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GP Week : Issue 155
at BRIEFLY » Wayne Rainey hoped to be incognito when he joined close friend Carlos Checa at the Miller Motorsports Park in Utah at the World Superbike race there this weekend, but of course it didn’t work. Carlos had stayed with the Raineys at Lake Tahoe, then Wayne and wife Shae had driven to Utah for the race. “I don’t want to make anything of it,” the triple 500 champion told GPWeek. “I don’t want to be seen as promoting Superbikes.” » Manchester group The Rainband will launch a new single dedicated to late MotoGP star Marco Simoncelli with a live performance at the opening at the British GP in join, accompanied by Superbike champion and MotoGP rider James Toseland on the piano. Proceeds from the specially written song, entitled “Rise Again”, will go to the Marco Simoncelli Foundation, dedicated to building care home facilities for the disabled. The backing video was filmed in his home town and includes unseen shots and footage from his family archive. Marco died aged 24 at last year’s Malaysian GP. » Marc Marquez escaped the need for surgery to a painful thumb injury, incurred when he crashed out of the rain-sodden French GP, and is expected to be fully fit for his home race in Catalunya next weekend. Compatriot Moto3 rookie Alex Rins raced to the rostrum with a broken right little finger, repaired by surgery; Belgian Moto2 rider Xavier Simeon is out of this weekend’s race after suffer fractures to his right hand and left foot in a practice crash in France. With the weather changing for the better all over Europe and a week of sunshine predicted at Barcelona, MotoGP is preparing for familiar heat- wave conditions for next weekend’s Catalunyan GP, making a tyre- punishing track even more so. Stoner won the race last year, his second at the circuit; while Lorenzo and Pedrosa have one win apiece. Rossi has amassed six over the years, but his Ducati’s preference for wet conditions skews the odds firmly away from a repeat. The 2.937-mile (4.727 km) Montmelo circuit has a long straight, and a series of punishingly long fast right-hand corners early in the lap. The final bend over the crest of the hill is a favourite spot to watch riders paint black lines in full-on power slides. “The bike’s on its side an awful long time,” said one Bridgestone technician, explaining why this was one circuit where dual-compound ‘asymmetric’ rear tyres were used. Tyre worries will be foremost in the minds of Honda’s Stoner and Pedrosa, already plagued with chatter problems that re-emerged at Le Mans. This will be the last race where they can use their preferred older- style front. Both have criticised the otherwise generally preferred new softer- construction Bridgestone ‘21’, now renumbered ‘33’, for instability under braking and greater chatter potential. Until Catalunya the new tyre was available in small numbers as an option added to the regular two-compound allocation. From Silverstone it will become the standard carcase for both tyre grades. “It seems like a manipulation or a conspiracy,” Pedrosa told Spanish press at Le Mans. Growing paddock fears of potential sponsorship short-falls were deepened by news last week that Bankia, sponsors of top Spanish team Aspar, were seeking a bail-out of more than 15 million Euros from the Spanish Government, as that country ’s banking crisis deepens. Trading in the bank’s shares and those of its parent company were suspended last week, in response to the news. Bankia is Spain’s fourth largest bank and was part nationalised two weeks ago, according to the BBC report, “because of its problems with bad property debt.” The government has pledged to support the staggering bank. Although Aspar’s contract will doubtless be honoured, renewal is a different question. At the same time, several teams in the paddock, especially in the smaller classes, are already concerned that promised sponsorship funds will not be forthcoming after all. In the past Dorna has stepped in to help teams in this plight, but the scale in 2012 is greater. “I think there will be quite a few problems before the end of the year,” one Moto2 team manager said. CATALUNYA HEAT WAVE LOOMS SPONSORSHIP FEARS GROW AS ECONOMIC CRISIS GRIPS Aspar Team’s Bankia backers in 15-billion bailout 12 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: MOTOGP >>> NEWS