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GP Week : Issue 102
HIGH SIDES n The notion of a three-rider factory Honda team has re-emerged, after unofficial confirmation that Repsol has agreed to support two rides next year, even though Honda would not budge on demands that team manager Livio Suppo be removed. HRC is seeking another sponsor for a third rider, and it may be Stoner who runs in different colours. n Aleix Espargaro’s MotoGP future is in the balance. Or is it? A Pramac spokesman confirmed discussions with German Superbike rider Max Neukirchner to take the second bike (Capirossi has the first), bringing a valuable sponsor with him. But the rider and his manager have both categorically denied the rumour. n Bright-hope Briton Scott Redding has signed to stay two more years with his Marc VDS Moto2 team ... with a chance of moving with them to MotoGP as soon as 2012. The improving 17-year-old two years ago became the youngest-ever GP winner on a 125. The Belgian team is working with chassis manufacturer Eskil Suter to develop his BMW-powered 1000cc MotoGP prototype, and plan to move to the big class when the regulations change to 1000cc in 2012. n A solemn ceremony honoured the late Shoya Tomizawa, with his parents and brother on the rostrum with FIM and Dorna chiefs, while fans observed a minute of silence. His racing number 48 was formally retired from the class, and his parents were presented with the Michel Metraux trophy, awarded to him posthumously by vote of his fellow riders. n GP chiefs are considering a special dispensation to allow Japanese rider Tomoyoshi Koyama one last season in the 125 class, helping to maintain dwindling numbers and interest in the last year of the littlest two-strokes. He will turn 28, beyond the class age limit, on the eve of the opening round in Qatar. However, he will be below the limit for the start of practice. n Rossi was quick to congratulate former deadly rival Max Biaggi on his hard-won World Superbike Championship ... but now he wants to race him again. He repeated his hopes of taking part in at least one Superbike race next season. DANI Pedrosa’s slender title hopes came to an abrupt end after he had completed less than three laps of his Repsol Honda team’s home circuit of Motegi, when a jammed throttle threw him awkwardly to earth, still tangled with the bike. “It was a strange crash,” he said later, “in only my second full lap, in a slow section of the track. I tried to stop the bike as usual but I knew something was wrong and couldn’t avoid going down. “After the crash I knew immediately that I was injured because it was very painful. I had a big impact in my left ankle and also my collarbone was broken as I hit the track. Obviously it feels very unlucky.” A broken left collarbone was diagnosed immediately, and the 25- year-old Spaniard decided to fly directly home to Barcelona, to have the injury treated by favourite MotoGP surgeon Dr Xavier Mir. He endured a gruelling 18-hour flight via Paris, and on Saturday, in a two-hour operation, the “four-fragment” injury was successfully plated and screwed. A suspected broken left ankle was also diagnosed as a much less serious sprain. Dr Mir would give no prognosis on recovery time, but only wild optimists would expect him to leave the hospital for the airport departure lounge, to fly directly to Malaysia. This effectively hands the title to Lorenzo, who need finish only eighth in the remaining rounds even if Pedrosa does miraculously return to win all four remaining rounds. It is more likely that Pedrosa will miss at least the next two races in Malaysia and Australia, while double race winner Casey Stoner now has a serious chance of claiming second overall. He is currently 48 points adrift of Pedrosa, but a couple more wins in his absence would see him move ahead. Hell of a birthday! A short while later, Dani (right) was on his way home wih a broken collarbone .. Pedrosa fights for fitness after two-hour op First-day crash gives Stoner a sniff of second 16