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GP Week : Issue 174
VALENCIA: STONER’S LAST HURRAH Will departing star make it win number 46? Next weekend’s Valencia GP is history in the making: the last appearance of a rider viewed as one of the sport’s greatest talents. And if the Australian can add one last victory, it will cock another snook at his own greatest rival. It will be win number 46 – Rossi’s personal icon. The climax to the season is eagerly awaited as the final confrontation between Stoner and his greatest rivals. Both new 2012 champion Jorge Lorenzo and his erstwhile rival Dani Pedrosa will be dead set on final victory at home. Neither has anything to lose, and each a good deal to gain in terms of national prestige. Rossi is not expected to be present up front – unless it rains, conditions in which he beat Stoner at Le Mans this year. It will be his final ride after two years of disappointment on the Ducati: wet weather would be a last chance to shine a light into the gathering gloom. Stoner’s record at the twisty 2.489-km circuit – fully resurfaced earlier this year – suggests that on his final outing, he will for the last time be again the man to beat. He, Pedrosa and Rossi each have two wins at the Ricardo Tormo circuit, Lorenzo just one. But pole position has belonged to Stoner since 2008, on both Ducati and Honda. He also lost a strong chance of a win in 2009, when he crashed out on the warm-up lap. Also at stake at Sunday’s race: fifth overall in the championship. After the Australian GP, Alvaro Bautista held the advantage, with 165 points. But he is still well within reach of both Rossi, just eight points adrift, and Cal Crutchlow, another six points down. Last year, Crutchlow won rookie of the year title at the track. This year, the accolade has been easily won by Stefan Bradl, currently eighth overall. at BRIEFLY » The CRT engine allocation of 12 – double the prototypes – has proven more than adequate for most teams. Only two riders are up to 12: Briton James Ellison and points leader Aleix Espargaro, whose team-mate Randy de Puniet is on his 11th. All are Aprilia ART machines. Of the others, only Silva’s Kawasaki makes double figures, with Colin Edwards (BMW) only up to eight; Pasini/ Rolfo (ART) only seven. » The 2013 season begins two days after the Valencia GP, with the opening tests. Rossi and all his crew will switch to Yamaha; Dovizioso and Iannone will sample the Ducati for the first time; but not much is expected in the way of new equipment for the stay-put riders to test. » Is Marquez too light? Is it unfair to Scott Redding (giant of Moto2) that he is 17 kg heavier, when engine and tyres are identical? The long-standing question of a bike-rider weight limit for Moto2 is back on the agenda for the GP Commission, and preparatory research was begun at Phillip Island, where all riders were weighed. A report on Britain’s MCN predicts a combined weight of 220 kg. Currently there is only a minimum machine weight: 140 kg. Moto3 inherited a bike-rider minimum from 125s, set at 140 kg. Lighter riders have to carry up to 10 kg ballast. (MotoGP machine minimum is 157 kg, rising to 160 next year.) MOTOGP >>> NEWS 15 GPWEEK.com // 15 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: