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GP Week : Issue 21
HIGH SIDES n The nightmare continues for Anthony West, after last place a lap down at Laguna. The Kawasaki rider can find no front feeling, and ran off the track in his search for it. Frustratingly, one-off replacement rider Jamie Hacking had the same problem, but managed to finish 11th. n There will be no quick relief for Marco Melandri, who had hoped to be released from his contract with Ducati after the US GP. He finished second-to-last. Signs after the race were that he would instead be finishing the season with the team. n San Carlos Honda rider Shinya Nakano’s consistency is to be rewarded with a factory RC212V for the Czech Republic GP. Although never higher than eighth, the experienced Japanese is the only rider to have scored points in every round. The Gresini-owned team has long-standing links with HRC, having run a factory machine for Sete Gibernau and Marco Melandri in the past. n Valentino Rossi was not Casey Stoner’s only target at Laguna Seca. The angry defending champion complained to the Safety Commission about an incident in practice when he nearly collided with class rookie Alex de Angelis. n Team Roberts’hopes of a 2009 MotoGP comeback are still alive, according to team owner Kenny Roberts. Negotiations with a major Las Vegas company have been in progress for more than two years, for Roberts’s MotoGP to join NASCAR and IndyCar teams in a major project. It was, said Roberts, not a question of if it would happen but when. 12 Catch me if you can JAPAN’S top two racing factories will be hoping to unleash some more horsepower after the European summer break, with plenty of new stuff on the menu for two days of post- Brno tests after the Czech Republic GP. The quest for Honda and Yamaha is to haul back some ground on Ducati … even the slow Ducati riders regularly crowd the top of the top- speed figures, and to help Pedrosa and Rossi respectively to prevent Stoner going on another series of runaway wins. Yamaha’s aim will be acceleration as much as speed, according to Rossi: “The bike is very nice now with the Bridgestones,” he said prior to the summer break. “but we are looking for more engine performance, and we expect something for Brno.” The change is more likely to be electronic than mechanical. Honda has similar problems to solve, but more of them, with the factory team already running two different types of engine for Pedrosa and Hayden. “We have two separate lines of development,”said a team spokesman. It might become one, however, if Pedrosa takes to the pneumatic-valve engine that he will test at Brno. Until now, he has preferred the steel-valve-spring motor he has used with great success all season. Team-mate Hayden couldn’t wait to switch to the more powerful pneumatic motor, and after several false promises while HRC kept the motor in Japan, he finally persuaded the factory to let him race it, although they wanted to keep it back for further refinement. “It’s got a bit more juice,” is how he describes the higher- revving motor; but while his general performance has improved, teething troubles have been costly at several races, most notably at Assen, when an electronic programme failure meant he ran out of fuel within sight of the finish line while lying third, dropping to seventh. 2009 Calendar – Hungary in, China out THE provisional 2009 calendar, announced last week, confirms the long-standing rumour that a new Hungarian GP will replace the Chinese round, at an all-new circuit still under construction. With Dorna reluctant to add more rounds, the total number has been preserved at 18, in a year that will start almost a month later than this one, and close some two weeks later at the end of November. As this year, the season will kick off with a floodlit Saturday night race at Qatar, and close at Valencia. Some major reshuffles in between see the Japanese round moved to early in the year, followed by a straight run of five races in Europe, before the US GP, which will again be MotoGP class only. The proposed new round in Hungary follows two bike GPs at the Hungaroring outside Budapest in the 1990s. The new circuit, called the Balatonring, is under construction at the village of Savoly, about 180 km from the capital. It is close to the shores of Lake Balaton, central Europe’s largest lake, and a popular holiday destination. Other changes see the British GP moved back by a month, giving a welcome chance of avoiding the worst of the weather. Provisional Calendar 2009 MotoGP Championship 12 Apr 26 Apr 3 May 17 May 31 May 14 June 27 June 5 July 19 July July 16 Aug 30 Aug 13 Sep 20 Sep 4 Oct 18 Oct 25 Oct 8 Nov Qatar Japan Spain France Italy Catalunya Netherlands United States Germany 26 Great Britain Czech Republic Indianapolis San Marino Hungary Portugal Australia Malaysia Valencia