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GP Week : Issue 183
at BRIEFLY » Scott Redding’s victory in Moto2 at Le Mans made him the first Briton to win in the middle class in 12 years, since Jeremy McWilliams took Assen in the wet in 2001. With main rivals Pol Espargaro and Esteve Rabat – Spanish team- mates – crashing out in close formation early on, it gave Redding the points lead. » Moto3’s Le Mans rostrum was an all-Spanish affair, with Maverick Vinales taking the points lead with a second successive win, from Alex Rins and Luis Salom, the same three have shared the rostrum at all but one race so far in the KRM-dominated class. A promising challenge from front-row qualifier Miguel Oliveira on the new Mahindra came to naught when he crashed out of the leading battle. » If there was as a MotoGP “Bravest Soldier” award, Cal Crutchlow would be a shoo-in. At Jerez he was battered and suffered internal bleeding from a heavy Saturday crashed, but raced to a strong fifth. Barely recovered at Le Mans, he had another big fall on Saturday. He suffered a small fracture at the top of his right tibia, “but I was more worried that I was coughing blood and had a big nose-bleed”, he said. Nothing daunted, he qualified fourth and claimed a career-best second. Last year he suffered several fractures at the British GP, persuaded doctors to let him start, and stormed to sixth from the back of the grid. MOTOGP >>> NEWS French MotoGP rider Randy de Puniet set a lap time good enough for the middle of the grid, in his first test of the all-new Suzuki MotoGP prototype at Motegi last week – faster than factory test riders from Honda and Yamaha circulating at the same time. According to leaked lap times from the special test, de Puniet clocked 1’47.00 , equalled by Honda tester Takumi Takahashi, with Katsuaki Nakasuga’s Yamaha a couple of tenths slower. The experienced MotoGP journeyman, whose past rides include satellite Honda and Ducati and factory Kawasaki, flew to Japan after crashing out of his home GP, released for the tests by his Aspar CRT team. He is the first westerner to race the new bike, and was the last to ride the old one, at Valencia tests at the end of 2011, when Suzuki had announced a temporary withdrawal as a result of the bad economic situation. The tests are in preparation for the machine’s first European debut at official tests on the day after the Catalunya GP in three weeks. Leaked photographs in recent weeks have confirmed that Suzuki have rejected an earlier V4 prototype in favour of a for ward -canted in-line four. This brings it into line not only with Yamaha, but also its own GSX-R sports machines, The chassis follows convention, now with underslung bracing to a one-piece fabricated swingarm, designed to provide a degree of lateral flex along with rigidity in other planes. Pictures leaked from the tests showed ex- Rizla Suzuki MotoGP team crew chief Tom O’Kane in the pits with at least one other 2011 team member; but the planned 2014 racing return is to be led Davide Brivio, a former senior apparatchik in the VR46 entourage, having originally recruited Rossi to Yamaha in 2004. One question remains unresolved: whether Dorna chief Carmelo Ezpeleta will relent to allow Suzuki a factory entry, or if he will insist that they must return under the auspices of an existing team. DE PUNIET ON THE PACE AT SUZUKI MOTOGP TESTS Factory return gathers momentum BRIDGESTONE IN THE CLEAR AFTER LORENZO TYRE PUZZLE Bridgestone were quick to clear themselves after Jorge Lorenzo put the finger of blame for his worst result in five years firmly on a faulty rear tyre. With no rear grip, he’d dropped to seventh – off the rostrum for the first time since 2011. He described the rear grip problems that saw him lose place after place. “Coming into the corners it was like I was on ice – locking the back wheel, sliding in the corner, then wheelspin,” he said, two hours after the race. “In my opinion, it was a problem with the tyre – because I don’t see any other thing that can give me this.” On similar settings he’d led colder but damp morning warm-up with a 1’44.3 lap time. His best in the race had been 1’45.26, compared with Pedrosa’s 1’43.6. “I am usually faster in the race,” he said woefully. He’d been short-shifting, and using only half-throttle, to no avail. “I don’t see anything different than the tyres.” Bridgestone’s regular race debrief statement confirmed their verbal response later that evening at Le Mans – that not only was their no tyre fault, but that Yamaha engineers agreed with this assessment. According to tyre development manager Shinji Aoki: “It was clear that Jorge had an issue, as he couldn’t keep the same pace as the leading group.” He had explained his lack of rear grip to his Bridgestone engineer, who thoroughly examined the tyres, “which were found to be in good working condition. In addition, I examined the tyre myself and personally discussed the matter with the Yamaha engineers, and we all agreed that Jorge’s lack of rear grip was not attributable to his tyre.” Lorenzo had changed his front tyre on the grid, after running the warm-up lap on the harder option, the only rider to do so. Now suspicion must fall on any hasty set-up adjustments made for that last- minute switch. Aoki described “many different comments from the riders on the feeling on the track, even though they all used the same specification of wet tyre.” This was a normal result in low-grip situations. “Machine setup is critical, as the smallest setting change can have a big effect on performance,” said Aoki. 15 GPWEEK.com // 15 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: