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GP Week : Issue 109
HIGH SIDES n Dani Pedrosa’s left arm problems at Qatar, the lingering after-effect of his crash at Motegi last year, will get better ... but when? Numbness and weakness struck badly in the race; medical tests on return home revealed that stretching damage to the nerve plexus to the arm was less severe than feared. He will make a full recovery, but no time scale was given. n Phillip Island will stay on the calen- dar at the end of the season for 2012, after a movement led by Rossi lost the battle to get the date changed to earlier in the year, in search of better weather. The Australian GP Corpora- tion, for whom it would have meant a clash with their F1 GP, has triumphed in retaining the October date. n MotoGP fans will have the chance to support victims of Japan’s cata- strophic earthquake and tsunami, af- ter all 17 riders in the top class added their signatures to a special T-shirt. The message on the front reads “We X Japan”. The shirt will be on sale for 20 Euros at race-tracks and over the of- ficial MotoGP.com website: proceeds to a relevant charity at the retimed Japanese GP on October 2. n Bridgestone has agreed a further three-year contract to supply control tyres for MotoGP, putting an end to an attempt by Michelin to take over, as well as rumoured interest from Pirelli. However the next three-year spell may see teams or Dorna obliged to pay for the tyres, currently supplied free of charge. n Not everyone has Stoner down as 2011 favourite. Not surprisingly, perhaps, Lorenzo’s crew chief Ra- mon Forcada takes a different view. The Spaniard filled the same role for Stoner in his crash-strewn MotoGP debut year in 2006 on the LCR Honda. Forcada told Spanish daily newspaper “Marca”: “He races like a wounded bull. He doesn’t like to practise, he's never been in a gym in his life, he doesn’t diet, he doesn’t take care of himself, and his head fails him. But if he worked like Rossi or Lorenzo, he’d run by himself." Stoner baffled by Rossi's problems "He's not out of the championship yet ..." CASEY Stoner has refused to write off Valentino Rossi’s championship challenge, after expressing puzzlement at the nine-time champion’s lacklustre showing at the opening round in Qatar. “Last year Jorge had a perfect season, but we’ve seen before how even with one or two non- finishes people can still win the title,” he said, after taking a clear win in the desert night. But he was baffled by Rossi’s downbeat showing, qualifying ninth and trailing in seventh on the Ducati GP11: last year Stoner had put the Ducati GP10 on pole, with a lap time more than six tenths quicker than Rossi’s best qualifying lap. The next day, however, he crashed out of a growing lead on lap seven, setting the tone for a year marred by too many front-end crashes. Stoner put his new Honda on pole again this year, running the best part of a second faster than he had on the Ducati. At Losail this year, asked what he thought of the Ducati’s performance, he was “definitely surprised ... not only Valentino, but also Nicky (Hayden). He’s ridden that bike; he’s on his third year. For me, they’re not riding too different a bike from last year, but Nicky’s quite a lot slower. “I don’t know if he was expecting Valentino to lead them in a better direction quickly. “But it’s hard for Ducati to come up with new parts and everything. This is one of the problems we had with them: they just don’t have the funding and infrastructure to develop new things during the season and get them out quickly enough.” Rossi rather cautiously concurred with Stoner’s assessment of the title position. “The championship is long. I think we can go faster. It will be hard work, but we must try.”