Rossi’s Title Ending Crash
More details have emerged of Rossi’s leg-breaking crash that ruled him out of at least two GPs, and possibly more. In details of a TV interview leaked to the GPOne website, the multi-champion explained how a simple tumble on an enduro ride went wrong, leaving him with displaced fractures to both bones in his lower right leg.
He was with friends and VR46 Academy riders, he said, on “a ride I’ve been doing since I was 18 – something I’ve done 200 times.”
Close to the end, on a steep downhill, going slowly, in second gear and only 400 metres from the end, they came to a rocky step. As he took it, “the handlebars moved as if I’d hit a stone”. With the weight of the bike added to his body weight, his leg snapped.
Rossi of course will miss not only his home Misano GP but also the Aragon race in a fortnight; and while there is a chance he might be able to race at the Japanese GP at Motegi three weeks later, this remains to be seen. The Japanese race is the first of three consecutive flyaway weekends, gruelling enough for fit riders.
Cal cuts the cheese
An accident to Cal Crutchlow put a slightly different focus on injuries sustained in between races affecting championship contenders. The British former 600 Supersport World Champion was cutting parmesan cheese when he sliced a left-hand finger so badly that he severed a tendon.
He only discovered this the next morning, after seeing a doctor because the injury would not stop bleeding. The Italian doctors, he joked, “were savage”; but they reattached the tendon, and he was ready to try his best to ride.
At the pre-event conference, a slightly red-faced Crutchlow said “I wish I could tell you a story, like I was wrestling a bear or something …”
At the same event, riders were asked about their feeling concerning the dangers of motocross training. The answer is obvious and was shared by Dovizioso, Vinales and Iannone – that while training on motorcycles, whether flat-track, motocross or enduro, is risky, it is a risk that must be taken. Especially, as Dovi pointed out again, because opportunities to ride their MotoGP bikes are so very limited.
Marquez echoed the sentiment. “Of course we would like to be on the beach, but there you cannot improve your skills. You need to ride bikes and train at home.” Then he added: “You can get injured cooking … like Cal.”
Moto3 rider John McPhee was also riding injured, after a cycling accident in the break after the British GP. The Scots rider was clipped by a car, and fell off into a roadside wall.
Marquez out of Misano. Alex Marquez, that is
Erstwhile Moto2 title contender Alex Marquez was ruled out of the San Marino GP after a heavy fall at the end of the first free practice left him with painful injuries to his left hip.
Marquez, who has won two races and claimed three further podiums this season, headed the time sheets, but was stretchered away after a big high-side dumped him from a height, landing on his left side.
He was stretchered away, and while a hairline fracture was found, the bigger problem was pain and swelling, and he was declared unfit to ride. He was to return to Spain for further investigation and recuperation.
30 years on for Aprilia
It was 30 years ago today … well, plus ten days, that Aprilia won its first GP. The anniversary was celebrated at the same circuit that it happened, with rider Loris Reggiani at the controls of the still-new marque.
Since then, Aprilia has won 54 world championships, mainly in 125 and 250 but also World Superbikes; and 294 GP wins.
The event was celebrated on race eve at Misano, along with some modern changes demonstrating the Noale factory’s current efforts in MotoGP.
Aleix Espargaro had his aero-body update, with Ducati-like “box kite” enclosed double wings.
It looks a lot like a straight copy, but team chief Romano Albesiano explained that it was the regulations that define the possibilities. While Ducati’s version sometimes uses extra vanes within the box, Aprilia’s was empty. However with rules permitting changes within the approved silhouette, they might bring some in.
The rider thought the earlier Aprilia aero body used by Sam Lowes made the bike feel heavy in direction changes, but gave his seal of approval in his press debrief to the new version. He explained that in the Misano test he had like last year’s winglets, and “so I tried to push the engineers to make a new fairing, just covering last year’s winglets.” Ducati had already shown that such a design would be within the rules.
Aprilia’s other innovation was a prototype “smart helmet” for pit-lane mechanics, with a head-up display of sundry telemetry readings, such as temperatures of water and oil, and other data read-outs.
Rabat Confirmed at Avintia Ducati
There is just one MotoGP seat yet to be confirmed for 2018, after confirmation that current Marc VDS Honda rider Tito Rabat is to join Avintia Ducati.
The former Moto2 World Champion, displaced by current Moto2 title leader Franco Morbidelli for next year, will take the place of another troubled Spaniard Hector Barbera, coming to the end of a disappointing season.
Rabat, a hard-working and dedicated rider, expressed the hope that a change of bike would revive his fortunes. His two years on the Honda have been underwhelming at best, with one top-ten finish last year and none so far this season.
Growing rumours mark Barbera down for move down to Moto2, to join the Pons team. If he does, he would be joining displaced Aprilia rider Sam Lowes in making the return journey. But when Barbera last rode in the intermediate class, the machines were 250cc two-strokes: he has never raced a Moto2 four-stroke.
The last vacancy is the second Avintia Ducati slot, currently held by Loris Baz.
van der Mark in for Aragon?
More from the rumor mill: some sources are linking Yamaha World Superbike rider Michael van der Mark (above) with a replacement ride on the factory Movistar bike, in place of Rossi at Aragon.
This was a small surprise, with most expecting the usual choice, factory tester Katsuyuki Nakasuga, to fill the vacant seat. Last year second Yamaha SBK rider Alex Lowes rode the satellite bike at Silverstone, Misano and Aragon in place of the injured Bradley Smith.
Officially, Yamaha would neither confirm nor deny, saying simply that their options remain open.
Marquez doesn’t want to play
As at Silverstone two weeks ago, there was another mandatory bike-swap trial at the end of FP2 today, to help riders and crews get familiar with the process, as well as to fine-tune it as required.
In another repeat, Marc Marquez missed the rehearsal – after crashing shortly before the end of the session, so as not to have two bikes to perform a swap.
He went out again to make a practice start, but just as he was about to engage the clutch Andrea Iannone came up behind and tapped his rear wheel with the Suzuki’s front.
Marquez was incensed, moving off then gesturing angrily. Later, he explained: “Maybe he was too excited. He wanted to play. But I don’t want to play. I want to win the World Championship.”
Practice starts were important, he said, to make sure all the settings are correct.
Pit Beirer breaks his leg
KTM’s competition chief Pit Beirer was absent from Misano after suffering the same injury as Rossi after a mountain-bike accident.
Remarkably, the popular and clearly effective race boss is confined to a wheelchair, a paraplegic after breaking his back in a motocross accident in 2003. His mountain bike is a specially made three-wheeler.
Beirer crashed on the same day as Rossi, and underwent similar surgery to fix a broken tibia and fibula.