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GP Week : Issue 36
HIGH SIDES n Valentino Rossi has promised there will be no chumming up with team- mate Jorge Lorenzo, now the pair is on the same control tyres. He has asked for the wall – installed between his Bridgestone effort and Lorenzo’s on Michelin – to be kept in place for 2009. n Lorenzo, who split from manager Dani Amatriain during 2008, is changing his number to indicate a new chapter, and readers of Spanish sports papers will choose the number. Voting has narrowed down to a choice between 23, and 99. IN an official goodbye to motorcycle GP racing for the foreseeable future at least, Michelin produced some numbers to remind MotoGP of what it has lost – and what the series’ history owes to the French manufacturer. The company joined the series in 1973, and the late Jack Findlay scored its first win at the Isle of Man TT that year. The last was at Catalunya in 2008. The victor was Dani Pedrosa. Ironically, later in the year, Honda was persuaded to make a controversial switch for Pedrosa alone, to Bridgestones. This was a key moment in the seemingly unstoppable progress towards the single-tyre rule. In between, Michelin amassed a total of 357 premier-class wins, with 42 different race winners and 26 World Championships, as the rubber behind a roll-call of racing heroes. Among them are Barry Sheene, n Somehow it’s not difficult to imagine Marco Simoncelli (above) joining the family business, had his racing career not taken off. Dad owns an ice-cream parlour on the Rimini resort coast, and Marco would be a dab hand with the tutti- frutti and pistachio. n Kawasaki will be rolling out a new Ninja ZX-RR in 2009, with the latest version of the green machine set to make its debut at the Sepang winter test in the New Year. The team will provide riders John Hopkins and Marco Melandri with the redesigned bike with the hope of eradicating a troublesome rear grip issue that plagued Hopkins and Anthony West last season. 12 Freddie Spencer, Eddie Lawson and Kevin Schwantz, as well as serial winners Wayne Rainey, Mick Doohan and (until 2007) Valentino Rossi. Michelin’s last World Champion was Nicky Hayden in 2006. Since then, rule changes with restricted tyre numbers selected before turning a wheel, have played out of their hands, favouring relatively recent rivals Bridgestone. Michelin was denied its trump card: the ability to tailor-make a tyre for a particular European event, and deliver it overnight to European circuits, making up the bulk of the season. ADVERTISE in GPWEEK to access a huGE global audience MICHELIN play the history card