Valentino Rossi (#46) set his bike up to run under wet conditions, and a dry track at Estoril gave Jorge Lorenzo (#99) an advantage in the later stages of the race.
Valentino Rossi blamed a wrong set-up gamble for his failure to end 2010 world champion Jorge Lorenzo’s domination of the Estoril MotoGP race yesterday. The Italian led for a long spell in the 28-lap clash but was powerless to stop the Spaniard from running away to a third straight win on Portuguese soil. The race was a set-up gamble for everybody with the field facing the unusual circumstances of having never completed a single lap in practice and qualifying in dry conditions. And Rossi said his set-up selection backfired as he lost by over eight seconds to Lorenzo, who claimed his eighth win of the 2010 season. Lorenzo simply ran the set-up he used to win the race in 2009, but Rossi changed his settings from last year after having struggled in a distant fourth.
“Jorge put in the setting of last year, which was very good and the job was finished,” Rossi said. “I raced with a big difference in the setting to last year because last year was a bad result. The bike worked well in the wet conditions and I think I was a favorite for the victory if it was a wet race. I was the fastest in the wet warm-up too. But in the dry we had to just trust on our work in the wet and make a modification that you usually do for the dry. I was fine and had a good feeling from the start and opened some advantage, but after the bike began moved a bit too much.”
“I’m curious to understand if we can make another step in Valencia, which is quite a bad track for me,” said Rossi. “Next week will be an important week for me and my future. Firstly it is the race where I can fight for second-place in the championship. I am third, which is a good result considering I missed four races and I made it to a lot of races with injury. And then from Tuesday start the new adventure and try the new bike.”
Andrea Dovizioso (#4) was thrilled to have taken third by a mere 0.059 seconds ahead of Marco Simoncelli (#58).
Andrea Dovizioso’s delight at snatching a last-gasp third-place from compatriot Marco Simoncelli in Estoril yesterday was tempered somewhat by the heavy defeat suffered at the hands of Yamaha. The Repsol Honda rider denied Simoncelli third by just 0.059s after a fantastic race-long battle, but he was over 25 seconds adrift of race winner Jorge Lorenzo on the Fiat Yamaha. He said the smoother engine characteristic of the YZR-M1 and Yamaha chassis performance helped Lorenzo and Valentino in low grip conditions after a weekend blighted by appalling weather.
“In this track Yamaha was better than us,” Dovizioso said. “All the Hondas struggled a lot with the front tire. A few characteristics of the Yamaha in those conditions mean it is easier for them. But not 25 seconds better though. Mainly I think it is the engine, but also it is a strange track because there is hard braking and you need a lot of weight on the rear. Maybe they went more in that direction.”
Ben Spies is determined to ride in this weekend’s final MotoGP round in Valencia, despite the American aggravating an old left ankle injury in Estoril yesterday. The Texan’s Estoril debut ended in disaster when he crashed heavily on the second of two sighting laps at the fourth corner. The 26-year-old dislocated his left ankle and was forced to watch the majority of the 28-lap as a frustrated spectator. It was an identical injury to the one Spies suffered in Le Mans and Silverstone earlier this year, but he is adamant he will be fit to race in Valencia this weekend.
“I knew the race was going to be tough because I had never turned a lap in the dry on this track. The first sighting lap was fine and on the second I just made a mistake at Turn 4. Aoyama and Capirossi were in front of me and they nearly did the same thing. I just didn’t have the left side of the tire heated up enough and it spat me off. I’m frustrated because I’m sure even in the dry I could have had a fairly good race. I’ve hurt my left ankle again and it’s pretty painful right now. I’ll have some more scans in Spain but my intention is to go to Valencia and race and hopefully do the test too. We’ll have to wait and see but that’s my plan right now.”
Ben Spies dislocated his left ankle during his sighting lap at Estoril, but plans on competing in the final round of the season.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 boss, Herve Poncharal, said he was confident Spies would be able to end his impressive rookie season in Valencia.
“I was standing on the grid when Race Direction told me that Ben had crashed at Turn 4 and I feel really sorry for him because all weekend he’s done an incredible job,” Poncharal said. “He’d never seen this track and in atrocious conditions he was always one of the fastest on track. When you look at the race it is not impossible to imagine Ben being capable of fighting for the podium again. We hope he’ll be fine for Valencia and I know already that he wants to race.”
Hiroshi Aoyama’s Interwetten Honda squad confirmed in Estoril last night that it would be quitting the MotoGP world championship at the end of the season. The withdrawal of the Swiss-based squad has been anticipated for some time as team boss Daniel Epp has been frantically trying to secure enough budget to continue. But as part of the team’s preview for this weekend’s final round in Valencia, it confirmed that the team would fold immediately after Sunday. Japanese rider Aoyama, who won the last ever 250GP two-stroke crown in 2009, is expected to announce in Valencia that he has signed a deal to join the San Carlo Gresini Honda squad with Marco Simoncelli. Interwetten will continue to operate its Moto2 and 125 efforts in 2011.
Next year’s Moto2 world championship will be contested by a bumper entry of 40 riders after final selection meetings took place in Estoril last weekend. The field will be made up of 22 teams, of which 18 will field two-rider entries with four one-rider teams on the grid. British interest in the 600cc four-stroke class will be boosted by the arrival of Bradley Smith, who signed a deal to join the Tech 3 squad next season. Smith joins established star, Scott Redding, who will once again ride for the Belgian-based Marc VDS Racing squad. The team now has until Friday to confirm their riders and then a further week to pay a security deposit to the International Race Teams Association.
Loris Capirossi has confirmed he will make a return to Ducati in next year’s MotoGP world championship. The Italian veteran has signed a deal to join the Pramac Ducati squad, as had been widely expected for some months. Capirossi last raced for Ducati when he was with Casey Stoner in the factory team back in 2007 before he embarked on a largely disappointing three-year spell with Suzuki’s factory effort.
“This return on a Ducati bike makes me feel like a child,” Capirossi said. “I do not feel my 37 years! I have a great desire to start this new adventure. I’m enormously pleased about this new agreement that was reached with the Pramac Racing Team. This will allow me to ride and be part of an Italian team. I would like to thank Paolo Campinoti, for giving me this great opportunity and for the confidence placed in me. I’ll find again the Ducati, with whom I had very good results over the past years and that I was able to develop in the 2007. This is a unique sensation for me. I thank Suzuki for the years we spent together and thanks also to the excellent relationship maintained with them, they had given me the possibility to race with my new team since Valencia’s test of next month.”
Meanwhile, French rider Randy de Puniet is expected to leave the LCR Honda squad and join Capirossi, while his place with Lucio Cecchinello’s team will be taken by new Moto2 world champion, Toni Elias.
Nicky Hayden said in Estoril that he’s keen to hear Valentino Rossi’s first impressions of Ducati’s factory MotoGP contender. And the American says he has no doubt that current Fiat Yamaha rider Rossi can win immediately on board a GP11 next season. Anticipation is building ahead of Rossi’s first Ducati ride in Valencia in less than two weeks, with the Italian recently released from his Yamaha contract to join Hayden next month. Rossi will make his much-hyped GP11 debut in Spain on November 9th and 10th, and Kentucky rider Hayden said he was looking forward to the nine-times world champion’s initial feedback. When asked in Portugal if he’d spoken to Rossi ahead of the Valencia test, he said the former Repsol Honda teammates had chatted briefly last month in Misano.
“We’ve had some little chats,” Hayden said. “I haven’t gone into detail but we have talked about it a little bit. I’m sure he will want to ride it himself and make his own conclusion but I told him before I have no doubt he can win on this bike. I’m interested, like everybody, to see what he thinks about it. I think it is going to be good for MotoGP and good for Ducati to get his experience. Casey has been on it a long time and he’s never ridden a different 800.”
American Nicky Hayden (#69) believes Valentino Rossi’s switch to Ducati is happening at the right time and will bring the Italain mark major success in 2011.
Hayden certainly feels Rossi is joining Ducati at just the right time with Stoner in fantastic form on the GP10 machine. The Aussie has won three out of the last four races, but Ducati has strived tirelessly to make its Desmosedici package easier to go fast on. Hayden added: “From when I tested the bike for the first time it has changed a lot since then and it is going to make it a lot easier to make the transition now. The bike has improved a lot and they’ve done a lot of work to make it a more normal and consistent bike where it is easier to get on it and go fast and not feel so strange.”
Colin Edwards will switch Grand Prix classes for a brief spell next month when he lends his vast experience to the Tech 3 Racing Moto2 project. The Texan is being lined up to test the French squad’s bike at a Moto2 session on November 8th immediately after the final race in Valencia. Edwards, who currently rides for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 MotoGP squad with compatriot Ben Spies, will test a new chassis as the squad begins preparations on its new 2011 Moto2 machine.
Tech 3 Racing has not yet unveiled its 2011 Moto2 line-up with Yuki Takahashi and Raffaele de Rosa, who are both certain to move on. Edwards recently signed a new one-year deal with the Tech 3 MotoGP squad, and he will be joined by British rider, Cal Crutchlow, next season.
Nicky Hayden reckons Ducati has got a massive boost now that Valentino Rossi will make his much-anticipated Bologna factory debut in Valencia early next month. Rossi’s Ducati debut had remained in doubt on two fronts until recently. He was only released from his Yamaha contract on Saturday night during the Phillip Island race in Australia. And until a run of three successive podium finishes, including a stunning 46th Yamaha win in Sepang, his debut on November 9th was uncertain as he pondered whether to miss the final two races to undergo surgery on his troublesome right shoulder. With a minimum two-month recovery period, the 31-year-old would be ruled out and unable to evaluate the Ducati until early February in Sepang. And Hayden reckons that would be a big blow to Ducati, with engineers using the winter break to make vital modifications to the bike ahead of the 2011 testing campaign.
“That Valencia test will be important because you don’t want to wait until February,” Hayden said. “Next season starts in March, so it’s not like you have a lot of time. The Valencia test is very important because it’s what gives the team the direction and information to go work for two-and-a half-months.”
Yamaha has dropped its biggest hint yet that a controversial dividing wall might remain in 2011, despite the departure of Valentino Rossi. Many expected the wall to be abolished when new world champion, Jorge Lorenzo, is joined by American Ben Spies in 2011. The wall was introduced in 2008 to prevent the leaking of intellectual property between Michelin and Bridgestone, with Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo using rival tire brands. But when MotoGP instigated a controversial single-tire rule for 2009 and every rider raced on Bridgestone, Rossi demanded that the partition remain. The wall remained in place for 2010 and Yamaha boss Lin Jarvis said there were some obvious benefits.
“My personal opinion is we used the wall for three years and in that period we won everything, so there’s not a lot of negative things about the wall,” Jarvis said. “It allows the rider and the mechanics to focus on their job and that is very important for each individual athlete. We may well keep the partition.”
New Moto2 world champion, Toni Elias, has signed a deal to join Lucio Cecchinello’s satellite Honda squad in 2011. It marks a quick return to the premier class for the Spaniard, who claimed a historic first Moto2 title in Sepang earlier this month. He last raced in MotoGP in 2009, but lost his ride with the San Carlo Gresini Honda outfit at the end of the season. Unable to find another ride in MotoGP, he reluctantly dropped down to the Moto2 class to campaign a Moriwaki chassis for Fausto Gresini’s Misano-based team. The former Gresini Honda rider had been expected to return to MotoGP with the
Rossi and his crew have officially been given clearance by Yamaha to conduct Ducati tests at Valencia next month.
Pramac Ducati squad he rode in 2008. But it emerged in Phillip Island recently that he was the subject of a serious approach from Cecchinello. A deal was announced in Estoril, and Elias said: “I am thrilled to be back in MotoGP and I am happy to race with the LCR Team. I want to thank Lucio and Honda for their trust and I am anxious to return. I have known Lucio for a long time as we raced together in the 125cc class from 1999 to 2001; although his Team is not an official one it is very professional and well organized. Being their only rider is a further warranty for me.”
Cecchinello’s decision to hire Elias will see French rider, Randy de Puniet, sign a contract to partner Loris Capirossi in the Pramac Ducati squad.
“First of all I want to thank Randy for his cooperation and for the several successes we have shared in the 250cc class and in the MotoGP class in the last five years together,” said Cecchinello. “The chance to work with Toni Elias is a big incentive for us because this is a very important moment for presenting to our sponsors and partners a new project. The nice thing is that Toni and I raced together in the 125cc class. I was at the end of my career and he was at the beginning. I remember he was a very hard rider and very resolute. As time goes by he has improved very much and I think he is a very talented rider with a lot of experience.”
Not only did Lorenzo claim his eighth win of the season, the new World Champion also snagged his 42nd pole position.
Back in the premier class, Ducati has confirmed that all of Valentino Rossi’s crew has been released to work with the Italian when he makes his much-hyped Bologna factory debut in Valencia next month. Rossi was released from his Yamaha contract during the recent Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island and Ducati has confirmed that Jerry Burgess and the rest of the nine-times world champion’s crew were free to join the 31-year-old when he tests in Valencia on November 9th. Ducati has also freed Casey Stoner’s crew to move immediately with the Australian to Honda at the Valencia test. That includes his long-serving crew chief, Cristian Gabbarini.
Jorge Lorenzo claimed a milestone 42nd career pole position on Saturday after severe weather forced the cancellation of qualifying at the Estoril track in Portugal. Torrential rain and strong winds that battered the track shortly after midday made it impossible for qualifying to go ahead in safe conditions. As a result, grid positions were decided on combined times from practice with Lorenzo’s best of 1.48.522 set in Saturday’s afternoon’s session securing him pole position. His 42nd pole drew him level with Spanish legend, Jorge Martinez, and the new MotoGP world champion said: “The situation of the track was quite tough and for riding it was not the best condition. The Race Direction decided to cancel the practice and I got the pole position. It is a very proud moment for me because I have the same number now as Jorge Martinez.”