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GP Week : Issue 19
11 M oto GP news >> Alice team turmoil after team boss departs THE satellite Ducati team, sponsored for the first time this year by Alice, has been thrown into confusion after team principal Luis d’Antin abruptly departed on the eve of the German GP. Officially, the Spanish former 250 GP racer had resigned. Unofficially, there had already been growing rumours of financial irregularities within the team, including allegations of an unpaid hotel bill at an earlier GP. D’Antin is a well-established satellite team operator, having run Yamahas before switching to Ducati in the MotoGP era. The immediate future of the team remains as before, however. Fabiano Sterlacchini will continue to run the technical side of the team, with logistical management run by Felix Rodrigues, in the position for the last two years. It seems possible the team will retain Alice support, though the long- term future must remain uncertain … especially with Jorge ‘Aspar’ Martinez anxious to move into MotoGP, and ready to take over the satellite Ducati team. Like several other smaller teams – including Tech 3 Yamaha, LCR Honda and previously Team Roberts – the d’Antin team had been financially propped up in the past by Dorna, anxious to keep grid numbers up. Any change will also put a question mark against current riders, Sylvain Guintoli and Toni Elias, especially the latter. While Guintoli has shown some progress in adapting to the Ducati, the Spaniard – chosen for the team by compatriot d’Antin – has failed to make significant progress. CASEY Stoner led the field in several areas at the Sachsenring … even the most uncomfortable one of having the fastest crash. The defending champion was one of a number of big names to go flying on Friday, and his fifth-gear fall – at some 250 km/h – was the fastest of all of them. Thanks to good safety equipment and provisions, and an element of luck, Stoner walked away, and was later seen laughing it all off in his pit box. The crash happened as he wheeled right after a series of seven left-hand corners, on the plunge down the steep so-called ‘waterfall’ back straight. The front wheel folded under, and Stoner slid a long way on his front, across the trackside tarred area and into the gravel. Two years before, he’d been ruled out of the race after crashing there in morning warm-up – a decision that still rankles. “We’d had some difficulties this morning with the front end, but only on the left side,” he reported. “On the right side everything’s been working very well all day, so it caught me by surprise. I couldn’t stick my knee in to try and save it … already gone too far. “We just maybe made a little mistake, or hit the wrong patch. But the bike’s been working very well, especially in that part of the track as well, so we’re not worried,” he said, adding: “The Ducati bucks and weaves and it’s an aggressive bike, but it’s also rewarding when you ride it hard enough. You’ve just got to not worry about it.” The next-fastest faller was fellow-Australian Anthony West, at 230 km/h, and he was not so lucky. He suffered painful back and other injuries, while his motorcycle was completely destroyed. The steering head was completely broken off, something his team had never seen before. Others to tumble on Friday were Pedrosa, Edwards, Dovizioso and Toseland. Pedrosa and Edwards repeated the feat on race day. Big names and numbers in crash-fest practice