MotoGP world champion Casey Stoner might have missed the opening official test of the new season in Sepang on Tuesday due to a back spasm problem, but after a massage and anti-inflammatory pills, the world champ's back drama was banished before the second day. He duly went on to be the fastest aboard his Honda, ahead of the Yamahas. As yet there is no sign of a serious Ducati return to the pointy end.
Meanwhile, Australian journeyman Ant West has used Facebook to declare he is cold-shouldering MotoGP. The versatile West, an acknowledged wet-weather hero, used his page to announce he has been forced to depart due to a lack of funds. West was intending to join the new Speed Master squad for 2012, but his plans were sent crashing by a combination of a lack of sponsorship and not being paid by his 2011 Moto2 team. ''I had my car, MX bike and my house for sale trying to keep the ride and even gave the house as a guarantee if I did not find the money, but that was not enough,'' West wrote.PREMAT ADDS GALLIC FLAIR
V8 Supercars is about to be injected with a little international flavour. The former open wheeler, sports car and German DTM goer, France's Alexandre Premat, is the latest interesting selection made by Garry Rogers Motorsport, a modest-sized team that fights above its weight. Rogers had been contemplating a shortlist of young drivers but ultimately elected to take the path of reduced risk. Premat certainly has pace and experience, even if he lacks familiarity with V8 Supercars. He is unlikely to have driven a machine as clumsy as the current Holden, though the Car of the Future due next year is reportedly more agile. Premat, 29, is a former adversary of Aussie Ryan Briscoe in European formula three. He will be the first Frenchman to race full-time in the Australian series, largely an all-antipodean driver line-up since Brazil's Max Wilson departed. With motor sport opportunities limited by the economic malaise in much of Europe and the US, other pros from those parts have shown interest in employment here. Too late. The V8 grid line-up for 2012 is now flush.
DOWE DOWN UNDER
Opportunity, money and the challenge of finding an edge in a parity series in which every car is technically the theoretical equal of the others on the V8 supercar grid are attracting highly regarded engineering boffins from other prominent international formulae to Australia. Expanding Kelly Racing has appointed the veteran British engineer Tony Dowe to the position of performance director. Dowe ran the successful Jaguar sports car program in the late 1980s and early 1990s, winning both the Daytona and Le Mans 24-hour enduros. In a long career, Dowe has also worked with F1 and Indy teams. For months Kelly Racing has been hosing down conjecture that it will run a Car of the Future operation for Infiniti next year. Dowe's appointment is likely to crank up the speculation.
RICHARDS MUSCLES IN
Jim Richards' 30-month project to build an AMC Javelin for the Touring Car Masters series is getting its finishing touches. The race legend will debut the '72 muscle car at the Clipsal 500 meeting in Adelaide in four weeks. Richards, who has been racing a Falcon Sprint against a flotilla of big US and Aussie iron, says the Javelin answers his inner demand for something different. It will be the only car of this type in the TCM field, and Richards is also delighted to be re-creating a model campaigned so successfully by Penske Racing and champion American driver Mark Donohue, who together dominated Trans Am racing with Javelins in the early 1970s. The Javelin runs a 360ci AMC V8 producing more than 600 horsepower and weighs 1580 kilograms, plus an additional seeded driver penalty of 30 kilograms. Richards scoured the world for the right car, eventually buying one from an enthusiast in Melbourne.