Crunching The Numbers: Lorenzo vs Rossi, Marquez Pedrosa And Crutchlow, Race Pace At Qatar

Much has been made in the days since the thrilling MotoGP season opener at Qatar of the charge of Valentino Rossi through the field and the pace he ran to catch the group behind Dani Pedrosa. Speculation has been rife that had Rossi got a better start - and more importantly, got a much better qualifying position - he could have matched the pace of Lorenzo, and taken the fight to him. But just how realistic is the idea that Rossi could have run with Lorenzo at Qatar, and that Rossi could have matched the pace of his teammate? Reality, or just wishful thinking?

There's one way to assess the relative performance of the two riders, relatively free from speculation and conjecture: by comparing the fastest lap times of the two, and seeing whose pace is better. Setting the fastest laps of Lorenzo against the fastest laps of Rossi - and the fastest laps of all top five riders, including Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa and Cal Crutchlow - should give a much more objective few of the relative speed of the riders.

At least, that's the theory. In practice, there are a number of factors which influence the lap times set by each rider which need to be taken into account. When was the lap time set? Where was the rider in the running order when the time was set? What strategy was the rider pursuing when the lap times were set?

Rossi vs Lorenzo

To start with, let us examing the five fastest laps set by Jorge Lorenzo, and compare them with the fastest five laps set by Valentino Rossi. First here are the lap times:

Lorenzo Rossi  
Lap no. Time Lap no. Time Diff
2 1:55.569 16 1:55.756 0.187
3 1:55.684 22 1:55.897 0.213
4 1:55.644 14 1:55.912 0.268
5 1:55.820 12 1:55.921 0.101
8 1:55.856 15 1:55.986 0.130

It is clear that Jorge Lorenzo's fastest lap times are roughly between a tenth and a quarter of a second faster than those of Rossi. Comparing Lorenzo's five fastest laps to Rossi's five fastest laps, Lorenzo is 0.899 seconds faster than Rossi overall. 

That, however, does not tell the whole story. Look at the point at which each rider set their fastest times and you get a bit more of the picture. Lorenzo's fastest laps are all set right at the start of the race, with four of them coming in the first five laps. The reigning world champion took off like a scalded cat, keen to big as big a gap over Pedrosa as possible as early as possible. Pedrosa was the rider Lorenzo had been most concerned about before the race started. "We saw that Pedrosa had a problem, and we took advantage of that," Wilco Zeelenberg, Lorenzo's manager explained. Lorenzo's plan was simple: "I had to push more than 100% to get two tenths every lap," he said. Those first few laps are where Lorenzo won the race. From that point on, Lorenzo focused on consolidating, dropping his pace from mid 1'55s to low 1'56s.

Rossi's early laps were much slower, in part because he got caught up in traffic, and also because he was still not completely certain what pace he could run. After first scaring himself by hitting his brake guard against the back of Dani Pedrosa's back wheel, Rossi took his time to get past Stefan Bradl on lap 8, and then needed a couple of laps to catch his breath and understand what pace he could run. With the group containing Pedrosa ahead of him, he had something to focus on, and as his confidence grew he closed on the group ahead. Rossi's best laps were set during the chase to close down Pedrosa, with the exception of the last lap when he was battling to hold off Marquez. 

So how could Rossi close down Dani Pedrosa, an acknowledged master of lapping at great speed? The Repsol Honda man had had problems all weekend, the dusty surface making it difficult to get the bike to turn. At the time when Rossi was running in the high 1'55s, Pedrosa was running 1'56.3s, and Rossi was gaining nearly half a second a lap.

What would have happened if the two had been racing against each other at the same time, with a clear track and with the same level of confidence? That is hard to say. Rossi's pace of roughly 1'55.9 is clearly a pace he could have sustained for a while, and as he was setting it on worn tires, it was not the fastest he possibly could have gone. Jorge Lorenzo was capable of dropping his pace to 1'55.6 for three laps, which was enough to shake off any kind of pursuit. But from there, he was capable of running around 1'56.0 for almost the rest of the race, a pace he was clearly comfortable at and could sustain without taking any risks. The preliminary conclusion is that on the evidence of Qatar - or perhaps it is better to say, at Qatar - Lorenzo still has the upper hand.

Marquez vs Pedrosa vs Crutchlow

Leaving Rossi and Lorenzo to one side for a moment, comparing the times set by the three men who completed the top five also makes for interesting reading. Here are the top five laps set by Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa and Cal Crutchlow:

  Marquez   Pedrosa   Crutchlow
Lap no. Time Lap no. Time Lap no. Time
3 1:55.445 3 1:55.953 2 1:55.804
4 1:55.807 2 1:56.038 3 1:56.063
22 1:56.019 5 1:56.049 4 1:56.146
9 1:56.035 4 1:56.060 9 1:56.149
2 1:56.054 7 1:56.155 7 1:56.179

What is interesting here is to see just how close together they all are. With the exception of Marquez' best lap, who sets the fastest race lap on lap 3, the times of the trio are all closely matched. This is mainly because the three men spent most of the race close together, with Pedrosa at the front of the group. After the race, Crutchlow complained of a lack of acceleration - something he later confirmed on his Twitter page could be down to a fuel miscalculation, as they finished the race with fuel still left in the tank - while Pedrosa said he had been slowed up by a lack of grip.

Marquez was fast on new tires, something which he had proved during practice, and underlined by setting the fastest lap of the race. But the young Spaniard also spent the race learning; being stuck behind Pedrosa gave him an opportunity to watch his teammate and understand how to manage the bike on worn tires. He adapted his style to compensate, standing the bike up more to use the fat part of the tire, where previously he had been trying to carry more lean angle, and losing out. The lessons paid off: though he set his fastest laps in the early stages of the race, he found another burst of speed at the end, as he fought with Valentino Rossi over the last two places on the podium. That is visible in his times too: Marquez' third fastest lap was set on the very last lap of the race.

Top 20 Fastest Laps

Finally, another way of looking at comparative pace in the race is by looking at the fastest laps set by all of the riders. Putting together all of the times set by all of the riders, the domination by the front five becomes crystal clear. The best time set by a rider other than Lorenzo, Rossi, Marquez, Pedrosa and Crutchlow is the time set by Alvaro Bautista, a lap of 1'56.122. Between them, the front five posted 28 laps faster than that time, Bautista's best lap being the 29th quickest in the race.

Ranking the laps in order of lap time, it is clear that Lorenzo's pace was unstoppable. The factory Yamaha man did not have the fastest lap, but he had 3 of the top 4 fastest laps, and 6 of the top 10. Marc Marquez had 2 of the 10 fastest laps, while Rossi and Crutchlow had just 1 each. Looking at the 11th to 20th fastest laps, it is clear that Rossi's pace here was strongest. Rossi had 4 of those laps, while Lorenzo, Marquez and Pedrosa each had two. Of the top 20 laps, Lorenzo set 8 of the fastest, Rossi set 5 of the fastest, Marquez set 4 of the fastest, Pedrosa set 2 and Crutchlow set just 1.

Top 10 fastest laps 1:55.445 - 1:55.893
Lorenzo 6
Marquez 2
Rossi 1
Crutchlow 1
   
Fastest laps 11-20
1:55.897 - 1:56.038
Rossi 4
Lorenzo 2
Marquez 2
Pedrosa 2

 

Conclusions

Can we draw many conclusions from the data presented? A few, perhaps, but only with caveats attached. Jorge Lorenzo is still clearly the fastest rider in the world, at least at the Losail circuit in Qatar. Valentino Rossi has refound his mojo, but faces a very tough nut to crack in his teammate. Marc Marquez possesses blistering natural speed and is learning very fast, as befits a young rider; once he is up to speed, by the halfway point in the season, he is going to be a fearsome opponent indeed. And Dani Pedrosa and Cal Crutchlow are proof that getting set up perfectly right, or having a specific problem at a particular track, is the difference between battling for the podium and settling for points.

If you'd like to go over the numbers for yourself, make sure you check out the PDF files on the results page of the MotoGP.com website. There's the Analysis file, which contains a full list of every lap and sector split for each rider, and there's the Analysis by lap file, which gives every lap by every rider, plus their gap to the front.

Much has been made in the days since the thrilling MotoGP season opener at Qatar of the charge of Valentino Rossi through the field and the pace he ran to catch the group behind Dani Pedrosa. Speculation has been rife that had Rossi got a better start - and more importantly, got a much better qualifying position - he could have matched the pace of Lorenzo, and taken the fight to him. But just how realistic is the idea that Rossi could have run with Lorenzo at Qatar, and that Rossi could have matched the pace of his teammate? Reality, or just wishful thinking?There's one way to assess the relative performance of the two riders, relatively free from speculation and conjecture: by comparing the fastest lap times of the two, and seeing whose pace is better. Setting the fastest laps of Lorenzo against the fastest laps of Rossi - and the fastest laps of all top five riders, including Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa and Cal Crutchlow - should give a much more objective few of the relative speed of the riders.At least, that's the theory. In practice, there are a number of factors which influence the lap times set by each rider which need to be taken into account. When was the lap time set? Where was the rider in the running order when the time was set? What strategy was the rider pursuing when the lap times were set?Rossi vs Lorenzo

Comments

Spectacular. Thank you.

Spectacular. Thank you.

Total votes: 131

Thanks you

Very nice and detailed analysis.
Hopefully next races will be decided by dogfights, close racing, brave overtaking and a lot of show for us fans.
In some other tracks Honda should be better and this can help! Counting on MM to spice it up.

Total votes: 112

Long way from conclusive. One

Long way from conclusive. One things for certain Rossi felt he could go with Jorge which is why he was pushing for the front, it didn't work out. He also knew if he didn't get to the front the Jorge would be gone. I've seen Rossi make up much bigger time differences against Casey on more than a few occasions so a couple of tenths compared to half a second and more isn't a great deal but he's gonna have to start closer to the front and this is a good track for Jorge. Jorge is a metronome and it's pretty amazing but he did that in the last 8 races of last year and lost 6 of them so his high even pace is along way from guaranteed superiority at many tracks. They looked pretty even to me on race pace, just one had a much easier day made mostly by his excellent qualifying..

Total votes: 158

Disagree

Few things in racing are 100% conclusive, but Jorge's race pace was very clearly a step ahead of everyone else here. Jorge did the entire race in the high 55s/low 56s. Rossi hit 55s only a handful of times...and here's the clincher: Jorge was simply managing his lap times the entire second half of the race (i.e., he could have further lowered his pace had he chosen to do so), while Rossi was pretty much at his limit trying to first catch, then escape from Marquez. No disrespect to Rossi (or any of the other riders), but Jorge was conclusively dominant at Qatar.

Total votes: 147

Conclusive? Maybe not. Speculatively convincing? Definitely

Most viewers (myself included) erroneously assume that the person out there in the front has it easy. Out there at the front you are totally left to your instincts to predict what's gonna come ahead. Even when things look so easy, you have to be extremely calculative. Fuel mapping plays a huge role. We all know about the M1's fuel efficiency. And when you're riding all alone being on an M1 can be scary if you're going at that pace. 1:56s on end? Lorenzo could have easily let go for a few laps, slowed down by a second on each to stay on the safer side. But he didn't.

There can be many ifs. If Marquez would have been a year into MotoGP. If Dani would have been feeling confident on the bike. If Cal would have had factory upgrades. Just like if Rossi wouldn't have had a bad qualifying. Brilliant race by him, no doubt. But if this is a point from which Jorge can up his game, then it's scary.

About last year, it's the same reason you can't just write Dani off. If the same logic still applies and Honda find their mojo within a few races, I think even Rossi won't be a match. For the same reason I love speculating and some of the speculations David makes are indeed very convincing, we'll all have to wait till the end of the season to see how it falls through. Especially the name Marquez.

They might 'look even' to you and me on race pace. But the story behind the story is something else altogether.

Total votes: 140

Jorge did relax his pace

"1:56s on end? Lorenzo could have easily let go for a few laps, slowed down by a second on each to stay on the safer side. But he didn't."

If he had slowed down by one second per lap he would NOT have won the race.

Laps 2-10 he built his gap and averaged 1.55.818
Laps 11-21 he slowed down and averaged 1.56.224

He knocked off .406 per lap to ride safely and perfectly manage his lead for the victory.

Had he knocked off another .594 as you suggest he should/could have, he would have finished over half a second behind Rossi.

He knows what he is doing. ;-)

Total votes: 137

Exactly my point

I meant knock off a second for a couple of laps like Casey would at times, not for laps on end :)
Of course he knows what he's doing. He's world champion. And relentless 1.56s are the only way he can defend the title.

Total votes: 115

Ah, OK

Misunderstood ya there. He probably doesnt like to slow down too much because it disrupts the rhythm.

Total votes: 109

Yesterday I spent an hour or

Yesterday I spent an hour or two going over the MotoGP onboard footage, using a sound editing program, Audacity, to determine the shift point RPM of all the riders featured in the video. I found that Lorenzo did back off substantially, at least in terms of demanding power from the engine. By ~1/3 distance, he had started short shifting and was, for the most part, in cruise mode. Rossi, OTOH, was in full attack. Several times he had the bike bouncing off the 16,500 limiter, and he was generally revving the engine 200~300 RPM higher than JLo. It's no surprise he ran out of gas.

It's very hard to speculate as to how much extra speed Jorge's surplus fuel would have netted him, but the fact that he could pretty much match Rossi's lap times while using less motor has got to be worth a few points in the 'dominant performance' argument.

Guess what RPM the Honda can do. :)

Total votes: 134

Nice stuff, useful comment for a change!

I'll bite: MM was pulling up to 17,200 in some of his slide attacks? I'm also betting Pedrosa was several hundred revs slower as he was fighting to keep the thing pointed in the right direction.

I'm utterly unsurprised that Lorenzo was stroking the thing along so calmly; he carries so much speed everywhere it's like watching a lizard blinking on a cold day. With 5 engines only this year, betting on Lorenzo doing other than racing for the WC is like betting in poker against a man called Doc. He wasn't about to call for more cards when he knew he had an unbeatable hand.

Total votes: 119

"Useful post?" Gee, thanks,

"Useful post?" Gee, thanks, Oscar. ;)

(I know I don't suffer Rossi Fawning very graciously, but judging another's post as 'useful' seems a bit rich. :p )

The factory Honda riders spend much of the race shifting between 16,3 and 16,6. This is unchanged from the last 3~4 races of last year. But when they need a little extra help, the engine can run 17,000 on demand. Repeatedly. Ouch!

(So much for the 81mm bore limit keeping revs and costs in line. I never did see the 'logic' in that argument.)

Last year's Yams ran a max of 16,350 in Q and as push-to-pass, but generally raced around 16,2xx or so. This year, the peak revs have been bumped 150 RPM.

No good onboard of the 2013 Ducs or CRTs yet. A few brief Duc samples from pre-season netted 17,4xx. Last year they were racing 17,5xx and hitting 176xx when in a hurry.

Total votes: 123

Meant to commend, not offend

I apologise if you took that as belittling your post, I meant 'useful' as adding (quite a bit, in reality) to the sum of knowledge presented in the original article. That used to be more the norm for comments on David's lead articles here, where additional bits of information, nuances that may have been overlooked etc. would be teased out by thoughtful commentators, rather than the explosion of utterly tiresome fanboy nonsense that has accompanied every article David has posted about Qatar.

I merely used the rather low-key term 'useful' precisely in the hope that yours would not be yet another comment dragged down by some hysterical responses that this was yet another attempt to in some way discredit Rossi and instead highlight that it was something actually worth the time of reading and considering. If I remember correctly, in David's analysis of engine use last year, Lorenzo was skating rather thinly on engine life in the last few races, while some Honda riders had almost an entire fresh engine in reserve (helped in one case by several races out with injury, certainly). Your analysis will help us all understand the whats and whys as the engine life issue plays out this year, which is why I think it is 'useful' - i.e. something we can use as reliable information when we are cogitating on the progress of the season. So, allow me to delete 'useful' and insert 'very excellent', as an expression of respect for your work.

(edit - I just realised that you may have taken it to mean 'useful, for a change' as if I meant to say, 'unlike your previous comments' - that was ABSOLUTELY not what I meant - I meant 'useful, for a change' as a change from the run of fanboy comments we have seen almost swamp these recent articles from David. I certainly should have paid more attention to my subject wording.)

Total votes: 110

Two long years

It has been two long years for Rossi fans to suffer through. I am allowing them a little slack, hoping that the worst of the exuberance will soon blow over. I shall be moderating a little more firmly after the next race.

Total votes: 109

Understood and accepted

I personally have no problem with people expressing their joy that Rossi is back in the mix for wins and podiums - I have always been a fan of his talent and what he has bought to motoGp specifically and in a broader sense, the benefit to all motorcyclists of a character that has transcended the image of us as some sort of aberration to society.

What is absolutely irksome, however, is the tribal warfare element that has emerged to deny and denigrate the ability, talent and achievements of others. There are sites where this crap is actively encouraged: MCN and Crash, for a start. To find this element polluting mtm is extremely discouraging; these are people who wish to hi-jack a temperate site to their reflect own agenda and who do not, in any way, advance the information content for thoughtful members of the motoGp community.

The ethos of mtm is 'intelligent debate'. Dismissing reasoned analysis of factual evidence as 'let's write another article to pull Rossi down' is base trivialisation of reasonable evidence for a point of discussion, for no other possible interpretation than that it contravenes the agenda of the commentator. This is MCNJ/Crash level commentary and debases the entire point of mtm's existence. Surely, mtm does not need these commentators; can we please, please, get back to 'intelligent debate'?

Total votes: 126

If Rossi is as brilliant as

If Rossi is as brilliant as in the first race, you'll have some work to do.

Total votes: 113

Hi Yea, I did, for better or

Hi

Yea, I did, for better or worse, interpret it as "Useful, for once!" My posts tend to be somewhat bipolar, garnering respectable ratings, or zero.

No worries, O. :)

Total votes: 121

Happy that's cleared up!

I certainly could have worded it better - but I was so relieved to read a comment that was on topic and assisted, I just hit the damn keys... first time that I (a self proclaimed Stoner-phile who has fought the fight for due regard for him amongst others for about four years!) have ever been branded a Rossi fawnicator! (Yes, I also have high regard for Rossi, but regard him as human - and my best mate on this site is Albert, who not only knows Rossi better than any of the trollbois, but is known by Rossi himself. Albert respects all riders of ability and treats them all fairly, unlike the nauseating stuff that has recently appeared which embarrasses him and all genuine fans of the sport, be they Rossi followers or otherwise.)

The outpouring of puerile sentiment and recitation of shibboleths about Rossi that have grown up amongst a group who apparently cannot divorce fact from fiction is, to put it mildly, emetic. Rossi himself would not, I think, be amused.

Please, continue to provide us with this depth of analysis. MotoGp is one of the most fascinatingly technical sports in the world - at least for those who can get beyond the circle-jerk of fan-army personality feuding. Some of us out here are adults.

Total votes: 113

HiYea, I did, for better or

x2...

Total votes: 116

this says it graphically:

Casey Marques

I would have liked to see what times JL was capable of at the mid point of the race when Rossi was putting in fast laps catching back up to the podium pack. The season seems to have started in the best way possible!

I think the rest of the Aliens better put their bikes on the podium as often as possible in the first half of the season. Because in the second half it's likely that Casey Marques... er... Marc is going to be a regular winner if Honda can get it's bike to a level of winning, which is may be already depending on which track

MM has a very good chance of winning in Austin if the preseason test there is any indication

Total votes: 122

Hondas capability

Hondas won 13 races last year. Yamaha won 6. I don't think we could in any way suggest that Honda does not have a capable bike.

It suits some tracks more than others, as does Yamaha. That is all.

Total votes: 96

Lorenzo vs Rossi

2 thoughts, that point opposite ways:

First, Lorenzo did his fast laps on fresh tires, but also with a full fuel tank. Rossi often commented in the pre-Ducati years about needing to wait for the fuel load to go down before he was comfortable pushing to the max. Even if Rossi had slotted into second at the start, could he have matched JLo's pace?

Second, Lorenzo did those laps with a clear track and without having to guard against an attack. If Rossi is hounding him, and perhaps stuffing it up underneath and knocking him off line (ala the battle with Stoner at Laguna) could Lorenzo have run the laps he did?

Total votes: 136

Risky strategy

Rossi knocked himself offline at Laguna 08 before he knocked Stoner offline. Running off at the corkscrew is usually has fairly dire consequences! And the fact that he ended up returning to the track at a spot that pushed Stoner wide was also pretty fortuitous. Rossi rolled the dice and was very lucky not to hand Stoner 25 points with that move.

But I would agree that if Rossi had been able to stay in Lorenzo's wheel tracks he could have slowed Jorge down enough to battle . him to the end. Easier said than done though, from the times Jorge was setting at the start it would only have taken a small error by Rossi for the leash to snap.

Total votes: 127

Rolled dices

If the move didn't pay off Stoner wouldn't have gotten 25 points, neither one of them would've gotten points, risky move indeed, so risky that it would've taken both out.

Total votes: 101

It's actually a fairly common move in the Corkscrew ; )

Rossi knew what he was doing - he'd seen Alex Zanardi pull it off and filed it away for future reference :)

Have a look at the first 15 seconds of this Youtube clip...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVpGh7vKPgY

Total votes: 115

Mmm... on that video, that

Mmm... on that video, that looks form the 90's or early 2000's, the inside of the corkscrew is paved as it is today but wasn't on 2008. Was the turn widen when the circuit was reconditioned for MotoGP?

Total votes: 123

Same situation, actually. A

Same situation, actually. A very popular driver breaks the rules, but the crowd loves it, so the officials don't say anything. Gotta keep the masses happy ...

Total votes: 110

Rossis Laguna Move

Rossi's move at the corkscrew at Laguna 08 was illegal, he should have been penalised by race control. Both wheels left the circuit through the corner and he gained an advantage from it.

Having said that, you can blame Rossi for the move but you can't blame him for the result, no rider will volunteer a penalty on himself. Race control stuffed up.

Was one hell of a race though.

Total votes: 104

All this is overkill...

Can't you just appreciate what Vale accomplished instead of trying to prove that he didn't have the pace for Lorenzo in a "what if" scenario? It was a great race.....

How many times has Rossi surprised us, shocked us or humbled us even? Just because he didn't have the race pace, who is brave enough to bet against him for a victory if he had hung on to Lorenzo's coat tails.....regardless of the lap numbers? I recall Rossi's lap times being considerably slower (than Stoner) at this one little race in California in 2008....who won that race anyway?

Rossi is not a tester, not a qualifier, not a practicer.....like he proved (yet again) Sunday, he's a RACER!

He made more passes in one race than all MotoGP had last 2 seasons.....seems like it anyway.

Total votes: 172

Agreed Vlad. Lets do some

Agreed Vlad. Lets do some articles on reasons why Rossi didn't do X or couldn't have. Anything we can do to bring him down or his performance.

What if's are fantasy much like that little creature spouting "my precious". Jorge could have been riding at the max, Rossi could have caught him, couldn't have caught him, who cares? The race is over and it's one track, results are done, history. Every track is different. I'll bet the house on the race results being different over the season. Any takers?

Qatar was dusty from the football stadium build next door. Dani will be right in there in the future. It's only one race. I like how some forecast off of one race that which takes 18.

Total votes: 132

Overkill?

Is Laguna '08 really a point of ultimate reference for what either Casey or Rossi were capable of? Rossi's racecraft for that race was pure brilliance for the kind of track Laguna is. But i doubt the same strategy would have worked elsewhere.

This isn't overkill (you haven't seen overkill; overkill is hearing Taylor Swift's 'I knew you were trouble' wherever you go). David's perspective is more often than not unbiased and quite frankly speaking for the imaginatively inarticulate like me gives new directions in which to think. Rossi's talent isn't being downplayed here. Most people here are relieved that he's back to doing what he does best. But at the same time most people went gaga over the 1:55s he pulled off. Now that's overkill. What David is probably trying to say is that he wasn't the only one capable of doing that. Maybe we would have an even better idea if we knew how much fuel was left in Jorge's tank after the race.

Total votes: 131

Rossi's strategy was brilliant

But his execution at the corkscrew 08 was poor. That was a mistake that would cost you the race 9 times out of 10. I think thats something that made it a great race.

Total votes: 125

Maybe one other time against one other rider.

"But i doubt the same strategy would have worked elsewhere."

If I remember right. Japan 2010 against Lorenzo. Rossi blocked lines, ruined momentum just to beat him, and did. One could argue Lorenzo let off because a championship was at stake. IMHO it looked like he kept fighting, which is what made it a good race. They were not even battling for the lead. Just Rossi trying to prove he was still a threat.

Total votes: 126

True yes, but there was also

True yes, but there was also an argument that Lorenzo was on an old engine for the race while Rossi was on a new one (courtesy his injury). So you never really know.

Total votes: 112

Excellent analysis!

Thank you for such a great write up laying all numbers out. It would've been exciting to see Rossi latch onto Jorge though. It might've been too much too soon for Rossi to start his first race back at "over 100%" pace in the opening laps to stay with Lorenzo, but I would like to have seen it!

Total votes: 128

Lorenzo's impeccable ability

Lorenzo's impeccable ability to concentrate on flawless, harmonious riding granted him a well deserved victory in Qatar.

Rossi in my opinion spent the first half of the race shaking off the ghosts from the last two seasons and once he got his confidence back, competitive lap times came and he ended in 2nd place.

Could have Rossi won the race if he didn't overcook it during the first laps? Unfortunately we'll never know but there's another race coming soon and if Rossi will manage to get close to Lorenzo and upset his lines in the opening laps, no matter which of the two will finish ahead of the other, I for one will be a very happy spectator.

Pedrosa will badly seek revenge in Texas. He must finish ahead of Marquez, which is trying to finish ahead of everyone else, having clearly a lot of fun in the process.

So far so good.

Total votes: 109

2 1 4 4 2 1 2 1 1 1 3 1 2 2 1 4

Those are Rossi's qualifying positions from 2009. He was off the front row only 3 times. Take any of those races where Rossi beat Lorenzo: if he had made a similar error in qualifying or in the early laps (as he did at Qatar 2013) he very well would have found himself 6 seconds or more behind Lorenzo - make no mistake about that.

Heck, he finished 23+ seconds behind Lorenzo when he had setup issues at Estoril.

My point (opinion, actually) is simple: it's easy to over-read into all this and make conclusions about how Lorenzo has stepped up his game, how the game has moved on, etc. In my humble opinion, the Lorenzo/Yamaha combination was at their best in 2010.

If Honda doesn't screw up and maintain a high level all year, that will help Rossi. Lorenzo will have non-trivial trouble dealing with the quicker Hondas, while Rossi might manage it better thanks to his aggressive non-tidy riding style with a bigger choice of varying lines. We just might see evidence of that in Austin.

Total votes: 107

Lorenzo

"Lorenzo will have non-trivial trouble dealing with the quicker Hondas..."

Like when he dealt with Pedrosa during the last.. 7, 8 (?) races? This is MotoGP, where even the guys in the back are no slouches. Lorenzo is a proven champion, but I seriously doubt he thinks that he is out of the woods just yet.

Total votes: 105

Excellent analysis

While I'm far from confident in predicting who would have come out on top (although I lean JL99) if VR46 had gotten away cleanly, in watching MotoGP.com's OnBoard footage today it looked like both of VR's ostensible "rookie in a rush" moments were somewhat caused (or at a minimum influenced) by DP26 being a tad pensive in those early laps.

Dani definitely didn't look entirely comfortable with his setup on the day.

As far as the remaining races go, the upside is the race craft (and hunger) of each of the top 5 this year is über high; as such this really promises to be an epic season....

Total votes: 116

Jokin?

You're joking right, his mistakes were caused by Dani? Even Rossi doesn't believe that. He made the mistake, nobody else did it for him. If he expected Dani to be faster or take a different line, again, that's a Rossi error in judgement.

Total votes: 97

Love

I love it, I love it all.

Total votes: 107

Overkill is right

Guys. Please. Enough already with the Rossi talk. There are 3 other racers mentioned in this article with at least 4 and maybe 5 world championships between them and you're talking like school girls over one man. If my Aunt had balls she'd be my uncle. My aunt doesn't have balls so she's my Aunt. If this, if that...
Forgive me for pointing out that Lorenzo won the race. That means Rossi did not win. He came in as the first place loser.

Maybe I can check out Crash while the fanboys are here.

Total votes: 147

+1

"Maybe I can check out Crash while the fanboys are here"

Pure gold......

Total votes: 135

MS58, you appear to have

MS58, you appear to have overlooked the irony that you yourself have chosen Rossi as the subject for your own comment......:-}

Total votes: 141

Best sectors combined perfect lap:

Rider Seconds
MM 115.273
CC 115.362
JL 115.497
VR 115.596
DP 115.674

Edit: Add CC

Total votes: 119

But actual racing is back!

Whinge, moan blah blah. Lorenzo had him beat, Rossi could've caught him...

All I can say is thank f*** Rossi is back to entertain us with proper racing! The last two years have practically killed Moto GP. Would anyone else have attempted those overtakes, lost out and then done it all again? Not a bloody chance - get in the real world.

Chuck in your inch-perfect, processional laps, they're great when I need to sleep. But it's been a while since I've been on the edge of the seat, heart banging like a shit-house door in the wind, armpits wetter than a seal's wet bits while shouting like an idiot at the tele!

And there's more. Seeing Rossi do that gives everyone else a push, the urge to race harder and give Moto GP the kick up the ass it so badly needed. This was like the days when Gibernau, Biaggi and Capirossi were out there, and I'm loving it.

Roll on the next race!

Total votes: 150

Epic comment!

What an epic comment!Reflects my opinion a hundert percent!
Sitting in front of the TV with a heart rate of 120bpm...that is only possible for me when the guy with the number 46 is racing.

That fella with the 93 is finally somebody who could be a worthy contender when the great grandmaster flash Valentino is leaving the sport, even though thats way to early to say but he has some symphathy allready from me.

Total votes: 112

I don't understand the point

I don't understand the point of this article. For a change.
I thought "fantasy time" was a winter exercise. The season has started, and if it was a good start it's purely thanks to Rossi.

Without him we'd had Marquez beating Pedrosa with one clean pass at the end of the straight, and a dull, boring race.

Using this particular race for a comprehensive lap time analysis looks pretty insane to me, David !

And, by the way, Rossi had a great start : he went from seventh to third in one lap ! Well, almost...

Total votes: 138

By that logic, without MM

By that logic, without MM we'd have had the same result. One pass on Crutchlow and Pedrosa.

MM and VR were the highlights but not one any more than the other.

Total votes: 117

Nice one David

Can't read enough about this excellent race.

I would have thought that a complicating factor for Lorenzo would be anyone able to follow early (MM93 or VR46) who is prepared to hastle and look for overtakes, how does that upset the brilliant and metronomic rhythm he is rightly so renowned for? They have to catch him 1st admittedly.

I guess we don't know, which is why I can't wait for the next one.

Total votes: 113

Rossi Talks

It is funny reading all the comments. A ton of them being about if Rossi had... then others about Lorenzo who actually won and the fact that some people are just worn out on Rossi.

I am admittedly a Rossi fan. He does have more of an effect than just being a Racer. Love him or hate him. You either really want him to win, or really want him to lose. He is the most hated and loved and the same time. You need characters like him to keep the racing more than interesting.

Villains, heroes, lappers, are all needed to make a race exciting. It gives that little bit more tension. I watched the race with a couple of people that hate Rossi and a few that love him. The excitement when he messed up and went wide was off the scale for those that do not like him. Then seeing him move up left the rest of the room silently pulling for him, while the ones that did not want him to do well rooted for him to fall. The tension was so thick in the room it felt like we were under water.

Rossi being back in the mix has made the racing more exciting with a young gun coming up along with the usual suspects.

Total votes: 115

Pointless comment here...

It's my nature to love things that bring the most haters, I am a fan of: L.A. Lakers, Dallas Cowboys, N.Y. Yankees, Valentino Rossi.

Total votes: 123

No Hater here

I am happy to kick this hornet's nest regarding the almost week's worth of foaming about all things VR. But those that make the leap to hater are mistaken and more than likely new to the board. VR brought me into the game and I have loved it since. But I have grown to admire the skill of all these guys while disliking a few as much as I loved others. Then I realized that I was hatin' on people because they were beating my guy. So I took a deep breath four years ago and realized that it was the sport that I love, not just one guy.
I know the sport needs him, but you all miss the full grid for the grid position of Rossi.

I mean let's get real. In other Blogs/Articles on this race by David, people are inquring about the refelection of the "special" red light on Rossi's visor; images of flames and the indicating evidence of which map he is running; his running out of fuel as indication of map selection. Give me a break. Where is the intrigue for the last two years while other guys happened to be shifting gears higher into the rev range? it happens about a thousand times a lap. Are these guys that familiar with the M1 that they can argue maps? I mean honestly, were people arguing maps when Cal ran out of fuel last year? How many times on a cool down lap do bikes run out? Frequently because they only have to get across the start/finish.

Let's get realistic or at least apply the intrigue evenly

Total votes: 122

I agree...

I agree 100%... I'm a big big fan of the old guy, but it is getting a little too sugary sweet for my taste. Was that the best race I've seen in a looong time, yep. But, as a big fan, and going thru the past few years of sometimes utter hatred between camps. Let's not get crazy pouring it on too thick.

That's the one common thread of almost all the supposed VR bashers... "it's not him, it's his fans that just go on and on". Kind of easy to see their perspective right now. We are all super excited to have just seen a great race... but, let's show the equally deserved respect to all the riders. And it's only the first race after all.

Total votes: 112

Simply

Hater is just a word, no offense intended.

Total votes: 109

Great Article

Thank you David for once more sharing an article worth reading... same reason I keep coming back to enjoy your post race articles.
I learned early on in my life to be a fan of the sports, not teams or riders. This way, I am not upset, mad or depressed when "my team" looses. I enjoy a good contest, just as I do a good race. I remember being happy for Rossi when he first left Honda for Yamaha, (I saw Honda as the bad guy then, and the way they did NH when DP came on board just solidified it for me) since he was against all odds.
As the years passed on, and the behavior of VR's fans at the races when i went to Laguna, I started to have a bad taste in my mouth and hoped others would beat him just to keep his fans at something close to tolerable. I had hoped for him to do well at Ducati because it would have been great if he had! I also felt bad for him, but also realized he wasn't himself the whole time.
I am happy he is back to form... not happy the fanatics are over the moon about it. I like Rossi and think he is the greatest in a long time if not ever. The new Spanish kids and CS really brought GP to a new level, but lack VR's charisma. MM is impressive, and I hope he doesn't become a media/sponsor drone. He reminds me of Fast FS in his day...
I hope the back and forth of the fans don't ruin the insightful comments that are here. I mean the post about examining the race from the POV side! I don't have the time or patience to do that, so I appreciate the dedication I share with people that share my passion! Thank you for that. I am looking forward to a great year in racing!! Makes up for the day to day rut...
Bring on Austin!!

Total votes: 107

Back to Reality

In reality two not very surprising things made this race what it was:

That guy was back up there on the YAM. He can ride that bike. I totally expected him to be in amongst it, and guess what he was. As far as all the collective amnesia Fanboy greatest waffle -- he could not ride the DUC and his legend as the greatest blah, blah, blah should be tarnished.

The other thing that happened was, the fastest and best (this claim is made on a measurable period, that being the 800cc era) rider retired.

If these two things had not happened, my educated guess is it would have been business as usual.

Business as usual:
VR mid pack on DUC, MM on a satellite without CS's crew, and Podium 1, 2, 3 JLo, CS and DP.

Basically I'm not really impressed or excited...nothing really different or exciting has actually happened, yet.

Total votes: 99

All Fuelled up with no place to go!!!

Rossi running out of fuel on the warm down lap does make me wonder. All of the prototype bikes are running right on the limit and pushing the boundaries with there current fuel load.

Rossi logically burnt more fuel than Lorenzo due to his dicing in the pack. The smoother you are on the throttle the least fuel you are going to use, benefiting Lorenzo's style and not dicing in the lead.

So what happens when both Yamaha's are dicing? It will be woeful if we loose guys from the race due to the fact they are actually racing each other.

Total votes: 95

well...i must be one of the

well...i must be one of the few who thought that the race went as expected,even before the practices...

rossi hasn't lost his ability,something very logical and i really am surprised that many believed the opposite...i say that being one of the few that believe that rossi is overrated as a god on two wheels...

as for the race,lorenzo did what he always does whith a little more effort due to pedrosa's last year second half performance...
i bilieve that this will be his strategy through this year...slightly risky fast first laps to clear away...

what was a big surprise for me was marks performance and i don't mean the podium...

i mean the sheer seriousness after realising that rossi would be a handfull to pass...he presented a self managing behaviour that only very experianced riders present...and this was his very first race at the big ones...

if he keeps that ,i believe that even this year great things are expected...

Total votes: 94

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