I had heard myself from our behind the scenes at the MotoGP Assen from a member of the Fiat Yamaha team that Valentino Rossi would be announcing a stay or go decision with Yamaha at Barcelona this coming weekend. According to MCN, however, the announcement will be more go than stay, with Rossi in red in 2011.
Hardly a “shock deal with Ducati” after all the rumours, we’re by now unsurprised by the news. In fact, we’ll be more surprised if Rossi decides to stay with Yamaha and although the Doctor often enjoys playing the least suspected hand, it will be difficult on this occasion. According to the reports, Rossi is moving due to disputes over his contract with Yamaha and his refusal to continue riding with Jorge Lorenzo as his team-mate.
The same figure of 15 million euros, which we’ve mentioned in our Rossi to Ducati rumours, has been nominated and a MotoGP anonymous insider has been quoted as saying:
“I know for sure that Rossi will go to Ducati next season. The deal has been done. One month ago it seemed impossible to imagine this, but Rossi will be in red next year.”
Over the weekend live at the Assen MotoGP we spoke to Daniele Romagnoli, former team-manager of Jorge Lorenzo and current crew chief for the Tech 3 Moto2 team. As part of our behind the scenes look at the MotoGP, we talked about how he’s finding life in what he describes as the ‘difficult’ world of Moto2.
We discussed the technical aspects of Moto2 and what it’s like to have an image in this class. Tech 3 is a team that enjoys more financial backing than other’s in Moto2; it has its own box and doesn’t have to deal with the campervan land of the paddock. They even have umbrella girls to which Romagnoli replied by saying that a brolly girl doesn’t even cost him half a tyre and that he could hardly send out a hairy legged mechanic onto the grid. Read our interesting interview below.
You’ve said that Moto2 is difficult, what’s the main difference between Moto2 and MotoGP?
Here it’s another world. It’s especially difficult from a financial and economic aspect. The resources are inferior to the MotoGP and so you have to manage with the resources you’ve got. And then it’s obvious that with the MotoGP you have a company behind you that builds the bike, whether it be Yamaha or Honda or whoever. There are other bike builders but some teams, like ours, have to build their own bikes: designing it, building it, following a philosophy. But then it’s a challenge and I like playing.
For this behind the scenes at the MotoGP gallery I had to put myself in the shoes of my male colleagues. It’s in fact, not difficult to do because you can still think like a woman. If a brolly girl outfit is centred around a short vest, it’s all about the waist line, for example. Mostly though, there are an awful lot of legs in these pictures and not a lot of umbrellas. I have it on good authority that the Monster Tech 3 girls are the hottest, although the LCR Honda girl Lauren Vickers has been nominated by a colleague of mine as the number one brolly holder of the paddock. Enjoy the live paddock girl gallery from here at the MotoGP Assen.
Here are some trackside live pics from us as things get exciting here at the MotoGP Assen. Tomorrow’s race will be one not to miss if the free practice and qualifying rounds are anything to go by. As you can tell from some of the photos, they do go awfully fast, but Assen is a great track to get close to the action. After our paddock galleries part one and part two, we’ll be bringing you more from the track tomorrow, including some pics of the ladies out and about.
Here’s a second gallery of pics from our ‘behind the scenes‘ work at the MotoGP Assen. It may seem strange to say, but it’s actually a lot of fun to wander around the paddock. The MotoGP, apart from anyone wearing a fluorescent vest, is quite a friendly place and you can chat to just about anyone if you’re interested (avoiding the pit-lane boxes of the big teams, though). Enjoy the gallery, and check out the Assen paddock pics part one as well.
I’ve already talked about how Valentino Rossi commands the general affection of an entire nation and it’s hard to underestimate the impact his absence is having on the 2010 MotoGP. No wonder there are rumours about a Rossi return at Laguna Seca - wishful thinking more than anything. When we checked out Lorenzo’s M1 in the Yamaha box at the MotoGP Assen, we also took a closer look at Rossi’s M1 and the stickers he enjoys decorating his bike with.
The fact that Valentino Rossi is not around only makes this umpteenth example of the strength of his personality even more potent. Is there a sense of the sacred in standing in the pre-race quiet this close to Valentino’s M1? Not quite, but there would be if I were a total Rossi nut. After the ‘be back soon’ t-shirt, I realise that while Rossi’s absence is felt amongst the whole team, there is an idea that he’s still around, playing his old antics and being one of the guys.
I had the medical men in Silverstone tell me how “flat” things were without Rossi, I had his driver talk of how much the team misses him and another team member from Fiat Yamaha went so far as to say that Lorenzo couldn’t hold a candle to their beloved Rossi: “Jorge’s a great guy, but Rossi - he’s like one of us.”
I’m continually realising how tough it must be for Lorenzo to be constantly compared to his other, more affable and charismatic teammate. Not only is Rossi a champion, he’s also a widely and very well-loved one. That’s not a feat every sports star manages to achieve. See Valentino’s M1 motorcycle stickers in the gallery below, including a fake insurance and automobile club registration he wanted to put on his bike.
On taking our live pics of Lorenzo’s M1 yesterday, we also got a few shots of Rossi’s bike (coming up) which is set up whether he’s there or not, as well as a tiny glimpse more of cover than bike, of another two Yamaha M1’s in the garage. One of them is the bike Rossi crashed with, which has been fixed since the accident. With repaired fairing and parts, it’s currently just a chassis missing its engine.
The other M1 under the sheet is a shadowy, mysterious thing and I was told that unless I already had an idea of what it was, my ‘tour guide’ wasn’t going to be the one to tell me. In fact, his exact words were “It’s not fun if you know all the surprises at once.” I deterred, but the fact remains I still don’t know what’s under there. At today’s free practice at the MotoGP Assen, there was talk of new Fiat Yamaha livery, so my bets are there. Start your guessing now….
Touring the paddock at the MotoGP Assen is like being in a land of caravans. You realise that things are tough for those in the 125cc and Moto2 classes as they camp out with their camper vans becoming makeshift garages. They work in the heat and only the wealthier teams with sponsors manage to get something closer to pit-lane and the air conditioning of the hospitality tents.
As the MotoGP free practice laps get underway there is the constant noise of bikes rumbling around the track and you can orientate yourself purely based on where the riders are at any one time. In the meantime, mechanics and teams work on the bikes and the tyres as journalists take a few shots before the press conferences get underway.
There is an air of routine calm which belies the incredible noise and atmosphere of adrenalin which comes from the track during the free practice. You realise that there are symbols that will stay with you after the races are over: the scooters, tyres, banners and no access areas. Check out our gallery below for the behind the scenes of the
MotoGP Assen paddock.
At the MotoGP Assen TT the day before testing starts, the journalists spend their time in frantic interviews and long press conferences while the technical guys get a break between having set up the boxes and the start of testing today. There are people milling along the pit lane and even a few guys out playing football on the track. For the moment, the MotoGP Assen has the air of a summer carnival. For the moment….
Where would you think the best spot to see the MotoGP from would be? Pit lane and the boxes? A grandstand? Or trackside down at a corner somwhere you can get really close? Motorcycle enthusiasts and medical men choose the latter, volunteering their services for the days to work hard but also get their thrills being up close.
I spoke to a couple of the medical men trackside at the Silverstone MotoGP who were obliging enough to chat while we had the bikes occasionally screaming past (all conversation ends both from the point of view of the noise, as well the chance to watch wide-eyed as Lorenzo and co lean in to the corner and then accelerate away again).
The medical men at the MotoGP work in pairs: one paramedic and one doctor on hand for any crashes or trackside emergencies. The men I spoke to have been doing this for over ten years, purely because they had the qualifications and are motorcycle fans - what better combination can you get? They say plenty of injuries occur, but not as many as you would think for what is a high-speed, dangerous sport. In 12-14 years the doctor has seen four deaths, and Jorge Lorenzo once in the back of his car. More after the jump.