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GP Week : Issue 189
MOTOGP >>> nEWs at BrIEFly » World Superbikes, now under the control of Dorna, have adopted a MotoGP- style Safety Commission, where elected rider representatives meet at each circuit for a regular review. All but one of the five riders elected for the first such meeting at the recent Nurburgring race were ex-GP racers: Guintoli, Melandri, Checa and Rolfo. The fifth was Jonathan Rea, who had the misfortune to fracture his femur after a controversial last-lap crash on spilled oil two days later. Dorna’s major change to the series is in much more restrictive technical rules, to further distance SBK from MotoGP. » Bridgestone responded to criticism over five race-morning warm-up crashes in its regular debrief, pointing out that “cooler temperatures always create more challenging conditions”, and that Bridgestone had made big efforts to improve warm-up performance. Furthermore, “three of the five crashes happened at Vale, which features a small dip that can unsettle the front of the bike in quite an extreme braking zone”. They would examine data and rider feedback for possible future changes, but “with the harsh braking zones at Silverstone, if you go too soft with the compound braking stability can become an issue. Front tyre selection at Silverstone is always a juggling act”. Fair enough, except for the top riders who unwittingly become fairground tumblers. » Former MotoGP rider John Hopkins, whose bad luck perhaps exceeds that of his American compatriot Ben Spies, hopes to make a racing return in 2013, after taking a year off to recover from major hip surgery. One role could be as test rider for the new Suzuki, scheduled to rejoin MotoGP in 2015, although Randy de Puniet is also in the frame, should he fail to find a full-time ride. Hopkins made his GP debut in 2002, and by the end in 2009 had ridden factory Suzukis and Kawasakis, with four podiums and a best of second. A promising start was scuppered by never riding top machinery. HAYDEN HITS oUT AT DUcATI "We should have stuck with the carbon chassis" Departing Ducati rider Nicky Hayden has criticised the company for being too eager to follow its rivals during Rossi’s two years with the company, rather than sticking to its own independent engineering methods. The American’s five years with the Italian company come to an end after this season, with Cal Crutchlow taking his seat. At silverstone, he spoke for the first time of his disappointment at the company’s switch from its unique carbon-fibre mini-chassis used by stoner to win races, first to an aluminium version of the same thing, and subsequently to a conventional aluminium full chassis. The changes brought no improvement, and Hayden felt were actually a backward step – a view that stoner agreed with, speaking to GPWeek before his retirement. The company needs to rediscover its DNA, opined the American, pointing out that the company’s success in all spheres of racing had been achieved by following their own course, rather than copying other bikes. “The carbon frame had a lot of potential, and it was a shame that we never got to test it again,” he told press. Injury at the final round in 2011 meant that he’d had only had a brief test on it, “but I went really fast with a good feeling, with much less understeer.” He never rode it again. That was at Jerez, where “I never got close to the lap time I set on that test, and it’s really frustrating,” he said. After Audi’s purchase of Ducati last year, major management changes and new staff members have still brought no relief to riders, suffering from understeer and rear-suspension pumping under power. With design chief Filippo Preziosi departing the company, former BMW superbike team chief Bernhard Gobmeier took over team; while a recent addition is former Team Roberts technical guru Warren Willing. Ducati has a full-time test squad, but sources close to the team complain that the approach is not methodical, and that time is wasted retesting solutions that have already been found wanting. 16 GPWEEK.com // 16 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: