Ducati´s Casey Stoner was third on the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix Friday timesheets courtesy of his best effort in the morning run, a session at the end of which he was flicked off his Desmosedici GP8 and suffered bumps and bruises, including a knock to his already injured wrist.
Only one of the 19 MotoGP riders out on track was able to improve his times in the afternoon session as the rain worsened, Dani Pedrosa bettering his best effort at the bottom of the timesheet, whilst Stoner registered the eighth fastest time of FP2 as he sought to rebuild his confidence.
On the other side of the Ducati pit-box Marco Melandri was tenth fastest in the afternoon but fourteenth quickest overall - courtesy of a best lap recorded earlier in the day in the opening 90 minute free practice run.
Casey Stoner - third
`The track conditions vary drastically between the old surface and the new. Grip is good on the old stuff but there isn´t even minimum grip on the recently laid asphalt and the rain makes it much worse because it isn´t draining off. If it continues to rain like it did this afternoon then I´m not sure the conditions will be safe enough to race in. As far as the layout is concerned there are only a couple of critical areas - in particular turn five, where the run-off is very short. There´s not much we can do about that right now though - the best thing would be to stick an air-fence in. This morning I crashed on the section where the grip is poorest and that´s obviously not good for the wrist but thankfully it didn´t create any major problems.´
Marco Melandri - fourteenth
`I like the design of the circuit – it´s fun but unfortunately there are too many different types of asphalt and the new part is definitely the worst, especially with the rain. The bike tends to aquaplane and you can´t see anything because of the reflection off the water. Grip on the older part is good, although if it keeps raining it´s going to get really difficult. There are two or three dangerous corners: turns one, five and six, where the walls are too close. This morning we started out cautiously but we improved towards the end, whilst this afternoon we didn´t get chance to make too many improvements because the conditions were so bad.´
Randy de Puniet was the twelfth quickest participant in Friday´s two wet free practice outings as the Red Bull Indianapolis Grand Prix got underway, the LCR Honda man riding in some discomfort due to the wrist injury he picked up at the last round at Misano.
De Puniet notched his best lap in the 90 minute morning session, as the rain intensified later in the day, going round the new Indianapolis Motor Speedway track just over two seconds slower than pace-setting Anthony West.
Randy de Puniet - twelfth
`Obviously it is really hard in these conditions. We hoped to get some dry track time to learn the circuit and to test our bike but it´s the same for everybody. We had a good selection of tyres and we just need to find the best choice for us. Our position is not related to our potential but I decided to use this first outing to learn the track. This afternoon, at the end of the session, the track was extremely slippery and I preferred to take it easy. The first part was a real disaster but after that I was able to ride as I would like. The right arm still aches a lot but I did not take any painkillers. If the things get worse I will take some tomorrow for the qualifying session.´
Rumours abound as to who will be accompanying Casey Stoner in riding the Ducati Desmosedici next year and, whilst those names put forward have yet to be either confirmed or denied, the Italian factory are expecting decisions and announcements to be made in the coming week.
The factory team could see two MotoGP World Champions sharing the garage, with Nicky Hayden hotly tipped to be the prime candidate for the seat vacated by the outgoing Marco Melandri. Ducati MotoGP Project Manager Livio Suppo would not rule out the `Kentucky Kid´, and conceded that he was one of the riders being looked at for 2009.
`Of course (we have been looking at Hayden), there are a lot of rumours about this, but we will see next week,´ said Suppo, who was tight lipped about naming names for the vacant spots in both the factory and satellite Ducati outfits.
`Next week I think will also be the time to know the riders lineup for the second team (currently Alice Team). We will definitely be keeping Paolo Campinoti in charge.´
Prolonged speculation has surrounded a return to competition for Sete Gibernau, the former MotoGP World Championship runner-up who this year swung his leg over the Desmosedici GP8 and GP9 in testing at Mugello. Links with MotoGP Legend Angel Nieto and son Gelete have placed Gibernau on a fifth Ducati machine, sponsored by the Onde 2000 project that debuted in the 125cc category this year.
`We´re talking with the Nietos to set up a one-bike team, but it´s unfortunately also a little to early to talk about that,´ said Suppo, acknowledging the link between the Ducati MotoGP plans and the Spanish veteran. `We like Sete, and he´s done some tests this season in which he has proved to be very fast, so why not?´
Suppo also confirmed that Niccolo Canepa, currently testing the Desmosedici as part of the test team in-between wildcard superbike appearances, could possibly play a part in the 2009 season in some capacity.
BMW today announced the 2009 F 650 GS, a revised version of the venerable but relatively slow-selling F 650 GS. This is an important release in BMW's recent fast-track strategy, and for their goal of attracting more new and younger riders to the BMW fold. BMW has been selling tons of Adventure Touring motorcycles; indeed, the R 1200 GS has been a worldwide hit, and is credited with both starting and continuing the Adventure Touring craze.
Dual purpose motorcycles in general have been one of the bright points in an otherwise somnambulant motorcycle market over the past year or so, and if BMW gets this right -- and if the F 800 GS also meets expectations, BMW may be able to pull into double-digit percentages of market share. We hope to have more details and specifications soon, and we're working on editing many more photos of the 2009 F 650 GS, so stay tuned.
Meanwhile, here's the enthusiastic 2009 F650 GS press release, edited by webBikeWorld staff: Tame the urban jungle or take the road less traveled! After much anticipation, BMW's sophisticated new addition to its entry level model lineup -- the 2009 BMW F 650 GS -- has arrived at U.S. BMW Motorcycle dealers. With its 71 hp, torquey twin-cylinder engine, the all-new 2009 F 650 GS offers more power and sophistication than its single-cylinder predecessor.
Ideal for on- or off-road riding, urban commuting and any rider looking for a fun, efficient and reliable motorcycle, the middleweight twin tackles anything the ambitious motorcyclist could throw at it. Its rigid steel tube trellis frame, double-sided swing arm and chain drive offer reliability. A low seat height and narrow design make navigation through the worst traffic a breeze. Cast aluminum wheels and telescopic forks keep the ride smooth and precise at all times.
The 2009 F 650 GS has a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $8,255 (excluding freight). The Standard Package, offered at a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $9,760, (excluding freight) includes heated hand grips, Anti-Lock Brakes, an on-board computer, and white turn signals. The 2009 F 650 GS is available in three colors -- Flame Red, Iceberg Silver Metallic, and Azure Blue Metallic. The F 650 GS is the newest addition to BMW's dual-sport line up.
It follows in the footsteps of the highly acclaimed R 1200 GS - which traces its roots back to the early 1980s when BMW won the grueling Paris-Dakar rally four times with its trailblazing dual-purpose R 80 GS. Since their debut in 2004, the versatile R 1200 GS and its rugged companion, the R 1200 GS Adventure, have earned praise from motorcycle enthusiasts and the press for their exceptional performance both on and off the road. The R 1200 GS has earned award after award, including Cycle World's Best Open Class Street Bike and the International Journalist's Panel "Best Bike in the World." The R 1200 GS Adventure was named "Best Adventure Bike" three years in a row by editors of Motorcyclist Magazine.
design that picks up where the ROOF Boxer left off. It's probably more
functional than a simple flip-up helmet, because the Evoline is designed to be
worn with the chin bar rotated all the way back, unlike most/all flip-up
helmets, which are not designed to be worn (and are not safe) with the rotating visor in the
Lots of moving parts here though, and
the weight...well, we won't get into that now, will we?
Probably one of the most anticipated helmets of 2008, the Shark Evoline has finally arrived. And the good news is that it has passed both ECE and DOT testing schemes, so this is one exotic flip-up helmet that will be sold in North America and Europe. In fact, it's currently going through the distribution process in the U.S. and should be on dealer shelves very soon.
The Evoline was just released in Europe -- after many retailers were taking orders for months, knowing full well that they couldn't deliver. But that's another story...
So what is it? Probably not as radical as some would hope actually. Some motorcyclists may not know that the rotating chin bar concept was pioneered by the still-radical-looking ROOF Boxer, a helmet we reviewed back about 5 years ago.
The Shark Evoline (is it "Evo-line", or "Evo-leen"?) takes it one step further, with a slick but complex system to rotate the chin bar all the way back, where it stays out of the way, nice and snug and nearly flush with the helmet shell.
The design of the Evoline allows it to be worn this way whilst riding, unlike all of the "normal" flip-up helmets I'm familiar with, which are not designed to be worn with the rotating visor in the raised position, although many riders do indeed wear them that way -- a dangerous proposition.
Now why a motorcycle rider would want or need a motorcycle helmet with the functionality of the Evoline is a question we can't answer -- we'll leave that up to you to decide.
Suffice it to say that there must be a defined need, or we doubt very much that Shark would have spent so much time, money and energy into designing the Evoline -- not to mention the cost involved in getting it to a point where it passed both the ECE and DOT testing regimens, finding a distributor, getting it into the distribution process, parts and accessories and all the rest.
So let's take a look and see what this interesting new helmet is all about!
Paint, Graphics and Overall Quality
The Shark Evoline shown here was purchased in Europe, thus it is ECE 22.05 approved only and was sourced using the European color palette, which is rather subdued.
This one is the gloss silver color, which is actually more like a graphite. The metalflake paint is nicely applied on the polycarbonate Lexan shell, with no obvious flaws. There's not much you can say about gloss silver or graphite; it is what it is.
It's unclear at this point whether the Evoline helmets sold in North America will have a different color palette or will be offered with a variety of graphic designs, but for the most part, flip-up helmets seem to have much more...dare we say boring?...colors than their full-face counterparts. Perhaps flip-up owners are a conservative breed?
But overall, the finish is about as good as it gets. The finish does "feel" thick and the clearcoat also seems thick and protective.
This helmet was apparently one of the first off the assembly line, and there are some quality issues here and there that we hope are resolved by time the distribution channels are filled.
The gasket around the bottom of the helmet has a few gaps and some glue is showing; the metal latches on the helmet shell are pitted and look unpolished; there's a bit of polish residue or wet sanding residue here and there; you can see in some of the photos that the screw heads and other metal bits are showing (a design, not a quality issue) and the Phillips head screws that hold the eccentric cam on the sides that rotate the visor are crooked.
This is a complex helmet, with more moving parts than many other "normal" flip-ups, and obviously more than a typical full-face helmet. All the parts add up to a bit of a creaky feeling -- the helmet isn't as solid as we'd like to see...but what flip-up is?
The liner looks more expensive and plush than what is usually found in flip-up helmets, and it's relatively comfortable, although not as comfy as the ultra-plush liner in the Shark RSX, for example.
The vents click open and shut with authority, but the clear visor feels flimsy and has some distortion at the top and bottom, which is surprising for Shark and probably due to the completely different visor design.
Score: Overall, give the Shark Evoline a "Very Good" rating for the paint and the finish, with a "Good" for the rest.
Analysing the significance of Valentino Rossi´s win at the Gran Premio Cinzano di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini, which extended his standings lead to 75 points with five races remaining, Yamaha Factory Racing boss Lin Jarvis was in no doubt as to the importance of the round thirteen result for the Italian.
Cheered on by the majority of the crowd at a circuit which lies just a few kilometres from his hometown of Tavullia, Rossi took a highly popular victory, with Stoner unable to score points for the second round in succession as he crashed out on lap seven.
`The Doctor´ was followed across the finishing line by Jorge Lorenzo in second place as the double 250cc World Champion recaptured his early season form to register his first podium since Le Mans in May, making it a great day for the team.
Jarvis had also seen Yamaha satellite riders James Toseland and Colin Edwards finish in the top ten. He commented, `One-two for us as a team and as a manufacturer is fantastic. I mean it was a shame for Casey and for the spectators, but we will take it! It is a very, very important victory for the championship.´
When asked whether it was physical or mental well-being which had contributed most to Lorenzo´s return to form Jarvis replied, `A little bit of both. I am sure that a few races ago he was shaky but honestly in the last couple of races he has felt better about himself and he has said I feel fine mentally. I think this result is just super for him. He has been very good all weekend, and he has put it together on race day. It is great to see him back up there.´
Having overseen Rossi´s successful move onto Bridgestone tyres over the winter, but with three Yamaha riders still running Michelins, Jarvis has a unique insight on the current hot topic of tyres in MotoGP.
On the day of the announcement of Dani Pedrosa´s sensational Bridgestone switch, Jarvis stated, `As a company we maybe do not have a fixed opinion on it. There are opinions of engineers, opinions of sports management, different opinions. Personally I am quite inclined towards monobrand, for the sport, for the championship and for the equality of the competition, but it is not so simple. In principle we all believe in free competition in the championship and when things are equal the Michelin riders can be up there.´
Attempting to replicate the kind of success experienced by MotoGP World Championship top two Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner, John Hopkins was trying out a new Bridgestone front tyre run by the duo as part of his post-race testing workload in Misano.
The Kawasaki rider, like Rossi and Stoner, had plenty of work to do in adapting his machine to the new compound, and as such this aspect occupied much of his day. Hopkins will be hoping that such work pays off at future races, although a lack of testing time means that the immediate introduction of the tyre will not be made to his allocation.
`We had to alter the bike a lot, but we are now the only team using the old type of tyre, basically because we´ve not had any chance to test,´ commented Hopkins, who missed the Brno test and the first Misano practice with a rib injury.
`This new specification tyre is definitely the future for us, but unfortunately it can´t be in my allocation until we´re completely happy with the way the machine handles with it. I´m pleased with the results of today´s test, but still have a lot of catching up to do with the upgraded bike.´
Hopkins also worked on chassis changes to his Ninja ZX-RR, with front end stability a focus for improvement. It was an objective shared by teammate Anthony West, who has been struggling for confidence on corner entry.
`We have some more direction with how we can move forward with the front-end troubles and I felt a lot more confident going into the turns, which resulted in a quicker lap time than we managed in the race. We also tried a different swing-arm, but this didn´t really make any significant difference for us,´ said West.
Hopkins´ fastest time at the test was a 1´35.879, whilst West clocked a 1´36.101.
Former Red Bull MotoGP Academy rider Bradley Smith took a well-deserved second place at the Gran Premio Cinzano di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini on Sunday, dedicating the result to his Polaris World mechanics after a hot, sweaty weekend at Misano.
Smith reflected on the 125cc contest saying, `It was an important race for me and the team after a couple of disappointing results and we have bounced back. They worked so hard and all I can say is, this is for them!´
Revealing the tactics he had used after he crossed the line five seconds behind 125cc World title holder and race winner Gabor Talmacsi, Smith explained, `I knew that I would have to push hard in the first ten laps to get a gap otherwise there would be a lot of fighting, so I just tried to stay behind Gabor and go with him. When he made the mistake I tried to push and to go for the victory but he had better pace than me and was keeping maybe 10% in his pocket. Obviously I am a little bit disappointed because I always want to win.´
Although Smith is still in search of his first career victory, having led races on several occasions this season, he was taking all the positives from another exciting single cylinder battle. He stated, `At the end of the day today I was fighting with the World Champion. He is the best in the world so I took a lot of experience from this race and I will use it at Indianapolis which is a new track for everybody.´
Having finished tenth in the championship last season with now the disbanded Repsol Honda 125cc team, his latest result puts him within five points of the top five - in seventh position in the standings - in a highly competitive category.
His Polaris World employers have set him what now appears to be a more than plausible target of finishing in the top six before making an announcement on his 2009 contract, though Smith himself appears to be content to stay put.
He commented, `I want to stay in 125cc next year because I think I still need more experience and I am trying to learn and understand all the time. We have to wait and see, hopefully in the near future we will be able to say something but at the moment we have to wait.´