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GP Week : Issue 26
>>Moto GPnews Nicky Hayden pulls out to be fit for Indy NICKY Hayden pulled out of the San Marino GP on race morning, after struggling through practice with the right foot injury that ruled him out of the Czech Republic GP, in the hope that it will allow him to be in better condition for his second home GP at Indianapolis in two weeks. He broke his heel bone after crashing in practice for the X- games – a made-for-TV event in Los Angeles. Hayden was to compete in the Supermoto event, but a heavy landing from one of the jumps fractured two bones in his heel, and he has been on crutches ever since. Throughout practice he was wondering if he had come back too soon, as the pain got worse and worse. It also interfered with his riding technique: his dirt-track training means he relies more than other riders on the rear brake, and uses a larger disc than most. “I normally use the rear brake quite a lot, but the problem is where my brake is, when I touch it or push the peg it pushes right back into the break on the bone. We put a lot lighter spring on and it helped a bit, but …. “My foot’s getting a little bit worse each session,”he said, after qualifying 16th. “I ride a lot more with my lower body than my upper body, and I use my feet a lot to change direction,”he added. With the pain and bruising worse on race morning, he decided to pull out. “This wasn’t an easy decision. I love to race, and the racer in me wanted to race, but in this kind of situation it’s better to listen to the experts,”he said. New Suzuki chassis “a big step forward” RIZLA Suzuki rider Chris Vermeulen described the new chassis first used in post-Brno tests as “a big step forward”, after he and team-mate Loris Capirossi placed fourth and fifth in free practice, on race tyres. The benefits were less clear on qualifying tyres, where they placed seventh and 11th; but in the race the Australian rider had a storming recovery ride from a first-lap near crash, pulling through from 13th on lap one to fifth. “I did my fastest lap on lap 25 of 28,” he said. “It’s just a shame I wasn’t with the front group from the beginning, or things might have been very different.” Capirossi was two places lower, after losing time early on with a front tyre that took time to develop the right feeling. Both riders had tested the new chassis after Brno, and requested Suzuki to bring it to this race. Both switched to it in the first practice session, after only a handful of laps on the old bikes, which were parked for the rest of the weekend. The team was secretive, surrounding the new bikes with screens whenever any bodywork was removed (it is not known how much the screens improved lap times). But some changes were obvious because the new bikes lacked the enclosing bodywork ahead of the rear wheel. With main chassis spars looking identical, apart from any subtle geometry shifts the main change appears to be in weight distribution. The fuel tank has been moved lower and rearward to change the balance of the bike, and to cut weight transfer under braking. 17