Sylvain Guintoli

2008 Sachsenring QP Report

After the damp morning practice, during which Dani Pedrosa finally pipped Casey Stoner to the post setting the fastest time in the dying seconds of the session, the big question in the afternoon was whether the Pedrosa could repeat this during qualifying, or whether Stoner would dominate as he had on Friday. It was a question Stoner seemed determined to answer in a hurry. He went straight to the top of the timesheets on his 2nd lap, and by lap 4, he was close to the previous pole record pace, with a time of 1'22.082, less than 7 minutes into the session.

Under normal circumstances, that time would have stood for most of qualifying, while the riders worked on their race setup, before breaking out the soft qualifiying rubber. But the possibility of showers disrupting practice meant that a number of riders took a very early qualifier, gambling that such a move could pay off if the rain started to fall for real. Alex de Angelis, Randy de Puniet and Colin Edwards all took a very early qualifier, with Edwards taking provisional pole well before the halfway mark, with a lap of 1'21.794.

Worryingly for Edwards, that time was only 0.2 seconds faster than the 1'21.996 set by Casey Stoner, in the middle of a long run on race tires. Qualifiers can generally be relied on to take close to a second off of your best time, so Edwards' 0.2 second advantage was looking more like a 0.8 second deficit, once Stoner got serious.

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Luis d'Antin Steps Down From His Own Team

After Casey Stoner's devastation of the competition last year, conventional wisdom held that the Ducati was the bike to have. This claim was asserted in spite of all the evidence to the contrary: Loris Capirossi's 7th place in the championship, his worst finish since the 2004 season, and neither Alex Barrros nor Alex Hofmann managed to set the world on fire on board the Bologna Bullet.

If anything, the situation has got even worse in 2008. Casey Stoner is once again almost unbeatable on the Ducati, but everyone else who tries to ride the bike falls terrifyingly short, with Marco Melandri, the man who was runner up to Valentino Rossi in the 2005 title race, and an unquestionably talented rider, forced to cruise round at the back of the pack, and likely to lose his job at the start of the summer break.

And so the Ducati has claimed its first victim. In a shock announcement, Luis d'Antin has resigned as team manager of the Alice satellite Ducati team. The team, which once bore his name, has struggled almost since its inception, despite obtaining strong sponsorship from both Pramac and Alice. The support went so far that Pramac even bought the team from d'Antin at the end of the 2006 season, injecting vital funds which allowed the team to obtain Bridgestone tires and better support from Ducati.

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2008 Donington QP Report

The weather had been forecast to be poor for the 2nd day of practice, and boy, where the weather forecasters right. Both this morning's free practice and this afternoon's qualifying practice took place in full rain. And like the morning's session, the afternoon's qualifying saw the wet weather specialists leap straight to the top of the table. Within ten minutes of the session starting, the tables were headed by three Australians: Casey Stoner, Chris Vermeulen and Ant West. Vermeulen and West will be no surprise, both men being renowned specialists in the rain - Vermeulen's protests that he doesn't like the rain notwithstanding - and Stoner has always coped very well in the wet.

 

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Ellison To Be Replaced At Tech 3 Yamaha?

Dutch racing website Racesport.nl is reporting that not James Ellison, but French 250cc rider Silvain Guintoli, rode James' Tech 3 Yamaha during the Mugello post-race testing session. Guintoli set a testing time of 1:52.1, faster than Ellison's 1:52.224 race lap. Speculation is rife that Guintoli will step in to replace the British rider, who has failed to live up to his pre-season form, or match team mate Carlos Checa's results. In James' favor is the fact that he is the only British rider in the championship, which could be important to the BBC, who broadcast MotoGP in the UK.

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