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GP Week : Issue 177a
MOTOGP >>> NEWS SUZUKI PREPARES FOR WILDCARD ENTRIES NEXT YEAR De Puniet short-listed for testing role Classic rivals go head to head again at Simoncelli event Suzuki’s commitment to their promised MotoGP return in 2014 has come a step closer to reality following long-awaited announcement of technical regulations, and news that French MotoGP rider Randy de Puniet has been negotiating for a testing position with the Japanese factory. As GPWEEK reported last year, the factory had two MotoGP projects, a V4 and an in-line four, with the later spotted testing in Japan. Sources close to the company confirm that the latter machine has been chosen for the racing return ... and that Suzuki hope to have several wild-card outings next year to measure their latest attempt against the opposition. Several riders including ex-Suzuki man Ben Spies had been approached, but a report in Britain’s MCN stated that negotiations with de Puniet were advanced. He will continue to race the Aspar CRT Aprilia in the MotoGP series, but the team owner has given his approval for extra-curricular tests with Suzuki. Planned wild-card rides are likely to go to factory test riders. De Puniet had impressed when he tested the previous V4 machine at the end of the 2012 season, but it was not enough to trigger a last-minute change of heart by the factory, which had already announced its two-year racing sabbatical. In 500cc two-stroke days Suzuki had dominated with the square-four RG500, and won two titles with Kevin Schwantz (1993) and Kenny Roberts Junior (2000). The switch to four-strokes put the company on the back foot, however. One of racing’s great rivalries will be revived next week, when nine-times champion Valentino Rossi meets up with six-timer Max Biaggi. It may be only at a novelty event in aid of charity, but the sparks are expected to fly. The event is a 58-lapper at the newly renovate Saggitario circuit in Rome, where the ultra-tight 1.6km layout is used not only by karts but also Supermoto bike races, using motocross style bikes racing over mixed surfaces, in the manner of Rallycross. Cornering is accomplished with spectacular slides. Teams combining one regular Supermoto rider with a star from another discipline will compete. Rossi will be teamed with four-times Supermoto champion Thierry Van Den Bosch; Biaggi’s team-mate for the December 2 event has not yet been confirmed. Other MotoGP riders taking part include Andrea Dovizioso, Danilo Petrucci, Andrea Iannone and Karel Abraham. The rivalry between Rossi and Biaggi erupted several times while they competed in the 500cc and MotoGP classes between 2000 and 2005, notably in a physical exchange on the way to the rostrum in Catalunya in 2003, where second-place Max explained a fleck of blood on his lip by saying: “A mosquito bit me.” Four-times 250 champ Biaggi left MotoGP at the end of 2005 after Honda refused to supply him a bike, but joined World Superbikes in 2007, where he won the championship twice, the second this year ... by half a point. He announced his retirement shortly after wards. Footnote: Vale’s off-season began well at the Rally of Monza, that finished yesterday. He finished the first day fastest through the special stages in a WRC Ford Fiesta, and heading the overall table. Also taking part: rally beginner Jorge Lorenzo, as well as Andrea Dovizioso, Loris Capirossi, Simone Corsi and Claudio Corti. ROSSI VS BIAGGI 16 GPWEEK.com // 16 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: