BBC Sport motogp


Related BBC sites

Page last updated at 12:31 GMT, Saturday, 17 January 2009

Matt Roberts' MotoGP column

By Matt Roberts
BBC Sport in Madonna Di Campiglio

Nicky Hayden
Hayden failed to give the cameras the pictures they wanted

Nicky Hayden made his first appearance in Ducati colours at the team's annual launch in Madonna Di Campiglio and also took to the ski slopes for the first time since a run on fake snow as a 13-year-old.

Imagining that the Kentucky Kid would find adapting to the snow even trickier than he's found the Desmosedici in testing so far, we thought we'd film a clever link for our season-opening show as he took to the piste for the first time.

Typically, and somewhat irritatingly, he took to it like a seasoned pro and disappeared out of sight within seconds of our first take - not to be seen again for the rest of the descent.

Thankfully Nicky made us all feel better and showed he was human when turning a snowmobile on its side as he and Casey Stoner arrived at the presentation of the new bike.

Nicky Hayden and Barack Obama
Can we tell the difference? Yes we can...

He took it in good humour, shouting, "You're on your own Casey!" as he flapped around in the deep powder.

Nicky was in great spirits all week, refusing to 'talk smack' about his old team Honda but gamely comparing himself to Barack Obama when asked about the new US President in Tuesday's press conference.

"I guess we're both in the same boat because we've both done a lot of talking recently but soon it will be time to back it up with results."

Another Ducati rider was having fun in the snow this week, with MotoGP rookie Mika Kallio inviting members of his new Pramac team to Finland to go rally driving with him and former WRC driver Harri Rovanpera.

However, with the credit crunch hitting the satellite team hard after the withdrawal of major sponsor Alice, it seems the Finn may be flying somewhere else before the start of the season.

There are strong rumours of a move to Ducati's other private team, Onde 2000, as partner to Sete Gibernau with Niccolo Canepa remaining as the sole rider at Pramac.

The biggest withdrawal from the series this winter has, of course, been Kawasaki but do not be surprised if the Japanese bikes line up on the grid at Losail.

The factory are testing their 2009 bike with Olivier Jacque at Eastern Creek and have another session lined up for Phillip Island next week.

Assuming the bike runs well, the likelihood is that former factory team boss Michael Bartholemy will run a privateer outfit with involvement from Jorge Martinez.

Marco Melandri and Alex Debon look set to be the riders after Monster withdrew their support, although the energy drink's main MotoGP interest John Hopkins still has a contract with Kawasaki until the end of the season.

There has been no expense spared on Ducati's new machine, the Desmosedici GP9, which was unveiled at Madonna this week and features a new carbon frame, with the upper part of the engine now linked up to the steering block with the ultra-light yet stiff material.

The other main change to the bike from 2008 is a flatter torque curve, designed to make it more driveable on corner exit - the area Casey and Nicky agree needed most work.

The bike was designed before the credit crisis took hold but Ducati Corse CEO Claudio Domenicali insisted that modifications are already being planned to make their MotoGP project more cost effective.

With engine wear the main cost in the sport, the plan is to put limitations on usage by 2010, with Domenicali revealing that the factories are looking to double current engine life, which in Ducati's case is roughly between 600 and 800km.

Whilst it is too late to make such modifications to this year's engines, a compromise for this coming season is being discussed with the other manufacturers and authorities.

This could well see a reduction in the length of free practice sessions.

The usual doom-mongers are predictably forecasting a dim future for the sport but the reality is that MotoGP remains in good health.

As with the rest of the world's economy we've been here before and, eventually, we will come through it.

The engine proposals and the single tyre rule are steps towards economic reform in the sport and they should even make the racing closer, despite those pessimists claiming it will make things boring.

Casey Stoner put it most succinctly this week: "These people talk about how great racing was in the old days but I've seen those days… and they're just like these days."

Roll on 2009!

Print Sponsor

see also
Matt Roberts' MotoGP round-up
29 Oct 08 |  MotoGP
Steve Parrish's MotoGP review
27 Oct 08 |  MotoGP
Superb Stoner wins in Australia
05 Oct 08 |  MotoGP

related bbc links:

related internet links:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.