There is not much that has not been said about Honda's embarrassing 2007 Formula 1 campaign. After a decent season in 2006 where the team finished in 6th place in the constructors championship with 54 points, Honda struggled to take home a paltry 6 points in 2007.
But in Honda F1's darkest hour since returning to the sport in 2000, a beacon of light came in the form of the blockbuster signing of former Ferrari technical director, Ross Brawn. Brawn had been away from Formula on a sabbatical after the retirement of Michael Schumacher and publicly said that if he returned to the sport it would be with Ferrari.
But after what must have been several months of consistent overtures from Honda F1 CEO and team principal Nick Fry, Brawn announced he would join Honda as the team principal. Brawn brings with him the experience of a man who has tasted championship glory 7 times with two teams making him the most successful active technical director in Formula 1. Brawn's mandate is simply to deliver consistent improvement, something he has done at every team he has worked at.
Honda's F1 recovery campaign began in earnest at Albert Park in Melbourne, Australia. Qualifying in 11th and 13th Jenson Button and Rubens Barichello were in a decent position to collect points as the Australian GP usually sees a significant amount of attrition.
2008 would be no different but Jenson Button became one of the first victims of misfortune at Australia as damage from first lap contact forced him to retire from the race.
Rubens Barichello was able to escape the first lap carnage unscathed and avoided trouble throughout the race while others sailed off the track and smashed into each other. Rubinho was able to pick his way through the unusually crash-filled race, and was well on his way to points finish when he came in for his final pit stop.
In a repeat of a pit incident in 2006, the new chief mechanic lifted the lollipop (a sign on a stick that tells the driver when to take off) too soon and Ruben took off while the refueling man still had the refueling nozzle attached. The refueling man was sent tumbling to ground but luckily was not hurt. However, to add insult to injury, Rubens made the mistake of leaving the pits while they were officially closed during a full course caution.
When the checkered flag dropped only 7 cars out of the 22 starters finished the race. Barichello would finish in 6th, but he was disqualified after the race for leaving the pits while they were closed
While the penalty seems harsh, the FIA has punished others in the past in exactly the same way. Felipe Massa was disqualified from the Canadian GP last year for the same infraction, as was Juan Pablo Montoya at the same venue in 2005.
F1 Australian GP Results
1. Lewis Hamilton Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
2. Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber F1 Team
3. Nico Rosberg AT&T Williams-Toyota
4. Fernando Alonso ING Renault F1 Team
5. Heikki Kovalainen Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
6. Kazuki Nakajima AT&T Williams-Toyota
7. Sebastien Bourdais Scuderia Toro Rosso
8. Kimi Raikkonen Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro
Without any time to introduce additional upgrades in the week between grand prixes, Malaysia was unlikely to yield a better chance at points than Australia. Still, the RA108 confirmed its early promise and only narrowly missed out on making it into the Q3 qualifying session in the hands of Jenson Button.
The race was a largely uneventful affair for the Honda team as Button and Barrichello were never really within striking distance of a points finish. Button was on course to take a top ten finish but he had a costly off-track excursion that cost him his chance at bettering his final finishing position of tenth.
With further upgrades it seems like Honda will be able to get back into a position to score points without too much difficulty. With the unpredictable element introduced by the ban on traction control, a greater points haul could come at any time. And with rain, perhaps a podium could be in the cards later in the season.
F1 Malaysian GP Results
1. Kimi Raikkonen - Ferrari
2. Robert Kubica - BMW Sauber
3. Heikki Kovalainen - McLaren Mercedes
4. Jarno Trulli - Toyota
5. Lewis Hamilton - McLaren Mercedes
6. Nick Heidfeld - BMW Sauber
7. Mark Webber - Red Bull Renault
8. Fernando Alonso - Renault
9. David Coulthard - Red Bull Renault 10. Jenson Button - Honda
11. Nelson Piquet Jr - Renault
12. Giancarlo Fisichella - Force India Ferrari 13. Rubens Barrichello - Honda
14. Nico Rosberg - Williams Toyota 15. Anthony Davidson - Super Aguri-Honda
16. Takuma Sato - Super Aguri Honda
17. Kazuki Nakajima - Williams Toyota
Another race and another first lap incident served to foil Honda's chances at scoring its first points of the season. Jenson Button got his RA108 into the Q3 qualifying session for the first time this season and was able to earn the 9th spot on the grid. Button had already used his allocation of the softer option tire by the time he got to Q3, so he was not able to challenge for an even higher grid position.
In the race Button's hopes for points were scuttled early when his car was struck from behind by the Renault of Fernando Alonso in the first lap. The result was a punctured tire that necessitated an unscheduled pit stop. When Button got back underway he got in a tussle with Red Bull's David Coulthard for 19th place. When Button pulled out for a passing attempt Coulthard closed the door and Button was unable to back off enough to avoid contact. The collision broke Button's wing and damaged his suspension enough that he was forced to retire from the race.
Rubens Barrichello did not fare too well on the weekend either, as he was not able to make up much ground on the runners ahead of him in the race. He would only improve one spot from his grid position to 11th place.
It is difficult to say whether Button would have been able to get a points finish out of Bahrain had he not gotten tangled with Fernando Alonso and David Coulthard. The pace of the 8th place finisher Nico Rosberg was up to .5 seconds quicker than Button when both cars were running, but Button may not have been on the same tire as Rosberg, and Button was held up by David Coulthard for some time.
Formula 1 Bahrain GP Results
1. Felipe Massa - Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro
2. Kimi Raikkonen - Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro
3. Robert Kubica - BMW Sauber F1 Team
4. Nick Heidfeld - BMW Sauber F1 Team
5. Heikki Kovalainen - Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
6. Jarno Trulli - Panasonic Toyota Racing
7. Mark Webber - Red Bull Racing
8. Nico Rosberg - AT&T Williams-Toyota
9. Timo Glock - Panasonic Toyota Racing
10. Fernando Alonso - ING Renault F1 11. Rubens Barrichello - Honda Racing F1
12. Giancarlo Fisichella - Force India
13. Lewis Hamilton - Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
14. Kazuki Nakajima - AT&T Williams-Toyota
15. Sebastien Bourdais - Scuderia Toro Rosso 16. Anthony Davidson - Super Aguri F1
17. Takuma Sato - Super Aguri F1
18. David Coulthard - Red Bull Racing
19. Adrian Sutil - Force India
The first three races while not perfect, have at least shown that Honda F1's pace is tremendously better than it was in the first three races last season. If Honda can maintain their pace of improvement relative to the competition throughout the season, the program will be at least be back to where they were at the end of 2006.
Autosport Interview with Ross Brawn
American Le Mans
12 Hours of Sebring
Acura could not have started its foray into the American Le Mans series better than it did last year at Sebring, by taking 1st, 2nd, and 4th in their first race. That act would prove very tough to follow for 2008, but they were determined to put forth a strong effort that would put them in contention for the victory.
At the conclusion of the race the Highcroft Patron car had earned a 2nd in class finish but in the post race technical inspection they were disqualified. The post race inlet restriction test the tech inspectors plug up the air intake and see if the engine will keep running. If the engine does not stop that means car's intake system is getting air from somewhere other than the ACO mandated inlet. In the case of Highcroft Acura the carbon fiber airbox had gotten cracked at some point during the race and that crack caused the car to fail tech.
It was a bitter blow for the team but at the very least the car was able to finish the race in a strong position, which bodes well for the rest of the season.
Big thanks to TOV member Montaljo for sharing his pics from Sebring
12 Hours of Sebring Results (Top 10)
1. Penske Racing Porsche #7 (LMP2)
2. Dyson Racing Porsche #20 (LMP2)
3. Audi Sport NA #1 (LMP1)
4. Dyson Racing Porsche #16 (LMP2) 5. Patron Highcroft Racing Acura #9 (LMP2)
6. Audi Sport NA #2 (LMP1)
7. Horag Racing Porsche #27 (LMP2)
8. Corvette Racing #3 (GT1)
9. Intersport Racing Lola #37 (LMP1)
10. Corvette Racing #4 (GT1)
18. Andretti Green Racing Acura #26 (LMP2)
32. Lowe's Fernandez Racing Acura #15 (LMP2)
The first regular race of the 2008 American Le Mans season is the St. Petersburg Grand Prix, run on city streets around the St. Pete airport. Last year Acura got on the podium with a 3rd place finish but this year they were able to do one better, in spite of encountering a bit more bad luck.
Christian Fittipaldi spun his XM Acura on his own early in the race, dropping the XM team out of contention early. In a somewhat bizarre incident, the Lowe's Fernandez car was punted into a tire wall by the no. 1 Audi R10 late in the race, ruining their chances for a podium finish.
A full course caution in the closing stage of the race meant there would be a fierce battle for position in the last handful of laps between the Patron Highcroft Acura and the number 7 Porsche RS Spyder for second place.. David Brabham held off Penske Porsche's final charge with some aggressive tactical driving, earning him 2nd place behind the class-winning Penske Porsche.
While some bad luck has foiled Acura a few times in the early going, the program looks to have closed the outright speed gap with the Penske Porsches and are in prime position to compete for victories in the upcoming rounds at Long Beach and Miller Motorsports Park (Utah).
ALMS St. Petersburg Results (Top 10)
1. Audi Sport NA #2 (LMP1)
2. Penske Racing Porsche #7 (LMP2) 3. Patron Highcroft Racing Acura #9 (LMP2)
4. Penske Racing Porsche #6 (LMP2)
5. Dyson Racing Porsche #16 (LMP2) 6. Andretti Green Racing Acura #26 (LMP2)
7. B-K Motorsports Mazda #8 (LMP2)
8. Corvette Racing #4 (GT1)
9. Corvette Racing #3 (GT1) 10. Lowe's Fernandez Racing Acura #15 (LMP2)
Long Beach Grand Prix - Victory at Last!
After the strong finish at St. Petersburg, a win was surely not far off for the Acura LMP2 program. In qualifying the Lowe's Fernandez Acura logged a fast lap less than 1 tenth of a second behind the leading Penske Porsche. The Patron Highcroft Acura was only another 2 hundredths of a second behind.
At the start the Porsches got the jump and went into turn one holding 1st and 2nd position. As the race progressed it seemed like the Porsches were once again going to be able to get away but full course cautions closed the pack back up and put the leading Patron Highcroft Acura back within striking distance.
In an almost carbon copy of the late race battle at St. Petersburg, the final restart of the race turned into a showdown between David Brabham in the Patron Highcroft ARX-01b and Romain Dumas in the #7 Penske Porsche. On the final lap Brabham forced his way through while Dumas tried to close the door. There was contact, but Brabham was able to continue to the line to take the win.
The victory at Long Beach was the first one for Acura since their debut win at Sebring in 2007. The win puts the Patron Highcroft team tens points adrift of the leading #7 Penske Porsche team with 56 points to their 66.
Long Beach GP Results (Top 10)
1. Audi Sport NA #2 (LMP1)
2. Audi Sport NA #1 (LMP1) 3. Patron Highcroft Racing Acura #9 (LMP2)
4. Penske Racing Porsche #7 (LMP2)
5. Penske Racing Porsche #6 (LMP2) 6. Andretti Green Racing Acura #26 (LMP2)
7. Dyson Racing Porsche $20 (LMP2) 8. Lowe's Fernandez Racing Acura #15 (LMP2)
9. Dyson Racing Porsche #16 (LMP2)
10. B-K Motorsports Mazda #8 (LMP2)
For 2008 there are a few changes in the Speed World Challenge Touring Car Championship that will certainly shake up the proceedings. The first of the two major changes is a revision of the points system. The following is a list of the points payout from 1st to 10th place. An extra point is awarded for pole position and laps led.
The reasoning behind the change was to reduce the chances of one driver running away with the championship by racking up wins early in the season. The problem with that idea is that the new points system makes it very difficult to make up for a DNF. If any driver fails to finish a race they are all but eliminated from contention for the title.
The major technical change for 2008 is that the Toyo RA-1 spec tire that the series has ran for the past several years is being retired in lieu of the new Toyo R888. The change to the new tire means every team is in a race to unlock the secrets of the performance of the new tire. Whoever does so first may end up with a significant advantage.
In the season opener Realtime Racing were the ones who found the most pace out of the new tires. Pierre Kleinubing, Kuno Wittmer, and Peter Cunningham led the entire race in a flawless performance. The margin of victory wasn't large but none of the other cars were able to mount a serious challenge to Realtime's podium sweep.
World Challenge Touring Sebring Results
1. Pierre Kleinubing - Realtime Racing (Acura TSX)
2. Kuno Wittmer - Realtime Racing (Acura TSX)
3. Peter Cunningham - Realtime Racing (Acura TSX)
4. Charles Espenlaub - Mazdaspeed Racing (Mazda 6)
5. Jeff Altenburg - Mazdaspeed Racing (Mazda 6)
6. Seth Thomas - Bimmerworld (BMW 325i)
7. Jason Martinelli - Martinelli Motorsports (BMW 325i) 8. Dino Crescentini - Realtime Racing (Acura TSX)
9. Jason Saini - Mazdaspeed Racing (Mazda 6)
10. James Clay - Bimmerworld (BMW 325i)
11. Michael Galati - Tindol Motorsports (Mazda 6)
12. Patrick Lindsey - Horton Motorsports (Mazda 6)
13. Chip Herr - Tindol Motorsports (Mazda 6)
14. Charlie Putnam - Tindol Motorsports (Mazda 6)
15. Nick Esayian - Bimmerword (BMW 325i) 16. Glenn Bocchino - Realtime Racing (Acura RSX)
17. Jim Osborn - Chili Pepper Racing (VW Jetta TDI)
Qatar - Moto GP's First Night Race
The first night race in grand prix motorcycling history was held at the Moto GP season opener at Losail Circuit in Qatar. The cool conditions created problems for several of the teams as they had no prior data for that track at such low temperatures.
In the night test the week before the Qatar Grand Prix the Repsol Honda team struggled mightily to get the 2008 RC212V to post competitive lap times. Meanwhile several of the satellite riders on the 2007 RC212V had no trouble at all.
In a drastic move, HRC brought back two 2007 RC212V's for the Repsol team to try in back-to-back comparison tests during the Qatar Grand Prix practice sessions. They also made a new chassis evolution for the 2008 RC212V for Dani Pedrosa to try in the hope that it would address the massive issues they had at the previous week's night test at Qatar.
The odds looked to be long for Repsol Honda in Qatar, and to make matters worse, Dani Pedrosa crashed in free practice when he got tangled up with the rear wheel of Valentino Rossi. Rossi had slowed unexpectedly while exiting a turn, leaving Pedrosa nowhere to go. The crash aggravated the broken hand Dani had suffered in the preseason.
Pedrosa's Amazing Ride
Given the odds against the Repsol Honda team getting a decent result out of Qatar, Dani Pedrosa's ride to 3rd place was a small miracle. When the lights went out Pedrosa rocketed to the front of the pack and led the race for the first few laps. He was eventually dropped down to 3rd place by Casey Stoner and Jorge Lorenzo but the result was excellent considering the circumstances.
Andrea Dovizioso has been a Honda rider since he entered the Grand Prix paddock in 2001 in the 125cc class. In his Moto GP debut ge was the second fastest Honda in qualifying and was able to sneak past Valentino Rossi on the last turn of the last lap to snatch 4th place from the 5-time Moto GP champion. Dovi was brought to tears after race, having beaten one of his idols in his first race.
"I'm very emotional for this first race. I never thought I would be so quick to finish so near the front and also become the first Italian rider home, which is great! I never really thought of the podium, as I seemed to start off not so good on the grid. Immediately after the start I pushed hard and tried to concentrate on the job in front, I was aiming at the train of riders just in front of me. Perhaps I asked a little too much of my Michelin tyre combination which behaved very well in the race. I want to thank the team for the fantastic job that they did over the weekend."
Moto GP Qatar GP Results
1. Casey Stoner - Ducati Marlboro
2. Jorge Lorenzo - Fiat Yamaha 3. Dani Pedrosa - Repsol Honda
4. Andrea Dovizioso - Team JiR Scot
5. Valentino Rossi - Fiat Yamaha
6. James Toseland - Yamaha Tech 3
7. Colin Edwards - Yamaha Tech 3
8. Loris Capirossi - Rizla Suzuki 9. Randy de Puniet - LCR Honda MotoGP
10. Nicky Hayden - Repsol Honda
11. Marco Melandri - Ducati Marlboro
12. John Hopkins - Kawasaki Moto GP 13. Shinya Nakano - San Carlo Gresini Honda
14. Toni Elias - Alice Ducati
15. Sylvain Guintoli - Alice Ducati
16. Anthony West - Kawasaki Moto GP
17. Chris Vermeulen - Rizla Suzuki
Coming into the weekend the major storyline was the clash of the young Spaniards, Dani Pedrosa and rookie Jorge Lorenzo. The two riders have battled each other while coming through the support classes and both riders have won two 250GP championships. It is common knowledge that the two men are not at all found of each other and each was eager to be top man at the first of three races in Spain.
This round would go to the elder of the young Spaniards as Dani charged to the front at the start and never looked back. He would go on to win the race by a commanding 4 second lead over second place finisher Valentino Rossi. The win at Jerez was Dani's first in Moto GP in front of his home crowd.
"This is my first MotoGP win at Jerez and I'm very happy about today's performance because it comes after a difficult winter during which we couldn't test so much after I crashed and broke my right hand in January. To score good results in two complicated races and lead the championship is very important. I got a good start, not spectacular like in Qatar, but effective, so I was able to take the lead. I did my best, I focused on not making mistakes and I was able to manage the race all the way to the finish and get a win in front of the Spanish fans. The crowd gave me incredible support, I hope they enjoyed the race, and it was an honor to get my trophy from the King."
Nicky Hayden received the latest evolution of the 2008 RC212V that Dani Pedrosa rode to a surprise 3rd place finish at Qatar. Nicky shot up to second place in the first corner of the race and attempted an outside pass on his teammate that alllowed Jorge Lorenzo to get back by him. Valentino Rossi would also get past Nicky but the Fiat Yamaha duo were not able to definitively pull away. Nicky was beginning to put pressure on Jorge Lorenzo for third place but lost a lot ground when he lost the front of his motorcycle and actually saved what would have been certain crash by pushing the bike up with his knee.
Nicky was obviously disappointed with fourth but it was a much better result than Qatar. Already Hayden's 2008 season is looking tremendously better than his disastrous 2007 title defense. It took until the ninth race last season for Hayden to record his first top five finish.
"It was fun to be competitive, to come into that stadium section the first lap with 130,000 people coming alive, bombs going off, it was cool, it was nice to be there in the mix. Obviously we'd like to have been having some bubbly afterwards, but the bike worked the best it's worked all weekend and I was pushing hard.
After I dropped back a bit I made a run on them, I was trying to give those guys a fight. Then I stayed on the brake a bit too long into turn one and pretty much crashed. It was elbow down and I thought it was done, but the front tyre was good, so I picked it up on the knee and saved it. You can ride these bikes so hard now and the front tyres are so good, that's the first time I've done that. All in all it's been a good day for Repsol Honda, so thanks to my team and for the support from all the guys."
Jerez Moto GP Race Results
1. Dani Pedrosa - Repsol Honda
2. Valentino Rossi - Fiat Yamaha Team
3. Jorge Lorenzo - Fiat Yamaha Team 4. Nicky Hayden - Repsol Honda
5. Loris Capirossi - Rizla Suzuki Moto GP
6. James Toseland - Yamaha Tech 3
7. John Hopkins - Kawasaki Moto GP 8. Andrea Dovizioso - JiR Scot Team
9. Shinya Nakano - San Carlo Honda Gresini
10. Chris Vermeulen - Rizla Suzuki Moto GP
11. Casey Stoner - Ducati Marlboro
12. Marco Melandri - Ducati Marlboro
13. Anthony West - Kawasaki Moto GP 14. Alex de Angelis - San Carlo Honda Gresini
15. Toni Elias - Ducati Alice Team
16. Sylvain Guintoli - Ducati Alice Team
The Estoril circuit in Portugal has been the site of last lap drama in Moto GP for the past two seasons. This year's race did not result in a last lap duel, but it was a duel of the young Spaniards as Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo locked horns on track once again.
Nicky Hayden qualified in 4th for the second race in the row but dropped back three spots to 7th in the first lap. Hayden had made the choice of a hard tire for the race and the wet conditions forced him to tentatively tiptoe around until he could get some heat into the tires. Hayden was able to slowly but surely claw his way back towards the lead group, passing fellow Americans Colin Edwards and John Hopkins and setting fastest laps of the race while in pursuit. Dovizioso was on the tail end of the 3 rider pack (Rossi, Lorenzo, Pedrosa) that had broken away at the front. Dovi crashed while trying to hang on to the lead 3, and Hayden crashed in the same corner on the next lap. Hayden later admitted he was pushing very hard because he had no intention of settling for 4th.
Towards the end of the race it was down to Rossi, Stoner and Pedrosa. Lorenzo demoted his elder teammate to take the lead and set about breaking away for the win. Pedrosa would overtake Rossi as well but by that time Lorenzo had opened a 1 second gap that Pedrosa was not able to erase. Pedrosa later admitted that the team had chosen too short a 6th gear and it prevented him from catching the Yamahas at the end of the main straightaway.
Now Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo share the Moto GP points lead with 61 points a piece and a 14 point lead over Valentino Rossi in third. Lorenzo has recorded three pole positions, three podiums, and one win in his first three races as a Moto GP rider making him the only rookie to get three poles in his first three races and the youngest rider to get three consecutive pole positions, taking that honor from Dani Pedrosa. Lorenzo's early performance has confirmed that he is a legitimate title threat.
Moto GP Estoril Results
1. Jorge Lorenzo - Fiat Yamaha 2. Dani Pedrosa - Repsol Honda
3. Valentino Rossi - Fiat Yamaha
4. Colin Edwards - Tech 3 Yamaha
5. John Hopkins - Kawasaki Moto GP
6. Casey Stoner - Ducati Marlboro
7. James Toseland - Tech 3 Yamaha
8. Chris Vermeulen - Rizla Suzuki
9. Loris Capirossi - Rizla Suzuki 10. Shinya Nakano - San Carlo Honda Gresini
11. Alex de Angelis - San Carlo Honda Gresini
12. Toni Elias - Alice Ducati
13. Marco Melandri - Ducati Marlboro
14. Sylvain Guintoli - Alice Ducati
15. Randy de Puniet - LCR Honda
16. Anthony West - Kawasaki Moto GP
Pedrosa Rides a CBR1000RR to the Arcade and Takes on All Challengers in a Moto GP Video Game
Nicky Hayden Rides a 1909 Indian and CBR1000RR at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Valencia - Race 1
Valencia was a home race for Ten Kate 's Carlos Checa who qualified in 5th for race 1. Checa got a terrible start and was shuffled down all the way back to 12th place. However, cool conditions caused grip problems for many riders in the opening laps of the race. Four top riders ended up crashing out early, which helped Carlos Checa as he fought his way back through the field. Checa was able to fight his way all the way back to challenge the leading Suzuki for the win on the last lap of the race.
Checa would ultimately only have one chance to pass the race leader which would come at the last turn. Checa's bid for victory came up short however, as his last corner lunge sent both riders sliding into the gravel pit. Checa miraculously was able to remount and finish fifth, but Max Neukirchner was not able to continue and sustained a broken collarbone which prevented him from contesting race 2. In the most charitable terms Checa's move could be called 'optimistic' but many called it a banzai move. His team manager did however defend his Checa's pass attempt:
These were clearly not the results we were hoping for today, Checa was gaining a lot of ground in the last laps so when he arrived in the last corner on the rear wheel of the leading man, you can expect any racer to make a passing and Checa did just that. Ironically Carlos was nearly taken out of the race himself in Qatar and Phillip Island. Considering all the overtaking he had to do to make his way up front, I don't think you can say he is an aggressive rider."
Race 1 Results
1. Lorenzo Lanzi - RG Racing Ducati
2. Troy Bayliss - Ducati Xerox
3. Troy Corser - Yamaha Motor Italia
4. Fonsi Nieto - Alstare Suzuki 5. Carlos Checa - Hannspree Ten Kate Honda
6. Karl Muggeridge - DFX Racing Honda
7. Gregorio Lavilla - Ventaxia VK Honda
8. Regis Laconi - PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse
9. Makoto Tamada - PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse 10. Roberto Rolfo - Hannspree Althea Honda
11. Shinichi Nakatomi - YZF Yamaha 12. Kenan Sofuoglu - Hannspree Ten Kate Honda
13. Russell Holland - DFX Racing Honda
14. Jakub Smrz - Guandalini Racing by Grifo's Ducati
15. David Checa - Yamaha France Ipone GMT 94
16. Max Biaggi - Sterilgarda Go Eleven Ducati
17. Ayrton Badovini - Team Pedercini Kawasaki 18. Luca Morelli - Alto Evolution Honda
19. Diego Lozano Ortiz - Honda Joe Darcey
20. Loic Napoleone - Grillini PBR Team Yamaha
Valencia - Race 2
Carlos Checa got a much better start in race 2 and got out to a lead with plenty of time to spare. Misfortune struck again when a fault with the traction control system severely curtailed the power of his bike. The problem allowed Noriyuki Haga and Troy Bayliss to get back past Checa and pull out a small gap. Unable to get the traction control to work properly, Carlos turned the traction control totally off and was able to pick the pace back up. It would not be enough to catch back up to the lead and he ended up having to settle for third. It was his second podium of the year.
2005 and 2007 British Superbike championship Ryuichi Kiyonari had his first top five finish in World Superbike with a solid ride to fourth place.
The new CBR1000RR is plainly more than a match for any other bike on the grid in a straightline and seems to be handling exceptionally well. Ten Kate had very little time to test the bike in the off season so it is nothing short of amazing that they are so competitive so soon. Troy Bayliss of Xerox Ducati has a 56 point lead right now, but the Ten Kate Honda's form indicates that the title is not out of reach just yet.
Race 2 Results
1. Noriyuki Haga - Yamaha Motor Italia YZF-R1
2. Troy Bayliss - Ducati Xerox 1098 F08 3. Carlos Checa - Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR
4. Ryuichi Kiyonari - Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR
5. Troy Corser - Yamaha Motor Italia YZF-R1
6. Yukio Kagayama - Alstare Suzuki GSX-R1000
7. Ruben Xaus - Sterilgarda Go Eleven 1098 RS08
8. Max Biaggi - Sterilgarda Go Eleven 1098 RS08
9. Regis Laconi - PSG-1 Kawasaki Corse ZX-10R
10. Fonsi Nieto - Alstare Suzuki GSX-R1000 11. Gregorio Lavilla - Ventaxia VK Honda CBR1000RR
12. Lorenzo Lanzi - RG Racing 1098 RS08
13. Michel Fabrizio - Ducati Xerox 1098 F08
14. Jakub Smrz - Guandalini Racing by Grifo's 1098 RS08 15. Kenan Sofuoglu - Hannspree Ten Kate Honda CBR1000RR
16. Shinichi Nakatomi - YZF Yamaha YZF-R1 17. Roberto Rolfo - Hannspree Honda Althea CBR1000RR
18. David Checa - Yamaha France Ipone GMT 94 YZF-R1 19. Russell Holland - DFX Racing CBR1000RR
20. Karl Muggeridge - DFX Racing CBR1000RR
It was business as usual in the race as the Suzukis of Mat Mladin and Ben Spies jumped out to the front and never looked back. Neither Honda was a credible threat for a podium or even a top five finish, yet Neil Hodgson was able to log the 4th fastest lap of the race.
AMA Superbike Daytona Results (Top 10)
1. Mat Mladin - Yoshimura Rockstar Makita Suzuki
2. Ben Spies - Yoshimura Rockstar Makita Suzuki
3. Jason Disalvo - Yamaha
4. Tommy Hayden - Yoshimura Rockstar Makita Suzuki
5. Jamie Hacking - Monster Kawasaki
6. Aaron Yates - Jordan Suzuki 7. Neil Hodgson - American Honda
8. Roger Hayden - Monster Kawasaki
9. Blake Young - M4 EMGO Suzuki
10. Geoff May - Jordan Suzuki
Disastrous Daytona 200
Last year's Daytona 200 was an embarrassing debacle for Honda as all four of the factory machines suffered a vapor lock problem with their fuel system than stranded 3 of the 4 bikes. The CBR600RR ridden by Josh Hayes was able to coast back to the pits but in that time any chance of victory was lost.
This year was another one to forget as Honda's troubles started in the first lap of the race. Miguel Duhamel's primary bike suffered from a mechanical problem on the formation lap. The team asked an AMA official if it was legal for him to switch to a back-up bike and they received the okay. Duhamel worked his way all the way back up through the order and was on track for a top five finish when the AMA officials reversed their earlier ruling, black-flagged Duhamel, and disqualified him from the race.
Jake Zemke was running up front with Josh Hayes when he came in for his first pit stop, but encountered a problem with getting his rear wheel on the bike which cost him a huge amount of time in the pits. When the rear wheel was finally put on, Zemke had lost too much time to compete for the victory.
The next Honda to fall victim to bad luck was pole-sitter Neil Hodgson. At the start Hodgson lost a few positions but was able to slowly close the gap to Josh Hayes. However, it would all be for naught as Neil's bike caught on fire and forced him to retire from the race. He was not hurt in the incident.
Josh Hayes Finished First, but was Disqualified
It seemed like the last Honda standing of Josh Hayes was en route to victory after all of the other Hondas had fallen victim to mishap. Hayes did cross the finish line first, and was awarded the trophy for the win. But in post-race tech his Erion Honda CBR600RR was found to have an illegally modified crankshaft.
Apparently the crankshaft in question passed inspection last year but a new tech inspector for this year failed it. The rule states that bearing surfaces may be polished or treated, but it does not make such an allowance for the rest of the crankshaft.
The crankshaft surface in question was polished with a friction-reducing surface treatment of some sort and that is what ran afoul of the rule. Erion Racing appealed the decision but their appeal was denied by AMA Pro racing.
AMA Formula Xtreme - Daytona 200 Results (Top 10 Revised)
1. Chaz Davies - Attack Kawasaki (ZX-6R)
2. Steve Rapp - Attack Kawasaki (ZX-6R)
3. Larry Pegram - Pegram Racing Ducati (848)
4. Martin Cardenas - M4 EMGO Suzuki (GSX-R600)
5. Richard Cooper - San Jose BMW (HP2)
6. Brian Parriott - San Jose BMW BMW (HP2)
7. Bobby Fong - Safety First Suzuki (GSX-R600)
8. Bostjan Skubic - Yamaha (YZF-R6) 9. Steve Atlas - Corona Honda (CBR600RR)
10. Fernando Amantini - Kawasaki (ZX-6R)
Barber Motorsports Park - Race 1 & 2
Much like Jerez is considered the real first round of Moto GP, Barber is considered to be the race where the AMA Superbike championship really gets going. Unlike Daytona, it is a traditional natural terrain road course, and it yields race results that are more indicative of what will happen during the rest of the season.
The American Honda team was able to realize some improvement from Daytona, with two modest top five finishes. In race 1 it looked as if Miguel Duhamel might have been able to get a 4th place or a podium at the beginning of the race, but overheating problems relegated him to 6th place.
In race 2 Neil Hodgson would lead Honda's effort and again, looked as if he might have been able to challenge for the podium. Unfortunately a few unforced errors cost him the chance for a third place finish.
All in all the weekend was not bad for American Honda but the prospects are not looking good for having a shot at beating the dominating Suzukis of Mat Mladin and Ben Spies. Right now the leading Suzukis are easily a second a lap faster and overcoming that gap will be extremely difficult.
AMA Superbike Barber - Race 1 Results (Top 10)
1. Mat Mladin - Rockstar Makita Suzuki (GSX-R1000)
2. Jason DiSalvo - Yamaha (YZF-R1)
3. Tommy Hayden - Rockstar Makita Suzuki (GSX-R1000)
4. Jamie Hacking - Monster Kawasaki (ZX-10R) 5. Neil Hodgson - American Honda (CBR1000RR)
6. Miguel Duhamel - American Honda (CBR1000RR)
7. Eric Bostrom - Yamaha (YZF-R1)
8. Geoff May - Jordan Suzuki (GSX-R1000)
9. Chris Peris - Team ESP (GSX-R1000)
10. Jordan Szoke - Kawasaki Canada (ZX-10R)
AMA Superbike Barber - Race 2 Results (Top 10)
1. Mat Mladin - Rockstar Makita Suzuki (GSX-R1000)
2. Ben Spies - Rockstar Makita Suzuki (GSX-R1000)
3. Tommy Hayden - Rockstar Makita Suzuki (GSX-R1000)
4. Jason DiSalvo - Yamaha (YZF-R1) 5. Neil Hodgson - American Honda (CBR1000RR)
6. Eric Bostrom - Yamaha (YZF-R1)
7. Aaron Yates - Jordan Suzuki (GSX-R1000) 8. Miguel Duhamel - American Honda (CBR1000RR)
9. Matt Lynn - Corona Honda (CBR1000RR)
10. Geoff May - Jordan Suzuki (GSX-R1000)
Race 1 & 2 - Thruxton
The British Superbike championship was actually supposed to start at Brands Hatch on April 6th but a spring snow shower forced the organizers to cancel the event. Thus the 2008 BSB championship began in earnest at Thruxton, the fastest track on their calendar.
HM Plant Honda is Honda's factory entry in the class and this season there are two new riders on the team, Leon Haslam and Cal Crutchlow. Haslam formerly rode for Airwaves Ducati and was the 2005 BSB runner-up to Ryuichi Kiyonari. Cal Crutchlow was a rookie last season with the Rizla Suzuki team. He also won the 2006 British Supersport champion on a Honda CBR600RR.
Cal Crutchlow would lead the Honda charge in race 1 by jumping out to an early lead. It was the first time Crutchlow had led a race in his brief BSB career but he was unable to hold off the Ducati 1098R of 2003 BSB champ Shakey Byrne. Cal only lost out by about 2 seconds and came home in second place.
In race 2 Crutchlow got bogged down at the start and was fighting for a top five finish when a spectacular crash between a Yamaha and Suzuki rider brought out a red flag. Crutchlow capitalized on the restart and pulled out to a commanding lead that he turned into his maiden victory.
With Crutchlow's first and second place finish HM Plant Honda had the best start of any of the Honda superbike teams thus far. It goes to show the strength of the all-new 2008 CBR1000RR as well as the strength of HM Plant Honda's established program.
BSB Thruxton - Race 1 Results (Top 10)
1 Shane Byrne - Airwaves Ducati (1098R) 2. Cal Crutchlow - HM Plant Honda (CBR1000RR)
3. Michael Rutter - North West 200 Ducati (1098R) 4. Leon Haslam - HM Plant Honda (CBR1000RR)
5. Leon Camier - Airwaves Ducati (1098R)
6. Tom Sykes - Rizla Suzuki (GSX-R1000) 7. James Ellison - Hydrex Bike Animal Honda (CBR1000RR)
8. Simon Andrews - Jentin Racing Yamaha (YZF-R1)
9. Stuart Easton - MSS Discovery Kawasaki (ZX-10R)
10. Michael Laverty - Relentless Suzuki by TAS (GSX-R1000)
BSB Thruxton - Race 2 Results (Top 10)
1. Cal Crutchlow - HM Plant Honda (CBR1000RR)
2 Shane Byrne - Airwaves Ducati (1098R)
3. Michael Rutter - North West 200 Ducati (1098R)
4. Leon Camier - Airwaves Ducati (1098R)
5. Michael Laverty - Relentless Suzuki by TAS (GSX-R1000)
6. Stuart Easton - MSS Discovery Kawasaki (ZX-10R) 7. James Ellison - Hydrex Bike Animal Honda (CBR1000RR)
8. Tom Sykes - Rizla Suzuki (GSX-R1000) 9. Guy Martin - Hydrex Bike Animal Honda (CBR1000RR)
10. Billy McConnell - MSS Discovery Kawasaki (ZX-10R)
Honda Racing on TV
Saturday, April 26
8:00AM ET - Formula One Qualifying (Spanish Grand Prix)
2:00PM ET - AMA Supercross Lites (St Louis)
Sunday, April 27
7:30AM ET - Formula One (Spanish Grand Prix)
2:00PM ET - FIM World Superbike (Netherlands - Race 1)
3:00PM ET - AMA Supercross (Seattle)
4:00PM ET - AMA Superbike (California Speedway - Race 1)
5:00PM ET - AMA Superbike (California Speedway - Race 2)
6:00PM ET - AMA Supersport (California Speedway)
Tuesday, April 29
12:00PM ET - AMA Formula Xtreme (California Speedway)
1:00PM ET - FIM World Superbike (Netherlands - Race 1)
2:00PM ET - FIM World Superbike (Netherlands - Race 2)
Sunday, May 4
4:00PM ET - MotoGP World Championship (Shanghai)
6:00PM ET - AMA Supercross (Las Vegas)