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GP Week : Issue 124
Moto GP news >> THE only running prototype for next year’s new ‘CRT’ (Claiming Rule Team) machines came face to face with current MotoGP bikes at the post-Mugello tests – and with ex-MotoGP rider Mika Kallio on board, the Suter-BMW was woefully slow. A best lap of 1’53.668 was 6.3 seconds off the pace – a yawning gap, even compare with the slowest of the regular MotoGP riders Hiro Aoyama, at 1’49.412. That is against this year’s 800cc MotoGP generation: next year’s 1000cc machines will be faster again. “It’s too soon to judge, but it’s not a promising start,” commented one MotoGP engineer, watching the progress with interest. Kallio was riding the Marc VdS prototype, powered by a BMW engine in a Suter- built chassis: the machine is a joint project between the Marc VdS Moto2 team (fielding Kallio and Scott Redding) and the Swiss chassis manufacturer. Marc VdS is one of the team’s accepted for next season’s CRT class, but manager Michael Bartholemy has been wondering out loud whether it would be possible to be competitive enough, or whether it would be better to lease a factory bike. The same question is facing Moto2 star Andrea Iannone, who had a first outing on a MotoGP bike at the tests. Iannone rode a Pramac Ducati, and in the course of 31 laps he was better than 1.2 seconds faster than Kallio. His SpeedMaster team also has an approved CRT entry. The Italian pushed aside questions of his future, but was excited by the outing, especially “the level of grip, and the fact that as soon as you open the throttle the bike takes off. I have to admit it was a little scary,” he said. HONDA had the track virtually to itself at post-race Mugello tests, but for a handful of satellite Ducatis and a single Suzuki – and leading Repsol rider Casey Stoner made the most of it, smashing the lap record set the day before, and comfortably under his own pole position time for Italian GP on the previous weekend. Stoner’s best time, set testing new Bridgestone tyres as well as a revised swing-arm and rear suspension for his factory Honda, was 1’47.326; Lorenzo’s race lap record was 1’48.402, with pole at 1’48.034. It came at the end of a 47-lap day which began with a crash at the first corner in the morning – Stoner blamed a dirty track. His only rival was San Carlo Honda’s Marco Simoncelli, just one tenth slower than the Australian, with second Repsol rider Andrea Dovizioso in third, another six tenths down. Pedrosa, who only did 26 laps to Stoner’s 47 and hard-working Simoncelli’s 83, was sixth-fastest, behind the Ducatis of Hector Barbera and Karel Abraham. The new front tyre, testing compounds for next season, was little different from that used now, he said, but the back-end update was more productive: “ We tested a new swing arm and had positive feedback. We found more traction and some more grip delivered a little earlier, so I don't need to pick up the bike so much. This could help us in a track like Sachsenring where you spend a lot of time on the edge.” The absence of Ducati was expected, but Yamaha withdrew only the week before, having early promised that their 1000cc 2012 bike would be out at the tests. A major engine failure during dyno-testing was reported to be the cause of the last- minute change of mind. Footnote: In spite of the empty track, Stoner and class rookie Karel Abraham still managed to get tangled up – and it nearly ended in a fist fight after the aggrieved Czech rider marched into the factory Honda pit to confront Stoner. According to Abraham, Stoner had deliberately run into him. Stoner’s version had the Ducati privateer repeatedly trying to tag on behind him: there is nothing he hates more. Their respective pit crews managed to prevent a full-scale brawl. Abraham, who has impressed so far, ended the day badly knocked about after a massive high-side crash. Honda dominates sparse post-Mugello test New ‘Claiming Rule’ bike six seconds off the pace Doubt over new category as Iannone tests Ducati Ducati and Yamaha stay away 15