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GP Week : Issue 66
Moto GP news >>Vermeulen takes the Superbike option CHRIS Vermeulen will follow fellow MotoGP rider James Toseland back to the World Superbike paddock in 2010, after rejecting satellite-team offers in favour of a full factory offer from Kawasaki. "I've signed for two years," he said, "because they will have a new bike in 2011." He has also been impressed by the level of commitment: "Kawasaki will not have a team in MotoGP or in AMA Superbike, so they are putting all their resources and concentration on World Superbike," he said. "There's going to be a lot of testing before the season starts, which shows me they are serious." Vermeulen's options in MotoGP had been firstly with Pramac Ducati, and he had been talking to them "right up until I signed yesterday", he said; and secondly with a planned continuation of the Hayate Kawasaki team, using leased Yamaha engines. "It would have been nice tostayhere...onatop team. But what bike can you compete on to win right now? There's not many of them," he said. His mistake in MotoGP, he thought, had been to stay one year too long with Suzuki, after promises of improved machine performance for 2009 had not come to fruition. He hoped to be competing for race wins and the title back in Superbikes, especially after the first year. "I'm very excited about it," he said. Vermeulen is a former World Supersport Champion and Superbike runner up. He won the French GP in 2007, but his results have suffered along with Suzukis in the subsequent years. "My goal was always to come here, but now I don't see it as a step backwards. I think I am going to have fun, 30 bikes on the grid, and a lot of testing, and none of these stupid rules trying to stop you from improving," he said. MARLBORO Ducati rider Nicky Hayden had a lucky escape in qualifying at Estoril after a high-speed collision on the main straight with San Carlo Honda rider Alex de Angelis ... one race after the same rider knocked him and Colin Edwards off at the first corner at Misano. The collision occurred as they passed the pits at a speed of 274 km/h, according to Hayden's data. But although the team complained to Race Direction, no action was taken. "We've all done dumb-ass things ... but twice in two races is too much," said Hayden. "I was just hooking fifth when I felt a big bang. I thought my rear tyre had come to pieces, and I backed off. Then I smelled rubber and de Angelis came by me, and I realised what had happened. He hit me straight from behind." By the greatest good fortune, neither fell. The team complained to Race Direction immediately. "They looked at the videos and said it seemed as though he was drafting me and looking at his pit board. But they said nothing happened, so they took no action. "But one day, something may happen," he added. De Angelis slams Hayden ... ... then Hayden slams him back, verbally Pedrosa and Stoner crucial to title, says Rossi AFTER the Portuguese GP there are only two candidates for the MotoGP title -- points leader Valentino Rossi and Fiat Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo. But two other riders could play a crucial role, according to Rossi, who lost a possible seven points when he finished fourth instead of second to winner Lorenzo. With the gap now down to 18, a couple more such results would cut his lead down to just three for the final race. "I am worried about the championship, because now it's not just me and Jorge. "Dani and Casey will play an important part to decide this championship in the last three races. They are both in good shape, so if you have a problem like I had today, you lose more points. "Dani has found a good balance with the Honda, and now with Casey's return so strong it is more complicated. "The level is so high with all of us that if you don't have a good setting, you arrive fourth." But he was looking forward to two of the three final tracks: "Phillip Island is one of my favourites, and I have had a lot of success also at Sepang," he said. "Only Valencia is not so good for me." 14