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GP Week : Issue 170
at BRIEFLY » One-time 250 and Moto2 GP winner Roberto Rolfo is to return to MotoGP, as a game of musical chairs closes off the season in the lower levels of all classes. Rolfo will replace Mattia Pasini in the cash-strapped Speed Master CRT team. Rolfo was himself ousted from the Technomag-CIP Moto2 team this year. Other late changes include Toni Elias replacing Claudio Corti in Moto2; and Blusens Avintia CRT rider David Salom ousted after just two goes replacing original rider Ivan Silva. Silva will be back from Motegi. » Moto3 star Jonas Folger’s roller-coaster career seems set to stay on a high, after the German teenager signed on to stay with the Mapfre Aspar team. Folger, a race-winner on a 125 as well as in Moto3, was once a Red Bull favourite, but fell from grace, and endured a miserable start to this year on the slow and unreliable Ioda, a last-minute deal. He was snapped up by Aspar for Brno, where he won. » Rossi to Tech 3! A couple of months ago the headline was both plausible and possible. Now it has come true ... but only down in Moto2. French Moto3 GP winner Louis Rossi has signed for the independent team to replace Bradley Smith in Moto2. The Englishman moves up to join compatriot Crutchlow in the Monster Yamaha MotoGP squad. HRC vice-president Shuhei Nakamato’s threat to quit MotoGP for Superbike to avoid the imposition of a control ECU and a rev limit has been effectively rendered pointless by Dorna’s take-over of the latter series. Guns spiked, it leaves little choice for Honda, who will be joined by fellow manufacturers for a show-down meeting at Motegi in the coming week. Ezpeleta is now in a position to lay down the law at what is expected to be a stormy confrontation. And Nakamoto must put up or shut up. Either Honda stays in bike racing, and accepts the technical restrictions; or Honda quits. It’s happened before, and not only with Honda. The first factory rebellion was in 1957. Dominant Italian factories voluntarily pulled out for economic reasons. Gilera, Moto Guzzi and Mondial closed their race shops; but MV Agusta reneged on the agreement, and stayed on for a long spell of utter dominance in the premier class. Ten years later it happened again. Honda was fighting an ever-escalating technology war against a rising two-stroke tide from Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki. Costs and multi-cylinder complexity were running away, especially in the smaller classes. At the same time Honda had been engaged in a very costly attempt at Formula One. The main reason was economic. The pull-out only slightly preceded the imposition of swingeing technical restrictions by the FIM, restricting cylinder and gear numbers to control costs; and the other Japanese factories followed Honda out of GP at respectful distance. In the premier class, this preser ved the stranglehold of MV Agusta over privateers on plodding singles; but gave rise to a fine spell of big fields and close racing in the smaller classes, where production-racer Yamahas dominated. A similar landscape already exists in Moto2 and Moto3. Withdrawal by Honda would leave the way clear for Ezpeleta to impose similar CRT conditions in the premier class. Will Ducati take on the MV Agusta role? IF HONDA QUITS ... Motegi show-down for manufacturers and Dorna MOTOGP >>> NEWS MAKE MOTO2 TRULY EQUAL’ Marquez’ Aragon blast-past redoubles calls for minimum weight rule Moto2 hard charger and rostrum regular Scott Redding is leading renewed calls for a combined bike- rider minimum weight regulation in Moto2, after another race in which super-lightweight Marc Marquez repeatedly showed a significant speed advantage over his closest title rivals. One major reason is safety. In a class where every technical regulation is aimed at equality, bigger riders have to take more risks. “It’s not cool racing like that,” says Redding. Aragon’s kilometre-long straight was clearly Marquez’s playground; forcing third-placed Redding and Andrea Iannone (fourth) to some desperate moves on Marquez as Espargaro escaped up front – only for it be resolved again by points-leader Marquez’s straight-line speed. Redding described the frustration. “Battling with Marquez, I can pull two tenths on him and by the end of the straight he’s got two tenths on me. And I’m thinking this kid must not have to push in the corners and the braking. If I could ride like that it would make podiums and winning races so much easier,” said the Briton, youngest-ever GP winner. “You wonder why I have to make so many harsh moves on him all the time? It’s not a big grudge against the kid ... it’s just annoying. You’re trying to get on the gas as early as you can, and he just sits up and goes past you. “Sometimes I don’t even know why I race in Moto2. It is so much hard work, and just killing the tyres to finish sixth.” Race director Mike Webb acknowledged the question. “We’re always looking at it, but up to now it hasn’t happened. It’s fairly obvious that with a control ending the larger chaps have a straight-line disadvantage. You can argue that they make it up in the corners or under braking. It’s always under review.” Moto3 has a combined bike/rider minimum weight of 148 kg; but Moto2 only a minimum machine weight, 140kg (MotoGP 157 kg). Redding is the tallest and heaviest Moto2 rider, at 74 kg/184 cm. Iannone is closer on 67/178; Marquez a feather weight 59/168. 13 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: