The MotoGP grid suffered a big loss after Valentino Rossi was sidelined following a warm-up session crash at Mugello two weeks ago. But the field was further shortened this past weekend after Hiroshi Aoyama was victim to yet another warm-up crash during the British Grand Prix in Silverstone.
The ‘09 250cc Champion highsided while piloting his Interwetten Honda RC212V through Vale corner, about 6 minutes into the 20-minute session. The 28-year-old Japanese rider was taken to the track’s medical center, and later transferred to John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, where the doctor’s confirmed he suffered a fracture to his vertebra T12.
Due to his injuries, he was not able to compete at Silverstone. On Monday, a second CT scan confirmed his condition did not worsen, so he’ll be allowed to return to his Barcelona residence to recover. Due to the seriousness of the injury, though, Aoyama will not compete in this weekend’s TIM TT Assen event in the Netherlands. No further information was released about additional recovery time.
Prior to the crash, Hiroshi Aoyama seemed uncomfortable with the track: “The first impression of the track is very fast. The surface is partly new and partly old and you have to be careful with the choice for the Bike’s set up. You have to find a good compromise here. I didn’t have the best feeling with my bike today and we have to work on that now.”
Aoyama wasn’t the only rider to crash during warm up. Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa lowsided while braking for the same Vale turn, but at a much higher speed. The Spaniard sustained bruising to his knees, and was able to compete at Silverstone, finishing eight after battling with grip at the 3.66-mile circuit.
More downfalls followed on raceday when two crashes occurred, causing DNFs for San Carlo Honda Gresini’s Marco Melandri and Rizla Suzuki’s Loris Capirossi.
Melandri, 27, the ’02 250cc Champion, went down on the opening lap while attempting to overtake Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Ben Spies.
Marco Melandri says “I made a really good start but then made a mistake on the exit of a corner on cold tires. I was behind Spies and felt I was faster then him so I attacked two or three times but couldn’t get through. Then I tried a pass on the inside but I hit a bump, lost the front and there was no way I could save it. I’m disappointed because I wasn’t even pushing that hard, I was just waiting for Spies to give me a chance to pass him. It’s a shame.”
Capirossi, 37, two-time 125cc and ’98 250cc Champion, started the race off well, getting inside the top 10. But while braking for the first corner on lap 14, he lost the front-end of his GSV-R, causing him to get off his brakes and travel towards the gravel trap at a high speed. The Italian couldn’t keep the bike upright, and went down. This was Capirossi’s third DNF of five races so far this season.
Loris Capirossi says “I think that the whole weekend has been very tough for us, but today we did have better conditions and it gave me a better feeling on the bike. My start was not too bad, but I still couldn’t ride as hard as I wanted and with seven laps to go I lost the front during braking, so I had to let off the brakes and I was going into the corner too fast and I crashed in the gravel.
“It has been a bad weekend because we just couldn’t find what we were looking for to make us go quicker and get the grip we wanted. I feel so sorry for the whole team and for all the people that came to support us because we just didn’t give a very good show at our home race. Sometimes races are like this and you have to just keep going till it gets better.”
Due to Rossi and Aoyama not starting, and the two DNFs from Melandri and Capirossi, only 13 out of 17 riders finished Sunday’s British Grand Prix. Due to the shortened field, every rider was able to garner points, or a point, towards the championship.
Round 6 of 18 occurs this weekend at Assen, and only 15 riders so far will be competing.