2015 Qatar MotoGP Sunday Round Up: The Unexpected And The Expected, That's Why They Line Up On Sunday

"That's why we line up on Sunday. You never know what's gonna happen." Nicky Hayden was replying to one of my typically stupid questions after the race in Indianapolis in 2009. The day before, I had asked him if he had given up hope of a good result after qualifying in 6th on the Ducati in front of his home crowd. That Sunday, he had ridden a solid race and taken advantage of the misfortunes of others, ending the day on the podium. The heady mixture of hope, determination, talent and a smattering of luck put him where he wanted to be. Or close to it at least.

Hayden's phrase is one of the most succinct and accurate descriptions of motorcycle racing, as the events of the season opener at Qatar go to show. The script which we all thought had been written on Saturday got torn up and thrown out the window on Sunday. Because you never know what's gonna happen.

The Moto3 race was the usual barnstormer, where the race looked like it was anybody's, yet it still ended up with two of the most experienced riders sharing the podium. Moto2 saw one bizarre incident follow another, until the last man left standing took victory. And MotoGP turned into a heart-stopping thriller, with the favorite catching himself out, and the winner coming from halfway down the grid.

Most bizarre of all was the fact that not a single Spaniard appeared on any podium in all three Grand Prix classes. It has been a long time since that happened. Disregarding Laguna Seca (where only MotoGP ever rode) the last time that nine non-Spanish riders occupied the podium spots was Shanghai in 2005. A ten-year streak of Spanish success was cut short by two races. With Valentino Rossi, Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone taking the top three spots in MotoGP, it was also the first all Italian podium since Motegi in 2006. "It was a long, long time ago that this happened," Rossi joked at the press conference. "I know, because I was there also."

The MotoGP race played out only half as expected. Ducati came good on the pace shown in FP4, proving that the GP15 is not the bike the GP14 used to be. Both Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone staying fast all the way to the end of the race. But the preordained winner, Marc Márquez, made a mess of the first corner, ran wide, rejoined in last place, and spent the rest of the race playing catch up, fighting his way forward. And the Movistar Yamahas, neither of whom had shown much pace during free practice came good. Jorge Lorenzo led until a problem with his helmet saw him lose half of his vision and three places to three Italians. Valentino Rossi, blessed with only mediocre race pace in FP4, used the hard front tire to blaze a trail through the pack, moving up from tenth at the end of the first lap to hold off Andrea Dovizioso in a dazzling duel to take victory.

"I think this was one of the best races of my career, and for sure one of the best battles of the last lap," Rossi said of the fight in the press conference. "I remember this level maybe with Capirossi in Mugello, always with the Ducati, or with Jorge in Montmelo, or one time with Capirossi in Sepang in the past, like the old times." Where had Rossi's speed come from? After qualifying, Rossi had said he and his team had made a mistake going for the medium front tire, and they should have elected to use the hard front. They tried that during warm up – at Qatar, perhaps the only time the warm up is literally warmer than the race, taking place for the MotoGP class just as the sun is going down – and with some tweaks to the set up, became the fastest rider on the track.

The thrill of battle left Rossi exhilarated, and as sated as it is possible for a racer to be. That a man of his age, his record, his stature, and his financial means should still have the drive and determination to put in the hard work to still be successful is truly remarkable. "I like my job, because it is also my passion," he said, something which was clear from the way he celebrated victory, his 83rd in the premier class.

Rossi also showed his passion in the answer he gave when asked if he expected this season to be the most difficult he had ever faced. For Rossi, the difficulty was not in the quantity and quality of his rivals. It was not the six men capable of winning now that the Ducati is finally a competitive motorcycle which made racing hard. "It is completely the opposite," Rossi countered. "I'm very happy, because in the last years the races changed. Because there was one moment with Stoner and Lorenzo that the races were finished after three laps. Sincerely, they were the most difficult and also boring races. Now, it looks that for some reason has changed, and with Marc, is always more battle to the end, a little bit more strategy. I like a lot this kind of races."

What can you say of the Ducatis? Dovizioso used the words 'normal bike' again to describe the Desmosedici GP15, emphasizing once again just how far the manufacturer has come. "This bike is working very well, I was able to make the same lap and similar line as Lorenzo and Valentino, but still we have to work in some areas." Last year, Dovizioso had been forced to use too much of his energy forcing the bike to turn once the tires started to wear, and had lost touch with the leaders. At Qatar, Dovizioso's fastest lap had been his last lap, and the lap before had been as fast as his third.

Just how far Ducati has come was also clear from Dovizioso's reaction to losing out to Rossi. "Before the race, if somebody told me I would make this kind of race, I would be very happy," the Italian said. "But when you make all the race right there, and you try to manage and at the end, Valentino beat me, the feeling is not the best!" Goals and objectives change when racing, once you realize what is possible. "It's normal, during the race it's a long time for us, 45 minutes is a long time, and you change your opinion! I was in front, and I really feel the possibility to fight for the victory." When you understand that victory is within your grasp, the glory of a podium simply will not cut it.

Both Dovizioso and Iannone made a special effort to thanks the engineers back at Ducati Corse for all their hard work. It is clear that this result was a reward not just for the patience of Dovizioso, or for the talent of Iannone. Most of all, this was a reward for the work that went on in Borgo Panigale, engineers working long hours into the night to get the bike ready. That hard work paid off.

The Qatar race also laid to rest any notion that Ducati might let up if they found themselves getting close to a good result, and at risk of losing their concessions. The two podiums today put the total to three, meaning that Ducati will lose 2 liters of fuel, their allowance cut from 24 to 22 for both the factory Ducati team, and for Pramac Ducati. (Not for the Avintia team, however, they run under the Open rules, and so are not affected). That will not make much difference, as Ducati have been racing with 22 liters of fuel since the beginning of last year. They never really needed 24 liters.

Ironically, fuel may have helped play a part in Ducati's success at Qatar, albeit a very minor one. The Qatar circuit is one of the heaviest for fuel consumption, and the long straight from a low gear consumes a lot of fuel. The Hondas and Yamahas sometimes have to cut power ever so slightly to ensure they can make the race with just 20 liters of fuel. Ducati do not need to do that, and so can use more power to the end of the race. You get the sneaking suspicion that Rossi took advantage of the Ducatis for part of the race, staying in their slipstream down the straight. One way of conserving fuel is to use the great big hole in the air being created by the bike in front of you.

Three more dry wins, and Ducati lose the soft rear tire, but even that will not put much of a dent in their performance. The real benefit which Ducati have had from the concessions granted to them has come from the unlimited testing, and not being subject to the engine freeze. That is what has allowed them to make so much progress all throughout last year, and what will allow them to refine their bike throughout this year. Ducati cannot lose those concessions this year, though they may be subject to an engine freeze if they win enough races this year.

The concessions for Ducati – now applied to Suzuki and Aprilia – were vital. Without them, Ducati would not have been able to develop the Desmosedici fast enough, and become competitive before the patience of Philip Morris ran out. If Ducati had not be granted concessions, they would no longer be in MotoGP.

For a long time, it looked like it would not be Valentino Rossi, but Jorge Lorenzo who might with the race. Lorenzo led, engaging Dovizioso in fierce combat, and handing out as good as he got, until some five or so laps to the end. He then started slipping back through the field, with no apparent reason. It was initially assumed that tire wear was to blame, but after the race, it turned out to be something much stranger. The foam lining of his HJC helmet had worked itself loose, and slipped down in front of his eyes, partially obscuring his vision. He could see only about half of what he could normally, making riding that much more difficult. That he was able to lap at a pace of 1'56.2 or so despite the problem is testament to his ability.

After his mistake in the first corner, Marc Márquez was left with work to do. He fought his way bravely forward, passing some 20 riders on the way. Sometimes a little roughly, such as when he clipped Alvaro Bautista and severed a brake line. His charge through the field was impressive, but it meant asking a lot of his tires, and overheating them on occasion. That left him with the dilemma of trying to push on and keep catching the front runners, or slow down for a couple of laps until they regained their performance. Slowing down was not an option, so he pushed on, but paid the price at the end. After nearly crashing a couple of times, he had to settle for fifth. Eleven points are eleven points. Márquez took that as a positive, and as a sign of his own maturity. "I'm sure that two years ago, the end of the race would be in the gravel," he joked.

Dani Pedrosa rode round to what seemed like a faceless sixth, once again disappointing in a race. But it transpired afterwards that it was not so much a faceless sixth, as an armless sixth. Pedrosa has been suffering with arm pump and numbness in his right arm for over a year now, and this race was no different. This was a true tragedy for the Spaniard, as he had spent the winter consulting doctors trying to find a cure. He has already had two different operations to try to fix the problem, but neither of them succeeded. The recurrence of the problem made Pedrosa decide to first try to fix the problem before trying to keep on racing. The results of the past year show what he is capable of in his current situation. That is not a prospect which will appeal to a rider of Pedrosa's caliber. Better to try to get the problem fixed, and come back to try win races.

Pedrosa's sixth place is also a testament to the talent of the Spaniard. The Repsol Honda man was riding almost literally with one hand tied behind his back, the use of his right hand limited by pain and a lack of sensation. Yet he still loses less than half a second a lap to the race winner, and finishes ahead of everyone but the factory Honda, Yamaha and Ducati riders. To try to understand just what an achievement that is, stick a knife in your right forearm, put on your thickest winter motorcycle mittens, jump on a racing motorcycle and try to ride as fast as you can for 45 minutes. Easy it is not.

While the MotoGP race was both exhilarating and surprising, the real shocks came in Moto2. Before the race started, it was easy to pick the podium: Sam Lowes, Johann Zarco and Tito Rabat had been a cut above the rest. Surely the podium would come from one of those three?

Tito Rabat ruled himself out of contention by getting a terrible start, and losing a lot of ground in Turn 1. Sam Lowes and Johann Zarco escaped at the front, with Zarco taking over the lead from Lowes, and setting a blistering pace. Lowes tried just a little too hard to follow – despite advice from his pit board – and paid the price, crashing out in the final corner. Rabat suffered the same fate, finding himself caught in the mid-pack melee where a blatant disregard for the rules is a basic survival skill. He tried to get past Simone Corsi, but Corsi cut in front of him going into Turn 1, clipped Rabat's front wheel and sent the reigning champion tumbling.

That left Zarco free to cruise home at leisure, maintaining the pace he needed to hold his lead and keep his focus. It was all going swimmingly until lap 17, when a bolt on his gear lever worked its way loose, leaving the Frenchman stuck in third gear. He noticed the problem coming onto the main straight, and understandably, though unwisely, looked down to try to spot the problem and potentially fix it. In doing so, he nearly created a worse disaster, the bike veering right as he fiddled with his gear lever. It was only when he hit the grass just a foot or so away from the pit wall that he noticed, and barely saved himself from hitting the wall. He could not fix the problem while still riding the bike, and quickly dropped down the field. At least he salvaged some points, crossing the line in eighth.

Jonas Folger crossed the line to take his maiden win in Moto2. He had a strong season last year as a rookie, and was widely regarded as an outside chance for the championship this year. His victory at Qatar, with Lowes and Rabat not scoring, and Zarco getting only limited points, catapults Folger into the championship lead, turning him from dark horse to prize stallion. That's why they line up on Sunday. Because you never really know what's going to happen.

Total votes: 112
Total votes: 49

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Comments

They correctly surmised they the hard front tyre was the one to have when everyone else ran the medium

Total votes: 100

Great to see Vali stick it to the young guys! An AMAZING race---lots of close fought passing and planning---good to see the Ducks back where they should be, and they are FAST! The best race of the weekend and I saw them all (MOTOGP, MOTO2, MOTO3, F1, Indycars, Supercross and MXGP---go Ryan!)---great weekend of racing...

Total votes: 97

If I remember correctly, don't Ducati lose some of their engine allowance for the season as well? Wasn't that supposed to go down from 12 to 9 as well after 3 podiums? Or am I just imagining things?

Total votes: 88

Because they did not win a dry race in 2013. (period). They have 12 engines and free development thru end of 2015..

Total votes: 85

3 podiums = fuel allowance drops to 22 liters from 24, I believe

Total votes: 91

And after Qatar they are now there - they will run 22 litres from now on.

Total votes: 78

Will very quickly find themselves out of MotoGP if they don't get a handle on their QC. Spies, who brought in HJC, had some type of problem pop up during a race too if I rememeber correctly.

Total votes: 106

Yep that's right. A visor that wouldn't stay shut. I guess that's why there aren't any race teams sponsored by Harbor Freight.

Total votes: 101

Was more or less bad luck like his whole season! He botched the start and smacked his faceshield against the windscreen.

Total votes: 85

Wait, isn't the point of MotoGP to develop products? I mean, you might as well have said Ducati would quickly find themselves out of MotoGP after the Rossi years.

Total votes: 88

The donwards spiral startet long before Rossi joined. In fact it started in 2008 and it was only Stoners superhuman ability to ride fast on a shit bike who "saved" them.

Total votes: 93

Just a thought. Everyone says how Rossi had no true competition during his glory years (01-05). I submit that it was just that rossi was just special, and if you take him out of the equation, we would probably be singing about the golden era at the turn of the century when Capirossi, Giberneau, Biaggi, Bayliss et al were trading wins every weekend, and alternating championship wins too. Its the "relative" level of completion that makes a "golden era" When 4 or 5 guys are fighting for 2nd no one cares. But if those same 4 or 5 are fighting for wins...

It seems like the same thing is happening now. If Rossi wasn't around these days, people would be bored also and would be calling marquez's reign boring with no competition. Yet we have all seen the level of Lorenzo, stoner, and pedrosa, without marquez.

Golden eras come when the top riders are very similarly talented. Dynasties come when one rider is a bit special...

Marquez definitely showed a chink in his armour at Quatar. He made a mistake true, but he got soundly beat this time. He couldn't catch the front group, for the first time yet in his short MotoGp career, after making an early mistake.(remember lemans 2013?) The field have adapted to the marquez style...all the top riders are doing it now and the advantage is shrinking.

The season is long, but even Marquez knows that it is dangerous to give rossi any advantage; rossi is so strong when he gets some momentum, and the challengers for the title finished 4,5,6 to his 1. Marquez will be very strong this year, but I really think this year anything can happen. The ducatis will get in the way, and now that rossi is leading, the more riders that can take points off each other will only help rossi stay ahead. The next 2 races will tell much about this years championship. If rossi can somehow manage to still be ahead when moto gp returns to Europe, I believe he will win the title. As he showed in quatar, when it matters, rossi comes to play.

Oh and I think Harris is great!. Ya he gets confused sometimes, but he loves motogp and it shows in his enthusiasm

Total votes: 72

And I believe Rossi's tactics were perfect. It's good to see the Ducs coming forward again, and Dovi being able to display his merit. He's been under-rated as a team mate with Stoner and Pedrosa.

However - and I have said this at the beginning of too many seasons of motoGp: will SOMEONE please put Nick Harris out of our misery? The man is such an embarrassing twat for the sport.

Oh, and DORNA: get someone to tell the race broadcast Director when there is stuff people would like to see happening; don't write the script for midfield coverage before the damn race.

Total votes: 126

Nick is an absolute bore with an absolute need to overuse "absolute & absolutely."
"Write him off at your peril" but where would we be without Nick's constant reminders that Rossi is 36 years old (and 35 the year before that, and 34 the year before that, etc. etc.).

I'd weep tears of joy if DORNA were to engage someone, anyone, to replace him.

Maybe next year?

Total votes: 120

And before BrNo - NOT Bruno....

And if i hear him say :'the 9-times world Champion' again, I'll throw up. WE KNOW, Nick, we know...

Total votes: 103

Nick Harris quit saying "master class" 5 times a race... but I don't like him...

I want Toby Moody... and I want him now.

Total votes: 88

Can someone explain to him that its EsPARGaro not EsPAGaro, (I'm sure that applies on Spanish and English) he's a journalist after all.

Minor irritation but a persistent one, compared to the massive frustration of having to watch on the flickering MotoGP player instead of on the BBC (I digress).

Total votes: 105

Actually, it's EspargarOH. The accent on the final O (which usually gets dropped in English language publications because we don't have easy access to it from English keyboard layouts) indicates that the emphasis should be placed on the final syllable. Much like the accent in Márquez, which should be pronounced MARketh.

Total votes: 91

Point taken David, he still puts the R in the wrong place ;-)

Total votes: 81

Can't agree more with Oscar. Poor old Nick Harris seems to be one unwanted element that just totally refuses to leave motogp on his own.

Total votes: 105

I completely disagree. Nick Harris does a great job, and I think the new combo for this year of Nick and Matt Birt plus Dylan in the pits is a good one.

The one thing I do wish 'they' would sort is the motogp.com video pass/mobile app + live timing subscription. The new website is actually really good, but the number of times I'm told to buy video pass, even though I have and am logged in, is frustrating. It's also not at all clear why as a subscriber I have to pay £18 or whatever to download the app, if I get anything potentially worthwhile for that, or if (as it may well be) just a mistake and I should already have access having paid via the site.

Total votes: 122

Not sure about 'great job' but this is an amicable site!

Totally with you on the passes; absolute bloody dog's breakfast, I was a subscriber last year and I had a hell of a job finding the right package for this, should have been a simple click through. I agree the new player looks better, but I had to email support in the end for them to send me a link (I wanted the non-multiscreen package which evidently they didn't want to advertise, steering you to the expensive version only).

They are taking full advantage (no surprise its a business) of the non terrestrial options in the UK.

Total votes: 96

agree, and add to that I think last year we got more post race stuff (walking to the podium, press conference live, etc). not now.

Total votes: 95

oh thank god, i thought it was just me and my mrs that can't stand him. i know he is getting on a bit, but it really is the difference between night and day when they put these younger, more technical, more knowledgeable, more current commentators next to him. can't help but keep asking 'seriously, what is the point of nick harris right now?'

the other thing i can't stand about nick harris, is that even when marquez has destroyed his own race by over cooking the first corner, then taken out bautista, made a few more contacts on the way, basically been his usual dirty ar5e hole self and then come 5th, nick harris is STILL singing hallelujah about him, he jus can't help but continually go on about marquez - give it a break!!!

that said, it is quite impressive that marquez manages to win these races with nick harris hanging out the back of him, so credit given where credit is due.

Total votes: 105

Nick Harris is pretty painful to listen to, how many times did he need to harp on;

1. Marquez catching up to Ianonne (even after his impressive charge to 6th slowed)
2. Rossi being a 9 time champion
3. Jorge fell at the third corner last year

I get it already....

that said, it is quite impressive that marquez manages to win these races with nick harris hanging out the back of him, so credit given where credit is due.

+1 on this, now just imagine what he would do without the dead weight!!!

Total votes: 96

Not to me, I like Nick Harris. The fact that some of you whine about him just makes me like him more. Over three decades in the sport and he is a positive bloke.

Total votes: 111

He is indeed positive, and certainly an ambassador for the sport.

But he gets so much wrong... he calls passes that simply aren't even close to happening, misses passes that do, mixes up names, repeats himself ad nauseum, it goes on.

I find myself correcting him half a dozen times, during pretty much every race I watch... and if he were in the room with me I'm afraid it wouldn't come across as 'constructive criticism'.

Even when Murray Walker was at his finest in muddling stuff up, he rarely made concrete errors in his race calls. Harris is no Murray Walker, except in longevity.

When you've heard good commentary, it's hard to accept poor commentary, especially at the pinnacle of the sport.

Total votes: 83

Who still watches with the commentary on?

Total votes: 94

I read somewhere, possibly here, that during qualifying Marquez used a tactic that he had successfully used last year: to give a tow to the Ducati riders to put them on the grid behind him and in front of the Yamahas .

Betcha he doesn't do that again.
:-)

Total votes: 118

He towed the satellite Ducs, not the factory ones...

Total votes: 91

Rossi the fastest man on the track, scything through the field from 10th to win - does this not remind you of his Honda years?

It's been 12 years now since he rode the RCV, that he still has that sort of talent in himself after so long is just astounding.

Total votes: 120

Rossi the fastest man on the track, scything through the field from 10th to win - does this not remind you of his Honda years?

It's been 12 years now since he rode the RCV, that he still has that sort of talent in himself after so long is just astounding.

Total votes: 89

Wow! What a difference a winter makes. I really hope Vale is right and that this marks the end of the two-man processions half a track ahead of the field (or at least a sharp drop in their frequency). The only downside to the battle up front was the total lack of opportunity to discuss anything further back in the pack. I'm sure I saw Maverick go off in lap 2 or 3--he definitely dropped from the rankings for a good part of the race--but then he reappeared and got back into the points without ever getting a mention.

Meanwhile what a thrill to be so thoroughly disoriented. I mean, Yonny Hernandez led the Repsol Honda team for nearly half the race and finished in the top ten on the Pramac GP14.2!

Now Dani's hiatus creates yet another unknown (please let it be Casey, please let it be Casey...) and Austin's just a gigantic question mark for me. I'm thinking it might have been a bad year to start playing MotoGP League, but I really hope it makes for more incredible races like this one!

Total votes: 99

One reason why I stopped buying the Dorna video package is Nick Harris and his inability to do anything less than bloviate. His excess hyperbole makes it painful to listen to him. I respect the man, but he needs to learn some new words. Not everything is "absolutely" and "cracking."

I now use BT Sport, but the esteemed Julian Ryder cannot compensate for the rest of the idiots working there. Probably the worst is James Toseland, who seems as though he is reading every word he speaks and whose knowledge of MotoGP racing is no better than a typical fan. The endless repetition of the obvious and lack of insightful questions from Iwan Thomas and Craig Doyle are simply embarrassing.

I do not wish to impugn the many media faces who sincerely enjoy the sport and want to be part of it, I just wish there were at least a few people who knew what they were talking about. I suppose that the increased popularity of motorcycle racing has brought with it the vapid, loud, and flashy hype that any popular sport now must endure. Shame, that.

Total votes: 95

As I refuse to buy ripoff Sky (I don't watch other sport anyway) I tried BT Sport on the player for a while last year. It's as amateur as hell and I agree Julian is easily the only saving grace.

Made me go back to using the MotoGP player with the omnipotent Nick "here's Dylan DARRRN in pit lane" Harris, and Matt "EsPAGaro" Birt.

Yes, I miss the BBC team.

Total votes: 93

I've watched MotoGP with the Video Pass as well as on five different TV channels with changing commentators over the years.
And the BBC-coverage was definitely the best of them all. Really miss that team. I also really liked their pre-race build up and the nice flashback features on the previous races they always had. Very well produced.

Total votes: 98

... was unbearable. Charlie Cox saying "nightmare in a bubble car" was far more infuriating than any of the BT Sport commentary mistakes.

I couldn't be happier that they didn't get the job at BT Sport. Whilst it's not perfect, it's a hugely superior coverage they offer. The only thing that does make me squirm is when Iwan Thomas starts asking questions... it's like a kids TV show when he is on screen, which is fortunately not a lot.

The BBC2/Red Button/Online hunt for the races are a thing of the past. No more coverage being cut short for the Skiing World Cup.

Total votes: 104

Not only beared it, we enjoyed it, loved Charlie's commentary. :-) We are not on the same page with 'hugely superior' I think it's amateurish but each to their own.

The figures speak; viewing in the UK is now a tiny fraction of what it was, we were tweeting about the great race yesterday, came the reply 'wow, where can I see it'?

BT Sport - 'oh, don't have that'. Or the Moto GP Player - 'the what'?

So now the casual viewer is lost, bad for the sport.

Total votes: 89

...That if it were not for David, I would know hardly anything about what is going on in Moto3, Moto2, or MotoGP. Dorna, BT, and Sky are worthless, as are several unnamed English-language websites. I rely on MotoMatters and David's other venues of communication to know what is truly happening.

Thanks, David!

Total votes: 103

I'm on Linux and I'm very reluctant to install proprietary spyware on my machine, so I worry the online packages won't work properly for me. I'd be willing to have a go on a "money back if it doesn't work" basis, but I don't think that's possible (?).

So that leaves me having to hunt for BitTorrent downloads afterwards, with god knows what commentary. That usually means it's a day later before I have something, by which stage I've usually not been able to avoid some news of the results somewhere on twitter or facebook.

With the snoozefest that MotoGP turned into the last few years, the lack of OTA broadcasts and difficult of accessing MotoGP live had me ready to ditch following it. That'd have other knock-on effects for MotoGP coverage in other media that I pay for, sooner or later (sorry David). This Qatar race was a bit exciting in the end, but Marquez' early mistake and Lorenzo's foam issues were a factor in that. Also, Qatar tends to have more action than most other race. So we'll wait and see. I can still see Lorenzo and/or Marquez clearing off and running inch-perfect, pass-impossible races though.

Hopefully MotoGP doesn't return processional racing, but if it does then, given how hard it is to access live MotoGP now, that may be done with it for the foreseeable future (after decades of watching it, and over a decade of watching it as much as I could). :(

Total votes: 102

You can watch on Linux but would have to install chrome as the flash player on Firefox is out of date. Which kind of defeats the object of going Linux, doesn't it!

Total votes: 88

I have now (finally) made the switch to Linux for my main desktop, and watched all of practice on the MotoGP.com website using Chromium. I do have the Flash player installed, though. It all worked pretty well, no problems.

On a completely unrelated note, I was delighted to discover KDE activities. Makes it easier for me to avoid procrastination, and create a clean workspace.

And going off on an even bigger tangent, I find it intriguing that after one of the best MotoGP races in many years, with so many talking points, most of the comments on this piece have been about the quality of the TV commentary, and now we are discussing OSes...

Total votes: 96

Me too, I enjoyed the repartee between Charlie Cox & Steve Parrish, plus they really knew what they were talking about. And dare I say it, the team was at it's peak during Suzi Perry's tenure, as she too knew her stuff.

However, I find the MotoGP.com team fine, much better than the BT team - I'm afraid Keith Huewen drives me up the wall.

Total votes: 92

The only thing that could be better yesterday is Rossi's famous post-race celebrations. Why isn't he doing that anymore? Please David, ask him. I really miss them.

Total votes: 114

He has fans everywhere of course, but Qatar is the lowest-attended race of the year. Ergo, a fairly low representation of the yellow army.

If he wins at Mugello you can expect him to be 15 minutes late into Parc Ferme : )

Total votes: 85

He won last year in Mugello, but there was no prepared celebration. I think he's done with that, unfortunately.

Total votes: 102

I think that Jorge Lorenzo's celebrations in 2008 and 2009 were seen as a parody of Rossi's and made it "uncool". I was never a big fan of Rossi or Lorenzo's celebrations (although I thought planting the "Lorenzo Land" flag was pretty cool. I kind of miss that). I think what you saw at Qatar was a true racer's celebration. Absolute joy at defeating foes he respects.

Also, it's hard to plan celebrations like that unless you're winning all the time. Not the case for Rossi the last several years.

Total votes: 83

The best celebrations for me were Rossi 'taking a dump' in the porta potty, and Lorenzo taking a swim. Al the planned acting and dressing up... please.

Total votes: 69

What a race that was. But I think I'll wait just one or two more until I pick my hot WC contenders. Just too many question marks after this one:

What could Jorge have done had his helmet not failed on him? Who of the two Yamaha boys could have gotten more out of his package?

Could anybody have beaten Marc, had he (for once) made a good start into the race? What pace would he have been capable of, had he not overheated his tires?

What could Dani have done, had his arm not slowed him down? I for one really hope we will find that out later this season. It really wouldn't be a deserved end to his career.

Ducati has always been good at Qatar. Will the GP15 stay as competitive as it was here throughout the rest of the season?

Rossi was able to come back after a mediocre qualifying. Will he finally be able to get to grips with that QP format? He might have to if he wants to be a serious title contender for the rest of the season.

Big props to Rossi's and Lorenzo's crew for turning the bike upside down and making it a winner over night. Felt happy for Galbusera when he stood on the podium and received that (rather ugly looking) trophy. It was a nice celebration - everybody seemed honestly delighted. Couldn't have been more italian.
If I was Lorenzo, I'd be asking Rossi if he has a few spare AGV-helmets lying around. Every once in a while, you hear about riders having problems with their helmets due to the visor fogging up on the inside. And I can see how that can be a problem. Everybody who ever wore a motorcycle helmet can relate to that. But the pads coming loose on what is probably the top helmet that a manufacturer has to offer. That just shouldn't happen. And it's also the worst possible publicity.

Total votes: 95

Some comments and also Davids text says Rossi started in 10th.
I believe he started 8th on the grid.

Total votes: 90

He was 10th at the end of the first lap... this is probably what is being referenced.

Total votes: 99

...David wrote "...moving up from tenth on the grid to hold...".

Maybe it's my english but doesn't "on the grid" mean the start of the race?

Well, who cares when Rossi showed all haters he is still the King! :-)

Total votes: 95

I typed on the grid almost automatically, but I did mean after the first lap. I even looked it up to check! Unfortunately, my fingers had a mind of their own.

Sorry! And thanks for the correction.

Total votes: 93

I couldn't agree more with danomars comments above. For me the worst bit is when BT break to advertisements they have that stupid Suzi Quatro type voice shouting out something unintelligible, then the synthasizied sound of a bike going past. She sounds as if she is trying to sing while sh#tting through a cullinder. It makes me cringe so badly that I can't watch the show live, I have to be on a few minuets delay so I can fast forward through it..I just so much wish we could have some grown up and informative coverage. Something along the lines of this site would be perfect.
It is such a shame that we are interested in such a brilliant sport, but have our enjoyment of it spoiled by presenters who we have to pay for.

Sometimes I wonder if we fully appreciate how amazing Rossie is, how lucky we are to witness his career, and how history will look back on him..
To be push push pushing so hard for as long as he has shows amazing resilience to all the things that end normal careers. If you stop and think back to when he was a kid on a 125, and what he has done between then and now, it almost seems unbelievable- the stuff of dreams..and we have been lucky enough to watch it

Total votes: 109

3 or 4 years ago I just wished that we could see a reprise of Rossi's heyday, if only for one race, when he'd make a dreadful start (as usual) and then reel them all in, one by one. That was often the pattern 10 or 12 years back, and great to watch. Well, last night was just that.

Pure class, that's all I can say.

Total votes: 87

I thought it was just me about that BT advert break tune. It really grates on me. So much so I even emailed BT Sport last year to complain about it (sad I know), it's just, trying to watch FP1-FP4 Qual through to race day over the four or so days to that 'BT brand sound bite' every ten minutes drives me up the wall. Well at least they have tweaked it somewhat for the new season.
Oh and that ex-athlete presenter chap just needs to relax when interviewing, he just comes across really, well, rabbit caught in headlights comes to mind.

Total votes: 87

Did Race Direction consider the incident between Bautista and Marquez?

Great racing in all classes and a superb start to the season. Great to see Ducati running at the front again - personally I'm not too bothered about them getting concessions, or anyone else for that matter - if it makes for a better show. That's what puts bums on seats whether at the track or on TV.

Delighted for Ducati, terrible news for Pedrosa though.

Total votes: 92

I suspect it won't despite the new penalty points system. Rulings on this sort of thing are extremely difficult, but even so it does seem to be indiscriminate.

I thought there was a clamp down on touring looking for a tow/space on track, but that didn't seem to last long.

Total votes: 90

Brilliant race!!

Biggest loser- Cal crutchlow.

And

All of the experts using practice and quali as a guide for the race.

We are very lucky to be watching the career of Valentino Rossi

Total votes: 103

What was Cals excuse this time? ;-)

Total votes: 84

He didnt have any. He was satisfyed by beeing so close to the factory Hondas.

I like Carl. He is color in MotoGP like Rossi and Simonchelli ( R.I.P. ).

Total votes: 85

why do you think he needs an excuse ? first non factory bike, what more do you expect ?

Total votes: 99

Whilst Cal would have hoped for higher, I can't see how he was the biggest loser in this race.

The bikes that finished ahead of him were all factory bikes, maybe you could argue that given MM93 started from the back after turn 1 that he should have beaten him, but we're talking about MM93 here...
Finished <2 secs behind Pedrosa, and ~5.3 secs behind MM93. ~12 secs from the winner.

Scott Redding on the other hand won't be pleased with his & his team's performance...
In a brief interview on the grid before the race he said they were going to use settings that hadn't tried yet so he had no idea of his potential. His team needs to refine a logical method so that by FP4 they're within a click or two of their best settings for the race. Rolling the dice on settings at this level isn't good enough (don't get me wrong, I'm a big SR45 fan, I hope he does well and he has the potential to mix it up at the front).
Finished 13th ~6 seconds ahead of Nicky.

Total votes: 92

I wonder how much the new team is having teething problems with Scott's bike, he would certainly expect to do better than that, but I guess the team needs time to settle?

Cal; with the Ducatis now running like a proper full factory job (if they are for this season) the normal best for a satellite will be 7th. The days when the Ducatis are running 8th / 9th / 10th look to be gone. So Cal did very well, and podiums for satellite bikes from now on may be very rare.

Total votes: 85

He may have just lost his career. :(

(GWS)

Crutchlow made 2 mistakes in 4 days of riding, falling off in Q2 when it really counted and being caught and overtaken without much of a fight by MM93 who had went last after the first corner.

Apart from those two hiccups he did his job well enough. I'd expect CC will improve with time on the Honda. The potential to hassle the factory bikes is there, just as it is for the Espargarò brothers and Smith.

Total votes: 83

What an exciting race to watch! Two things I find scary (or the three on the podium should find scary): Lorenzo only slowed because of a helmet malfunction (and barely), Pedrosa was only slow because of arm pump (I guess that's not as easy to come back from), and most of all: Marc's race pace was frightening despite his mistake. No doubt in my mind he would have won minus his mistake. But as they say, that's why they line up on Sunday :)

Total votes: 113

... disagree. Rossi's pace was the class of the field, his march to the front was relentless and ultimately insurmountable by his rivals. Meanwhile Marquez stalled-out well short of any kind of podium threat, and showed no indication of having the crushing pace of Rossi and Dovi throughout the race. The lap times speak for themselves, Rossi was on another level despite being embarrassingly under-equipped on the main straight.

Would Marquez have been a factor had he started correctly? Of course he would have, he's Marquez. Would he have undoubtedly taken the win this time around? Not a chance in hell.

Total votes: 111

Disagree. They were showing tweets down below, someone tweeted the difference in pace between Marc and Vale, Marquez's pace playing catch up was MUCH faster than Valentino's race pace. If he started at the front, not a chance in hell even Vale would have been able to keep up. The lap times speak for themselves. He wouldn't of even had to use that pace to stay at the front so he wouldn't of destroyed his tire the way he did. Then by the end he would have had much more time to pull out to take the victory, no problem.

Total votes: 95

And I disagree with you, and so do the laptimes:

The fastest lap of the race was put in by Rossi. Marquez wasn't able to "run away" with it last year, and I doubt he'd have been able to this year either. Would he have been fighting for the win? Certainly. Looking at the lap times however, there are 8 laps where Marquez was faster than Rossi, and almost all of them came after Rossi had caught the front group. The largest disparity between Rossi and Marquez's lap times comes in at 1.9 seconds, in the final lap, in favor of Rossi. The lap before that Rossi was .9 faster than Marquez, and the lap before that he was .8 faster than Marquez.

The first lap that Marquez ran that was faster than Rossi was lap 4, by .1. After that it wasn't until lap 11 that he was faster again, by .5. By lap 14, when Rossi had caught the leaders (bear in mind he had almost a half second per lap in hand when he caught them) the times started to equalize in the high 1.55s with Marquez averaging about .2 faster per lap for 6 laps until the pace at the front picked up again.

All in all, of the 22 laps, Rossi was faster than Marquez over 14 of them, with an average advantage of about .7 seconds per lap.

Total votes: 118

While this is mostly pointless speculation (Marquez over-rode the first corner and Rossi won the race) - the "timing" facts (see the Analysis on MotoGP's website) are that Rossi ran 7 laps faster than Marquez's very best lap, and of those 5 were ~0.3 better than Marquez's best and one 1 was while "in contact" (not leading) with the slower group then leading (Dovi, Iannone and Lorenzo).

Rossi put in 15 laps under 1:56, while Marquez put in 14.

Rossi's pace dropped to lap slower than 1:55 only when he caught the lead group, and then accelerated to nearly his best pace again once he got in front for the last 2 laps; his last lap was his 3rd fastest of the race. On the contrary, when Marquez got by Pedrosa (lap 12) he was running mostly 1:55.9 - 1:56.1 in "clear air" and plainly stated that this was his limit.

As the numbers show, Marquez was only about the same as Lorenzo (high 1:55s), and maybe a tick quicker than Iannone and Dovizioso - and recall that Lorenzo got a very good start, leading the race for most of the first ten laps. Rossi managed to come up from 10th and run down Lorenzo *before* Lorenzo's helmet failed. Maybe Marquez cooked his tires passing Melandri and Cal Crutchlow, maybe not.

But again - this is all speculation. Rossi happened to have a brilliant day, Marquez was "only" very good - with a big error - and Lorenzo had an equipment malfunction - and we were treated to a brilliant, race-long battle among 5 different bikes at or near the front (Pedrosa was up there for a while). Next race will be different - Based on last year, I suspect Marquez will walk the Yamahas, but the Ducatis...the Ducatis will keep it interesting.

Total votes: 96

I'm really confused by the difficulty some are having with launching their m/c. Launching a bike is an art, but they can go to schools to learn that 'art'. And before I get harpooned by some, I spent alot of time, at the strip, drag racing m/c's, not only my own, but anyone's bike that wanted to see how fast she really was. Marc started from pole how many times last year? And how many times was he first into turn 1?

Stunning race, but.......Qatar is a 'bogie' track. I'm hoping that the rest of the season is similiar, with the Duc's up front fighting with HRC and Yamaha.

Total votes: 85

Re drag strip testing, you are 100% on the money. Equally as important as those skills learned on the dirt ovals.

Those aren't quite so useful when you have to thread your
way through a " traffic jam " from the back of the field.

Total votes: 75

Were there any points assessed this weekend? I am sure Bautista's team was unhappy that he had to retire after Marques clipped his front wheel.

Total votes: 82

Marquez received a penalty point for less egregious contact with Pedrosa in 2013 at Aragon. He deserves to be penalized.

Total votes: 98

Well, well, well, we were there, we witnessed the dawn of a new era.
Ducati are back, any doubters left with no where to go, nothing to say
No soft tyre excuses
Boy oh boy can that GP15 move
What a race, what a start
Who can't be glad for No 46
So looking forward to 2015...........
Go Ducs

Got to say, sorry David , biggest chump , Cruchlow........ what a donkey

Total votes: 91

I've been a fan of Rossi for a long time and the reason why was demonstrated in Quatar. TBH, I thought the most he could hope for was podium and that's assuming everything went his way.

All weekend he struggled somewhat, qualifying was a bit mediocre, ends up 10th after the 1st lap, yet somehow he finds the will to win. Over the years I can remember many similar circumstances when everyone (including myself) wrote him off. What an amazing performance!

On another note, hats off to Gigi! I bet his stock went though the roof after this weekend!!!

Total votes: 101

I think Rossi's crew were finishing up the Qatar test the first day. Then they messed about trying to get the hard front to work with setup. As is often the case, they work all weekend through the warmup to set the bike up. A common practice in that garage with either crew chief, past or present.

Total votes: 78

Great race, def. had me standing up and pacing the entire time. Just glad we are apparently in a new era as far as competition goes.

I would like to take a minute and address the complaints I'm reading here about the broadcasts. I am limited to the FoxSports broadcasts here in the U.S. where I live, broadband internet is not available so the videopass is out of the question. Here's a rundown of our coverage here:
-broadcast begins during the end of WU. This is accompanied by 30-45 secs of voiceover done by someone who I've never heard of, spouting the most general info & little to no insight.
-race begins and we are piped into Nick, Matt & Dylan
-commercial breaks come and go, usually during a crucial part of the race (I understand the need for sponsor advertising, etc)
-return from commercial break where the voiceover continues, spouting the obvious
-the broadcast continues like this til the end of the race
-post race coverage consists of 2-3 mins (that's being generous) of coverage at a time & then a return to commercials. It really is a farce. BTW, Nick, Matt & Dylan are never heard from again after the checkered flag....only the talking head I've never heard of.
-maybe we get a 20sec interview with the winner

Now, this is just the premier class. Moto2 & 3 are never shown live except for Austin & Indy (which I usually attend)

All other rounds I wake to see live (6:30 am usually, sometimes earlier) because I cannot stand to wait all day & avoid spoilers. Moto2 & 3 are usually always spoiled for me unless I watch live.

So last year, I wondered how broadcasts were elsewhere. I'm not sure the round, but on Monday I downloaded illegally, the BTsport broadcast and took home to watch......

HOLY $HIT!! YOU LUCKY BASTARDS! It's a proper production with pre-race leadup, interviews from the grid, experts talking up the current events & this goes for all 3 classes. I thought to myself "If only the people I talk up this racing series to could see this then they might get hooked as I am".

Just saying, you have no clue how lucky you are.

Total votes: 112

Even when they show the race delayed (usually because of NASCRAP) the US producers put the commercials in at critical points in the race. The US commentators are generally very poorly informed on the sport. I'm so glad Dorna offers the videopass and I'm perfectly happy to go to a business with decent wifi to watch the races. ALL the races. In multiscreen. Oh, WSBK videopass too. I work on ships so I often can't watch a live tv feed anyway.

Total votes: 98

Having lived in Australia, New Zealand and the Falkland Islands I agree that the British coverage is head and shoulders better than anything else - if you can even get it.

It was a small part of the reason we moved back to the UK last year despite being from the Southern Hemisphere (NZ).

Enjoy the coverage as it is awesome, and as if that isnt good enough you rarely have to wake early to see a race. If you dont like the coverage it isn't much of a stretch to go see half the races live...people just dont know how lucky they are.

Total votes: 78

Something you forgot to mention is that the MotoGP broadcast isn't on Fox, it was on Fox Sports 2.

For some reason (I didn't bother checking) NASCAR which was normally on Fox was bumped to Fox Sports 1. Which bumped MotoGP (normally Fox Sports 1) to Fox Sports 2. I'm assuming you're using, like me, DirecTV - if you're far enough out in the boonies that Internet connections won't work, I figure its a safe assumption.

This morning, I'm planning on discussing the race with a co-worker of mine at the Honda/Yamaha/Can-Am dealership where I work, only to find out he didn't see the race. He's on Comcast - which doesn't carry Fox Sports 2.

As I'm planning on leaving the boonies for the small-town-off-I-95 life, I was figuring no more satellite dish. Finding this out may make me refigure my possibilities.

Total votes: 79

I texted all my friends that I would not be able to watch the race until late Sunday night and begged them not to send a spoiler out. I avoided all my typical websites so that I could avoid learning of the outcome.

And then it happened. At a wedding, checking my email during an overly long Father-of-the-Bride speech,I checked my yahoo to see an email from the Motogp webiste with the subject heading, "Rossi wins season opener"

DAMN YOU!!!!!!!

Total votes: 105

MSS 58 I had the same experience. And I never asked to get those emails. Time for me to put all theirs on a "junk" label.

I think you were being personally punished by the marriage gods for being on your email in a sacred moment. But I can't figure out what I did to piss them off too. I haven't even been unfairly criticizing Crutchlow. Must be my lingering resentment towards HRC for fuel and engine limit rules or something.
;)

Total votes: 93

I knew after testing that hoping for more from Hayden's and Laverty's Honda's was optimistic, but I was still hoping. 17th and 18th is not where I wanted to see them.
With both the sponsor and the bike/package a letdown this weekend, I really would like to see Honda to assist here. I'm not saying Honda has done nothing, it's just whatever they have done it's simply not enough.

Two winners for me this weekend were (of course) Rossi (and team) and Mr. Gigi Dall'Igna.... flat out WOW..

Total votes: 86

I frequently see the comment "they worked long hours into the night to achieve the result". Ducati had been doing that for years with the same (crap) results. The real reason for a turnaround in their program was the DECISION TO CHANGE what they were building and how they built it. Admitting you have been doing things wrong can be hard for executives, managers, and engineers. Then the long hours came in to build it over a short period of time. That they seem to have gotten it right the first time out is a great credit to D'allignia's ability as an engineer and leader.

Total votes: 92

If Qatar is a bogie track then we need more tracks like it!

I don't believe it is at all, it has a great range of bends for bikes and that super straight! And it has provided some of the best racing in the past few seasons, with all of the teams having raced and tested there for many years now.

Now COTA, that's a different story. Bogie is nowhere near a strong enough term. COTA is one of the worst racetrack designs ever in my opinion. And it has only provided dull Honda processions, hopefully not this year however I believe the real anomaly of the season will be next round.

Does anyone have a picture of Lorenzo's Helmet? I find this similar to the mosquito thing from last year....
Rossi has beaten Lorenzo far more often than not now on the same bike, after coming back from his desmo misadventure it just took a year to get the bike and front end more suited to VR
I agree with many here, Rossis win was truly great and yet another example of his unmatched talent. The speed deficit on the straight for The yamaha was far more prominent this season, not quite 2007 levels but still very noticeable. Making this victory all the more scary for his rivals and I think Marc actually looked a little rattled after that race, let's face it why do they call him the doctor again?

Total votes: 88

Thats borderline dangerous to continue racing with that little vision. Anyone who's done some track riding will know how much you need the top third of your visor to see when you're cranked over and trying to see through the next turn. Jorge did very well considering!

Total votes: 91

Is that a custom painted helmet? If so, could the lining have been damaged when it was potentially removed for painting?

Total votes: 86

That very top line of sight of is used SO much, that really would be a big deal.
Arai or Shoei. The others are just sponsorship opportunities and a bad idea.
Less likely damaged, more likely not seated in/snapped all the way.

Total votes: 80

First time I've ever heard of this happening at the peak level of motorcycle racing, and I started seriously following GP in 1993. It's just one of those freak things that happens, like having your rear traction control sensor wiring torn off by another bike.

Total votes: 80

"Rossi has beaten Lorenzo far more often than not now on the same bike, after coming back from his desmo "

Lorenzo leads the heads up count between him and Rossi 23-13 (or so I might have miscounted) since Rossi returned from the Ducati years.
I'm stoked that Rossi is riding competitively again, more guys at the front is always a good thing and Rossi is great to watch, and maybe he will beat Lorenzo over the course of this season, but lets not let excitement or good sentiment cloud the actual facts

Total votes: 101

It has been said on here before that fast tracks produce good racing. Qatar is relatively quick with no really slow corners bar the first two, then the rest of the lap looks mostly 3rd gear or higher.

COTA is, as you say, the polar opposite. The last section of the lap is probably 2nd gear all the way, with a few first gear corners. It's a poor design with too many slow corners and looks more like it's been designed for drag racing with the corners an afterthought.

Other slow tracks, like Donington Park, Laguna Seca and the Sachsenring, also produced rotten races in the premier class. The most memorable races tend to come at Mugello, Silverstone, and Brno, which are proper racetracks...

Total votes: 74

Hey I just wanted to say I very much enjoyed this article. I watched the race on MotoGP, but there was so much going on it was hard to take it all in. It took reading David's color commentary to really understand what happened and why. The fact that Rossi emerged as the fastest bike on the track for the race even though he was so far back... and then he just sat back there cruising in the slipstreams of the top three for so many laps maybe saving fuel. His tire choice! Dovi's last two laps trying to set Rossi up for the draft pass at the stripe, and then losing grip trying to get his drive out of the last corner (yet still posting his fastest lap). Rossi making that little gap on Dovi the last 3 corners. Fantastic stuff. Great insight from Motomatters! Thanks

Total votes: 95

First off: Thanks for doing what you do.

Moving on, man, I think my heart rate didn't drop below 120 bpm until at least halfway through the post-race press conference. With two toddlers in the house, I've had to tone down my anal-retentive consumption of MotoGP over the last few years, so I've been mainly sticking to the races and reading this site at work. Last night, though, thanks to a bout of insomnia, I got to watch the whole race and celebrations and press conference and interviews. There was a lot to take in!

In the lower classes, I was really impressed with Zarco's interview. Refreshingly chin-up, considering the turd sandwich he had just been served. In the premiere class, there was tons of intrigue. Lorenzo's interview solved the mystery of his sudden dropoff in pace (I had figured tires). A lot of emotion from Iannone, and I liked Dovi's attitude, too. Marquez didn't seem to give a flying flap that he'd taken another rider out of the race--or at least was totally unaware that it had happened. So nothing new there. And then there was Pedrosa. I knew something was REALLY wrong just from the tone of his voice. It was pretty clear that he might not be coming back. Sad.

I then went into excitement-tempering mode, checking the timing sheets to see if the race was a fluke. From how hard he was charging forward, I wanted to see for myself that Marquez would have dominated the race had he not screwed up Turn 1. I was shocked. Others have pointed it out above, but, based off lap times alone, Rossi was winning this one. I won't repeat that analysis, because others above did fine job, but it's all there clear to see. That Marquez was running an overall faster pace than the leaders is a Twitter myth.

With about a half dozen laps remaining, you had, I believe, Lorenzo leading Dovizioso, then Rossi, then Iannone. Nick Harris says something about how tough a race it was to call, but his guess was Dovizioso. I was shocked. "How long have you been doing this, Nick? It's four riders wheel to wheel with a few laps to go. I don't see an apparent bike advantage over a whole lap, and Marquez is nowhere to be seen. Rossi's winning this race."

Speaking of Nick, count me in his fan club. Does he add anything other than a British accent and overused catchphrases? No. But he's been the man since I started watching this sport (2005), so MotoGP just wouldn't be the same for me without him. Familiarity thing. I miss Gavin, though, and wish the new guy could pronounce the riders' names properly.

Total votes: 96

All I have to say is, given that Pedrosa will possibly look into his arm pump issue and miss out on some races, it is a fantastic opportunity to bring Stoner temporarily back at HRC! We should campaign for this!! :)
Imagine Marquez and Stoner in the same team, while Lorenzo and Rossi with a competitive Yamaha and two competitive Ducati's as well. 6 riders for the win (ok maybe 5 but Iannone will get there)

Total votes: 94

Casey last raced a MotoGP bike in 2012.
So he's only ridden some tests since, in 2013 and 2014 and 2015 pre-season.
It's now 2015 and I doubt he has the core fitness required to ride 20+ laps at this level. On the less demanding WSBK Bayliss showed he had speed but lacked race fitness. No reason to think Casey's situation would be any different.

In any case, MotoGP should be looking forward and Honda should decide which satellite rider they want to draft in - Crutchlow or Hayden or Miller or Redding or Laverty, for example.

Me, I'd probably look at giving it to the fastest guy with his career ahead of him, and that would be Crutchlow. Hayden is at the end of his career arc, and despite it giving a boost to the USA market, I'm not sure he'd be the right guy. Miller is still to inexperienced. Otherwise I'd go for Redding.

Lots of complexity to deal with re team changes/sponsors/etc, but Honda can be very persuasive.

Total votes: 96

Casey Stoner will never race in MotoGP again. Honda would do anything to get him to come back. Dorna would do anything to get him to come back, as he is great for the profile of the sport in Australia.

The one person standing between Casey Stoner and MotoGP is Casey Stoner. Words are not enough to express how much he hates the MotoGP paddock. He is rich and happy, and has no reason to come back.

Stoner fans - real Stoner fans - will be happy to leave him retired. As anyone who follows Stoner on social media can see, for the first time in his life, Casey Stoner is truly happy. He spends time with his family, he spends time fishing, he hangs out with his friend Ryan Villopoto at MX races, he rides dirt bikes, sometimes he even rides a MotoGP bike. He has a life. A real life, not the intense, closed, focused life of a MotoGP racer. A life his parents wanted for him more than he wanted.

As much as I would love to see Stoner race again - one of the great privileges of my life has been to stand at track side and watch Stoner ride - I am happy that he has found happiness in retirement. He deserves it.

Actually, there is only one thing that could persuade Stoner to return: if MotoGP switched to 750cc two strokes. Bu Honda would never accept MotoGP changing to two strokes again.

Total votes: 101

Yamaha made the TZ-750.
That would probably not sit so well with HMC :)

Total votes: 81

Maybe the chance to test himself against Marquez and a revived Ducati squad might prove too hard to resist? Maybe a couple wildcards at a few GP circuits he hasn't yet raced is a more tolerable prospect than coming out of retirement? Maybe a temporary stint absent the pressure of an active career can just be a bit of a lark, leaving his well-earned happiness intact?

The decision is out of our hands, David. While it remains unknown, what's the harm in dreaming?

Total votes: 69

Stoner has said multiple times to multiple media outlets and privately to HRC staff that he does not want to race in MotoGP. I understand that fans want to dream, but there is more chance of Giacomo Agostini racing an MV in MotoGP than Stoner coming back.

Total votes: 72

Are you saying there is a chance that Ago may race the MV in Moto gp? ;-)

Total votes: 77

I'm glad to hear he's enjoying life. I don't understand the mentality of those who think these riders have an obligation to entertain the public just because they possess extraordinary skills. He put them out on the track for a few years - we paid our money and watched - he broke some bones - he had every right to call it a day whenever he wanted.
I also appreciated his refusal to stay with the conventional PR script in his post-race interviews.
He may not have a bagful of WCs, but he was one of the greats. I guess we'll just have to conjure up those epic 750cc 2-stroke races in our imaginations.

Total votes: 76

From Livio Suppo, via Crash.net.

Suppo laughed off the suggestion that former Honda world champion Casey Stoner, recently confirmed as competing in the Suzuka 8 Hours, could take Pedrosa's place. 
 
"Casey already said many times he will never come back to MotoGP."
 
I also suggest you read the excellent interview with Stoner in On Track Off Road (which I now also write a column for). It's interesting for a lot of things, and he states categorically at the end that he doesn't want to come back.
Total votes: 67

Casey won't come back. He's made it clear and I actually like the fact that he quit at his peak. And he's obviously quite happy. Even better. There's enough young guns to make MotoGP exciting.

But his recent interest for MXGP, his friendship with Villopoto, the two of them training together, his dirt track roots - I wonder if he'd consider dirt track racing on some level.
But probably not because a) the media interest would be huge b) the risk of injury would be high, given the huge table jumps and all c) in his last interview with OTOR he stated that he didn't like most of the track layouts, at least not at indoor events. Too many jumps too little emphasis on cornering.

Total votes: 75

There's a bunch of retired Aussie racers who are having a whale of a time just getting together whenever the urge takes them for a bit of MX or flat-track - Bayliss, Vermeulen, Muggeridge, McCoy, Pitt to name a few. Here's Vermeulen messing around in his paddock with Alex Lowes and Freddy Sheene:

https://scontent-lax.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-xfp1/v/t1.0-9/10432464_1015239...

They've all got their business ventures, and guest commentating spots, and other things going on. I was at a round of the Australian MX championship last year and Doohan flew his chopper in with Stoner aboard... there's no way he's giving up that relaxed lifestyle to go back to the GP circus.

Stoner will probably join in the flat track shenanigans at some point, when he's looking for something new to do. He won't be back in GP, period.

Total votes: 63

......that this site is a refuge for those of us who prefer intelligent conversation about our sport - thanks David.

What a great race - Vale looked like he had it weighed up even when he was in fourth so well done Dovi for keeping us on the edge of our seats.

My main reason for posting is to add to the comment about coverage in the UK. Personally, I enjoyed BBC's coverage. I thought that Parrish and Cox did a great job bearing in mind that the Sunday afternoon audience on a mainstream channel may well be pretty diverse.

I don't mind paying to watch my sport but I do resent having to cough up to BT, one of the worst customer service providers I've ever come across (Dorna feed is a non-starter for me, livng in the sticks half way up a Welsh mountain). BT even put the price up half way through last season - nice one!!

I must admit Heuwen and Ryder have grown on me (though I wish I could get rid of the image of Julian riding a Brough Superior in a stormcoat and wellies out of my imagination), I think that Neil Hodgson is a revelation, Abi Griffiths is pretty good (not exactly Susie but a zillion times better than last year's early season disaster zone called Melanie Sykes - doubt that they really need the tokenism though) Craig Doyle is OK, but Toseland and Thomas - no thanks. I like the comment above about Thomas sounding as if he's a link man on CBBC - spot on.

It could be worse - don't get me started on Eurosport! For goodness sake, why Jack Burnicle, unless you really want to know what a rider had for breakfast, what his Nan's name is and where his 'lovely lady friend' went to school (his clumsy, unthinking sexism drives me to distraction, and my wife to turning the commentary off).

Funny thing is, James Witham is pretty good as part of the TT coverage and was really interesting when he was on BT's Tuesday night show last year, but seems incapable of keeping the commentary on track when he's with Jack.

Rant over - thank goodness for this site, and here's to a brilliant season!!

Total votes: 67

He doesn't get histerical, he comes up with some great facts about the track history and just seems like a good bloke and a genuine bike enthusiast. Him and Whitam are the nearest thing to watching it with a couple of mates. I like the light hearted matey banter if the camera pans onto the crowd in which there is well endowed lady. In my opinion the Eurosport coverage of WSB and Moto gp when the had that is miles more palatable and grown up than BT

Total votes: 62

You know I scream yell clapping the night alone (was 2am here) pretty sure my neighbor doesn't mind and like I care... the feel is like watching Motogp in the 90s, totally awsome! and the season starts with this great race was just uber fantastic!!

Total votes: 80

... had a good start, dropped back... then took Abraham out on the last lap.

In his interview he held his hands up to the incident - genuine rookie mistake :)

Total votes: 63

As bad as his race sounds there were actually some really positive signs. Before he ran off he had made it nearly up to the top 10. After he ran off he took some time to gather himself, but his pace over the last 10 laps was better than many of the riders in front of him and better than all the other riders on the same RS Honda. He caught back up to Abraham on the last lap and was too eager to get past and took them both out. Still, I think to be as fast as be is after 1 race is actually fairly exciting

Total votes: 81

not julian ryder, but the other one (his partner) who talks fast like a horse racing commenator. so i would say nick harris is ok.

Total votes: 76

Keith Heuwen is absolutely awful. He has a very limited vocabulary for someone whose job depends of description of the events in front of him, massively sucks up to Rossi and Jack Miller and generally seems like someone who has been out of the paddock for ages. He is better than Cox and Parrish (if BT ever sign them I'll cancel my subscription), but that's not saying much.

Eurosport was at its peak when they had Toby, Jules, Spalding and Randy Mamola. Randy was able to communicate his understanding of the sport and of the developments in technology far more eloquently than Toseland is able to.

Total votes: 68

With all due respect to Mr Pedrosa, am I the he only person from whom the primary response to his announcement being excitement at the possibilities? Man oh man, when one of the four...er, uhm, time to say SIX, Factory seats comes open there is opportunity.

"Now boarding, grid spot number two leaving Earth's orbit. Will Mr Next Alien please report to the HRC desk? Mr Next Alien."

"We are very sorry Mr A.Espargaro, you have missed your flight sir. We can put you up at the local Suzuki garage in the mean time. And this is redeemable for $7 worth of Ecstar."

Total votes: 67

doesn't make you an alien. Unfortunately there aren't any better riders out there... yet. Trust Honda, they've checked.

Total votes: 74

Don't know if it's going to sit well with his new team, but if I was Honda I'd put Cal Crutchlow on Pedrosa's bike, I'd say to him:

"Here it is, you have the best factory bike there is, now STFU and show us what you got"

Total votes: 73

+1

Total votes: 73

The start is worth watching several times. Marquez slots in behind Pedrosa and lines up a good pass on him into T1. However, he ends up with Smith and Jorge converging upon his trajectory squeezing him out. Especially Smith. Seems more happenstance than error, he may have gotten a bit hungry to try and grab that pass, but then again hesitation brings a cascade of problem more than boldness.

I agree w you Neuro re that the Factory Honda does not maketh the alien. It does provide the tool though. Rider and bike, deep down into essence, cannot be differentiated. They co-arise. And I believe that right now the only alien without a dance partner is AE41. I also trust me. And much of our community here - thoughts?

Here is the start:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_7dsEiDzNFQ

Total votes: 65

Honda will only put a rider that will not be a threat to marquez for sure. But It's ok to dream off having stoner, Cal, just not gonna happen, most likely it's HA.

Let's just wait and see 5 factory riders compete on the next race, it's gonna be tight race to the end again. assume marquez and Lor will not catch the bad luck again, man, just can't wait here.

Total votes: 74

They won't take one of Lucio's riders away. Especially not now because he might be in the middle of negotiating with potential replacement Sponsors for CWM. That won't work too well if he doesn't even know who's going to ride for him.

Miller has to stick to learning riding his bike for now. Same goes for Redding and Laverty. I know that a lot of People would like to see Hayden getting one last chance, but I doubt that HRC would ever consider him. They have never exactly been over-appreciating his talents. Abraham? No way.

There's no obvious candidate in WSBK, either. Guintoli is probably not interested as he's looking to defend his title (however slim the chances may be). Van der Mark is a rookie in WSBK, so he's sticking to learning his new bike as well. And what's more: I don't think Honda would risk MVdM getting hurt when he's supposed to compete at Suzuka for them in a few months.

Then there's Aoyama. Makes perfect sense. He's japanese, he was actively racing last season, he's a test rider anyway, he might not be quick enough to trouble Marquez but he's not slow enough to disgrace HRC either.

Unfortunately, this would also be the most boring solution possible, in my opinion. And it takes one contender out of the race for the Championship after only the first race. That's a bit of a bummer for me.

I still hope Pedrosa does get better soon. Wish him well.
At the moment, I don't see anybody who could do his job better than him. (Well, apart from other factory riders maybe.)

Total votes: 72