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GP Week : Issue 171
MOTOGP GOES SUPERPOLE TO SPICE UP QUALIFYING Next year’s MotoGP qualifying will have a new feel and a new schedule, intended to add drama, tension and 20 minutes extra time to race Saturday afternoons. Announced at Motegi, the change brings the premier series into line with not only Formula One, but also to an extent with World Superbikes, where a comparable ‘Superpole’ system adopts a one-at-a -time format. In MotoGP’s new schedule, for the top class only, the three free practice sessions of 45 minutes continue as before on Friday and Saturday morning. Combined times from these sessions determine what happens in the afternoon. First, all riders get 30 minutes of untimed free practice. After a 10-minute break, the slower riders, from 11th down, get 15 minutes to determine grid positions. The fastest two then get another chance to improve, when they are able to join QP2, in another ten minutes. There they meet the 10 fastest from free practice, for a final 15-minute dash. As well as giving a double-dose of drama with the two sessions, it also means that faster riders can go for broke without having to worry about slower traffic – one reason why most riders welcomed the move. It remains to be seen how the schedule will cope with the sort of bad weather that has been so frequent at this year’s GPs. MOTOGP >>> NEWS MOTOGP >>> NEWS at BRIEFLY » Motegi is to stay on the MotoGP calendar until 2018, it was confirmed at the Japanese GP. The extension of the contract enshrines the Honda-owned track, in an area of outstanding natural beauty a couple of hours outside Tokyo. It was first used in 1999, and took over completely from Suzuka in 2004. » Alvaro Bautista’s second rostrum of the season came days after his career doubts had been swept away with a new contract for another year with the San Carlo Gresini Honda team. The Spaniard, adapting to the Honda after two Suzuki seasons, had been in danger of being dropped, with Ben Spies and Cal Crutchlow both being considered for the ride. » Hot MotoGP rookie Stefan Bradl has become the latest victim of the dreaded ‘arm pump’, triggered by the punishing braking at Motegi. It struck in the race, and caused him to lose ground and come into danger of losing sixth to Rossi. “I was not really able to steer the bike. After 10 laps I was struggling a lot. I have never had such a big problem with the arm pump,” he said. » Riders always complain about tyres, but Rossi had an unusual twist. “The problem is that the Bridgestone are too perfect,” he said. “If you are OK, maybe you can stay with the same rhythm from the beginning to the end of the race. This is not good for the show.” SUPREME COMMANDER EZPELETA CONFIRMS TOTAL CONTROL “Dorna owns both series” faces redoubled Honda challenge Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta and new Supreme Commander of World Championship Road Racing spoke publicly for the first time at Mugello since the announcement that Dorna will take over the running or World Superbikes, in a press conference where current Superbike owners Infront Sports & Media were put firmly on the side-line. Asked directly: “Is it true that the ownership of the Superbike championship has been put directly under Dorna?” , he replied: Yes, that is correct.” Ezpeleta outlined how Bridgepoint had become owners of both series via acquisition of Infront Sports & Media; and how several subsequent meetings between Dorna and InFront to try to adapt technical rules of both championships had failed to bear fruit. “So finally the decision of Bridgepoint was to maintain two separate championships as two separate companies, but both under the umbrella of Dorna Sports,” he said. For next year MotoGP and SBK would continue in the same way, “with exactly the same system of organisation and ... technical rules.” From now, Dorna and the FIM, manufacturers, circuits and teams “will try to accommodate these difficult economic times to set up two championships that are able to continue and to grow together,” he said, adding almost as an aside: “There will also be a collaboration with Infront Sports & Media regarding other aspects of the two championships.” Asked who would run Superbikes – managed and part-owned for years by the Flammini organisation, he was vague: “In principal we are still talking with the people to know exactly who will run it, but it will run under the umbrella of Dorna. At the top of both championships there will be Dorna,” he said. Footnote: On Saturday night the GP Commission met behind closed doors for the first time since the Dorna takeover, where Ezpeleta set a deadline for the Valencia race on November 11 for proposals on technical rules. If none were forthcoming, he would proceed with his own ideas, he said. The original deadline for new technical rules was May this year. 11 GPWEEK.com // 11 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: