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GP Week : Issue 186
MOTOGP >>> nEWs at BrIEFly » Troubles come not single score for Jorge Lorenzo, after his collarbone fracture and taxingly heroic return at Assen. The day after the race his brand-new Swiss penthouse apartment was gutted by fire. On the bright side, he hadn’t moved in yet. » MotoGP’s return to Argentina evoked memories of previous races there, although the good state of the circuit dispelled some worries. The first races there were tagged onattheendofthe 1961 to 1963 seasons, with almost exclusively local entrants until Mike Hailwood visited for a demonstration one-lap win on the MV Agusta in ‘63. There were races in 1982 and 1987, then a fitful return between 1994 and 1999. Frequent problems with customs, continuing financial uncertainty and the primitive facilities (in the mid-1990s riders had to redesign the track with impromptu straw-bale chicanes) saw perennially rackety event run out of steam. It meant the loss of a popular and enjoyable stop on the world championship trail. The revival next year has big-bucks government backing. A duty trip by a handful of riders to Argentina to promote the forthcoming GP was greeted with rapture and huge crowds, while tentative tests of the new Termas de Rio Hondo circuit elicited a similar reaction from those riders, on the day that the return of the south American nation to the GP calendar from next year was officially confirmed. Last held in 1999 at a decaying parkland circuit in the capital Buenos Aires, the Argentine GP will return to the calendar in 2014, with the contract confirmed through to 2016, Dorna announced on Thursday. Originally scheduled for this year, the event ran into political problems over the unilateral nationalisation of Repsol’s majority shareholding in the local IPA petroleum company, which put Spain at loggerheads with the country. This mid-summer visit was a sop to fulfil contract terms, with a press conference in Buenos Aires followed by two days at the newly built 4.8 -km circuit, at the remote spa town more than 1,000 km north-east of the capital. MotoGP riders Cal Crutchlow, Stefan Bradl, Alvaro Bautista and Hector Barbera, joined by Esteve Rabat and Nico Terol from Moto2, were suborned for the trip, in the week after the Dutch TT. But the inconvenient duty turned out to be a revelation, with the warmest of receptions, more than 150 excited journalists attending the press conference, and more than 1,000 fans at the track, to watch the riders find their way round. Sadly the second day was marred by rain, but by then the track had earned warm words, in spite of being dirty. “It is really fast, and perfectly suits MotoGP,” opined Bradl, who set fastest time; “Flowing and demanding,” according to Bautista; while Crutchlow described it as “really cool to ride” . There was but one reservation: the surface was very abrasive, threatening tyre endurance problems. (* That’s Rio Hondo, not de Janeiro!) RAPTURE IN RIO* AS LATIN-AMERICAN RETURN CONFIRMEd Stars rate new Argentine circuit "perfect" for Moto GP 16 GPWEEK.com // 16 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: