Michael Scott Column - May 06

In the words of a lame song, it's all yellow. Yamaha's Camel livery being somehow more virulent than on Hondas.

But something more serious has happened. Yamaha had one of the last of the open-sided hospitality, resisting the urge to join the rest and their glass-fronted automatic-doors that make the paddock resemble a street of insurance company head offices in Milton Keynes. Team and guests now eat in isolation behind glass. Meaning that Rossi's crew are no longer able to throw bread rolls at passers by. Racing is no fun any more.

Equally yellow, the new Dunlop-backed satellite Yamaha team has made waves since Carlos Checa proved it was possible to set highly competitive times on the Anglo-Japanese rubber.
This makes a change for Dunlop, struggling in recent years on the Proton V5 and the desperately slow WCMs. It just shows, said racing boss Jeremy Ferguson, what happens when you get a competitive rider and a competitive bike.

NOT YELLOW AT all - John Hopkins's new teeth. American cosmetic dentistry's
finest have been at work over the winter, and the results are dazzling. He won't need a reading light in bed at night, as long as he keeps smiling.

WHAT HAS HAPPENED to Honda? The racing will tell, but the official pre-season test at Catalunya left some very worried faces, with new Nicky Hayden's exclusive factory bike only eighth fastest, all the other lower-grade Hondas slower. Everyone is asking whether the laid-back but loose-riding Hayden is the right guy to lead development. Quote of the weekend came from satellite rider Marco Melandri, a double winner last year, now languishing 12th-fastest. "We know exactly what our problems are," he told me. So what are they, I asked. "I have no idea," he replied.

EVERYONE IS WAITING to see what will happen this year, the first with Europe's anti-tobacco legislation. Spain has proposed an exemption; the European Commission is arguing. At tests Camel were fully branded; Marlboro were not. But when is a smoking product not banned? When it is a Rizla. While the rolling paper makers, owned by a tobacco firm, are inextricably linked to smoking they are not subject to the advertising ban, and have come back into GP racing this year with Suzuki.

Any test case will be interesting. Because to avoid being tarred with the tobacco taint, Rizla Suzuki will have to argue that the papers are made only for cannabis users. Which makes it all clean and legal again. Or not.

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