2012 Sepang MotoGP Sunday Round Up: Championships, Red Flags, Rulebooks, And Riders On A Roll

The Grand Prix Circus came to Sepang with three titles in the balance. Only one of them got wrapped up on Sunday, though, tropical rainstorms throwing a spanner into the works of the other two, but generating some fascinating racing. The fans had one fantastic dry race, one fantastic wet race, and a processional MotoGP race that looked much the same as it would have had it been dry. There was a packed house - over 77,000 people crowded into the circuit, a highly respectable number for a flyaway round - cheering on local heroes, there was confusion over the rules, and there were a lot of new faces on the podium. There was also a much better balance of nationalities on the podium: where in previous races, the Spanish national anthem has been played three times on a Sunday, at Sepang, it was only heard once. Most of all, though, the Moto2 and MotoGP races ran in the wet would be determined by the timing of the red flags, with Race Direction's decisions on safety also having an outcome on the results of the races, and in the case of MotoGP, possibly implications for the championship.

After Maverick Viñales' shock decision to quit his team, it got a lot easier for Sandro Cortese to wrap up the Moto3 title at Sepang, needing only to keep a watchful eye on Luis Salom during the race and not finish behind him. Salom had made Cortese's task even easier a week previously, by launching an ill-considered dive up the inside of Jonas Folger at the start of the last lap at Motegi, incurring a penalty which dropped him five grid positions at the start. Cortese started from the front row, while Salom had his work cut out, starting from way back in 10th. Cortese could more or less cruise home at Sepang and secure the title.

But that's not the way that riders want to win championships. To win a championship in style, you should win the race which gives you the title, and that is exactly what Cortese set about doing. Riding calmly and conservatively for the most of the race, happy to let Jonas Folger and, to the rapturous applause of the fans, Malaysian rider Zulfahmi Khairuddin battle it out for the win. For a long while, it looked like Khairuddin would make history as the first ever Malaysian to win a Grand Prix, but at the end, Cortese could hold himself back no longer. The German dived up the inside of the Malaysian at the penultimate corner, and though Khairuddin tried to come back going into the last turn, it would be to no avail: Cortese clinched the championship in worthy manner, with a calculated, conservative win. The German had taken risks when he needed to, and stayed calm when he didn't, and rode both a brilliant race and a fantastic championship. Khairuddin took 2nd, making history anyway as the best result ever by a Malaysian rider, while Folger took 3rd.

Careful observers noticed something special about the Moto3 podium at Sepang: for the first time this season, there was not a single Spanish rider on the podium. In fact, Spain was without a representative on the podium in the smallest GP class for the first time since 2008. You have to go back four years and two days, to this same race, to get a podium in either 125cc or Moto3 without a single Spaniard on it. That 125cc race at Sepang in 2008 was won by the Hungarian rider Gabor Talmacsi, with Britain's Bradley Smith in 2nd and the Italian Simone Corsi taking 3rd. Spanish success in Grand Prix racing is well-deserved, but it is a healthy development to see a wider range of nationalities taking the honors.

The same was true of the Moto2 podium, though you don't have to go back so far to find the previous instance of a podium without a Spanish rider. In fact, only to the previous race in a downpour, the soaking wet race at Le Mans. But while the names on the podium were no real surprise at Le Mans - Tom Luthi, Scott Redding and Claudio Corti have proven their worth in Moto2 this year - the faces were much less familiar at Sepang. Alex De Angelis has won races before, though it has been some time now, but Ant West and Gino Rea have spent all year struggling, West with a Moriwaki chassis, though the team recently switched to a Speed Up, and Rea with Showa suspension, the Gresini team another to abandon the Moriwaki, this time in favor of the Suter.

Rea and West are proven racers, both men with wins to their name. West is a master of the wet - his World Supersport victory at a torrential Silverstone remains one of the most impressive wet-weather wins on record - and freed of the limitations of requiring a perfect set up, West once again shone. Rea, too, was impressive, and was unlucky not to get the win: Rea took the lead in the final corner on lap 16, and crossed the line to start lap 17 in the lead. He led for two thirds of a lap, but the red flag came out too early, before the rest of the field had crossed the line to finish lap 16. The rules say that when a race is red-flagged, the result of the last lap where all of the riders who haven't been lapped have crossed the line will stand. If Race Direction had waited another 30 seconds, Rea would have have won his first Grand Prix. They didn't, and so the young Brit was demoted to 3rd, victory going to De Angelis and Ant West taking 2nd.

The biggest cheer of the race, though, went up for Malaysian wildcard Hafizh Syahrin. The 18-year-old, who rides in the Spanish CEV championship, had even led the race for a while - the second Malaysian to do so that day - but had lost touch with leaders once the rain started to fall more heavily. He still crossed the line in 4th, his team celebrating the result like a victory, and rightly so. Syahrin had come from a long way back to score his result: the Malaysian had started from 27th on the grid, coming through to bag 4th. The same was true of the podium, too. De Angelis had made up fewest positions, starting from 9th to take the win. West had done better, moving up 17 places, starting from 19th to finish 2nd. Rea, meanwhile, had been 22nd on the grid, and had crossed the line in 3rd on what would count as the final lap. The podium men had improved their positions by a total of 44 places, which a better statistician than I would likely confirm as some kind of record.

Unlike Moto3, the Moto2 championship would not be settled at Sepang, though Marc Marquez looked on course to wrap it up after the first few laps of the race. After a strong start in the wet, Pol Espargaro started going backwards, later explaining that as brilliant a bike as the Kalex was in the dry, they were still struggling in the wet. Once he was passed by Marc Marquez, the Catalunya Caixa rider had the title in the bag. All Marquez had to so was to stay on the bike and bring it home. That would turn out to be too much to ask, however, Marquez locking the front and crashing out 3 laps before the race was red-flagged. Espargaro crossed the line in 11th, doing just enough to keep his title hopes alive, but still 48 points behind Marquez, he must win the last two races and hope that Marquez does not finish at either Phillip Island or Valencia.

The outcome of the MotoGP race would also be determined by the red flags, and the decision would prove to be controversial among a section of the fans. The race turned into a repeat of the previous two races: Jorge Lorenzo led away from the line, Dani Pedrosa the only man capable of following. Pedrosa bided his time until the halfway mark, then pounced once the rain started to fall more heavily. The pass had been a conscious decision, taken once Pedrosa realized the race could be red-flagged because of the weather. Once he was past, Pedrosa was gone, leaving Lorenzo for dead as the Yamaha man's choice of tires came back to bite him. Lorenzo had selected the softer of the two compounds of wet tires, and had chewed up the middle of his tire at the start of the race, when the track was much drier. Pedrosa, on the harder of the two compounds, still had some tire left. He made good use of it once Past Lorenzo, pulling big gap very quickly.

Lorenzo's choice of tires almost cost him more than just the lead. Casey Stoner started reeling Lorenzo in once the Yamaha man's pace dropped, and looked to be just a few corners away from being passed by the Australian when the red flags finally came out. Such was the amount by which Lorenzo's pace was dropping off that even a 3rd place could have been in danger from a charging Nicky Hayden, though the gap between Lorenzo and the Ducati man was still significant. The red flag on lap 14 meant that Lorenzo lost only 5 points to Pedrosa, retaining a comfortable 23-point lead in the championship. If the race had been allowed to continue, and both Stoner and Hayden had got past, then his advantage could have been slashed to 16 points.

Much has been made in some quarters of Race Direction deciding to red-flag the race shortly after Jorge Lorenzo started raising his hand to indicate to the marshals and Race Direction that he thought conditions were too dangerous to continue. Many see the signal as an attempt to influence Race Direction once he realized he was in danger of losing a lot more points to Pedrosa if Stoner were to get past, and the decision by Race Direction as a sign that they were caving in to pressure.

That idea simply does not hold water. Conditions were clearly poor, and getting worse all the time. The riders, almost to a man, agreed that the timing had been absolutely right. Even the dissidents believed that the race could not have gone on much longer. Dani Pedrosa, the man with the most to gain from the race continuing, told the press conference that he could not open the throttle more than half along the front straight, and that the race could have gone on for a maximum of one more lap. The biggest optimist of the field, Casey Stoner, believed they might have been able to manage two more laps, but that too would have been pushing the limits. Stopping the race at that point had been understandable - Stoner said he had had 'quite a lot' of aquaplaning the last time that they crossed the line - but calling it earlier would not have been correct.

Even if the race had been stopped prematurely, it would have made little difference to the outcome. Stoner would clearly have gotten past Lorenzo either on lap 14 or lap 15, but the race would have had to go on for the best part of another complete lap before everyone still on the track crossed the line to make the result count. Given that the rain was getting worse, the race would not have gone on for much longer than the point at which Race Direction decided to bring out the red flags. By the time the bikes arrived back in pit lane, standing water was starting to form, and ten minutes or so later, conditions became positively diluvial. Worse still, the sky darkened a lot, visibility falling so that Turn 1 disappeared into the rain and mist.

The decision to red flag the race sent teams and journalists scurrying for their rulebooks. Unlike Moto2 and Moto3, where the race can be called completed once two-thirds distance has been reached, MotoGP has to restart the race and complete the full distance, with a minimum of 5 laps. So the riders and the bikes sat in their garages, waiting to see if conditions would improve sufficiently for the race to be restarted. Meanwhile, the staff charged with team logistics were starting to look nervous, as a sizable chunk of the paddock were booked on flights to Australia for that evening. Conditions only got worse, and Race Direction had no choice but to call the race off. Once again teams reached for their rulebooks, to check whether full points or half points would be awarded. The rule is clear, if a worded rather intricately: the phrase used is two-thirds distance rounded down to the nearest lap. The riders had completed 13 of the 20 laps, which fits the criteria precisely, but it does not make for simple mental arithmetic.

Jorge Lorenzo was overjoyed that the race had been red-flagged, not so much because he feared that Casey Stoner might come past, but more because he feared falling and giving up many more points to Dani Pedrosa. Lorenzo had a massive moment on the way into the final corner at the end of lap 13. That could have been a very costly mistake indeed, and would have shaken up the championship completely.

It would also have injected some much-needed excitement into a class that badly needs it. Even despite the rain, the racing in MotoGP was processional, and with Jorge Lorenzo managing his lead in the championship conservatively, there is not much excitement in the title chase either.

The only question now is how well Jorge Lorenzo can stand up to the pressure. Dani Pedrosa is riding better than he ever has, and has already beaten his previous record for the number of wins in a season. Sepang was a record-breaking event in many ways for Pedrosa: with victory in Malaysia, Pedrosa wrapped up his first streak of three back-to-back wins. His win in the rain was his first ever victory in the wet, not just in MotoGP but in any Grand Prix class ever. He had always been afraid of the wet, Pedrosa explained afterwards, and it had taken years of training to remove that fear. Exactly what that training was, Pedrosa refused to reveal. "It's better I don't tell you, because it's very strange. But it worked." Pedrosa said.

Most worrying for Lorenzo is that Pedrosa now seems capable of winning at will. Though the Yamaha is a fantastic machine, with impeccable handling, plenty of power and virtually no chatter, Lorenzo is still being beaten every race by Pedrosa, on a bike which Pedrosa, Stoner and Stefan Bradl all agree has appalling chatter. That chatter is caused by the new generation of Bridgestone tires, and a cure has so far eluded HRC. But if Pedrosa is beating Lorenzo so easily with a bike that has such awful chatter - so bad it even occurs in the wet - then what resistance will Lorenzo be able to put up next year, once Honda have found a solution? The 2012 title may be well within Lorenzo's grasp. The defence of it could prove to be very difficult indeed.

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And is he a pod person? Never was a fan of his, and in fairness, I wont ever be after his nonchalant handling of punting Nicky in Estoril 2006. BUT, the guy has definitely earned my respect this year with this charge to the front and his riding as of late. I, for one, want to see this go down to the wire and if Pedro keeps up this level of riding, it will make for some exciting championship standings.

Excellent point about the nasty chatter and Dani still winning races. What does Yamaha think if the Honda is this capable with a nasty chatter problem and what happens when it gets fixed?

Are you really never going to be a fan of Pedrosa for the one questionable move he's done in his whole career--and no less than 6 years ago? isn't that a bit resentful?

If you are a Hayden fan then the answer is an easy yes!

I still hold a bit of a grudge but have to admit that Pedrosa has definitely taken his riding up a big notch this year, unusual for a rider so long in the same class and the same team. I think Lorenzo is sweating inside hoping all goes smoothly in the next 2 races because he knows that winning them may not be an option.


Considering that I raced on the same tracks as Nicky, came up in the AMA with him and consider him a friend... Yes. I will never be a fan of Pedro's because of the nonchalant handling of the situation. You should reread my statement. Its not the move in and of itself that bothers me. Excrement happens and people make mistakes. Its the absolute disdain he showed on world TV toward Hayden and the throwing up of his hands like it was all Nicky's fault that they crashed out that bothers me. The reality of the situation is that Pedro had the red mist in his eyes after Hayden made the same move stick on him a lap earlier, for necessity I might add, but Pedro couldnt pull it off.

Yeah, yeah, yeah no team orders blah, blah, blah. You dont need team orders to know what the right thing to do is. The right thing to do would have been to race hard, and either keep up with Rossi, which Pedro couldnt do, or keep a sliver of a door open for Hayden to get by cleanly and race Rossi for the victory or to lose as few points as possible. For reference of how this situation should have been handled, please refer to Casey Stoner at Malaysia 2012. Under no scenario is what Pedro did OK and the Alberto Puig scenario is pure fantasy land garbage. Anyone who has ever raced, especially professionally, knows that while you always want to beat your team mate, there comes a time, especially late in the season, when that mentality needs to turn off and the betterment of the team and builder take president over your own ego and pride if the championship is on the line. Its common sense IMO.

And its not like Im not giving Pedro the respect he deserves. The guy has stepped up his game and I respect that. But I wont ever be a fan for his immature behavior, even it was 6 years ago. First impressions can be problematic to overcome.

Also notice how Pedro has moved away from Puig quite a bit and he has become a better rider and better ambassador for his sport and team. That should tell you all you need to know about Estoril 2006. Pure delusions of grandeur thinking he could win the title that year, mathematically possible or not. Just plain ridiculous thinking.

Nicky was the first to say there were no bad intentions, that “Dani is not that kind of guy”. So if Nicky, a guy that knows Dani personally, can forgive him, why should anybody still hold a grudge after six years, based on what we saw on tv?

Edit: Not to mention we are talking about a Dani that was 6 years younger, 6 years shyer, 6 years more introvert. It feels like he has grown a lot more mature than some of Nicky's fans.

Just for the sake of precision, for Pol Espargaro to win the title he would need to win both of the remaining races and Marc Marquez get no more than one point. Should Pol win both races and Marc get a total of two points in Australia and Valencia they would be tied for the championship but Marc would win--as he has 8 victories to a maximum possible of 5 for Pol.

Lorenzo is racing to win the championship, not every race. It is his to lose right now. Pedrosa HAS to win every race to even consider a championship.

But you knew that didn't you?

Lorenzo is only racing for the first lap so he doesn't get taken out pedrosa style. Once clear of the rest of the field he won't take a chance racing dani or Casey at this point in the season.

The problem with racing for only the first lap is that one can become content with a lapping speed and it can be difficult to crank it up a notch when needed. Its not that these guys arent capable of turning faster laps, its that the brain becomes comfortable and you can basically slump. Lorenzo needs to simply finish 3rd behind Pedrosa and Stoner for the last 2 races to win the title. This is easier said than done. On paper, it seems easy, but something as simple as a flat tire or broken chain or even a crash in practice can easily derail Lorenzo and his pursuit. Even a freak gremlin incident like what happened to Pedro is not above happening to Lorenzo.

The WORST thing he can do is race conservatively IMO. Too many times Ive seen teams in other sports try to coast it out and they end up getting close to losing or they do lose because of a freak accident or simply hitting a slump while someone else is streaking. Right now Pedro is streaking and is the hottest racer out there. It would be very unwise for Lorenzo to give up the very thing that has won him races this year and gotten him to the championship lead. That is scrapping for wins up front. Sometimes you just lose that edge and cant find it again if you back off.

I dont know which tracks are Lorenzo's strong suits, but if Phillip Island is indeed a strong track for him, He would do well to win there because that will put the title out of Pedrosa's grasp. I know Stoner has owned it since he came to the MotoGP class, but I dont think he will be fit enough to run out front unless its another wet race like Malaysia.

In baseball it is said that it is always better to control your own playoff destiny and win the number of games you have to to get into the playoffs, rather than "backdooring" it by having the other team lose enough games that you are declared the winner. Winning is winning, but it is always better to control your own destiny than it is to leave it up to the other guy. Lorenzo has that control right now. But with that control comes the pressure. One slip up, one screw up, one off track incident and it all comes down to Valencia. And this CAN happen. Again, see 2006. Rossi gets a little too happy on cold tires and lowsides his bike early in the race. If it can happen to Rossi, it can happen to anyone.

Casey was racing to win at all costs at the Sachsenring and look what happened. Lorenzo is riding at the pace he wants to, if he can pull clear great, but he is equally happy to keep those extra tenths as a safety margin and follow in a comfortable P2. He simply has more to lose by pushing the limit needlessly. The pressure is on Pedrosa to win at all costs, if the points were closer we would see a different Jorge pushing to the limit like he shows he can in QP. At the end of the day I'd like to see Dani win it but that is very much a long shot with the way Lorenzo is riding. But racing is nothing but unpredictable so until Brunhilda steps up for her Valencian Aria I live in hope of a title fight going to the wire.

PS I think if Dani managed his pace and didn't clear off for the win, perhaps Jorge would be drawn into a fight for victory and forced into a costly mistake. Risky but worth a shot however that sounds like Rossi race craft not Pedrosas.

Means not doing anything stupid. It doesn't mean giving up wins to your rival. I'm sure he would win if it were possible, especially as it would help him clinch the title sooner rather than later. How many wobbles and mear crashes Lorenzo has had recently? Seems to me he is pushing.

In the post-race riders press conference Stoner said he might have continued through to first position had the race run the full distance.

Just before the red flag Dani was riding with control; Lorenzo was appealing to the puppeteers for mercy both before and after a good tank slapper; and Stoner then Hayden were approaching steadily. Was it really too risky to continue? Probably. Was the red flag disappointing? Definitely.

I agree that stopping the race was "understandable" but I think a more accurate categorisation is: lame. It was technically correct (the best kind of correct?) but not in the racing spirit.

Just as MotoGP was about to get exciting, out comes the rule book and out goes all the fun.

I agree i was dissapointed too, but race direction were in a no-win situation.
stop the race like they did and receive criticism for spoiling the show, or leave it run a few more laps only to have one or more of the big names crash and then get a broadside for not looking out for the riders safety.
after i got over the dissapointment of not seeing stoner get past lorzeno i was glad they stopped because the last thing i'd want is for any more injuries to riders that would rule them out for the rest of the season

It seems that Lorenzo was suffering more than others because of his tire choice and the red flag acted to minimize the damage of his decision. Why he went out of softs having had no wet session data is weird. I would think with his riding for the championship mentality that he would take the safe option and go for the hard rear.

In his own words:

“Conditions were not so wet so I pushed at the beginning to create a big advantage I could administrate, but when it rained a lot I had no tyre and I was struggling even more than them [Pedrosa and Casey Stoner].”

Poor tire management saved by the bell.


In all fairness Stefan Bradl's crew chief didn't know why they went out on the hard wets since they didn't have any data on them but the factory teams did so they basically followed suit.

Seems to me a bit unfair to make a risky tire selection, and then ask for the race to be stopped because it has worn out. If it was too unsafe to continue on the worn out tire, why not pit for a new one?

BTW, I do not suggest that there was some pro-Yamaha conspiracy or that the organiser's decision to stop the race was wrong. It just annoys me that gamesmanship is disguised as a safety issue, even though I suspect any rider in Jorge's position would have done the same thing.

@calvin: they are only allowed to pit if either the front or the rear has been changed to a slick when the race is started on wets ("wet race"). So they can't come in with soft wets and go out on soft/hard wets, furthermore: a pitstop would've taken too long and Lorenzo would lose quite a lot of positions.

A rider is allowed to pit at any time to change tires. You are talking about swapping bikes, which is not what I was talking about.

Anyway, perhaps I made my point too subtlety - what I was getting at is that I do not think that a race should be stopped when someone's gamble does not pay off - they should pay the penalty and lose the time of the pit stop. It is unfair to those who made the conservative choice.

Where were the umbrella girls after the red flag?
Dani had to carry his own umbrella :)

Disappointed by the premier class but with that weather and after 7 riders down there was nothing much to expect apart from the red flag.
In a surge of greed for watching exiting racing I was briefly wishing that either Dani or Jorge bin it in that rain though. That would mean either Jorge will have taken the WC and no need to make it safely anymore or he will have to fight for the win in both PI and VAL, any way, the next two races would be exiting to watch. But well, it turned out what it turned out to be.

What exactly do they mean by "two-thirds rounded down"?

13 of 20 laps is 65%, whereas two thirds is 66.67%. So if you don't round the 13 laps or 65% up, you are below two-thirds race distance.

Two thirds rounded down [to 0 decimal places] really should be stated as "the floor of two-thirds full race distance."

In this instance, "20 * 2 / 3 = 13.333..." and "floor(20 * 2 / 3)" = 13. Therefore 13 full laps must be completed.

Of course, except for the premier class "must restart to maximum(remaining laps, 5)" rule.

Good question. The rule states 13 full laps (in this instance) which, in their definition, is something akin to: a lap where all non-lapped riders have crossed the finish line.

So while Pedrosa et al. had crossed the finish line marking 14 laps complete and 6 laps remaining, the red flag was waived before all non-lapped (and presumably non-crashed) riders had crossed the finish line, marking 13 full laps completed.

Again, the premier class has a restart rule that does not apply to the support classes. Ignoring this, it is still a useful example for the red flag/laps completed rule.

I just wanted to put this out there for a chuckle...

There is a way for the series to end in a tie. Lorenzo finishes 4th and Pedro 5th at Phillip Island. That is a 25 point difference going into Valencia. Pedro wins Valencia giving him 7 on the year and Lorenzo crashes out. Series ends with tied points and Pedro wins the title with his 7 wins vs Lorenzo's 6.

Dont laugh. Stranger things have happened LOL!!!

90% of our decision-making comes from our emotions and subconscious. Then we spend a lot of time justifying it logically.

While I have always admired Jorge's courage and fierce competitive spirit, somehow he has come away slightly diminished in my humble opinion. With Pedrosa, quite the opposite.

Holding grudges for 6 years reminds me of a redneck hillbilly family who can't let go of a dispute with another redneck hillbilly family...

Pedrosa made a dumb mistake in 2006. Hayden still managed to snare the title, and deserved it too - although there are as many people out there who begrudge him his title as there are people who are still down on Pedrosa.

Get hold of the 2006 championship compilation DVD (I have it) and you will find two myths are immediately busted - the first, that Pedrosa can't fight and overtake (he rides like a demon all season), and the second, that Hayden did not win the title on his merits. Hayden was right up there fighting at the pointy end all season long.

Anyway, we are in 2012...

Ye hit the nail on the head. That was a great season, must get that DVD at some stage.

Maybe Lorenzo thought it would get red-flagged earlier? Hence starting on soft wets to take advantage in the early stages of the race? Just a mindfart.

for someone whose sight is on the title. Most likely the tyre choice was made beleiving it would be wet enough the whole time for him to ride a smooth and controlled race without suffering so much with degradation.

quite possible, yes. But wouldn't he have noticed with the sighting lap it wasn't quite wet enough on the track for soft wets to last race distance? He should have enough experience to know those tyres need sufficient water on the track to be able to withstand the torture on a hot & high speed track. Still is a guesstimation without sufficient wet track time.

Track temp dropped from 50+ Celsius to 27 Celsius as the rains came. It was plenty wet enough for the softs, but track temp dropping rapidly was what caught out the Yams (all Yams were on the softs).

Below is a set of numbers that represent the current points tally for the top three riders, and how they will look if the riders finish in this order at PI (I'm going with an assumption here, bear with me):

1st: Stoner 213 goes to 238

2nd: Pedrosa 307 goes to 327

3rd: Lorenzo 330 goes to 346

This result would mean that Pedrosa would be 19 points down on Lorenzo going into the last round at Valencia. Therefore, to win the title he would need to place 2nd or better, and have Lorenzo score no points at all.

Now, if Stoner played wingman at PI either by design or circumstance, we’d have:

1st: Pedrosa 307 goes to 332

2nd: Stoner 213 goes to 233

3rd: Lorenzo 330 goes to 346

The points gap would then be 14… meaning Pedrosa would still need Lorenzo to score no points at Valencia, with Pedrosa requiring 3rd or better. So Casey might as well go for the win at the Island (of course that is exactly what he will do).

So you think Stoner can get past Pedrosa in the next race just like that?

Dani has crushed every myth surrounding him this year.

I know most of you are 100% sure that Stoner will win at Phillip Island. As everybody was sure that Dani will fail in wet race against Lorenzo. And that Dani cant match Lorenzo in direct fight (Brno).... and so on.

But no matter what.... you still do underestimate Dani Pedrosa. Carry on.

What we do agree on...is, that Lorenzo lead is to big. If there is no big mistake from Lorenzo or some bike issue .... Dani can not win this. We all know this.

What is the point of your reply really?

But the Stoner will give it his best. The problem though, is his lack of race form and the carrying of injuries.

I'd love to see him win his last in Oz, but I think the two Spaniards will be too tough, I will be there and I will cheer him on.

Unfortunately, Dani is introverted and even when he is in great form, he does not create the interest in himself that his talent so desperately deserves. I think he is amazing, but on Sunday I will be firmly in Stoner's camp.

I know that Stoner is strong contender at Phillip Island. And he has big chance to win.

I am big fan of Dani but I do not underestimate Stoner.

I hope all of us get huge fight. Stoner vs Lorenzo vs Dani.

dani is simply and amazingly a changed rider, a much better rider (truly alien type) than he ever was in this second half of this season (since indy really, but brno was the critical point of his life perhaps)..up until the first half of the current season or so (until laguna, except sachsenring of course), most of those "myths" were not myth but truths (maybe exaggerated? but still) because thats how he was before he was transformed into his current incarnation, something that had and has been expected of him ever since he joined the repsol team 6 yrs ago... those myths werent merely myths but what he mostly indeed was, but now with this transformation in him, those myths belong to the past racer in his self..

it was about time the pedrosa+honda combination was unstoppable.. well, now it is...just like jorge was really unstoppable for the most part of the first half (of course, most people have all forgotten about all that and suddenly dani is the best rider of this whole season and the most "deserving one"), dani is really unstoppable in this second half...

not to take any credit away from dani, but while he's a transformed rider now, his 2013 rcv is also much better than what he was riding previously and most of the tracks in the second half have been known to be favorable to honda and that is also a big factor...no matter what people want to believe about their favorite riders, having a great bike or an average bike or a poor bike plays a very significant role no matter how much of an alien a rider is...there is a reason the factories spend millions building those machines as best as they can and the (top) riders want to go to those teams that have as best a machine as they can get...but then, jorge also had similar advantages in the first half...he was awesome of course (still is, but apparently not enough to beat dani+honda..plus, lorenzo doesnt want to bin the title so he is playing it intelligently and rightly so..it was a very hard work in the first half for him taking on the two repsol hondas single handedly and beating them regularly and building that lead just in the first half), but so was his bike compared to the previous honda..

i doubt even casey on the same 2013 rcv as dani would have beaten him in these recent races had he not had that ankle injury.

assuming dani keeps this form and this bike into the next season (which i am sure will be the case unless something unfortunate happens to him which i hope doesnt), i think next yr's biggest title favorite would be him..not counting jorge or rossi out, but yamaha needs to do something about their power on the straights and corner-exits...all they have better than the honda at the moment is braking and cornering stability, but only slightly..even with some chatter the 2013 rcv seems very stable on the corners and brakes, and they have noticeable higher power everywhere...if they dont find a solution, we'll have dani running it away with the wins and jorge and rossi fighting it out every race for 2nd..which is great coz lorenzo/rossi battles were and will be great stuff for both of them (particularly for lorenzo, as he has a point to prove beating rossi on dogfights every chance he'd get, himself admitting he never did defeat rossi on direct battles) and of course for us, but they both wanna win races and titles too...

I agree that Honda is stronger now then Yamaha.
But as you say Yamaha was stronger in the first half of the season.

I disagree that everybody forgot how good Lorenzo was in first half of the season. If you read my comments... I stated that if Lorenzo make no mistake until the end of the season, then he deserves to win the championship.

No, you are wrong I'm afraid - I've never underestimated Pedrosa. Further up this page you will see how I defend both his unfortunate clash with Hayden in 2006, and his 'reputation' for not being an aggressive overtaker. He certainly is, and always has been.

The point of my 'reply' was fairly clear - to show how the points might pan out in a couple of scenarios that favour Pedrosa.

I want Pedrosa to take the 2012 title, mainly because I think Lorenzo will be strong enough to take it in 2013 and Marquez will be up to speed in 2014... if Pedrosa misses it this year he may well become the Haga, or Aaron Slight, of GP racing. Perennial bridesmaid...

I am also pretty confident that Stoner will be able to beat Pedrosa and Lorenzo at Phillip Island, ankle injury or not.

On the basis that most people (except perhaps Ducati, Ant West and Gino Rea) would prefer dry races why was the timing such that monsoon rain was highly likely? If held earlier the races would very likely be dry. If it's TV scheduling the logic of that defeats me too, given that they like reliable schedules almost as much as a live audience. If someone is willing to get up at 4 a.m. in Europe they would watch at any time wouldn't they? (not being a student of time zones I'm not sure where the overall priority sits).
I also wonder if BS agreed Yamaha/Lorenzo's tyre choice - a tyre that was worn out at not much over half distance seems a strategically poor choice - especially given that monsoon rain was about 80% probable.
Lorenzo clearly still rides to win but perhaps was pushing too hard - I really thought he had done a 'Marquez' when he had that 'moment'!

Motoman: Of course it would be best to avoid the monsoon season BUT - the Asian/Antipodian fly away races are scheduled as they are to reduce logistics costs of flying the whole freakin circus halfway across the globe... If they had to do it three times costs would be prohibitive.

Of course, if Dorna could organise races in more Eastern countries (India and Indonesia, for example), then there would be more flexibility to have two 'fly away' parts of the season in Asia. Given the importance of theses countries in terms of motorcycle sales, it shouldn't be too big an ask.

And while we're at it, let's add Russia to the calendar and get the circus back to South Africa as well!

Fingers crossed that Dorna being handed the keys to WSBK will give them the connections necessary to move more races outside of Spain, which can only be good for sponsorship and bringing money into the championship.

Watching that crowd being totally absorbed was fabulous, seeing 'air asia' on the Malay rider's leathers and the adoring fans, does anyone think that the local companies will have missed the point of sponsorhip?

Up until now the large Spanish and Europeans have dominated sponsorship, but they are now 'GFC strangled', Asia is NOT. Provided that the correct marketing support was divulged prior to the race, then most of Malaysia would've watched proceedings, and have been mightly impressed with their own fast brave young men. I was ecstatic for the future of MotoGP!!! Even if it is a tiny step.

Now, I'm not slagging off the Spanish as they rightly deserve their success, but more events like Sepang will lead to a viable and hotly contested 'prototype championship' with staggeringly large race team budgets. From here though, Dorna needs to make the right strategic decisions.

Great stuff! Diversify...

Hi Auskid. I live in Thailand and was at Sepang. The crowd was 90% Malaysian and Indonesian and it was fan-tastic to see the support for the local boys. In the six years I've benn going to Sepang the local fans have increased both in size and knowledge almost exponentially. The turn out of local tuners, bike shops and gear suppliers was truly amazing this year. SE Asia is a vast mgp market of which only the surface has been scratched, and with Spain's financial woes (including the woes of some of the biggest Spanish sponsors, hello Repsol) globalization of sponsorship is inevitable. BTW South America, though probably less well funded than SE Asia, is another market waiting for an opportunity.

Informative article as ever.

I thought the red flag came at the right time, dissappointed as I was not to see the chamionship gap narrowed. I'd like to see Pedrosa win a WC, just because he's the only 'alien' not to have one! I also think he's matured as a person and ambassador for the sport.

What made Rossi suddenly lose 4 places BTW; he went from about 5th to 9th somewhere around lap 8? I thought he might be following Nicky up to the sharp end to liven things up, he was following Stoner prior to that.

As Mez said (and Rossi on telly) he almost folded it at Turn 7 and decided to have a very "cautios lap" ... his words!

Reading through the above contributions, it strikes me how selective our memories are and how one incident can still fester for a long time. Sadly that's the reason many of the world's problems still carry on.

However, my point is that while I can respect Pedrosa, even if I still think of him as somewhat of a "cold fish", I can't forget the negative publicity that surrounded Lorenzo as he came up through the ranks. He came across as arrogant and extremely self centred, which irritated a lot of fans, including myself.

Who can forget the efforts he made to outdo Rossi with ludicrous post - race celebrations when he won his first MotoGP races? I'm sure we remember when he got so overexcited he jumped in a lake in full leathers and helmet and nearly drowned.

However, I also accept that he seems to have given up on this recently so maybe, like all of us, he is simply older, if not wiser.

I think Dani Pedrosa has good reason to be fearful in the rain. His 2003 125cc championship winning season was ended in free practice at Philip Island when he had the most horrid crash feet first into a tyre wall and broke both his ankles. I still wince thinking of it. The fact he ever got back on a motorcycle after smashing himself up so much is impressive. The fact he spent the entire off season without much in the way of practice in the 250 class he moved up to and then won first time out is even more impressive. The trade off for this has been some indifferent performances in the wet. Although he did do miracles one year at the Saxonring in the rain when he was lapping faster than everyone only to through it into the gravel.

On the podium, the inflatable Freixnet bottle behind Casey inflated and (I think) popped him right in the rear while the bottle behind Jorge failed to fully inflate. I'm taking that as a sign from the racing gods.
Viva Dani!
Bravo to the Malaysian fans for arriving en masse to support their local talent. I know the economy is crappy everywhere around the world, but if we want to see this sport survive, succeed and grow, we're the only ones who can make that happen. That means showing support with our wallets, not just our mouths.
Bravo also to Zulfahmi Khairuddin and Hafizh Syahrin for rising to the occasion.
Thoughts go out to Ben Spies, again proving that, if not for bad luck, some people wouldn't have any luck at all.

Come to think of it, I'm glad for the red flags controversies. The Motegi GP was so straightforward and boring that not even Marquez' charge in Moto2 was enough to generate significant debate and interest. It was almost as if nobody cared for the season anymore. Now at least things have got more edgy, like there's a real battle going on.

Hi MickD - no I didn't mean move the dates - just morning races perhaps (a la Doha's night races)to catch the dry(er)weather. I'm no Far East expert so I don't know if that's realistic/practical, it was just a comment by the TV guys that the timing was to suit 'us' rather than 'them'. If we are going to embrace the global race community we might at least watch it at times that suit them....

where the journalist noted that Dani and Jorge Lorenzo were getting along in a friendly and collegial manner these days and asked Dani what led to the change in their once bitter rivalry.

Dani just shrugged and said "we grew up".

Lorenzo got it right in in his quest for title #2. Race direction got it right and the riders agreed.
Congrats to Cortese. Rider of the day.

Hafizh Syahrin's gold helmet was very cool (shades of JL in 250GP), and a very well deserved 4th to him. And kudos to Ant West for putting it on the box.

I thought that watching Casey close in on Lorenzo was as tense and exciting as anything. I still don't understand how anyone is really finding this championship battle dull.

Let me say up front that I'm as much in favor of diversity as anyone (trust me on that). But if you think it's going to help MotoGP by coming to the U.S. three times in a season and featuring riders named Zulfahmi Khairuddin and Hafizh Syahrin, you know nothing about us here.

Remember, we're the nation that calls our national titles World Championships.

However, its a very large market with a lot of consumption of MotoGP sponsor/factory products. I'd hazard a guess and say that Yamaha, Honda and Ducati sell more there than anywhere else.

As far as the riders names are concerned, I think you countrymen can handle more diversity than is obvious, as your president is called Barrack Obama.

I do feel 3 rounds is too many, I'd pull one from the US and go back to reinvigorating China...

It won't be very long before China's consumption dwarfs America, best to get this sport in there now.

Politics is one thing. But sport is actually important ...

Seriously, it's a hard enough sell here for motorcycle road racing. But at least until now, it's been represented by athletes who, in broad terms, fit the ethnic sporting stereotypes that the U.S. market expects - brave, bold Aussies, fiery Latinos and crazy Italians. Show us those characters, we get it.

Trying to market a deviation from those stereotypical expectations to help build an audience for a niche sport - hey, crazier ideas have worked, I suppose.

You really have to see how motorsport is marketed here. This is the nation where the sanctioning body of the most popular motorsport held a news conference to announce a rules change to encourage "bump-drafting" and a spokesman actually used the phrase "Rubbin' is racin.'"

p.s. Anybody looking at what's happening in BSB?

I know population density is a factor, but with something like 9 or 10 races in Europe having 3 USA races doesn't seem so excessive. I agree though that going into 'emerging' (as in bike racing) economies like China, India, Brazil etc has to be the future and there is more scope for dropping Euro races than any other region....
The fact is some people will hope to see crashes and as the saying goes 'If you're not crashing you're not trying hard enough', so crashes will happen. They certainly add excitement and all I ever hope is that the rider doesn't get hurt beyond a few bruises/ego. As people mature and understand the sport more that factor will drop away, but there are plenty of strange folk in the world who will always want more....
Rossi's comments on boring racing say it all for me. How can you argue with that?
Colin Edwards wouldn't either, I'd guess.