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GP Week : Issue 138
MOTO2’s shooting star Marc Marquez’s reputation for too-tough on-track tactics took a further battering at Phillip Island – and his championship campaign also took a knock when Race Direction slapped him with a back-of-the-grid penalty, after an impetuous post-session charge sent him slamming at high speed into cruising Thai rider Ratthapark Wilairot. The new points leader had fallen early in the morning session, and only just got out again with a minute or so remaining. He passed the chequered flag but kept his head down to sweep through the first two corners at close to racing speed. On the way out of the second he came upon other riders slowing to practice a start at the designated point. Travelling much too fast, he slammed straight into the back of Wilairot. Rear-end collisions have caused more deaths and serious injuries in racing than any other sort of accident, and a frisson of fear ran through the paddock as TV images showed a heavy impact, and Wilairot flung awkwardly backwards as Marquez and his bike cartwheeled alongside. Although out for the rest of the weekend, Wilairot mercifully escaped fractures or more serious injury. Race Direction took a dim view, and promptly imposed a one- minute time penalty to his qualifying time, putting him on the back of the grid. The new Moto2 points leader “rode in an irresponsible manner, causing danger,” read the official statement. Marquez apologised to the rider, but his team protested that his speed had not been that high and he had been unsighted by another rider behind Wilairot, but the appeal was not allowed. Moto GP news >> vALENTINO Rossi stunned pressmen at Phillip Island when he frankly admitted that he and his renowned crew chief Jerry Burgess were no closer to resolving the Ducati’s original problems after almost a year of trying. “ The worst thing is that a year has already passed, and Ducati has worked hard from many points of view, but we haven’t solved the problem, which has remained the same. That is the worrying thing. Probably we haven’t understood what it is,” said Rossi after crashing out of the race. From the start he and other GP11 riders have complained of a lack of front-end feel, giving no warning of when the tyre is at the limit; while Rossi has also singled out his obvious lack of ease on the bike, wanting to change the riding position. Speaking in disconsolate mood after posting 13th time in qualifying, Rossi said: “I have a problem also to load the front in acceleration, and unfortunately this problem remain also with the modify, so maybe we don’t modify the right things,” he said. “Entering the corner I’m very slow, especially in the fast part of the track. I had the same type of problem also in some other circuits, so my performance a lot of time depends on how many fast parts and fast corners there are, where I have a lot of problem with this bike. Here in Phillip Island is very fast, so the result is bad.” But he had not given up hope, nor (in answer to a direct question) was he considering “a divorce” from Ducati before the end of his contract at the end of next year. “ With the results we’ve had, you can understand the idea. But we have to try and not give up. We have a two-year contract, so still some more time. Stopping would be giving up too early ... I think we still have some important cards to play,” he said. “However if we continue to do poorly it would be necessary to make a decision.” Rossi: We’re getting nowhere with the Ducati ... ... but it’S too Soon to conSider Splitting Lorenzo out of Malaysian GP Marquez the Merciless pays the price 17