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GP Week : Issue 11
M oto GP news >> VALENTINO Rossi and Casey Stoner have been moving towards one another in terms of bike settings, as each tries to be the best on Bridgestone tyres. Rossi had already explained how they had “thrown away” all their previous setting records from his years on Michelin tyres, after learning the hard way that they were not valid for the new rubber. His team studied the Ducati, invincible last year on Bridgestones, and revised the weight distribution more towards the rear. Bridgestone’s front tyre is famously grippy, allowing technicians to take weight off without losing grip on the corner exits. “Week by week we have been getting closer,” said Rossi. “I think there is still some more to come, but the package is quite competitive now.” Neither he nor his team would actually confirm the rearward weight shift: “We don’t want other people to know what we’re doing,” said his crew chief Jerry Burgess. Stoner was similarly cagey, but his Ducati team’s target this year has been to match the easy handling of the Yamaha. “The team has worked really hard since China. We got on the podium there, but to me I didn't really deserve it. We didn't have the pace all weekend,” he said. “We've tried a few different things, a couple of new things, a couple of old things and it's really worked well.” Pressed for more, he said: “I don't want to go into details. Things weren't working so well for us at last few GPs so we really needed to change something to get those last few tenths we've been missing.” Bridgestone pair get ‘closer’ AT last, Honda’s pneumatic-valve- spring engine is ready – or at least partially so. After serial delays, the latest motor is to break cover in two weeks, at the Italian GP at Mugello. But it will not be for factory teamsters Pedrosa and Hayden. They will again stick with the valve-spring motor for the race, while factory tester Tady Okada will race the new engine as a wild card. The Repsol riders will not get a chance to try the motor until tests after the Catalunyan GP, a week later. The motor appeared briefly in pre- season tests, but poor throttle response saw it back on the dyno and factory test tracks thereafter, while the riders’ hopes were twice dashed when it did not turn of for tests, as earlier promised. The first occasion was after the Portuguese GP, the second at Le Mans, where they had expected to test it after the race. “Last week I got an email saying the tests had been cut from two days to one, because the motor wasn’t ready,” said Hayden. “I know Honda are taking a lot of heat, but they’re doing the right thing. Instead of bringing us an engine that, for whatever reason – fuel consumption or whatever – won’t be good or go the distance, they’ve kept it at home and on the dyno. “I’ve always said I like something that goes somewhere in a straight line. Honda also want the engine, and they know I need some help on the straightaway.” In the meantime, Pedrosa has one race win and the points lead on the old engine, but he too is anxious for the replacement: “For the moment, the old engine is riding quite well, but of course we have some weak points,” he said. “I would like to have some news.” Okada (41), a former GP winner, has been testing the bike extensively in Japan. Wildcard debut for Honda’s pneumatics 17