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GP Week : Issue 97
Moto GP news >> Stoner forks his chances with front-end gamble DESPERATE to claim at least one more win before quitting Ducati for Honda, Casey Stoner took a gamble to try to cure the problems that have spoiled his 2010 season, switching to the latest prototype Öhlins front forks that only appeared for testing after the last race. The new forks revert to the piggy-back reservoir design and 42mm diameter of the older forks Stoner has preferred in recent races, but incorporate some of the advantages of the 48mm 'through-rod'forks used by all the rest. Others tried them at the rain-cut Brno tests, but only Stoner decided to switch to them immediately. The 2007 World Champion lost all impetus at the start of the year, crashing out of the lead in the opening round at Qatar and again two races later at Le Mans. Both tumbles, as well as a number of others in practice, were caused when the front end lost grip and tucked under: and an unsuccessful search for improved front-end fidelity cost him places at other races, with a slight improvement after reverting to the earlier design of piggy-back forks. After the first day of practice Stoner said: "We tried the new front fork today and it felt good, although this is not the kind of circuit where you can really push so it's hard to say if it improved the package." Nonetheless, he stuck with the units for the weekend. Indy track takes stick as top men tumble VALENTINO Rossi and Casey Stoner led weekend complaints about the state of the seldom-used Indy infield circuit, after both had gone flying during Saturday morning's second free session. When Rossi followed it up with a second crash in the afternoon session, crucially while he was trying to improve his poor qualifying position, it loosened his tongue as well as shaking up a few fillings and leg-screws: "I don't know when was the last time I crashed twice in one day, but for sure it was many years ago ... back in the 1990s, perhaps," he said. "This track is very bumpy, and I really think something needs to be done to some parts," he continued. His nemesis in qualifying had been over-hard rear suspension combined with a killer bump in Turn Six, where several other riders fell: "Already two years ago at the Safety Commission we asked for that hole to be filled," he said. Stoner also criticised the bumps, but singled out drainage gaps in the kerb -- he caught his knee in one in practice, suffering a painful bang and losing his knee slider ... his team formally complained to the track. Ironically, team-mate Hayden suffered a similar fate, losing his knee-slider early in the race, to rule him out of the front group. Another complication at the Indy circuit is a range of surfaces, on an infield circuit that was redesigned (in reverse direction) from the short-lived F1 track: the front straight uses the main Oval circuit, then the surface changes as they run onto the infield. A third surface is encountered on a new section, specially put in for the bikes. The track seldom sees any action, with the MotoGP event its main reason for existence -- but there is time for improvement. During the weekend, MotoGP renewed its contract with the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway until 2011. 19