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GP Week : Issue 179
at BRIEFLY » Maverick Vinales suffered a small but serious finger injury in a 100mph crash on the final day of testing, losing the tip of his right-hand ring finger – a similar injury to that suffered by Lorenzo in Australia in 2011. Top rookie in 2011 and a title candidate last year, Vinales is once again a favourite after switching from Honda to KTM. He underwent reconstructive surgery by MotoGP’s favourite Spanish doctor Xavier Mir is expected to be fit for the season-opener at Qatar on April 7. » Rossi’s Yamaha come-back may still have some question marks, but his rivals will have been chilled by his latest promise, expressed in an interview with Britain’s Motor Cycle News. “I want to race until I am 40,” he said. The multiple champion turned 34 this February, giving a prospect of six more years of dominating the popularity charts ... and possibly the results sheets. » Yamaha riders’ requests for a seamless- shift gearbox like those used by Honda and Ducati will have to remain on hold for a while. MotoGP Project Leader Kouichi Tsuji confirmed at Jerez that Yamaha has one under development, but he could give no date. He played down the affair, saying that it was worth perhaps two or three tenths a lap at a track like Jerez, “but a good rider is worth a full second”. MOTOGP >>> NEWS Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso was celebrating another small step forward at the Jerez tests, where a minor aerodynamic improvement and some upgraded electronics saw the gap to the leader drop to less than a second. New rider Dovizioso was the best, placing fifth, 0.797 off the top time, set by Rossi’s Yamaha. Hayden was another second adrift in tenth, fractionally slower than satellite rider Andrea Iannone. The latest alteration follows that which brought some benefits at the second Sepang tests. In Malaysia the fuel tank was moved down to below the front of the seat and the electronics moved backwards, to improve mass centralisation. For the Jerez test, a revised fairing and a round of electronic developments aimed at improving throttle response made another small difference. “It has had a positive effect,” said new team chief Bernhard Gobmeier. “Other things are still to come, and of course I cannot disclose them now.” Dovizioso praised the traction, but had the same comments that have dogged the Desmosedici. “You cannot enter the corner as fast as you want, and the corner speed is a bit slow, because the bike wants to run wide.” He had verified this following Crutchlow’s Yamaha during Sunday’s tests. Hayden was not convinced by the electronics, saying he had turned them off. “They call it ‘first-touch’, and it’s supposed to make it smoother when you come on the throttle, but to me you lose a bit of throttle connection.” Gobmeier believed the different parts of the Ducati were individually good. The trick was to get them all working together as a balanced package. “We have to retune everything, not dramatically as in the past, but to make the pieces fit together better, to make a robust and competitive design. I know it is a long way to achieve that, but we are approaching every little aspect that is needed.” There would be no major redesign this year, he said. Next year, new electronic limitations and the policy of freezing engine development would require it, however. ROSSI SLAMS TYRE RESTRICTION All riders suffer shortage as weather plays foul Valentino Rossi led a chorus of complaints from riders as the final pre-season test got under way at Jerez in monsoon conditions ... and they found that the Bridgestone wet tyres could barely manage six laps before crying enough. With only four sets of wet tyres for three days of testing, and rain forecast for at least two of those days, the lack of rubber severely curtailed testing time, and potentially made a nonsense of the three days. “This is a problem. We come here to test but we have just four sets of tyres. Sincerely, I don’t understand,” said Rossi at the end of the first day. “I hope I can persuade Bridgestone to give us some more ... we need more track time,” he said. “Today we used up two sets and we had more things to test ... we wanted to continue, but we had to stop, to save tyres for the rest of the test,” he said. The situation was eased when day two dawned dry, but remained fraught as the weather forecast predicted more wet to come. Rossi explained that, with a maximum of 10 laps available from a rear tyre, it meant one could only run 20 laps on a wet day. Numbers of dry tyres were also restricted, “but with drys, you can do 30 laps on a set.” The problem had become acute with the advent of the 1000cc bikes last year, which spin the rear much more readily than the previous 800s. “After five or six laps the rear tyre drops down so much,” he said. “It could be a real problem on a weekend of a race,” he added. All riders had the same difficulty, with Cal Crutchlow laughingly replying to questions on his testing progress: “I blew my tyres out, having fun. “With the 800s we used more lean angle; the 1000s you pick up more, but then the wheel just spins,” he continued. New Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso also complained of having to cut his important wet testing short after stopping early on day one to preser ve his tyre allocation. “Everything is new for me, and we need to set up the traction and wheelie control for wet conditions,” he said. SMALL STEPS HELP DUCATI AT JEREZ 14 GPWEEK.com // 14 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: