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GP Week : Issue 36
>>Moto GPnews Two more years for FIAT as Rossi appeal grows FIAT has rescued the factory Yamaha team from sponsorship anxiety – and possibly liberated backing for another team – after signing up to sponsor Valentino Rossi and his team- mate for another two years. With the downturn in new car sales there had been serious concerns that the Italian car giant might pull out. Yamaha were said to have a fall-back position with Malaysian petrol giant Petronas, but now the strength of this proposed alliance will not have to be tested. Sponsorship – or the lack of it – has been a key issue in MotoGP; while Fiat’s continuation is yet more proof of the power of Rossi’s name. Naturally, everyone concerned expressed the customary delight, and Lin Jarvis, MD of Yamaha Motor Racing, added: “Fiat’s decision to continue for a further two years is a sign of confidence in our activities and a strong confirmation of the value of being involved in the MotoGP championship.” Fiat has not had any direct involvement in the team or shown any paddock presence in the past two years, but have provided special livery for Rossi’s machine more than once, including as a co- promotion for the launch of the Fiat Cinquecento. Will Petronas find another home for its sponsorship backing? Without the Rossi draw-card, it is hard to see any other available team offering sufficient chance of success. Nakano factory Honda was test for satellite teams WHEN Shinya Nakano was given a factory Honda from the end of the summer break, most assumed it was as a test platform for a switch to Bridgestone tyres in the future. But the switch, for Dani Pedrosa, came after only one more race, adding weight to Honda’s denials of this role for 14 the Japanese veteran, riding for Fausto Gresini’s San Carlo Honda team. Now, as Repsol Honda team manager Kazuhiko Yamano promised a winter of fast work to improve title chances for next season, comes news that in 2009 satellite teams will be supplied with replicas of this year’s factory machine, as raced by Dani Pedrosa. One major difference is that Pedrosa followed team- mate Hayden’s lead to the pneumatic-valve-spring motor. Nakano never used this engine, and nor will the satellite teams next year. At present, factory team Honda riders Pedrosa and Dovizioso and returned Gresini rider Toni Elias will get the pneumatic version. The rest, de Angelis, de Puniet and Takahashi, will have the lower-revving and less powerful steel-spring engine. One advantage for HRC will be better focus. During 2008, attention was diverted between the two engine types.