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GP Week : Issue 54
HIGH SIDES n First-year factory-team rider Andrea Dovizioso cannot conceal his disappointment with his Honda, but denied rumours that he has been in talks with Ducati and Yamaha for a switch in 2010. “I have not spoken to anyone,” he said. n There will be no early return for the Chinese Haojue 125 team, after riders Michael Ranseder and Matt Hoyle have been told they are free to take up other offers. The Surtees- backed team split with original engine designer Jan Witteveen after reliability and performance problems. A planned return with a proprietary engine is on hold. “We are in discussions with China,” said team chief Garry Taylor. The Chinese principals are thought to want an original engine that can be their own intellectual property. n HRC has denied cutting Japan’s only MotoGP rider Yuki Takahashi loose, after his Scot team suggested that Honda had been unable to supply extra machines so they could retain Takahashi alongside new signing Gabor Talmacsi. The problem had been the team’s inability to pay for the equipment, they said. n With current team chief ‘Aspar’ Martinez’s MotoGP ambitions so frequently thwarted, 250 star Alvaro Bautista’s name is now linked with a possible move to Suzuki, after rumours the team had been in talks with the Spanish star. Suzuki has also re-opened talks with Ben Spies, after losing the triple US champion to Yamaha this year. n Spies remains hot property, with Yamaha hoping to keep him on board and offer him a MotoGP berth possibly as soon as next year, though preferably only after he has first won the World Superbike title. “He’s young, he’s talented and he looks like very strong rider, even for the MotoGP,” said Yamaha chief Furusawa. But he contradicted published rumours, and said nothing had yet been signed. n Jorge Lorenzo will not be at full strength for the German GP, after his injuries from his Laguna Seca high-side were confirmed back home in Barcelona. A separated right shoulder and a broken bone in his left foot were confirmed. 1 silly seasonspells d THE early start to the rider reshuffles triggered when Marco Simoncelli signed for the Gresini Honda team has put big question marks against the names of several high-level riders who face an uncertain MotoGP future. The list of names facing the chop includes some who might deserve better – but for the push of talent coming from below. With Alvaro Bautista another 250 star expected to move up, and with Kawasaki not expected to be on the grid, there are more good riders available than there are good seats to be had. Riders whose careers are under threat are: Chris Vermeulen – who might now be regretting turning down a satellite Honda rider in favour of Suzuki. In three years, the bike has not given him much chance to shine. He’d be lucky to get another satellite Honda chance. Toni Elias – whose erratic brilliance has not been much in evidence, after his return from a difficult Ducati year to a factory Honda with the Gresini team. Marco Melandri is earmarked to join Simoncelli in the team, meaning no place for Toni. Alex de Angelis – In his second year with the Gresini team, de Angelis has failed to consolidate on the promise he showed now and then in 2008. Seen as a certain candidate for Moto2. James Toseland – The double World Superbike Champion had some promising rides in his first Yamaha year, but has struggled to reproduce the same form this time round. One possibility is a return to Superbikes with Yamaha, with Ben Spies to take his place in the satellite Yamaha team. Colin Edwards – Another double Superbike champ whose time may now be running out. He’s highly valuable to Yamaha, but the company needs to concentrate on developing riders for the future. Kenny Roberts ready for Grand Prix return FORMER dominant Yamaha team principal and later independent MotoGP manufacturer Kenny Roberts, forced out of the premier class by sponsorship problems, plans a two-rider team for his return to the paddock in next year’s Moto2 class. Although his race workshop in England’s Formula One Belt in Oxfordshire has been closed since the end of 2007, Roberts has a chassis and cycle-parts design ready to be adapted to take the spec Honda motor. Nicknamed “King Kenny” for his dominant hat-trick of 500-class titles in the 1970s, Roberts said: “The format is the way it should be. So far it appears they are doing the right stuff to make a team profitable.” The Team Roberts Banbury workshop was a top-level chassis design and manufacturing facility, running Modenas and later Proton machines in the premier class with engines of their own design – but a lack of funding forced the 2007 withdrawal. But Roberts continued to plan his return to MotoGP as part of a Las Vegas-backed multi- motor sports programme, even though that project has dragged on without resolution for three years. For Moto2, he plans to adapt a track-day bike built to use the three-cylinder Triumph 600 motor. “We still have a skeleton crew and the equipment in England to build a chassis,”he said. It would probably take three months to have a motorcycle ready, the first designed and Britain. “We will probably build it somewhere else. That’s yet to be determined,”he said. “I'd like to get a couple of young American riders,”he said, adding: “We want to be up front, because it’s rough selling it if you're not.”