Category Archives: MotoGP

Valencia closes 2011 MotoGP season

The 2011 MotoGP season came to a close this afternoon in Valencia with one of the most exciting races of the year. A fitting way to conclude a largely forgettable and regrettable (barring Casey Stoner’s achievements) season. Funny, as it also concluded the 800cc era, which can be summarized just as the 2011 season has been.

Casey Stoner took the final 800 race by 0.015 second over Ben Spies after coughing up a near 10-second-lead. Spies managed to take the lead with a lap to go before Stoner retook the advantage out of the final corner. “When we came out of the last corner I got the paint sucked off the bike by Casey as he went past,” Spies said, hinting that Stoner’s Honda had “a bit more motor… down the front straightaway.”

Andrea Dovizioso took the final podium position and secured his third place in the world championship standings today after holding off and eventually leaving teammate Dani Pedrosa, who eventually finished fifth.

Much of the weekend’s drama came at the start, when a collision between Dovizioso and Alvaro Bautista sent Bautista, Valentino Rossi, Nicky Hayden, and Randy de Puniet into the gravel. Bautista claimed Dovi moved over on him and left him nowhere to go, Italian media outlets argued that it was Bautista who had turned into Dovi. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle of those arguments. But the result was three Ducatis, who had looked more competitive than they had all season, packing up early from a wildly unpredictable race in conditions that played into the Ducati Desmosedici GP11.1’s hands.

Away from the on-track competition, there was on-track festivities to commemorate the life of Marco Simoncelli. The 24-year-old Italian who was killed at the Malaysian GP two weeks ago was remembered with a lap of honor featuring all riders from MotoGP, Moto2, and the 125s, all headed by 1993 500cc World Champion Kevin Schwantz, piloting Simoncelli’s Honda. What followed was a two-minute casino, at the request of Simoncelli’s father. Two minutes of fireworks and engines revving. Hard to imagine a better way to remember such a charismatic young man.

But with the close of a season and an era of which many will wish they could forget, a new chapter opens to the public on Tuesday when teams will return to the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia (hangovers permitting) to test the new 1000cc machines for 2012. It will mark the first time that Honda, Yamaha, and Ducati have all had their 1000cc machines on track simultaneously and will give us a glimpse as to just how far ahead of everyone Honda are, and just how much ground Ducati have made up.

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The dawn of another new era in MotoGP: The debut of Suter Moto1

Perhaps MotoGP isn’t on its deathbed after all. Eskil Suter’s ‘Moto1’ creation debuted Thursday in Jerez and wasn’t miles off the pace. Perhaps this doesn’t make sense to some of you. Brief history lesson.

MotoGP switched to prototype 990cc four-strokes in 2002 after decades of 500cc two-stroke racing. After the death of Dajiro Kato, it was determined that the 990cc machines were too fast and the capacity would be reduced to 800cc for 2007. Costs rose exponentially and grids shrank drastically, often times not fielding enough riders on the starting grid to classify the race as a world championship. Oh, and the bikes didn’t get any safer.

So for 2012, the rules will change again. MotoGP will allow motorcycles up to 1,000cc and for the first time in modern history, will allow production based engines into the class. The goal of the latter was to cut costs for private teams to participate. Apparently it was embarrassing for MotoGP to see Formula 1 field 24 cars on the grid with teams spending £400 million a season while it could only manage 17 at a fraction of the cost.

And thus, we come to the Suter Moto1 project. Suter has been around MotoGP in the past half-dozen years, instrumental in the development of the now defunct Kawasaki and Ilmor projects. Suter set his sights on the all new Moto2 class for 2010, custom chassis fitted with engines provided by the series, essentially. There were a dozen other chassis manufacturers on the grid, but Suter’s was the one to have.

With that in mind, the move to the premier class was the only logical step from there. With the outstanding performance of BMW’s S1000RR engine and the new rules in MotoGP legalizing that engine, it was a match made in heaven.

So it made its debut today and was some three seconds adrift of Karel Abraham’s Ducati and five seconds off the lap record. Not terribly impressive, but considering the freshness of the project and the considerable development that the chassis and BMW powerplant will undergo in the next year, it’s actually not that bad. Really.

But for somewhere between half and two-thirds the cost (depending on who you believe) of leasing a full-on prototype machine from Honda, Ducati or Yamaha, the future actually looks pretty bright for Suter and MotoGP on the whole.

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