Category Archives: Motorcyclesport
I was at the Day of Champions charity event in 2006 when I saw this crazy haired Marco Simoncelli wandering around the paddock at Donnigton Park. He spoke very little English but this tall kid from once of beach resorts near Rimini in Italy had stuck me as a kid that was gonna get to MotoGP and make some waves. And waves he did make, always fighting for a place on the grid and in a race. That incident when we snook back under Pedrosa at LeMans in 2011, will remain a lasting memory. An injured Pedrosa was given the benefit in that incident as he had just returned from injury but Marco was the man for me. A tenacious rider who wasn’t willing to give way to any the elder statesman of MotoGP least of all a Spaniard.
Valentino Rossi has paid tribute to close friend and fellow Italian MotoGP star Marco Simoncelli, who lost his life in an accident involving both riders in Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang.
Simoncelli lowsided from his Gresini Honda while holding fourth place on lap 2 of the grand prix. Simoncelli’s bike then regained grip and veered sharply across the track in front of Colin Edwards and Rossi – dragging Simoncelli with it.
Edwards and Rossi could do nothing to avoid hitting the fallen 24-year-old, who suffered ‘very serious trauma’ to the head, neck and chest.
Edwards sustained a dislocated shoulder, while the impact pushed Rossi off track, before he regained control and returned to the pits.
Visibly shaken, the seven-time MotoGP champion then joined the rest of the paddock in anxiously waiting for further news.
Tragically, Simoncelli’s death was announced at 16:56 local time. The race had already been cancelled so that medical staff could concentrate all their efforts on trying to save the former 250cc world champion’s life.
In the early hours of Monday morning, Malaysian time, Rossi made his first public comment via his official Twitter account (@ValeYellow46) saying simply:
“Sic for me was like a youngest brother. So strong on track and so sweet in the normal life. I will miss him a lot.”
Tommy Hill has won the 2011 British Superbike Championship after an astonishing final race of the season in which the title was decided by a breathtaking last lap and a winning margin of just 0.006secs.
Arguably the most exciting title conclusion in the history of BSB, the pair went into the race with Hopkins heading the standings by two points, meaning that whoever beat one another on track, would likely lift the crown.
Even so, Hopkins had looked on course for the title as his better start got him ahead of Hill through the opening bends, the American looking fairly comfortable ahead of his Yamaha rival.
However, at the same time, Hopkins was being boxed in by second place man James Ellison, the Sorrymate.com SMT Honda rider pacing the pack enough to keep his rivals at bay, but not doing enough to allow Hopkins to stretch away from Hill.
As such, Hill stayed on Hopkins’s tail and steadily plotted his late charge, showing his intentions with four laps remaining by getting alongside for the first time at Clark Curve.
It was the prelude to his pass at Hawthorne’s on lap 17, Hill surprising many by nosing in front of Hopkins for the first time and swinging the championship pendulum back in his favour.
From here, Hill did what Hopkins had failed to do by getting past Ellison for second with just over a lap remaining, giving him a bigger buffer in the standings.
However, Hill’s charge would spark Hopkins into action, sweeping past Ellison in third and moving straight onto the back of his rival heading into the final lap.
Lining Hill up over the first part of the lap, Hopkins dived through for the first time into Surtees, but a wider line allowed Hill to have better drive out of the bend, the Yamaha man sliding back up the inside at Hawthorne’s.
However, a wiggle on the exit allowed Hopkins to strike up the inside of Westfield, giving him the edge with just three corners remaining. Nonetheless, Hill came straight back past with a daring move at Dingle Dell, setting the pair up for a grandstand finish around the very final bend at Clark Curve.
Unsurprisingly, Hopkins dived for the inside, but aware his rival was attempting it, Hill hung back slightly to switch up the inside as they entered the steeped curve onto the finishing straight.
Hill nosed ahead, but Hopkins’s momentum on the outside was carrying him forward, sending them across the line almost side-by-side. As it happens, the stopwatch would see Hill ahead by just 0.006secs, a bitter heartbreak for Hopkins who would have surely overtaken – to win the title – had the finish line been just a few extra metres away.
An explosion of emotion would erupt down the pit lane as Hill was confirmed as champion, with jubilation breaking out of Shaun Muir’s Swan Yamaha team, while Samsung Crescent Suzuki had to imagine what could have been as they were beaten to the title for the second-year in succession, ironically by the man that rode for them just a year ago.
Hopkins’s despair is made all the more heart-wrenching by the fact it was the mysterious electronic gremlin in race two, which consigned him to 12th place, that arguably cost him the title.
Nonetheless, with seven wins this season, Hill was the ‘winningest’ rider in BSB 2011, and comes a year after rescinding his title advantage into the final round of the 2010 season. Interestingly though, considering the ‘shootout’ format, Hill didn’t win any of the seven ‘Showdown’ races.
Almost forgotten by the battle behind, the race itself was won by Shane Byrne, who secured his second win of the day to take third in the standings, though the HM Plant Honda man may be aggrieved by the fact that, under the previous points’s system, he would have been crowned champion with 403 points to Hill’s 398 points.
Behind Hill and a clearly emotional Hopkins, James Ellison completed a stunning weekend with fourth place, ahead of Michael Laverty, Josh Brookes – who recovered from 20th -, Michael Rutter, Graeme Gowland, Peter Hickman and James Westmoreland.
Outgoing champion Ryuichi Kiyonari, meanwhile, handed over his BSB crown with a run to 11th.
Cal Crutchlow may only have finished ninth in Sunday’s Aragon MotoGP, but the Englishman’s battle with grand prix legend Valentino Rossi and former 250cc world champion Hiroshi Aoyama was the main highlight of a processional race.
The trio spent most of the race swapping positions, with rookie Crutchlow eventually getting the better of both factory Ducati star Rossi and Gresini Honda rider Aoyama.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Crutchlow’s stand-out pass was an outside move on Rossi into turn one and he crossed the finish line just 0.180sec ahead of Rossi and 0.345sec clear of Aoyama.
“I’m really pleased with how the race went today because I was back inside the top and having a really good and enjoyable fight with two of the best riders on the grid, who have had a lot of success in grand prix racing,” said Crutchlow.
“What pleases me the most is that I could make up for the lack of speed on the straight in the corners because the Yamaha handles brilliantly and my Tech 3 Team gave me a really good bike today.
“But to hold off Valentino and Hiroshi at the end took a massive effort. I think if they’d started the final lap in front of me on the straight it would have been hard for me to slipstream.
“There are a lot of positives to take from this weekend because I’ve got back in the top 10 on a track I’d never seen before and beaten two guys with a lot more experience than me.
“I gained a lot of experience today riding with Valentino and that has given me a lot of confidence for the next few races.”
Crutchlow’s performance moved him up to 13th in the world championship rankings and was his ‘bets ride of the year’ according to team manager Herve Poncharal.
“I think it was the best ride of the year for Cal,” said Poncharal. “Maybe not in terms of the final position, but the way he rode was fantastic. The start was difficult, but he never gave up and what was really good is that he was riding with Valentino and Hiroshi and he would have learned a lot from those two.
Tom Sykes took his maiden World Superbike win, and the first for Kawasaki in five years, at a sodden Nurburgring.
World Superbikes championship leader Carlos Checa (Ducati) demonstrated exactly why he’s at the top of the points standings with only three rounds left. He took an assured win in Race 1 at the Nurburgring and a put in steel-nerved ride in atrociously wet conditions in Race 2 to score points for eighth – on a day when his main championship rival was ruled out.
A new rider also took his place among the elite of World Superbike race winners, when Tom Sykes scored on the Kawasaki ZX-10R in a race in which only 13 riders finished in treacherous track conditions. Sykes became the sixth individual race winner of the 2011 season so far, with three rounds and six races left to run.
Aprilia’s defending champion Max Biaggi missed out on race day altogether after an injury to his left foot from a crash on Friday ruled him out, but Yamaha’s Marco Melandri showed real fighting qualities in dry and wet conditions, scoring second in Race 1 and splashing his way to sixth in the rain-shortened second race.
A great start to the day for Noriyuki Haga (Aprilia) saw him third ahead of the factory Yamaha of Eugene Laverty in Race 1, but he crashed out of the lead in Race 2 in blinding rain.
Checa posted a superb opening win, holding off early aggression from eventual third-place finisher Haga before moving away from the field in clinical style. Second was Melandri, Haga was third and then – in an eventually lonely fourth – Melandri’s team mate Laverty.
BMW’s Leon Haslam was fifth early on, then ran off the circuit, but recovered from 14th to re-take fifth. Guintoli was a confident top-six finisher, seven seconds ahead of top Kawasaki man Joan Lascorz, who recovered from a bad start to blitz Leon Camier (Aprilia) right on the line.
Carlos Checa: “It was a special race for many reasons, and I’d like to dedicate the win to Claudio Castiglioni because it’s thanks to him we are racing with these bikes here.
“I knew that I had to make a gap in the early laps, because I was suffering a little on the straight. At the end I was struggling a little with the tyres but the difference was enough to give me the win.”
Marco Melandri: “It was a difficult race for me. I had a good start but for the first few laps I wasn’t very fast against Nori and Carlos. I made a small mistake and lost the front under braking, going off the track and coming back fourth. I fought with Eugene, tried to catch Nori, but am very happy to be second today.”
Noriyuki Haga: “I really like this track. I was hoping to go for the win but Carlos was very fast at the beginning of Race 1. I know how the Ducati works here and I tried to catch up with him. In the race I was at 120 percent but couldn’t catch him – I was happy with third in the end.”
Sykes took Kawasaki’s first win since 2006, and his own maiden World Superbike race victory, when he led home a shortened 13-lap second race.
Haga had led for virtually the whole race, which was held in atrocious conditions that ranged from merely wet to completely soaking.
When Haga crashed out Sykes took the lead; then the rain came down even harder and the race director called it a day with Sykes ahead of Guintoli and Ducati privateer Jakub Smrz. Fourth was Rea, who remounted after a high-speed crash to score valuable points ahead of fifth-placed Laverty and his team mate Melandri.
Tom Sykes: “The first win feels absolutely fantastic, the conditions today were unbelievable! It was good to see the red flag and even better to see it in the lead. It’s great to be back – especially after the biggest crash of my career at Silverstone only a month ago!”
Sylvain Guintoli: “It was definitely good fun, very dangerous though with a lot of water towards the end. I struggled to stay with Tom, I had to push hard and nearly crashed about 20 times! In the end the rain came down very hard, but the pace was great and I had good fun.”
Jakub Smrz: “I think everyone is happy because this was a difficult race, very hectic on the grid because we couldn’t change anything for the wet and I was struggling a lot in the first part of the track. I was lucky, stayed on the bike, made average lap times and in the end I got a podium.”
RESULTS – RACE 1
1 Carlos Checa (Spain) Ducati
2 Marco Melandri (Italy) Yamaha +1.855sec
3 Noriyuki Haga (Japan) Aprilia +2.322
4 Eugene Laverty (Ireland) Yamaha +7.789
5 Leon Haslam (Britain) BMW +8.727
6 Sylvain Guintoli (France) Ducati +10.113
7 Joan Lascorz (Spain) Kawasaki +17.228
8 Leon Camier (Britain) Aprilia +17.228
9 Ayrton Badovini (Italy) BMW +18.166
10 Jonathan Rea (Britain) Honda +19.457
11 Tom Sykes (Britain) Kawasaki +22.136
12 Mark Aitcheson (Australia) Kawasaki +25.346
13 James Toseland (Britain) BMW +31.617
14 Roberto Rolfo (Italy) Kawasaki +31.796
15 Troy Corser (Australia) BMW +33.320
16 Michel Fabrizio (Italy) Suzuki +38.149
17 Makoto Tamada (Japan) Honda +1min16.143
1 Tom Sykes (Britain) Kawasaki – 29min49.337
2 Sylvain Guintoli (France) Ducati +4.063sec
3 Jakub Smrz (Czech Republic) Ducati +22.759
4 Jonathan Rea (Britain) Honda +28.497
5 Eugene Laverty (Ireland) Yamaha +38.374
6 Marco Melandri (Italy) Yamaha +45.326
7 Ayrton Badovini (Italy) BMW +47.030
8 Carlos Checa (Spain) Ducati +50.032
9 Leon Haslam (Britain) BMW +53.586
10 Maxim Berger (France) Ducati +55.261
11 Joan Lascorz (Spain) Kawasaki +1min12.805
12 Troy Corser (Australia) BMW +1min18.468
13 Roberto Rolfo (Italy) Kawasaki +1min40.323
POINTS AFTER 10 ROUNDS
1 Carlos Checa (Spain) Ducati – 368
2 Marco Melandri (Italy) Yamaha – 292
3 Max Biaggi (Italy) Aprilia – 281
4 Eugene Laverty (Ireland) – 221
5 Leon Haslam (Britain) – 169
6 Leon Camier (Britain) Aprilia – 154
7 Michel Fabrizio (Italy) Suzuki – 141
8 Ayrton Badovini (Italy) BMW – 125
9 Sylvain Guintoli (France) Ducati – 119
10 Noriyuki Haga (Japan) Aprilia – 115
Never has it been so important for Valentino Rossi to show good form at his home race Mugello this weekend. Its not really come togther for Vale and Ducti just yet, although I will be the last man to write the guy off. He is far too talented for that.
However, it is hard to overestimate the importance of this weekend’s Italian MotoGP for Valentino Rossi and Ducati.
The seven-time MotoGP champion will be competing in his first home as a home Ducati rider, at a track where he suffered his most serious injury of his career.
Rossi won at Mugello for seven successive seasons from 2002-2008, before being beaten to third in 2009 and then breaking his leg in practice for the 2010 event.
The Doctor returns with just one podium from his first seven races for Ducati, during what is now his longest losing steak since joining MotoGP – Rossi’s last victory having been at Malaysia 2010, a space of ten races.
But there is reason for optimism ahead of Mugello.
Fourth on his race debut with the new GP11.1 last Saturday at Assen, Rossi has previous testing knowledge of both the 11.1’s chassis and Mugello’s new racing surface.
That was with the 2012 engine – which could have been as large as 1000cc, or as small as, say, 900cc. Maybe smaller.
Ducati, like all manufacturers, is yet to confirm it will utilise the full 1000cc capacity available due to the fuel restrictions and experimenting with several engine sizes would hardly be surprising.
“We’ve ridden there with the GP12, but because our bike is an 800, it responds a little differently to adjustments, and it’s also in its first phase of development,” said Rossi of his private Mugello tests on the 2012 bike.
“It will be vital to quickly find the right path for the setup, as it’s important that we improve in every session in order to qualify in a good position.”
In the past, Rossi has proven more than capable of rising to the occasion for his fanatical home fans and – even without crew chief Jerry Burgess (see separate story) – the 32-year-old knows Italy and Ducati will be desperate for at least a podium challenge on Sunday.
“The track is one of my favourites, and I’ve always done pretty well there,” Rossi continued.
“Returning after last year’s accident is no problem for me, because I enjoyed riding there during the recent tests, as I always do.
“I hope there will be a big crowd and that I’ll be able to do better than we’ve managed until now, because this is a very important race,” he admitted.
Rossi is fourth in the world championship with a best race finish of third, at Le Mans.
Now I know that riders in MotoGP get paid vast amounts of money for a job that is pretty dangerous. But you cannot wrap these guys up in cotton wool, it is racing after all and people do fall off. Yesterday at Le Mans proved that when Marco Simoncelli was persistent enough to try to re-overtake Dani Pedrosa. Unfortunately, there was not enough room for Pedrosa to get the place back – 2 into 1 just does not go and Simoncelli left enough room and ran off the track himself.
What ensued was a ride throigh penalty for Simoncelli and a 6th place finish when we was destined for the top step of the podium. Pedrosa could not rejoin the race and retired.
Recentlu in the press Siomnocelli has been up front about his style of riding, showing that he is willing to fight for his place in the championship and his future in any team. And so he should. This is racing and not a PR exercise. I also feel that his comments on his ‘racing style’ are what ‘helped’ the race organisers to their decision on his ride through penalty.
Gresini Honda’s Marco Simoncelli believes his ride-through penalty in today’s Le Mans MotoGP race is as much to do with talk of his dangerous riding as it was to do with the incident with Dani Pedrosa which resulted in the Spaniard’s broken right collarbone.
Simoncelli’s ‘aggression’ was the subject of a rider delegation going to the safety commission on Thursday on top of Jorge Lorenzo’s comments before the Estoril race where the world champion basically accused Simoncelli of being a menace.
The big-haired star says he is unhappy that Pedrosa has been hurt but insists he gave the Repsol Honda man ‘a metre’ in which to put his RC212V – it didn’t happen and Pedrosa ended up with a bust right collarbone and may miss the Barcelona round.
“I am unhappy because a result that was within my reach was denied and, above all, because of the fact that Pedrosa is hurt. In my opinion the incident went like this: Pedrosa was having a bit of difficulty – I had pulled alongside him and passed him,” said Simoncelli.
“When he passed me back I was not intentionally trying to resist, and my telemetry shows that I got on the brakes at the same point as on previous laps. I think that he had hit the brakes well before the corner, and I found myself on the outside of him and in front on the entry to the corner.
“I didn’t want to back off, so I left him with a metre between myself and the kerb in order to go in. I saw that it was tight, so I tried to adjust my position. That was when he touched my back wheel and went down. I repeat that any controversy regarding penalisation, but I believe that my ride-through was a result of all the talk over the past few days. Now I have to focus on Barcelona.”