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GP Week : Issue 15
THE Repsol Honda riders of the factory team finally got the long-awaited chance to test the new pneumatic- valve engine in the two days after the Catalunyan GP – and the beleaguered Nicky Hayden for once outclassed his younger Spanish team-mate Dani Pedrosa. The fact that Dani was flat on his back in hospital after just 32 laps while Hayden was able to manage 70 laps on the first day alone doubtless helped ... So too, said Hayden, did the better top end performance of the new motor, which marries all-new engine design with the same chassis used by both riders so far this year. The rideability, the main bugbear that has kept the engine back on the test track in Japan, was also improved. “It went smooth,” said Hayden. “My feeling with the new bike was good. It has some good points, but we need more time to check it in a long-distance situation.” His lap time of 1:42.721 put him only sixth fastest on the time sheets, but was achieved using only race rather than qualifying tyres. Hayden may now race the bike at the next round at Donington Park, while Pedrosa is expected to stick with the steel- spring motor which carried him to victory at the Catalunya race, and has him second overall in the points. Pedrosa was riding that bike when he crashed heavily at the tests, landing on his back after high-siding at the first right-left corners to be stretchered away. Hospital checks found no fractures, but advised a couple of days of rest to be fit for the British GP. Hayden faster than Pedrosa on ‘pneumatic’ Honda MotoGP chance comes early for US champ DOUBLE AMA Superbike champion and current points leader Ben Spies is to get his long-awaited first MotoGP ride earlier than expected. The Suzuki teamster (right) has got the call to step in and replace the injured Rizla Suzuki team regular Loris Capirossi at next week’s British GP. The veteran Italian suffered serious hand injuries after a collision with a headstrong Alex de Angelis during the Catalunyan GP, and is definitely out of the British round, and also a doubtful starter for Assen on the following Saturday. This means Spies might get a second substitute race, giving him more time to adapt to the GSV-R Suzuki before his original preplanned wild card ride at his home GP at Laguna Seca. The Texan star is approaching the task with confidence, in spite of never having seen the track before, or ridden on Bridgestone tyres. “At the end of the day it’s a motorcycle, it’s got tyres on it. I’m going to ride it as hard as I can. I’ve had no testing on the bike or with race or qualifying tyres, so I am not really expected to do anything much,” he said. “I can just go out there and learn how everything works and enjoy the event. As well as the extra horsepower, the lighter weight and the stiffer chassis compared with his AMA Suzuki Superbike, Spies will also have to get used to Bridgestone tyres compared with the Dunlops he uses in the USA. He has ridden the bike briefly in Malaysia, but other planned tests have been thwarted by bad weather. The substitute rides would help him, he said, when he got back to wild card at Laguna. “I know the track and I’ll have some knowledge of the bike. I’ll be able to put my head down and go for it there. “It’s great for me to get the chance,” he continued. “But it is in an unfortunate way.” He wished Capirossi all the best for a full recovery. Spies will race the blue Suzuki alongside team regular Chris Vermeulen at what is the England-based squad’s home GP. The 23-year-old has won the AMA title for the last two years straight, ousting his Suzuki team-mate Mat Mladin from a dominant position in American racing. Mladin’s run had previously been interrupted by Nicky Hayden, who went on to win the MotoGP World Championship in 2006. ADVERTISE in GPWEEK For more details CLICK HERE to access a HuGE global audience 12