Inside MotoGP

News and Commentary from the MotoGP World

Introducing the 2009 MotoGP Rookies: Yuki Takahashi

April 10th, 2009

This is the last in a series of three articles looking at the rookies of the 2009 MotoGP season. We already looked at Mika Kallio and Niccolo Canepa. Today we take a look at Yuki Takahashi.

Yuki Takahashi

Nationality: Japanese
Team: Scot Racing
Bike: Honda
Date of Birth: July 12, 1984

Racing Career

Yuki Takahashi MotoGP Testing 2009

Yuki Takahashi MotoGP Testing 2009

2001 – 2004 – Was part of the HRC Racing Scholarship program and competed in several 125cc and 250cc races as a wildcard entry.
2005 – Entered the 250cc world championship full time, finished 11th
2006 – 6th in the 250cc class.
2007 – 11th in 250cc. Missed several races due to an injury.
2008 – 5th in 250cc.

Results in Off Season Testing

Jerez: November 2008
Session 1 – 14th. Session 2 – 14th.
The gap behind the leader for the first session was 4.835 seconds and 3.489 for the second session. A slow start, but at least he improved his times.

Sepang: February 2009
Session 1 – 17th. Session 2 – 16th. Session 3 – 14th
Gap behind leader: 4.835, 2.849, 2.431. He again showed consistent improvement as he got more comfortable with the bike.

Qatar: March 2009
Session 1 – 7th. Session 2 – 13th. Session 3 – 14th
Gap behind leader: 2.504, 2.014, 2.668. The first rain soaked session did not include many of the top riders so the place looks better than it should.

Valencia: March 2009
Session 1 – 15th. Session 2 – 19th. BMW M Award Shootout – 14th
Gap behind leader: 2.495, 2.760, 2.168. In the shootout, Yuki did manage to beat a couple of the more veteran MotoGP riders – De Angelis and Toseland.

Outlook for 2009 MotoGP Season

Yuki Takahashi MotoGP 2009 Rookie

Yuki Takahashi MotoGP 2009 Rookie

Yuki did show improvement as he went through the tests. He started out with gaps of over 3 and 4 seconds and managed to reduce it to less than 3 seconds in the final two tests. As he gets more comfortable on the bike he should be able to become more competitive. In my opinion it looks like he was yanked from the 250cc class a little early. He was only 5th overall last year, and the competition in the upper class is going to be much stiffer.

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MotoGP Blog’s Prediction Contest on Twitter

April 9th, 2009

MotoGP Blog is having a fun podium prediction contest. Guess which riders will finish 1st, 2nd and 3rd and get points. I’ll be joing in every week. There are no prizes (yet), but it should be fun anyway.

Get details of the MotoGP prediction contest here.

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Introducing the 2009 MotoGP Rookies: Niccolo Canepa

April 9th, 2009

This is the second in my series of looking at the 2009 MotoGP rookies. Yesterday we looked at Mika Kallio. Today we look at Niccolo Canepa.

Niccolo Canepa

Nationality: Italian
Team: Pramac Racing
Bike: Ducati
Date of Birth: May 14, 1988

Racing Career

Niccollo Canepa MotoGP Valencia Test 2008
2006 Finished second in the European Superstock Championship
2007 Superstock 1000 FIM Cup Champion riding on a Ducati 1098S.
2008 Tester for Ducati MotoGP and World Superbike machines.

He doesn’t have much racing experience, but he has been with Ducati for a while, hopefully he can do well for them.

Results in Off Season Testing

Jerez: November 2008
Session 1 – 11th. Session 2 – 7th.
The gap behind the leader for the first session was 2.549 seconds and 1.648 for the second session. The first test seemed to be Niccolo’s bright spot. He seemed to be improving.

Sepang: February 2009
Session 1 – 19th. Session 2 – 14th. Session 3 – 15th
Gap behind leader: 3.401, 2.538, 2.858. His performance wasn’t great here. I would have thought his previous experience on the Ducati would have helped, but it doesn’t seem like it did – he was the slowest Ducati rider on the track by about 1.4 seconds.

Qatar: March 2009
Session 1 – 5th. Session 2 – 15th. Session 3 – 13th
Gap behind leader: 0.611, 2.127, 2.202. The first session time seems good, but this was a rain soaked session where most of the top riders didn’t go out. The next few sessions he again slid to the bottom of the timesheets.

Valencia: March 2009
Session 1 – 17th. Session 2 – 18th. BMW M Award Shootout – 18th
Gap behind leader: 2.060, 2.572, 2.905. In the most telling test of the pre-season – the BMW shootout, Canepa was second last, only managing to beat a Honda test Rider – Akiyoshi.

Outlook for 2009 MotoGP Season

Niccolo Canepa MotoGP 2009 Rookie

Niccolo Canepa MotoGP 2009 Rookie

Things do not seem to be starting out very well for Canepa. Being consistently 2 or more seconds behind the leader won’t get many points during the season. The fact that he hasn’t been in a race in over a year probably won’t help much either. Time will tell whether or not he has what it takes to compete at this level.

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Introducing the 2009 MotoGP Rookies: Mika Kallio

April 8th, 2009

The 2009 MotoGP season is almost upon us, so I thought it might be nice to take a closer look at this years rookies. Last years batch of rookies were pretty impressive, with Lorenzo coming in 4th, Divizioso 5th and Toseland 11th. It will be interesting to see if this years rookies and do as well.

Todays article will take a look at Mika Kallio.

Mika Kallio

Nationality: Finnish
Team: Pramac Racing
Bike: Ducati
Date of Birth: November 8, 1982

Racing Career

Mika Kallio at the MotoGP Jerez Test 2009

Mika Kallio at the MotoGP Jerez Test 2009

1997 – 2000 Mika Kallio started his career in Finland and surrounding Nordic countries. He won 3 Finnish 125cc championships, a Nordic 125cc championship and a 125 cc Finnish iceracing championship. He continued riding in the Finnish iceracing series all the way until 2007.
2001 Made the jump to the European 125cc road racing series, placed 5th.
2002 Made the move to the world championship. He was Rookie of the Year in the 125cc class. Came in 11th
2003 – 2006 Continued racing in 125cc world championship. His positions for the years were: 11th, 10th, 2nd and 2nd.
2007 Mika moved to the 250cc class and came in 7th in his first year.
2008 Placed 3rd in the 250cc championship.

Although he has shown a lot of promise, so far a world championship has eluded him.

Results in Off Season Testing

Jerez: November 2008
Session 1 – 11th. Session 2 – 7th.
Mika showed good improvement in his first tests on the Ducati. He reduced the gap from 3.312 seconds behind the leader in session 1 to 1.135 seconds in session 2. In both sessions he was right behind Nicky Hayden, who was the fastest Ducati on the track (Casey missed this test due to his wrist injury).

Sepang: February 2009
Session 1 – 13th. Session 2 – 13th Session 3 – 9th
His gap from the fastest rider was 2.536, 2.291 and finally 1.343 seconds, again showing consistently better times. Also notable was that in the final session he was faster than Nicky Hayden who is a new factory Ducati rider.

Qatar: March 2009
Session 1 – 3rd. Session 2 – 16th Session 3 – 12th
Gaps behind leader: 0.303, 2.625, 2.194. The first session results looked good, but many of the top riders such as Stoner, Rossi and Lorenzo skipped the session due to rain. Mika had a hard crash in the second session, which kept him from putting in as many laps as he would have wanted.

Jerez: March 2009
Session 1 – 14th. Session 2 – 13th BMW M Award Shootout – 6th
Gaps behind leader: 1.435, 1.796, 1.503. Although his positions in the first two sessions weren’t great he again reduced the gap between himself and the leaders on the track. Perhaps the most important result of the pre-season is the BMW M Award shootout where the riders compete for the fastest lap. Here Mika shined, placing a very respectable 6th, showing that he can indeed handle the Ducati machine very nicely.

2009 Season Outlook

Mika Kallio MotoGP 2009 Rookie
Overall Mika looks like he will be a very strong contender for rookie of the year, and might even be fighting for some podiums as he improves throughout the season. The big worry was a repeat of Ducati’s fortunes last year where no one but Casey could handle the Ducati, but things look promising this year.

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Kousuke Akiyoshi to Replace Dani Pedrosa at Jerez Test

March 24th, 2009

Dani Pedrosa is still healing from injuries he suffered from his crash in the Qatar tests, so he won’t be able to take place in this weekends tests in Jerez. Taking his place will be Japanese rider Kousuke Akiyoshi.

Pedrosa had surgery on March 4th to place pins in his left wrist and to get a skin graft on his left knee. He is expected to recover enough by MotoGP’s season debut that will take place APril 12th in Qatar.

Kousuke Akiyoshi will join Pedrosa’s Repsol Honda team mate Andrea Dovizioso in testing the RC212V in Jerez for two days this upcoming weekend. Akiyoshi is a former Rizla Suzuki test rider and has competed in 4 MotoGP races over the last few years.

Jerez will be the last test of the MotoGP off season, so it will be the last chance for the teams to get their bikes in order.

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Johm Hopkins To Join World Superbike

March 19th, 2009

After Kawasaki decided to stop racing MotoGP in the 2009 season, John Hopkins was left without a ride. His 2008 Kawasaki team mate Marco Melandri was lucky enough to join a new MotoGP team – Hayate – but Hopper was left out.

It was just announced that Hopkins would race in World Superbike this year, joining the Stiggy Honda Team in Valencia, riding a CBR1000RR. This is good news for Hopper, but bad news for MotoGP. This means the grid is just down to 18 riders this season. It would be nice to see some more bikes joining the grid, but with Kawasaki dropping out, there are less bikes.

We hope that Hopper does well in his World Superbike contention, and maybe someday he’ll be able to return to MotoGP.

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Provisional MotoGP Entry List is Set

March 18th, 2009

MotoGP has announced that the preliminary entries has been set. Here is the rundown:

Repsol Honda
3. Dani Pedrosa
4. Andrea Dovizioso

Monster Yamaha Tech 3
5. Colin Edwards
52. James Toseland

Rizla Suzuki MotoGP
7. Chris Vermeulen
65. Loris Capirossi

LCR Honda MotoGP
14. Randy de Puniet

San Carlo Honda Gresini
15. Alex de Angelis
24. Toni Elias

Ducati Marlboro
27. Casey Stoner
69. Nicky Hayden

Hayate Racing
33. Marco Melandri

Pramac Racing
36. Mika Kallio
88. Niccolo Canepa

Fiat Yamaha
46. Valentino Rossi
99. Jorge Lorenzo

Guinea Ecuatorial
59. Sete Gibernau

Scot Racing
72. Yuki Takahashi

Conspicuously absent from this list is John Hopkins. After Kawasaki decided not to field a team this year he has been stranded without a team. His web site promised that there will be an announcement very soon. We hope he manages to get a ride to fill out the grid a little.

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