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Mr Paddock says...

Mr Paddock says...

> The mooted Sauber three-cylinder four stroke, still expected to make an appearance to do exhibition laps in the hands of Scottish GP veteran Niall Mackenzie at the Malaysian Grand Prix, is not listed by any of the thirteen teams selected to compete in the inaugural MotoGP class next year. The Roberts Group was approached by Sauber to build a chassis, but Kenny Roberts senior declined the offer saying, ´We are a GP team not a components supplier. We have done racing frames for the Derbi team in 125, but not in the MotoGP class where we have our own machines.´ Sauber´s prototype chassis has been built by British specialist Steve Harris.

> The next two riders to be inducted to the MotoGP Legends Hall of Fame are former 500 World Champions Wayne Gardner of Australia and Britain´s Barry Sheene. Ceremonies will take place at the Australian GP at Phillip Island at mid-day on Saturday. Gardner won the title in 1987 with Honda and Sheene won back-to-back titles for Suzuki in 1976 and 1977.

> The works Yamaha Marlboro team plans to move their headquarters and workshops from Holland to Italy and to facilities outside Monza owned by Davide Brivio, who is presently the manager of Red Bull Yamaha rider Noriyuki Haga. Also among consideration as a site for Yamaha´s GP effort were installations of fifteen-times World Champion Giacomo Agostini, but negotiations stalled. Many feel that an official role for Agostini in the Yamaha racing structure would have given the marque a prestigious spokesperson and advisor to offset Honda´s Mick Doohan.

> Next year Derbi and Gilera, both owned by Piaggio and using identical machines out of the same pit this season, will run out of two different garages with relative independence.Manuel Poggiali, from San Marino but considered a home rider by Italian fans, has already signed for next year with Gilera and a second rider, possibly Aprilia´s Simone Sanna, will be added. With Youichi Ui expected to continue with Derbi, team director Giampiero Sacchi and Sports Director Ricard Jové admit that they must have a top Spanish rider. Pablo Nieto, youngest son of thirteen times world champion Ángel Nieto, will almost certainly not be renewed and riders like Elías and his young team mate (just turned 16 after Valencia) Dani Pedrosa, are under consideration.

> Aprilia appear to be running their ´works´ machines for next year out of the Jorge Martinez ´Aspar´ 250 team which currently fields Fonsi Nieto and Álex Debon. In principal the two riders on factory Aprilia 250s will be Marco Melandri and Fonsi Nieto with a possible third rider. Other Aprilia works supported riders and teams are expected to continue using 2001 machines with only a few detail changes. Ulsterman Jeremy McWilliams, for one, has agreed to continue riding for Dieter Stapperd´s German-based team.

> Meanwhile Roberto Rolfo is rumored to be one of two Aprilia factory riders on the as yet unseen and untested Aprilia four stroke MotoGP machine. Aprilia has yet to name the lead rider for their four stroke effort but the name of former 500 World Champion Álex Crivillé continues to be mentioned. However, there is less certainty than in Valencia where some insiders believed a deal had been struck that would see Repsol replacing IP on the works Aprilia MotoGP bikes and Crivillé leaving Honda to join the Italian concern.

> With the Aprilia four stroke still unseen, so far in the battle of the four strokes the best unofficial lap times have been set by Yamaha with Carlos Checa featuring as the fastest of the men to test the four cylinder M1. So far the Honda V5 has been off the pace in private tests. To date the fastest man around Suzuki on the V5 was thought to have been Colin Edwards in 2.09 in tests after the eight hours of Suzuka, but in recent tests Tohru Ukawa is rumored to have lapped in 2.06.2, just .3 of a second slower than his best personal time of 2.05.9 set on the NSR 500 in qualifying for this year´s Japanese Grand Prix. The absolute Suzuki lap record for motorcycles is held by Loris Capirossi who started on the pole at Suzuka in the spring with a time of 2.04.77.

> For the first time in the four year history of the Team Roberts three-cylinder effort (first as Modenas and now as Proton) neither team owner Kenny Roberts nor team director Chuck Aksland were present at a Grand Prix. Both missed the Grand Prix of the Pacific as they stayed in the United States to work out details for next year´s two-rider team, which will be without Dutch rider Jurgen vd Goorbergh who joins Team Kanemoto Racing Honda next season. The Kanemoto team will use Bridgestone tires.

500cc, 2001

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