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GP Week : Issue 167
THE BLAME GAME HAS ROSSI MISSED THE BOAT? 30 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: Who caused the confusion on the start line after the aborted start? Depends who you speak to. To the main victim, Pedrosa, it was a lack of clear management from Race Direction: “There is not a clear procedure. Some teams put on tyre warmers, nobody knew how many laps the race would be, the IRTA people were giving different information ... many different stories.” Then all of a sudden the one-minute board was shown. His mechanics were still trying to free up his locked front wheel – seemingly caused by a hydraulic lock in the brake. The board meant his teams had to pull his bike off the grid to pit lane, condemning him to a back-of- the-grid start. He wasn’t aware of this. “When the bike was taken off the stand, the front wheel came free.” They hurriedly pushed him back onto the grid, another transgression, but with the same punishment ... a back-row start. In the confusion his pit-lane speed limiter had been switched on. It took him half a slow warm-up lap to discover the problem, but he manage to repass the Safety Car – only to be hustled to the back row. Race Director Mike Webb admitted there had been confusion. One problem is that in the case of an aborted start there is no time limit for the restart, “in case we have to clear oil off the grid or something. “Then the start procedure begins again with the one-minute board.” But that was delayed because a number of riders had taken their helmets off (not allowed) and there were people on the grid beyond the stipulated two mechanics and one brolly girl. “It needs tidying up,” he admitted, promising a briefing at the earliest opportunity. But he firmly denied things were hurried along to fit the TV schedule. “Everything was done exactly by the book. The trouble is, not many people have read it thoroughly,” he said. Rossi’s decision to leave Ducati for Yamaha suddenly seemed singularly ill-timed, after a new chassis transformed the recalcitrant Desmosedici into a bike that could claim second place, less than five seconds from the winner. He spoke, after the race, not only of an improved chassis but also being able to get the bike to respond as he wanted to setting changes – a quality that had been elusive until now: “The bike was well balanced. I was able to exit the corner with good traction, and when the tyres started to slide I could take some advantage.” These are two particular points he has been complaining about for almost two years. It may be a false dawn ... Stoner was absent, and Pedrosa out of the picture. But it did look as though he’d decided to quit just as things were beginning to come right. Asked if he had been a bit precipitate, he laughed, and tried to deflect the question, even blaming the assembled press. “The trouble with MotoGP is everyone starts talking about next year too early in the season,” he said. “It used to be only at this part of the year we started to talk about next season. Now the choice for next year is made too early.” Did he mean he’d been forced to decide too early? Might it have been different other wise? Now he bit the bullet, saying the only thing he could say. “I am not regretting about my choice for next year,” he told GPWEEK. “But it is important for the guys in Bologna and my team to try to get some more good results and improve the bike before the end of this year.” MOTOGP >>> MISANO