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GP Week : Issue 148
at BRIEFLY » Casey Stoner declined to blame tyre chatter for aggravating the arm-pump problems that spoiled his race in Qatar, but he had not been so reticent earlier on: “My first two exits were unbelievable,” he said after free practice. “I thought I was going to lose all feeling in my teeth.” They had improved it over the weekend, but not entirely fixed it, judging by his juddering gestures to his crew chief in parc ferme. » Dorna’s insistence that the CRT class will not be “a championship within a championship” seems to have succumbed to the obvious fact that it is exactly that. Tacit acknowledgement came with the inclusion of the top CRT bike with the top three qualifiers and race finishers in Parc Ferme. » The first pole of the year – and of the Moto3 category – went to German Sandro Cortese, in a thrilling qualifying session that was matched for excitement in all three classes. KTM rider Cortese deposed class favourite Maverick Vinales (FTR Honda) after the flag, and by 0.016 of a second. The first crasher of consequence was Dani Pedrosa in the second free practice. » Valentino Rossi is to race a Ferrari at Monza. But it is not the F1 debut once dreamed off (he tested several times with the red cars). Rossi and long-time sidekick ‘Uccio’ Salucci will share a Ferrari 458 in the April 15 opening round of the Blancpain Endurance Series. The three- hour Pro-Am race is the first of six rounds. » New medical procedures were introduced a Qatar, in the wake of the death of Marco Simoncelli last year. New medical director Michele Machiagodena (the previous director’s son) is now employed by Dorna directly, while three specialist doctors in three fast cars are on hand at each race. These come from the Dexeus Institute in Barcelona, the favourite choice of Spanish injury victims. Developed in conjunction with the independent Clinica Mobile, the new regime represents a shift in medical power from the Clinica to Dorna. Some observers hope stricter medical checks might be the result. New race director Mike Webb believes that the controversial proposition to introduce a control ECU to MotoGP – violently opposed by the factories – may give way to the simpler solution of a rev limit. Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta first proposed this, among a raft of other technical restrictions including a rev limit, in November, at the start of his current drive to bring costs under control. Now it appears the suggestion may have been a sort of loss-leader, that he would be prepared to abandon in exchange for other concessions. It has certainly been a major sticking point in negotiations with the factories, even while Ezpeleta has put for ward other proposals, including cost- capping for lease bikes and one bike per rider for MotoGP, as in Motos 2 & 3. More recently, another proposal is that CRT bikes should get a control ECU. “I’m not directly involved,” Webb told GPWeek. “But the way I see it, if there is not yet agreement between the manufacturers and Dorna for factory bikes, a good quality high-spec ECU available to CRTs is actually a step up for them. That’s helping them, which I think is a good way to go. That in the future could become a model for a single ECU series.” However, opinion was divided among CRT teams: Suter BMW and FTR Kawasaki entrants were developing their own electronics with some difficulty; while the Aprilia ART and the FTR Honda already had fully- developed systems from World Superbikes. Webb responded: “There’s arguments both ways. “Because of that, I’d be much happier to see a rev limit, which seriously saves some money, and allow them to continue with their own ECUs. It would be nice to have the rider more in control of everything, but we do need some level of electronics. Where you draw the line – well, that’s still being debated. But I think the rev limit is an absolute must. “It’s the single easiest cost saver and performance limiter. At the moment we are relying on fuel capacity as a performance limit. The guys are getting very good at running lean engines, so we’ve got extremely fast motorcycles.” The proposal has a major opponent in Ducati design chief Filippo Preziosi, whose rev-happy desmodromic Dukes have the most to lose with a rev limit. It would increase rather than save costs, he said. “The machine we have is not competitive for another rule.” It would require a new engine design, with all the associated expense. CONTROL ECU PLAN MAY BE SHELVED ‘Rev limit more important ’ – Race Director 11 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: MOTOGP >>> NEWS