Mattia Pasini has had a few rough years recently, and things don't seem to be getting any better. His last year in the 125 championship with Polaris World was plagued by engine breakdowns and mechanical problems, producing the entertaining spectacle of the Italian administering a thorough kicking to his factory-spec Aprilia. Then at the end his debut 250 year, the Polaris World team folded as a result of the financial crisis, and the demand for holiday homes in Spain collapsed.
2009 was looking much more promising, especially after the Italian took victory at Mugello once Marco Simoncelli had taken both himself and Alvaro Bautista out of the equation. But at Catalunya, trouble emerged, in the shape of money problems. Rumors surfaced of unpaid bills to Aprilia by Team Toth, and that Aprilia would be demanding its Aprilia RSA back. At Assen, the prominent Italian site GPOne.com reported that Aprilia has impounded Pasini's Aprilia RSA over the unpaid fees, and that Pasini will not be riding here on Saturday.
Imre Toth, team manager of the eponymous team, has denied everything to the Hungarian press. His response to the Hungarian website Motogphirek.hu when confronted with the allegations was "Whaaaat!!!" Toth told the Hungarian website that he expected to start the races as normal this weekend.
But GPOne's sources seem to be reliable. The website shows a picture of Pasini's Aprilia sitting in the belly of the Aprilia race truck, rather than the Team Toth truck. And all day today, the Team Toth truck stayed stubbornly closed, as did both the front and back doors to their pit garage. While elsewhere up and down the pit lane teams worked on bikes, and the pits rang to the song of two-strokes and MotoGP bikes being warmed up and tested, not a sound emanated from the Toth garage. The hospitality unit was similarly deserted on the multiple occasions that we walked past it, though this has to be put down to coincidence.
The truth of story will emerge tomorrow afternoon, when the first session of free practice gets underway. Mattia Pasini is present and healthy, and if he doesn't roll onto the track on Thursday, then explanations will be demanded.