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GP Week : Issue 170
MOTOGP >>> NEWS MOTOGP >>> NEWS at BRIEFLY » The luck of ex-GP star John Hopkins doesn’t get any better. Hopper, once tipped as the next Kevin Schwantz, had a rocky time on an uncompetitive Suzuki and then Kawasaki before going off the rails; returning a new man for wild card MotoGP rides and a British Superbike season last year. But the reformed character was plagued by injuries, exacerbated with another bad crash in World Superbikes this year. Now Hopper has announced he will take a year off, possibly for a hip replacement, before resuming with his ambition of a MotoGP return. » Both Team Aspar CRT riders Randy de Puniet and Aleix Espargaro have been retained by the Power Electronics team for next year, after a solid season in which they went further than anybody in proving the promise of the CRT class. On the Power Electronics Aprilia ARTs, the pair are head to head to be top CRT bike overall, with Espargaro currently lagging by two points; and they have proved several times that a good CRT bike can race against the lesser prototypes. A frequent adversary is Karel Abraham, who will join CRT ranks next year when he dumps his disliked Ducati for an ART. » From Tuesday to Thursday, 106 hopeful young teenagers will be under the eagle eye of the Red Bull Rookies selection committee at Spanish circuit Monteblanco ... a location kept secret until the last moment to prevent pre-practice. Already whittled down from a much longer list of on-line applicants, the ranks will be cut to between 10 and 14 by the third day, for entry in next year’s Rookie Cup, a major feed to Moto3. Next year’s cup will be on Moto3 bikes, this year it’s still 125s – but the tests will take place on two-stroke 125 Metrakit machines. STONER PROMISES MOTEGI RETURN Lorenzo faces redoubled Honda challenge Casey Stoner has pledged to return for the first of three flyaway races over three weekends, in the lead-up to his final chance to win his home GP in Australia for a record-breaking sixth time in a row. Out since the eve of the Brno GP at the end of August, Stoner under went surgery on his injured right ankle in the following week, and has been recuperating in Australia for the month of September. The confirmation came on Casey’s Repsol blog. “It’s been another quiet week here in Australia. I’ve been resting, having some physio and following doctor’s orders,” he wrote, adding that he planned to relieve the boredom with a trip to Bathurst to watch the V8s race there, “truly one of the greatest motorsports events of the year. “The good news is that I feel I can race in Motegi and will be rejoining my team next week. I can’t wait to get back on track!” Stoner suffered fractures and major ligament damage in a crash in qualifying for the Indy GP. He raced the next day to fourth; but a week later took medical advice to pull out for immediate surgery to avoid further damage. His own title challenge spiked by the injury and three missed races, his major role will be to prevent points leader Lorenzo from adding to his already impressive 33-point lead over Casey’s Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa. Stoner is likely to do so by claiming his last race wins in what he has said will be his last season in MotoGP – especially at Phillip Island in Australia. Stoner has scored five straight wins at his home circuit, riding both Ducati and Honda. This equalled Rossi’s record at the track, scored on Honda and Yamaha. A sixth win would lift Stoner clear. 14 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: