2012 Qatar MotoGP Saturday Round Up: Of Cheshire Cat Smiles, Chatter, and the Italian Tragedy

On the evidence of qualifying at Qatar, we're in for a cracking MotoGP season. A very tight battle for pole settled in the final minutes, a surprise front row sitter, and plenty of on-track action are the ingredients for a great QP session, and the changes the sport have undergone are overwhelmingly positive. The same was true in Moto2, where a smart strategy outwitted a late last lap, and Moto3 saw another battle that went down to the wire.

In the Moto3 class, the leveling effect that the new rev- and price-limited bikes have had is plain, just as it was when the Moto2 class replaced the 250s back in 2010. To see the names of Sandro Cortese and Maverick Vinales in 1st and 2nd on the grid is no surprise, but Louis Rossi in 3rd is a bit of a shocker. The Frenchman has spent most of his career on third-rate 125s, and qualified mainly between 10th and 20th in 2011. Since climbing aboard a Moto3 bike, he has been a top 10 regular throughout testing and featured prominently at Qatar. A front row start is richly deserved, and with the front three close, and the top 10 all having been somewhere near the front at some point in the weekend, the inaugural Moto3 race promises to be as good as the 125s it replaces, despite the fact that the times are over a second slower than last year.

The Moto2 qualifying practice was chaotic, but interesting nonetheless. Thomas Luthi took pole, unsurprising given that the Swiss rider has dominated practice so far. At the press conference, Luthi revealed the maturity that has come with his consistency: the decision to put in an early fast lap had been a conscious one, he explained, knowing the chaos that the last few minutes of a Moto2 QP session produces could hamper any attempt at a shot for pole. He was right, and if anything, the loitering-with-intent has gotten even worse in recent years. If riders expended half as much effort trying to post a fast lap that they put in hanging around waiting for a fast rider to latch on to, their results may well be better.

Marc Marquez used a mixture of skill, luck and judgement to spot a clear opportunity for a fast lap. It worked for the Spaniard, and could even have nabbed pole for Marquez. In the end, he got within a tenth of Luthi's time, and had to settle for 2nd, but more importantly - for Marquez, his team and his fans - it proved that he genuinely has his mojo back, and has not lost any of his speed during his long period of convalescence, and any question marks remaining over his eyes are well and truly answered.

Just as in Moto3, there was little to separate the front three, but the gap to the riders behind is very deceptive. Several high-profile riders were casualties of the Moto2 trailer trash, hanging around hoping to hitch a ride, with Scott Redding and Tito Rabat among the most prominent. Sunday's race has all the hallmarks of turning into a thriller, as befits a Moto2 race.

That could possibly turn out to be just an appetizer for a real MotoGP race. If qualifying is anything to go by, then the combination of bigger bikes with more torque and significantly softer Bridgestone tires looks like a recipe for an intriguing race. The new tires look like being a decisive factor in bringing back some excitement to MotoGP. The tires warm up much more quickly, eliminating the cold-tire crashes that have plagued the series for the past few seasons. The trade-off is a tire that goes off quickly, needing much more management to maintain the pace. Qatar has always been a tough track for tires, and the new generation of tires will severely complicate the job for the riders.

This is no bad thing. The trade-off is worth the loss of grip later on, a late low side always better than an early high side. Tire deterioration will allow riders to choose strategies: go hard early and try to limp home in the lead; or take it easy at first, and hold your pace in the end, reeling in the riders who played the hare at the start.

The switch to softer tires that deteriorate faster is a lesson learned from Formula One. The switch from the highly durable Bridgestones to the much softer Pirellis has added a massive amount of spectacle to the series, and a softer tire should do the same for MotoGP.

The front row held two surprises at Qatar. The most obvious one was the appearance of Cal Crutchlow in 3rd, but then again, the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha man has been fast all preseason. Crutchlow is doing his best to look serious and concerned, but underneath the masque of seriousness, he, like all Yamaha riders, can barely contain his glee with just how good the bike is. The British rider was very careful to play down any chance of converting a front row into a podium, saying that his chances of staying ahead of Ben Spies and Dani Pedrosa are limited. Though there is an element of truth in that, it is also slightly disingenuous. Crutchlow's experience in managing the World Superbike Pirellis, combined with the more forgiving nature of the 1000cc MotoGP bikes - no longer requiring the scalpel-like precision of the 800s - have put him in position to pull off a surprise. An extra year in GPs and staying with his team for the first time in five seasons has given him the tools he needs to finish the job. A win is out of the question, barring incident, but a podium is a much more realistic possibility than Crutchlow is letting on.

The other front row surprise was the order of the two protagonists. Casey Stoner has pretty much owned Qatar since the very first time he rode here in his rookie year in MotoGP. Throughout free practice, Stoner looked to be cruising to his fourth straight pole in a row, but the return of the dreaded chatter put paid to that. The Honda has suffered chatter almost since its introduction, a by-product of the new, less stiff Bridgestone tires.

The finger of blame has been pointed at the tires and the extra 4kgs of weight that the bikes have to carry since the Grand Prix Commission imposed the changes in December, but the truth of the matter is that the Yamahas - faced with exactly the same challenges - have not suffered with the chatter at all. It looks like Honda have built a bike to suit the old, stiffer Bridgestones - witness the Honda riders' preference for the stiffer of the new front tires tested at Jerez two weeks' ago. Honda, in this case, have just got it wrong, and now need to modify the bike to handle the softer tires.

In the meantime, Stoner is getting frustrated at handling the chatter issues. A wrong direction taken during qualifying saw him struggle more and more with the bike, especially with the soft tires. In parc ferme, he pointed the finger of blame at his team, in terms reminiscent of his time at Ducati. According to the Australian, his team acknowledged that he was suffering massive chatter, but were not as concerned as Stoner felt they should be, because of the reigning World Champion's speed. That line of thought produced a bike that nearly broke Marco Melandri, and saw Valentino Rossi wobble about for a season in mid-pack. Stoner's natural ability to ignore bike problems and push to the limit of the tires too often works against him.

In the press conference, the Australian was much more diplomatic about the situation, diverting his ire into an attack on the rule changes which have taken place over the years, in response to a question about Ben Spies bizarre crash. Spies got caught up with his bike after losing control, getting dragged along beside the machine before finally separating. Spies denied that the problem had been caused by the new compulsory front brake lever guards fitted to all bikes, saying that review of the video had shown the guard had already sheered off when he got caught up. Just what it was that was entangled is still a mystery, but Stoner pronounced his opposition to the brake lever guards, saying that it was too easy for the guards to get tangled up with the inside of a glove, posing a danger to the rider. He had been against them from the start, he said, the situation being made worse once he found out it had been put into the rulebook.

He was then asked what his answer would be to solve the crisis in MotoGP. After expressing his firm opposition to the CRT concept - making some fair points about the difficulties an independent manufacturer faced in making a bike based on a production engine competitive with factory bikes that have been under development for many years now - he argued that the real problem was the constant changes to the rulebook. When it was pointed out to Stoner that it was the manufacturers who had pushed through almost all of those changes - the MSMA had a contractual monopoly on technical rule changes, up until December 31st, 2011 - Stoner flatly denied it, saying "Dorna can blame who they want for this, but they have the final decision," before backtracking a little once the contractual situation was explained to him.

Stoner has a point about the necessity of a stable rule package, the problem is that the time when we needed a stable rule package was in 2004 and 2005, when the decision was taken to go to 800cc. Right now, MotoGP has nearly bankrupted itself - in part by the manufacturers' manic pursuit of rule changes, and in part by Dorna's failure to attract new sponsors to the sport - and needs a new set of cheaper rules before locking down the rulebook and not touching it again for at least 10 years.

Stoner and his crew have a lot of work to do during tomorrow's 20-minute warm up, but the good news for the Australian is that the chatter on the bike tends to drop off as the tires wear. Some electronics tweaks should help smooth out some of the chatter, and the rest will be down to the Repsol Honda man.

On pole sits Jorge Lorenzo, looking for all the world like the Cheshire cat that got the cream. With four Yamahas in the top 6, it is clear that Yamaha have got their bike right. But Lorenzo, too, is on top of his game, and determined to regain his title. As the Hondas struggle with their self-inflicted chatter issues, Lorenzo gets on quietly and efficiently running a blisteringly consistent race pace. Before the weekend started, it seemed unthinkable that anyone other than Casey Stoner would win at Qatar. Right now, observers smart enough to have wagered a sizable sum on Lorenzo winning are looking set to earn a healthy return on their investment.

If you looked at the throngs of reporters that crowd round Valentino Rossi, you would not have guessed that he ended the day as the last of the Ducatis, as well as the last of the factory prototypes. Twelfth position is not where you would expect to find a nine-time world champion. They took a wrong direction in setup, Rossi told the media, a small change that had a massive impact. They then returned to a previous setting, but by then it was too late to make much improvement. The team will now take a look at Nicky Hayden's data - the American was best Ducati, qualifying an extremely respectable 5th - in the hope of learning something new.

Things are bad. Perhaps not as bad as they look, but they are still bad. Where Rossi - or perhaps it would be better to say, his hordes of tired, despairing fans - can be hopeful is in his race pace, which is not all that far off the pace of the group fighting for 5th. Rossi always finds a little extra in the can for the race, as Cal Crutchlow explained when asked if he stood by his assertion that Rossi might be sandbagging, and the Italian is also extremely good at managing worn tires. But the best that Rossi can hope for is 5th spot, not something that he would have signed up for when he put his name to the Ducati contract.

So what has happened? From the outside - and that is currently the only place available for inspection, the internal politics of the situation hermetically sealed from the outside world - there is nothing obvious to blame. The bike is clearly better, but the engine - though powerful - is still not providing the right weight balance for the front end to grip in the way that Rossi wants. An overly aggressive engine was making it hard for Rossi to control the spinning in the rear - though Hayden, with his background in dirt track, is having much less problem with that. The spinning rear tire is causing the front to push wide, and for the bike to understeer.

But despite the dignity of Rossi's bearing - and given the massive pressure the Italian is under, the calmness and simplicity with which he answers the questions put to him is truly remarkable - it is hard to avoid the question of whether Rossi still has the fire to push for results. Has his mindset changed from racer to test and development rider? Is his crew able to translate the feedback he is giving correctly, and pass it on to Ducati Corse? And is Corse - as personified by Filippo Preziosi - listening to the feedback being given? Someone, somewhere, is falling short, and perhaps the most likely explanation is that it is all three parties.

A backlash is brewing. Discipline at Ducati is tight, and the Italian media are still too tightly entwined with the legend they have helped create around the persona of Rossi. True, a massive proportion of the crowds that come to MotoGP events come for one man, and one man only. But the tone among fans is starting to change. Die-hard Rossi fans are starting to vent their frustration, unaccustomed as they are to such a continuous run of poor results. Unless something radical happens to turn Rossi's fortunes around, this will surely end in tears. Tragically for the Italian, for Ducati, and for the fans of both, the signs are not good at all.

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Comments

It was hard to miss that fortunately timed, but well executed draft Lorenzo pulled coming out of the final bend in the sprint to the line to take Pole. I wonder what that fortuitous draft was worth in fractions of a second ? Anyone ?

It's clear some of these CRT riders are going to be a worry. Here in Australia (at 3am arrrgh) I had a good laugh at Darryl Beattie's commentary, when one of the CRT riders sprinted into a corner way too fast and lost it badly - "It must be frustrating for him to not make up 5 seconds in that one corner - he'll have to spread it out over the lap" hahahaha....

Nice one Dazza :)

A good read once again David.

3am was far too early/late for me to get up and watch QP. Maybe I'm just not hardcore enough?

I too think the backlash is coming. I don't think it's a question of if, but when. Will it be after this race? Or this season? Or somewhere in the middle if we see Rossi have an unfortunate off that takes him out for a couple of races?

Regarding the chatter for Stoner and Honda, if Honda are really about the bike over the rider, then perhaps they may not fall into the same pit that Ducati did.

Don't under estimate how fickle fans can be, even Rossi fans....

_Especially_ Rossi Fans!

Remember the huge ratings drop that occurred last year when he broke his leg? Those people don't have any great interest in MotoGP. Instead, they are attracted to the persona of #46. They worship not the person, not the athletic display, but the overall cult of personality that has been placed on display. While they just love the "winning, smiling clown" act that has made Rossi so famous, I don't see them having any strong attachment to Valentino himself.

I think the psychology of 'fandom' is a bit whacked, with a whole range of emotions getting somewhat tangled and confused inside the head of the devotee. However, at the end of the day, very few of these people will have developed a 'real' connection to the 'real' V.R. Unfortunately for Rossi, 'two cups of win' is possibly the most important ingredient in the fan 'recipe.' Without it, even the most foaming Rossibopper will soon lose interest.

We saw the beginnings of mass defection last year with the sharp increase in Sic's fanbase. With Marco gone, the Rossi fans may stay faithful for a while longer, but sooner or later another rider - or even another star in an entirely different sport - will draw their attention. I suspect many Boppers are becoming increasingly dissatisfied with their hero. I also think that any sort of public falling-out between Duc and Rossi (a signal that the situation is truly borked, with no hope of improvement) will trigger a mass exodus.

Way to go Crutchlow. How long has it been since the Brits had a rider making strides to deliver results like this? I know Mr. Sheene was the last champion and we can't expect Crutchlow to win, but damn he looks like the greatest beneficiary of the 1000cc/softer Bridgestone tyre switch. On track, he looks like a completely different rider. Good show Mr. Crutchlow! Ratings in England are sure to go up!

its interesting to to see that stoners results seem to have pushed the chatter issue back to the things to fix later agenda at honda , a mirror reflection of the same traps ducati slipped into with him , this may not be the case but as i have no idea what there agenda is , but it does appear to be drifting this way.
the yamaha's deserve massive praise for there faultless speed in turning there bikes into what i would say " the worlds most beautiful woman " , they are truly fantastic and all there riders are paying them back with gold , lorenzo is an incredibly smooth cookie and joy to watch.
i always said hayden will gel with this new duck and be top ducati man this year , though the first race is still shy i stand by this belief.
thanks for taking the time to write this great read dave , i was looking forward to it mate cheers.

I have been told that in 2008 at Qatar a certain Mr Toseland qualified 2nd on the grid.

It was Lorenzo, Toseland, Edwards on the front row of the grid in 2008. Lorenzo was on pole for his first season in MotoGP and he went on to claim pole for the first three rounds, a record for a rookie rider, being on the factory bike didn't hurt either.

In so many ways, business as usual has returned. In particular, Dave Emmett has once again provided the richest and fullest and most insightful coverage on the net. Thanks Dave.

Is the front tire skipping the pavement at the edge of traction (understeering). It feels like a severe vibration, or 'chatter'. It is a warning that the front tire is about to give up traction, thereby slowing the rider. All Honda riders have complained of it. Pedrosa is well off his pace as a result. Apparently Stoner is the bravest, but he has a right to be pissed.

Great round up by Kropotkin. Just what we need to start the season properly.

Rossi...
Look at Haydens data? What if Hayden decides to build a wall like Rossi did?

I respect Rossi for having delivered great racing the last decade or so. But at this point one has to conclude that a lot of his success must have been due to poor competition (Gibernau, Capirossi, Biaggi vs Stoner, Lorenzo, Pedrosa) and having access superior material (and not sharing it).

His situation at Ducati is a sad fiasco.

"As the Hondas struggle with their self-inflicted chatter issues"

Designing machines like these is part science, part art. We have seen that it is a finely tuned balance between weights, stiffness, rigidity and more often than not nobody really knows what makes a package work. That is part of what makes the sport fascinating to people like me.

As it is I suspect Honda simply got unlucky - there is some mechanical resonance system in the totality of their bike that has reacted badly to the new tires. Yamaha are probably grateful that it has not affected them, and Honda are puzzled about why they have the problem.

If Honda suddenly got chatter in the absence of different tires and late weight changes then I would say your comment was fair. As it is, a bit harsh, I think.

I think Calvin is being a little kind to Honda. They (along with Ducati) have a long track record of stubbornness and inflexibility when it comes to design and subsequent change. I’m remembering Pedrosa fighting the tank-slappers at this venue a couple of years ago as his frame flexed thru about 90 degrees :). I also remember that ridiculous minimal fairing design Honda persisted with for a couple of years in early 800’s with just a token of a side fairing – so small in fact they couldn’t even fit a legible “repsol” on it. Finally they are back to a proper full aerodynamic full wrap.
How about the long long refusal to follow accepted design and brace their swingarm from below. Kicking and screaming it finally appeared.
I wonder if their test riders back home are just not allowed to give the feedback required to get it right earlier or are simply not listened to.
And lets not mention how they sabotage their satellite customers with inferior machinery.
As a fading Honda fan, they continue to disappoint me every year - except last year of course :).

Honda have exhibited a certain intransigence before to listen to Stoner with regard to electronic settings.

They are quite adept at shooting themselves in the foot, before finding the " magical cure " , the facts buried in their wall of secrecy.

One wonders also if they are suffering from the " lets fix something that's not broken " syndrome that was all too common in their 4 wheel racing programs.

Stoner has sever chatter issues and is still 2 seconds ahead of Rossi. Second tier rider Barbera on a second tier Ducati is 0.7 seconds ahead of Rossi. Second rate factory rider Hayden is a second ahead of Rossi.

Is there really anything significantly wrong with this Ducati? And again just how perfect a motorcycle does (to paraphrase your words Mr Emmett) 'one of the most adaptable motorcycle racers ever known' need?

So now one of your excuses is Rossi is such a 250 style wheels inline rider that he's not as good as Hayden with the steering of the rear. How do you square this assertion to Rossi's dominance of the 990 era with their tails waggling like a hyperactive Dobermann?

The majority of this 'blame' remains firmly at the feet of Mr Rossi as it has since Nov 2010. Quite simply he is the one not living up to his end of the bargin, nor justifying his exorbitant salary.

If he was a footballer he'd be on the bench.

You're never going to be happy with my reports until I describe Rossi as the third worst racer ever to throw his leg over a motorcycle. 

Of course Rossi IS one of the greatest riders to ever sling a leg over a bike. That is irrefutable. This has never been my argument. Yesterday I praised your pragmatic report on the woes of Mr Rossi as well as recognising your comments reagrding the huge impact he has made on the sport for matters both on and off track. I'm far from blinkered.

then please go away. David Emmett has created motomatters from his own damn hard work alone (plus gathering a few excellent co-conspirators along the way), into one of the best-regarded motorcycling sites in the world in any form of media, with no more financial backing than his own family reserves and what advertising and subscriptions he can garner. The rest of us - and I note you are also a Site Supporter - are the beneficiaries of that work. We may not always agree with every word David writes BUT our minuscule contribution does not give us the right to enforce our own editorial standard to reflect our own particular view of how the game should be written up.

You don't agree with David's gentle treatment of Rossi - you've made that point exhaustingly clear. Now, could you leave it out, cease the mcn/crash/visordown or wherever comment-hogging cage fight mentality crap and let us all get on with discussing the racing?

FYI, your view of the world is not the most important thing to mtm readers. That is the polite version, incidentally.

and have said so many a time. David's site is superb, his writing is right up there with Michael Scott. I am happy to support it financially. Yes I take issue with his softly softly touch on Rossi. Is this not the prerogative of a contributor? The site after all is about debate, no? Don't like my posts? Fine. Many don't. Move past them. No skin off my nose, but don't tell me to go away or change my tune.

Nostro - my comment had nothing to do with honesty. In the past I have read some very informative and interesting comments from you, in fact I rather looked forward to reading your sage posts, however over the past year - about the time of Rossi's decline you have never missed a chance to get in some snide or downright nasty words about one of the greatest motorcycle riders of all time and by now we are all well aware of your bilious feelings - so why not stop? It serves no purpose other than to demean yourself, in a word you have become "tiresome". In my view that type of post belongs on crash.net where you would have a more appreciative audience, not here where David has tried to keep this forum at a higher level.
It matters not whether one is a Rossi or a Stoner fan, all MotoGP riders are at a level that most of us mere mortals can hardly comprehend and should be respected for their ability, bravery and commitment and yes - there will be a time when their careers will decline. Maybe Rossi is at that point now, but sad as that may be, why can we not celebrate a great racer and a fantastic ambassador of the sport? Why do yo feel compelled to put the boot in - again and again - into a man who is already down? Doesn't seem very sportsmanlike to me.
As for the remarks of some that Rossi is costing Ducati dearly, again maybe, but - I note that while all of the other manufacturers sales have declined, Ducati's sales have increased considerably. Maybe it is debatable whether Rossi has hurt or helped them.
As a final note it would be very considerate if those posters who have the technical knowledge that Ducati are so obviously lacking, or suggestions as to how a rider could make a dramatic improvement - please let us know your engineering or riding background?
Please, can we just enjoy the racing, admire all the racers for what they do and be polite to one another and keep this forum as a place to ask questions and learn?

Picture qatar qualifying on tele, pan camera to nostro in his front row sweating profusely, he cleans his hand on the curtains then takes a drink from the vase and gets a chrisanthemum in his eye, voice over 'he should have gone to spec savers' .. He has critcised Rossi he's just not going on and on about...

Delete as when necessary!

Big up Jorge beating stoner at one of his two best tracks... are there cracks appearing already??
Massive up to Cal it is so good to see a brit right up there..
Occams razor?? - Rossi has the best race pace of all the dukes so no doubt it was the bike not doing what they hoped for when they made a change than would work on any other motorcycle..
Only two things now at ducati that haven't been changed in the last disasterous 4 years the L shaped engine and Presiozi.. All the dukes are where they were last year .. nuff said..

Nostrodamus has been consistent in his criticisms of Mr Emmett's reporting of Rossi's decline and has provided examples of DE's comments that certainly could be argued to be less than objective. You could also argue that it was understandable to assume the Rossi would sort things out based on his previously stellar record. It has turned out that those assumptions were not well founded. Just because you don't like what Nostrodamus has to say, it doesn't mean it is not a valid opinion.

About the race, am I missing something or is Stoner's superior pace on the hard tires no longer relevant? Will Lorenzo be able to use the soft and have the high pace for the whole race? If he uses the soft will he start faster and have Stoner catch him up toward the end or is the soft faster than the hard throughout the race?? Stoner certainly seemed to think that he has no chance, but I am a bit confused.

Good post. I think race pace is the whole story. Q is fun, but the race is what counts. I love the added complexity of tire life too. If Crutchy is as good at managing tires as reported, he could be a force. We know Ben can manage his tires as we've witnessed for many years on all sorts of motorcycles. He could be a player this season too.

Wonder what's happening to Pedrosa. I'm sure he is playing it safe, given his history of being injured. The Honda isn't right yet.

Let's not write off the man, after all how many have wrote Stoner off in 2010...
I do not understand how a spinning rear can cause UNDERsteer...I thought rear wheel spinning, it causes oversteer.

When it is spinning and gripping, you get oversteer. When it is spinning and not gripping, you get understeer. That's what I understand from the explanations I heard. Stoner gave a great explanation of how and why he uses a spinning rear to turn the bike a couple of days ago, which I will be posting in a few days' time.

You are what your record says you are. You are only as good as your last effort. Regardless if one is a fan of Rossi or not, there is no denying his past greatness or his current lack of results. I've never turned a lap as a professional motorcycle racer but, as a dude who knows, when you are stinkin' it up there is no such thing as "sandbagging". Rossi will have a bin it/win it attitude today and will finish much above his qualifying if he can stay on. I am hoping for a Spies/Hayden/Rossi finish. I can hope....David, thanks for the reporting.

The fast Filippo is shown the door, or assigned to another part of the company, the faster Ducati will become truly competitive.

His repeated history of designing a bike that goes fast and, "the rider must find a way to make it turn" has been a failure. Only the extraordinary tallent of Stoner, and one superb year of Capirossi, cut short because of the Catalyuna accident, have the Ducati truly been competitive.

Hayden has done a remarkable job of being able to do what everyone else but Stoner could not do on the bike, and that's have an occasional competitive performance in a race.

It's been documented by David, and several others, what the issues with Ducati's design are holding them back, but since Preziosi is a genius, the problem is clearly the riders, and not the bike.

There is a Bravo Sierra argument from Ducati about why they are inflexible in their design, and it ties to their "heritage". Ducati's are twins, except they weren't until 1971/2. We have to have a trellis frame, which didn't really exist till the 851. We have to have a 90 degree engine, because the singles for 50 years were?

You know what sells bikes? Winning! People don't care that much about what's between the frame rails as long as it's finishing on the top of the podium. If Ducati want's to keep their Superbikes as V-Twins at 90º angles, great, but why handicap your prototype bike with that rigid thinking.

Have just seen, on Oz TV, Burgess interviewed about the Rossi siituation...part of the Steve Parrish pre-race report.

These are Burgess's words to the best of my memory.

"Experience is important, but the way it was isn't the way it's always going to be"

And other comments that Rossi acknowledges that Stoner and Lorenzo have the pace at the moment.

Very interesting comments from inside the Rossi camp......basically acknowledging that the reason why bike 46 is the slowest of the 12 factory prototypes is largely a rider issue.
Well, that's the way I interpreted Burgess's comments.

The angriest, most bitter of all our codgers here on MM got his wings clipped a bit. That was better than even seeing the "most talented rider ever" come in a resounding third in the race today...

I wish you hadn't posted this in a QP thread. I read this thread before seeing the race, which took the edge off the race for me a bit.

I have ALWAYS wanted to say this, but:

The ancient poet/semi-farcical fortune-teller spelled his name "Nostradamus", with nary a second "o" to be seen, so "Nostrodamus" is either someone I've never heard of, or it is a spelling error.

OK. There, I said it.

And hooray for Pirelli-esque tires!

The 'O' is very deliberate by the way.

'Resounding third' As in celebrate or praise. I agree. Any podium in this class is a fine achievement.

Debating with fact is so much more fun don't you think rather than shooting messengers?