2012 Motegi Post-Race Round Up: A Dominant Honda, Unnecessary Fuel Limits, Going Last To First, And Moto3 Maturity

"I don't think it will be between only Dani and me," Jorge Lorenzo had said on Saturday night at Motegi. After qualifying, there was a sizable group of fast men, including Cal Crutchlow, Andrea Dovizioso and Ben Spies, who all looked quick enough to keep pace with Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo. It turns out he was wrong: once the lights went out, the contest was between the two main title contenders as it has been all season, especially once Casey Stoner dropped out of contention after the massive ankle injury he sustained at Indianapolis.

Qualifying had been deceptive: Jorge Lorenzo took a brilliant pole, and had looked his usual fast and smooth self. Pedrosa had had a bumpy ride - literally, chatter mysteriously appearing early on during QP and taking a long time to get under control, leaving Pedrosa to start from 2nd. The race was similarly deceptive: Lorenzo led, stalked by Pedrosa, and the hearts of race fans beat faster in anticipation of a repeat of Brno. That would not come to be. Once Pedrosa motored by Lorenzo, he was gone, managing the gap all the way to the end.

It was an impressive display and a fantastic achievement, given the Repsol Honda man still had chatter with his RC213V. But HRC are slowly getting a grip on that situation, and are opening the gap over Yamaha once again. Jorge Lorenzo was clear that Pedrosa's advantage lay in acceleration, something which the Yamaha has traditionally suffered with, though the problem has been less this year. "There was too much difference on the straight," Lorenzo said. "I could not recover everything in the corners."

The layout of Motegi certainly helped, playing to the strengths of the RC213V, but there is more to it than that. Dani Pedrosa is a changed man this year; calmer, more confident. Though short of stature, Pedrosa stands tall when he speaks to reporters now, a change that has more to do with his bearing and mental strength than with his physical size. That difference shows in the results as well: Pedrosa has now won four of the last five races, only missing out at Misano. His problems there were not of his own doing: the brake problems and subsequent start from the rear of the grid were a problem caused by the chaos on the grid, not Pedrosa's approach to it.

Pedrosa's problem is that although he is clearly superior at this point in the championship, his deficit to Lorenzo is too great for him close the gap on his own. After his win at Motegi, Pedrosa trails the Yamaha man by 28 points. Lorenzo can afford to finish 3rd in the final three races at Malaysia, Phillip Island and Valencia, and he will still clinch the title. But there is no one to help Pedrosa. "It's just a pity that there is no one else who can stay with us," Pedrosa said, "because every race I win, he's been 2nd."

Despite early hopes, that help will not come from Casey Stoner. Stoner's ankle is still immobilized, weak and painful, and preventing him to ride as he would like to. The recovery period for this kind of surgery was normally six to eight months, his doctors had told him. Stoner is racing again after six weeks. Because of these problems, Stoner can't run the lean angles he normally does, and he can't push himself forward over the front wheel with his feet as he does when he is fit. Instead, he's having to use his arms, and that is proving to be very tiring.

The only place where Stoner might be a factor is Phillip Island. Stoner's home Grand Prix is his very reason for coming back early from injury - if the Australian race had already taken place, there is a very good chance Stoner would simply have sat out the rest of the season, never to return. But Stoner is determined to win at the Island, though his objectives have been turned down a notch after Motegi. Yet the layout of the Phillip Island circuit will help Stoner: fast and flowing, it has few hard braking and acceleration points, and with so many left handers, he is unlikely to run into the limitations of his rigid ankle.

What can Jorge Lorenzo do to hold off the storming Pedrosa? All he needs to do is keep doing what he has been doing so far, finishing 2nd when Pedrosa wins. His ambition means he is hungry for more, however, and he, like Stoner, could get help from the remaining tracks. Sepang has always been a good track for Yamaha, and the flowing nature of Phillip Island, with its fast corners, also plays to the Yamaha's strengths. Lorenzo should be able to secure his second world championship by Phillip Island at the latest, despite the best efforts of Pedrosa.

The real risk for Lorenzo is if he loses another engine. The loss of a new engine at Assen in the collision with Bautista was a concern, but the factories now have the engine situation so far under control that the sixth engine is now almost a spare. That is one reason why the MSMA are pushing for the engine allocation to be cut from six to five for next season. But Yamaha are not quite prepared for that situation: Lorenzo's crew spent all weekend swapping engines in his bike, as they juggle the old engines to eke out the maximum mileage from them, keeping his final engine for future races. Lorenzo used four engines during the course of the weekend at Motegi: two old ones, #1 and #2 for free practice, and #4 and #5 for qualifying and the race. If Lorenzo loses a relatively fresh engine, he could struggle, though it gets less critical with each race. Pedrosa has no such concerns: though he used engines #5 and #6 at the weekend, they are both low mileage units.

While Lorenzo's year is running smoothly, the same cannot be said for Ben Spies. His year has been almost farcically plagued by mechanical issues, and there was another problem at Motegi. Spies ran straight on at Turn 1 at the start of the second lap, after his brakes overheated and failed to stop him. Brake fade and overheating have been a problem for many of the riders at Motegi: the end of the back straight is the only place you can see the carbon disks glow during the daytime, though it is a common enough sight under the floodlights at Qatar. For the issue to arise after just a single lap is extraordinary, however. Spies has had a string of unusual problems this season, so to have another one ceases to be surprising. Where those problems are coming from remains a complete mystery, however.

Less of a mystery was the premature end to Cal Crutchlow's race. While victory was decided quickly and soporifically, the battle for 3rd was fantastic. Alvaro Bautista caught Crutchlow with a few laps to go, after hanging back a little behind the Tech 3 man in order to save his brakes. With five laps left Bautista made his move, and the two men neither gave nor asked for any quarter. Crutchlow had had one attack fail in the penultimate lap, and was lining up a final attempt on the last lap when his bike cut out. He had run out of fuel.

Crutchlow put it down to having run a very fast pace from the beginning, and from having spent so much time alone and without the benefit of a slipstream - aerodynamics is such that both leading and trailing bikes benefit from a slipstream, the rear bike from having the front bike punch a hole in the air, the front bike from having the rear bike reduce the amount of drag caused by turbulence behind the bike. Despite the extremely advanced electronics on the MotoGP bikes, which are continuously calculating fuel load and fuel usage, and adjusting the engine characteristics accordingly, there is still sufficient control left in the hands of the rider to catch the electronics out. Spending some twelve laps riding smoothly and alone, the ECU gave Crutchlow a little more fuel to use to keep up his pace. However, once battle commenced with Bautista, Crutchlow's riding style and throttle use changed sufficiently to throw the fuel calculations out of whack.

Instead of circulating smoothly, Crutchlow was braking harder, sacrificing corner speed at some points to make a pass, then having to make that up by accelerating harder. That uses more fuel; precisely the fuel that the ECU had set aside for the final third of a lap. Crutchlow parked his bike at the side of the track, and was forced to hitch a ride back to the pits on the back of Jorge Lorenzo's M1. "At least I got a ride on the factory Yamaha," Crutchlow joked afterwards.

Motegi is one of the toughest tracks for fuel, with a lot of heavy braking followed by hard acceleration, and including a 300 km/h back straight, which guzzles fuel pushing the bikes through the air at that speed. Raising the capacity from 800cc to 1000cc exacerbated the problems of fuel scarcity. There are a lot of reasons to get rid of the fuel limit, most of which revolve around the explosive effect they have on cost. Making it to the end of the race with just 21 liters of fuel while still going fast enough to win requires a lot of sophisticated electronics, and a lot of expensive ingenuity to invent, design and implement that sophistication.

Those electronics ensure that the engine is running as lean as possible as often as possible, and an engine running lean means an engine running hot. A hot engine requires yet more sophistication - and a healthy portion of unobtainium - to keep it running cool enough not to seize before the end of the race. Two more factors which add to the expense, meaning that costs continue to spiral out of control.

But those factors are precisely the reasons the factories love the fuel limits. Having engines running lean all the time means that a lot of work goes into the electronics to help make the throttle response as smooth and predictable as possible, despite having so little fuel to play with. And lean- and hot-running engines mean that the manufacturers learn a lot about materials and how they wear, and about reducing friction.

That is all very well, but the fuel limits have chased factories out of the sport due to the exponentially increasing cost of competing, and chased fans out of the sport by producing mind-numbingly boring racing. Whenever races have had to be cut back by a lap - such as happened at Sepang in 2010 due to the heat - the racing improves immediately. Giving the bikes more fuel would make the fans much, much happier than they have been recently.

The factories counter with the safety argument: more fuel means that the bikes go faster, which can cause a real problem at high-speed tracks. But that problem will be solved in 2014, when a rev limit is due to be introduced. With revs limiting top speed, there is no justification for the fuel limit any longer, other than the factories' desire to use the race track as a laboratory.

If Dorna get their way and introduce a spec ECU, then the chances are good that the fuel limit will also be raised. Dorna are currently considering allowing all the bikes 24 liters of fuel, to compensate for the loss of sophisticated electronics algorithms. That will allow the teams and the factories to concentrate on optimizing the air/fuel ratio and throttle response, rather than finding places to save fuel. Mind you, even 24 liters of fuel might not be enough: Danilo Petrucci did not make it to the line, either, on the Suter CRT machine, despite having 3 more liters than Crutchlow at his disposal. The BMW has had the most problems with electronics, and Petrucci's problems at Motegi are just another facet of that.

If the MotoGP race was devoid of spectacle, that was once again more than made up for in Moto2 and Moto3. In Moto2, Marc Marquez once again demonstrated why he is being drafted into the Repsol Honda team to replace Casey Stoner in 2013. His display of genius started with a flash of stupidity, however: as the red starting lights came on, Marquez put his bike into gear. He felt something strange, he said, but did not double check the bike was in gear. That proved to be a costly mistake: when he released the clutch, the bike turned out to be in neutral, and he lost a vital couple of seconds before he could get off the line.

He was lucky not to have been struck from behind. Stalling on the grid is a recipe for disaster, especially with 32 bikes behind you all trying to dodge each other. Miraculously, everyone missed Marquez and he got off the line safely among the backmarkers.

Then the second miracle occurred. Marquez did not quite go from last to first - there were three or four riders behind him as he started braking for the first corner - but 23 laps later, it was Marquez who crossed the line in first. It was an incredible display, reminiscent of the race at Estoril during his last year in the 125cc class when he crashed on the sighting lap, came back into the pits to have the bike repaired, started from the back of the grid and went on to win.

Marquez' victory at Motegi was done in a similar fashion. Though he was around 28th position when he sat up to brake for the first turn, by the time he had exited Turn 2, the second of the two right handers, he had already passed ten riders, on braking ability and corner speed. He then took another couple on the run into Turn 3, and by the time he entered Turn 5, he was up to 10th. Was it down to an illegal amount of extra power on the Repsol-backed Catalunya Caixa rider's bike? Watching the replay, where Marquez is passing riders is on the brakes, braking later and harder, and threading his Suter where others are not expecting him. That is not extra horsepower; that is a willingness to take risks, the talent to ensure that you can do what you are attempting, and the confidence in your own ability to focus on what you are doing without worrying about others around you. It had been a real gamble, Marquez acknowledged. "I was at the limit, and I took a lot of risks." It paid off.

Anyone still doubting Marquez' talent, and claiming that his performance is down to the bike and preferential treatment from Suter need only look at Toni Elias. After a dismal first half of the season with Aspar on the Suter, Elias left that team early, in his pursuit of a Kalex to ride. After Aragon, he finally found one, deposing - rather undeservedly - Claudio Corti from Italtrans and taking his ride. Where Elias was lucky to creep into the top 10 on the Suter, on the Kalex he was immediately fast, spending most of the race battling for 5th, before crashing out. Elias has had just a single test on the Kalex; this was his first attempt.

While every other Suter rider struggles, Thomas Luthi being the best of the rest, Marquez challenges for victory every race, fighting off the Kalex that has become the must-have machine for a competitive Moto2 rider. Marquez is winning despite of, not because of, his bike.

If the Moto2 race was impressive, the Moto3 race was positively thrilling. The last lap was packed with drama, with the championship nearly settled as riders collided and crashed out. The drama began at the start of the final lap, when Luis Salom attempted a ridiculously optimistic pass from 4th, to try to take the lead of the group containing Alessandro Tonucci, Sandro Cortese, Danny Kent, and Maverick Viñales, led by Jonas Folger. It was a move that was destined for failure, Salom losing the front and wiping out Jonas Folger in the attempt. That left Cortese leading, with Kent and Tonucci chasing, and Viñales tagging along but unable to attack.

If the race had finished in that order, Cortese would have been champion, but Kent was out for his first Grand Prix win, and outbraked Cortese into the right hander at the end of the long back straight. Kent was through cleanly, but Tonucci, who followed Kent through, forced Cortese wide. Cortese panicked, tried to cut back inside Tonucci, but ended up slamming into him on the exit. The German fell, but kept his bike running, and went on to finish the race in 6th.

He was seething, raging against cruel fate in what was almost a caricature of the sore loser. When he spoke to the official MotoGP.com website afterwards, his anger still had the better of him, claiming that Kent and Tonucci's pass had been 'crazy' and hinting darkly at icy relations in the Red Bull KTM garage from then on. Later, presumably after a good talking to, and after having watched the footage, he apologized publicly on Twitter. "I'm really sorry about my behaviour today," Cortese wrote, "I just overreacted. I saw I could win the title already and was just disappointed about what happened!"

Though his anger was dismissed by fans as a childish and petulant display, that misses the awareness that Cortese had during that last lap. He clearly had an understanding of who had to finish where for him to be crowned champion at Motegi - Salom had to not score any points, and Viñales had to miss out on the podium - and an ability and willingness to act on that information. This, remember, is in the middle of a chaotic last-lap battle in Moto3, the class that makes Viking beserkers look like reasonable and measured people. Cortese knew not just that Salom was out of the equation - that was easy, he had seen Salom fall in front of him - but he also had to be aware that Viñales was back in fourth and unable to challenge for a podium.

That calculation had Cortese seeing visions of wrapping up his first title at the first possible occasion, and it was those visions that caused him to overreact. If he had kept his cool, Cortese would at worst have finished 3rd ahead of Viñales, extending his lead to 69 points, instead of the 56 points it is now. Cortese showed a lot of maturity on the final lap. But not quite enough, and he ran out completely once the race was over. Understandable, forgivable, but a very useful lesson.

He should take the title in Sepang, however. A 2nd place finish will wrap it up whatever Viñales does, and with the KTM in such outstanding shape, that should be an achievable target. This time, Cortese need not be so greedy.

Total votes: 162
Total votes: 62

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Comments

It's obvious when Cal ran out of go juice or motion lotion as so eloquently stated by Toby and Julian during yesterday's commentary. But, at what point of the race would Cal's M1 have determined the fuel was soon to expire and cut overall performance? Would his fight with Bati have been so spectacular if the engine wasn't already conserving fuel? Was he already doing battle at a disadvantage for the final several laps before it shut down completely?

Total votes: 160

I saw a red light reflecting in Cal's visor about 3 laps earlier, I even remarked on it to Mrs Swiftnick.

Could this have been the portentious light of 'fuel warning'?

Total votes: 165

If you ask me, electronic development and fuel savings is load of c***. Track is not really good ground to test real life scenarios.

Fuel cap is just Honda way to dominate. They have the "know how".

So just remove fuel limit. If some teams would like to have 50 liters of fuel.. why not?

Reduce minimal weight to 160 kg and let them have their fuel. It is their decision.

Real problem for motoGP is not cost. Forget limitations.

Has anybody looked the lap times of top riders?

Few years back when we saw so many great fights... top riders have been making race laps far more then second over their top qualification lap times.

But now: Dani and Jorge are lapping so close to qualification times all the time on the same tire. The whole race! 100% all the time!

That is crazy!

You guys are disappointed.. but reality is that top racer are so close to their limit now ... there is no way to go "brave". There is no room to make "a move" like few years back. MotoGP bikes do not forgive like Moto2 bikes.

Hats off to Dani, Jorge and Casey. This is really way over the limit.

And I have huge respect to all of them. I do enjoy MotoGP. No mater how boring it is to some people. I understand that they are racing on the "edge" of what is humanly possible.

If that is boring to you...

Total votes: 176

While I agree with you in part, you should consider that back in the days special qualifiers were often used, which were probably also a factor in the difference between qualification and race lap times.
And I do think that the machinery the rider is on makes a lot of difference. Take for example Tony Elias. As David has often pointed out, his victory in Estoril was due to him using special Michelins that he got from Pedrosa after he decided he didn't like them.
What would Tony have been able to do if he had always had access to the equipment that worked best for him? What could for example Cal and Alvaro Bautista do on factory equipment (not counting the Suzuki here)?
So I think there are realistically only 4 bikes on the grid that can fight for wins. At the moment only 2 riders are able to consistently fight for wins - and those two very rarely make mistakes, that much is certainly true.
But if there were more bikes capable of winning, the racing would surely be much better, even if the riders are riding near absolute perfection.

Total votes: 161

I am talking 2009 onwards. There was no qualifier tires in 2009. Compare 2009/2010 with 2012... quali times vs race times.

About factory equipment. I do agree with you to a certain point.

Dovi has top factory equipment when he was at HRC. Compare that with Monster 3. You will get the point. First year in MotoGP on HRC Honda Dani Pedrosa achieved: 2x 1st place, 2x 2nd place, 4x 3rd place. But because of repeated injury he never got higher. To compare Cal with top level racers is not really fair. Cal is not able to overtake Dovi at this time. And Dovi is not even close to level of Dani / Lorenzo / Stoner /Rossi.

Cal might have huge potential. But to compare what he would do if he would have Factory material is ... pointless. I have huge hope for Cal. But he will have to prove what is capable of. Monster Yamaha is very, very close to factory bike. You have to be one crazy rider to get additional performance from factory bike. And there is not many of them.

Total votes: 156

I've always assumed that the computer is constantly calculating whether or not the rider is using too much gas, and is programmed to intervene well in advance of any developing crisis. The only way a rider would fail to finish is when the fuel metering is insufficiently accurate, the computer is given an erroneous tank capacity (or the tank doesn't get topped off properly), or the program has an outright bug. Can the rider really override this and run himself dry?

Total votes: 140

Computer does what you tell it to do, not what you want it to do.

As explained in the article, the fuel management system calculated a rate of usage based on how Crutchlow rode the bike for 4/5ths of the race, when he was riding in clean air and basically doing the same thing every lap.

When he got into the battle with Bautista, he started accelerating harder, holding the throttle open longer etc. and the computer just had to admit it got it wrong... it can only lean the engine out so much, so it did that, but it still wasn't enough, and the tank ran dry.

Total votes: 170

"it can only lean the engine out so much"

I thought the same, but the throttle bodies are all ride-by-wire right? So the electronics should be able to just change the ratio of throttle plate opening to grip twist to reduce the airflow and maintain fuel ratio as it reduces the fuel provided. They should be able to adjust power output pretty much as desired at any point.

Total votes: 135

And if nothing else, a touch of traction control cutout on the main straight wouldn't be too dangerous. In the past, we've seen lap times plummet during the final stages of a race, despite the rider's earnest wishes to go faster. It seems very likely that the computer will simply not allow the rider to run up a dangerously high fuel debt.

Total votes: 158

As engine temp increases you must go less lean in order to not seize the engine. I bet the computer is programmed to save the engine no matter what.

Total votes: 152

I have feeling that you think ECU can only control fuel injection. Not true. Computer controls throttle bodies and injection. No need to go to lean. ECU can limit amount of air through throttle bodies and fuel through injection. Less air and less fuel.... lower power.

So why would go to lean?

Total votes: 168

The trouble with that notion is that there is no evidence the computer was cutting back during the prior laps. Cal was going full-chat and was keeping up with Alvaro right 'till the end. Remember a few years ago at Laguna, when Pedrosa was nearly caught by Rossi on the last lap? THAT is an example of the computer kicking in to make sure the rider makes it to the line. The ECU can slow a rider by _many_ seconds per lap if it feels the need.
I think the computer was just as surprised as Cal when the bike chugged to a halt.

My pet theory is that the T3 fuel dude was sick that day, and Yamaha loaned the team someone from Ben's garage. ;)

Total votes: 153

Any of your guesses could be right, but they probably just miscalculated the fuel consumption given how close he was (last lap).

Cal also ran out of fuel on the cool down lap in Brno after he took he podium.

It's a fine line... it's hard to imagine the complexity of the algorithms that go into the electronics... deliver the maximum amount of power, with the greatest rideability, while handling traction control on corner exit which will change as the tires wear, handling on corner entry... all while taking into account fuel consumed at each point throughout the race, building a running average to recalculate projected fuel consumption, how much to dial down the power but not changing response too much as to affect how the bike handles during acceleration or braking.

I bet this is just barely scratching the surface... it's exceedingly complex, and therefore, exceedingly expensive to manage.

It's not hard to see why there's a mounting consensus among fans that electronics has gotten out of hand.

Either that or chuck the fuel limit.

Total votes: 149

"Fuel cap is just Honda way to dominate. They have the "know how""
¿Then how rossi dominated with the m1 with the fuel limitations very years ago?. Crutchlow fuel out was cuz he didn't manage his fuel comsuption, or team error.

"teams would like to have 50 liters of fuel.. why not?"
There's fuel for more years but their cost is increasing, without fuel restrictions the teams will be forced to spend more, is better to the teams to manage better the fuel, it's like tyre management, trying to the bike being efficient at low fuel comsuption is better than wasting it.

"Real problem for motoGP is not cost. Forget limitations."
In reality are cost, how why Aspar team decide to drop use the desmocedici because the exorbitant price for the lease of the bike, and also the Yamaha and Honda bikes aren't cheaper either, the M1 and RCV are more expensive.

Good than you like how motoGP is running now, i'll don't sorry, but we should remember than the manufacturers in common agreement with dorna sign on the rules than has started the crysis than the leader class are in. Sound like a scratched disk but MSMA ins't only Honda. hey there's Yamaha, Ducati, Kawasaki when was in, Suzuki when was in and that two manufacturers leave. not for money, in part than the development level of their flagship bikes for Mgp was not so high like the first three builders and why because unstable rules, dorna is tryint to equalize in the wrong way with crt's in my opinion.

¿Why dorna don't enforce the manufacturers for a more accesible price for their prototypes rather than trying to enforce to make CRT's? disgusting to see only the prototypes making the show and the CRT's are just grid fillers only.

Time will tell what's Dorna is thinking or will do with the leader class.

Total votes: 162

"There's fuel for more years but their cost is increasing, without fuel restrictions the teams will be forced to spend more"

10 + (big +) million of dollars per year in development. And you are talking about increasing cost of extra 5 to 10 liters of fuel per race?

You are joking. Right?

"Then how rossi dominated with the m1 with the fuel limitations very years ago?."

Check lap times. Compare qualification times with race times today... then go to 2009 (spec tire from 2009).. and do the same. Race pace is going up, bigger engines, more fuel. This don`t hurt factory Yamaha. Only Monster Yamaha (smaller budget). So Factory Yamaha is as good today as it was in years when... as you say "Rossi dominated with the m1 ".

With fuel limitation, non factory teams have higher cost (electronics) and we have less fun. (Cal/Bautista fight).

Factory Yamaha is as good as it was in "old" days. It is leading.

So what is your point?

Total votes: 159

Then why in some countries than handles fuel the cost for extract, processing and making fuel is increasing and in result countries increase taxes for it, in part the economic crysis in another the more difficult job to getting it. Italy and spain are increasing taxes for fuel and hits motorcycles and cars owners.

don't saw the fuel aspect in the short term, look for it in the long term, fuel will be a factor sometime more soon or later, just increase the limit alot more more, but dont take it out. also take in count than electric superbikes are knocking more louder the door would be a good alternative.

About Yamaha satellite you're right, that team as gresini handle less money, that's why dorna should make rules to enforce the manufacturers balancing and the satellites teams have full factory equipment in a affordable price, not in an exhorbitant one, in result the series will have more fun, more title contenders and more awesome races rather than watching a parede of high technological bikes.

Total votes: 158

Yes the cost of fuel is increasing but it is insignificant in comparison to the cost of bikes, suspension, brake discs, tyres, rider salary, mechanics salary, etc.

Even in the UK, where fuel prices are very high, a liter of premium unleaded costs £1.46 on average so a 21 liter tank costs approx £31 or €38. I have no idea how much fuel is used by each rider in a race weekend but a generous estimate would be 10 tanks worth costing €380. Over 18 races that will cost you €6,840. Compare that to the approx €3 million to lease a MotoGP bike or the rumoured over €50 million that Honda spent to develop their latest bike and you see that fuel basically costs nothing to these guys.

It will take decades before the fuel price begins to bother them.

(I realise they don't use standard forecourt petrol but in the absence of known figures for how much Eni charges these figures will do to illustrate the point.)

Total votes: 174

Sepang may be more attractive to Yamaha than Motegi is, but Stoner and Pedrosa were poised to run away with it last year, before the unthinkable happened.  Pedrosa will win it this year.

Phillip Island will be a true conundrum for both Pedrosa and Lorenzo.  Lorenzo's team will be holding up his hand with the severed finger and reminding him, "You do not need to win.  You must only finish!"

Pedrosa will struggle to find a setup that will allow him safe passage to the finish on the bumpy circuit.  If Stoner is, indeed, capable of taking the win, Pedrosa will be forelorn that he cannot keep pace.  But, if he can, Lorenzo will be jealous to pursue and not cede any more points than he has to, while Dovizioso and Crutchlow push each other toward the Podium.

If it rains, you can forget all of that...  Stoner's fitness will not be an issue, but Rossi will.

Total votes: 154

I watched the race with a friend who does not follow MotoGP. In an effort to get him interested I was explaining to him what goes on during a race weekend starting from FP1 on wards and tried to awe him with the specifications(engine capacity, power, top speed etc) that the premier bikes have, that these are prototypes, tyres and how they keep them warm when the bikes are not moving, engine starters etc. I was talking about the huge amount of money involved, rider salary, sponsors etc when he asked me what if, after all that, the bikes run out of fuel before the race is finished? So I started with the electronics and how it is next to impossible that these bikes will run out of fuel. I thought I convinced him when he was watching the 3rd place battle with concentration but now I can still hear him laughing when Cal ran dry..

Total votes: 179

Cal showed us what he is capable of and that was good. Far better then us wondering why he was dropping back..... The fact that a regular guy (as mentioned above) cannot understand the notion of failing to finish due to a lack of fuel or the hidden magnificence of the technology should tell us that Dorna are right and the era of the MSMA rules must end. Otherwise this sport will never be popular enough to pay riders a decent career salary.Its not sustainable.

This just confirms my view that all this high-level R&D issue is, frankly, rubbish created by the MSMA as an attempt to control MGP.
Fuel use/cost? - think about the transport of the teams and fans to the races and watching it on TV etc - the energy involved is huge!!!
You could give each team a gas station and not come close to what the rest of the 'show' uses for each race.
Football/other nationally big sports will still probably use more over a season. Tell them (the MSMA) to only use 'renewable' fuels such as biofuels if they want R&D and fuel limits - electric bikes at this level are many years away, much as they would be great to see. Let racers race using regular fuel without artificial constraints that only help the factories, as David has said.The car world is doing plenty of R&D on fuel management, let them get on with it.
Motos 2&3 show that a degree of equal equipment helps provide good racing. If the factories don't like that, let them go (and, please, send Bridgestone with them).
A standard ECU and electronics/rev limits will rein-in the big budget teams and slow the show enough to give the better riders a chance to shine. Let the rider determine corner by corner. Do away with carbon brakes to lengthen the braking zone and create more overtaking opportunities. MGP needs to be non-homologated kit - it doesn't need to be one-of-a-kind stuff that only big corporations can afford play with.The race teams (not factories) must struggle with sponsors who want to reach Joe Public and cannot understand why they must treat finishing 10th to 20th with no chance of a podium as successful. I don't. "I'm a top brand - I don't 'do' losing to the competition as a plan" must be a common thought.
Dorna controlling the show seems a lot better chance than the mess the MSMA have got themselves into (largely thanks to Honda it seems).Better to try.....

Total votes: 134

"Pedrosa's problem is that although he is clearly superior at this point in the championship" ...really??? c'mon, you are a fool if you think Lorenzo wouldn't be trying harder if the championship wasn't his to lose!

Total votes: 148

Regardless of the reasons Pedrosa is superior at this point in the championship so Davids point stands.

Total votes: 146

Lorenzo was trying hard at Brno. Did not help him. No matter the chatter ... at this moment Dani Pedrosa is top of the chain. Even Stoner knows that another win this year will be hard. Dani is fast and stable. He is dangerous. If not this year then the next. He has become different animal this year. He really is strong.

Total votes: 145

"Though his anger was dismissed by fans as a childish and petulant display, that misses the awareness that Cortese had during that last lap"

- No, it doesn't. Cortese, along with everyone watching the race was very well informed about points and what a win would mean on that day and that last lap. Cortese's twitter apology to his fans ? Obviously good and needed PR, but he should have apologised to his team mate Danny Kent, who rode a fantastic race cleanly, with a superb and brave lunge under brakes, only to be screamed and gesticulated at on the warm down lap by a rider who thinks that Danny should have handed the championship to him that day ? What kind of rider wants to win like that ? Not a rider I'm interested in.

Casey Stoner tweeted that only a few team members went to the podium to help Danny celebrate for fear of getting offside with the golden baby. Stoner also tweeted that the rest of the team should be ashamed of themselves, and I couldn't agree more.

Total votes: 194

To find myself agreeing with Casey about a riders' petulance; it was a disgrace. Still he's only a kid and hopefully this will help him grow up. He looked a right 'berk' on the TV.

Total votes: 132

Cortese showed himself as the petulant brat that he is. Danny Kent thoroughly deserved his win and it was suitable payback for Cotese's dangerous riding at Assen where he forced Danny off the track to show him who was boss!

Total votes: 154

Like Moto 2 as ever,I watched the race. Cortese did compose himself eventually.
His greatest composition however was the way he survived the crash,pulled the bike back up,kept it running and got 6th. Remarkable sense of what's here and now. Had anyone bet against Maverick being world champ 2012 moto 3,I would have called him a fool. Not now. Cortese came into this as underdog and has impressed me big time. Emotional spats allowed. For now.

Total votes: 146

If anything, I'm a bigger Danny Kent fan after that race. Shame on Sandro. What really irked me was the way he was going on and on and on in the garage, and as soon as he turned and saw the camera, both thumbs went up and he tried his best to smile. To me, that gesture proved that even he knew how wrong he was.
And, do we know what happened to Iannone during the Moto2 race? He just circulated around in 16th-19th and never mounted a charge. I haven't heard or read an update about what the problem could have been.

Total votes: 152