The MotoGP teams are converging on Phillip Island, Australia for the second of three pre-season tests, taking place February 17th to the 19th. At the first pre-season test in Sepang, Jorge Lorenzo set the best overall time, with Danilo Petrucci and Hector Barbera rounding out the top three. Following third-place Barbera was Valentino Rossi, Marc Marquez, Cal Crutchlow, Scott Redding, Andrea Iannone, Casey Stoner, and Bradley Smith. Sepang was also notable for Avintia Racing’s Loris Baz who suffered a major blowout at 180 mph along the straight due to an issue with the rear tire, subsequently causing Michelin to withdraw the soft tire option. The premier class heads to Qatar from the 2nd to 4th of March for the final official test before the 2016 MotoGP World Championship begins in Losail on the 17th of March.
Two-time MotoGP champion Casey Stoner has said repeatedly that he has no desire to race in the 2016 MotoGP season, sticking with the line that he’s a test rider and brand ambassador. However, Motorsport.com is reporting that should he change his mind for whatever reason, “you can’t tell him no,” said Ducati Corse team boss Gigi Dall’Igna.
If you’re already a fan of grand prix motorcycle racing, Hitting the Apex will transport you from the stands inside the garages and beyond, occasionally into the living rooms of the riders themselves. Any sports documentary capable of doing that must be deemed a success.
The 2015 edition of the Suzuka 8 Hours endurance race has come and gone, and while the event doesn’t hold the same prestige it once did, there was still plenty to talk about this year. The racing was as dynamic as ever, but also interesting were the bikes, teams and characters that show up to this event. Nearly every rider who has spun a lap around Suzuka sings its praises, though most of them also acknowledge how dangerous the circuit can be with its lack of runoff (just ask Casey Stoner). Still, this year’s race has offered plenty of talking points, and now that I’ve had some time to absorb everything the iconic Japanese race has to offer, here are my Top 10 storylines surrounding the 2015 Suzuka 8 Hours.
It is the Spanish MotoGP round at Jerez in 2011 that comes to mind right now. Valentino Rossi, aboard the nearly unrideable Ducati, dove to the inside of Casey Stoner and his Honda, hard on the brakes into the first turn. What would have been a spectacular pass resulted in Rossi tucking the front, lowsiding and taking the Australian out in the process.
Apologies in advance if the headline of this week’s Top 10 baited you in, but by virtue of being here, at least a small part of you enjoys seeing a good highside. There’s something about seeing a rider, bike, or both catapulted into orbit that captures our imagination.
In what is likely to be a preview of the rest of the decade in MotoGP, three Aliens not named Marquez will begin their assault on the vice-championship this week at Phillip Island. Heading into Round 16 Down Under, a mere three points separate Yamaha ironman Jorge Lorenzo from teammate Valentino Rossi, who sits tied with Repsol Honda mini-Marc Dani Pedrosa. While world champion Marc Marquez’ mom dusts off some space in the family trophy case for the 2014 hardware, there’s plenty of racing left this season.
This MotoGP season has developed an air of inevitability. Not that Repsol Honda rookie Marc Marquez is going to win the 2013 title; that’s pretty much in the bag. It’s entirely possible he could win the next six or eight world championships. The young Spaniard may do for MotoGP what Michael Schumacher did years ago for Formula 1 – turn it into his personal playground, at the cost of much of its popularity.