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GP Week : Issue 139
AMERICAN former GP star John Hopkins got a cruel reminder of the difference between riding a production-based Superbike and a full carbon-braked MotoGP bike at Sepang when his second wild card ride of the season went wrong. Ironically, it was the legacy of problems from his first wild card on the Rizla Suzuki at Brno (he had earlier ridden at Jerez, replacing injured Bautista). He suffered broken fingers that required pinning and plating in a practice accident that ruled him out of the race. Since then he came within a few feet of winning the British Superbike championship, but back on a MotoGP machine the sheer physical forces caused the metalwork to fail. Hopkins awoke on Saturday morning with his finger severely swollen and painful, and later learned that screws and plates had come loose and were moving around. Further damage in the circumstances “could result in amputation, and I don’t want that,” he said. The injury had been somewhat troublesome during his BSB campaign – scuppered by an electrical failure in the second of the three- race showdown at Brands Hatch. He hadn’t gone a week without riding since the initial surgery, he added. to access a HUGE global audience ADVERTISE in GPWEEK HIGH SIDES n Spanish MotoGP rider Hector Barbera will switch from his current Aspar team to Pramac next year, so he can stay on a factory machine. Aspar announced a week ago that he would be switching to CRT entries. Pramac meantime are cutting their entry from two riders to one. n Colin Edwards’s hopes of sticking with Yamaha in his new CRT venture have come to nothing, and the new Forward Racing team will compete with a Suter BMW next year. “ We don’t expect to be competitive at the start of the year, and maybe not even the end of the year. But somebody has to start it,” he said. n The Texan’s move has left him shell-shocked at the amount of work involved. “ I’m accustomed to joining a team, signing the paper and then riding the bike. This is a big adventure, sorting everything out, hiring mechanics. I’m a big part of getting everything together.” n After yet another crash in practice on Saturday morning, the treacherous front end tucking under again, Valentino Rossi was more open in his criticism of the lack of progress with the Ducati ... and revealed how the pit has a special term for that moment just before the front lets go. Speaking in Italian, he said: “ We call it the f*cking vibration, because it’s at the last moment before the black hole. It’s a problem that I had from the first time I tested this bike. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to resolve it.” n The ‘CRT’ (Claiming Rule Team) tag might change in the future, Dorna boss Ezpeleta revealed, in his As interview. It was just a convenient name as the rules were being formulated. One favoured alternative is ‘Constructor Teams’. Lorenzo doubtful for Valencia JORGE Lorenzo may miss the last race of the season, and is doubtful also for the important tests of the 2012 1000cc machines two days after the Valencia race on November 6. The 2010 champion suffered a grisly injury to the tip of the third finger of his left hand in morning warm-up from Australia. Corrective plastic surgery in Melbourne was successful, and he flew home to Spain to recuperate. He was certainly out of the Malaysian GP ... now there is some doubt whether he will be fit enough to race at the final round at Valencia: his fourth GP on home territory in Spain. A statement from Yamaha said: “A decision on Jorge Lorenzo’s participation in the final race of the season at the Grand Prix of Valencia will be made within the next two weeks.” With Lorenzo replaced at Sepang by factory tester Katsuyuki Nakasuga, the factory team then suffered a second blow when Ben Spies pulled out of the race after a crash on Saturday aggravated injuries sustained in a heavy crash a week before in Australia, which put him out of that race too. The loss of its top riders comes at a crucial time for the factory, with only the second test of the new 1000cc 2012 machine scheduled for the day after the Malaysian race. Nakasuga was already there to take Lorenzo’s place in the test. When Spies became unavailable Monster Tech 3 rider Cal Crutchlow was drafted in as last-minute replacement. Crutchlow takes over 1000cc test for injury-hit factory team Hopkins has another nightmare return 10