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GP Week : Issue 150
The threat hanging over Jerez – which has become a massively popular European classic event – has been lifted for at least one more year, after Dorna chief Carmelo Ezpeleta last week confirmed the extension of the contract for the European opening round until 2013. Jerez, said Ezpeleta, would be “one of three Spanish circuits on the calendar” . This means that one of the three other candidates – Aragon, Catalunya and Valencia – will have to be dropped. One proposal is for Catalunya and Valencia to run car and bike GPs in alternate years. As well as reflecting major economic problems in Spain, this follows growing criticism at the Iberian emphasis to the calendar which, with the addition of Aragon in 2010 and including the neighbouring Portuguese GP, comprised almost one third of the series, with five of 18 races. The Portuguese race is clinging to survival, after a last-minute rescue this year. One of the lost races is to be replaced by the revived Argentine GP at the new inland Autódromo Termas de Río Hondo, with a three year deal signed last September. Another by the signed-up 10-year deal with the Circuit of the Americas at Austin, Texas, although with Laguna Seca and Indianapolis also contracted there are doubts whether the series could support three US rounds. With Dorna pledged to a maximum of 18 races, something will have to give if further expansion plans are to continue. India is eager to join the calendar in 2013, as well as relative late-comers South Korea; while the motorcycle industry is pressing for a return to Indonesia, a major market. SPAIN TO LOSE A RACE IN CALENDAR RESHUFFLE India on hold at BRIEFLY » Two more starts without a win will for Rossi will return Mick Doohan to the top of the win-ratio list in the premier class. The five-times champion’s career ended with injury in 1999, after 137 starts yielded 54 wins, a ratio of 39.4 percent. His record was surpassed by Rossi, but now the figures are going the other way. Jerez is Rossi’s 200th start, and if he doesn’t add to his 79 wins, his percentage drops to 39.5 . If it’s the same in Portugal, he’s behind Doohan, with 39.3 . Stoner has a way to go to catch up: 32.7 percent, with 33 wins from 100 starts. » San Marino blaster Alex de Angelis made a brief return to MotoGP during the break, for the first time since 2010. But it was a CRT bike, and just a part-time job, taking over Colin Edwards’s Forward Racing Suter BMW for tests while the American stayed home. The result: just like Ducati, rain meant little chance of progress. » MotoGP is putting the clock back, with the announcement of a series of pre-race beauty contests for grid girls at all European rounds. The quaint practice started at Brno in 2009 as a one-off, but “proved so popular with fans” that it has been extended, with a grand finale pout-off at Valencia in November. Round one is at a Jerez nightclub next Thursday. 14 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: MOTOGP >>> NEWS