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Page last updated at 19:26 GMT, Sunday, 13 July 2008 20:26 UK

Matt Roberts' MotoGP round-up

By Matt Roberts
BBC Sport, Sachsenring

A circus unicyclist
So, Mr Stoner, they say you can ride pretty much anything...

After another perfect weekend from Casey Stoner and his Ducati, no doubt his critics will once again be trying to knock him and say it's all down to his bike, even though nobody else seems to be able to ride it.

People often ask me what I reckon Valentino Rossi could do on that bike, and whilst that would be interesting to see, a better question is what could Casey do on Valentino's bike?

Stoner's great strength is his ability to adapt to any condition and ride virtually any motorcycle on the limit - and sometimes beyond - almost instantly.

There is a lot of talk about the Ducati's technical superiority, but it is his talent and ability to wring the bike's neck from the moment he steps on the track which gives his engineers the data to work with.

On Friday he set a new lap record within the first half-hour, giving him a massive head start and leaving only fine-tuning to be done according to the conditions.


Speaking of Casey's guts, I'm sorry if our live post-race interview with him put anybody off their Sunday lunch.

Just before Suzi handed over to me, he said: "I think I'm gonna puke".

Hardly the ideal thing to hear before a live television interview, and when his cheeks filled halfway through my second question I could almost hear Dennis Norden rubbing his hands in anticipation at the video clip for his next out-take show.

Thankfully Casey kept it under control, as he had done all weekend in Germany. Expect more of the same next time out at Laguna Seca.


Dani Pedrosa could be a doubt for California though, after flying straight back to Spain for treatment to finger and ankle injuries picked up when he decided to inspect the turn one gravel at 150mph.

Circuit doctors confirmed he fractured the top bone of his left index finger, although the main concern is potential tendon damage in the same area.

He was due to undergo further examination on a suspected fracture in his right ankle when he returned to Spain.


After a couple of weeks of intensive study at the school of hard knocks - literally - Jorge Lorenzo claimed he was 'back to his old self' this weekend.
Jorge Lorenzo after his crash in France
Lorenzo has relied upon the medics as much as his mechanics this year

But that didn't appear to be the case on Thursday when he was asked who he fancied to win the championship.

Having ruled himself out of the title chase, Jorge surprisingly went for compatriot and arch-rival Pedrosa as his preferred winner.

But he admitted that team orders would take priority if it transpired that team-mate Rossi needed a hand.

"I always say I want Pedrosa to win because it's good for Spanish sport. If it was a question of nationalities I'd help him on the track, but I belong to Yamaha and Fiat. Good answer, hey?"

Unfortunately Gorgeous Jorge wasn't so sharp at coming up with answers on the track, as once again he struggled with rear grip issues.

Wet conditions made things worse and he only lasted three laps before crashing - a real problem ahead of the trip to Laguna, a circuit he does not know and which is notoriously harsh on rear tyre wear.


One thing that wasn't good for Spanish sport was the conspicuous absence of Ducati's satellite team manager Luis D'Antin this weekend.
A Porsche sport scar
Credit crunch? Sorry, I don't know what you're talking about

D'Antin was unceremoniously fired and had his pass confiscated after sponsors Pramac and MotoGP rights holders Dorna finally got tired of bankrolling the privateer team.

After years of complaints from team members over unpaid wages and even unpaid hotel bills (on one occasion the mechanics were reportedly refused access to their rooms), the final straw apparently came when D'Antin treated himself to a brand new Porsche and a yacht.

The news will come as no surprise to Neil Hodgson, who had to endure D'Antin's questionable management style during his ill-fated two years in MotoGP.

The team responded to D'Antin's exit by producing their best weekend of the season, with Sylvain Guintoli finishing sixth.


Kawasaki's John Hopkins was another absentee from Sachsenring, where it was confirmed that he will miss his home round at Laguna Seca after surgery on his legs to fix all kinds of bone fractures and ligament damage.

Chaz Davies' lingering hopes of replacing the Anglo-American for that race have disappeared but there will be some British representation in the team's choice of stand-in, Jamie Hacking.

The 37-year-old was born in Oswaldtwistle in Lancashire and only moved to America when he was nine, when his dad got a job as an ink salesman in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Whilst Davies continues to impress, Hacking is the factory's senior Superbike rider over there and is currently fourth in the American championship.


After a dull few weeks in the news conference room we were treated to some welcome stand-up from paddock joker Colin Edwards.
Marco Simoncelli
Are you sure he still needs a crash helmet with this padding?

On Saturday, the MotoGP front row starters shared a news conference with the pole setters from the 125cc and 250cc classes, Gabor Talmacsi and Marco Simoncelli.

Asked about the lap that put him third on the grid, Colin looked to his side and quipped: "I'm not sure what to say because all I can think of right now is asking Marco a question. Dude, do you need a special helmet for that hair? How big is that?!"

Poor Marco, whose improving English doesn't quite stretch to Texan teasing just yet, looked bemused but Stoner and Pedrosa were in stitches.




see also
Stoner win blows title race open
13 Jul 08 |  Motorbikes
German MotoGP as it happened
13 Jul 08 |  Motorbikes
MotoGP on the BBC
28 Jun 08 |  Motorbikes
MotoGP world championship
13 Jul 08 |  Motorbikes


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