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GP Week : Issue 18
THE FIM has allayed safety fears for the new 2.62- mile Indianapolis MotoGP circuit, after riders were dismayed by low grip and a punishingly close wall approached and skimmed along at high speed on the main straight. The grip improved with use, and the FIM will request the circuit take further measures; the approach from the infield to the walled section of the main straight, shared with the oval track, will be different from that used for testing, with ample run- off provided, said FIM safety boss Claude Danis. For the final layout, artificial grass would be laid to define the approach to the straight differently, that would prevent riders from going too close to the wall, he explained. It was absent from the test because of a forthcoming car race using the famous Indy Oval. Former 250 World Champion Olivier Jacque, now a Kawasaki tester, was the first to make a guarded comment about the wall, saying “it is strange to go so close to the wall – on our circuits we do not do this.” Off the record remarks were rather more fruity; but by the end of the second day the general feeling was more favourable, and the new track gained cautious approval. The layout is mainly tight, with top speed on the straight a relatively low 186 mph. The straight starts with a very tight corner. Fastest time was contested between Ben Spies, back on the Rizla Suzuki, and young Italian Ducati test rider Nicolo Canepa. Spies piled on 205 laps, the most of anyone, as he continued to get to know the MotoGP bike in preparation for his wild card rides at Laguna and Indy; and topped the time-sheets when he left to fly home to Dallas … only for Canepa to sneak ahead by less than a tenth after he’d gone. The next best was Honda tester Erwan Nigon, more than half a second down, followed by Jacque, World Endurance star William Costes on a Yamaha on Michelins, and the similarly mounted Bridgestone-shod Wataru Yoshikawa. n Ben Spies gained an advantage testing at Indy. Regular riders were banned from the tyre tests, but as a wildcard he is exempt. He was the only rider at Indy to have raced in a GP already this year. n Loris Capirossi plans to return for this weekend’s German GP, after missing three races through an injury he renewed at his ill-fated Assen comeback. His broken right hand is fully healed, and his Assen flesh wound on the road to recovery. n Who is Niccolo Canepa? The 20-year-old Italian who outpaced Ben Spies on both days at Indy tests is a factory protégé, and made his Superbike debut at Vallelunga tests. He will race the factory Superbike at Brno. n Valentino Rossi is edging ever closer to inking a two-year deal with Yamaha, with only a few final details to be worked out, according to the rider. n American Kawasaki Superbike rider Jamie Hacking is likely to replace the injured John Hopkins at the US GP at Laguna Seca, despite protestations from teamster Roger Lee Hayden that he will be fit for the race. Nicky’s younger brother came tenth at Laguna last year as a Kawasaki wild card. Hopkins will not be replaced in Germany. HIGH SIDES 12