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GP Week : Issue 52
HIGH SIDES n Mattia Pasini was a doubtful starter at Assen after Aprilia seized his Team Toth’s motorcycles after the Catalunya GP, claiming unpaid bills. The bikes were returned at Assen, but without the vital electronics. These were only handed over with barely an hour to go before first practice, after the bank had confirmed a payment had been received. n The plan for competing tyre companies has been dropped, and Dunlop will be the sole supplier for the junior-league series which begins next year. A third tyre company had shown some early interest, and Michelin dropped out only at the final stages. In the end only Dunlop put in an offer. Dunlop are already effectively sole supplier for the 250 and 125 classes. n Rossi’s unforgettable last- corner move on Lorenzo at Catalunya had not been pre- planned, he said at Assen. “I tried to pass him more or less everywhere,” he said. n Assen was the first race since the change in MotoGP tyre rules, allowing riders to alter the soft- hard front tyre allocation from four of each to three of one and five of the other. But so far it made little difference. With the uncertain weather of the Dutch circuit, all teams except for Suzuki hedged their bets by sticking to the 4:4 allocation. Suzuki went 3:5 in favour of the harder compound. n Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso was careful to praise the new chassis he got for tests at Catalunya, but kept a tactful silence on the matter of engine modifications … aggressive throttle response has been a bugbear from the beginning. Before the weekend started, he sidestepped the question again at Assen. “Now I don’t know, but I don’t think it will be too many races before we get new parts,” he said. 1 Ducati teamster unhappy with slow riders, inco stoner lashes MARLBORO Ducati’s Casey Stoner, 2007 World Champion, made a blistering attack on riders who hog the racing line at low speed, and on race direction that fails to impose any consistent discipline, after being slowed on a fast qualifying lap by Sete Gibernau and missing the front row for the first time this year, at Assen. Stoner also named Randy de Puniet as a frequent offender; and fingered Loris Capirossi for getting in his way today. (Capirossi was the villain of another such incident, when he slowed De Angelis and Talmacsi by being slow and in the way at the end of qualifying, almost causing a crash.) “It’s dangerous, but not only in MotoGP but also in 125s and 250s. Riders are getting away with everything; there’s no punishment for some unbelievable riding,”he said. “Just this weekend alone, I think, six to eight times I’ve been held up in unbelievably dangerous areas: y’know sixth gear and everybody knows how hard it is to change direction. You’re completely committed to this corner and there’s no way you can change the line, so there’s been some really hairy riding. I think things need to change,”he told a lively Press debrief. He’d been guilty himself in 2006 of getting in Pedrosa’s way, and been fined 1,000 Euros. Now such incidents were passing unpunished: “There’s no justice and no system,”he said. “I feel they should at least set down some rules, and stick to them.”He hoped to have a meeting with race director Paul Butler, but when he’d brought the problem up at safety meetings, he found a sort of “that’s racing”attitude. “People are playing with riders’ safety.” One problem is that these riders are waiting to pick up a tow from the Ducati, and when they see Stoner coming they work up to almost racing speed: “Then I have to slow down or barge past them,”he complained. Rossi agreed, up to a point: “This is the risk when someone is waiting for another rider,” he said. But, like front- simoncelli takes the ho DEFENDING 250 champion Marco Simoncelli has drawn the line under fevered speculation as to his MotoGP future, by signing for the San Carlo- sponsored Gresini Honda team for next year. The charismatic rider had something like the pick of the teams, and had talks with Yamaha Tech 3 and Suzuki in the preceding weeks. Under the regulation introduced this year, as a class rookie he is prevented from joining a full factory team, although Suzuki is excepted, since the manufacturer does not support any satellite team. “I am very happy with my decision,”he said; suggesting that he might have had certain promises from HRC for the future, prompting him to choose the Big H. But team chief Fausto Gresini denied the factory had brokered the deal. “It has the blessing of HRC, but no involvement. It was all me,”he said. At the same time, the Gresini team announced it had secured continuing sponsorship from Italian snacks manufacturer San Carlo, backers of the well-regarded Italian team for the past four years – welcome news in the current financial climate. Team spokesman Carlo Merlini could not confirm either who Simoncelli’s team-mate would be, or whether the rider would have a factory motorcycle. “We have worked closely with HRC for many years, and have had a single factory machine every year recently except one,” he said. Currently the team’s works bike is allocated to Toni Elias, with team-mate Alex de Angelis on a production-level machine. Both are out of contract at the end of the year, and Merlini added: “Neither have given us much reason to be pleased so far this year.” Footnote: Another persistent rumour linking Jorge Lorenzo to a move to Honda was still circulating at Assen, where Yamaha Racing MD Lin Jarvis confirmed negotiations are still in progress to try to keep Rossi’s superstar team-mate: “We would like to keep Jorge, and I think Jorge feels the ideal scenario is to stay with us, and we certainly think that. But of course the conditions have to be right, and that is what we are working on.”