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GP Week : Issue 113
HIGH SIDES n Alvaro Bautista is confident of making a comeback at Estoril on the Rizla Suzuki, after being cleared by doctors to start cycling and swimming training last week. He broke his femur in practice for the first race at Qatar on March 20, leaving the one-rider team high and dry. n The calendar could be cut to 17 races this year, as Dorna struggles to find a replacement for the Japanese GP. The event has not yet been officially cancelled, but radiation fears combined with other post-catastrophe difficulties to makes the postponed October 2 date look increasingly unlikely. “If it is cancelled, there will be no replacement,” Dorna chief Ezpeleta told the Italian Gazetto della Sport. n The US battle of the circuits for bike GPs took two unexpected turns last week. The new Circuit of the Americas facility, scheduled for F1 in 2012 and MotoGP (for ten years) from 2013 was left reeling when promised $25- million state funding was unexpectedly withdrawn. Meanwhile, Indianapolis, where there is no MotoGP contract beyond this year, will resurface the badly criticised infield circuit in time for this year’s bike GP, making it clear they want to retain the event. n A corner at the much reworked Snetterton circuit has been named ‘Agostini’, in honour of bike racing ... ignoring British heroes like Geoff Duke, Mike Hailwood, Phil Read and Barry Sheene, who all raced at the circuit. Other corners are named for (Ayrton) Senna and (Lewis) Hamilton. n Reports that the German GP may have to move from the Sachsenring for financial reasons have been pooh- poohed by Dorna. German newspaper ‘Bild’ had reported that the event at the pocket circuit in the former East Germany was at risk after this year, but Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta told the German-language weekly “Speedweek” that the event was certain to stay. NEXT weekend’s special investigation into the behaviour of the marshals after the Rossi/Stoner incident at Jerez is unlikely to bring MotoGP in line with other world motor-sports, where outside assistance is simply banned. “It would be the only way to avoid debate, and it’s especially an interesting point now. In the past the two-strokes never had a problem ... even the 500s would always restart, if there wasn’t any engine damage. But now we are moving to three categories all four-stroke, it’s becoming quite an issue,” said race director Paul Butler. It was especially acute in MotoGP, where the latest Hondas in particular were almost impossible to push-start, and none of the bikes easy in this regard. “If one guy kept the engine running while the other stalled, should that be a disadvantage? “At a lot of the older circuits,” he continued, “outside assistance was never offered, and there was great difficulty in getting the marshals to help.” But evolution in the modern era meant that, in the interests of the show and subject to safety, it had become normal practice to try to help riders get going again if possible. Banning outside assistance was “certainly a topic to discuss, but that has not been tabled as a proposal,” he said. As to suggestions of employing a permanent force of marshals, Butler said: “ That was one of the 14 original targets of IRTA in 1992” (when the teams’ association played the major part in revolutionising the structure of racing). But it had to be abandoned as financially impossible. “ There are perhaps 30 marshals at each corner, 240 to 260 at each event. You can imagine the expense.” At some new events, including Turkey, China and Qatar, a small group of established international marshals were employed to supervise, but it would be impractical for every event. No ban on ‘push- start’ marshalls Rule change “unlikely” – Race Director 14