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GP Week : Issue 187
Top satellite rider Cal Crutchlow, considering offers from all three manufacturers, is tipped to choose Ducati, where a rich purse and full factory status sweeten the prospect of the still down-beat motorcycle. The move would bring relief to satellite Honda riders Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista, with the former especially under threat should Crutchlow take the Honda option. Likewise to Bradley Smith, whose contract to stay for a second year in the Tech 3 team is also under threat of major re-negotiation. Crutchlow remained tight-lipped at Laguna Seca, beyond saying: “I still haven’t got a job next year,” adding that he hoped to make a decision before the season begins again at Indianapolis on August 18. This followed a last-ditch attempt by Yamaha to keep him on board, offering to pay his salary if he would remain at Tech 3. The deadline had already been extended by one week from the German GP, said Yamaha racing boss Lin Jar vis, and the offer would not remain open indefinitely. Crutchlow told the press: “I’m not afraid of the Ducati” , and there are many who think his aggressive style might suit the bike, in the same way as did Stoner’s, the last rider to win on the machine. However, if Honda could find him a berth with the promise of future factory status, he may turn his back on the Ducati dollars in the interest of more guaranteed chance of success. Crutchlow has claimed four rostrum finishes this year, more than any other British rider since Barry Sheene. CRUTCHLOW DRAWS NEARER TO DUCATI MOTOGP >>> nEWs MotoGP class control-tyre supplier Bridgestone is to introduce a new hard-compound rear slick from the Czech Republic GP at the end of August, in response to riders’ almost universal rejection of the current hard slick this season. A chorus of complaints has accompanied the preferred use of the softer tyres. Riders say that the extra endurance offered by the harder is outweighed by difficulty in achieving warm-up and lack of grip. “We can almost never use it,” affirmed Rossi recently; while Dovizioso complained that even with the softer choice, “at the end it looks like it can do another race.” A corollary of the hard construction is that the tyres are difficult to warm up, requiring forceful riding while not yet developing full grip – the so-called “danger period” that caused Pedrosa’s injury in Germany, Crutchlow’s inexplicable Laguna crash, and many others. Bridgestone chief engineer Masao Azuma, speaking after the US GP, announced the new policy. “For whatever reason, be it an evolution in bike design or electronic controls, our current hard compound isn’t popular with riders this year, so we set about developing a new hard rubber compound.” This had now been tested, and would be introduced one GP after racing resumed; although the extra allocation of eight softer options would remain until the end of the season. At the front, however, there has been no response so far to growing complaints that the softer- construction tyre introduced to almost universal popular acclaim mid-season last year has become a liability with the heavier machines of 2013. Only the Honda riders Stoner and Pedrosa disliked the tyre, the latter dubbing it “dangerous” because it squidged and wandered too much under braking, but they were over-ruled by the rest. “Casey was right,” affirmed Rossi. Footnote: a rash of front-end crashes at the Sachsenring, where a fast right over a blind brow follows a series of seven left-handers, caused by the right side of the tyre cooling, would not have been solved by a dual-compound front, according to Bridgestone; since the tyre would still be overcooled. “We are looking at another way of transferring heat across the tyre,” said a spokesman. BRIDGESTONE RESPONDS TO TYRE ISSUES New 'hard' rear for BRNO 18 GPWEEK.com // 18 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: