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GP Week : Issue 145
BRIEFLY » BMW to MotoGP? It seems to remain more a question of not “if” but “when”, with motorcycle division chief Hendrik von Kuenheim repeating the pledge last week in an interview with the official MotoGP.com website that once they had achieved success in World Superbikes, “we will move onto bigger and better things. MotoGP is the most watched motorcycle racing in the world . . . a clear platform for us and we have to think about it. It’s a substantial step.” » The only Honda CRT bike – the San Carlo Gresini bike of Moto2 race winner Michele Pirro – got off to a late and scrapy start last week ... literally scrapy, after the second day at Misano was cut short by a severe lack of cornering ground clearance for the new fairing. Gresini also runs a factory-spec MotoGP Honda, and his initial proposal to run an Aprilia CRT bike from the same pit was firmly vetoed by the factory. He was obliged to switch to Honda power, in an FTR chassis. “Such problems are normal for a new bike,” Gresini optimistically told Italian website GPOne.com. » The San Carlo team lost star rider Marco Simoncelli at Malaysia last year, a bitter personal blow for team owner Fausto Gresini, whose team suffered the same loss with Daijiro Kato’s death in 2003. At the team launch last week he spoke of the difficulty of coming back to racing, before unveiling the 2012 livery – appropriately switched from white to funereal black. » Fancy a ride on a factory Ducati Desmosedici? You can do better than that by actually owning one. In a racing first (bikes more often being given to their successful riders) the factory is putting a pair of factory racers up for auction. They will be part of a costly catalogue at RM Auctions in Monaco on May 11 and 12. One is Stoner’s race- and title-winning 2010 machine, the others Rossi’s unsuccessful 2011 bike. Be interesting to see which fetches the higher price. » Teenage German star Jonas Folger’s GP career has been restored at the last minute, with the British GP winner getting a Moto3 entry with the Ioda team. Casey Stoner has been hit with a fine of more than 70,000 Swiss Francs after he was the only World Champion to snub the inaugural FIM Gala evening – a televised black-tie event held in Lisbon last December. While champions from every FIM discipline – from road racing to trials, via speedway, motocross and numerous other categories – gathered for the event, Stoner was unexpectedly absent. His trophy was received by his father Colin, who flew from Australia especially for the event. It rendered the double MotoGP World Champion liable to a fine of up to 100,000 Swiss Francs. In the last fortnight, the FIM issued a fine slightly below the maximum amount. As yet, Stoner has neither appealed nor made any comment. One reason given for his non-attendance at the event, on December 3, was that it was difficult for his then heavily-pregnant wife Adriana to travel. On February 16, she gave birth to a daughter, Alessandra. The full grand prix grids will be together for the first time at the Jerez tests, starting today (Monday) for the smaller classes, and culminating in three full days for MotoGP and new CRT bikes, finishing on Sunday, although without the once-usual televised showdown. After leaving the second Sepang test in a dejected 10th, slower than rookie Stefan Bradl (Honda), Valentino Rossi will be desperate to resume the encouraging progress that put his all-new Ducati Desmosedici GP12 in a promising fifth at the first round of tests at the Malaysian GP circuit. Rossi and team-mate Nicky Hayden (half- a-tenth slower) are riding Ducati’s radically redesigned aluminium twin-beam chassis, which replaces the unsuccessful carbon- fibre mini-chassis on which Rossi faced a dismal first season with the all-Italian squad. But smiles at the first tests disappeared as Rossi’s bike slipped down the order, and expected response to chassis adjustments failed to bear fruit. The first outing in Europe gives fans the chance to assess the strength of the Yamahas against the Hondas of Stoner and Pedrosa. The Repsol bikes have dominated so far, but at the second Sepang test the best Yamaha was less than four tenths adrift of Stoner. Surprisingly it was ridden by satellite Tech 3 rider Andrea Dovizioso, fresh from Honda. Lorenzo has led a chorus of Yamaha riders in believing that the new 1000cc machine has closed the technical gap to Honda. It will be the first chance to see the Aprilia ART machines alongside their CRT rivals, the Suter BMW of Colin Edwards, Michele Pirro’s FTR Honda and the two BQR Kawasaki FTRs. Thus far the ART bikes have tested separately; while Pirro gave his Gresini Honda its first shake-down run only last week. STONER FINED AFTER SNUBBING FIM GALA CAN ROSSI AND DUCATI GET BACK ON TRACK? Jerez set for crucial f inal tests 9 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: MOTOGP >>> NEWS