MotoGP: Final Thoughts from Indianapolis While the Circus Sets Up in Misano

What Happens When the Show Puts on a Good Show

12:02pm EST — While some would say the premier class race lacked some of the drama it could have had (a hurricane? riders crashing out of the lead?), the third weekend at Indianapolis for MotoGP had plenty of excitement in other ways.  Valentino Rossi, likely returning a mite too early and too weak to save any number of slides, crashed so often he ran out of the Fiat 500 special livery leathers and had to race in his standard set, after which he noted that the heat and humidity this past weekend at Indy was like racing in Sepang.  Jorge Lorenzo did not, as he so often recently has, dominate the race after the first lap and run away with another twenty-five points in his championship drawer, leaving that duty to Spainsh rival Dani Pedrosa.  Importantly for the home crowd, Ben Spies won his first ever MotoGP pole with Nicky Hayden putting two Americans on the front row for the start.  His race was too soon compromised by a lose drain cover and flapping slider that left him to finish in sixth (see pictures from the race through the fence here).  But it was the sadness of the death of Peter Lenz due to injuries sustained on the warm-up lap of the MotoGPRU morning race and the elbows-legs-and-bike-bits flying of two Moto2 starts that will stick with those who attended and watched from home (see the Moto2 pictures and paddock life on Sunday here).

Speaking of attendance, it appeared down from both the inaugural race in 2008 and from last year as well, despite stellar, though hot, weather.  There were few enough fans that one could walk away from a spot on the fence at pit-out/Turn 2 in the middle of the main race and walk right back to the same opening five minutes later, as no one had filled in to take it.  That was certainly not the case during a hurricane in 2008.  Still, die-hard fans were around, going so far as to bid and pay $800 for the hat off Rossi’s head, then signed by him, during the Riders for Health auction (Saturday on-track and paddock pictures available here).

There were any number of other fan activities, from Spies and roommate Roger Lee Hayden, who was a wildcard Moto2 entry for American Honda, in a team managed by (also present) Kevin Schwantz interviewed at the war monument (see Thursday pictures from Indy here) in downtown to James Toseland and his band crash performing both downtown and at the circuit.  Riders were to be found wandering the city (Jorge Lorenzo has a taste for sushi while Spies celebrated his podium with family and entourage at St. Elmo’s Sunday night, likely leaving before his 2011 team’s mechanics and crew sat down to eat, if they don’t go to Ducati with Rossi) and the paddock at the Indy Mile dirt track Saturday.  Hayden did three exhibition laps at the Indiana Sate Fairgrounds after his Ducati contract announcement, with the fastest quick enough to qualify for a front row start to a heat race (pictures from the Indy Mile available here).  Fans were given special treatment Friday with access to the pit lane Friday morning and the ability to watch the teams clean and polish the bikes (pitwalkabout pictures available here), having already set up everything possible and not yet run any laps on the track.

In the end, the Indy race weekend, as all race weekends, gave one a better glimpse of the capabilities of the circuit and the riders that make up the MotoGP circus.  Lorenzo is very good but not perfect.  Pedrosa can run away with a race, if he can keep it together.  A little home race momentum never hurt anybody, until their leathers rip apart.  Come back from injury as soon as you are able, but know when that actually is.  and, Moto2 is officially mad, but everyone knew that already.  For everyone else, it’s past time to be in Misano.  Regular MotoGP race coverage will resume from the sofa in Pennsylvania, and better coverage will occur from the next race attended.

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[UPDATE] MotoGP Indy: Images from the Entire Weekend

What Happens When There Are Too Many Pictures, and Too Many Fences

12:00am EST — One disadvantage, should there be any disadvantage, to attending a MotoGP weekend is the sheer volume of things to see, do, and process.  There’s really no complaining to be done, but it does make for slow turnaround on a volunteer MotoGP news website.  As such, the On Any Sunday, These Days pictures have finally been sorted and posted for your viewing pleasure.  Stories from each day and various updates should hold over the interested fan until action begins at Misano on Friday.  See photos from the Indy Museum, downtown events, and some track walks on Thursday; pitwalkabout and afternoon practices on Friday; morning practices, qualifying, and the paddock on Saturday, and warm-up and race action, and a view from the paddock on Sunday.  Also included are some pictures from the track, Turn 1, and the garages from the Indy Mile Saturday night, all through the above links to public albums on my Facebook page.  Most recently added are the pictures from Friday’s pitwalkabout.

MotoGP Indy: Sorting Through the News and Images

What Happens When the Gigantic Car-Racing Fence Takes Over Your Life

4:30pm EST — In the course of returning to the daily grind after attending an international motor racing series, certain things tend to be forgotten.  For example, the idea that food might need to be prepared and family and friends to hear about the weekend.  If only there had been wifi access at the track.  and, so, lovely readers, I have left you lonely and neglected whilst others demanded their just share of attention.  For that, I apologize.  I also apologize for the fact that fencing has taken over nearly every image I took at the event.  Otherwise, the only better end to the weekend of MotoGP and dirt track racing in Indianapolis might have been an American on the top step of the podium.

As a teaser of the news and images to follow, there are some shots of Nicky Hayden doing laps at the Indy Mile, of the bikes on track all weekend, and most fascinating to many readers, many images from inside the paddock.  Expect all this an more to be posted tonight.

MotoGP Indy: Scattered Thoughts and Random Pictures from Indianapolis

What Happens When a Yellow Shirt Says You’re Not Allowed

5:21pm EST — Tomorrow the action starts, but today is a day of media attention and fan shenanigans.  Here in Indy (without a press pass and special access), the only time to see or hear form any riders was around noon at the Indiana war volunteers monument when some of the MotoGPRU riders, Ben Spies, Roger Lee Hayden, Kevin Schwanz, and Kenny Noyes had a meet and greet and faux interview by Ralph Sheehen.  Riders from the public followed the MotoGPRU boys into Monument Circle while those with names more recognizable stood around looking uncomfortable and interacting with fans (not uncomfortably).  Pictures from that event as well as the Indianapolis Speedway museum are available through this link at the On Any Sunday, These Days Facebook page, as well as the VMRonSunday Twitpic account.  For an interesting way to spend some time, MotoGP fan or not, there are some pictures of the museum, as well as of some riders/engineers walking, running, bicycling, and scootering around the circuit.  As a side note, Jorge Lorenzo appears to enjoy sushi, at least according to his dining choice Wednesday night, and women (though not this one) have absolutely no shame in removing his raised hood to give him a kiss.  There’s not much else to say right now, but there will certainly be continued live coverage of the pitwalkabout and first practice on Friday here and through my Twitter account.  Look for minute-by-minute coverage and posted pictures.

Now That Racing News Might Begin Again…

What Happens When There’s Real, Live, On-the-Scene MotoGP Coverage

8:49pm EST — Formula1 returns to the headlines and the circuit when the circus goes racing this weekend at historic Spa-Francorchamps.  Unfortunately, coverage here at On Any Sunday, These Days will be not be as prompt as usual, since the usual F1 focus will be distracted as I head off to the Indianapolis MotoGP race.  Instead, there will be  coverage of the MotoGP weekend here, with live tweets and pictures from the event through my Twitter account and the site Facebook fan page.  To read more about the first Indianapolis Red Bull Grand Prix, check out my first blog post from 2008, and look for ongoing coverage from Indy, starting Wednesday when I arrive.

F1 News (and a hint of MotoGP): Jerez Has Rain & a Launch, FIA Says No to Missing Races, AirAsia Sponsors GP

What Happens When Things Cross-Over

12:09am EST — Even with a soggy, wet testing session in Jerez, the F1 and racing world had plenty of news to share, from a car launch, to more confusion from the FIA, and another sponsor for F1 and MotoGP.

Jerez Testing Day 1 Is Wet and Messy:
It was difficult for teams to set particularly fast times, nor log too many laps Wednesday in Jerez with the requisite rain in Spain jokes coming true.  Red Bull, who launched their RB6 moments before the testing began, suffered an oil leak and had to change an engine (dipping into the four allowed for pre-season testing and continuing a trend from the 2009 season for the Renault-powered team), while the Virgin Racing car posted a very slow time in the rain and a tiny amount of laps.  First day times and laps run were:
1. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, 1:20.927, 57 Laps
2. Sebastien Buemi, Toro Rosso, 1:21.031, 84 Laps
3. Nico Hulkenberg, Williams, 1:22.243, 118 Laps
4. Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, 1:22.895, 88 Laps
5. Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, 1:23.287, 55 Laps
6. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:24.947, 68 Laps
7. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Force India, 1:24.968, 71 Laps
8. Vitaly Petrov, Renault, 1:25.440, 27 Laps
9. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:26.502, 50 Laps
10. Timo Glock, Virgin Racing, 1:38.734, 5 Laps

FIA “Clarifies” the Ability of Teams to Miss Races:
While everyone in the Formula1 community was watching and analyzing times from a rainy Jerez, the FIA released a statement saying, essentially, that both Bernie Ecclestone and FIA president Jean Todt were wrong.  No team can miss a single race. “rom a sporting and regulatory point of view, each Team that has registered for the Championship is obliged to take part in every event of the season. Any failure to take part, even for just one Championship event, would constitute an infringement both of the Concorde Agreement and the FIA Regulations,” said the statement.
One has to wonder why Todt would say, only yesterday, “in the last draft of the Concorde agreement it’s written that a team can skip three races,” when the sanctioning body he represents does not agree.  Obviously, there is differing opinion on the interpretation of that clause, and one can see why Bernie Ecclestone might stir up some publicity and trouble by mentioning that teams can miss up to three rounds of the championship (it both helps and hurts the new teams he can’t seem to let alone and helps the possible team he just can’t seem to let alone, USF1 and Campos and Stefan GP, respectively).
The final decision on removal and punishment for any team that misses a round of the championship is up to the WMSC, so their interpretation is the one that matters.  This statement from the FIA says that it is attempting to clear up a misunderstanding and misinterpretation of the rules.  In fact, it makes the situation worse.  Both Mr. Ecclestone and Mr. Todt are on the WMSC.  If they believe that the rules teams are allowed to miss a race or three, they might persuade the rest of the council that no punishment is necessary.

Fernandes’ AirAsia to Sponsor BritishGP:
In a bit of crossover from the pinnacle of auto racing to the pinnacle of motorcycle racing, MotoGP commercial rights holder Dorna, though its CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta, announced that AirAsia is the title sponsor for the MotoGP 2010 British GP.  AirAsia is also a sponsor for the Williams F1 team, and is owned by Tony Fernandes, who also owns new F1 team LotusF1.  In the usual excitement over cash and sponsorship, Ezpeleta and Fernandes were quoted in an article on the official MotoGP website, and Fernandes’ previous involvement in MotoGP was mentioned as, “the airline sponsored AirAsia Malaysia 125cc riders Elly Idzlianizar Ilias and Mohd Zulfahmi Khairuddinfor as wildcard entries” for the Malaysian GP last season.
While this crossover can be quite typical, I think Fernandes is an excellent example of why companies sponsor racing.  Does it offer some financial benefits? of course, since (to non-racing fans) cars and motorcycles are just billboards that move really fast.  However, particularly in this sort of economy, initial returns on the sponsorship investment can be quite low.  What really happens to get a company involved in racing sponsorship is when the person in charge is a race fan.  When that happens, not only does the company sponsor a team, but you can see how that individual convinces many others to sponsor racing.  It is business, but if someone weren’t originally interested in the racing, there are other methods of advertising that come much quickly to the businessman’s brain.
This sort of growth of sponsorship, even if it is only spearheaded by one man, is a sign of progress.  The racing world (car, motorcycle, cockroach racing) needs this sort of drive and determination in sponsors and team owners.  A good business mind has become key to racing, and those who don’t seem to have the business mind are those who seem to be struggling in putting together teams and racing ventures.  This is the way to survive in an ever-evolving sport that, while vital to our personalities, is not vital in the minds of many in this world.

MotoGP News: 2010 Provisional Entry Lists

What Happens When Late Is Better Than Never, Part 2

11:15am EST — Nearly a week ago, the FIM released the provisional entry lists for the 2010 Grand Prix season.  They are posted below, with MotoGP shown and Moto2 and the 125 class found by clicking on the read further link.  Further analysis and information about the new and old teams will be published when available.  The first test for the 2010 season will begin Wednesday at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia.

MotoGP:
N°    Rider    Nationality    Team    Machine
4    ANDREA DOVIZIOSO    ITALY    REPSOL HONDA TEAM    HONDA
5    COLIN EDWARDS    USA    MONSTER YAMAHA TECH 3    YAMAHA
7    HIROSHI AOYAMA    JAPAN    INTERWETTEN-HONDA MOTOGP    HONDA
11    BEN SPIES    USA    MONSTER YAMAHA TECH 3    YAMAHA
14    RANDY DE PUNIET    FRANCE    LCR HONDA MOTOGP    HONDA
19    ALVARO BAUTISTA    SPAIN    RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP    SUZUKI
24    MARCO MELANDRI    ITALY    SAN CARLO HONDA GRESINI    HONDA
26    DANI PEDROSA    SPAIN    REPSOL HONDA TEAM    HONDA
27    CASEY STONER    AUSTRALIA    DUCATI MARLBORO TEAM    DUCATI
36    MIKA KALLIO    FINLAND    PRAMAC RACING TEAM    DUCATI
40    HECTOR BARBERA    SPAIN    ASPAR MOTOGP TEAM    DUCATI
41    ALEIX ESPARGARO    SPAIN    PRAMAC RACING TEAM    DUCATI
46    VALENTINO ROSSI    ITALY    FIAT YAMAHA TEAM    YAMAHA
58    MARCO SIMONCELLI    ITALY    SAN CARLO HONDA GRESINI    HONDA
65    LORIS CAPIROSSI    ITALY    RIZLA SUZUKI MOTOGP    SUZUKI
69    NICKY HAYDEN    USA    DUCATI MARLBORO TEAM    DUCATI
99    JORGE LORENZO    SPAIN    FIAT YAMAHA TEAM    YAMAHA Continue reading