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GP Week : Issue 142
to access a HUGE global audience ADVERTISE in GPWEEK HIGH SIDES n Nicky Hayden was ruled out of last week’s important tests on the morning he was due to ride, when doctors found a small scaphoid fracture in his right wrist, the result of the first-corner crash in Sunday’s race. “I’m bummed out about it, but at least I’ll have time to recover,” he said. n Jorge Lorenzo was also absent from the test line-up, still recuperating from the loss of the tip of his left ring finger, after crashing at Phillip Island. n Will it end in tears? Paris Hilton’s sponsorship of the Blusens 125 team that fielded four-race winner Maverick Vinales was always incongruous. Now it has gone sour, with co-sponsor entertainments group SuperMartXé threatening legal action against the American glamour-girl. They allege she had agreed to show up at more races than the two she did visit – Catalunya and Valencia. n The nearly-man of the last 125 class, Frenchman Johann Zarco, took a first Moto2 test at Valencia on his new JiR Motobi machine. Reliably one of the most exciting 125 riders, Zarco will join the class along with title winner Nico Terol. n Ducati has welcomed the easing of restrictions in testing confirmed in the last issue of GPWEEK. Having been banned except at official tests, MotoGP riders can now use up to 240 tyres a year for testing at designated circuits – a role previously taken by test teams. Filippo PreziosI added it was more economically efficient for Rossi to test the bike, when he was currently being paid by Ducati for “sleeping in his room”. n Calamity piled on misfortune for American racer John Hopkins, who made good progress in 2010 rebuilding a career that had gone off the rails. His hopes of a 2012 MotoGP return with Suzuki were dashed when the factory pulled the plug on the team. By then, another possibility with LCR Honda had gone west, with the bike now earmarked for Stefan Bradl. On top of it all, he was also rushed to hospital in the early hours with worrying infection complications to the hand injury incurred as a wild card at Brno. IN response to a deadline set by Dorna, the axe finally fell on the on-again/off-again Suzuki MotoGP team last Friday, with the factory decision to pull out of the premier racing series. There has been no official confirmation of the decision, but Rizla-Suzuki team members were informed by email on Friday that they would not be taking part in next year’s series. The message from team manager Paul Denning added that the racing department hoped to return to MotoGP in 2014, and was continuing the development programme with a 1000cc prototype machine. As reported recently in GPWEEK, Suzuki had two engines under development – a V4 like the current GSVR and an in-line four. We understand that the in-line version will be chosen for any future project. Denning was not available for comment last weekend. Like the team, Dorna had been in the dark until Friday. The delay in the decision was in turn delaying finalising the 2012 entry list, hence the Friday deadline for the decision. After dilly-dallying for months, Suzuki waited until the last before deciding to quit. On the previous Tuesday, after the departure of rider Bautista, jobless Frenchman Randy de Puniet tested the 800cc machine, setting good lap times and impressing the team. Hopes of securing a ride came to naught, however. FORMeR 250 champion Alvaro Bautista is to take the place of the late Marco Simoncelli in Fausto Gresini’s team, after a frantic last-gasp reshuffle in the last round of rider musical chairs. The 26-year-old Spaniard, fresh from two up-and-down seasons on the Rizla Suzuki, had his first ride on a Honda MotoGP bike in the two-day test last week. But it was only the 800cc version, with next year’s 1000s reserved for factory riders Stoner and Pedrosa. Events came thick and fast, with Suzuki announcing Bautista’s departure from the team on Wednesday, while still awaiting word from the factory as to whether they would continue next season. Bautista later said he had decided to leave at the previous round, but brushed off comments that he was taking the benefit of Simoncelli’s death, after turning his back on an offer to ride an LCR Honda in another satellite team. A report in MCN quoted him: “Sure I couldn’t come to this team without the tragedy that happened to Marco and it is certainly not the best way to do this. More than anything I want to do a good job for Marco. I will try my best to stay in the same position he was achieving.” With strong links to HRC, the Gresini team has a higher status than LCR, and had been promised a full factory bike for Simoncelli next year, as in 2011. It is not known whether the same level of support will be forthcoming for Bautista. The ever-smiling Spaniard’s hopes of staying with Suzuki had been dwindling as the factory dithered on its decision. At the same time, the Rizla-backed machine’s per formance had improved radically in the latter half of the season. Bautista started from the front row in Australia and qualified fourth at Valencia, although crashes meant he didn’t add good finishes. Bautista’s first test on the 800cc Honda saw him compete 55 laps, with a best time four-tenths slower than his qualifying time on the Suzuki. Suzuki out ... Bautista takes the Simoncelli saddle 16