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GP Week : Issue 17
WILL World Superbikes rescue the 250 two-strokes? This was the intriguing late-night rumour of the weekend, a day after the traditional 250 class came one step closer to extinction, with the cut-off date now set at the end of 2010. Sources close to FG Sport, the rights-holding group for World Superbikes, suggested that approaches have already been made to the Piaggio Group, owners of Aprilia; and possible also to KTM, the firms currently contesting the 250 class. Top secret plans are to run both 250cc and 125cc classes as support races for Superbike World Championship events. Two-stroke guru, former Aprilia and now Maxtra designer, Jan Witteveen said he had not heard of the initiative, but added: “It could be a good solution for both parties.” World Superbikes would be upgraded, and two- strokes would have a future. Some response had been expected from FG Sport after Dorna’s Carmelo Ezpeleta overturned the definition of ‘prototype’ with his proposal for the so-called ‘Dornotypes’, using production 600cc engines. FG Sport has the FIM contract for production-based racing, and already runs the 600 World Supersport championship. If Dorna can redefine prototype, FG Sport are ready to respond by redefining the term ‘production’, which might arguably include a small run of racing motorcycles. The news came as the death knell for the traditional GP 250 class resounded again at Assen at a meeting of the GP Commission, comprising representatives from Dorna, the FIM, teams’ association IRTA and the manufacturers’ association MSMA. The meeting accepted the proposal, taken by majority by the MSMA, for four-stroke engines of 600cc and four cylinders maximum. Significantly, the FIM press release did not use either of the ‘P’-words, prototype or production. The decision was unanimous, said the statement. The next stage is for manufacturers to indicate whether they have any interesting in taking part, and they have just one month to do so: applications must be sent in by July 31. “More precise technical specifications will then be discussed and established,” said the statement. If there are not sufficient manufacturers interested, then Dorna is expected to seek a control engine supplier. 250s to live on alongside Superbikes? Simoncelli escapes with a warning MARCO Simoncelli, terror of the 250 class, has again escaped official punishment after a second incident that brought calls for punishment from his victim. The latest was at Donington Park a week ago, when an over- ambitious overtaking move on race leader Alvaro Bautista at the final hairpin pushed both of them wide, letting KTM rider Mika Kallio through to take victory. Bautista called for official sanction, saying that to make such an impossible overtaking move was “not normal”, but race director Paul Butler took a different view, after the Race Commission had investigated. “We had a good look at all the angles, and it was just a racing incident. The door was wide open for him.” Simoncelli was accused of a similar transgression at the Italian GP, where his move across to the left on the main straight caused pursuer Hector Barbera to crash into the back of his seat. Barbera’s brake lever was jammed on, and he looped over the handlebars while Simoncelli went on to win. On that occasion also he escaped punishment, the race commission judging it six of one, and half a dozen of the other. Simoncelli has been warned, however, that his riding will be closely monitored. The Italian with the spectacular mane of hair may be more sinned against than sinning, however. At Jerez he was chasing Bautista at the end of the race when he ran into the back of the Spaniard, causing both to fall. On that occasion, however, Bautista’s engine had suddenly lost power and slowed, and the collision was no fault of Simoncelli’s. M oto GP news >> 13