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GP Week : Issue 66
THE second round of selection for next year's 250 replacement class, Moto- 2, was completed at Estoril, with 39 riders provisionally accepted, a further 10 on the reserve list, and a number of applicants told there will be no place for them. The selection committee, comprising representatives from the FIM, Dorna and IRTA, pruned down the list as best possible, but it is still over-subscribed. A number of MotoGP, 250 and 125 teams are on the list, but Aprilia is notably absent. The 250 stalwarts had earlier said they would build a chassis to enter the class. Although the new class is also open to 250 two-strokes for the first year, none has been entered. IRTA general secretary Mike Trimby said that they had aimed for "32 to 36 riders, with two wild cards", but that commitments made to existing 250 teams at the start of the plan had resulted in the excess numbers. "On November 2 teams must confirm names of riders, and pay a security deposit of US $25,000 to IRTA," he said. He expected that would cut the numbers to a more manageable level. Twelve current 250 teams are on the list, including Mapfre Aspar, Team Scot and Emmi-Caffe Latte. From MotoGP Hayate, Honda Gresini, Tech 3 and Pramac have been accepted. As revealed in GPWeek, Team Roberts is also on the list, for a racing return. MZ is one of two reserve teams, with the ten reserves also including riders from teams which wanted two riders but have been allowed only one. Moto-2 grid a step closer CASEY Stoner made his return to Estoril as planned, qualified on the front row and raced to a strong second. "I'm glad to have silenced the critics," he said, singling out Kevin Schwantz for special mention. Schwantz had been outspoken about his absence, casting doubt on his dedication as a racer, and adding: "Whatever his problem I think he should have ridden through it ."Stoner's comment went straight to the heart of it: "I've lost a lot of respect for him. It just shows that experience doesn't mean you know everything," he told reporters. Stoner arrived as scheduled, looking fit, saying he was well rested, and full of apologies to his team and to sponsors Marlboro. But he also revealed that doctors are no closer to a diagnosis. The only thing still being tested is possible lactose intolerance, and that is still inconclusive. Before the weekend, he said he was not confident of being able to race at full strength for full distance over the last four rounds, but promised he would push himself harder than he did before the break, when there was still much of the season to go. "These last four races are a lot to do with next year," he said. "I needed the longest break possible, but if I have the same problem now, I'll just live with it, and maybe push myself harder." After the weekend, he was cock-a-hoop about the living proof that his stamina had returned: "I knew I was fast enough," he said. Arm-pump problems and fatigue struck on the first day, but that he said was normal after such a long time -- 10 weeks -- off a MotoGP bike. To his obvious relief, his predictions that things would improve over the coming days came true. The decision to take a break had been very difficult, he said: "I went back to Australia after Donington to get a better understanding of what was going on. I was planning to come back for Brno but we didn't find any solutions in such a short space of time and I had recommendations from the doctors, my wife and my father saying 'That's enough'. For me, it was a really tough decision." It was the longest time he had ever spent without riding, and he hadn't watched the races, "though I did check the results. At 60kg he had gained four kilogrammes, and had only recently started training again -- finding then that fatigue was still a problem. "We've had a lot of doctors on the case and they can see the problem. They could see my heart wasn't working properly and they could see that my fitness level just drops off at a certain point. My heart rate won't go above a certain level even when I push it." "There've been a lot of funny rumours going round, and it has been quite funny to read some of them, especially the one about me retiring," he said. 39 provisional entries for new series on the rostrum "I've silenced the critics" Moto GP news >> 13