News 21 Apr 2009

Racing Insider #77

MotoGP to change practice lengths? Plus, more news from MotoGP; WSBK; AMA MX; Oz MX and U.S. Off-Road.


MotoGP is still struggling to find a balance in the regulations

MotoGP is still struggling to find a balance in the regulations

There have been two very critical subjects that have been causing concern in the MotoGP World Championship since the opening round at the Losail Circuit in Qatar a couple of weeks ago, with selected changes to the regulations for this year already in question.

Firstly, the reduction of track time from hour long sessions to 45 minute sessions has proven a very unpopular decision following the first round, as has the elimination of Friday morning’s first free practice session.

Now it’s certain that the morning practice on Friday will remain off the schedule, but sources are indicating that the 45 minute sessions could be expanded back to being an hour in length following a great amount of protest from the riders and teams.

The key is that instead of reducing the time, the number of laps that are to be completed in a session will be monitored and there is likely to be a maximum allowance for the sessions.

It’s expected that the maximum number will change from circuit to circuit due to different circuit lengths, but this ruling would essentially enable the teams to set the bikes up better with more time to try things during the sessions as they make changes.

If the speculation does become a reality, it could be adopted as soon as this weekend in Motegi.

The second concern that has emerged so far in 2009 is the control tyres supplied by Bridgestone, with some manufacturers’ bikes suiting selected tyres more so than others’.

For instance, Honda has had a long association with Michelin and their tyres, which are softer in construction than what Bridgestone makes. On the other hand, Ducati and its Desmosedici has been moulded around Bridgestone and their harder constructions.

The thing for this year is that Bridgestone has kind of met in the middle with constructions that aren’t quite hard enough for the likes of Ducati and the manufacturers that need harder tyres (Suzuki included), but are still too hard for Honda.

Overall it seems that Honda is going to struggle the most with this as the other manufacturers use harder constructions than Honda in general, and the light weight of HRC’s star rider Dani Pedrosa is another thing that just doesn’t allow him to work the tyres as hard as the likes of Valentino Rossi.

Speaking of Pedrosa, he is confident that he’s going to be much fitter in Motegi than what he was at Qatar, so keep an eye on him because he will be determined to put himself and Honda back on the map amongst Ducati and Yamaha.

Pedrosa finished on the podium at Motegi last year in one of his first outings on Bridgestone tyres, so he’s proven the package works at Motegi and the Japanese bosses will be there to add that extra bit of pressure to the Spaniard as he fights to regain fitness.

Assen will be another new circuit for Corser and his BMW team

Assen will be another new circuit for Corser and his BMW team. Photo: Kel Edge/BMW

World Superbike
The Superbike World Championship has been somewhat overshadowed by MotoGP in recent weeks, but this weekend will mark a brilliant double header of both SBK and GP action as the Supers head to Assen in Holland for the fourth round of the 2009 series.

There hasn’t been any testing at Assen so far this year and won’t be before the race weekend officially begins, although the good news for Ben Spies is that the new Assen isn’t anywhere near as tricky as the former historic circuit.

Ducati has had a great history at Assen and the layout suits the 1198, so Spies will be up against a very strong Noriyuki Haga as he aims to cut back Haga’s points lead even in these early stages.

It will be a busy weekend for the all-new BMW and Aprilia teams, especially BMW as it has never raced SBK at all at Assen, which at least Aprilia has past experience with both MotoGP and SBK.

American Motocross
Yesterday we spoke about the performance of Australian Jake Moss in the United States, but with the Supercross season over there coming to an end and Jake’s Troy Lee Designs Honda team only contesting Supercross, it’s uncertain if Jake will compete in the outdoor Motocross Nationals in America this year.

Following his fifth place result at Seattle on the weekend his chances to pick up a ride have been boosted, although his father Greg Moss posted on the FullNoise website last month that he’s looking for a ride in the Australian MX Nationals following the first two rounds that have already been completed.

How about this scenario? Queenslander Dan Reardon has long been rumoured to be taking over Kiwi Ben Townley’s seat on the factory Honda Red Bull Racing CRF450R in the Nationals, so if that happens, how about putting Jake on Reardon’s factory-backed Geico Powersports Honda CRF250R in the Lites class?

This is just what I would like to see and hasn’t been confirmed at all yet, but it would be a logical decision considering Jake has been onboard a Honda since returning to racing from a broken back this year.

Australian Motocross

McCoy's Kawasaki was sitting idle in Canberra again

McCoy's Kawasaki was sitting idle in Canberra again

Troy Carroll Cool Air Kawasaki Racing’s Daniel McCoy was on the sidelines once again at the second round of the Australian MX Nationals in Canberra as he recovers from a cracked sternum, but he has been on the bike for the last few days and will return to the series come round three in Queensland.

It was also revealed last week that McCoy’s former teammate in the USA at Moto Concepts Honda, Cole Siebler, has been let go by the team and is currently looking for a ride.

Following McCoy’s disappointment when contesting the AMA Supercross series this year and choosing to part ways with the team at the mid-point of the season, Siebler’s departure goes some way to proving that McCoy’s decision was the right one in the grand scheme of things.

American Off-Road
While the Australian Four-Day Enduro was on in Orange last weekend, Suzuki’s Josh Strang won his third American Grand National Cross Country (GNCC) round in succession to assert his dominance early in the season.

The 20-year-old won at the Loretta Lynn Ranch in one of the hardest off-road series in the world, and was joined in the top five by fellow Aussie Glenn Kearney, who scored his best result of the year so far as he recovers from a broken leg sustained just weeks before the season opener in March.

Keep up the good work guys!