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GP Week : Issue 72
One team goes, another arrives SCOT Honda's drawn-out agonies have come to an end, with the Italian team finally announcing they will not run in MotoGP next year, after failing to secure sufficient backing. With great regret, according to team chief Cirano Mularoni, the Italian squad will concentrate on Moto2. During the same week, however, the replacement team for rider Hiro Aoyama confirmed sponsorship from Austrian gambling web-site Interwetten, ending rumours that the proposed new squad had run into troubled waters. The team retains links with manager Dani Epp's old 250 squad, with the same sponsor backing ex-250 rider Thomas Luthi in Moto2. This drops next year's entry back to 17. but at the same time, Honda indicated that the company may still be willing to supply a seventh rider, should a candidate come forward. Displaced rider Alex de Angelis was also dropping broad hints at the tests that his own MotoGP hopes "may not be over", but this was regarded as over-optimistic. Scot Honda won the 250 title with Hiro Aoyama, but had already been obliged to let the rider go to the new Epp team -- the Japanese rider made a cautious start at tests, riding the Scot bike raced by Gabor Talmacsi. This is the second time of losing a rider: the previous year they had been forced to let Andrea Dovizioso move, to the factory Honda team. Moto2 riders shu e into place SEATS are filling up in Moto2, with only a handful of saddles not yet taken. The latest signings announced are for the coveted Tech 3 team positions: 250 bright rookie Raffaele de Rosa and former 250 star Yuki Takahashi will join the French squad. The biggest news is not yet confirmed, but it seems certain that Toni Elias will stay with the San Carlo team, moving down a class. Elias tested the Gresini team machines at Valencia, and ran quickest -- his best time of 1'37.2 was six seconds off the MotoGP pace, and two off the best-ever 250 lap. And the most enticing rumour is that Nicky's younger brother Roger-Lee Hayden is considering the move into the class from US racing. Displaced MotoGP rider Gabor Talmacsi will join 125 ace Iannone in the Speed-Up Aprilia squad; with Niccolò Canepa strongly linked to the Hayate team. Sometime 250 and Superbike rider Fonsi Nieto is set to make a GP return. From the 250 class, Debon, di Meglio, Pasini, Abraham, Luthi, Faubel, Wilairot and Leonov are considered settled; while the impressive Jules Cluzel is linked with two teams: Hayate and his 2009 Matteoni squad. Lukas Pesek is not yet signed. Aegerter, Simon, Olive and Bradl are due up from 125s, but Moto2 hopeful Scott Redding is still looking for a berth. Outsiders coming in include Spanish national star Kenny Noyes, former Modenas GP rider Davide de Gea; while Superstock champion Xavier Simeon from Belgian tested the San Carlo machine at Valencia. Elias tops test times Stoner's warm-up crash "not my mistake" IN the wake of the capture of three race engineers from the factory Yamaha team, the factory Honda squad has recruited Ducati project manager Livio Suppo to join the Repsol-backed team next year. Suppo has been with Ducati since 1999, and was responsible for recruiting Stoner to the team in 2007. He had decided to leave, he said, to move out of team management. He will join Repsol Honda as marketing manager. "For the first year I will get to know the team and the people, and work on finding sponsorship and riders for 2011," he said. His place at Ducati will be taken by test rider Vittoriano Guareschi as team manager, with current Ducati Corse marketing manager Alessandro Cicognani taking over as project leader. All concerned denied rumours that Suppo had been eased out of the position, with Stoner particularly paying tribute: "Livio has been great for me," he said. "He has supported me in everything: when I was away in the middle of the season he put no pressure on me, and emailed me every two or three days." Footnote: There was another shock, when long-time Ducati Superbike team chief Davide Tardozzi announced on the weekend that he was to quit the team, after losing the 2009 championship to Yamaha. Tardozzi also manages Ducati rider Michel Fabrizio, whose performance during the year frequently robbed team- mate Nori Haga of points, contributing to the loss of the title. Paddock rumours linked Tardozzi with a possible move to Yamaha, to take over the team management role in Lorenzo's pit vacated by the departing Daniele Romagnoli. Was it a tyre problem? 16