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GP Week : Issue 154
at BRIEFLY » The washed-out test day after the Portuguese GP at Estoril two weeks ago has been replaced by a day at Aragon, after the next round at Barcelona. This means two days of testing in one week: a test was already scheduled at the Catalunya circuit the day after the race in two weeks. Yamaha have electronic upgrades to assess for the latter part of the season, while Honda are searching for an answer to chatter problems that struck again in dry practice at Le Mans. » Ducati is adding another three days of private testing later this week, with factory riders Rossi and Hayden riding for two of those days. “They are very important for us,” said Rossi. As well as an engine with a gentler power curve there are also electronic tricks ... but the restricted engine numbers mean that riders will have to wait until Silverstone to race the new version. A bigger change is expected in the latter part of the season. » Ben Spies’s nightmare start to his second year as a factory rider continued at Le Mans, when a near crash at the start meant he hit his helmet on the screen and deranged his visor so that rain was getting on the inside. Unsighted he pitted after five laps for a new shield, getting back a lap down and finishing out of the points. “At least I was getting decent lap times at the end. The championship is ruined: I’ll just treat every new race as if it were my last,” he said. “Maybe somebody has a voodoo doll on me.” Grand prix legends Wayne Rainey and Mick Doohan believe that Stoner’s decision might not be final. Sharing in the general mood that the champion will miss racing and winning, Rainey said: “I wouldn’t be surprised if in a year or two he’ll decide that retirement is not that great.” Doohan had similar reser vations. “He’s made the announcement very early in the season, so there’s a long way to go for him to change his mind.” Triple champion Rainey could not understand the decision coming “when he still has four or five years of domination left, but if he doesn’t have the passion, dedication and commitment he needs to ride the way he does, then you’ve gotta stop. “Some of his reasons are rather strange. I wouldn’t have bought them. It looks a bit like burn-out, with all the other crap around racing. There’s obviously some frustration built up. “At the top you are under the microscope and you’re more critiqued. Things are said about you that you don’t always agree with, especially nowadays with all the social media. You have to have a special character to block all that out,” he said. Doohan understood the special strain. “He’s been racing since he was a kid, and in Europe since he was 14. It’s definitely tougher for Australian racing in Europe, but I think that just makes you try harder. “I can’t understand why he wants to walk away now, but if he isn’t comfortable then I can understand what he’s saying,” the five- time champion said. GRAND PRIX LEGENDS: "He'll be back!" MOTOGP >>> NEWS 10 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: