Wednesday, November 29, 2006

MotoGP Jerez Test: Rain Ruins Running

Day one of the big test at Jerez didn't see much running. The morning was too cold and the afternoon was wet, meaning that most riders didn't venture out of their garages for very long. There have been lap times posted, with Rossi fastest from Hopkins, but we can't really draw any conclusions.
At least there's a good blog report from Matthew Birt, who was the only international journalist there.
It turns out that young British rider Chaz Davies will be testing for Ilmor. This is a bit of a surprise. He had a few fairly successful outings in the 250cc class on privateer bikes, but had announced on the British Eurosport TV channel that he was leaving 250's as he wasn't having enough success, and being a tall lad, was fed up with struggling to physically fit on the bike. He then agreed a move to an American team competing in an AMA series.
In some ways, hiring Chaz would be a shrewd move due to his skill on a 250, and though the Ilmor is a small machine, I'm sure he would find a way to wrap his lanky frame around it for a chance to impress in MotoGP.
Ilmor had announced that they would confirm their riders after the Jerez test, and rumours were that it would be Northern Irish veteran Jeremy McWilliams partnering Aussie Andrew Pitt, with Garry McCoy being forced to step down even though he is clearly popular with the team and management. The fact that young Chaz will be testing for them is a real joker in the pack. It is well known that the BBC lean heavily on Dorna to ensure there is a British rider to cheer on, which has helped riders such as Hodgson, Byrne and certainly Ellison.
Are the BBC demanding a youngster? McWilliams is 42, but still youthful and a real character. Will he be gazumped by young Davies? Alternatively, we could be looking at an all-British team. There are already two very quick young Aussies in the series. Vermeulen and Stoner both took hugely impressive pole positions in 2006. With the UK's population being something like 3 times that of Australia, Dorna might feel that they can demand two Brits. Jezza and Chaz are both quick riders, so this wouldn't be a repeat of the Ellison debacle.
We should find out in a couple of days. Let's hope there is good weather to let the 4 Ilmor riders show us what they've got.

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