Tuesday, August 23, 2011

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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Stoner Czechs out at Brno, Simoncelli podium

MotoGP title leader Casey Stoner cruised to a dominant victory in Sunday's Czech Republic Grand Prix, which saw Dani Pedrosa crash from the lead, Marco Simoncelli claim a first ever podium and Jorge Lorenzo fade to fourth. 

Unlike his rivals, world champion Lorenzo chose the soften option front tyre - which helped the Yamaha rider take the lead ahead of Repsol Honda riders Pedrosa, Andrea Dovizioso and Stoner on the opening lap. 

But by lap three Lorenzo was starting to have front-end moments, which allowed both Pedrosa and Stoner back past. Moments later poel-sitter Pedrosa lowsided out of the lead, handing the advantage to Stoner. 

The Australian then rode steadily into the distance, building an advantage of over eight-seconds on his way to his sixth win of the year - extending his title lead over Lorenzo from 20 to32 points. 

Despite a stubborn resistance, world champion Lorenzo was caught and passed by Italians Dovizioso and Simoncelli, with Dovizioso gaining breathing room over his compatriot in the closing stages. 

Former 250cc world champion Simoncelli, who has crashed in five races this year and been penalised in another, finally claimed his debut MotoGP rostrum after withstanding late-race pressure from Lorenzo. 

Ben Spies - struggling with a pinched nerve in his neck this weekend - brought the second factory M1 home in fifth, 1.6sec from Lorenzo. 

Valentino Rossi lost places from his best Ducati qualifying of sixth, but - aided by Pedrosa's exit - recovered the ground lost and crossed the line 2.4sec from Yamaha replacement Spies and 12.6sec from victory. 

Suzuki's Alvaro Bautista - the only rider other than Lorenzo to choose the soft front - pressured Rossi for much of the race, before lowsiding from seventh place with six laps to go. 

That allowed Rossi's team-mate Nicky Hayden to inherit the position, having spent much of the race just ahead of fellow American Colin Edwards. 

Edwards' Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team-mate Cal Crutchlow joined Pedrosa and Bautista on the DNF list, as did fellow rookie Karel Abraham. 

Abraham, whose father and team manager owns the Brno team, was unable to finish his home race after an off-track moment was followed by an engine failure. 

Bautista's wild-card team-mate John Hopkins was forced to withdraw from the event after fracturing fingers in his right hand during Saturday morning practice. 

A test session will be held at the circuit on Monday, which will feature next year's 1000cc bikes from Honda and Yamaha. 

Czech Republic Grand Prix: 

1. Stoner 
2. Dovizioso 
3. Simoncelli 
4. Lorenzo 
5. Spies 
6. Rossi 
7. Hayden 
8. Edwards 
9. Aoyama 
10. Barbera 
11. Elias 
12. de Puniet 
13. Capirossi 

source: crash.net

Stoner needs more feedback - less chatter

Qualifying third on the grid was only of partial consolation to MotoGP World Championship leader Casey Stoner, who concluded day two of the Czech Republic Grand Prix still needing more feedback - and less chatter - from his Repsol Honda.

"We hoped after yesterday that we could improve the feeling in the bike this morning but unfortunately it was a wet session, so we couldn't use it as we would have liked to," explained the Australian. "Also, the session didn't start too well with a fast crash in turn three which lost us some time and obviously dented my confidence a little. 

"Then this afternoon we started to get a little more feedback from the bike, but all in all we didn't really make a big step forward or improve it significantly from yesterday's first session. We seem to be getting more and more chatter as the weekend progresses and the more I push the more it increases and the slower I get, so it's a little frustrating. 

"I felt qualifying could have been better, we almost lapped with the same time on old and new tyres but in general we have a lot of work to do. 

"We're obviously happy with front row, but we're not really where we want to be with t he bike and there is still a lot of work to do. We're looking forward to tomorrow and I'm sure we can find some improvements in time for the race".

Stoner will start behind team-mate and pole sitter Dani Pedrosa, plus title rival Jorge Lorenzo, who trails Stoner by 20 points.

source: crash.net

Saturday, August 13, 2011

De Puniet falls avoiding team-mate Capirossi

Randy de Puniet has revealed that his late qualifying accident at Brno on Saturday was caused by having to take evasive action to avoid Pramac Ducati team-mate Loris Capirossi.

"I was doing a good time on my last lap, when I was behind Simoncelli and Valentino, then Capirossi got in front of me right in the last corner, and to avoid hitting him, I was forced to brake hard, which changed my line and caused me to crash," said de Puniet.

"I'm pretty angry and disappointed by Loris's manoeuvre, because I could have had a time that was good enough for at least tenth place."

The fall left de Puniet 15th on the grid.

Capirossi appeared to accept responsibility.

"I'm sorry for what happened, but I saw him far back and I didn't think I would cause any problem. These things can happen, but I'll definitely be more careful next time," said the Italian veteran, who will start from 16th place.

De Puniet and Capirossi are both riding injured from previous crashes.

source: crash.net

Tech 3 confirms Japanese MotoGP attendance

Monster Yamaha Tech 3, which runs Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow, has become the first MotoGP team to announce that it will definitely participate in the Japanese Grand Prix.

Despite a recent report concluding that the radiation risk at Motegi - around 110km from the damaged Fukushima powerplant - is 'negligible', many leading riders are yet to make a final decision on whether they feel it is safe to attend.

A Tech 3 statement released on Saturday at Brno read: 

"After carefully considering the findings of a detailed independent report commissioned by Dorna into the possible risk of radiation contamination in the area surrounding the Twin Ring Motegi circuit, Colin Edwards, Cal Crutchlow and the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team can confirm that unless there is a change in circumstances, they will compete in the Japanese MotoGP race on October 2."

Meanwhile, Edwards and Crutchlow will start Sunday's Brno race from eighth and eleventh on the grid.

Edwards made good set-up progress on Saturday.

“I'm much happier today with the performance of the bike and I need to say a big thanks to my crew again for their incredible work," he said. "Yesterday I just wasn't comfortable at all and had no feeling with the front or rear of the bike. I told my crew what I was feeling on the track and it is up to them to interpret that and try and improve the bike. And today they did an absolutely awesome job and I had a much better package."

Rookie Crutchlow lost places after a late crash.

“I'm happy on one hand because we made a big change to the bike to help it turn better and it was a really good step. But I'm a little disappointed on the other hand because I made a silly little mistake that probably cost me the chance to get on the third row," he said. 

"We were making some good progress with the new front set-up and I was faster in the first two splits than my previous best lap when I just ran in too hot at Turn 10. I should have just ran into the gravel but I tried to make the corner, squeezed the brake a bit harder and down I went."

source: crash.net

Second row start for Simoncelli, Top ten for Aoyama

Simoncelli was somewhat disappointed at the end of qualifying practice today, with a second row start certainly not reflecting the potential he had shown in free practice yesterday. The team will analyse the data tonight but it looks as though they will have to take a step backwards with the set-up, having lost an hour of dry time this morning in the wet final free practice. Hiroshi Aoyama was satisfied, however, the Japanese rider improving his confidence and pace to take another step forward into the top ten.

Marco Simoncelli: 
“I am a little disappointed because we have gone slower than yesterday and not made the improvements we hoped for. Obviously the conditions didn't help because with the rain this morning the track surface was not in the best shape. Other riders have clearly struggled with it too but it seemed to particularly affect us. Now we need to look at why that was and try to put things right for tomorrow.”

Hiroshi Aoyama: 
”After the rain this morning we worked well this afternoon to find a decent set up. I am satisfied because tenth place is a good position for us at the moment, especially because the gap to the riders at the front is smaller. We will try and make a few small changes in the morning that give us a little more pace in some sections. Overall I am happy and hopeful of a good race for me and the team, who have worked so hard.”

San Carlo Honda Gresini press release.

Barberá confident ahead of Brno race

Héctor Barberá was focused and determined throughout the second day of the Cardion ab Grand Prix Ceské republiky weekend, although the MAPFRE Aspar rider was left to reflect on personal errors at the crucial point of the session that leave him thirteenth on the starting grid. Despite that setback, the Spanish rider remains confident in the set up of his bike and optimistic about his chances of a strong fight back tomorrow.

Héctor Barberá:
"We did a good job today because this morning I was struggling to improve my lap times - I just kept hitting a ceiling. In the afternoon we made some set up changes to my Ducati and things improved considerably. We dropped the ride height and change the front and rear shock settings, which instantly gave us more confidence and pace. We still need another six or seven tenths to be where we want but tomorrow we will look to find this by working on power delivery and handling. Overall it has been a positive first day and the team has done a great job."

MAPFRE Aspar press release.

Elias 12th on the Brno grid

After Friday’s afternoon improvements, LCR Honda rider Toni Elias recorded a best time of 1’58.245 and grabbed12th place on the grid for the Cardion ab Grand Prix Ceské republiky race.

This is the best qualifying position so far this year for the Moto2 Reigning World Champion and he is convinced he could have lapped even faster but this morning torrential rain has interrupted his TO DO list to fine tune the RCV.

Toni Elias: 
“Obviously I’m satisfied because this is my best position on the grid so far this year. With the small improvements we gained yesterday, I could ride the bike with more confidence, especially on the front. I had some more things to try this morning but the bad weather interrupted my plan. Anyway, we already decided on the front and rear tyre for tomorrow’s race and we just need to fine tune the bike to confirm our overall package. These small adjustments make me confident for Monday test session as well”.

LCR Honda press release.

Rossi encouraged by steps forward as Hayden finds late surge

Some changes to riding position paid dividends for Valentino Rossi on Saturday at Brno as the Italian qualified on the second row for Sunday’s race, setting the sixth fastest time in qualifying for his best grid start of the season so far.

“Sixth position is nothing fantastic but I am satisfied because we worked better during the practice and we reduced the gap to the top guys step by step,” said the Ducati rider, who ended the hour-long QP 0.776s off pole man Dani Pedrosa. “To be on the second row is a good start because it’s our best qualification of the season and also we are not so far from some Hondas and Yamahas.”

He continued: “We made some modifications to the bike today with the front and my position on the bike, and I feel better with the front and can push more on (corner) entry. So I enjoyed today. We still have some problems with acceleration and sliding, so if we can fix this tomorrow then maybe we can have a good race.”

After a wet morning practice the premier class enjoyed dry condition for qualifying, and Rossi added: “I hope it’s dry tomorrow because it looks like the weather is not fantastic. Tyre choice I think we’ll go with the soft for the rear, and we have some modifications to increase the rear grip and the speed in the change of direction, so we have to try tomorrow morning.”

On the other side of the Ducati Team garage Nicky Hayden will start from the third row after timing in ninth fastest, and the American made a breakthrough in the final quarter of the session.

“In the end it was much better than how this morning had been going, the rain hurt us because we needed some time to figure out some stuff in the dry, because yesterday we found nothing in the dry and weren’t going forward,” said Hayden. “In the rain the bike was really good out of the box, and normally I need a little time in the rain but the whole session I was in the top five. But then qualifying was quite the opposite, I was down the whole way, but with 15 minutes we found something and I could push a bit and was able to pull out one or two laps. I know tomorrow will be a long, hard day. We’ll see if we can sweeten it up in the morning and try and go in the same direction.”

Discussing tyre choice, Hayden continued: “It looks like we’ll go with a hard front and soft rear. I tried the hard rear yesterday afternoon but it just didn’t give enough grip, especially on the left side. The hard just hasn’t been an option for us the last few races, but the soft’s working pretty well and we did a lot of laps on them so we don’t expect any problems. Some of the long corners I’m losing a lot of time and some of the chicanes I lose a bit in the first which knocks on, so hopefully we can do a better job tomorrow.”

source: MotoGP Official Website

Pedrosa first, Stoner third on Czech GP grid

Casey Stoner will join Pedrosa on the front row of the grid in third position and Andrea Dovizioso from third row in seventh position, after a very interesting qualifying session that was decided in the final 10 minutes.

After the third free practice held in wet conditions, the track was quite dirty and slippery for qualifying. However, the riders were able to continue improving the set up of their RC212V's and work on the pace before looking for the best position on the grid.

Pedrosa achieved his first pole of the season after showing impressive pace during the entire weekend, while Stoner made steps forward to solving the issues he had Friday in setting up his bike. Andrea Dovizioso slightly improved his lap time from Friday, but he will be hoping to make a bigger step in the race to fight for another podium.

Dani Pedrosa:
"It's my first pole of the year and also after a long time, so I'm very happy for that. The weekend has been pretty good for us so far, the bike is working well and I'm feeling good physically as well. We made only a few small changes on the bike and this allowed me to concentrate more on my riding, so let's hope we are able to keep the pace tomorrow and fight for a good result. This is the most important thing and we need to keep our feet on the ground because the rivals are close. I think we can still improve the bike a little, especially on the chassis side to have better grip, even though I guess that the rain this morning affected the conditions on track which made it more slippery."

Casey Stoner:
"We hoped after yesterday that we could improve the feeling in the bike this morning but unfortunately it was a wet session, so we couldn't use it as we would have liked to. Also, the session didn't start too well with a fast crash in turn three which lost us some time and obviously dented my confidence a little. Then this afternoon we started to get a little more feedback from the bike, but all in all we didn't really make a big step forward or improve it significantly from yesterday's first session. We seem to be getting more and more chatter as the weekend progresses and the more I push the more it increases and the slower I get, so it's a little frustrating. I felt qualifying could have been better, we almost lapped with the same time on old and new tyres but in general we have a lot of work to do. We're obviously happy with front row, but we're not really where we want to be with t he bike and there is still a lot of work to do. We're looking forward to tomorrow and I'm sure we can find some improvements in time for the race."

Andrea Dovizioso: 
“After having struggled yesterday with the engine brake set up, today we went back to the old specification that we used up until the Italian Grand Prix. The rain fall from last night and this morning affected the track surface and this afternoon there was less grip and the references changed compared to yesterday. We will continue working, in particular on the front, because under braking we are on the limit. I also have to ride with more fluidity. We will keep on working also in the warm up to improve for the race. The pace is not so bad and it’s not impossible to fight for the podium. The race will be hard, with many battles so it will be important to make a good start.”

Repsol Honda press release.

Edwards and Crutchlow set sights on double top 10 result

Edwards will start from the middle of the third row in eighth position, the American brilliantly capitalising on a range of set-up modifications to his YZR-M1 machine to post a best time of 1’57.676. The popular 37 year-old was able to run consistently inside the top 10 for the entire session, the set-up changes drastically improving front and rear grip to allow Edwards to qualify leading non-factory rider once again in 2011.

His best time was just over 0.3s away from the second row and the Texan is now confident he can challenge for his first ever top six finish at the Brno circuit in tomorrow's race, which is the 11th round of this year's MotoGP World Championship.

Crutchlow too demonstrated his encouraging speed in the early part of the session, the British rider reaping the benefits of major front-end set-up changes to give him more turning performance. Crutchlow, who was an impressive seventh quickest in a rain-affected final practice session this morning, was able to run inside the top three at one stage, as he worked on fine-tuning the race set-up of his YZR-M1 machine.

The 25 year-old seemed certain to challenge for a spot on the third row of the grid when a small mistake at Turn 10 resulted in an unfortunate crash with 12 minutes remaining. Crutchlow sprinted back to the pits to jump on his second YZR-M1 bike, but he was unable to improve on his time of 1’57.797 and will start the race from 11th. The major front-end modifications though have boosted Crutchlow's confidence in full race trim and he is aiming to battle for a top seven finish tomorrow.

Colin Edwards, 8th:
“I'm much happier today with the performance of the bike and I need to say a big thanks to my Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew again for their incredible work. Yesterday I just wasn't comfortable at all and had no feeling with the front or rear of the bike. I told my crew what I was feeling on the track and it is up to them to interpret that and try and improve the bike. And today they did an absolutely awesome job and I had a much better package. I went from feeling like I was riding on marbles yesterday to having a lot of traction today and I felt much more comfortable. We actually just threw in last year's race set-up and even though I'm using a completely different chassis, it worked brilliantly, although I'm still 0.4s slower than last year. I'm not sure why that is. I'm not sure if the track lost some grip after the rain this morning because this afternoon in the dry my bike was so much better than yesterday, so I can't really compare. Looking at the calibre of the guys in front of me and what they are riding, I think to be completely realistic, I wouldn't be upset to finis h where I qualified.”

Cal Crutchlow, 11th:
“I'm happy on one hand because we made a big change to the bike to help it turn better and it was a really good step. But I'm a little disappointed on the other hand because I made a silly little mistake that probably cost me the chance to get on the third row. We were making some good progress with the new front set-up and I was faster in the first two splits than my previous best lap when I just ran in too hot at Turn 10. I should have just ran into the gravel but I tried to make the corner, squeezed the brake a bit harder and down I went. It's one of those things when you're pushing hard against this level of competition but I've felt much better on the bike here this weekend. My times have been consistently on the edge of the top six and I felt I could have probably qualified sixth or seventh. My race pace has been strong so I'm just looking forward to having a good race tomorrow and picking up valuable points.”

Monster Yamaha Tech 3 press release

Day to forget for Rizla Suzuki at Brno

Rizla Suzuki had its promising start to the weekend shattered at Brno today as firstly John Hopkins had to withdraw from the event and then Álvaro Bautista had a difficult qualifying session to leave him with a mountain to climb in tomorrow’s race.

Bautista will start from the fifth row of the grid after he failed to make a competitive lap-time and will need one of his great starts to be able to challenge with the front-runners in tomorrow’s race. He has a consistent race pace and was able to stay with other riders in the earlier part of the qualifying session, but was unable to put together a fast lap to move him up the grid as the session came to its climax.

Hopkins was forced to withdraw from the weekend’s event following a crash in this morning’s wet practice session. It has now been confirmed that he has broken three fingers on his right hand, but he will remain at Brno to support the team, before returning to America on Monday to have surgery to repair the damage.

Today’s qualifying was held in dry, but overcast conditions with track temperatures reaching 30ºC. Dani Pedrosa took pole position on his Honda, with reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo second and current championship leader Casey Stoner third.

Tomorrow’s race is round 11 of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship and the excitement gets underway at 14.00hrs local time (12.00hrs GMT).

Álvaro Bautista:

“I am not happy with the qualifying because we just didn’t get our best level today and we will have to start tomorrow near the back of the grid. My rhythm was not too bad when I followed other riders and I could stay with them, but to be able to do that in the race I have to make a good start again tomorrow and fight my way through. I can’t say much more because I am just not happy with how things went today.

“It was not a good day for the whole team with John crashing this morning and breaking his fingers. I feel very sorry for him because he did well yesterday and it looked like he’d have a good race. MotoGP racing is not always what you want it to be and these things happen, but I wish him a speedy recovery and hope he’s back soon.”

John Hopkins:

“I guess disappointed is the only word that can sum up how I feel! I must apologise to the whole team for making such a stupid mistake out there this morning. It was the smallest crash under braking in the wet conditions and as I slid along I kept my hand on the ground to try and slow me down, but as soon as I hit the gravel it went in and mangled my hand right up. I’ve fractured three fingers on my right hand. The index and middle finger are just normal fractures that probably wouldn’t have kept me off the bike, but the third finger has separated and split down the middle from the knuckle. It’s not a case of pain, strength or anything like that, it’s simply that I can’t bend the finger or both bones could come through the skin, so it would have been impossible to hold on to the bike.

“I think things went very well yesterday and I had every intention of being able to make another step forward today. I believe that the GSV-R is every bit capable of a consistent top-six finish and I think it’s a great machine. With the lack of seat time I’ve had, I don’t think that I could have matched the potential of what the bike is capable of doing. I know I didn’t yesterday and I think it still has another second a lap in it. I wish I could have gone out and achieved a good result for all involved and mainly to show Suzuki that they have a really good machine which has great potential.

“This is just another small setback in my journey to get back to full time MotoGP. I’ll stay here the rest of the weekend and give my full support to the team and do whatever I can to express my gratitude to them for giving me this opportunity. This is not the last time you’ll see me at a Grand Prix, I’m still destined to be back here, whether it’s this year or next I don’t know, but I will be back here!”

Paul Denning – Team Manger:

“Grand Prix racing isn’t easy and today showed that! Yesterday we were looking very strong with lap-times in the 57s and both riders in the top-10. Today John is in a cast and Álvaro’s qualified 14th and almost half-of-a-second slower than yesterday afternoon. We did have an issue with a vibration at the end of the qualifying, but frankly speaking, we expected a much better time than that earlier in the session when he had a brand new set of tyres. We all know how well he can race, but if we don’t qualify better we won’t be able to improve the race result.”

Lorenzo delivers front row at Brno

The reigning World Champion was one of the fastest riders for the duration of the session, benefiting from improvements to his set up with a more stable YZR-M1 allowing him to pressure the competition at the top. Lorenzo led the session for a brief time and at the end of the session had missed pole by just 0.113 seconds.

Ben Spies put in a superhuman effort to secure fourth and a second row start for tomorrow’s race despite suffering a numb arm from a trapped nerve which hampered his ability to brake and turn the bike. The Texan had been running as high as second, just 0.061 from first in the last 15 minutes but was unable to hold on to his front row start at the end. He will continue to work with Clinica Mobile this evening for more physio in advance of tomorrow’s race.

Whilst qualifying was dry, the riders endured a wet final free practice in the morning, giving them an opportunity to find a good wet set up should tomorrow’s race bring rain. Lorenzo dominated the session with his revised set up, finishing in second just 0.005 seconds from the front. Spies took it easy for the morning, saving his strength for the qualifying practice and finishing the final free session in tenth, 0.768 from first.

Jorge Lorenzo: 
“Yesterday things weren’t like we expected, but we made some changes and improved braking to make the bike more stable. The lap time improved from that and we got a lot closer to Dani today and finished in front of Casey. The pace in the last laps was quite good, so we’re happy. Big thanks to my team who worked hard to improve the bike. Tomorrow we aim for the podium, or if possible, to win the race.”

Ben Spies: 
“Today, honestly, went a lot better than expected - we’re at least in a good starting position for tomorrow. I’m not 100% confident about the race and what we can do, but we’ve shown we’ve got the speed and the bike is good enough for top five. We’ll do the best we can, I’m not going to make any promises but I know I’ve got at least half a good race in me. If we get some good rest tonight then hopefully we’ll get lucky and catch a break and be good for it. We’re optimistic, the bike is working well and the speed is there, I just hope I can be there too. I need to say a big thank you to all the guys at Clinica Mobile who are working hard this weekend to keep me in the game.”

Yamaha Factory Racing press release

First pole of the season for Pedrosa

Dani Pedrosa followed up his superb Friday display in qualifying on Saturday, as the Spaniard secured his first pole position of 2011 for Sunday’s Cardion ab Grand Prix České republiky race in Brno.

Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa took the front position on the grid with a time of 1’56.591 in qualifying on Saturday, a time fast enough to put him on pole but still not a fast as the crushing lap he dealt Friday by a margin of 0.268s.

The premier class took to a dry track after the morning wet practice session, with reigning MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) taking an early provisional pole and Casey Stoner (Repsol Honda) leading in second half of qualifying. But Pedrosa retaliated, grabbing back the top spot and keeping it until the end of the outing.

Lorenzo pushed hard, bettering his previous best time by four tenths with a time of 1'56.704, giving him a front row start in the second spot, followed by Stoner with lap of 1'56.860 to put him in the final front row spot.

Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing) who started from the front row least year in his MotoGP rookie season, qualified four with a 1'57.178. The Texan is joined on the second row by Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team), who finished just outside the top ten on his premier class debut at Brno last season, whose time of 1'57.351 placed him in fifth to start. Valentino Rossi (Ducati Team) joins the second row after posting a time of 1'57.367, giving him his best qualifying of the season so far.

Andrea Dovizioso will start from the third row, his time of 1'57.442 placing him seventh fastest. American duo Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) take the final two spots on the third row, while Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini), riding for the first time in the MotoGP class at Brno after missing last year’s race through injury, completed the top ten.

Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) crashed out of eighth position with 12 minutes remaining, running back to the pits to mount his second bike, finally concluding the qualifying in eleventh.

Cardion ab Motoracing’s Karel Abraham crashed out of the qualifying session, the 21 year old from Brno will start his home race from last on the grid. John Hopkins did not participate in the qualifying session due to injuries sustained in his FP3 crash pronouncing him unfit for racing.

source: MotoGP Official Website

Hopkins out of Brno Grand Prix

John Hopkins crashed at turn three on his sixth lap in the very wet and slippery conditions, and as he slid into the gravel his right hand sustained an impact causing a break and dislocation of his third finger and fracture of his second finger. He was immediately taken to the medical centre to have x-rays, where the injury was diagnosed and set in traction Hopkins will now return to America to have an operation to repair the injury as he aims to ensure he is fit for the next round of the British Superbike Championship at Cadwell Park later this month.

Rizla Suzuki wishes him a speedy recovery and will update on his progress as more information becomes known.

Paul Denning – Team Manager:

“This morning’s injury is a huge disappointment to all of us at Rizla Suzuki and of course mostly to John. He is completely devastated that he is not able to compete in the Grand Prix tomorrow, especially as his form yesterday was extremely promising. He was just building up to speed very gradually in the wet conditions and, on the first lap that he tried to push a little bit harder, he made a simple mistake and folded the front. It was on exactly the same corner that Casey had done the same thing at the start of the session, but John was just less lucky and as he entered the gravel trap the angle of his hand meant that the impact folded his fingers. This caused a substantial break to one finger and further damage to another. If the injury had been his left hand he would be on the GSV-R this afternoon, but to control a MotoGP bike and expect to be competitive with that injury to his throttle and braking hand is completely unrealistic. “From the team, thanks to John for being so professional and a pleasure to work with this weekend. It was also great to have a two-rider team again and all the clear advantages that it brings. Despite what happened this morning I believe everybody in MotoGP was impressed with the potential shown here in Brno by John. I have no doubt that we will see him on a Grand Prix bike again in the near future.”

Press release courtesy of Rizla Suzuki

Stoner sets the pace in the rain

Stoner led the MotoGP field in a wet third free practice session ahead of the Cardion ab Grand Prix České republiky qualifying. Lorenzo posted second quickest and Rossi joined the top three with the third fastest time.

The final practice before MotoGP qualifying began with rain falling on the Brno circuit, until the last 5 minutes which saw the sun trying to break through but never drying the track. The premier class riders none the less took advantage of the wet session, pushing hard for good times and consistent paces in anticipation of a wet race on Sunday, though times were more than ten seconds slower than those of the day before.

Jorge Lorenzo topped most of the session, until Casey Stoner took his spot and held it on top of the timings in the last five minutes. The Australian had crashed at the start of the session on the cold track, but remained unruffled and proceeded to push, posting a final time of 2'07.321.

Ducati Team rider Valentino Rossi, who was seventh fastest of the field on Friday, found a good set up for the rain to post a time of 2'07.443, landing him third on the charts, while Dani Pedrosa finished the session in fourth place, his time set in the first practice session of the weekend remaining fastest of the field so far.

Nicky Hayden (Ducati Team) took a significantly higher spot in the line up than his fourteenth place on Friday, the Kentuckian lapping well in the rain with a time of 2'07.695, just 0.374s off the pace set by Stoner for the session.

In sixth was Hiroshi Aoyama (San Carlo Honda Gresini) following Hayden by 0.048s, with Cal Crutchlow (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) in seventh and Andrea Dovizioso in eighth. Marco Simoncelli (San Carlo Honda Gresini Team) and Ben Spies (Yamaha Factory Racing) completed the top ten.

Karel Abraham (Cardion ab Motoracing) placed in eleventh at his home circuit with a time of 2'08.460, a gap of 1.139s off the leading time.

Wild card John Hopkins on the Rizla Suzuki had a fall in Turn 3 just fifteen minutes into the meet. He was taken to the Clinica Mobile where he was diagnosed with a fractured finger and was unable to rejoin the session.

Rossi and Hayden begin Brno set up work

At the end of the second session, the Italian rider had posted a promising seventh-best time, steadily improving his feeling with the bike. Tomorrow he’ll try to continue in this direction.The American rider, on the other hand, was slowed by a lack of rear grip in corners, and he finished with the fourteenth-best time.

Valentino Rossi:
“Today we started better than we had at recent races. Although I’m seventh, our time isn’t bad, and Spies and Dovizioso are ahead but close. This is positive, but the really important thing will be whether we can continue improving like this tomorrow as well, cutting more tenths from my time, session by session. Today I went pretty well on the second part of the track, while I lost time in T1 and T2, so we have to try to work on those sections. We had a hard time at the start of this afternoon’s session, because the hard tyre, which we thought we could work well for the race, was really sliding a lot. When we put on the soft, the situation improved, also because we made some additional changes with the front that helped us improve the feeling. We hope to be able to do the race with the soft, and tomorrow we’ll try to do enough laps to verify that as well.”

Nicky Hayden:
“It was a frustrating day, really. You have two weeks off, and you work hard and do all the little things that will help you when you come back. Then to have your first day back be probably your worst day of the year is pretty frustrating. The main thing is I don’t have much grip from the rear, even on corner entry, and I’m spinning a lot on exit. There are a lot of long, fast corners here, and if you’re slow there, you lose time. We tried a couple things to improve certain areas, but really we didn’t find a big step forward. It was a pretty difficult day for me. I’m not happy with my performance, or with anything, so hopefully we can put this behind us tomorrow.”

Ducati Team press release

Crutchlow and Edwards make solid start at Czech GP

After a well deserved two week summer break, Crutchlow was instantly back in the groove in cloudy conditions this morning, the British rider setting the ninth quickest time. The 25 year old was able to dedicate all his time on improving the set up of his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 machine having previously raced at the Brno circuit in the World Superbike Championship.

And he put that previous track knowledge to good use in this afternoon's second session, which was run in hotter and brighter conditions that saw temperatures increase to 23 degrees. Crutchlow improved his pace by more than half-a-second this afternoon and a time of 1.57.859 put him sixth at one stage. He eventually finished ninth but giving his confidence a major boost, he finished just over 0.3s away from fifth position on combined times.

American Colin Edwards worked hard to improve rear grip with his YZR-M1 machine in both sessions and he was almost 0.2s faster in the second 45-minute practice. The Texan though is still searching for a more comfortable setting to show more of his true potential after he had to settle for 12th on the timesheets with a best lap of 1.58.313.

Cal Crutchlow:
“Today was a positive day and we made a good improvement with the bike and I feel like the front-end feeling I've been missing in the last few races is definitely better. We tried a new handlebar position, bringing them closer to me and it was a positive step. It is still not as good as I'd like it to be but we'll try and change the set-up of the bike for tomorrow to gain some more turning performance. I should have been a little bit quicker but I made a mistake on the last lap and I'm sure I could have been in the top seven. Valentino (Rossi) and (Alvaro) Bautista just got me at the end but I'm confident I can be battling for around seventh place in the race on Sunday. Not having to learn the circuit today has been a big help and I've proved with some track knowledge I can finish in front of some guys with a lot more experience than me in MotoGP. Maybe I've been pushing too hard in the last few weeks without the track knowledge on new circuits, but today my pace was pretty consistent and it was a solid start and gives me a platform to build on now for the rest of the weekend.”

Colin Edwards:
“Today has been a bit of a struggle to be honest and I was hoping to be a bit higher up the timesheets than 12th. We are working hard to find a solution but right now we're still missing something in the set-up of the bike that allows me to push at a level I feel comfortable and confident at. My biggest problem is the rear grip and it doesn't feel like the tyre is getting the force into the ground I need and I'm riding on a small contact patch. As a consequence that also has an impact on front feeling and that is not the formula for setting fast lap times. I'm running wide a lot and to make sure I can get the bike turned I have to slow the corner speed right down. But losing a lot of corner speed kills the lap time, so I've got have a sit down tonight with my crew and come up with a plan to change the bike for tomorrow to see if we can make it better.”

Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team press release

Friday, August 12, 2011

Pedrosa leads a Repsol Honda 1-2 in Brno Free Practice

The riders proved to be fresh after the summer break, especially Dani Pedrosa, who set the top time in both practice sessions today with a best lap of 1'56.328, just two tenths off the pole position record of Rossi in 2009 (1'56.145) and already under the circuit lap record (Lorenzo 2009, 1'56.670). Casey Stoner, the current leader of the Championship, finished the day in second, and Andrea Dovizioso, fifth.

Pedrosa was immediately on the pace, from his first round out in the morning session, and was the only rider to lap in the 1'56's this morning. The Spaniard had a good base to start working with from last year's set up and his improved physical condition helped him to start the weekend very strongly.

In FP2, Casey Stoner also managed to ride in the 1'56's after some issues in the morning session. He will continue working with his team looking to find more grip and better corner entry to improve his feeling in Brno with the RC212V.

Andrea Dovizioso's day was hampered by set up issues with his engine braking. He and his team will study the data tonight and make full use of FP3 to prepare his bike in the best way possible for Qualifying tomorrow at 13.55 local time.

Dani Pedrosa:
"The feeling was very good today from the beginning. The bike was working well from the first round and we could move ahead, improving little by little in both practice sessions. I think the main difference I felt is that I'm fresh after the summer break, the rest I had has helped me a lot, I can feel the energy I didn't have in the races before the break, so I hope I can keep the pace for Saturday and Sunday and be strong for the race. I'm very happy with the job we did in both sessions and I think we can still improve and be ready for both the qualifying practice and the race. I guess the other rivals will also do the same, so we have to keep focused. Today I rode alone all the time, maybe tomorrow I can compare a little with other riders to see where are they stronger or weaker than me."

Casey Stoner:
"Today hasn't been that positive to be honest, we seem to be having a similar start to our weekend in Laguna and aren't sure which direction to take at the moment. The feeling in the front is very vague, our corner entry and mid-turn isn't that great. We also need to find a lot more grip in the rear as I'm struggling on the edge of the tyre and exit of the corner. We have a long way to go before I feel happy with the set up and there are many areas we can improve, so tomorrow we will be trying a lot of different things on both bikes and prepare as best we can for Qualifying."

Andrea Dovizioso: 
"Today we struggled a lot with engine braking. This is a new engine brake that we used for the first time on Monday in Mugello after the Grand Prix, and that we have been using since. It’s very helpful but it's difficult to set up and today we struggled a lot to get the correct set up. We lost time and we couldn't do many laps. In the last lap I tried to push even if I was not so comfortable with the setting. I’m a little angry because I could be faster and I’m not satisfied with the fifth fastest time. Now we will study the data and then we will decide the direction to take. I hope that tomorrow we will continue with dry conditions as today and I’m confident we can improve."

Repsol Honda press release.

Strong start from Rizla Suzuki boys at Brno

Bautista completed 32 laps at Brno circuit, recording a best time of 1’57.857 and grabbing eighth place on the leader board. Bautista was regularly in touch with the top six throughout both of Friday’s practices and is confident that with a few more adjustments to his GSV-R he can make further steps forward on Saturday.

Hopkins is appearing as a wild card at Brno and proved himself capable in both practice sessions. In the morning he signaled his intentions by finishing in seventh place and followed that up in the afternoon with an equally impressive 10th. His best time of 1’57.880 was only .023 seconds behind his team mate and just over three tenths of a second away from a top five finish. Hopkins knows he still has a lot of work to do, but is convinced there is still more to come from him and his machine.

Álvaro Bautista: 
“Today was my first full MotoGP day at Brno when fully fit, so I am pleased to have done that. Last year I crashed in the second free practice and the rest of the weekend was quite hard for me. The first thing today was to get a good feeling with the bike, but this morning I felt the bike slide a bit in the corners, this might have been because the track was a bit dirty, but we made a change that also helped to improve the problem. I can do a long run with used tyres and after 26 laps my rhythm was good and I could do low 58s. We then put in a new front and rear tyre and I was able to push a bit more, but I found some traffic on the last laps and I couldn’t improve my time. I am happy with today because I have done the fastest lap I’ve ever done at Brno, my previous best was 59.1 and today I did 57.8 so that is a good improvement. I have a good feeling with the bike and I’m sure we can improve the rhythm and the lap-time, so on Saturday we will work on a couple of things to do that. I am really looking forward to tomorrow because I think we can make a good position in qualifying to get a good start in Sunday’s race.”

John Hopkins: 
“First of all, I want to give a massive thanks to Suzuki, Paul Denning, Rizla, Fixi and all the other sponsors that have made this possible. The have all helped to ensure that the team has two bikes here at Brno, so once again thanks to all concerned. It’s been a big culture shock today, the most elite riders in the world are all packed in the MotoGP field, but it has still been a good day for us. When I rode in Jerez my mindset was still with prototype racing, because I hadn’t quite got into Superbike riding, but all this year I’ve got very comfortable with a Superbike and so coming into this weekend I was a bit afraid it would all feel totally different and I couldn’t ride a GP bike anymore – luckily that wasn’t the case! I tried to get comfortable this morning and follow as many people as possible, because to be honest I need as much help as I can get at the moment! I was well within the top 10 this morning and I managed to follow Álvaro and he showed me some lines – which was really cool – I was very happy with that, and the fact that he didn’t get upset and just let me follow. This afternoon we tried a few things with the bike to see where we could improve, but we never really went too far away from the set up we had this morning. We used a couple of tyre variations to see how they worked and that gives us something to go on for the rest of the weekend. I did a quicker lap today than my best lap here before, which was in the race in 2007, so that was a good thing. I’ll now sleep with the track on my mind and come back a lot better tomorrow morning, I’m sure if I can get more comfortable on the bike and find a rhythm, then I can get at least half a second of my time from today.”

Rizla Suzuki press release.

Héctor Barberá makes progress day one of Czech GP

The MotoGP World Championship roared back into life after two free summer weekends today, with the Cardion ab Grand Prix Ceské republiky marking the start of the season run in. The target for MAPFRE Aspar rider Héctor Barberá was to make constant improvements and although he struggled to do so in this morning's opening session he made good progress in the afternoon. A slight geometrical change to the ride height and suspension settings of his Ducati gave the Spaniard more confidence and he was able to set a consistent rhythm in the 1'58s, with a best effort of 1'58.120 - eight tenths quicker than his best effort this morning and 1.7 seconds off Pedrosa's lap record pace.

Héctor Barberá:
"We did a good job today because this morning I was struggling to improve my lap times, I just kept hitting a ceiling. In the afternoon we made some set-up changes to my Ducati and things improved considerably. We dropped the ride height and change the front and rear shock settings, which instantly gave us more confidence and pace. We still need another six or seven tenths to be where we want but tomorrow we will look to find this by working on power delivery and handling. Overall it has been a positive first day and the team has done a great job."

MAPFRE Aspar press release.

De Puniet thirteenth, Capirossi improving

Using the new frame provided by the Ducati factory, the Frenchman used the afternoon session to lower his time by nearly five tenths compared to that of the morning. Loris Capirossi, still dealing with a painful shoulder, finished the day with the fifteenth best time, just behind factory Ducati rider Nicky Hayden.

Loris Capirossi:
“Compared to this morning, we’re more satisfied because we were able to solve some problems with the front. I’m able to ride better, but now we must concentrate on our work on the rear of the bike. I’m a realist. We have some ideas that we’ll try out tomorrow. We could take a nice step forward. We’re very close to the others, and although I’m not in my top form, I can improve upon today.”

Randy De Puniet:
“In the end, it was a bad day if I consider that my physical condition isn’t allowing me to be at 100%. We didn’t change many things between this morning and this afternoon. However, we did decide to see which of the two frames we have available to us could better reward our work. The new one gave us a somewhat better impression considering that with the other one, the one we used for the first part of the season, I lost the front and fell. I think and I hope that with the small changes we’ll try tomorrow, I’ll be able to reduce the gap to the riders who tend to be in the top ten.”

Pramac Racing Team press release

Elías finds small afternoon improvements

LCR Honda rider Toni Elías is hopeful that his previous form of winning in Moto2 at Brno in 2010 and premier class podiums in 2008 and 2009 can inspire him this weekend, and prove the turning point of his 2011 season. On Friday the Spaniard registered a best lap time of 1’59.157 across both practice sessions, leaving him 18th on the timesheet.

Toni Elías:
“After the summer break I am happy to ride here in Brno. It’s one of my favourite tracks and in 2008 and 2009 I experienced the podium in the premier class. Unfortunately we have started the weekend with the same issues but we had some small improvements in the afternoon session. Now we must work on that to take another step forward ahead of the qualifying session. Despite this difficult situation I am very motivated and the team is doing a good job to help me.”