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GP Week : Issue 158
The third GP in the USA, pencilled in for next year and the following nine at Austin, Texas, is in doubt, following confusion over the rights and dissension within the ranks of the Circuit of the Americans investors and management. The news came from Texas resident and Austin GP driving force Kevin Schwantz, in response to questions from US news site American-Statesman, investigating a rift between COTA and the original planned promoter Tavo Hellmund. Hellmund was also the promoter for the F1 car GP at COTA later this year, although Bernie Ecclestone declared the contract void late last year, negotiating a fresh contract directly with the circuit. Something similar was expected for the bikes, but nothing has happened, according to Schwantz, whose company 3FourTexas holds the right to the GP. Schwantz replied to questions in writing, saying: “Several weeks ago, Tavo was nice enough to step aside and asked COTA to talk directly with me about a MotoGP contract for them. To date, COTA has not had any meaningful discussions with me regarding MotoGP at COTA.” Schwantz expressed his hope that the race would go ahead, saying he had offered COTA “multiple options in how to achieve that.” The planned MotoGP race was announced last April at the circuit, which is still unfinished, along with the F1 race. Later in the year both Laguna Seca and Indianapolis extended their MotoGP contracts, meaning that the putative Austin race would be a third visit to the USA. This was in spite of low levels of crowd interest: Laguna Seca only runs the MotoGP class, as an upmarket adjunct to national AMA races. Marquez’s path to Honda is cleared in plea-bargaining deal ROOKIES RULE TO BE SCRAPPED fuchs lubricants.com June 2012 Paul Bird Motorsport claims sensational SOL Rally victory in Barbados... Dorna chief Carmelo Ezpeleta had done an about-face on the rookie rule. Having first vehemently insisted it would not be changed, he announced via a TV interview on Dorna’s official MotoGP.com website that he was now to propose that the rule be scrapped. The rule requires that a class rookie spend his first year in a satellite rather than an official factory team, and blocked Honda’s plan to put rising star Marc Marquez straight into their top squad, in place of the departing Stoner. Honda requested the rule change earlier in the season, but Ezpeleta was at his tub-thumping best when he declared: “The rule will stay.” The change of heart shows that this was nothing more than his familiar bargaining position: make firm demands, then give them away one by one in exchange for concessions from the other side. This policy reversal suggests Ezpeleta has been able to achieve agreement to other of his demands, principally a rev limit and a control ECU. An announcement about future rules is expected at Assen in two weeks. “The rule was introduced in 2008 to protect the interests of the private teams,” he said. Since then, with the advent of CRT bikes, the situation had changed, he said. “The request for the change came from the MSMA (manufacturers’ association). We said no,” he continued. Since then and following discussions, “we have decided it is better to stop the rule.” He would propose the change at the next GP Commission meeting, at Assen. TEXAS GP IN DOUBT 13 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: MOTOGP >>> NEWS MOTOGP >>> NEWS