This week sees the end of Janurary (today) and the start of 2012 international motorsport season. The first Moto GP test stasrted today in Sepang and Yamaha have hit the ground runniung with Lorenzo topping the time sheets with a lap of 2.01:657 on the new 1000cc Yamaha competitor. Honda have also launched strong with Pedrosa only .4 of a second behind. Whereas Casey Stoner had to sit the day out with back problems which are belived to be minor and he should start his campaign very soon. 3rd and 4th spots were taken by the Yamahas of Cal Crutchlow and Ben Spies respectively while Cals Tech III team-mate was in 6th.
The much anticipated GP12 from Ducati finally had to break cover (as it wasn’t shown at all at wrooom!) and Rossi revealed the bike early on over twitter:
Its a rather prototype looking machine but the Italian still set the 5th fast time at the test with an encouraging 2.02:392.
The leading CRT was Colin Edwards (no surprise there) and the Forward Racing entrant could only manage a 2.08:240 on the new format of Moto GP bikes first head to head against the manufacturers. How much the gap will come down remains to be seen as testing can always be a little mis-leading and even if the bikes were full blooded Moto GP bikes, they are still new entrants so we expect them to pick up pace as the tests continue.
On four wheels there is movement too as McLaren, Force India, Ferrari, Lotus, Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Sauber will join Caterham in showing their new cars ahead of the first test in Jerez on the 7th of Feburary. While Merecedes and HRT (alledgedly) are waiting till the second test (21st Feb) and Marussia the final test (1st March) before running their 2012 cars, there is still no word from Williams as to when their new techincal team will show or run their cars.
Gentlemen start your launches! The Caterham (formerly Team Lotus) CT-01 has been shown online and today in print (F1 Magazine) and features a rather strange nose. Its the first car from the Norfolk team to feature KERS as well as what they describe as “aggresive” aerodynamics. It certainly looks a lot more innovative than previous cars and sports the same livery as last year without the massive words Caterham on the sidepods:
On the otherhand Marussia have announced they wont be at the first test at all in Jerez and will show up to the second test (the 1st in Barcelona) to run the 2011 car primarily for Charles Pic to get some mileage and we’d expect little running from Timo Glock. It could be viewed nowadays that they couldn’t get a well funded 3rd driver to cover some expenses and split some more track time between him and Pic.
How time flies, it doesn’t seem that long ago that we were having a look at the 2011 season that had just finished and analyising the results. But with the first car launch less than 2 weeks away and testing following hot on the heels of that its time to take a look at each time and what they are aiming for in 2012.
2011: 12th Place
The team formally known as Virgin were beaten by HRT again in 2011 to finish last in the constructors title and are still a long way off batteling to become a category 2 team (requires a top 10 finish in 2 out of 3 years) never mind claiming points. As Marussia now there is little left of the previous team, a move to banbury and Pat Symmonds has joined as a technical director/consultant for the team to design this years car. For the Russian team lets hope it sees a marked improvement from the CFD only VR-01 and MVR-02 cars. The team has however kept Timo Glock and brough in another pay driver rookie in the shape of Frenchman Charles Pic.
While the team does have a deal with McLaren to use certain technologies and some wind tunnel time they will not be running KERS next year while Caterham and HRT are believed to be running the system, leaving them as the only team without the energy recovery system next year. They really have to start closing the gap to Caterham and the rest of the field, but surely the minimum aim is to beat HRT and not finish last in the constructors championship!
2012 Prediction: 11th
Williams have confirmed Bruno Senna will drive for Williams next year alongside Pastor Maldonado. He will be the lead driver with the most amount of experience in the team and has impressed in the simulator but according to internet rumours he is backed by a massive amount of sponsorship from Embratel (seen on his shirt) and Gilette to the tune of 15 million euros.
I am pleased Bruno will get a chance of a full season in a proper F1 team and it would be great to see him do well but he does still have to prove his race pace.
Over the weekend the 2012 Moto GP entry list was announced and the 21 strong list did confirm a few things, including the number of CRT bikes taking part (9) and all the riders for next season:
Provisional 2012 MotoGP Entry List
1 Casey Stoner AUS Honda Team (HONDA)
4 Andrea Dovizioso ITA Yamaha Tech 3 (YAMAHA)
5 Colin Edwards USA Forward Racing (SUTER) *
6 Stefan Bradl GER LCR Honda Motogp (HONDA)
8 Hector Barbera SPA Pramac Racing Team (DUCATI)
9 Danilo Petrucci ITA Ioda Racing Project (IODA) *
11 Ben Spies USA Yamaha Factory Racing (YAMAHA)
13 Anthony West AUS Speed Master (ART) *
14 Randy De Puniet FRA Aspar Team Motogp (ART) *
17 Karel Abraham CZE Cardion AB Motoracing (DUCATI)
19 Alvaro Bautista SPA Honda Gresini (HONDA)
20 Aleix Espargaro SPA Aspar Team Motogp (ART) *
22 Ivan Silva SPA BQR (BQR-FTR) *
26 Dani Pedrosa SPA Honda Team (HONDA)
35 Cal Crutchlow GBR Yamaha Tech 3 (YAMAHA)
46 Valentino Rossi ITA Ducati Team (DUCATI)
51 Michele Pirro ITA Honda Gresini (FTR) *
68 Yonny Hernandez CO BQR (BQR-FTR) *
69 Nicky Hayden USA Ducati Team (DUCATI)
77 James Ellison GBR Paul Bird Racing (ART) *
99 Jorge Lorenzo SPA Yamaha Factory Racing (YAMAHA)
* CRT (Claiming Rule Team)
ART is the Aprilla CRT bike which is the most controversial of the entries as it is under debate whether a motorcycle manufacturer should be allowed to enter under these rules. It remains to be seen how competetive they will be, but hopefully they wont be completly at the back and will develop as the season goes along.
This week we’re expecting a quiet one after the Wrooom! event for Ferrari and Ducati beefed up news stories. We are expecting some news from Sky about coverage and thats about it.
This week sees the annual wrooom! event which sees Ferrari and Ducati team up to launch their 2012 season, however this year the traditional unvieling of the Ducati is absent. However it is interesting to note that Ferrai have announced two new appointments to their technical team. The first is former Bridgestone Technical Director, Hirohide Hamashima who is help the scuderia with understanding tyre issues which plagued the 2011 challenger and the second is Steve Clark from Mercedes to become track engineer. It is a further move away from the national flavour the team took on post Ross Brawn and sees them returning to hiring internationally reconised personel.
Yesterday at wrooom! we saw the Ducati riders in focus with Rossi admitting a title challenge is still unlikely this year. Today we expect Luca Montezemelo to be disliking the new engines and wanting 3rd cars.