MotoGP 2011 update


Lorenzo will have to compete with Spies for little girls’ hearts. Images:

No surprises in the official entry list for Moto GP as released January 24 – only 17 riders will contest the premier class. That’s a marked difference from Moto2, where despite a decrease from 2010 there are still 38 riders entered! Look for more maximum mayhem in this class in 2011.
Defending champions Yamaha and rider Jorge Lorenzo return, this time Lorenzo being paired with American Ben Spies. The other two Yamahas, on the Tech 3 team will be piloted by Texas Tornado Colin Edwards and his new team-mate Cal Crutchlow, who is following Spies’ footsteps from World Superbike.

Oddly, the Tech 3 team seems to have more sponsorship money than the factory effort, as Fiat has said arrivederci and no one else has stepped up with banks-full of cash yet.

The biggest news in the off-season was of course Valentino Rossi leaving Yamaha for Ducati. He’ll be teaming up with Nicky Hayden, which bodes well for team atmosphere – the two get along well together and were mates on the Repsol Honda team a few years back.


Nicky and Vale should get along smashingly in 2011.

Also on Ducatis will be veteran Loris Capirossi on the Pramac team, leaving Suzuki and joining up with entertaining French loon Randy de Puniet. De Puniet always looks like he’s just on the verge of losing things completely, so his style might work well with the hard-to-ride Desmosedici.

Hector Barbera returns on the Spanish-funded Aspar satellite Ducati, while young Czech Karel Abraham will pilot a sixth Duck, on the Cardion AB Motoracing team. The money for this one comes from Karel’s dad, who’s one of the wealthiest businessmen in Central Europe, counting the Brno race circuit as one of his minor holdings. The kid is fast, as well; it’s not just a toy for a rich kid. He may do well.

Honda is spending more money than it wanted this year, bumping its official Repsol-sponsored team up to three riders. First, they hired Casey Stoner away from Ducati, then discovered that a titanium-clad contract (only high-end materials in Moto GP, nothing iron-clad here) guaranteed a factory ride for Andrea Dovizioso as well. Dani Pedrosa was sure to return, of course, being Spanish (Repsol is a Spanish oil company). Not to mention he’s in the middle of a contract and certainly no slug when he’s healthy and in the mood.


Simoncelli (at left in case you’re wondering) will pair with Aoyama for 2011.

The San Carlo Honda Gresini team also returns, retaining Marco Simoncelli who this year will be paired with Hiroshi Aoyama, both riders former 250 champs. Simoncelli’s 2010 partner Marco Melandri has left for WSB with the Yamaha squad.

Despite money problems, the LCR Honda team is also back, with Spanish nutbar Tony Elias in the seat. Elias is as much fun to watch as is de Puniet, and should liven up the mid-field considerably.

Which is probably where Alvaro Bautista will be on the lone Suzuki entry. Word is that Suzuki wanted to drop out of the class completely, but were tied up for 2011 by one of those nasty Ti-clad contracts.

In case you weren’t counting, that makes six Hondas, six Ducatis, four Yamahas, and one Suzuki. Things should be much healthier – at least numbers-wise – in 2012, when new engine rules go into effect, hopefully cutting some costs and encouraging more teams and manufacturers to join the fun & games on track. 


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