2011 Sachsenring MotoGP Thursday Roundup -

Another MotoGP event, another weekend full of speculation about the weather. The rain clouds that seem to follow the MotoGP circus around since it landed in Europe are hanging over Germany, though opinion among both local experts and the weather professionals is divided as to whether it will actually rain or not. The best guess at the moment is that Friday and Saturday should be dry - Saturday expected to be especially good weather - while several hours of rain are expected on race day. Or not, depending on who you believe.

Regardless of the weather, we could see a decent race on Sunday: the Honda riders are as buoyant as you would expect at a track where Dani Pedrosa has dominated for the past couple of years, while Jorge Lorenzo is convinced that going back to the 2010 chassis - or parts of it - and last year's settings have given him the comfortable feeling that he needs to be competitive. Casey Stoner is as confident as you might expect a championship leader to be - though when asked directly whether he expected to win on Sunday, he would say only that he was "more than capable of running at the front." With a stable front end and the drive to help keep the bike turning around the Sachenring's tight and technical layout, Stoner looks like being the hot favorite here, especially as Pedrosa is still recovering from the aftermath of his crash at Le Mans.

Pedrosa's condition is improving every day, he told reporters, and the fact that the Sachsenring is mainly left-handers and has few hard braking spots means he will be hampered less here than back in Mugello. The additional two weeks' recovery time is another reason for Pedrosa's confidence, but even a podium was more than the Repsol Honda rider was prepared to guess at.

That tight, technical layout is one of the reasons the track is unloved by many of the riders. While the riders in the pre-event press conference were too diplomatic to put the boot in, Andrea Dovizioso, speaking separately, had no such qualms. What was wrong with the Sachsenring? "Too short, too slow, too many left corners," the Italian summed the track up neatly, adding that coming to somewhere as tight and slow as the Sachsenring directly from the fast and flowing glory of Mugello made the contrast even starker.

Dovizioso also had an interesting insight into going fast around the German circuit. The key, he said, was not to use too much traction control - a mistake he and his team made last year. "You need to spin to keep the line," he said, or in other words, by spinning up the rear, you help get the bike turned, sliding the rear to bring it around. As anyone who has seen the fantastic super slowmo footage of Casey Stoner put up recently by Red Bull USA can attest, sliding the rear is an integral part of riding an 800, but it is done with such finesse nowadays - helped in part by the electronics - that it is hard to see without watching in slow motion.

Dovizioso was ebullient, very confident that he could be right at the sharp end on Sunday. Their traction control problems from last year had been solved, and the test at Mugello had provided a lot of data to help with engine braking, the other key part of going fast on a MotoGP bike. With the solutions cooked up by Dovizioso's engineers between then and now, the Italian felt he could cause a bit of a surprise.

Of course, the Italian causing most of the surprises this year is Valentino Rossi. The nine-time world champion continues to struggle on the Desmosedici, the GP11.1 (basically the GP12 with a destroked motor to bring it to within the 800cc limit) notwithstanding. The revised rear end of the GP11.1 had solved the pumping that the previous bike had suffered at the rear, but the front-end issues remain. "This is not a good moment for us," Rossi said during the press conference, "and we have to keep working." Rossi will once again be without his long-time crew chief Jeremy Burgess at the Sachsenring, as the Australian is staying at home once again to be at the bedside of his wife, who is recovering from cancer surgery. Rossi hoped that Burgess would be back at Laguna, but much depends on how Claudine progresses. There are still some things more important than motorcycle racing.

Some of Rossi's frustration at the situation seeped out during the pre-event press conference. When asked about the Italian's favorite race - the Sachsenring marking Rossi's 250th Grand Prix, and occasion which Rossi was less than delighted to mark, as it made him feel old, he said - he said he had difficulty choosing. The two favorites were Welkom 2004 - Rossi's debut race on the Yamaha M1, in which he beat Max Biaggi on the Honda after a scintillating duel - and Laguna Seca 2008, in which he took an outclassed Yamaha M1 and got in the way of Casey Stoner so much that he forced the Australian into a mistake. In the past, Rossi has always favored the race at Welkom. However, sat next to Casey Stoner on the podium, he changed his mind, saying he would have to choose Laguna '08 "because it was closer in time." And of course, this had nothing to do with the frequent references that the fans and media make to the fact that Rossi has failed to subdue the Desmosedici in the way that Stoner did for the past four years.

Rossi's difficulties with the Ducati have been obvious to even the casual observer of the sport. In preparation for this race, I went back and watched the 2010 German Grand Prix at the Sachsenring. That was the race at which Rossi returned after breaking his leg at Mugello, some 40 days before. But despite a weak leg - and a weak and painful shoulder, Rossi still struggling with the shoulder injury he picked up riding a dirt bike after the Qatar season opener - Rossi looked like a completely different rider to the one who has struggled with the Desmosedici. Rossi flowed on the Yamaha, able to put it wherever he wanted almost effortlessly, on the Yamaha, Rossi looked imperious and majestic. On the Ducati, Rossi looks tentative, cautious, conservative, not the nine-time world champion that he is.

Andrea Dovizioso put the difference he saw between the two into words. After following him for a few laps during warm up at Mugello, Dovizioso said it was clear that Rossi had no feeling with the bike. "I think this is the first time he loses the feeling on the bike," Dovizioso said. Looking at Rossi's results during practice and the race made the situation clear. "If you see riders that don't go fast in the practice, and in the race go better, but not with a good result, it is because they have no feeling with the bike. When you have the mentality of the race, you can do the best result in the race. But if you are slow in the practice, it is because you don't know what you need to know, so you lose the feeling."

Did that change the way that he saw Valentino Rossi, I asked of Dovizioso. "This is the first time I see Valentino like this," Dovizioso said, "So this means that he is like every other rider." There was one key difference, though. "He is like every other rider, but with 9 titles," Dovizioso added.

The Ducati has earned the reputation as a career killer over the past few years. When the reputation that is being assassinated is that of the greatest rider of his generation, and at least one of the best, if not the greatest ever rider of all time, then it is clear that the problem is not the riders, but the bike.

Total votes: 275
Total votes: 96

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Comments

Has anyone ever offered any insight as to why Casey Stoner seems to be the only rider who could tame the Desmosedici?

Stoner gave an interview a few days ago where he said words to the effect that you have to ride the bike the way it wants to be ridden, not the way you want to ride it. I wondered at the time if this was a dig at Rossi.

It seems to me (not that I would know anything) that the Desmosedici seems to favor relatively inexperienced riders that presumably don't have a strongly established style or technique. Stoner was only in his second year of MotoGP when he moved to Ducati and Karel Abraham has qualified as the top Ducati several times this season.

Not that I want to question Stoners development skills but if he wins the title this year then it will be the second time he's done it on a bike that he had no developmental input on. Let's face it, he was incredible in 2007 and was always the fastest Desmosedici rider after that but he never really got close to the title after '07 and seemed to be going backwards year by year.

Don't get me wrong, I think that Stoner is a phenomenal rider and I hope he wins the title this year but it'll be interesting to see if the Honda is as dominant next year as this year.

Total votes: 259

I've seen a quote from Burgess from an article (can't find a link, Google failed me) that Stoner was getting the Ducati turned and back upright very quickly through a combination of throttle and braking that he considered unsafe. The implication seemed to be that whatever trick the data showed it was both a very fine line between fast and in the gravel and that it was very difficult to master (and maybe conflicting with TC settings with many riders). Wish I could find the article rather than relying on memory.

Total votes: 273

It's academic anyway, what Casey was doing on the bike wasn't good enough to win a title the last couple of years, not even close, even to the extent that they were in decline. To aim for that in a season where the competition has made great strides but be fruitless. Ducati is way passed the need to 'ride it the way it should be' and Rossi isn't there to continue the run of 4th place finishes in the title race. In 2.5 years if they have changed everything but the cf and the bike still has the same problems then it seems obvious, you have to assume it's either something else or ducati are incapable of accepting they can get it wrong. Either way the championship would be much better with Rossi at the front as well.
Really looking forward to Danis return to fitness, was as quick as Casey at the start of the season(and quicker on occasion(estoril) even though he was struggling with injury. I get the impression a fit Dani will take some beating.

Total votes: 283

Desmo favors inexperienced riders... Seriously..? You did not just say that...

Here is why Stoner went so quick on it: fast rider + fast bike = win.

Burgess said recently in an Australian TV interview that the Desmo just needs to be pushed & ridden on the limit to get the most out of it, which is just what Stoner did. But as Burgess went on to say if you are riding it on the limit you are bound to crash, a fact also evidenced by Stoners many crashes - and this is something that Rossi is not prepared to risk. The problem is that 'the limit' of the bike as it is has been such a very small margin, push too much and you crash out with not much warning (again a fact evidenced by Stoner).

No one can deny the talent of Stoner (or, really - anyone else who rides in MotoGP for that matter). I'm sure he will stay consistently fast, especially while he has a bike that is easier to ride - if he doesn't have to spend so much time thinking about how to keep the bike up, he can think more about how to just go flat out fast. :)

Total votes: 271

Stoner is already putting input into this year's bike and next year's, and it's not as if a rider's input is the key factor into bike development.

Rider influence in bike development is quite overrated, I think. Notice how Honda has been on the up since they poached those two electronic technicians from Yamaha at the end of 2009...

Total votes: 251

as the more mature posters whom proliferate on this site constantly state. Witness the struggles Rossi had in the first half of 2006 on the supposedly stable and Rossi development led M1. Engineers are the big string pullers, and if they don't interpret the data or what a rider wants into hard metal (a truly inenviable task) then a riders jobs becomes that much harder.

Total votes: 282

... Casey was riding the Ducati to win. I don't think he cared whether or not anyone else could ride the bike. IMO, Rossi is (whether he wants to or it's expected of him) is trying to actually develop the bike so others can ride it as well. When you conisider the two different approaches, it's easier to understand wy the results are not here yet. Do I think Rossi will have success on the Ducati? Yes, but not anytime soon. The difference this time than let;s say, with the Yamaha, Rossi could actually do both at the same time...develop the bike and win races. Obviously that is not the case this time on the Ducati. Do I think the Duc caught Rossi and Crew off guard? YES! I really do think they believed they could come in and "fix" whatever was wrong with it. I'm sure they think differently now?
I'm probably the biggest Rossi fan out there (I know I'm really not), but I've already come to grips that Rossi will not have a good year. And next year has much more potential but I'm not jumping to conclusions yet. All this is much easier to accept once you realize that! LOL! But do I think Rossi is done? Not even close! We will see Rossi win another championship...that I know!
Now...as far as Lorenzo....considering he is going back to last years bits and pieces, tells me he does not know how to develop a bike properly. Yamaha has to worry that their devepment process has pretty much come to a halt, if they continue to go back to last years bike to win races. I guess they figure since it's back to 1000cc's next year, why bother? Well, I don't think Lorenzo's development capabilities will improve just because it's a 1000cc machine? ;)

Cheers!
Eddie

Total votes: 282

Jorenzo isn't the one developing the bike.

Neither is Rossi.

All the riders can do is give feedback. You you really think VR spends his evenings hunkered over a supercomputer, running frame flex simulations? C'mon!

And the notion that Rossi is directing the team to hold back so that they can considerately 'develop a bike for everyone' is pure barking fantasy. He and Ducati have their ass in a sling right now and are desperate for good results. Do you really think they're gonna sacrifice podiums, etc. to make the bike better for Nicky (the official test mule), or the poor bastards slogging around on the satellite bikes? LOL!

The fact that Jorge can say "Hey, these parts are better" says that he CAN offer meaningful feedback. Here's how it works: Yam rolls out the '11 bike. After a few races, it's clear that it has issues. The team makes some educated guesses and tries exchanging some different pieces. Jorge offers his feedback and says he's much happier with the mongrel bike. The engineers can now go and compare the parameters of the pieces that were swapped and figure out why the old stuff works better. They will then correct the wrong turn they seem to have taken this year. People should THANK Jorge, instead of trying to blame him.

Total votes: 276

you are contradicting yourself numerous times there...
take it easy bro

Total votes: 277

Considering Rossi likes to have contractual clauses that give him sole access to the latest parts and locking up his data the idea that Rossi is consciously trying to develop the bike for other riders is not too accurate. A more accurate statement is that the Japanese factories (usually) develop well rounded bikes. Ducati build rough-edged hot-rods. I think Ducati Corse and Marlboro would be perfectly satisfied if Rossi won the title and the other riders were in the back of the grid.

This year anyone on a factory Honda is almost a shoo in for the podium but I don't hear anyone heralding Pedroda's or Dovi's phenomenal development skills. It is usually attributed to Honda's engineering might finally working properly. Most of this development work happens away from the track in a design room and fabrication shop, rider input is the last 2%.

Yamaha GP bikes have always been known as bikes that handle well but are down on power. Their first M1 was a bit of an aberration. But if you actually look at Yamaha's results I wonder the reasons why they are regarded as the all around best. They always have top riders on the factory bikes and Colin is consistently the top satellite rider. Toseland didn't have a good time on it his 2nd year and Crutchlow isn't doing any better in his first year. Spies is a top talent so I ask is it their bikes that are so easy to ride or does their team management do a good job of keeping fast riders in the satellite/factory pipeline. They seem to have a unique relationship with their satellite team than other manufacturers. If Yamaha was providing 6 bikes to the grid with a couple being rotating seats would we be seeing more 12-15 place finishes from them? Limiting bikes and smart rider choices go a long way to having good all around results versus Honda who are content to provide bikes to second level riders.

As far as Lorenzo's development skills we can see that he can show what he likes better through improved performance so that is an important part of feedback. Because the factory didn't provide a superior solution on the first try does not mean Lorenzo can't give correct information. By that criteria still not getting results after multiple chassis revisions and an entire new bike would mean Rossi knows nothing about development. As this is obviously not the case maybe the factory is having a hard time optimizing its new technology and shows that rider feedback is only a small part of the development process.

I thought Rossi would have a hard time winning the title in 2011 but thought in 2012 he would be a definite contender. Seeing the GP12 testing times being slower than current 800s and them still having the same front issues with the GP11, 11.1 and 12 makes me wonder. 2011 is already a write-off. If they are still behind in development in 2012 a title is questionable. 2013? That is a long ways away and he is getting old. Guys are doing well in WSB to the late 30s but WSB is not MotoGP and will he want to give Ducati a 3rd year after 2 non-winning ones? Ducati wanted Rossi to break records with them, but not his winless streak records. I wonder if he still wants to be the first GP/WSB champ. That could be a problem if Nicky goes WSB in 2013. I can't see him going backwards from a factory to satellite team and I think Ducati would drop him pretty quickly for Simonchelli or Iannone.

Chris
http://moto2-usa.blogspot.com/

Total votes: 270

Rossi is only interested in winning. I think it's a total myth that Rossi cares about developing the bike for other riders. Rossi is a ruthless and selfish competitor. I don't necessarily mean that as a criticism: the same has been said about Michael Schumacher. It just so happens that the kind of smooth handling bike Rossi likes is also easier for other riders. And riders don't develop machines, it's the engineers. Riders provide feedback, and the more accurate that feedback is the easier it is for engineers to design the parts. As for Yamaha, Rossi hardly rode the 2010 version, which means that it was Lorenzo, not Rossi, who provided most of the feedback. So saying that Lorenzo can't develop a bike because he has gone back to 2010 components doesn't wash. In any case, it doesn't matter how good a rider's feedback is if the design of the bike is fundamentally flawed. That is Rossi's problem this year. Also that Stoner has a particular skill (genius?) for riding a difficult bike that Rossi clearly doesn't possess.

Total votes: 268

Let's not forget that Rossi demanded the wall to be built between himself and Lorenzo, and refused to share data. The fact that Lorenzo rose to the occasion in spite of that is a credit to his performance and it deserves respect.

Total votes: 291

I always thought BS demanded the wall so that Jlos michelin guys couldn't spy on Rossi's new BS tyres.

Total votes: 257

Lynn Jarvis commented on the teams getting together and saying they enjoyed the partition and decided it was good for business. Going off their recent histories since the introduction partition mania the results would suggest that it's a damn good idea(Yamah 3, Ducati 0).. Assuming that some riders can make positive inputs over and above others of course.

Total votes: 280

@AlienMudPig

You say "Not that I want to question Stoners development skills" but then you go and do exactly that.

I think too much is being made of "rider's development skills". My understanding is the riders provide feed back to engineers and they develop the bike. I've read quite a few times that Casey was constantly asking for updates during his post WC years at Ducati, but for whatever reason, Ducati was either unable to provide them or they thought his requests were unnecessary, hence the reason he ended up leaving for Honda. Obviously Valentino has a bit more pulling power than Casey and is able to get updates that he wants. The flip side to this is the GP11.1, should we also now start questioning Valentino's ability to "develop" a bike given the recent results on the GP11.1?

I've also read numerous articles with quotes from people who have worked with Casey and a lot of them talk about his skill in diagnosing issues with the bike very quickly and also providing precise feed back about what the bike is doing. I guess proof of this is the short stints he does during testing, practice etc. He seems to only spend 3 or 4 laps on track at any one time. For me, the problem with the Desmo lies with Ducati, more so than the riders "development skills".

The other thing I wanted to point out is that Casey finished 2nd in the Championship in 2008 and 3rd in 2009 so to say "he never really got close to the title after '07" is mistaken. His only really bad year was in 2010 when he finished 7th.

You can probably tell from my post that I'm a Stoner supporter, but that doesn't stop me from enjoying good racing even when CS27 is not winning, nor does it stop me from appreciating other riders achievements, including a 9 x WC. I have no doubt the sport would not be where it is without VR46 and I for one and praying he, JB and Ducati get that bike sorted out sooner rather than later.

I guess what I get annoyed it as the constant bickering (which is usually unfounded) between Casey and Valentino fans. Can we not just enjoy / respect the talent these guys have without getting into a p*ssing contest?

Total votes: 280

Very well said my friend!

Total votes: 262

that the ONLY rider able to beat Stoner in 2008 was Rossi, so to say he was never in contention for the title after 2007 is ridiculous.
But you got your stats wrong, he finished 4th in the championship both in 2009 and 2010, which are obviously his worst ranking on a Ducati.

Total votes: 282

Yes, but do you believe Dani(2nd) fought for the title last year?? Being second is not defacto competing for the title. In 2008 Rossi put, a at the time, record points total on Casey.

Total votes: 256

Halfway through the season (round 9), Pedrosa LEADS the world championship with 4 points on Vale and 29 on Stoner.
Round 10 Rossi takes the lead with 16 points on Pedrosa and 20 on Stoner.

After 10 rounds the 3 best riders were only separated by 20 points so yes, with 8 rounds to go I would say they all had a genuine shot at the title.

Then round 11, Laguna Seca and Rossi constantly builds up on his advantage to be crowned champion at Motegi (round 15).

The title hunt was only decided in those 5 races so definitely, yes Stoner was fighting for the championship in 2008.

He also ended up scoring the highest score ever for runner-up spot with 280 points, a record that still stands.

Total votes: 269

@deenos

It's clear that your a Stoner fan and I respect that but in your last paragraph you seem to be insinuating that I'm just a Rossi fan boy trying to stoke the flames of the usual immature Rossi/Stoner bullshit.

I have no idea how you got that from my post since I only mentioned Rossi once and finished up by praising Stoners talent and saying I hope he wins the championship. I'm a fan of the sport not any one rider.

Anyway, I agree that too much is made of rider development. I'm sure that the scores of engineers that work on these projects probably get pretty sick of that too. To my knowledge there isn't a MotoGP rider out there with an engineering degree.

The point of my post was to ask the very genuine question of whether anyone has any insight into Stoners ability to tame the Desmosedici which, as we are finding out seems truly remarkable.

Total votes: 268

@AlienMudPig

The last paragraph of my first post was not aimed at you, I should have clarified that it was just a general statement and I apologise that it came across like that.

I'd also like to correct my stats about where CS27 finished in the 2009 and 2010 championships. I knew he finished 2nd in 08 and I mistakenly relied on Google for the 2009 & 2010 seasons.

Total votes: 242

I believe Niccolo Canepa was studying Mechanical Engineering during his time in MotoGp, never heard if he graduated or what qualification he got though. I think I remember he was doing his (4th year?) project on swing-arms or something for Ducati, but I could be completely wrong and thinking of something else

Total votes: 281

"then it is clear that the problem is not the riders, but the bike." Whilst there remains one man out there in the field that has tamed the beast that statement is not entirely true. There is, to my mind, equal culpability on both sides of this rocky marriage. Obviously the CF framed Desmosedici remains a diamond in the rough as they forge ahead in unchartered technical waters looking for an edge. But you must remember that Rossi himself has constantly been stating he is not yet riding the machine in the manner it requires. Dovi's comments are bang on the money and I can empathise with Rossi's dilemma. To go fast on the Duke you need to dominate it, to dominate you need confidence - a catch 22 scenario if ever there was one.

Rossi has proven himself adaptable throughout his career through a variety of racing machines yet is now struggling to do so. I think there's a two fold answer to his crisis of confidence over and above the recalcitrance of the GP11 & 11.9. Last years Mugello crash has instilled within him an element of 'the fear' (something that has ended many a racing career) and possibly he's been too long on the wonderfully handling M1 to be able to fully adapt.

There's no easy quick fix answer to this. Only one direction from the top, sink or swim, old dogs - new tricks, two to tango....

The Sachsenring is a brilliant G.P. I've done a couple and loved every moment. Great spectating too.

Total votes: 270

2009 Casey ended 4th in the championship.
2010 Casey ended 4th in the championship.
2011 Rossi is 4th half way trough the championship.

Wining 3 races and being 4th at the end of the championship is not "taming the beast", at least not consistently.

Either neither of those riders is good enough or the bike needs to change.

Total votes: 278

But by the time that bike was handed to Rossi at the end of the year it was a proven race winner. Stoner only found any sort of solution to the handling issues in the last 1/3rd of the season. Had the bike been in better shape from the start he would likely have finished higher than 4th.

And I think you know that 4th place at the moment is quite flattering for Valentino. If not for Dani's injuries and Spies problems he would be 6th, which is where he will end up once those guys pass him if something doesn't change.

Frankly I'm sick of people talking about Stoner's supposed inability to develop a bike. Even JB has come out and said Ducati didn't listen to Stoner. They didn't even listen to Capirossi or Melandri.

If you want to question anybody's bike development skills it should be Rossi's as Ducati has done more development on that bike in 6 months than they have in the last 4 years, including building a completely new bike... and it's still slow. Rossi has been the one doing the work on that, yet people blame Ducati for the bike being uncompetitive, but when Casey was riding it you want it to be all his fault. You can't have it both ways.

Fact remains, Stoner could win on that bike and Rossi can't even get close. I love Rossi. I used to think he was the best rider I had ever seen, but there's no point pretending that the facts don't exist. It would appear that Stoner is the most adaptable and talented guy out there. He's the only one who could be competitive on the Duc and win races on it, and he's now jumped on a Jap bike and he's winning on that too.

Some of you need to just stop dreaming of a Valentino miracle and sit back and enjoy the talent that is on display. I would love to see Valentino at the pointy end as the racing is better when he's there, but he's just not up to the challenge on that bike. Simple as that. And his competitors know it. they will never again see him as the threat he was a few years ago

Total votes: 285

Hmm... looks like I said a hole lot more that I meant to.
I don´t remember questioning Casey in any way. As a matter of fact I´m almost certain I didn't said "development" even once.
My point was "the bike need to change" since the reason Casey gave to leave Ducati was that Ducati didn't change the bike as much as he wanted to it would appear he agrees with me.

Total votes: 271

Finishing of the races on the podium half the time and 2/3 of the times qualified on 1st row while the other Ducati riders struggled to make it in the top8 IS taming the beast.

Almost half of the season and Rossi is more or less on points with 2010's Casey. However at this stage Stoner already had one pole, 3 podiums and had failed to qualify on the front row only twice. Stoner's worst qualifying was 6th. His worst position in a race he finished was 5th.

Rossi's best qualifying (so far) is 7th, he was 4 times on the 2nd row, 3 times on the 3rd row and once on the 4th row. He is regularly in the lower part of the top6 but not a real threat for the podium.

They are level now because Casey had an horrible start of the season but he made up for it in the second part.
To equal Stoner's worst year at Ducati, Vale will need to really up the pace in the second half the season (that was 3 wins, 2 podiums and 3 poles for the Aussie in that period).

Total votes: 261

I don't know if it's fair to say Stoner 'tamed' the CF-framed Ducati. The trellis frame bike, sure. But since Stoner had nearly as many race crashes on the CF bike as he did wins, and more crashes than wins last year by a score of 5-3, I'm not really sure that qualifies as 'taming.'

If you think Rossi now has an element of 'the fear,' I think you must have missed last year's race at Motegi.

Too long on bikes that handle well... that one I can't argue. Dovi's comments were interesting.

Total votes: 280

Perhaps 'taming' isn't the best way to put it.

He was definitely competitive, and he was also winning which are two things that Vale most definitely is not doing at the moment.

How many times did you see Hayden run consistently with Casey in any FP, QP or Race? Did you ever see non-factory Ducati's consistently sitting in front of Casey on the grid?

Whether Vale fans like it or not, the evidence is right here and now in the numbers alone. Anyone who tunes into the sessions and race can see it for what it is.

In a nutshell, Vale tried the old Jedi mind tricks on Stoner when he became a threat to Rossi's dominance. He questioned Stoner's ability, his commitment, and between him and JB they sat smugly outside of the Ducati garage looking in, and proclaimed to have the simple fixes needed to make that bike a winner.

Ever since the Valencia test Rossi has been getting force fed his own medicine. It must be a bitter, bitter taste because not only is he running mid-pack, seconds down from the front - his biggest rivals are enjoying the fruits of their labour up the front.

I am interested to see how the politics play out. This must be a huge hit to Rossi's ego and only his results on the track will pull him out of it. No manner of shoulder/bike/weather/updates excuses will work and the media will just tear him to shreds. They love building people up and then tearing them back down again. It's tall poppy syndrome and it's showing signs of it already this year.

I have loved watching Vale's almost god-like dominance over the sport for many years. But for whatever reason I am actually enjoying watching Stoner and Lorenzo get their own back through results, which then automatically pour over into the media.

It's anyone's guess how this will all end. That is the beauty and the theatre of sport. I am just content to sit back, smile and enjoy. Whatever happens will happen, but the stage that is set at the moment is hinting that the result will be huge whichever way it swings.

Total votes: 270

Very well said. Perhaps you can't teach an old dog new tricks...

Total votes: 286

Hi David,

You've mentioned twice now that Jorge is running a combination of 2010/2011 M1 parts...do you know if Spies is running the same combination, or all 2011 parts?

Thanks!
Cryo

Total votes: 264

Just because Casey was willing to push the Duc past his comfort zone to the point of front end washouts doesn't prove that he has more skill than Vale.

Vale is just as smart and skillful as he ever has been. I don't blame him for choosing to wait until the Ducati engineers fix the problem rather than bonzi it until he either wins or crashes. It is obvious that two things have happened of late - 1) the competition has risen to his level now and, 2) he is on a machine that only one man has been willing to risk all to excel on.

I can't wait until the "light" comes on at Ducati and they fix the front end issue. Vale is still capable of winning a MotoGP race - as much as any other rider.

PS: Go Spies!

Total votes: 236

You got it pretty much exactly right. It is not so much that Rossi can't do what stoner did, its that he doesn't want to.

He is one year removed from a serious injury that took him out for half a season, and he doesn't want to risk that again.

Even if he did adopt a 'wild stlye' approach on the Ducati, it still wouldn't win, as the other manufacturers took bigger strides forward this year.

Also, if stoner was still at Ducati this year, there is a very, very good chance he would also be winless. He might have a few more podiums because he has more experience on the bike and he doesn't value his own life, but it would be just barely less dissapointing as Rossi is now.

Total votes: 278

Rossi has admitted he has had trouble adjusting his style to suit the Ducati. Stoner himself has said you cannot ride the bike the way you want to ride. you must ride it the way it demands to be ridden.

Rossi has not shown any capability at all to do that.

How can you possibly say he can if he wants to? He has shown nothing to suggest that is the case.

I'm not Rossi bashing... I'm a huge fan of the guy, but there's no point spouting stuff that you just made up. Just because you want to believe it doesn't make it real. Rossi is allowed to not be able to do everything, he is human after all. There's no shame in not being able to ride the hell out of that bike, so far only one man in the world has been able to do it, so I'm certainly not looking at Rossi's failure on it as a career defining moment. Nothing can take his record away from him.

Total votes: 274

A leap of faith to say Stoner probably would be struggling on the Ducati as much as Rossi is this year especially considering that no one saw him winning a championship on a Ducati let alone winning 23 races on one.

Total votes: 272

As weak a comment as I've ever read..
What makes you think Stoner doesn't value his own life?
Why doesn't Rossi want to be winning races and challenging for podiums?

You need facts & figures man!

Total votes: 262

I am quite interested to see Dovi's comments, particularly the pithy nature of his words. He has always been a sharp thinker - perhaps too much as people say - but this is perhaps the first time I can remember that he seems to offer a strong point-of-view. I do hope we can see more such commentary from him. If he can up his hit rate in race mode in addition to such comments, he will be a far more interesting person to follow. My 0.02.

Total votes: 273

is fast becoming another of the mainly urban legends/myths that have centred on Stoner more than any other rider in the 800's era. Most of those have been seen to be false by the process of amalgamation of evidence from third parties, though some people who dislike Stoner hold the statements as proof for their position - in the same way that a dog, given a bad name, is always suspect to some people.

While it is certainly the case that Stoner has yet to conclusively prove an ability as a lead development rider that cannot be taken as proof of an inability, and as the current situation with Rossi shows (and has been succinctly expressed by Burgess), there are basic design philosophies for Ducati that are not readily solved by ANY rider's input - even one as respected as Rossi.

It is worth remembering that Rossi chose not to go to Ducati when he left Honda because he felt that their overwhelming corporate ethic was antipathetic to rider-led development - and perhaps we should now acknowledge that little appears to have changed even though they are faced with a PR disaster that they could largely avoid while Stoner was there.

The fact that Ducati is now changing the bike far more and at a far greater pace than anytime since the 800s started is attributable to the magnitude of the exposure they are getting from their failure to provide Rossi with a reasonable bike. I believe that the propensity of Ducati to accept rider-led development input was probably best expressed by Preziosi himself when he said that 'Stoner is the only rider who rides the bike in the way it was designed to be ridden'. Every one of Stoner's team-mates at Ducati was a WC in grand-prix racing before they came to Ducati and nothing of their input was - it seems apparent - taken on board. It seems to me to be a pretty harsh judgement of Stoner to suggest he ought to have flowered as a development leader in a situation where water was denied to all riders by the Ducati design and development philosophy.

Total votes: 285

The one thing that is a certainty in all of this, is that the patience of Ducati and the Italian press will not last forever.

To be honest I'm surprised the press have left this alone as long as they have, but the knives will come out at some point.

And Ducati will be feeling the pressure... they have who many believe to be the best of all time on the bike and it's going backwards. This looks awful for them. Their credibility is being questioned, and without continued success in WSBK, failure in MotoGP will eventually bring into question the sporting aspirations of the entire brand.

Rossi stands to lose only a little bit of credibility from this as no matter what happens he will always be a 9 times champion, but Ducati stand to lose a hell of a lot if this continues to fail. heads will roll at some point.

Total votes: 269

Check out Wayne Gardner's weekly column #61, ""What Kenny Said", where he has a discussion about Ducati with Kenny Roberts Snr. KR says that Ducati never really listened to its riders. It is only this year with Rossi on board that Ducati has been forced to recognize the bike's shortcomings. So it is very far fetched to imagine that Ducati would listen to an inexperienced Aussie kid like Stoner in 2007. Besides, Stoner was running at the front and sometimes winning so there couldn't be anything wrong with the bike could there? Some time before Stoner joined Ducati I recall Preziosi saying that it was his job to design a fast bike, not make it easy to ride. So there is no basis to make any judgment of Stoner's development abilities from his time with Ducati.

Total votes: 272

That Ducati can't really work on feedback? If indeed for years they just drew their own plan and hoped for a rider that would gel with the bike, maybe that is how they work best. Now all of a sudden they (hastily) try to translate feedback directly into development. Maybe that does not build the best Duc. Just a theory...

Total votes: 292

Whether you like/ hate Stoner/ Rossi, please stop with the childish disparagement of either one. I'm not a big Stoner fan but I am adult enough to admit he's really talented. The crash.net talk is just getting tiresome. Both of them should have proven by now that they deserve the respect they get.

Aside from that, send good thoughts to JB and his wife.

Total votes: 272

I actually thought this conversation had been pretty thoughtful and well intentioned. Nobody is saying bad things about riders. Most are here defending them. Even those, like me, who are saying Rossi needs to get a move on are also saying they want him back at the front. There is no disputing the Ducati experiment has been a dismal failure no matter how you look at it. That's not having a shot at anyone, it's just fact. I'm sure Rossi is disappointed in how it's gone, so why can't the fans be disappointed too?

I think you're being oversensitive comparing it to Crash.net. It's not even close.

And yes, good thoughts for Mrs Burgess. On that we can all agree.

Total votes: 211

First of all I read Motomatters because I thought genuine race lovers log in here and give honest feedbacks unlike other sites with personal agendas.
Of all the comments that I see here..I found one very funny " Rossi did not ride the 2010 bike...and gave no feedback...lorenzo drove the 2011 and immediately went on to 2010 chasis or parts..so rossi has no deveolpment credit for the 2010 bike"..my dear friend Rossi won the WC in 2009 and offerred a lot of feedback to the 2010 bike...midway he moved to Ducati and therefore had no role in feedback...so lorenzo got the 2011 according to his feedback.Lorenzo then rides on the 2011 was in shambles went back to 2010( and that bike had Rossi feedback) and was better...guys lorenzo may be great rider...but lets see how he holds on...with his so called developing skills.

Secondly..how does a docter or lawyer save you...only when u give accurate feedback...so nobody expects Rossi to sit under a computer a design a frame..he just has to give an accurate feedback..when technical wizards like furusawa and prezi have acknowleged the relavance of Rossi feedback..then wat can I say

Now Casey stoner riding the Ducati-yes in 2007 he was the champ(but with a clear advantage-tires and HP) ..then three years he want back..siting all kinds of problems(arm pump,flu..)...

I also believe every athelete has a life span..and may be Rossi is also facing it..but guys dont put down a rider with 249 GP(Before this weeks GP)...105 victories...175 podiums and 9 WC...

Total votes: 239

Where does anyone say "Rossi did not ride the 2010 bike...and gave no feedback...lorenzo drove the 2011 and immediately went on to 2010 chasis or parts..so rossi has no development credit for the 2010 bike"?? Please quote factually. The point is that anyone saying that Lorenzo can't develop a bike, and that the 2011 parts not working is Lorenzo's fault, is ignoring the fact that during the course of 2010 Rossi likely had less development input into the 2010 bike because he was injured. In addition, he made every effort to hide what he was doing on his side of the garage from Lorenzo. Also, Lorenzo started with Yamaha in 2008 so there has been plenty of time for him to have input into the bike's development from 2008 on. But as in Stoner's case, we just don't know how good Lorenzo's development skills are at this point in time. Maybe the coming years will give us a better idea now that that there is no Rossi at Yamaha, and Stoner is in a team that will respect his input.

Total votes: 244

The comments are very well thought out on David's site, to compare it to the other web site is unfounded.
This is for adults, crash.net is for (insert own word)

This year of motogp has been fantastic for all the drama so far, it only hurts when your favorite rider is not at the pointy end.

There is still lots more racing and drama to come as we are only half way into the last year of 800cc and when your pride is hurt as it is for Rossi and ducati they will fight to the bitter end and hopefully start the 1000cc year on a better note

I want Casey Dovi and Jorge to fight tooth and nail for the title and motorcycle racing will be back on top again as it should be.

Total votes: 246

There is a big difference between developing a bike that can win races and a bike that can win a championship; I think Ducati is finally starting to see that (or I hope that they are).

The fact that Rossi has at this point in the year more points than Stoner did last year speaks volumes to me. Despite the fact that Stoner was incredibly fast on the Duc, his results are no better than Rossi's lackluster performance this year.

The Duc can be a race winner, but they have a long way to go before it is a championship winner. Stoner is proof that the Ducati, even when ridden as it needs to be (on the edge) cannot consistently stay on the edge. You will fall down when pushing to find that small window the Duc works perfectly in. To me, this is a design flaw that falls in Preziosi's lap; the bike may be fast, yes, but it is his responsibility to make a bike that can be consistently fast.

If the new Superbike using this subframe/stressed engine setup has the same problems, Ducati are in a for a world of hurt.

Total votes: 248

Assuming Ducati have been turning the bike inside out for Rossi this year and is quite a bit different from the GP10, how can you compare his performances to Stoner's?

What if Stoner was riding the GP11.1? Maybe he'd be leading the championship right now.

Total votes: 251

Comparison is all there is, if you want to judge Rossi's progress this year. Of course there is a comparison, and championship position is a perfectly valid comparison to make. If your point is that there is no way to make a comparison between the GP10 and the GP11, then you are wrong.

Assuming is making an assumption. We don't really know how different the bikes are, but we know the basic construction is the same, and Rossi started out on the GP11, which is an evolution of the GP10. So if we want to make an assumption, what we can really assume is that the bikes are fairly close to each other in construction. That's a far more educated assumption to make that one that the bikes are so radically different that there is no way to compare the two.

This isn't going from a 500 2-stroke to the 990 4-strokes. These are not brand new bikes; they are evolutions of the existing designs. That allows a basis for comparison.

What if Rossi was riding the RC212V? He might be leading the championship this year. Baseless speculation is, well, baseless.

Total votes: 248

If you're going to make a comparison it has to be fair. What you're trying to do simply isn't, so why bother? We will never know. I'm not saying anything, it's you who's coming to the conclusions when nobody, let alone us, is in the position to say what is and what isn't as far as comparing two different riders on two different bikes in two different circumstances.

Total votes: 253

What's not fair about it? What don't we know? Two great riders on a very similar bike, with results that, even though arrived at differently, look very similar. And not on par with what those riders are capable of. It seems pretty obvious that the bike is the problem.

The bikes are not that different.
The riders are pretty comparable, 2 of the top 4 in the world over the past 4 years.
Circumstances are the same - racing GP,

As a reasonably observant and intelligent person I am certainly in the position to make my own judgements and draw my own conclusions.

You're right, you aren't saying anything, so why bother?

Total votes: 265

What really puzzles me is the only flashes of brilliance (if you can call it that) Ducati/Rossi had is in the rain. How can a bike with such poor front end feel work relatively well when it's wet? I would've thought a wet track would require a bike with extraordinary feel to be fast. Maybe I'm wrong, but there could be a lesson buried in there that may help Ducati improve dry performance.

Total votes: 219

on the surface, yet I believe it can be explained away in the less aggressive engine / chassis harmonics wet conditions produce, and more probably the Bridgestone wets having a more pliant sidewall construction for that ethereal sensation 'feel'.

Total votes: 228