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GP Week : Issue 15
THE much-battered star rookie Jorge Lorenzo has had yet more surgery, as he strives for fitness for next weekend’s British GP at Donington Park. The 21-year-old double 250 World Champion needed a skin graft on the fourth and fifth fingers of his right hand after a heavy crash in practice for the Catalunyan GP. Since his maiden victory in Portugal, Lorenzo has had an injurious time both on and off the track. He underwent surgery to his right arm after that race to cure an arm-pump problem, then crashed heavily in practice for the next round in China, suffering ankle fractures and ligament damage. He still finished fourth. He fell twice in practice for the French GP, but still managed to finish second; but crashed out of the next race in Italy. Then came the Catalunya smash, which left him concussed as well as with hand injuries. He recovered from the concussion, although he still has a blank memory of the moments before the crash. His over-worked specialist surgeon Dr Xavier Mir of the Dexeus Institute sharpened his scalpel again to take skin from his left wrist to graft onto his two right fingers. The operation was a success, he said, and with a full week’s rest Lorenzo was expected to be back in his usual explosive form at Donington Park. Skin graft hastens recovery for battered Lorenzo M oto GP news >> New Duke breaks cover early DESPITE earlier denials, Ducati’s 2009 prototype broke cover the day after the Catalunyan GP – and not just in the hands of test riders. Casey Stoner put the GP9 through its paces, before setting fastest time of the day on his regular GP8 mount. Initial impressions were favourable. “The objective was to understand whether this new chassis concept has potential, and I’d say that for now it looks to be the case,” said Stoner. He had been “quickly into some decent times” even before making setting adjustments, and when they did make small changes it felt better immediately, he said. Why was he on the bike, when Ducati team boss Livio Suppo had said the GP riders would not ride the GP9 until after the summer break? The early Catalunya outing came about because designer and Ducati Corse director Filippo Preziosi was anxious to get some rider feedback on the new chassis design. The urgency shows how seriously the relatively small Italian company is taking the slump in results this year, after Stoner’s dominant championship win last season. He now lies fourth overall, 50 points adrift of leader Rossi. The GP9 chassis is more compact than ever, with the main front space-frame smaller (still uniquely using steel tubes rather than aluminium), with the motor very much a stressed member carrying stresses. It was evolutionary, “another step forward in the same direction,” said Preziosi. The switch from 990 to 800cc had seen seat support and footpegs detached from the main frame; the GP9 follows the pattern, with the main frame section smaller than before. “The fact we’ve used carbon fibre in the production of the chassis is not the most relevant point, it is more the shape that is different from before,” said the wheelchair-bound design engineer. Ducati’s strong development programme was further underlined when former factory rider Sete Gibernau was signed up to help test the machine. Gibernau was twice runner up to Rossi riding a Honda, though his 2006 season with Ducati was blighted by injury, and he retired at the end of it. “I’m very excited, and I’m in perfect shape, even if it has been a while since I’ve ridden a GP bike,” said Gibernau. “I can’t wait to enjoy once again the feeling of bringing a MotoGP machine to its limit.” 14