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GP Week : Issue 193
MOTOGP >>> nEWs at BrIEFly » Finally it’s official. With a rush switch from Aprilia to the new production Honda confirmed in the days after the Malaysian GP, Nicky Hayden and the Aspar team will be together for 2014. Close to finality for several weeks, the deal had been jeopardised when Aprilia’s top race engineer Gigi Dall’Igna defected to Ducati unexpectedly, leaving the team without the guarantee of a top-level motorcycle. “I’ve always been a Honda guy,” said a relieved Hayden, who won his AMA Superbike title and the 2006 World Championship with Honda. » Andrea Coleman, founder and director of the official MotoGP charity Riders for Health, has been named Woman of the Year in an official ceremony in London, for her work bringing primary medical care to remote regions in several African countries. Coleman is the daughter of AMC motorcycles senior development engineer Jack Williams (AJS, Matchless), sister of noted British racer Peter Williams and widow of late Irish road-racer Tom Herron, and founded the charity with her second husband Barry Coleman, using motorcycles for significant upgrades in health care in rural areas where other vehicles cannot easily penetrate. This year, the charity’s annual Day of Champions at Silverstone raised a further £215,000 for the charity. Ex-rider Randy Mamola was also a prime force in the organisation. » There will be no MotoGP come- back, but Casey Stoner did admit that he had seriously considered a one-off wild card ride at this year’s Australian GP, rejecting it “some time ago” because of a lack of testing. Stoner was speaking at the Australian GP, where he was inducted into the MotoGP Hall of Fame. His immediate future plans, he said, were “to take that year off I promised myself”, after finding his first year away from bikes racing cars instead almost as demanding as MotoGP itself. TWO RACES THAT CHANGED THE WORLD The final two of three flyaway races – in Australia and Japan – turned the world championship on its head. A series of extraordinary events both human and divine wrested the title away from champion elect Marc Marquez, and mean the Repsol Honda rider is in danger of ceding the crown to defending Yamaha ace Jorge Lorenzo. Both events had serious interruptions. At Phillip Island both Bridgestone’s MotoGP tyres and Dunlop’s for Moto2 fell so far short of the requirements of the much faster resurfaced circuit that neither would do race distance. The Moto2 race was all but halved; Moto2 run with a compulsory pit stop for a fresh bike with fresh tyres halfway through. Lorenzo produced two strikingly immaculate performances: pole position and race victory from two perfect starts. This wouldn’t have been enough without a bit of help from Marquez, with a wrongly- timed pit stop that meant he was disqualified. Marquez had arrived in Australia 43 points ahead with a chance of winning the crown. He left with his lead cut to 18 points, after his second zero score of the year (he crashed out in Italy). It was cut by another five points at Motegi, where the interruptions had come from foul weather on the periphery of Typhoon Francisco, which meant nobody could even turn a wheel until Saturday afternoon for a single wet qualifying session; and set-up time for the dry race was limited to 50 minutes on Sunday morning. Lorenzo again led from the start, and with a soft rear tyre gamble paying off resisted the fiercest of pressure before Marquez settled for second. Now they go to the final round in Valencia with the final honours in the balance. If Lorenzo wins Marquez must be no lower than third if he is to retain the lead he had held since the German GP before the summer break. Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa was second in Australia, but saw his last mathematical hopes dashed with third in Japan, unable to match the pace of Lorenzo and Marquez; Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) was back for a sixth top-three with third in Australia, but braking problems dropped him to sixth at Motegi, where Hondas filled from second to fourth – Bautista and the returned-from-injury Bradl behind the factory bikes. Marquez has 318 points, Lorenzo 305. Pedrosa is secure in third on 280 points, likewise Rossi (224) in fourth and Crutchlow (188) in fifth. Bautista (160) and Bradl (146) both have a chance to get sixth. 16 GPWEEK.com // 16 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: