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GP Week : Issue 182
MOTOGP >>> NEWS BRIEFLY » The Argentine GP – cancelled this year for political reasons – took a step closer to its expected debut next season, after Dorna and FIM officials visited the remote venue and expressed broad approval. FIM Safety Officer Franco Uncini said: “The track is beautiful and the safety standards are very high.” But while pleased and impressed by the quality of the work, “right now we are not willing to fully approve the circuit, as a few minor modifications will soon be taking place. ” A test session is scheduled for July, but who will attend is not clear, and it may be as much a promotional event as a genuine test. » An extraordinarily left- field question about homosexuality on the grid at the Jerez pre-event press conference was similarly put into proportion by a rider many wrongly consider to be an unlikely source of humour: Stefan Bradl. “I am not gay,” he said. “But if it makes you faster, maybe I should try it.” » Bridgestone blamed unexpected heat and an unusually greasy track surface for a strange tyre anomaly at Jerez – when all riders chose the harder-option front as expected, but all went for the softer rear. Chief engineer Masao Azuma said: “With such high temperatures, it was expected that some riders would select harder rear slicks ... but the greasy track conditions meant riders chose softer rears to give them the highest level of cornering grip. Some riders did comment that the drive grip, when the rider picks up the machine from full lean out of corners, was better on the harder rear slick, but edge grip, which is important at the flowing Jerez circuit, was better on the softer rear option.” Ben Spies has been forced to sit out a second grand prix in a row, due to complications in recovery from major shoulder surgery over the close season; while his Ducati B-team team- mate Andrea Iannone will race at Le Mans less than a fortnight after surgery to his right forearm. It continues a slow start to the season for the Pramac-run Energy TI-sponsored squad, which is linked directly to the Ducati factory in an attempt to double-up development as well as source new riders. It also continues a long nightmare for the American former World Superbike Champion, who won a GP in his second season on the factory Yamaha, but ran into voodoo-like ill-fortune in his third – including not only crashes but an engine blow-up and a rear-suspension collapse. Hopes of regaining momentum with the move to Ducati have had to remain on hold, after a trapped ner ve related to his shoulder problems caused near- crippling pain in the second round of the year. Former Moto2 wild man Iannone had made a strong start on the Ducati, only for race results to suffer as he was slowed by severe arm-pump, striking after only four or five laps. At Jerez he compounded his problems with an early crash in the race, gashing his knee badly. The next day he under went compartment syndrome surgery to his arm, and clean-up work to his knee, with MotoGP’s current favourite doctor Xavier Mir in Barcelona. Iannone plans to return at Le Mans, although staples from the surgery will only be removed two weeks later. Spies’s place will go to factory tester Michele Pirro, who was 11th at Jerez on the ‘lab’ bike, but must use the American’s stock Desmosedici GP13 in France. SPIES OUT UNTIL MUGELLO Iannone under the knife in injury-hit Ducati B-team PLEASE SIR, I WANT SOME MORE Defending World Champion Jorge Lorenzo is leading the Yamaha chorus of increasingly urgent requests to the factory for meaningful upgrades to the underwhelming 2013 version of the M1. “We need to improve,” he said bleakly, after dropping to third at Jerez after a race he’d run, he said, at maximum risk and effort just to keep the leader in sight. Returned team-mate Rossi concurred. The weakness had been underlined, he said, by both factory riders’ difficulties at Jerez – a ‘handling’ track that should normally favour the Yamaha’s predictable chassis and faithful steering over the more stop-and-go Honda. “I have to work for two reasons,” he said. “F irst because Jorge is faster than me, but also Yamaha must work to improve the bike.” One weakness against the Honda is the lack of a seamless-shift gearbox, also used by Ducati; but riders are also seeking a general improvement. At post-Jerez tests they tested two different versions of the 2013 chassis back to back, but were again outranked by both Hondas. Satellite Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow uses and earlier version of the factory chassis from last year, he said, and disclosed one difference. The 2013 chassis has the fuel tank lower and further back, to centralise mass and improve braking performance. Yamaha riders beg for more powerful weapons 5 GPWEEK.com // 5 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: