calendars.

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Video of De Angelis vs. Pedrosa Incident at Qatar

April 15th, 2009

Here is a video of De Angelis bumping into Pedrosa during the Qatar race. This was a scary moment and Pedrosa was obviously very angry about it. Saying:

“He came straight into me, I was in front and he came into me to close me down. (He showed…) no respect, but life will return the favour to him”

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Qatar Race Review: Stoner Dominates

April 14th, 2009

I had an excruciating self-imposed 24-hours MotoGP news blackout while I waited for US TV network, Speed, to show the race from Qatar. I’m not going to provide a full recap here, there are plenty of places on the web you can get those, I’m just going to give you some of my thoughts on the race.

As I predicted Stoner won, and he did so in dominant fashion. He was in the lead from the beginning and when it looked like Rossi might be getting a bit closer, Casey just got faster. He made it look easy and left no doubts that his wrist is in fine shape. It looks like he is going to be very tough to beat this year.

Unfortunately, the gaps between the first four riders, at about 7 seconds between each one, didn’t make for a very exciting race for podium spots. I’m hoping this doesn’t continue all season. We need more battles like the one we saw at Laguna-Seca last year between Stoner and Rossi. I’m sure Rossi will get back into it soon enough and give Casey a hard time.

It still looks like Mika Kallio is going to be the rookie of the year this season. He put in a solid performance coming in 8th, and is showing people that Casey is not the only one who can ride the Ducati.

Dani Pedrosa put in a valiant effort. It was a very scary moment when De Angelis bumped him on the same side as his injured knee, but it looks like Dani got out of the scrape relatively unscathed. It looks like that bump slowed him down a little, but he still managed to pick up 5 valuable championship points.

Hopefully the race in Japan in two weeks will be a little closer.

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Race in Qatar Postponed Until Monday Night

April 13th, 2009

If you tried to watch the MotoGP race today, you know that it was cancelled due to some heavy rain that came pouring down just before the start of the race. Although rain does not usually cancel MotoGP races, trying to ride around the track under the floodlights in the rain is very treacherous – the visibility is terrible. It had been understood beforehand that the race would not happen in the rain.

After much discussion between race officials and the teams it was decided that the race would be postponed until Monday night at 9:00PM Qatar time. There will also be an additional warm up session at 6:30pm.

There were many pros and cons to be considered. Some were concerned that the track might not in very good shape after all the rain and dirt that has been deposited on it by the storms. There are also huge costs involved with delaying things by a day at the last minute. Flights and hotel rooms need to be re-booked and shipments of equipment need to be changed. All this is occurring while race organizers are desperately trying to find ways to cut costs. Obviously fans and the TV networks that carry MotoGP want the race to go on. Caparossi and Edwards proposed at one point to change the date of the race to September to fill in the place of the cancelled Hungarian Race. In the end the organizers decided that a Monday race would be best.

I would think that the injured riders, Dani Pedrosa and Nicky Hayden, would be slightly better off by this extra day of recuperation before the race. Nicky, who has had a couple of equipment problems during free practices and then high-sided during the qualifying might be able to benefit a little from some extra track time tomorrow too.

Rossi, who has never been a fan of the idea of running the race at night in the first place, was hoping that this situation would put an end to night races.

Here in the US, Speed TV carries the MotoGP races. Since the race was cancelled they showed last years race instead. They have no word yet on when tomorrows race will be shown, however they did have a repeat of the race scheduled for Tuesday at 2:00pm Eastern Time, so they might just show it then. I’ll be sure to put up a new post if I do find out when they are showing the race.

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MotoGP Race Preview and Predictions: Qatar

April 10th, 2009

We are just two days away from the first race of the season and I’m getting very excited. I was in Qatar last year for the first ever MotoGP race under the lights and had a great time. I’ll miss being there this year, but the race itself should still be thrilling. Here I take a look at how I think things will go. I’ve listed the riders in the order I think they will finish in Qatar.

Casey Stoner is expected by a lot of people, including me, to win the race. He has won the last two Qatar races and has been consistently putting down fast laps during off-season practices. In the BMW Shootout mock qualifier, he led the field by almost three-quarters of a second. The only doubt is whether his wrist is fully recovered from the operation on it over the winter. During practices he has not been putting in successions of laps that are anywhere near races distances. He claims that his wrist will not bother him.

Valentino Rossi can never be counted out of being in contention for the top spot. He lost he championship in 2006 and 2007 and came back last year to win again. He wants to show everyone that he really is the best in the world and is hungry to prove it. His Yamaha has been performing well during the tests and we know he won’t want to let Casey win the opening round. I think Casey will get away from him and Valentino will come in second.

Jorge Lorenzo has been another strong performer during the winter tests. His MotoGP debut was in Qatar last year and he impressed everyone by placing 2nd. He’ll want another podium and I think he will manage to get another it, but 3rd place this time.

Loris Capirossi‘s Suzuki has been performing well and he came in 3rd in the BMW shootout, showing that he will be a rider to be reckoned with this year. He’s experienced, healthy and with a good bike should do well, I think he will probably not be to far off the podium in this race.

Mika Kallio is the rookie with the most promise this year. He seems to be handling the Ducati well and placed 6th in the BMW shootout. I predict he’ll continue to get quicker and be able to be within a few places of a podium for this race.

Chris Vermulan has been showing some promise on the Suzuki. He placed 6th in the BMW shootout and 4th at the test in Qatar earlier this year. He should be finishing not too far off the podium this weekend.

Andrea Dovizioso has an impressive rookie season last year that earned him a factory Honda ride. He placed fourth in Qatar last year should be able to do well again this year with more experience and a fully supported bike. I don’t think he’ll be able to do quite as well this year.

Nicky Hayden is new to Ducati this year and seems to be making improvements. He has complained that the set-up on the bike is very tricky, so if he gets that right he can probably be very fast. I have a feeling he’ll get better as the season goes along and he learns the bike. In Qatar I think he’s be somewhere in the middle of the pack.

Colin Edwards now has a wall up in his garage to separate him from James Toseland. Edwards has been a consistent rider in his MotoGP career, but never seems to end up on the podium often enough to be a real threat in the overall standings. I think he’ll show similar middle-of-the-pack results this weekend.

Sete Gibernau is back after a two year break from MotoGP. Officially his heated rivalry with Rossi has been ended with the two even joking and shaking hands at a press conference. Their on track behavior might be different though. If he can re-gain his form there will be some great moments between him and the current world champion. For Qatar I don’t thing Sete will be a threat for the podium, but should be able to stay with the middle pack.

Alex De Angelis is in his second year in the top MotoGP class with his Honda. He placed a respectable 10th last year, but was never took a podium. His tests results during the off-season showed similar middle-of-the-pack results. He will likely be there again for this race.

Toni Elias struggled last year on a Ducati but has switched to Honda this year. His performance during the test seemed a little more promising than last years races, but nothing too exciting. I think he’ll be slightly closer to the bottom of the standing after Qatar than to the top.

Randy De Puniet probably has a nice smile on his face now that his Honda will be sponsored by Playboy (but he won’t be showing the Playboy logo for the Qatar race). He has always had problems with consistency and only has one podium in his four-year MotoGP career. Most likely he will continue his lackluster performance in Qatar.

Marco Melandri has unfortunately ended up on as the lone rider on a Kawasaki and will have no factory support during the season. That is too bad because the Kawasaki seemed to be performing better than it did last year and Melandri was ending up in the middle of the time sheets and may have been able to completely erase the thoughts of the miserable season he had last year on the Ducati. I think he’ll be towards the back of the pack at Qatar.

James Toseland has a hard crash at the last test and had to be taken to the hospital for a concussion. He also had a tumultuous off-season publicly bickering with team-mate Edwards. Even though he should be mostly healthy for this race, he has been struggling at the bottom of the time sheets during the tests and probably won’t be able to get up to speed for this race, staying near the back of the field.

Dani Pedrosa‘s will is strong, but his body is not. He is still recovering from a skin graft on his knee and surgery on his arm this winter. He missed the last test and was in doubt whether he would be able to race this weekend until a few days ago. Even he has admitted that he won’t be very competitive at Qatar, but will settle for a few points. I hope he manages to have a good ride without injuring himself further.

Yuki Takahashi the Honda protegee is another rookie. I don’t think he’ll be able to keep up with the more experienced riders early in the season and will finish well back in the standings at Qatar.

Niccolo Canepa is a rookie without much world championship level racing experience and spent last year as a Ducati test rider. His times during tests were well off the leaders times and I think he’ll finish at the bottom of this race.

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