2012 Motegi MotoGP Friday Round Up: Of Conspiracy Theories, Unnecessary Assistance And Hot Brakes

There is little that motorcycle racing fans love more than a good conspiracy. No mishap, contract dispute, or rider swap is ever the result of chance, error, greed or incompetence; there are always darker and greater powers involved, be it Dorna, Honda, or a major sponsor. They do not let the fact that their theories bear little resemblance to reality in 99.999% of the cases spoil the fun, and rightly so, moving happily on to the next dark conspiracy.

It took less than 10 minutes of the first session of MotoGP free practice before they had plenty to get their teeth into. Casey Stoner barely made it out of the pits before his Honda RC213V packed up, and he was forced to park it up by the side of the track, the bike felled by a mystery electronics issue. Stoner lost a lot of time in that first session, working with just a single bike as his mechanics tried to find out what had caused his first bike to fail. In the afternoon, an issue with the brake caused Stoner similar problems, losing valuable track time he needs to get back up to speed again.

A plot to prevent Stoner from interfering with Dani Pedrosa's shot at the title? An entertaining idea, but in the reality stakes, somewhere beyond the moon landings conspiracy. Stoner's problems are the kind of issue that every team has from time to time, with minor technical issues conspiring to work against them.

As frustrating as it may have been, it will have had little effect on Stoner's pace, though. The Australian is nowhere near race fitness, just 6 weeks into a recuperation period which really needs 6 months at the least, and Stoner is having to find ways around his rigid ankle, which he cannot bend to push himself forward on the pegs to keep weight over the front wheel under acceleration. Instead, he is having to use his arms to pull himself forward, placing much more stress on them than he is used to. With his ankle immobilized, he has been unable to train, and Stoner is uncertain of his race fitness.

The Australian hopes to be better tomorrow, once he has had a chance to rest and devise ways or riding around his ankle. But hopes of winning races are growing slim: Stoner compared his situation to Indianapolis, when he raced immediately after injuring his ankle. Though surprisingly fast in the first part of the race, as the laps ticked off, his arms began to tire from having to compensate for his unwilling ankle and he had to slow up his pace. The Motegi circuit doesn't help, the track consisting of a lot of straights with short and tight corners connecting them. The bike spends a lot of time under either hard braking or hard acceleration, and it is the acceleration which is causing Stoner problems. Sepang should be better, and Phillip Island better still, but coming back so early is tougher than Stoner thought.

The question is whether Dani Pedrosa will even need any help. The Spaniard ended the day under the race lap record and on top of the timesheets, though his advantage over Jorge Lorenzo was small. Pedrosa had little to say after practice, usually a sign that things are going well. He had tried both the harder and the softer of the two compounds, and was pleased with the grip of the new asphalt of the resurfaced track. Pedrosa is in the groove, hitting his stride in the second half of the season and is looking like the man to beat. If it hadn't been for the mishap in Misano, he would be looking very much like a potential champion, but the points he lost in Italy have left him with a hill to climb.

The man in second place is satisfied as well. Jorge Lorenzo understands that the Hondas have an advantage at Motegi, but, as he pointed out, "Our bike is very good as well." The factory Yamaha man got off to a good start, with a small tweak to the electronics giving him an extra boost of speed. Lorenzo was happy on both hard and soft tires, a little faster on the hard rear, but he believes the soft will be the tire for the race. The 2010 champion is confident: "I think we can fight for the victory here."

His teammate Ben Spies agrees that the hard will not be the race tire, as he spent the entire day testing that hypothesis. So much time, in fact, that he missed out on the opportunity to try the soft, ending up well down the order in 6th and eight tenths off the pace. The soft tire should be good for a few tenths, however, and on Saturday, the Texan should find himself much closer to the action.

While Spies is down in 6th, the other fast Yamaha is that of Andrea Dovizioso, who has once again excelled at a track where he always goes well. Dovizioso has the pace to match Pedrosa and Lorenzo, he told MotoGP.com, but not over the full distance of the race. The good news is that they have just two or three problems to fix, and if they can do that, the Italian believes he has a shot at mixing it up all race.

One of Dovizioso's problems is in braking, but he is not alone. Dovizioso, Spies and Valentino Rossi have all been complaining of overheating brakes, leaving them struggling, especially at the end of the long and fast back straight at Motegi. More weight and the higher speeds of the 1000s mean that brake temperatures are up on what had been expected, despite the high mass carbon disks they are using. It is not yet causing a safety issue, Dovizioso said, but it is clearly a concern. Brembo have some work to do for next year.

Leaving brake temperature aside, Rossi was happy with his first day's work. A modification at the end of the second session saw him gain the rear grip he has been missing and improve his acceleration. The improvement cut his deficit to the leaders to just six tenths of a second, a gap that gave the Italian confidence. But the added speed came at a cost, the old Ducati bugbear of tire wear raising its head and Rossi losing a lot of time once the rear tire starts to slide after a few laps. If Rossi and his crew can fix the sliding rear and make the soft tire last the distance, then he believes he could be in with a shot at the podium. The problem is that there is a big group of riders all in the same time bracket, and he will have his hands full trying to stay ahead of them. It will not be easy.

Rossi's teammate Nicky Hayden is having a much tougher time. His injured right hand is causing him problems with braking, the lack of strength a real issue at a circuit with so many hard braking areas. The new chassis is not helping as much as he had hoped either: Hayden has the new revision of the Ducati Desmosedici chassis which Rossi has been using since Misano, but he is not getting the braking feedback he was hoping for. Corner entry is a problem, and a solution is needed for the American.

The weather, at least, is playing along. Apart from the first session of Moto3 practice, when the track was still a little damp from the overnight rain, conditions have been just about ideal for motorcycle racing. It is looking likely that we could see an entirely dry weekend at Motegi, one of just a handful this year. The riders will be very happy indeed if it holds up.

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Comments

Spies said his brake temp got to 945c and the caliper was stuck on the whole way down the straight so brake temps have only not been an issue cause nobody has went down from it. Also I've never been the biggest Stoner fan off the track but if he isn't able to win any races the rest of the season I will consider myself lucky to have been at Laguna this year to witness in person the last win of his career.

I do not need to fight every conspiracy freak out there in every article anymore.

Thank you for this David.

And now ... I will be the one who will go on your nerves people.

I was reading how Dani is: taking advice .. copying... from Stoner style to go fast.

Well if that is the truth...then now is the time for Stoner to take advice from Dani ... "how to race and win when you are badly injured".

Because Dani has been doing this from the beginning of his MotoGP career. He was fighting things like that (well even worse) every year.

I did not want that to happen to Stoner. But it did.

Now you can see what kind of impact injuries have to a top rider.

Attack me any way you like .. and start hitting one star button. I do not care.

LP

:)

Good point re: Dani's injury-plagued career!

Re: stoner's ankle injury affecting him more than he thought .. i broke my clavicle recently in 3 places & had plate & 6 screws & its been 7 weeks & i'm still sore & half crippled, but i can work again: my point is, how the HELL do these guys race MotoGP with clavicle injuries with plates & screws after only a couple of weeks?!

Its a brutal disability affecting the upper back, biceps, anterior deltoid & pectoralis at a bare minimum, not to mention nerve damage to both structure & skin post surgery - weight-bearing is totally not doable.

My hat is off to Dani especially in this regard for his battles with clavicle injuries, and Colin Edwards too - cowboy up indeed!

Paul.

Thanks mate. I am glad to see that someone agrees with me.

And that LP on the bottom of my post is kind of my bad habit .

This is an abbreviation from my language. LP - Lep Pozdrav. In translation that means sort of: best regards.

I'm trying to avoid this when I'm writing on English sites (because I know you do not know what it means) . But sometimes... darn thing just appears there.

My mistake here.

Your conspiracy theory articles are tiresome. You use straw man arguments when it's your representation of alleged conspiracy theories that may subsequently be debunked; and when they are not addressed properly they're basically ad hominem attacks (e.g. those crazy conspiracy theorists and their tin foil hats). If the explanation is so simple and rational - such as an obvious quid pro quo arbitration - why do you waste a paragraph poorly explaining something that isn't correct or possibly doesn't even exist?

On the other hand politics is what happens when 3rd parties have a vested interest in outcomes between primary parties. Supposing the possibility or probability of political machinations does not have to be reduced to JFK, UFOs, and reptiles, and not everyone who supposes so is Alex Jones. It's poor reasoning and poor journalism.

"If the explanation is so simple and rational - such as an obvious quid pro quo arbitration - why do you waste a paragraph poorly explaining something that isn't correct or possibly doesn't even exist?"

Because I enjoy it, and as it's my site I can do what I like, perhaps?

"Because I enjoy it, and as it's my site I can do what I like, perhaps?"

I wasn't disputing what you can and can't do with your private property. You are also free to ignore polite and constructive criticism. I still believe these overreactions to alleged conspiracy theories let down what is otherwise an excellent site.

And I will continue to visit; and I will still be disappointed every time I read a nothing paragraph. You should employ an editor, perhaps?

It was meant as a light-hearted joke, a way of opening a coherent story. A gimmick. It was not a serious probe into the minds of MotoGP fans. That is all. It was not meant to be taken deadly seriously.

And I do appreciate positive criticism, and take it to heart. So thanks, but I respectfully disagree.

>>Your conspiracy theory articles are tiresome.......why do you waste a paragraph poorly explaining something......I will still be disappointed every time I read a nothing paragraph. You should employ an editor, perhaps?

You call that polite and constructive criticism?

Chris
moto2-usa.blogspot.com

Keep writing for yourself, I enjoy eavesdropping on your thoughts as much as anything.

What's polite of constructive about "tiresome", "strawman", "paragraph poorly explaining", and "poor reasoning and poor journalism"....

I think you, Mr Slave, are just plain rude and your comments vulgar.

A moment of reflection would've allowed you to appreciate the humour in the author's comments. Lighten up!

I think it is rather easy to pick those who are citizens of the USA from their posts on this site. Paranoia everywhere. The Aussies are also easy to pick - they enjoy a bit of satire. They have to. Look at their PM! Keep on truckin' David. Most of us enjoy your work.

Nice angle, David. Doesn't matter that even now Rea sounds confused. His views are recognisable, eventually understood and can feed thoughts. Overanalysing matters leads, I have found in my case, often to dead-end and/or misunderstanding, because I Do Not Have the Data, the Experience and certainly the Capacity to understand in depth Causes and Consequences --all the more so, at such distance from GP Paddock.
I feel though more confident of my opinion now. This kind of intrusive technology kills the spectacle if not the sport. Electronics should be banned. Pass them on to CRTs and to WSBK. Let the Stoners and Rossis fight it "au naturele".
Let Honda go for a few years. It will help their perspective also. Certainly the Sport will survive.