Dude, MotoGP is going to be sick this year. If only Ben, Eric, Gobert and Bayliss could get GP rides.......(then again, I guess Gobert already had his chance)
My guess is that this will be the only year that the GP field is so heavily stacked with top riders from every series. This year will seperate the men from the boys, and some of these famous names will be going back to WSB or AMA next year.
Ironically, in totally unrelated incidents, both these riders today announced their retirement from racing for medical reasons. Casoli as a result of a head injury from last year -- Dr says he could be really messed up if he were to reinjure, and Whitam due to glaucoma.
Talk about a $hitty day for the team manager! Not to mention, tough for the racers.
I wouldn't worry too much about the "untested" 999 -- for the racebikes, little is actually changed. Motor is the same as used last season. Chassis very similar, but with 2-sided swingarm. Possibly some minor tweaking of geometry etc, but styling aside,it seems to be more of an evolutionary change.
Team Yamaha Belgarda have signed MotoGP star Jurgen van den Goorbergh to spearhead their 2003 Supersport World Championship campaign. The 33 year-old Dutchman attended last weekend's team test in Valencia, Spain, where he showed great promise aboard the new 2003 YZF-R6. The good news of Jurgen's arrival comes at a sad time for the team as they learn of the departure of riders Paolo Casoli and Jamie Whitham, who will both be retiring from racing for health reasons.
Casoli has spent the winter months convalescing from a cranial trauma he sustained in a crash while testing last November. This week a full neurological examination by Professor Carlo Bollini at the Bellaria Hospital in Bologna has shown the 37 year-old Italian is completely over the trauma but retains some mild tissue damage (anencephaly) which, in the case of another crash, could lead to more serious complications. Casoli, who in all other respects can lead a normal healthy life, has chosen to follow the advice of his doctors and retire from racing.
"The doctors have been very honest, they told me that if I crashed again I could have big problems and ruin my future; this is too much of a risk that I don't feel like taking" explained Casoli. "I am very sad to leave in this way after 20 years of racing at the highest level. In 2003 I would have had a very fast Yamaha, new tires and the ambition to win the Supersport World Championship. I couldn't wait to face this challenge. But I have to think about my family too, they are my main reason for life. I have a son, a wife and wonderful parents who would have worried too much knowing the risks I was taking. So I prefer to stop."
By an unlucky twist of fate, Paolo's team-mate Jamie Whitham, another 20-year veteran of racing, has also seen his career cut short by health concerns: this time glaucoma of the left eye. At the end of last season he first encountered slight vision difficulties and sought medical treatment, though the full impact of the problem has only now become evident. Jamie maintains near normal vision for daily activities but the impairment becomes more acute during the stresses of top-level competitive racing and this has led to his decision to retire. Doctors have suggested that the cause of the problem may be the chemotherapy treatment that Whitham received in 1995 after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease - a form of lymphatic cancer, from which he made a full recovery.
"I was aware of this problem at the end of last season and discussed it with the team," said Whitham. "I didn't notice it again during the first two winter tests when we were in the wet and riding quite slow, but it became a problem while I was testing at full speed in the dry last weekend. I just can't give that last 10% with any confidence - and confidence is what racing is all about. I wouldn't want to put myself or anyone else in danger, plus the guys at Belgarda are more like a family than a team and they deserve to have a rider who is 100% fit. I know the bike is going to be good - good enough to win the championship - so it's important that they have the best possible rider. It's been a really hard decision to make - I've been racing all my life and all my friends are in racing. I know I've got be philosophical but I'm really going to miss it."
Kurtis seems all or nothing and a bit pissy. When he is on he is very, very fast, but seems to lose concentration or always have a mechanical problem. I think he is a bit arrogant, but you probably need that to ride like they do. I don't think he is better than top ten. Until he consistently finishes above 5th and quits crashing, he is a really fast guy that is almost there. he has the skills, if he could just keep it together, we would have another Roberts to watch in MotoGp
Are the Dream Team Racing (DTR) Ducati SuperSport riders going to be on the new 749? It would be interesting to see if it can compete with the 4's. The old 748 couldn't do it over in Europe. The new 749 is supposed to be alot hotter. Sure would make things interesting. Whatcha think??
I do think that we will see more private or semi-private 1000s this year -- a bunch of visitors from Formula Extreme. Most of them will also be backmarkers, but maybe a bit faster than the superstocks.
Note that Erion is testing a 954 at Laguna, and I hear that there will be at least one or 2 more 954s in Superbike. Also, likely a couple of R1s and privateer gixers.
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