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Suzuki in talks to quit MotoGP in 2022: company

AFP

Suzuki announced on Thursday they want to quit MotoGP and are holding talks with the championship promoters Dorna over breaking their contract.

“Suzuki Motor Corporation is in discussions with Dorna regarding the possibility of ending its participation in MotoGP at the end of 2022,” Suzuki said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, the current economical (sic) situation and the need to concentrate its effort on the big changes that the Automotive world is facing in these years, are forcing Suzuki to shift costs and human resources to develop new technologies.”

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Only last week Dorna said Suzuki had to stick to their contract — which runs to 2026 — when rumours first surfaced that the Japanese manufacturer wanted to pull out.

If the talks are successful it will be the second time Suzuki have quit the elite competition.

Suzuki left MotoGP at the end of 2011, before returning in 2015.

In the 500cc era, Barry Sheene, Marco Lucchinelli, Franco Uncini, Kevin Schwantz and Kenny Roberts Jr. won world titles riding Suzukis.

Since the company returned in 2015, they have won one rider title in 2020 when Joan Mir topped the standings with team-mate Alex Rins was third.

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Rins is fourth in this season’s standings with Mir sixth heading into this weekend’s French race.

Last week specialist site Motorsports.com, who broke the story, said Mir was likely to join Honda to replace Pol Espargaro.

While they won the team championship in 2020, Suzuki struggle in the separate manufacturers’ standings because, unlike Ducati, Yamaha, Honda and KTM, they do not have a satellite team.

In the current format, there are 24 bikes on the starting grid in each race, although wildcard entries increased that to 25 in the last two races. 

Ducati have eight bikes on the grid this season. Suzuki and Aprilia are the only manufacturers with just two bikes on the starting grid.

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The 24-bike format is fixed until 2026, when the current contract between the International Motorcycling Federation, Dorna and the International Racing Team Association, which represents the six manufacturers, ends. 

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Finnish MotoGP cancelled due to tensions with Russia

AFP

The Finnish MotoGP scheduled for July 10 has been cancelled, the International Motorcycling Federation (FIM) announced on Wednesday, citing the geopolitical situation in the region as part of the reason.

The race was due to be Finland’s first MotoGP in 40 years.

Both Finland and Sweden have applied to join NATO due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — a decision which has angered the Russians.

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There have been problems in putting the finishing touches to the 4.5-kilometre KymiRing track — which boasts 21 corners and at 1.1km the longest finishing straight in Europe — which is around 100 kilometres (62 miles) northeast of Helsinki and the same distance from the border with Russia.

“The FIM, IRTA and Dorna Sports (the MotoGP promoters) are obliged to announce changes to the 2022 FIM MotoGP World Championship calendar,” FIM said in a statement on its website.

“Homologation works at the KymiRing, together with the risks caused by the ongoing geopolitical situation in the region, have sadly obliged the cancellation of the Finnish Grand Prix in 2022.

“The current circumstances have created delays and put the ongoing work at the new circuit at risk.”

The statement added that the first Finnish MotoGP for four decades would now take place in 2023.

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This year’s calendar has been reduced to 20 rounds, meaning France’s defending champion and series leader Fabio Quartararo and his rivals will have a long break between the Dutch MotoGP at Assen on June 26 and the British MotoGP at Silverstone on August 7.

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BBC apologises to fans after ‘Manchester United are rubbish’ gaffe

AFP

The BBC was forced to apologise to Manchester United fans on Tuesday after a message appeared on their news ticker labelling the Premier League club as “rubbish”.

The insult popped up at the bottom of the screen during a tennis update.

Later in the morning, a presenter apologised to any United fans who may have been offended.

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She said the mistake had occurred as someone was learning how to operate the ticker and was “writing random things not in earnest”.

The presenter said: “A little earlier, some of you may have noticed something pretty unusual on the ticker that runs along the bottom of the screen with news making a comment about Manchester United, and I hope that Manchester United fans weren’t offended by it.

“Let me just explain what was happening — behind the scenes someone was training to learn how to use the ticker and to put text on the ticker, so they were just writing random things not in earnest and that comment appeared.

“So apologies if you saw that and you were offended and you’re a fan of Manchester United.”

A BBC statement to the PA news agency said: “There was a technical glitch during training with our test ticker, which rolled over to live programming for a few seconds. We apologised for any offence caused on air.”

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BBC presenter and Manchester City fan Clive Myrie tweeted: “I had nothing to do with this!!” with the hashtag #mcfc.

Manchester United, who have not won silverware since 2017, finished sixth in the top-flight table with their lowest points tally of the Premier League era.

Their new manager, Erik ten Hag, was formally unveiled on Monday, less than 24 hours after Manchester City clinched a fourth league title in five seasons.

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Man City’s Mendy pleads not guilty to nine sex offences

AFP

Manchester City and France footballer Benjamin Mendy denied nine sexual offences against six young women as he appeared in court on Monday.

The 27-year-old player stood in the dock at Chester Crown Court and repeated: “Not guilty” as the charges were put to him and he entered pleas for the first time.

The defender denies seven counts of rape, one count of sexual assault and one count of attempted rape, relating to six complainants.

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All the alleged offences are said to have taken place at his home address near Macclesfield, northwest England, between October 2018 and August last year.

Mendy entered his pleas during a hearing on Monday ahead of his trial, scheduled to begin later this year.

He will go before a jury on July 25 along with his co-defendant Louis Saha Matturie, 40, who also entered not guilty pleas to all charges.

Matturie denies eight counts of rape and four counts of sexual assault, relating to eight young women. His alleged offences span from July 2012 to August last year.

After both defendants entered their pleas, the hearing went into private session with press excluded from the courtroom.

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Mendy joined Premier League champions City from French club Monaco in 2017. He has played 75 times for the club but his playing time has been limited by injuries and a loss of form.

The last of his 10 caps for France came in November 2019, after the defender won the World Cup in 2018.

Mendy was suspended by City after being charged by police.

Both defendants are on bail.

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