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GP Week : Issue 42
HIGH SIDES n Honda will kick off celebrations for 50 years of World Championship racing at Motegi, with demonstrations of the seminal RC142 125 twin that first competed at the Isle of Man TT in 1959. n Valentino Rossi is one of six nominees for the prestigious Laureus World Sportsman of the Year award. n Sete Gibernau pronounced himself happy to have completed race distance after dropping back to 13th as he slowed towards the end of the Qatar GP. The 36- year-old, oldest in any class, is finding recovery from shoulder problems slower than anticipated. n Far from making the racing closer, the single tyre rule actually meant bigger gaps throughout the Qatar field than the previous year. This year’s top 15 covered more than a minute, and last year’s 58.930s. n Two fans of night racing hope the Qatar event will not be returned to the daytime in spite of the debacle in the rain. Casey Stoner said “what happened on Sunday night was about as unlucky as you can get;” while Marlboro Ducati team-mate Nicky Hayden opined: “Maybe it won’t rain again like that for another 20 years.” n The 800s took just over two years to beat top speed records set by their 990cc predecessors. The highest speeds have been recorded at Qatar, with the 990 mark set by Max Biaggi’s 990 Honda at 334.4 kmh back in 2004. This year, Pedrosa’s smaller Honda ran 338.6 kmh. The major reason given for cutting engine size was to “reduce the increase in top speeds” for safety. 12 Moto2 bikes break cover in Spain WITH moves afoot to open the 250 class to the new Moto2 600cc four-strokes as soon as next year, a year earlier than originally planned, the first two examples have broken cover for competitive testing at a race meeting in Spain. Although neither machine raced, they went out in practice and qualifying with the production-based 1000cc Extreme Superbike class in the keenly contested Spanish national championship (CEV). And in spite of giving away 400cc, the pair of machines ‘qualified’on the second row of the grid, placing fifth and seventh. One was a Honda-powered machine built by the Blusens BQR GP team and ridden by Daniel Rivas, while the Yamaha- powered Laglisse team machine, ridden by Angel Rodriguez, was faster. The new-generation machines are being allowed to run with but not race against the CEV bikes during the season, and GP rights lease- holders Dorna plan to organise a special series of exhibition races later in the season, if ten or more entries can be found. It represents a chance for prospective teams to start on machine development, but with technical regulations not finalised some may prefer to wait. A single engine rule has been accepted, but with no confirmation on who will supply these in-line four- cylinder motors. Lap times suggested that these earliest ‘prototypes’ – a full race chassis combined with a production engine – are already competitive with existing 250cc two-strokes. With further development, and if 2010 does see a two-stroke/ four-stroke cross-over year, the new bikes seem set to thrash the old in the same way as 990cc four-strokes trounced the departing 500cc two-strokes. Fuel consumption a concern for Motegi FUEL consumption, always high on the agenda since the 21-litre limit was introduced along with the 800s for 2007, will again be a major concern for next weekend’s Japanese GP at Motegi. The Honda-owned circuit is punishing in this respect not because of high speeds – the fastest ever lap (Lorenzo’s pole last year) was only 163.8 km/h – but because of the stop-and- go nature. Much of the circuit comprises drag-strip straights followed by hard braking for u-turns, and the constant hard acceleration punishes consumption. Even at Qatar there were some worries, though slippery conditions on the post-rain track meant it was less of a concern. Even so, de Angelis’s storming ride to sixth was followed by running out of fuel on the slow-down lap. Stoner revealed that the Ducati team had cut power to save fuel for the race, “but unfortunately I wasn’t able to run the lap times.” He had switched to the normal power programme to regain speed and fend off Rossi’s challenge. “I just tried to manage it. I think every race I’ve ever done I’ve tried to manage the fuel, and today was one of those times.” All the bikes have fuel-use management programmes built in to monitor use during the race. Again, Ducati led the way; the company’s accurate management meant they could use more of the 21-litre allocation to produce power than other more conservative systems. But new rider Hayden had complained that the system, along with Ducati’s other sophisticated electronics, make the machine unpredictable. “Sometimes one lap it’s completely different from the one before,”he said.