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GP Week : Issue 12
VALENTINO Rossi is a step closer to signing to stay with Yamaha for 2009 and possibly beyond, after commenting that the step the factory had taken from last year to this had answered all his demands The five-times top-class champion has said previously he hopes to finish his career with Yamaha, which he joined in 2004 after feeling undervalued at Honda. But his confidence was becoming shaky at the end of last season, after he was outpowered by Ducati, and Yamaha’s replacement pneumatic-valve engine proved unreliable. “I asked Yamaha to make a competitive bike, and this year’s machine is the best I have ever had,” he said after the French race. He fully expected to reach agreement to extend his contract in the near future. Meanwhile, his team manager Davide Brivio was confidently predicting that Rossi’s pair of straight wins in China and France was the start of the sort of run he has pulled off in the past. Rossi set to stay M oto GP news >> BOTH Aprilia and KTM, current stalwarts of the doomed 250 two-stroke class, have said they will not take part in the proposed 650cc four-stroke replacement class put forward by Dorna at the French GP. But the Italian factory has thrown Dorna a lifeline, with a promise to return to the MotoGP class instead, with a V4 motor they expect to start testing next year. This was revealed to newsmen in the wake of the announcement at the French GP last weekend by Aprilia race chief Gigi Dall’Igna, who promised unequivocally that Aprilia would be back in the top class in the near future. This time, said Dall’Igna, the engine would be a motorcycle unit, built and developed in-house in Italy. This was a reference to Aprilia’s previous unsuccessful MotoGP attempt, with a three-cylinder engine designed and developed by Cosworth in Britain. While fast and powerful, the pneumatic- valve engine lacked rider-friendly mid-range power, and was a real handful, never winning a race. 250 manufacturers pan replacement formula THE haunting tones of Kawasaki’s evenly-timed ‘Screamer’ engine split the air at Le Mans again at post-GP tests, with factory tester Olivier Jacque continuing development work alongside factory riders Hopkins and West, who concentrated on the regular ‘Big Bang’ engine. But sources close to the Kawasaki team suggested the engine is unlikely to race until next year at the earliest. Screamer delayed until ‘09 Aprilia heads to MotoGP instead! 15