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GP Week : Issue 116
v DUCATI Marlboro riders Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden welcomed the new chassis both used at Le Mans and praised the improvement in front-end feeling and corner performance. But both added the same rider: “It’s not enough.” The factory brought a new front chassis section with increased flexibility for testing after Estoril, and both riders used it for the race in France. It gave Rossi his first Ducati rostrum, but only after two riders ahead had crashed out. “It’s better, but we expected more,” said Rossi during practice. “I am entering the corners like an old lady with a big bag of shopping in the supermarket, and I continue to have problems on the front.” A last-minute setting change improved his race performance, but he is hoping for a chassis with even more flexibility in the near future. Hayden said he had been asking for it for a long time: “It’s not a step, but it’s a direction. The first time I rode the carbon bike I told Filippo (Preziosi, Ducati designer) it was too stiff for me. “I wish they had made a bigger change, but it takes a long time to make a carbon chassis. If they did bring a different one to a race, I would be happy to test it during race weekend.” They also tested and liked an engine with a heavier flywheel, to tame throttle response, but again both felt that Ducati had not gone far enough. Rossi thought he might get the new engine to race at the next round in Barcelona, but the problem is that the engine rule allowing riders only six units meant that once committed to a motor, they would have to use it. Angry Stoner fined for punch-out on straight CASEY Stoner laughed off a 5,000-Euro fine for lashing out at another rider during morning warm-up, saying “it’s good to see race direction actually making a decision on something. For them to make a judgement is quite rare”. But he admitted he had seen red, after home hero Randy de Puniet, cruising at low speed, had veered across in front of him as he ran onto the back straight at more than 200 km/h. “ You’re coming out of that corner in fourth or fifth gear. Randy looked back and saw me, then pulled across. I was coming on him so fast and I had nowhere to go, and the wall by the track was really close. When something like that happens your heart goes in your throat and you think you are going to die.” He slowed alongside the Frenchman, and gave him a punch on the arm, followed by one of his very familiar displays of head- shaking and arm-waving. After the race each apologised to the other and thought it was over ... until they were summoned to race direction. De Puniet escaped censure; Stoner was hit with the fine. to access a huge global audience ADVeRTISe in gPWeeK Ducati changes good – but “not good enough” HIGH SIDES n Colin Edwards’s crew chief Guy Coulon may be charged with involuntary manslaughter after a horror crash en route from the Tech 3 team’s headquarters in the south of France to Le Mans. Coulon was driving the Moto2 transporter, and is understood to have reversed at a toll booth, not realising a motorcyclist had pulled up behind him. The motorcyclist suffered fatal injuries. The team’s truck was impounded, but the contents and the driver released for the race. n All the pre-race talk was about MotoGP “pussies”, after Rossi had applied the label to the current generation in the wake of criticism of Simoncelli’s forceful riding. How did Jorge Lorenzo respond? A carefully rehearsed answer at the pre-event Press conference made it clear: “It must be a shame to be beaten by kids every weekend.” n Honda’s Moto3 bike will be launched at the next race at Catalunya, with former 125 and 500 champion Alex Criville riding it for demo laps on Friday and on race day. The bike is a 250cc single cylinder four-stroke, replacement for the current 125 two-strokes, and will be the first of its type to be seen. n Honda’s 1000cc MotoGP bike for next year makes a first appearance this week, at private tests at Jerez. Stoner and Pedrosa were both due to test the bike, but now only Stoner will be fit enough. He was dubious about testing a different bike mid-season, adding with a grin: “Maybe I won’t want to ride the 800 again after that.” n Bridgestone made its first- ever soft-option dual compound tyre for Le Mans, after a spate of cold-tyre left-side accidents last year. One victim was Ben Spies, who joined the other riders in welcoming the move. “It works real good,” he said. 16