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GP Week : Issue 2
n German’s only top- class rider for several years, Alex Hofmann, has been under the knife to remove a titanium plate and 15 screws from his left hand. The d’Antin Ducati rider smashed his hand in a collision with Sylvain Guintoli in free practice at Laguna Seca last year. He made a brave come-back, only to be sacked by the team after retiring in pain from the Portuguese GP. n A race is on to see who will get pneumatic valve activation first … the factory Honda MooGP riders Hayden and Pedrosa, or Yamaha’s B-team riders. Honda’s all-new engine was taken back to Tokyo for further development after pre-season tests. It is to return after more testing, after round three. Yamaha have promised Tech 3 team riders Toseland and Edwards they will get the factory pneumo-engine “as soon as possible.” n Valentino Rossi is just two race wins away from displacing Spanish tiddler class hero of the 1970 and 1980s Angel Nieto, as he closes in on all-time race- win superhero Giacomo Agostini. But Rossi can’t catch Ago, even if he was to win all remaining 17 rounds of this year. Ago has 123 wins in all classes, Nieto 90, Rossi currently 88. n The French GP is to host a classic race, with former multi-World Champion Phil Read part of the line-up. The race is in memory of Australian racer Jack Findlay, the archetypal top privateer between 1961 and 1977, who succumbed to a respiratory disease last year. HIGH SIDES 14 AMERICAN motorbike racing has been sold, further widening the gap between US racing and Europe-based MotoGP. In news overshadowed by last weekend’s Daytona 200 race and the opening MotoGP round at Qatar, the AMA (the independent US sanctioning body) announced that its racing properties had been sold “in principle” to great American car-racing institution the Daytona Motorsports Group (DMG), headed by Jim France, of the family whose name is legend in NASCAR. No figures have been revealed, but the news was welcomed by track operators, welcoming the promise of more professional organisation. The sale includes not only the AMA Superbike series, the premier US road- racing championship, but also Motocross, Flat Track, Supermoto, Hillclimb and ATV racing. Only Supercross and Arenacross are absent, being licensed elsewhere. The AMA started formally “seeking promotional partners” in September last year. MotoGP series promoters Dorna were not in the market: “We are not seeking any involvement in US racing,” said CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta. The sale returns former AMA associate Roger Edmondson to prominence in racing. Edmondson’s relationship with the AMA ended acrimoniously, when he pursued a successful law-suit against them. Edmondson now heads DMG with Jim France, and has promised some serious NASCAR-style promotion for motorbike racing in his statement. “Our goal is to guide the sport into the mainstream of American culture,” he said. American road-racing has always operated independently of European and World Championship racing, which is sanctioned by FIM, based in Switzerland. The nations came closest together during the 1970s, when AMA racing included classes such as F750 (GP- style) two-strokes. The arrival of Kenny Roberts to become first US World Champion from 1978 to 1980 was no coincidence. The cross-over continued even after AMA racing switched to Superbikes, with a string of US champions from 1983 to 1993: Freddie Spencer, Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey and Kevin Schwantz. Since then only Kenny Jr (2000) and Nicky Hayden (2006) have taken the top title back to the States, but current double AMA Superbike champion Ben Spies has tested a MotoGP bike, and has designs on an international future from 2009. NASCAR buys US bike racing