MotoGP: Sepang Testing Begins, Fiat Yamaha Launches Thursday

What Happens When Racing and Testing Are Beginning All Over the Place

1:27am EST — In a late reminder, the first MotoGP pre-season test begins Wednesday in Sepang.  The Fiat Yamaha team will launch its 2010 motorcycle with Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo on Thursday.  The team will provide, in an interesting and innovative marketing strategy, coverage of the event by “Fiat livebloggers” who will post pictures and video while the event is happening.  The launch will occur at 7am EST, 2pm GMT, and 10pm in Malaysia.  To find the specific links to the YouTube videos and live pictures of the event, follow the directions in this article at “Fiat on the Web.” Many of the other teams will unveil their 2010 liveries before the test, though the Ducati had already been launched at the Malboro Wrooom event with Ferrari.

According to the official MotoGP website, the Wednesday test is only for test riders and the 17-man 2010 grid (see the previously published entry list at On Any Sunday, These Days) will begin riding on Thursday and will also post times on Friday.  According to Crash.net, Wednesday’s testing riders are “Norihiko Fujiwara and Wataru Yoshikawa (both Yamaha), Akiyoshi Kosuke (Honda), Nobuatsu Aoki (Suzuki) and Vittoriano Guareschi (Ducati).”

Personal Note: Happy Thanksgiving

What Happens When It’s Time to Break Out the First Person

12:05am EST — For American readers, today is a day of giving thanks, seeing family, fighting over the last turkey leg, watching a parade, and taking a nap.  Happy Thanksgiving!  This has been a time of personal sadness for me and my family as my grandfather passed away Sunday and the funeral was Wednesday.  Because of that, my ability (mentally and emotionally as well as physically) to cover F1, MotoGP, and WSBK has been greatly diminished over the past week or so.
Thank you all for your lovely thoughts and condolences.  The outpouring of support from people I generally only talk about racing with has been wonderful and surprising.  Because of that, I can truly give thanks for you, wonderful readers and new friends today on our national holiday.  Please keep reading On Any Sunday, These Days (and Formula1 Blog) for the best news and opinion about roadracing that I (and the other boys and girls at F1B) can deliver.

Another Official Provisional MotoGP 2010 Calendar

What Happens When the Schedule is Announced, but Not Set

3:42pm EST — The FIM announced another provisional calendar for the 2010 MotoGP season Monday.  The only round moved was that at Brno, which was moved back one week to accommodate for the two races in the United States, with Misano following directly after the round at Indianapolis, as it did in the 2009 season.  The premier class teams have only one week between the German GP and that at Laguna Seca (there are no races for the Moto2 or 125 classes that weekend), though three weeks are between the US GP and the Czech Republic, with another two weeks before the second American round at Indianapolis.  Do not book flights or hotels just yet, as the calendar is still subject to change, though no obviously necessary ones are to be found.

Dates Grand Prix Circuit
April 11 * Qatar Doha/Losail
April 25 Japan Motegi
May 2 Spain Jerez de la Frontera
May 23 France Le Mans
June 6 Italy Mugello
June 20 Great Britain Silverstone
June 26 ** Netherlands Assen
July 4 Catalunya Catalunya
July 18 Germany Sachsenring
July 25 *** United States Laguna Seca
August 15 Czech Rep. Brno
August 29 Indianapolis Indianapolis
September 5 San Marino & Riviera di Rimini Misano
September 19 Hungary Balatonring
October 10 Malaysia Sepang
October 17 Australia Phillip Island
October 31 Portugal Estoril
November 7 Valencia Ricardo Tormo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*: Evening Race
**: Saturday
***: Only MotoGP class
Reserve circuit: “Motorland Aragon Circuit” (also the European home circuit of USF1, new American Formula1 team for the 2010 season)

MotoGP 250 Valencia: Race Report and Results, Aoyama Wins the Championship as Simoncelli’s Off Gifts Barbera the Race

What Happens When the Party’s Over (and Just Beginning)

7:04am EST — Hector Barbera won the 2009 MotoGP 250 Valencia GP after Marco Simoncelli crashed out from the lead, and leaving Hiroshi Aoyama in possession of the points lead, and the 2009 MotoGP 250 championship, the last ever for the class.

While Simoncelli started from pole after a qualifying crash gave pole-sitter Alex Debon a broken rib that kept him out of the race, by the end of the first lap, Simoncelli was fifth, behind Barbera, Aoyama, Jules Cluzel, and Tomas Luthi.  He soon began making up positions, and was fourth two laps into the race.  On L5, Simoncelli was still fourth, though Alvaro Bautista and Cluzel had switched positions (third and fifth) around him.  By L5, the top five were Barbera, Aoyama, Bautista, Simoncelli, and Cluzel.  In those positions Aoyama would win the championship.

By L0, hoever, Simoncelli had passed Barbera, Aoyama, and Bautista for the lead.  The top five on L10 were Simoncelli, Barbera, Aoyama, Mike de Meglio, and Bautista.  Then de Meglio moved up to second, as Aoyama went off, losing position and ending up eleventh.  It was Simoncelli leading de Meglio, Bautista, Barbera, and de Rosa for the top five on L11, though the top four had a gap to the rest of the field.

By L13, Simoncelli had a nearly half-second gap on de Meglio.  A dice between Barbera, who took second, and de Meglio bought Simoncelli some time, increasing his gap slightly to .6 on L14, with thirteen to go.  de Meglio had fallen back to fifth on L15, making the top five Simoncellli, Barbera, Bautista, de Rosa, and de Meglio.  Aoyama was tenth.  In those positions, Simoncelli would win the championship by seven points.

By L18, Simoncelli and Barbera had a decent margin back to third place Bautista, 3.1 seconds.  By L21, though, it was all over for reigning 250 champion Simoncelli, as he was off, and did not rejoin the field, leaving Barbera leading Bautista, de Rosa, Luthi, and Wilairot as the top five.  Barbera had a five second lead over everyone else.  With three laps left, Aoyama had moved up to seventh, as Barbera still led the race.  The positions remained for the checkered flag, and the end of the 250 MotoGP class.

Final Positions for the MotoGP 250 Valencia GP: (courtesy of the official MotoGP website)
1. Barbera
2. Bautista +3.663
3. de Rosa +5.665
4. Luthi +5.680
5. Wilairot +13.601
6. Abraham +13.679
7. Aoyama +27.438
8. Baldolini +35.097
9. Locatelli +35.866
10. Tomizawa +40.176
11. Aoyama S. +49.095
12. Pesek +53.132
13. Nemeth +1:06.014
14. de Meglio +1:18.692
15. Debise +1:18.876
16. Chesaux +1 Lap
17. Leonov +1 Lap
18. Dunlop +1 Lap
19. Toth +1 Lap

Midnight Predictions: MotoGP Valencia, and the 250 Championship

What Happens When It’s Awfully Hard to Say

12:04am EST — Not to discount the fine racers in the 125 class of MotoGP, but no large percentage of fans will be watching them fight around Valencia on Sunday.  Instead, most eyes will be focused on the premier class race, with Casey Stoner’s dominance and 2010 rookie Ben Spies making the jump from World Superbike (where he won the champioship this year), and the 250 race, where Hiroshi Aoyama and Marco Simoncelli have brought the duel for the title down to the final race of the season, and the final season for the 250 class.

Stoner starts the premier class race on pole, after a dominant session on his Ducati.  The weather did not help the rest of the field, as the wind blew hard, but bodywork that debuted at Estoril with Stoner’s return after his three-race recovery made it easier for the Australian to “keep the weight on the front.” It is a general assumption that Stoner will be adding to his height by standing on the top step of the podium Sunday afternoon.  Finishing off the first row on the grid are two men who will be cheered on by the Spanish crowd for a home win: Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo.  Lorenzo must score one point (should Stoner win) in order to clinch second in the championship, behind teammate Rossi who will start just behind Stoner in fourth.  Both Rossi and Lorenzo have been unhappy with setup this weekend, and Rossi has said,”how I like the bike is not suitable for this track. Difficult to fix the problem now, tomorrow the maximum is a podium.”  Lorenzo, on the other hand, has said, “I don’t know what I’m going to do” regarding setup for Sunday’s race.  Dani Pedrosa will be waiting in the midst of these setup woes and Stoner’s speed, waiting for the moment to strike, or for someone to make a mistake.

The, almost, bigger story for this weekend’s GP is the wildcard appearance of Ben Spies.  While Spies has raced in MotoGP four times previously, all for Suzuki, this is technically a testing weekend for him before the official test as part of his switch from World Superbike to MotoGP full-time.  He qualified ninth, four places behind 2010 teammate at Tech 3 Yamaha Colin Edwards and five places ahead of James Toseland, who has been moved back to WSBK Yamaha to make room for rising star and newly crowned 2009 WSBK champion (in his rookie season) Spies.  Look for Spies to, well, not take it easy Sunday, but not push beyond what he thinks his limits should be while learning the bike.

Look for Stoner to take the lead and run with it, being ahead at least five laps into the race.  Lorenzo and Pedrosa will likely push hard in front of home fans, while Rossi will bide his time and strike at any hint of a mistake by the young Spaniards.  Spies will do well, but not spectacularly, in the middle of an American dice between himself Edwards and Nicky Hayden, showing the Ducati’s like for the tricky Valencia circuit, even in the hands of a rider who does not quite like the way it moves.

It is the 250 race, however, that deserves much fanfare.  Simoncelli and Aoyama have had their rought patches this season, particularly in close racing between the two of them.  This weekend’s race is the last of the 250 class, and no doubt these two riders will race hard in an effort to win it.  Aoyama, who leads by twelve points coming into this weekend, is at a disadvantage to Simoncelli, as Aoyama will start fifth to Simoncelli’s second.  These two riders spent a good few laps of the Malaysian GP poking holes into the other’s riding style on-track, which was ever so exciting for fans.  Expect some more great racing, especially when local boys Alex Debon and Hector Barbera start on pole and third, respectively.  A hard race, and a hard-fought title: what more could a season finale ask for?

The 125 race begins at 11am local time, less than five hours from now.  Make room in the schedule, as this will be racing that’s not to miss.

MotoGP 250 Valencia Qualifying: Debon on Pole at Home, Simoncelli Starts Ahead of Aoyama

What Happens When A Little Late is Better Than Never

10:01pm EST — Marco Simoncelli has a very slight advantage over championship leader Hiroshi Aoyama in the title fight that will end Sunday at the Valencia GP, the last ever 250 class MotoGP race, with Simoncelli starting second, behind Alex Debon, and Aoyama fifth.  Debon crashed after setting his lap, resulting in a suspected broken rib.

Provisional Starting Grid for the MotoGP 250 Valencia GP: (courtesy of the official MotoGP website)
1. Alex DEBON 1:36.116
2. Marco SIMONCELLI 1:36.450
3. Hector BARBERA 1:36.470
4. Ratthapark WILAIROT 1:36.563
5. Hiroshi AOYAMA 1:36.656
6. Thomas LUTHI 1:36.985
7. Karel ABRAHAM 1:37.271
8. Mattia PASINI 1:37.278
9. Alvaro BAUTISTA 1:37.303
10. Hector FAUBEL 1:37.318
11. Raffaele DE ROSA 1:37.365
12. Alex BALDOLINI 1:37.577
13. Jules CLUZEL 1:37.749
14. Roberto LOCATELLI 1:37.811
15. Mike DI MEGLIO 1:37.958
16. Shoya TOMIZAWA 1:38.085
17. Axel PONS 1:38.126
18. Lukas PESEK 1:38.291
19. Balazs NEMETH 1:38.737
20. Shuhei AOYAMA 1:38.795
21. Valentin DEBISE 1:39.283
22. Vladimir LEONOV 1:40.371
23. Bastien CHESAUX 1:41.605
24. Imre TOTH 1:42.418

MotoGP 250 Valencia FP1: Spaniards Fast at Home

What Happens When It’s Time to Shine for the Home Crowd

10:42am EST — Hector Barbera, Alex Debon, and Alvaro Bautista led the first free practice of the GP of Valencia, the final race of the 2009 season, and the one that will determine the last ever 250 champion.  Championship leaders Hiroshi Aoyama and Marco Simoncelli were fourth and sixth fastest, respectively.  While Friday practice gives the first indiction of speed for the weekend, in the end, it only really indicates which team or rider has to do the most work in setup for Sunday’s race.

Final Positions from FP1 for the 2009 GP of Valencia: (courtesy of the official MotoGP website)
1. Hector BARBERA 1:36.185
2. Alex DEBON 1:36.502
3. Alvaro BAUTISTA 1:36.866
4. Hiroshi AOYAMA 1:36.924
5. Raffaele DE ROSA 1:37.099
6. Marco SIMONCELLI 1:37.168
7. Hector FAUBEL 1:37.213
8. Mike DI MEGLIO 1:37.273
9. Ratthapark WILAIROT 1:37.426
10. Thomas LUTHI 1:37.806
11. Jules CLUZEL 1:37.848
12. Mattia PASINI 1:38.012
13. Alex BALDOLINI 1:38.135
14. Lukas PESEK 1:38.282
15. Shoya TOMIZAWA 1:38.286
16. Axel PONS 1:38.579
17. Karel ABRAHAM 1:38.655
18. Shuhei AOYAMA 1:38.682
19. Roberto LOCATELLI 1:38.682
20. Balazs NEMETH 1:38.821
21. Valentin DEBISE 1:40.108
22. Vladimir LEONOV 1:41.110
23. Bastien CHESAUX 1:42.290