Notes from the Television Screen: WSBK @ Phillip Island

Editor’s note – While I have been sorely remiss in properly posting here at OASTD, I have begun a new series of “Notes from the Television Screen,” in which I compile my thoughts from a racing weekend. Between my Formula1Blog commitments and various life choices (hello grad school!) I cannot cover all or the majority of any two-wheeled racing series, nor attend any racing in 2011 (though I”m planning on an attempt or two). These new articles will generally cover what I can catch of the WSBK season, MotoGP, and some Grand-Am. Enjoy!

The World Superbike season got underway beneath not just the stormy clouds at Phillip Island, but under a black cloud of grief. Young Australian racer Oscar McIntyre passed after sustaining injuries during Saturday’s Australian Supersport support race just before the first Superpole of the season began. That led to Superpole’s cancellation and Tom Sykes’ third career WSBK pole. Max Biaggi, Carlos Checa, and Jakub Smrz completed the front row of starters as the organizers set the grid from the earlier qualifying practice standings.

Though Sykes led into the first turn for both races, he and his Kawasaki were entirely unable to keep the position long. The Brit drifted backward in both races but refused to do so without a fight. It is unclear whether the issue lies with tire wear or a lack of power, but both likely contribute to Kawasaki’s lack of recent wins in WSBK.

The more important story is twofold: Biaggi and Checa. In the first race, Checa soon surpassed Sykes and had set off to capture the first race of the season as reigning champion. Only Biaggi seemed capable of giving him a run for his money until the Spaniard had an impossibly violent highside that threw him out of the saddle, fifteen feet into the air, into the gravel, and out of the race. Somehow Checa sustained only bruising and was able to compete in Race 2. His Ducati was not so lucky. Continue reading

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MotoGP Valencia Race Results & Full Report: Lorenzo Wins at Home, Rossi Kisses Yamaha Goodbye

What Happens When the Results Belie the Race

8:54am EST — Jorge Lorenzo won the final grand prix of the 2010 season in convincing fashion, after dropping down the grid on the start, fighting off soon to be former teammate Valentino Rossi, and hunting down pole sitter and race leader Casey Stoner.  Stoner, Rossi, Ben Spies, and Andrea Dovizioso completed the top five, with the latter two having a spirited battle that included sixth-place finisher Marco Simoncelli (who was positioned on the podium for a portion of the race) over that fourth position.  Nicky Hayden crashed out due to, his admitted rider error, while trying to hunt down his one soon to be former teammate Stoner for the lead.  While Lorenzo was planting the Spanish flag in a Valencian gravel trap, Rossi had parked his Yamaha against the Armco to kiss it goodbye.

Stoner won pole during Saturday’s qualifying, holding off Lorenzo as he had done in most of the practice sessions.  It was a relatively uneventful qualifying, with Stoner keeping the pole through the final five minutes after the two had traded it back and forth.  Simoncelli will start third, in the position he held much of the session, with a surprise final run catapulting Rossi from eleventh to fourth.  Hayden, Spies (with an injured ankle), and Edwards will have an American conference on the grid, starting fifth through seventh.  Pedrosa, still recovering from his collarbone, was fifth fastest for a good portion of qualifying, but will start eighth.  Hayden had a good run during the Sunday morning warm-up, beating both Lorenzo and Stoner to be fastest.  Pedrosa and Edwards completed the morning’s fastest five, with Rossi and Spies eighth and ninth, respectively.

The sun was shining brightly as the riders got away cleanly at Valencia, Stoner leading into the first turn, followed by Lorenzo, and Hayden around many bike for third, Pedrosa rammed his way up to send by the third turn, as Rossi dropped back to ninth.  Hayden and Pedrosa had a skirmish over second, but Hayden was just behind his teammate by the end of the first lap.  They were followed by Pedrosa, Simoncelli, Lorenzo, Dovizioso, Spies, Rossi, Melandri, and Barbera.  Lorenzo and Simoncelli were really fighting over fourth, with Simoncelli keeping the position over the man with the shiny helmet.  In the fighting, they touched and Lorenzo nearly went down in the final turn after attempting a move that was too tight to attempt.  Meanwhile, Hayden and Pedrosa were also fighting, which left Hayden kicking the gravel in anger after crashing out from trying to hard to catch Stoner, according to the rider later.  Just three laps in, Stoner led Pedrosa by .724, with Simoncelli, Rossi, Dovizioso, Lorenzo, Spies, Barbera, and Espargaro as the top ten.  Continue reading

MotoGP Valencia Quali Results & Full Report: Stoner Wins Pole, Lorenzo Challenges, Rossi Miraculously to Start 4th

What Happens When It’s the Lorenzo/Stoner, Stoner/Lorenzo Show

10:01am EST — Casey Stoner won pole for the 2010 Grand Prix of Valencia, holding off Jorge Lorenzo as he had done in most of the practice sessions.  It was a relatively uneventful qualifying, with Stoner keeping the pole through the final five mintes after the two had traded it back and forth.  Marco Simoncelli will start third, in the position he held much of the session, with a surprise final run catapulting Rossi from eleventh to fourth.  Nicky Hayden, Ben Spies (with an injured ankle), and Colin Edwards will have an American conference on the grid, starting fifth through seventh.  Dani Pedrosa, still recovering from his collarbone, was fifth fastest for a good portion of qualifying, but will start eighth.

Stoner and Lorenzo traded fastest times in the three practice sessions at Valencia, with Stoner’s 1:32.664 the fastest of all on Saturday morning.  Stoner was fastest over Lorenzo, Dovizioso, Simoncelli, and Rossi by over a half second on the new champion on Friday morning.  Friday afternoon, Stoner ceded control to Lorenzo, as the younger rider was fastest early in the session and unable to be caught by the fastest five behind him: Stoner, Edwards, Simoncelli, and Dovizioso.  Saturday morning, Stoner led again, this time by just under three tenths, over a still recovering Pedrosa, Lorenzo, Simoncelli, and Spies, also recovering, from a dislocated ankle suffered at Estoril.  Rossi was ninth and tenth fastest in the final two practices.

de Puniet took an early lead in the forty-five minutes of qualifying, followed by Hayden, Rossi, Melandri, and Checa just five minutes into the session.  Stoner soon took that away from the Frenchman, as did Melandri and Rossi.  By his third lap, Lorenzo was second fastest, following Stoner’s 1:32.666 time.  Then the Australian took a small detour through the gravel.  Ten minutes into qualifying, Stoner, Lorenzo, Hayden, Simoncelli, and Rossi were the fastest five, though Simoncelli and Hayden would quickly switch places.  Pedrosa then displaced Rossi for fifth fastest.  With a half hour still to go, Stoner led Lorenzo, Simoncelli, Hayden, Pedrosa, Rossi, Melandri, de Puniet, Edwards, and Dovizioso as the top ten.  Continue reading

MotoGP Estoril Race Results & Report: Lorenzo Wins Portuguese GP Marked By Actual Racing

What Happens When Scrappy is a Race Mission

9:50am EST — Jorge Lorenzo won the 2010 Portuguese Grand Prix from pole, though it was not that simple.  He lost the lead on the first lap to fifth-place finisher Nicky Hayden, then to second-place finisher Valentino Rossi, who held the lead through the early half of the race.  The two teammates fought over first, with Lorenzo coming back form a two second gap to dominate and win by over eight seconds.  Andrea Dovizioso finished a hard-won third, fighting with fourth-place finisher Marco Simoncelli and Hayden, with teammate Dani Pedrosa in the mid-pack fighting until his injury tired him.  Casey Stoner crashed out in the first third fo the race while Ben Spies did not start, dislocating his left ankle on an installation lap crash.

Rain was the story at Estoril, washing out the first practice, lengthening the third, and forcing a cancellation of qualifying.  Rather than the usual hour of running, the torrential rain forced a delay, then a complete cancellation of all qualifying on Saturday a half hour after MotoGP qualifying should have started.  Instead, the starting grid was decided by the combined practice times, putting Lorenzo, Hayden, and Rossi onto the front row for the second to last round of the MotoGP season, at Estoril.  Both Pedrosa and Capirossi, out recently due to injuries, practiced and are likely to race Sunday.  Checa has replaced Kallio for the final two rounds of the season at Pramac Ducati.  In the morning warm-up, Rossi led Stoner, Lorenzo, Spies, and Simoncelli as the fastest five as conditions were damp, but not actively raining, though wind continued to buffet the circuit during the warm-up.  Spies went down on the sighting lap, with reports saying that he was first sitting down, then conscious but taken away on a stretcher.  He did not return to the pit lane on time, keeping him from his fifth place start (middle of row two). He was also taken to the medical center and declared unfit to race, as he had dislocated his left ankle.

The sun was actually shining as the lights went out, with Lorenzo keeping the lead as Hayden got off slowly.  Dovizioso had an amazing start, going to second from seventh.  Hayden was third, Rossi fourth, and de Puniet fifth.  Hayden slid under Dovizioso for second while further back Edwards pushed through on Simoncelli.  Espargaro was the first man out, limping and helped of the track by marshals.  Hayden attacked Lorenzo for the lead and took it, pulling a tiny gap immediately on all soft tires.  Rossi went through on Dovi, who ran wide and lost position to Stoner.  He then slid under for second, then losing position the whole way back to fifth.  Meanwhile, Lorenzo was back in front of Hayden, who then lost second to Rossi.  Stoner went around Dovizioso for fourth as the top five continually swapped position. Rossi took the lead from Lorenzo on L4 through the uphill chicane with Stoner close behind, then Hayden.  Continue reading

MotoGP Estoril Quali Results: Rain Forced Cancellation Puts Lorenzo on Pole

What Happens When It Rains, Not in Spain, but in Protugal

9:29am EST — Rain was the story at Estoril, washing out the first practice for the 2010 Portuguese Grand Prix, lengthening the third, and forcing a cancellation of qualifying.  Rather than the usual hour of running, the torrential rain forced a delay, then a complete cancellation of all qualifying a half hour after MotoGP qualifying should have started.  Instead, the starting grid was decided by the combined practice times, putting Jorge Lorenzo, Nicky Hayden, and Valentino Rossi onto the front row for the second to last round of the MotoGP season, at Estoril.  Both Dani Pedrosa and Loris Capirossi, out recently due to injuries, practiced and are likely to race Sunday.  Carlos Checa has replaced Mika Kallio for the final two rounds of the season at Pramac Ducati.

Starting Grid for the 2010 Portuguese Grand Prix (determined by combined practice times):
1. Lorenzo 1:48.522
2. Hayden 1:48.657
3. Rossi 1:48.657
4. Stoner 1:49.061
5. Spies 1:49.721
6. Melandri 1:49.784
7. Dovizioso 1:50.007
8. de Puniet 1:50.043
9. Edwards 1:50.313
10. Simoncelli 1:50.500
11. Espargaro 1:50.787
12. Pedrosa 1:50.824
13. Capirossi 1:51.518
14. Bautista 1:52.734
15. Barbera 1:53.131
16. Aoyama 1:53.317
17. Checa 1:53.933

WSBK Assen; Race 1 and 2 Results: A Good Day for Britian

What Happens When Everything Is Driven to the Race

3:26pm EST — Jonathon Rea won both World Superbike races in Assen, after fighting it out from pole with a pack of riders all chasing the win, though he won Race 1 by a second and Race 2 by nearly two seconds, it was a day of close racing.  James Toseland, the former WSBK champion, podiumed for each race, second in Race 1 and third in Race 2.  It was all-Britian, all the time on the podium for each race, with Leon Camier third in Race 1, and Leon Haslam second in Race 2.  Full results follow: Continue reading

WSBK Valencia Race 1 & 2: Haslam Wins, Haga Wins Red-Flagged Aggregate Race 2

What Happens When It’s a Hard Fight From the Back

1:52pm EST —

Race 1: At a warm and sunny Valencia, it was Leon Haslam who won the first race with a comfortable margin, after Carlos Checa lost the lead with a technical issue about halfway through.  Max Biaggi could not catch him up, instead fighting off James Toseland for second, while the Briton finished third.  Noriyuki Haga fought from an eleventh place start to finish fifth, just behind Troy Corser.  Pole sitter (see here for the starting grid) Cal Crutchlow finished seventh.

Race 1 Results (courtesy of the official WSBK site):
1. 91 Haslam L. Suzuki
2. 3 Biaggi M. Aprilia +1.757
3. 52 Toseland J. Yamaha +3.621
4. 11 Corser T. BMW +4.209
5. 41 Haga N. Ducati +4.378
6. 65 Rea J. Honda +9.834
7. 35 Crutchlow C. Yamaha +10.466
8. 57 Lanzi L. Ducati +16.080
9. 50 Guintoli S. Suzuki +18.382
10. 96 Smrz J. Ducati +18.589
11. 66 Sykes T. Kawasaki +22.903
12. 111 Xaus R. BMW +25.203
13. 76 Neukirchner M. Honda +25.676
14. 99 Scassa L. Ducati +26.606
15. 88 Pitt A. BMW +43.797
16. 95 Hayden R. Kawasaki +48.094
17. 15 Baiocco M. Kawasaki +48.190
18. 17 Andrews S. Kawasaki +52.863
RET 31 Iannuzzo V. Honda
RET 2 Camier L. Aprilia
RET 84 Fabrizio M. Ducati
RET 67 Byrne S. Ducati
RET 7 Checa C. Ducati
RET 123 Resch R. BMW

Race 2: An aggregate race after a L4 crash by Simon Andrews and Vittorio Iannuzzo on the front straight brought out the red flags.  He was diagnosed with fractures in his left foot and heel.  The race was decided by the combined times from the frist three laps (before the red flag) and the times posted in the second twenty-lap race.  On the re-start, it was Checa leading Rea, while Noriyuki Haga had already fought his way close to the front.  In the end, Haga beat Checa by .025 with Biaggi .0299 back from Haga for third.

Race 2 Aggregate Results (courtesy of the official WSBK site):
1. 41 Haga N. Ducati
2. 7 Checa C. Ducati +0.025
3. 3 Biaggi M. Aprilia +0.299
4. 91 Haslam L. Suzuki +10.100
5. 65 Rea J. Honda +12.811
6. 50 Guintoli S. Suzuki +13.459
7. 52 Toseland J. Yamaha +14.845
8. 67 Byrne S. Ducati +14.861
9. 35 Crutchlow C. Yamaha +15.202
10. 96 Smrz J. Ducati +18.071
11. 111 Xaus R. BMW +25.179
12. 11 Corser T. BMW +26.116
13. 57 Lanzi L. Ducati +30.189
14. 99 Scassa L. Ducati +30.387
15. 66 Sykes T. Kawasaki +35.741
16. 88 Pitt A. BMW +43.244
17. 76 Neukirchner M. Honda +43.540
18. 123 Resch R. BMW +47.145
19. 95 Hayden R. Kawasaki +48.502
20. 15 Baiocco M. Kawasaki +51.838
RET 84 Fabrizio M.
RET 2 Camier L. Aprilia
RET 17 Andrews S. Kawasaki
RET 31 Iannuzzo V. Honda