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GP Week : Issue 147
at BRIEFLY » BBC commentator Steve Parrish endured much ribaldry at Jerez tests where pamphlets were distributed promoting the forthcoming “Steve Parrish Cruise” – nine nights in the Canary Islands with Cruise Holidays UK next February. Entertainment will be provided by the accomplished raconteur, former factory bike GP racer and World Truck Champion ... but would his bike racing experience mean he would get the boat leaning as far as Italian cruise captain Francesco Schettino? » Marc Marquez has pronounced his double vision problems completely cured in the week after placing fifth-fastest in Jerez tests – his first serious outing on his Suter Moto2 bike in five months. “Getting to the last test with my eyesight 100 percent recovered was very important,” he said at a team launch. “We aren't completely prepared because some of our rivals are still a step ahead,” he admitted. » Yamaha satellite team Tech 3 has suspended plans to build a CRT bike for next year, because of uncertainty about yet-to-be-decided rules. Team chief Hervé Poncharal told Britain’s MCN that the potential $1-million price cap on factory lease bikes skewed the financial balance back in their favour, compared with the cost of developing one’s own machine. “And the factory bikes will be faster,” he added. » Reports over the weekend in Italy say that an announcement that Audi has bought Ducati is “days away”. This is the company’s first move onto two wheels, but mirrors its purchase of Lamborghini as a prestige addition to its brand, subsequently developing the cars with a welcome touch of Germanic engineering sanity. Ducati insiders expect any effect on their racing efforts to be entirely positive. » Ducati satellite-team riders Karel Abraham and Hector Barbera are stuck at least one rung down the development ladder, after Ducati’s radical switch from the carbon-fibre minichassis to this year’s twin-spar aluminium unit. “We have the very first version that Valentino tested at Valencia last year,” said Abraham. “To tell the truth, I don’t feel much difference yet compared with last year’s bike.” French MotoGP battler Randy de Puniet has a clear target for 2012. To be top CRT rider is the obvious one. He is also aiming to put his Aspar team ART Aprilia ahead of the slower factory machines. The former Kawasaki, Honda and Ducati rider was best of the CRT bikes at Jerez tests by almost a second, and finished only 0.022 seconds behind Karel Abraham’s factory Ducati. “At Jerez I could follow some factory bikes . .. l ike Stefan Bradl (Honda rookie) and Hector Barbera (Ducati) quite easily, staying with them,” de Puniet told GPWeek. “But overtaking is difficult, because of their acceleration. What I will need to do is keep following them really close, and hope to push them into a mistake.” De Puniet admitted his ambition would be achievable only at slower tracks, including Jerez and several others like Laguna Seca, Sachsenring and Valencia. The high-level Aspar team, which turned its back on another year of expensive lease Ducatis to support CRT, is working closely with the Aprilia racing department, and de Puniet has been involved with development testing from the start. “First I tested with the Superbike chassis. Now this bike has a specially made chassis that is stiffer. But still not stiff enough,” he said. He had also tested with the Superbike engine used by Biaggi, and explained that the motor fitted for MotoGP was actually a step down in power. This was for better endurance: “We have to do 1,000 km with each engine; Biaggi’s Superbike only needs 500 km.” For the same reason, with a lower rev ceiling, the MotoGP engine uses street-bike chain camshaft drive rather than the gear- drive system developed for the Superbike, but then banned from the competition. EAGER DE PUNIET TARGETS FACTORY SCALPS 11 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: MOTOGP >>> NEWS