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GP Week : Issue 39
HIGH SIDES n Nicky Hayden needed all his former dirt-tracking skills after running off the track at high speed during the televised ‘qualifying’ session. He touched a white line on a flat-out third gear corner, almost crashed, then took to the dirt, managing miraculously to turn the bike to run alongside the wall before finally stopping. “I hit my elbow on the track at first, then I was on the dirt. After that, it was all instinct.” n Sete Gibernau’s new team has dropped the controversial ‘EG’ (Equatorial Guinea) team name from the satellite Ducati. Sponsor Francisco Hernando, himself a controversial figure, is involved in a massive construction project, hand in glove with the feared oil-rich countries dictator, President Teodoro Obiang, who assassinated his uncle to gain control. n MotoGP is looking forward to the brolly dollies for LCR Honda rider Randy de Puniet, after the team secured Playboy sponsorship for the early part of the season. The bike wore the famous bunny- ears logo at Jerez, and will again in Japan and back at Jerez for the Spanish GP. But it will be removed for the Qatar race, where such practices are frowned upon. n Marco Melandri, his career rescued by the unofficial Kawasaki squad, Team Hayate, is hoping the factory will go back on their word not to develop the bike further during the season. It was already a lot better, he said, after placing 12th overall. “The engine feels stronger, and the top speed is good,”he said. 18 Honda plays catch-up as Pedrosa stays away WITH the injured Dani Pedrosa still out of action, the factory Repsol Honda team’s difficulties in the 800 class seemed set to continue, at least in the short term, as new recruit Andrea Dovizioso adapts to the bike and to Bridgestone tyres. The Italian was seventh- fastest at the tests, but 1.5 seconds off Stoner’s pace, and still not comfortable on the bike. From the first he had found the factory machine’s power delivery overly aggressive, and though Honda had ameliorated the situation somewhat, it was still something of a problem: “It’s better, but still not enough. We need to improve the bike,”he said. “For Qatar, I will just have to grit my teeth.” One difficulty was adapting the Honda to the tyres: “We need to understand the weight and stress on the tyres. Everyone has put more weight on the rear, and us also … but it’s still not right. We need more kilometres,”he said, adding: “The new rules restricting testing have made things much worse for us. “For me, my best lap today was fast. But the others were too much faster,”he said. But he repeated his faith in Honda: “They have brought many parts here to test, and we have improved the bike. I am sure they will continue to make it better.” The absence of Pedrosa had not affected him, he said: “It changes nothing. We do our work and he does his. Also I want to test all the parts, not just take those that Dani likes.” Absent from Jerez, Pedrosa only had the cast off his left knee last week, and the joint is still very stiff. It is doubtful whether he will be able to race at all at Qatar, and he will certainly not be fully fit.