Rossi and Stoner set up in Jerez for 2009 MotoGP battle. Plus, more news from MotoGP, BSB, ASBK and Oz MX.
This week’s MotoGP test will consist of a very hectic few days of riding at Jerez in Spain, even more rushed and intense than usual as not only is it the final test before the season begins in April, it is the final test of the season for the racers full stop.
Sure, tests after Catalunya and Brno will be handy for information when the factories’ official test riders are allowed to take to the circuit for the only time of the season, but without the race riders onboard the testing isn’t quite as accurate because it isn’t at the same pace as the MotoGP regulars.
That’s exactly the reason that this weekend’s final round of testing is more important than ever – also known as GP Zero due to its Qualifying Shootout session on the final day when the BMW M Series is up for grabs.
If teams and riders aren’t on the pace or completely comfortable at Jerez this week then it’s going to be very difficult for them to gain confidence throughout the season once it starts up, because the luxury of testing on the Monday after the races simply doesn’t exist anymore.
All eyes are on the battle between Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi, and Yamaha’s boss Masao Furusawa has reportedly told European press that he is slightly “scared” of Stoner’s competitiveness on Ducati – even prompting him to state that he would like Stoner to move to Honda!
Ducati is completing some last minute wind tunnel testing before heading off to Jerez, and in-house development such as wind tunnel testing may just be used a lot more this year to simulate selected parts for this season as the teams aren’t allowed to test on track.
Repsol Honda has confirmed that Dani Pedrosa has been replaced by Kosuke Akiyoshi, although Honda will replace Pedrosa’s customary number three for the 64 of Akiyoshi.
The 24-year-old Spaniard had his stitches were removed from his left wrist last week and he was able to begin moving the joint for the first time since his crash at Qatar at the start of this month. Next week Pedrosa will also start to move his knee with a view to being fit enough to contest the season opener in Qatar.
Sete Gibernau will be back in action at Jerez after he missed the Qatar test with a shoulder injury, and he’ll be hoping to make up for lost time, not only because he missed the Qatar test but also because he has been out of grand prix racing for over a year. Interestingly enough, when the series gets to the Losail Circuit in Qatar for the season opener, it will be 36-year-old Gibernau’s first time riding under lights.
While the anticipation of MotoGP 2009 is at its peak, this week will begin to map out who the real plays are for this year’s title chase – and don’t count out Suzuki just yet!
Jason O’Halloran has been testing in preparation for this year’s British Superbike Championship, the Aussie completing a day at Oulton Park last Friday, although only at a track day. O’Halloran is riding for the SMT Honda team in BSB this year after shining in the Australian Superbike Championship last season as a rookie, and he hopes to impress as a privateer in BSB in order to move on to a factory squad.
O’Halloran, a former Australian Supersport Champion, competed in selected BSB rounds at the end of last season on an old model 2007 Fireblade, but he’s much more confident heading into this season on the new Blade. Keep an eye out for him come the season opener at Brands Hatch Indy next month.
South Australian Paul Young will be back in British Supersport for Triumph on the triple-cylinder 675 once again this year, joining the TAG Racing team after his team from last year folded following its championship win with Glen Richards.
The video commercial for next weekend’s ASBK round in Tasmania can be seen in the event preview post in our press release section, and what a refreshing and professional advertisement it is. The most noticeable thing in there compared to previous years is that the Superbike class’s main players are highlighted in the ad, which is exactly what International Entertainment Group promised when they won the rights to the series at the end of last year.
Building up the identities of the likes of Glenn Allerton, Josh Waters, Shawn Giles and co is what’s really going to help domestic motorcycle racing rise to the unprecedented levels of V8 Supercar racing one day, enabling the fans of the sport to cheer for their favourite, or not so favourite, riders.
The television coverage on One should also help raise the profile of the sport, and there have been rumours that Greg Rust and Daryl Beattie will make up the commentary team. It’s uncertain at this point if Beattie will be able to do it as he’s already committed to the Red Bull Air Race series this year, but it would be a massive coup to get Network Ten’s MotoGP commentators also doing our ASBK series.
Message boards have been heating up with rumours of Daniel McCoy’s future since he exclusively spoke with MotoOnline.com.au a couple of weeks ago and told us that he’ll be returning to Australia for the MX Nationals, and the latest word is that he could end up on the MXRAD Yamaha team. McCoy was spotted riding a Yamaha last Saturday just days after returning home, although those that were there state that it didn’t have any MXRAD graphics or stickers on it at all. Either way, it looks like there’s definitely interest in McCoy’s services for the season.
The MX Nationals kick off next weekend at Albury Wodonga, and it is difficult at this stage to put a favourite on the board. It’s difficult to look past the Rockstar CDR Yamaha duo of Jay Marmont and Cheyne Boyd, although Craig Anderson on a Kawasaki could also be a major threat if he’s 100 percent comfortable on the KX450F. There will be a number of young guns out to upset the regulars too, including Woodstock Honda’s Ford Dale, so we will just have to wait and see who is strongest on the day.
One interesting thing to keep an eye on at the motocross is if the popularity of the Super X series helps build and attract crowds in the outdoors. Live television last year with Super X gained massive amounts of exposure last year, so if the MX Nationals are marketed well in the local areas then there is a chance that even more spectators will turn out than in years past.