Phillip Island wins date change battle

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Valentino Rossi lost another battle in Qatar last weekend after it was confirmed the Australian MotoGP race will remain in its traditional October slot on the calendar.

Rossi has tirelessly campaigned to get the Phillip Island race moved to a March slot amid fears that track temperatures in October are bordering on dangerous, with heat generation with Bridgestone tyres the key issue.

The Australian Grand Prix Corporation though, which also promotes the Australian Formula One race, has been digging its heels in.

It has stood firm despite threats of removal from the calendar if the race wasn’t moved to the end of the Australian summer in the hope of catching more favourable conditions.

And Rossi and Dorna were forced into a humbling climb down in Qatar, the Italian admitting the race wouldn’t move as requested in 2012.

Rossi greeted the news with disappointment, but Casey Stoner said the demands placed on the AGPC had been unreasonable.

The Aussie is undefeated on home soil in the 800cc era and he said: “I was disappointed that the Safety Commission was listening to a couple of riders and going off their words that the race was unsafe.

“We’ve seen the same conditions in the early part of the year and it is just as wet if not wetter. In the early part of the year, conditions can be terrible and difficult.

“We’ve been pretty lucky the last couple of years and unlucky because the week before the race it has been 35 degrees and nice and sunny. When race weekend comes the weather turns to crap. But I don’t think changing the time of year is going to change that too much.”

Stoner said the safety of other tracks was not the subject of such intense scrutiny as Phillip Island and he added: “It is disappointing that they were threatened if they didn’t change.

“Yet we go to a track like Portugal and Indianapolis where they don’t have to change surface even though it is obvious that it is terrible. It is friggin’ 50-years-old and not working and really bumpy and quite dangerous in some areas. But they don’t have to change.

“There’s quite a lot of contradiction to me with a lot of the decisions that are made, but we’ll see how they go this year and see if they quieten down with these things.”

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt