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April 25, 2006 As television plays an ever greater role in the globalization and monetization of sport, sport is evolving. Once upon a time a time difference meant just delaying the telecast on the TV, but as the internet has hastened deadlines and live sport means “when it’s actually” happening, time-shifting events is now being considered. One such innovation on the horizon is night racing, a regular and ever more frequent autoracing fixture in recent years but until now not tried in the pinnacle sports of either car or motorcycle racing. Earlier this month the three permanent riders on the MotoGP Security Commission (Valentino Rossi, Kenny Roberts Junior and Loris Capirossi) tried out the Losail circuit in Qatar during full darkness to evaluate the feasibility of holding races at night. MotoGP points leader tried the circuit on a Ducati 999R, the headlamps of which proved to be indispensable for those parts of the track without the benefit of artificial lighting. Similarly, Rossi rode a Yamaha sports bike and Roberts rode a Honda CBR1000RR sports bike in their respective determinations. Read More
April 9, 2006 Camel Yamaha Team rider Valentino Rossi returned to the top step of the podium after a stunning ride in yesterday’s Grand Prix of Qatar. Rossi’s 54th career MotoGP victory was sealed with a perfectly timed run in the second half of the race, passing early leader Casey Stoner (Honda) on lap 10 of 22 and holding off a late attack from Nicky Hayden (Honda) and Loris Capirossi (Ducati), who completed the podium. The win brings Rossi’s premier-class tally level with that of Mick Doohan, with only the legendary Giacomo Agostini now ahead of him on 68 victories. Casey Stoner's pole position in only his second Grand Prix, followed by leading for the first ten laps indicates MotoGP has unearthed yet another potential star - though Stoner was eventually fifth, he already looks capable of winning a race when he gets some riding condition capable of sustaining his speed for an entire race. Read More
March 26, 2006 Ducati’s Loris Capirossi won today's season-opening Spanish GP to put the Ducati Marlboro Team at the top of the MotoGP points table for the first time in history. The race could prove to be a pivotal moment in MotoGP history, as it saw reigning champ Valentino Rossi knocked off on the second corner, and the coming of age of two of Rossi’s much younger rivals in Danni Pedrosa and Casey Stoner. Pedrosa incredibly challenged for the lead in his first MotoGP race and headed a Honda RC211V freight train that stretched from second (Pedrosa) through sixth place (Hayden, Elias, Melandri, Stoner). Stoner was almost as impressive, as his sixth came after missing the pre-season meaning he started his first race on a bike that was well behind in development. With Kawasaki now competitive with race leading machinery and more promise from Suzuki, it’s clear that 2006 will be a far more evenly balanced year of competition. In true never-say-die fashion, Rossi remounted after his first lap crash and finished the race to grab 14th place and two championship points – perhaps a pointer to just how valuable points will be over coming months. Read More
March 14, 2006 A few months is a long time in motor racing and Ducati enters the 2006 season with realistic optimisim considering the poor shape its race effort was in just over six months ago. At that time the company’s perpetual superbike crown was all but lost and the MotoGP race machine had not yet blossomed in the way it did in the final races of 2005 before a Capirossi injury ended a string of poles, fastest laps and race winning efforts. Now the company’s fortunes are following on from that showing with continued speed and now two riders capable of challenging Valentino Rossi for a win. Troy Bayliss has put the factory superbike back on top after four races in the 2006 championship and the two MotoGP riders have finished first and second in the final official tests prior to the commencement of hostilities. Both riders are fit and fast and the bike is “smoking.” Even better news is that Kawasaki’s big spending is paying off (Nakano was third fastest), Suzuki is running at the front with two good riders and a slew of promising new Honda riders have all showed race leading pace. Everyone is in great shape to attempt the impossible, or at very least highly improbable – beating Valentino Rossi and his Yamaha in what everyone accepts will be his last year of MotoGP. Valentino Rossi and Colin Edwards experienced tyre difficulties in the final test, but Rossi clearly has what he needs to continue his winning ways. But the big news on the final day of testing was the pace of the Ducati Desmosedici which put Capirossi and Gibernau ahead of everyone, both on race and qualifying tyres, on the final of the three MotoGP test days. Read More
January 20, 2006 – At the beginning of each racing season, just before the engines fire in anger for the first time after the Christmas lull, Ducati’s MotoGP team and Ferrari’s Formula One team share an annual appointment on the mountains of Madonna di Campiglio in Trento with a media and ski get-together - the formula of the event revolves around skiing in the mountains together with a round of press meetings and conferences. This year Ducati took the opportunity to pull the wraps off the Desmosedici GP06, the new MotoGP machine that Loris Capirossi and Sete Gibernau will be campaigning this season. A rare insight into a new MotoGP machine - 235 bhp at 16,500 rpm and a dry weight of just 148 kilograms Read More
November 10, 2005 Elite motorcycle racing has many similarities to Formula 1 but it also has many differences, and perhaps the starkest contrast became evident on the Valencia racetrack in Spain yesterday just three days after the last race of the 2005 season. Formula 1 driver changes are major announcements in exotic locations. In MotoGP, all of the rider changes that had been rumoured and spoken of in hushed terms for the previous three months were suddenly on display as the first official test session for 2006 got underway. Honda’s big hope for 2005, Spaniard Sete Gibernau, was riding a Ducati. More significant though was the absence of many of the senior names which have monopolised the key factory rides for the last five years and in their place a half dozen or more new riders who have surfaced though 125, 250 and superbike – Pedrosa, Vermeulen, Stoner, Divizioso, Luthi, De Punier, Kiyonari and Neukirchner were among those who got their first chance on the ultimate racing machines yesterday as the Japanese factories (primarily Honda) made it clear they were seeking the next Valentino Rossi. Extensive image library Read More
October 2, 2005 Just six days after lifting the MotoGP title with Valentino Rossi in Malaysia, the Gauloises Yamaha Team were celebrating again today as Valentino Rossi’s record-breaking tenth victory of the season secured the Teams’ World Championship at the Qatar Grand Prix. Yamaha is likely to secure the trifecta by winning the constructor’s title at the Australian GP in a fortnight’s time. Once again, Spaniard Sete Gibernau was the front-runner for most of the race, relenting once more when the chequered flag grew near to finally finish fifth. Gibernau has led 111 (32%) of the 347 laps in this year’s 14 races compared to Rossi’s 87 laps (25%) yet Rossi has won ten Gps and a championship compared to Gibernau’s zip and eighth place in the standings. The Spaniard remains the most obviously capable rider other than Rossi and is reportedly negotiating a move from Honda to Ducati for next year. Read More
September 26, 2005 Complete report and image library: Valentino Rossi won his fifth consecutive World MotoGP title yesterday afternoon, though the race was won by Ducati-mounted Loris Capirossi who won his second Grand Prix in a week, giving Ducati its best ever MotoGP result when his team-mate Carlos Checa finished third. Having won a 125 and 250 title prior to his string of five consecutive MotoGP titles, Rossi’s championship t-shirt featured a Barry Sheene-style 7, for seven world titles, and a white commemorative helmet was created by AGV for the moment, also with the number 7 on it. Read More
September 18, 2005 Loris Capirossi took the Ducati Desmosedici to its second Grand Prix win at Motegi here today, winning at Honda’s own circuit, and relegating the Honda RC211Vs of Max Biaggi (Repsol) and Makoto Tamada (Konica Minolta) into second and third place in front of 68,000 fans. The race was one of massive attrition with nine of the 20 starters failing to finish, among them championship leader Valentino Rossi, and leading contenders Marco Melandri, Alex Barros, Sete Gibernau and Shinya Nakano. For Capirossi, it was a dream weekend – he qualified on pole, half a second faster than anyone else in the field, and a full 1.2 seconds faster than Rossi, prompting the champion elect to pay the ultimate compliment to his friend and countryman when he said after practice, “I think all the riders can only dream about the pace Capirossi had today.” In the race, Capirossi and the Ducati were the best combination on the day and unlike his prior win where he was clearly not as quick as Rossi, this time he would have won the race regardless of Rossi's crash. Congratulations to Loris and Ducati. Read More
August 29, 2005 Gauloises Yamaha Team rider Valentino Rossi became the first rider in the history of the MotoGP World Championship to score nine wins for five consecutive seasons, as he clinched victory in the eleventh round of the 2005 campaign at Brno yesterday. Rossi’s record-breaking ride featured an intense battle with Sete Gibernau (Honda) that again came down to a dramatic finale, with Rossi making his definitive pass at the end of the penultimate lap. Gibernau tried to fight back but as Rossi edged clear through the final series of sweeping corners, the Spaniard’s slim hope of a victorious response disappeared completely as he suffered a “fuel starvation” problem and was forced to retire. Read More