2015 Austin MotoGP Sunday Round Up: Weird Austin, Ducati's Fuel, And The Wane Of Spain

Keep Austin Weird is the slogan of the Austin Independent Business Alliance, meant to promote small businesses in the Texan city. The Circuit of the Americas certainly did its bit this weekend. We had a delay due to marshals and medical support staff not being at their posts. We had a red flag due to a stray dog on the track. We had delays due to fog, we had one day of rain, followed by two days of peering at the skies wondering when the massive rainstorms which had been forecast would arrive. They never did. We had Keanu Reeves, star of both The Matrix and Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure, in the paddock, as well Carol Vorderman, British TV's brainiest beauty, at least for gentlemen of a certain age. You wouldn't imagine it could get much weirder.

It did get weirder, though. The MotoGP race ended up delayed by half an hour, because rainwater was dripping off a bridge over the track around Turn 3, leaving a puddle of standing water on the circuit. There had been some water there during the Moto2 race, Sam Lowes saying he had been very cautious through that section, as the bike was moving about. Franco Morbidelli had reveled in it, enjoying the feeling of the rear moving around as he powered through the puddle. Racers will be racers.

The sun which emerged at the start of the MotoGP race made the situation worse, paradoxically. Elsewhere, the track was fully dry and warm, but standing water remained in the shadow of the bridge. While making its final inspection lap of the track five minutes before the start, the safety car reported the water to Race Direction, and Race Director Mike Webb pushed the big red button to delay the start. That is not an easy decision. Webb knows that as soon as he presses the button to delay the start of a MotoGP race, it costs Dorna millions of dollars in TV penalty clauses around the world. It does not stop him pressing it, however, safety being paramount. If anyone ever wondered if Dorna sacrificed safety for TV money, their question was answered on Sunday.

Ironically, the races the Circuit of the Americas produced were anything but weird. The winners in all three classes rode level-headed, strategic races, executing a well-defined plan just about to perfection. In the Moto3 class, Danny Kent let riders ahead of him to explore the damp patches on the circuit, and once he had a handle on track grip, he put the hammer down and disappeared. In Moto2, Sam Lowes followed Johann Zarco for two-thirds of the race, before striking out on his own to claim victory, exactly as he had on his way to the World Supersport title. And in MotoGP, Marc Márquez rode around behind Andrea Dovizioso for four laps, assessing the way the track grip had changed since the much cooler warm up and qualifying sessions, before easily passing the Ducati, pulling a gap, and then managing it all the way home.

To cast this as a simple Márquez victory does not do the MotoGP race justice. The hectic first corner saw the field radically reshuffled, and quite a few surprises from the start. Andrea Dovizioso came out of the tricky steep uphill left hander followed by a fast sweeping right hander in the lead, with Marc Márquez and Valentino Rossi in his wake. Bradley Smith made a superb start to sweep round the outside of Turn 1, jumping from tenth on the grid to fourth entering the second corner. It was a smart piece of riding by the Tech 3 man. "I had seen that in previous races, other riders had got pinched on the inside, so I took the risk and went round the outside and it worked." His tactic put him directly behind the leaders, and nicely out of trouble.

There was plenty of that behind him. After his best weekend of the year so far, picking up pace throughout free practice, Scott Redding was determined to capitalize in the race. But he was a little too keen, perhaps. He dived up the inside of Jorge Lorenzo into Turn 1, forcing the Movistar Yamaha to stand his bike up. He then ran wide at Turn 4, outbraked himself into Turn 8, before diving up the inside of Pol Espargaro, losing the front of his Marc VDS Honda, and torpedoing the Tech 3 rider out of the race.

Espargaro was understandably furious. "In the first lap, why do you want to win the race? You have twenty laps remaining! If you are so good, if you are so talented, you can come back. Look at Valentino in Qatar!" The Spaniard said, his voice tinged with sarcasm. Redding had not come and apologized, Espargaro complained, going on to vent on Twitter, Redding responding to produce a typical social media spat.

It was a shame for both men. Redding and his team have solved a lot of the problems he has had so far this year, by going much stiffer in the rear of the bike. They had at first followed the direction of the other Honda riders, but as Redding is both taller and heavier, he needed more support from the suspension. That means stiffer springs – over 10% stiffer than the other Honda riders – in pursuit of more rear traction, which in turn drives more front grip.

Pol Espargaro had been close to his teammate for much of the weekend, and was chasing a solid result after a mediocre start to the season. The Tech 3 rider was trying to build confidence, and being taken out on the first lap does not help in this regard.

While Márquez rode a measured and competent race – and scored a win he badly needed to get his championship back on track – the battle behind him was the more interesting contest. Andrea Dovizioso once again locked horns with Valentino Rossi, this time coming out on top. Front tire wear would be the decisive factor, the Yamaha's corner speed taking its toll on the right hand of the tire. It was not just Yamaha who were affected, everyone was nursing their front tires, hence the slow start to the race. But the Ducatis made their tires last just that little bit longer than the Yamahas: Though Rossi took over second place from Dovizioso on lap 8, his pace began to falter on lap 16, and the Ducati man made his way into second again. Dovizioso managed the gap perfectly, pushing hard on the final lap to ensure he would not need to fend off any unwelcome advances from Valentino Rossi.

Andrea Iannone had been harassing Dovizioso and Rossi for much of the race, but he suffered front tire problems as well. The Italian dropped back behind Jorge Lorenzo, who was too weak from bronchitis to put in a firm challenge for the front. In the end, the right side of Iannone's front tire dropped off enough for Lorenzo to get past him, and take fourth.

The fact that Ducati bookended the Movistar Yamahas, with Dovizioso taking his second second place in succession, is confirmation that the GP15 is a genuine threat, at all tracks and in all conditions. Jorge Lorenzo got a good look at the bike. "Now they have a complete bike, they brake late, they enter very fast in the corner, the turning is good, and also acceleration." Valentino Rossi could not resist a little dig at the past. "I'm quite sure this bike is better than mine," he joked, referring to the GP11 and GP12 which suffered horrible understeer.

Ducati's success at Qatar meant that they were forced to surrender two liters of fuel, running at Austin for the first time with 22 liters. Though everyone in Ducati has been insisting that having 22 liters was not a problem, and that they had not been using more than that for some time, both Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso ran out of fuel on the cool down lap, Iannone parking the bike just after Turn 1. The initial Ducati response was that it was a fuel pump issue, which brought the cynical response that the pump wasn't working because it had no fuel left to pump.

Of course, running out of fuel as you cross the line can be seen as the ultimate in race planning, after all, any fuel that you don't use is merely unnecessary ballast. But Turn 1 is cutting it a little too fine perhaps, and the result of Ducati having focused on other areas. They were not forced to focus on fuel management like Honda and Yamaha, who have been racing with 20 liters of fuel since 2014. But the sudden rise in air temperatures before the race, and the fuel-hungry nature of the Austin track, meant that Ducati were possibly caught a little short. There was some furious swapping of fuel tanks on the GP15s going on after the start of the MotoGP race was delayed, the only way to legally ensure a full tank at the start and after the sighting lap.

After Austin, you can expect Ducati to be putting in a bit more work on fuel consumption. The next few tracks are lighter on fuel, not having slow, first-gear corners leading onto long high-speed straights. But you can be sure that at a track like Misano or Motegi, Ducati will need better fuel management. Misano is not a problem: the circuit is one of the test tracks Ducati uses, and they will simply send Michele Pirro out to do endless laps of the track to find a solution. Motegi is even tougher on fuel, though, and prohibitively expensive for Ducati to test at. Gigi Dall'Igna has until October to address the issue.

While much of the attention was on the battle between the factory Yamahas and Ducatis, Bradley Smith was having his best race in MotoGP. Smith had got an outstanding start to latch on to the front of the group, and ran with the leaders for over half the race. He had been focusing so intently on sticking with Rossi, Dovizioso and Iannone that he had forgotten to switch maps for traction control. That left him on the aggressive first setting, used to get the best out of a new tire at the start of the race. That meant he was overheating the tire a little as the race progressed, instead of switching to a map which was gentler as the tire starts to wear. It would not have made much difference to his final position, however. "Maybe it would have helped a couple of seconds up the road, but it wouldn't have changed my position overall," Smith said.

The biggest difference for Smith has been in his change of attitude. He has matured immensely over the past year, Tech 3 boss Herve Poncharal said. "He's a different man and a different rider, so much more mature and working and trusting the team so much more," Poncharal said. "He understands the team better and believes more in the technical package because our rider and bike is close to the Factory package. Last year it was always about what we couldn't do and when you think that you can't be with the blue bikes you will never be able to fight with them. Today he showed that he was with them." Smith put it a little more succinctly. "Nobody wants to listen to an angry ginger kid who is screaming at them," he joked. It is hard to argue with that.

There were outstanding performances in Moto2 and Moto3 as well. Danny Kent's victory in Moto3 was both clinical and devastating. The original plan, he told the media, was to push hard from the start, build a gap and manage it to the end. As the track was still patchy after overnight rain, he had a change of heart before the start, dropping back behind Miguel Oliveira and Niccolo Antonelli and letting them find the dry lines and the damp patches. Once he had assessed the situation, he pushed past the men ahead and pushed on to take the win.

Kent had a little assistance from the battle behind. "I was helped by the group behind fighting and costing each other time," he said, Oliveira, Antonelli, Fabio Quartararo, Alexis Masbou, and Enea Bastianini all slugging it out. In the end, Quartararo took second slot, ahead of Efren Vazquez. For Quartararo to get on the podium in just his second race, under dry conditions, is very impressive. We have been expecting big things from him, and he is living up to those expectations.

Sam Lowes made it two British wins from two races in Moto2, the first time two British riders have won on the same day since Sweden in 1977. Lowes was emotional, stopping on the way round to shed a few tears in his helmet, before composing himself for his return. Lowes thanked his team effusively, for believing him, but also for giving him the aluminum swing arm he had been asking for. Lowes had been beaten up physically, suffering a massive highside earlier in the weekend. "When you are leading, you feel no pain," he said.

Johann Zarco ended the race in second, with rookie Alex Rins performing exceptionally to take third, and his first Moto2 podium. These three men look like the cream of the Moto2 crop, while reigning champion Tito Rabat is struggling. Rins, in particular, has been impressive. Watching from trackside, he looks like a man who has been riding in Moto2 for several years, riding smooth and focused on the bike. Rins is the current championship leader after two races, showing he also has consistency to match his speed.

The championship tables in all three title races have some pretty surprising names at the top. Valentino Rossi leads in MotoGP, by one point from Andrea Dovizioso. Alex Rins tops the Moto2 table, but also leads Johann Zarco by just a single point, while Jonas Folger and Sam Lowes are just four points adrift. Only in Moto3 is there a clear leader, Danny Kent topping the standings by eight points. That isn't the only peculiarity. Of the nine men on the podium in three races, only three were Spanish, and there was only one Spanish winner. The era of outright Spanish domination of Grand Prix racing appears to be over. We are set for an interesting year. Keep MotoGP Weird.

Total votes: 90
Total votes: 146

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Comments

Nice article again. I was quite surprised about the fuel issues of Ducati and I'm also very surprised Yamaha (Rossi) didn't have it for a while, because in the past that was quite a concern for Rossi, running out of fuel a couple of times after the finish line.

Something else, can someone explain me why at specifically at CotA there are problems with wearing of the right side of the front tire? The circuit's direction is counter-clockwise with more left than right turns. Also, although there are assymetric front tires available they were not using them, if I'm correct. Heavy breaking corner entries were also all left corners, so why is the right side of the tires stressed so much?

Total votes: 132

I'm probably just talking out of my butt here but, it looked to me like COTA has a number of fast and punishing right corners. Turn Three into and turn six out of the esses looks pretty fast and especially the compilation of turns 16, 17 and 18 look especially punishing on the far right side of the tires.

Like I said I don't really know what I'm talking about but also maybe it has something to do with Bridgestone's priorities when designing the tires for the track.

Perhaps someone who knows more can chime in so I don't embarrass myself anymore ;-)

Total votes: 122

It runs counter clockwise but the fastest and longest corners are clockwise (turns 2, 6 and 16). So I guess the right shoulder of the tyres go from being relatively cold to as hot as possible in a very short span, and then they cool off significantly.

I presume these repeated cycles of cold - very hot - cold are natural tyre killers.

Total votes: 133

this thread really got me analyzing ...
At COTA the few hard braking areas are isolated & are followed by a slow corner. Most of the COTA left handers are followed immediately by a straight or right hander, giving time to cool off. All the left turns are either going uphill or are in first gear.
Whereas turn 2 is negative camber accelerating downhill at full lean. The sequence of turns 13-18 are full lean for 7 seconds, interrupted by a very short left turn, then full lean for 10 seconds more. Where the rider must accelerate/decelerate/accelerate while fully leaned over in order to maintain the fastest line.
come to think of it, the other tracks known for eating tires regardless of temperature also force riders to change speed up/down/up while leaned over for a long time.... Sepang many times, Phillip Island 3x, Assen... does this make any sense? any I missed?

Total votes: 133

It's difficult to see this on tv/video, but the fast right handers at COTA, mainly turns 2 and the 16-18 complex, tend to fall away a little on exit. Just my non-expert guess here, but I reckon it's hard, sustained acceleration pushing the front 'down the camber' of these corner exits that is shredding the front tires, rather than hard braking into rights. Turn 8 looks rather punishing as well.

Also, the aggregate in the tarmac at COTA is quite coarse. Though it has seen some polishing by a fairly heavy racing schedule since construction, it seems these big rocks could be quite abrasive generally. Just my .2 of a cent.

And yes, I have sent my resume into Michelin. I'll let you know how that turns out. :)

Total votes: 108

LOL. I wouldn't count the era of Spanish domination as over just yet. Congratulations to the Brits. It's been a long time coming.

Total votes: 138

But a bit of competence would be nice.

The drying of the track took about 15 minutes. The scheduled gap between the Moto2 and MotoGP races was about 50 minutes.

Given that the water was visible during the Moto2 race, would it not have been clever to dry it during the gap in the schedule? (Or at least go and check it out to see if it needed drying?)

Not sure if Dorna or the circuit are to blame, but if it really cost millions it was an unnecessary waste.

Total votes: 133

Was not at turn 3, it was during the 3 fast right handers towards the end of the lap was it not?

The water that appeared before the MotoGP race was a sudden appearance, the riders said they did not see it when they did the formation lap.

Total votes: 138

I don't know what you mean by formation lap. But Nicky said he saw it on the sighting lap, and that he made a mental note to check for it on the warm-up lap.

Total votes: 121

... made their tires last just that little bit longer than the Yamahas"

When's the last time we heard that?! It's truly a different era for MotoGP ;)

Total votes: 130

... it last year at COTA I guess? ;)

Total votes: 133

that was my takeaway too regarding Ducati and I was going to use your exact words to say it. Great to see that there are now three legitimate contenders for the top step (until they win and have some of their goodies/exemptions taken back).

Regarding Suzuki, both races have seen Aleix finish within 20 seconds of the winner. I would presume that this is meeting their expectations for their return season? I know they had plenty of time to develop this bike so I would have hoped to see them closer to the pointy end of things, but who am I?

Lastly, Nick Harris must be practicing his pronunciation of "Melandri" so as to hit the perfect "Poor Old Marco Melandri" comment.

Total votes: 119

Another Qatar it sure wasn't. Please not another year of watching Marquez streak off into the distance.

Total votes: 160

They say that fast flowing tracks make for great motorcycle racing - and I guess COTA proves that. It's slow and zig-zaggy, and even the moto3 race had a runaway winner.

Total votes: 124

Please tell me the rest of the planet was spared the American commentary I suffered through.

Kevin Schwantz obviously knows what he's talking about, but really doesn't have much polish or affinity for the non-stop rhythm of broadcasting.

Bob Varsha, on the other hand, should not be allowed anywhere near a microphone while motorcycles are racing. More than once, he wanted viewers to marvel with him at the fact that these were motorcycles we were watching: "Remember folks, these are motorcycles!" (Doing the important job of explaining to the audience why it would be a bad idea for the riders to bump into each other. Really.) "Over 200 miles per hour...on a motorcycle!"

Most of his context and background commentary ranged from at least a little wrong to just plain wrong, and at one point he was commenting on something being "typical Alex Marquez"...during the MotoGP race. I actually laughed out loud when he seemed to realize about half way through that he could try to justify some of the many long stretches of silence by making a few arbitrary comments about exhaust notes and then instructing the audience to, "turn it up!" and listen to the bikes. He probably just should have kicked things off that way and left it at that for the entirety of the race.

Total votes: 160

@Athorn, it sounds like the American feed may be more annoying than the world feed but as recently discussed on this site it's not like we don't have our own world feed complaints :)

At any rate, re: Bob Varsha, years ago he helped with Tour de France commentary for OLN in the US and Canada and admitted straight away that he was a complete newbie to the sport. He did get better in time and seemed to genuinely embrace the sport. I hope the same happens in his MotoGP coverage, for your sake.

Total votes: 119

The world feed--with Nick Harris, et al.--is what we get for non-US rounds. My opinion is that that team is professionally competent, if not necessarily to everyone's liking.

Bob Varsha, on the other hand, may be great at his job 95% of the time for all I know, but he is an absolute amateur when it comes to MotoGP commentary. I cannot think of a single thing he said that added any value.

Of course, commentary critiques are the lowest form of motomatters.com forum discussion, so who am I to judge? :-)

Total votes: 147

To 90% of the readers of this site, Bob Varsha has no idea what he's talking about.... But with that said, I still prefer Varsha over Scott Russell. And without taking anything away from Mr. Russell has accomplished on the track, listing to his commentaries was downright painful.

Total votes: 146

Varsha is clearly not a polished motorcycle racing broadcaster, but I found - after my initial discomfort with his style - that he was significantly less annoying than some of the other broadcasters out there. Granted he didn't have any insights on, for example, why the Hondas and Ducatis seemed to use their tires less, or other interesting technical insights - but he also didn't overwhelm the broadcast, either. Schwanz was dry but pleasant. This wasn't broadcasting to build up a crescendo of excitement, oftentimes inappropriately - this was more "calling the race", albeit somewhat deficiently.

There's room for this type of broadcasting. Sometimes its nice to have some genial idiot shouting "9-times world champion" repeatedly. And sometimes its nice to have a quieter approach, which is what we got in the States yesterday.

The pre-race guy, though, down in pit-lane, holy cow. That guy was horrendous. If I was a racer...let's say I'd quickly have a very bad reputation with the media. Even Rossi looked like he wanted to punch the guy, and that I imagine takes some doing - although have some fat jester mincing around in front of you before a race looks like just the ticket. Marquez maybe should consider hiring this guy for later in the season...head games can go both ways, I imagine.

Total votes: 151

Holy cow, that guy was intolerable. I only cut him some slack because he seemed to be struggling the most while trying to fill time waiting for the delayed race to start. Watching Rossi power walk away from him was hilarious.

Total votes: 145

I gave up on US broadcasts of any kind of racing years ago. I watch MotoGP on motogp.com and, while I find the mistakes and lack of attention irritating (that's Dovizioso getting a ride back... sigh), not to mention the RIDICULOUS switches to watching the crews while there's some action going on (obviously, the producers enjoy watching dudes chat), it's far less irritating than the mindless drivel that passes for commentary in the US.

I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that MotoAmerica gets this part of it right. Just because Nascar is popular in the US, doesn't mean that formula works for all motorsport. #LeSigh

Total votes: 141

I really could use some laughs right about now. By any chance are there any video clips of this hysterical commentary online?

Hopefully some person new to the world of motorcycle racing will come across this thread and understand first and foremost how amazing Grand Prix motorcycle racing is and secondly why we all love the enlightening quality of Davids work and general high brow comments from all of us that make Motomatters the amazing resource that it is.

"Remember folks, these are motorcycles!" ;-)

Total votes: 118

If I remember correctly , there used to be a race once where Kenny Roberts Jr. blew an engine during the sighting lap and all DORNA did was: Put some cement dust on it and race on!!!
Every time they passed the strip of oil/cement dust afterwards,
I was actually squinting...

Regarding the COTA race:

MM93 is the best rider on the best machinery.Full stop.
I do not want to take away his thunder....he has a crazy style.
He has won fair and square.
His style would gotten him killed on a 500cc 2stroke probably.

A status (best rider/best machinery) VR46 has had for 3 successive titles at Honda before he wanted to prove that it is the rider and not the machine who is responsible for the win.
I´m looking forward to that day, when MM93 shows the guts to do that.

What VR46 is doing at the moment is really amazing and to quote Mat Oxley:"Not even Jesus had 2 comebacks".

I think with the fast Ducati´s , there is that piece of luck that can only play into the hands of the Doctor by stealing points away from MM93 and to compensate a little for the utter dominance that is displayed by the Honda machinery.
But it is a two-edged sword as was shown by the almost hit from Dovizioso, which would have ended in a DNF for VR and him in one of the last laps.

I´m praying to the race gods, that its going to the end of the season with VR46 and MM93 head to head in Valencia, with a cool headed Vale bringing home his 10th title....that would be such a worthy end to his career.

Total votes: 172

I know it's a long shot--and far too early to predict--but there is a possible developing scenario where Dovizioso could actually end up a championship contender. Second at Qatar and second at COTA on a bike that's only a few months old is a helluva comeback statement. Add the fact that those are two very different tracks and that the crew is still learning the bike, and Dovi and his GP15 may end up being a factor at every race this season.

Funnily enough, given all of the discussion of a certain Australian this week, I'd say one of Marc's biggest advantages in that context is the lack of competition within his team for now.

Total votes: 147

"it is a two-edged sword as was shown by the almost hit from Dovizioso, which would have ended in a DNF for VR and him in one of the last laps."

The inference being that a fast Ducati is a physical threat to Rossi due to incompetent riding? I can't agree. Dovi has matured into one of the most consistently fast and respectful riders in the paddock, and he was never really a loose rider to begin with.

Rossi brake-checked Dovizioso in that corner, if Dovi had taken Rossi out then #46 would have only had himself to blame.

Total votes: 140

We were treated to Colin Edwards over at BT which was really good - he is doing some more later in the year which I am looking forward to.

Total votes: 132

I wish they'd put him in the box though, during FP and QP he was great, but having him down in the paddock with whatever his name is that they used to leave at home in the studio, fielding arbitrary questions is a colossal waste of his insight...(IMO)

Total votes: 132

In the past both Ben Spies and John Hopkins were really good. Very insightful without trying. Be nice if either got bored enough to spend some time on the mic.

Total votes: 148

Speaking of annoying commentators.. Is Keith Heuwen just the most unbearable man ever to grace a microphone? He constantly disagrees/bitches with what Julian Ryder says, he is so condescending to the guy. Julian is such a gent, and has such passion for the sport. I cringe nearly everytime Heuwen opens his mouth. Its crash.com level stuff most of the time.

There has to be better guys who've worked in broadcasting for a career out there? I don't think you have to necessarily be an ex-racer to be a good commentator, although you should have great GP knowledge as a minimum to have any "talking" job on the broadcast.

Total votes: 138

The old Eurosport team of Toby Moody, Julian Ryder and Neil Spalding was absolutely brilliant. I was extremely devastated when they broke that trio up, and went to twitter in vain to get BTSport to rectify their mistake.

No such luck.

Total votes: 158

They were absolutely brilliant when they had Randy Mamola, they started going gradually downhill which developed into a nose dive after he left. I won't deny their knowledge or passion but their arrogance came through every sentence and it was almost painful on stage at Silverstone each time I stood through them waiting for the riders to come out.

Colin Edwards was great this weekend, he was wasted though. On Friday morning you had Heuwen asking him questions, Friday afternoon Ryder asked the same questions and Saturday morning Gavin Emmett did the same again. You then had that Craig(?) guy in between races asking the exact same things again. Hogdson has come into his own on BT Sport. He was really good on World SBK but he's knocking it out of the park on MotoGP. Why wasn't he put in with Colin? It reminded me of that Marquez special they did. They had him for 45 minutes of screen time and instead of come up with questions that could of had incredible answers they blew smoke up his arse for the whole time. Wasted opportunities.

The race was what most of us suspected. I kind of felt this race would tell us whether Rossi is going to be a constant race win threat this year and considering he has struggled here in the last two years, to me, third says yes he will be. Looks the same for Dovi but I think Marquez and/or Rossi will always have the better of him.

Total votes: 133

I think once we saw that COTA was dry there was never really any doubt who would win....

The Ducati GP bike certainly seems to be a capable machine and if it can remain quick once the championship hits the well trodden Euro rounds (and the long standing flyaways at the end of the year for that matter) then IMO we'll be able to determine if it's a true title contender.

I realise that my following comment is perhaps unnecessarily snide to the current Ducati riders, but if their GP bike is truly a title contender, then it surely opens up rider possibilities in coming silly seasons....

....Perhaps Lorenzo would be willing to jump? My gut tells me that if he has another Yamaha year in Rossi's shadow then he'll want to change something, and beating Rossi on the Ducati might be just what the doctor ordered (sic)

However it goes with Ducati in both the short and medium term, IMO one thing is abundantly clear, the GP machine has improved in leaps and bounds, and all involved should be congratulated.

Ducati historically have not been shy in providing machinery to satellite teams, so perhaps soon teams will have a very real alternative to the Honda lease bikes and open options.

Total votes: 150

Well its true that jorge has had a mediocre start to the season but to say he will be under rossi's shadow this season is not wise. Rewind to last year and you will notice that it took only half a season for jorge to catch up to rossi and if he would not have had a disastrous final race, he would have been just few points short of rossi for second. But considering how his first half of the season was it was more than acceptable. Nonetheless if's and but's are not facts.

Head to head since jorge arrived at yamaha in 2008, rossi has won 21 races barring his ducati years. On the other side jorge has won a total of 33 races for yamaha. But since rossi was absent for 2 years (2011-2012). Lets not count the races jorge won during that period (2011=3 2012=6) which is some 9 races. Now even if we dont consider the races won by jorge during that period he has won 24 races since joining the premier class which is 3 more than valentino. Now that is a fact.

Now i am fully aware of what rossi is, a legend, a charmer, an icon. The number of races rossi has won, winning that much races is close to impossible for jorge given his current form. Jorge too considers him his favourite if pitted against agostini and hailwood. He said that during the press conference in misano 2013. But whatever be the case the fact is jorge never gives up and strikes back hard when all odds are against him as proven by his 2nd half form in 2014 and his comeback wins after injury in 2013.

Total votes: 159

It's fine that you defend your favourite rider, but there's no need to start arguing. Read the original post. It very clearly says if Jorge has another year in Vale's shadow...

Total votes: 140

You've kinda answered your own POV there IMO

That's the charm and the harm of Rossi. Absolutely, last year, Jorge well outperformed Rossi in all but the final standings....

....a disastrous start to the year, but he flipped it around, outscorced everyone (iirc) in the second half of the season, even including Marquez.

But the press, the fans... Rossi returns, Rossi the legend, Can Rossi win a 10th title at the age of 35+ Yadda yadda blah blah

That's gotta get a little under your skin, right?

But, just to reiterate... The crux of my post (and SERIOUSLY no disrespect to Dovi et el) but if the Ducati is now a sorted machine... Which top rider might they entice to ride for them.... And IMO Lorenzo might be high on that list

Total votes: 149

I'd like to think that along with a change to the entire bike-building side of things, Gigi may also have wrought changes to the management's approach to its riders... with those changes being a new level of respect for the riders, and perhaps a little more loyalty than has been shown to their riders in the past.

In other words, if Dovi and Iannone perform well, they'll be kept on and given all possible assistance to be in title contention... both of them have the potential; just look at how well they've performed so far this year, on a bike they are still getting to know.

Total votes: 128

so I highly doubt he is going anywhere especially considering how well he is doing. Iannone is doing great too and why would they get rid of their young up and coming guy? So, I tend to agree with you at the moment. I know they were looking at Lorenzo last year but they will have to say good-bye to Iannone if they grab Lorenzo or anyone else. Pedrosa could use an easier bike to ride versus that bull of a Honda.

Total votes: 157

The math of wins to wins is insightful in some ways, but like most math-in-life comparisons, there is more nuance than simply one number being higher than another. (Note: This is not a Vale-love, or Jorge-hater thing, or vice versa.) There are a huge range of factors to consider, including injuries, the level of other riders and bikes, luck, and on and on. For partial illustration, just look at each year.

2008 - Rossi 9, Lorenzo 1 -- Lorenzo's rookie year, Rossi probably at the peak of his powers, so no surprise.

2009 - Rossi 6, Lorenzo 4 -- Makes sense for similar reasons to 08.

2010 - Rossi 2, Lorenzo 9 -- Rossi wins 1st race, Lorenzo the next two, then Rossi crashes at Mugello, missing four races. He's back for round 8, but arguably not fit for awhile. He wins at Sepang, then Lorenzo wins Estoril and Valencia. Rossi has lingering issues with his shoulder.

2011 and 2012 don't count as noted...

2013 - Rossi 1, Lorenzo 8 -- Lorenzo deserves big-time credit here, probably his best year, especially considering the heroics at and after the epic crash in Assen. But also, Rossi had to learn to ride again after two years in the wilderness, on the bike that had been re-made for Lorenzo. Also, a certain MM93 started to kick everyone's ass.

2014 - Rossi 2, Lorenzo 2 -- Self explanatory. But worth noting that with the exception of one win for DP26, Marquez blitzed the season, quite deservedly.

I haven't even tried to analyze the podium count, but I suspect this wouldn't reveal a big dominance one way or the other.

So, yeah, there are numerical facts, convenient or otherwise. But numbers without context seldom tell the whole story. This is why context is so often excluded whenever someone with an agenda begins with, "polls show...", or, "studies have proven...", blah, blah. From a song by Don Henley, "Because there are no facts, there is no truth, just data to be manipulated. I can get you any result you like..." (The Garden of Allah.)

Total votes: 144

Once this bike gets into its maturity, Dovi will win on it and also challenge for the title...hell he may do it this year. Everyone is always thinking that only the 4 aliens can win the title...a consistent Nicky Hayden proved other possibilities and with the era of competition opening up with new manufacturers and Ducati regaining prominence (with the concessions...yes I got that) the old 2 horse race will stop. I used to take a jab at Dovi for not showing title credentials on the Honda BUT he was a second class citizen in that team and was not as mature as he is now.

Dovi is now the better rider and will win this year and his consistency is EXACTLY what Ducati needs for a title tilt...a title is not earned by most wins but the consistency....again Nicky Hayden is the perfect example of that... and it seems Ianonne will only get better...these riders will not lose their seat to Lorenzo....even if he approached them...Ducati is very grateful to the loyalty of Dovi and will hold him for a long time I believe. PS Lorenzo is quite content at Yamaha....

Total votes: 136

Fenati finished last season with 4 victories, second to Jack Millers 6 victories. Neither of them won the Championship.

Total votes: 134

Ducati is using 22 liters of fuel, and running out on the cool down lap, while Yamaha and Honda are only allowed 20 liters. Clearly the Ducati would not have the same amount of grunt and top speed if they were forced to run with 2 liters less.

The Open concessions have quickly become an advantage for Ducati, and they are taking points away from the true contenders. Dovizioso would not be 2nd in points if Ducati did not have 22 liters and the soft tire option for qualifying.

Total votes: 160

Rather than limiting how much fuel the teams can use, simply award manufacturer points based on fuel usage.

Total votes: 135

Ducati have been attacking the big problems with their bike, and thanks to some very astute reading of the (dumb) rules they've simply not had to worry about fuel while they rethink their bike. We know from recent years that it takes a huge amount of R&D to make 20 litres work, Ducati knew they only had to make 22 litres work (a much easier task by all accounts) so they devoted their energies elsewhere. Sure, it's not a truly level playing field but if they're going to write such dumb rules you can't blame a company for making the best of them. TBH I hope Dovi wins the title.

Total votes: 140

Look bro...MotoGP was on the edge of extinction in 2011 when they introduced the CRT's to increase the grid size... the races were boring and a time trial as opposed to a competition....this 2015 season is arguably the most competitive since 2007 with more numbers and more riders closer to the top. It is also the most unpredictable as every one waits with baited breath to see what Ducati will achieve and Rossi. The criteria has been set and agreed to by the same manufacturers you support. Ducati needed room to develop or they would have left. So do the new manufacturers like Aprilia who (because of the concessions) entered a whole year earlier, as well as KTM who announced their intent for 2017 with the current concessions.

We may not agree on how the concessions are handled but we (fans) do not need to, as the competitors themselves already do that. I think the tyre concession is stupid but this is the agreement that has and will help teams feature at the top if only in qualifying... so I take some good and some bad... The fuel concession is a cheaper concession made to help smaller teams but they already created a 3 tier championship if they diversify the rules anymore then it would really not make any sense...so they now have a package of concessions that are available to all teams who meet the criteria...once Ducati achieve the 3 dry wins in 2015 they will lose some concessions but next year they will have none!!

so in reality Ducati are developing and still need to in order to compete under a common rule next season. What they have done in 1 year would have taken 3 years under the old system...did you want them to keep doing what they did for the last 7 years for 3 more years? concessions work and just need to be managed...

Total votes: 133

The Open concessions have quickly become an advantage for Ducati, and they are taking points away from the true contenders. Dovizioso would not be 2nd in points if Ducati did not have 22 liters and the soft tire option for qualifying

Everyone agreed to the concessions and they were necessary. Honda has played with the rulebook many times to their own benefit. I think Dovi has ridden the wheels off of it and has earned his points.

Total votes: 166

No in the history of racing has gotten as many concessions as ducati

Total votes: 163

Last year when Ducati declared that they were going to run as an Open team, Dorna changed the rules and created the "Factory Option with Concessions", to prevent Ducati from gaining an undue advantage.

Dorna underestimated Ducati's ability to become competitive, and now the "Factory Option with Concessions" rule does not create some sense of parity while Ducati got its act together, it is giving an undue advantage to Ducati. Dorna needs to change the rules now, or this season will be tainted. While it is doubtful that a Ducati rider will win the championship, if they do there will be an asterisk next to the winner. In the meantime they will siphon points from contenders running under the Factory Option. All things equal, and Rossi would have scored 2nd at COTA, and one could argue that Marquez would have finished higher than 5th in Qatar.

Total votes: 148

But Factory Option with Concessions is precisely what brought Suzuki and Aprilia in. I think Ducati are showing exactly how the rules should work. Concessions granted to aid development to the point of contention, once that point is reached concessions begin to be stripped away. Its developmental fast tracking.

Total votes: 162

+1

Total votes: 145

Well argued! Couldn't say it better :)

Total votes: 137

The thing is though that even if Duc start to blitz the field and win every race, they do not lose their 22 litres or 9 engines right?

That is the bit I find heard to understand, the other factories must have been so sure of themselves that they didn't even entertain the possibility that Ducati could build a really competitive bike so soon. The fact they can start regularly winning races and not lose arguably their most important concession (fuel) is quite amazing IMHO.

But I totally agree that if you're going to have such restricted technical rules, then new or less competitive companies should have some latitude to do proper development. Otherwise, what is the point of competing? But unlike how it is now, once they reach a competitive level the concessions should come back to zero.

It's all changing again next year, and I reckon H&Y just didn't believe they could arrive with a competitive bike in 2015.

Total votes: 140

I think you've hit it spot on. When the concessional rules were created, no one actually thought that Ducati would be fighting for wins regularly, so they didn't properly plan the revocation of concessions. More evidence of this can be seen in the way the concessions are removed at the moment - where they just said 1 win, 2 seconds, or three thirds - without giving a points system. What happens if a factory concession gets a second and two thirds?

Total votes: 126

Blitz the field and win every race? Nothing even remotely like that has happened yet. When it does, then you can start your belly aching.

Total votes: 142

This rule set is only good until Fall. I don't see Ducati overturning the apple cart this season. I see success in Dorna forcing its hand and shifting the balance of power and complexion of the Championship.

I love it! Relax and enjoy the show.

Total votes: 125

No one is fooled by what concessions are...they are intended to give some advantage to underperforming or underfunded teams. However, the advantages are not so much that they are doing any kind of domination. Case in point... Ducati ran the same exact tyres in the both races as the Yamaha and Honda.. They managed decent performances but have not won any races yet... They also have not tested with their factory riders between the last event in Qatar and Austin...and I believe they are using the same engine from Qatar as well. The only question is 22 liters of fuel... an advantage which will be lost next year as Honda and Yamaha get the same allocation.

BTW, Honda and Yamaha had a say in the concessions...this was NOT the sole decision of DORNA...but it seems quite nice to blame them. IF Honda and Yamaha both did not agree to terms of concession they would not have happened but Ducati would have also pulled out of GPs eventually...without this opportunity and Aprilia would not have come in....
P.S. Advantage is a matter of perception...if Ducati is still losing to Honda and Yamaha, how is it an advantage over them?.... when Ducati begins winning against Honda and Yamaha then it is now an advantage over them. BUT that is why there is a system to remove these advantages although we disagree when and how fast to remove them!!!!!!!

Total votes: 124

I'm actually a Honda fan, but I'm always surprised at how eager people are to attribute Ducati's recent success exclusively to the concessions. Obviously the concessions help--that's sort of the point--but I think people expecting Ducati to drop back to mid-field when the concessions disappear will probably be surprised.

As you note, Dovi is a real talent and we've probably underestimated the extent to which he's been held back by his hardware the last few years. And as David notes, there just aren't that many tracks where the extra two liters are truly critical.

I think--and hope--that Gigi's Ducati Renaissance is the real deal. Time will tell.

Total votes: 164

The concessions are in place to help smaller, less-well-heeled manufacturers compete. Honda and Yamaha have the best engineers and most money and they've developed rules over the past 5-7 years that have effectively driven away competition due to the cost. Fuel limits, engine limits - it takes money and talent to meet these goals so those with the biggest R&D budget and most talented engineers win. Without concessions the only way to compete is the Honda/Yamaha way. Only they can afford it.

Total votes: 145

... on that basis Yamaha should get some concessions over Honda, because Honda dwarfs Yamaha.

It can't work based on size, it has to be performance.

Total votes: 136

Exactly. That's why the current concessions are producing a competitive Ducati. It's impossible to balance based on engineering talent and willingness to spend. The fuel and engine limits were Honda's way to get an advantage built into the rules expressly for them. Make no mistake, those limitations came from Honda. Honda wants the appearance of "fair" - "those are the rules" - whilst still being able to leverage their greatest strength under those rules.

Ducati is by all accounts a small factory. Without Marlboro's money they would have withdrawn long ago, just as Suzuki and Kawasaki did. In motor sports brands are just as important as riders. The brand is the equivalent to a major league sports team. In sports people root for athletes or teams. For a while GP had only two legitimate teams. That limits your fan base. In stick and ball sports it's still possible to root for an athlete on a poor team - they can still do well and show their skills. So you can root for them. Not so in Motorsport. A rider is limited by his ride.

Total votes: 123

The "true" contenders are on advantaged machines...why do I say that? because they have a greater amount of resources and finances to persistently outperform everyone else. The testing and development restrictions of the 2008 and forward ensured that new or underperforming manufacturers and team who also have less resources would never catch up as the powers to be (Yamaha and Honda) continue to reign and the history has proven that....who has won every single title from 2008? and who has won every single race from 2011? I bet you got the same answers for both questions....and that is ridiculous....

Ducati fell behind...it is not Honda or Yamaha's fault,.. but the rules disadvantaged any manufacturer who falls behind ensuring that MotoGP would never thrive. Ducati would have left in 2 years if nothing changed and Aprilia said they would never come and KTM expressed no interest until the concessions. The idea/soul and intent is not to cheat...it is to give these underfunded/underperforming/new teams a chance to get on even footing through accelerating development while bringing competition and improving brand image through improved viewership. Unfortunately DORNA, you or me cannot possibly please every one, so the concessions will and will always be a compromise with some ok with/for and against it...period....

Total votes: 130

I don't think either of you are wrong. Dovi HAS ridden the wheels off the GP15 and showed us that he is a talented veteran who should be taken seriously. I do think he is a championship threat, absolutely. But the fact that they have 2 extra liters of fuel, which they are clearly using every drop of, is a big deal. Watching the ducs obliterate anything aside from a factory Honda in every straight proves this. As hard as Dovi worked in Qatar, Rossi had to work harder to win there, basing his entire strategy on how to overcome the incredible straight line speed of the Ducati. It doesn't invalidate Dovi at all, especially after his performance in Austin - it just leaves us with some unanswered questions. Questions which will be answered as the season rolls on - I can't wait!

Total votes: 132

No manufacturer in history has been more coddled in racing than Ducati. Just look at WSBK up until a few years ago. If Ducati didn't win every race they screamed and cried that the inline 4s had an advantage. The rules were so heavily skewered in favor of Ducati that Honda built the RC51 (and won) because 4cyls were punished so heavily.

Motogp is in a sad state. Now Ducati gets special treatment because they sucked so bad for so long. Despite folks being excited about "racing" again lets remember that since 2007 every race (with the exception of 1 win each for Vermeulen, Dovizioso and Spies) has been won by either Pedrosa, Rossi, Lorenzo, Stoner or Marquez. 8 seasons, 120+ races and its the same (now) 4 guys, race after, year after year.

Total votes: 121

How is the dominance of a small group of riders--all of whom, with the exception of Casey's Ducati years, were competing aboard factory Hondas or Yamahas--an argument against artificially handicapping the bikes?

Total votes: 130

I don't agree with Ducati's concessions but I can't argue with that logic either. Let them have the fuel, take away the soft qualifying tyre. At least we'll know they aren't getting a free jump 3 or 4 places higher up the grid then.

Total votes: 140

I know no one likes the feeling that they're watching a rigged race, but I figure either:

1) The concessions provide an unfair advantage and Ducati should be stripped of them fairly soon (shortly after the start of the 2016 season at the latest, I'd bet), or

2) Ducati can't mange three wins in the dry even with the concessions...in which case they're not really providing an unfair advantage.

Hopefully it's the former and not the latter.

Then we can all start complaining about Suzuki.

Total votes: 132

I'm far from an expert, but watching the races it seems to me that the extra two liters of fuel is a much bigger deal than the soft tire. Sure, it's good to be on the front row...but how often have we seen riders get good starts from not only the second, but the fourth and fifth rows? Or, for that matter, totally botch starts from the first row?

The extra fuel, however....that seems like a make-or-break thing when you're talking about a bike with the obvious power of the Ducati. Wasn't it just last season that many of the troubles with the factory Yamaha were attributed to difficulties getting the bike sorted with the 20 liter allowance?

Clearly it's not just some minor issue.

I'm admittedly something of a Yamaha partisan, and now that Ducati has a bike that handles, part of me would like to see the fuel advantage go away (though I believe that would require a highly unlikely mid-season rule change). On the other hand, I'd be pretty thrilled to see VR win a 10th title....and if Dovi starts stealing occasional points from MM, I can imagine scenarios where it might work in VR's favor.

As to the title: some are already touting the inevitability of a 3rd consecutive Marquez championship. Seems premature to me. One thing I don't see anyone mentioning--and don't get me wrong: I like MM and would never wish ill on him or any other rider--is the ever-present possibility of injury. Sure, that's true for everyone...but consider that amazing pole-setting lap at COTA this weekend. Pretty wild ride--ragged edge of control. Had things gone a bit differently, he might have crashed at any of several points in that lap...and even if a crash isn't particularly bad, any get-off brings the possibility of some freak occurrence. (E.g., the bike takes a bad bounce and lands on you.)

I guess what I'm thinking about is the risk management/judgment aspect. I mean, that lap was neat to watch--but was being on pole really that important in the end? I know MM isn't the strongest starter, and you want every advantage you can get...but still, it's not like he's never worked his way up through the pack before. From a risk management perspective, was a wild lap like that really worth it? For that matter, what about that sketchy pass on Bautista in Qatar?

Anyway...whatever the answers to those any many other questions, I have the feeling that it really IS all up in the air this year. Hope I'm right.

Total votes: 135

I definitely think Ducati will struggle without the extra fuel. But Yamaha never ran out of fuel mid-race last season, and even picked up a few victories in the second half. I know Ducati in 2015 wouldn't be as well-prepared to manage 20L of fuel as Yamaha was in 2014, I just don't think the loss of that concession would necessarily mean sacrificing all of their progress without hope of recovery.

As far as Marquez's heedless behavior at the end of QP, I'm convinced he arrived in Austin intent on sending a very explicit message to his rivals: do not doubt me.

On Friday, his social media accounts posted pictures of him lapping in the wet captioned, "Happy in wet and dry conditions." From FP2 on, he seemed to pointedly place himself at the top of the time sheets, almost at will.

Anything less than a lap record shattering pole lap a few tenths clear of 2nd just wasn't part of his plan. Everything from the moment his first bike failed to the completion of his final hot lap were just the inevitable steps that circumstances required of him for his plan to proceed. With that out of the way, the race clearly followed his script.

Total votes: 111

Ducati will never have to manage with 20L. 22 is as low as they will go. Motegi might be a problem but not much else. They'll get it knocked. They've run on 21L before.

Total votes: 147

You cant just take everything away all at once, but it's time for Ducati to start competing on equal terms. Let them keep the extra 2 liters for now, but take the softer tire away. The fuel is more significant, but I think this is a reasonable compromise.

Having said that, I am not going to lie; I love that they are in the hunt and shaking things up a bit! Iannone is impressing me. Maybe not as much as Maverick and the new GSX-RR ( I never doubted Aleix for a second!) but Andrea is doing a superb job.

Another thought on Ducati... Gigi is a very smart guy. One has to wonder if he foresaw these early results and already has a GP15.x waiting in the wings?

Total votes: 132

Dayle88...we are on the same page.... I think the tyre rule is silly. Give them all the same tyres. This soft tyre is just a carry over from the CRTs anyway....all the bikes in the field make way more power than the old CRTs and are capable of using and working the "Factory hard" tyre.

I support the concessions in spirit although, like you all on here, I have my own opinions on how it should be....the problem is there can be no consensus on "at what point do they lose the concessions?" I am a Rossi fan and he thinks they should lose it now...but I disagree with him...at the time of his statement Ducati had not proven sh*t!...Ducati still has not won a race which, on paper means they have not beaten the Yamaha or Honda yet!!!

We cannot use individual perceptions a means of measure....3 dry wins is a CONCRETE OBJECTIVE FIGURE that was agreed on by the MSMA members and DORNA!! Love it or hate it the professionals thought it was a good compromise...and I have not heard anyone else crying about it except the fans and the racers...who are in a conflict of interest situation because fans want favorite riders to win and racers want to win for themselves! DORNA and some objective viewers want/need the sport of MotoGP to win and the concessions are helping in that direction!!

Total votes: 125

In WSBK? The only crying I heard was from a bunch of manufacturers hiding behind the skirts of privateers like Ten Kate, Muzzy, Alstare etc.

I mean seriously, what parts could you buy from Suzuki, Yamaha, Kawasaki and even Honda for your WSBK campaign? Virtually nothing, with even HRC parts very limited (try building a decent SP1/2 and see how far you get). As opposed to Ducati who build a complete bike (RS) many privateers can and have won on, with every single part having a Ducati part number and available from the parts catalog. You want a carbon fuel tank? How 'bout some magnesium engine side covers? Right down to the steering stops to suit those wide-track magnesium yokes, it's all available straight out of the Ducati parts book.

So Ducati have put in a worthy FACTORY effort year in year out since the series' inception, the other manufacturers mostly can't be bothered even turning up....and Ducati are seen as doing something wrong? Go figure......

As for MotoGP being in a sad state, it beats the hell out of watching Freddie Spencer beating a not too shabby rider like Eddie Lawson by +20seconds and lapping half the field as per 1984.

Total votes: 143

Aprilia has a parts uncatalogued much like Ducati and I don't recall them whining and crying in WSBK. Nor did I hear a word from them in the MotoGP (including support classes).

Total votes: 141

Don't forget that when Aprilia was racing the RSV in WSB they were running under the same twin regulations as Ducati... so of course they would have had little to complain about back then.

Then they switched to the V4, and ran gear driven cams even though they hadn't homologated them... over the years they've stretched the rules to suit them just as much as anyone else has. It's part and parcel of going racing as a factory.

And then there's Aprilia's history in the two-stroke classes...

Total votes: 146

... pick any TWO.

Its a project management philosophy and a joke at the same time because no one accepts the reality of that triangle in any aspect of work or life.

Honda and Yamaha motorcycle technology is a class above the rest in MotoGP. That is clear to anyone who understands (to a certain level) and enjoys the technicalities of the bikes. The biggest and most powerful factories with the most resources spend the most money and come up with the newest go fast doo-hickeys.

That said, the bikes and technology they have cannot (yet) ride themselves around the track. A rider (aka human) has to command the technology into the fastest trajectory possible around obstacles and other humanoids trying to prevent them from taking the machine through the perfect line. This is not created in the R&D department of any factory.

That leaves us the third object of desire - the racing. It is the balance of the two above factors that produce this, the object of our collective affection.

Electronics development has made the bike the single most important factor to winning. The rider comes second but is still not an insignificant part of the equation. If that were not true, Aoyama would have been able to jump on Pedrosa's "alien" bike and compete for podiums.

[Lets ignore the obvious set up and lack of time spent on the bike arguments for the moment]

The same goes for the extraordinary rider. Rossi for example, no matter how legendary his exploits have been, was unable to turn a "duc" into a swan.

[Lets ignore the obvious Casey Stoner arguments for the moment]

The racing. Is this not why we all follow the sport and flock to tracks and screens of all shapes and sizes each time the circus arrives at its next destination? If all we cared about is the tech or the rider, we could just go see the bikes on a display and meet the riders at autograph sessions and then go home. However, we do not. We stay for the races and argue the merits of bikes and riders based on the results.

That the rules have been changed to balance differences in technology without inhibiting the reason manufacturers even bother to go racing should be praised instead of ridiculed. That every rider personality and riding style is different and works differently with different bikes should be appreciated.

Yes, I say it is OK to tweak the rules to even the playing field somewhat. To prevent processional racing limited to just a couple of perfect storms at the front ... to incite disagreements and conjecture at what "would be" without them. Just lets not ignore that as Nicky Hayden would say:

"That's why we go racing on Sundays."

To see which TWO of the three you get on Any Given Sunday.

PS American in America who missed the MotoAmerica premiere completely because it was too much trouble to find the coverage for too little product to see. Did they really have just 10 bikes on the grid for superbikes? Also, I'd rather not watch than to have to listen to the American broadcaster options that make the "Jor-gay", "Espa-garo" and "the 9 times world champion Rossi" comments almost bearable.

Total votes: 147

That's what it is- the rider surely makes the difference, but not without a competent ride. I always get bashed for saying this (simply 'cause all my friends are Rossi devotees) but today if all the media and fans are celebrating Rossi's resurgence, it's not completely down to his 'godly' riding skills. It's, lets say, 60 per cent down to the Yamaha M1.

Rossi of today is more confident, pumped up and motivated only because he knows that he's riding a truly competent 'factory' prototype and not what used to be a donkey of a bike till late last year.

And perhaps that's the reason why I respect Rossi, but not blindingly worship him. Because for a simple fact, he couldn't win one single race on a Ducati based on his 'rider not ride' philosophy.

Also, if for instance, today it was Rossi in place of Dovizioso at Ducati, the press and everyone would be going crazy saying it's Rossi that had made the difference, completely neglecting the 'concessions' or the fact the Ducati has finally sorted its bike! Of course, when Rossi wins its his skills, but when Dovizioso beats him fair and square on a sunny day- it's all because of concessions, tyres, Dorna conspiracies, supernatural powers and what not! ;-)

Total votes: 137

It's what I've always said. Some like to say there's a magic symbiosis or perfect style for a given bike in motorbike racing, when the truth is more straight forward. There are great bikes and great riders, when you put the two together you get a title contender. In rare cases a great bike can turn a good rider into a title contender, or a great rider can take a mediocre bike to title contention, but only rarely.

Total votes: 132

It is good to see Ducati making a comeback, though we can only be sure as to the extent of the comeback only when all the concessions are withdrawn. Nevertheless its good to see them mixing it with Honda and Yamaha. My friend was saying Luigi Dall'Igna is a genius. Maybe, but there is no doubting the fact that he had to work with a staff that was humbled by years of humiliation and therefore gave him greater freedom than Filippo Preziosi (there I go I again) who to me is the real genius. Pity I don't hear of him anymore. I think Aprilia should pick him up for their MotoGP effort and give him full freedom and see what he can do. Wishful thinking, but......

Total votes: 127

Stoner also thinks that Ducati used Preziosi as a convenient scapegoat, rather than confronting the problems within the company.

Total votes: 131

Ducati has never had a problem.(in fact their only strength - until now)..

So why do they get more fuel and open engine development??? I understand that the rest of the manufactures agreed.... but why (like how stupid or arrogant)

Even when Rossi was at Ducats they had the highest top speed... Yamaha now sucks at top speed and power, and due to having to submit ALL their engines at same time Yamaha is stuck with what they have for the remainder of 2015.

I don't see things changing..for 2o15 = but now that audi is clearly throwing some development effort and $$... I would like to see parity, in the future, for Ducati, Honda and Yamaha. If concessions are granted to Suzuki than I hope the rules could be changed mid season should they have an un-fair advantage.

Ducati can clearly out negociate the other manufacturers (like completely stating the obvious... they could make millions teach others how to make deals)going forward, lets have them all play by the same rules...

Am I missing something??

Total votes: 139

Because high speed and massive power is useless when you can't stop and turn the bike... also the Open Class rules were drawn up to suit ANY manufacturer who wanted to go Open, not just Ducati.

It's fair to say that Ducati were the main reason for Open Class, but that's because Dorna knew that with no other options available then Ducati would exit MotoGP, and no other manufacturer would be interested in entering. We'd have a Honda vs Yamaha snooze-fest.

So I for one am pleased with the way Dorna did it, because their vision has been realised - Ducati now competitive, and Suzuki and Aprilia contesting the series. I'm not seeing much to dislike, in fact.

As long as you have racing, you'll have perceptions of disparity. There is no perfect one-size-fits-all formula, if you want to encourage multiple manufacturers. Like they say about democracy - it's an imperfect system, but it's the best system we've got.

Of course, the moment that Ducati get back to parity with the Japanese, we'll have more changes that will alter the dynamic again and favour one manufacturer or another.

Total votes: 140

Superb article once again David, I'm a first time poster but long time reader and finally thought I should show my appreciation.

Keep Motomatters weird :)

Total votes: 138

Welcomed Damodici!
Come back soon. The water is warm. Except when it is not, but it is always interesting and usually exceptionally thoughtful.

Total votes: 127

That Ducati has a LOT going for it in many areas. One clearly being the motor - yes Rossi was able to get a bit on Dovi on the brakes but WOW did Dovi grab some grunt off of corners! Great bike.

I am having a hard time feeling sorry for Honda and Yamaha for Ducati getting 2L of fuel that they could have had but declined. It is THEIR fuel limit they self imposed. Ducati has always had motor...now that they can get that power down on the ground again get ready to hear the "Ducati power" phrase a bunch like the old days.

Now Ducati and coddling can hold some more water in WSBK right now. The last minute restrictor plate removal rule may have been a bit much. Chas Davies is a great rider of course, but Aragon had him walking away from Rea and Haslam such that I think they should have split the difference between the previous intake restrictor and none. Oh, and while I am at it, that WSS regulations should change to allow the 899 middleweight Ducati in ASAP. The 750 twin rule juxtaposed w the 1199 twin rule? Incongruent.

Congrats Smith - you suprised me mate.

Rossi - so glad you are showing the kids how it is done, and am betting on you and Yamaha adapting to Michelins well.

Marquez - you sure look good up there! Beautiful to behold. Don't take it personally but I am hoping you and Honda don't find the Michelins to your liking.

Gigi - thanks sir, you and everyone in red have brought us much joy. Impressed and very appreciative.

MotoMatters readers complaining about commentators - if you wonder about posting that or something else I recommend going with something else. ;) But stick around! What are your other thoughts about the race? Come on! We are SOOOO lucky to have this racing, eh?

Total votes: 144

Dovi has made an excellent start this season with the gp15 and looks very competitive. I agree that its not easy to say if he would have done the same without the concession rules. One might say that Dovi is a excellent smooth rider which can possibly fight for the championship because NOW he has the equipment. For those I should remind them that he was a factory repsol honda rider for 3 years (2009-2011) and was beaten by his teammate(s) basically every season (2011 he finished 9 point ahead Pedrosa while Pedrosa didnt score for 4 races because of a collarbone breaking crash).

Maybe he just got better and better and can finally show his potential, he was pretty impressive in his year at Tech3. But, Rossi was championship material from day 1 in 500cc/Motogp, can't say the same for Dovi. I do think Ducati gains a lot of benefit with the concessions, high grid positions and more power because of the extra fuel, the question is, how much. We will see that next year.

Total votes: 143

Looking at how Dovi has done since moving into MotoGP - final standings in the championship, with higher-placed finishers listed in order.

2008 - Honda - 5th, behind Rossi, Stoner, Pedrosa, Lorenzo

2009 - Honda - 6th, behind Rossi, Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Stoner, Edwards - and that's with four retirements during the season

2010 - Honda - 5th, behind Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Rossi, Stoner

2011 - Honda - 3rd, behind Stoner and Lorenzo. May have been 4th if Pedrosa had not been out following Simoncelli collision

2012 - Yamaha - 4th, behind Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Stoner

2013 - Ducati - 8th

2014 - Ducati - 5th

It's hardly a poor record - let's ignore the Ducati results for obvious reasons - and certainly doesn't paint Dovi as an also-ran. He's just been up against five of the fastest racers that GP has ever seen. I'd also note that the RC212V lost its way somewhat from 2008 to 2010; it certainly wasn't the bike that the M1 was, although Pedrosa still managed some solid results on it.

With the right bike, and the right run of luck (which is a necessity for a title), he is a serious contender. I think half of that equation is in place for 2015. Now we just need him to not DNF (more than once at any rate) and to walk away each time he bins the bike... and he might just become a double WC.

Total votes: 134

Dovi has always been one solid racer. Truly one of my favorites as far as being a solid person, but he has shown quite a few times to 'find' something wrong with the bike as a reason for not winning. The Repsol Honda he was on was not the best it has ever been, but it was not that far off the Yamaha. For instance, once Stoner came onto the team, all the sudden there were alot less complaints about the bike and alot more of working to see what he could do to improve his riding. He and Pedrosa had to stop and look at themselves to find solutions. Even now Dovi speaks of the braking issue with a VASTLY improved Ducati, but there is no way in the world that the braking is too bad with the way he avoided hitting Rossi in the race.

If he can find a way to focus on what he can do to improve around the problems, I believe the sky is the limit. Because this is the SECOND time he is on a good FACTORY ride. If he cannot fight now, he may never be able to. I wish him the best, he now has the bike to put in a real run for the title.

Total votes: 127

He does have a good shot at this championship. I am looking forward to watching to see what happens.

I am not concerned about the fuel. They built their bike to work with 22 liters because that is what they were told they would have through the season and what everyone will have next season anyway. Honda and Yamaha were aware of the rules, it is part of the game. Now, if it would get everyone to stop whining I would gladly give Honda and Yamaha an additional 2 liters of fuel now to make it even.

I do think the Ducati will be competitive without the soft tires. Dovi is an excellent starter which would make up for most of it anyway. It is too bad they didn't win that Qatar race. The hard tires might be helpful at a track or two like Argentina. But let's see them win a race and then worry about that!

Total votes: 139

Well said good point my friend, feel free to triplicate. There are a few readers making essentially the same post every few races for YEARS on here. Have you noticed?
;)

Total votes: 124

But I think Honda should bring Casey back. Or better: Casey should ride the Ducati again. Because he's better than Rossi, who in turn is better than Lorenzo who in turn might potentially on a good day be better than Marquez. But maybe I mixed something up here.

Oh, and I think Quartararo should skip Moto2. He's way too experienced for that.

Total votes: 125

After watching the first two races this year, a couple of things jump out at me. First, Rossi's fastest race laps are *faster* than Marquez's fastest race laps. In Qatar that led to a win. In COTA, it led to a ruined front tire. Marquez is a beautiful, or rather exhilarating, rider with remarkable "immediate" pace, but it still is not clear to me how much of that is Marquez + Honda, and how much is "just" Marquez. It also might be that Ducati is not 2nd-best bike, but the best, period, with Honda a close 2nd. It has as much or more power and turns better than the Honda. It's two races in, and early, but thinking that Dovi is somehow that much faster than Lorenzo, or that Lorenzo has the same pace as Iannone is nonsense.

Remember the Porsche 917/30 form the 1970s said "Porsche + Audi" on the front bumper...and I seem to recall a certain success at Le Mans over the past 15 years or so.

I also wonder if the pendulum - with fuel limits especially - has swung towards engines vs. chassis (at least assuming a reasonable chassis). An I4 is not naturally balanced like a 90-degree V4, and that robs horsepower. At the outer limits of efficiency here, that seems to matter. So Yamaha's choice to focus on chassis and sacrifice engine might have cost them too much with the 20 liter / 5-engine rule. With 24 or 22 liters the difference was smaller. I think that Honda and Ducati have roughly a 10% HP advantage based on top speeds at Qatar - this is an immense difference in racing. Given that both turn reasonably well, that gives them both a much, much greater margin for error.

It will make for great racing, but I'm not sure Yamaha can win the championship unless Lorenzo and Rossi both find something extra each and every race. The margin might be too thin. It's still early, though. Argentina will be very, very interesting.

Total votes: 161

Doesn't the Yamaha have a balance shaft as well to deal with vibration from the "long" bang firing order?

Total votes: 112

Marginally explained. Too much of a good thing is...great! Right? Nothing exceeds like excess. These are major reasons we are such fiendish fans for racing at the Gran Prix level. No such thing as too much power, more is good, most is better, more than most is ideal, then add more. I love it! But when it comes to the 'going plaid' speeds that the current GP bikes are reaching, power is only part of the equation. (We'll briefly ignore the obvious on-the-gas-early-and-often inputs of the rider, exit line, etc.)

Seems somewhere on my internal, oft-screeching hard drive / brain, there are some bits of a discussion on MotoMatters some time back about measured top speeds, (a la radar speed trap), and the data-logged top speeds being different. Since we all know that more is better, and that it's fun to exaggerate in a fish-story kinda way, the rear wheel-sensor speeds were highlighted, as, (at Mugello, I think, maybe), they were in the range of 225mph, while the trap speeds were more like 215-217. (Sure hope I have all this right, as noted, sketchy hard drive - but even if it's off a little, the physics to be attempted here still work.)

Seems apparent, the wheel is spinning at the top end, so no amount of power will make the bike go faster, without either an increase in traction, or a reduction in aerodynamic resistance. In the hyperspace realm over about 200mph, the 'aerodynamic wall' is the limiting factor, all other things being equal, i.e.- stupendous power to 'top out', similar tires / pressures /grip - and no downforce as in F1.

The physics, as I (mis?)understand it, are something like this, (credit to Kevin Cameron here): Momentum or intertia increases as the square of speed. Here, power, (and traction control), are everything, as this is acceleration. However, it's best illustrated by stopping distances, for a bike, a car, anything. Minimum stopping distance from 60 mph is generally about four times longer than from 30 mph. But aero resistance rises as the CUBE of speed. So for instance, the power needed to travel at 200 mph is SIXTEEN times that needed to go 100 mph. This phenomena ultimately means that this aero-wall at, say 215, is rather 'hard'. So hard in fact, that the bikes making the most power, (factory), about 250+ hp, run out of traction before they run out of power. If they had 500 hp, they would not go any faster without either more traction, or a lower drag coefficient. Just a theory, but the wheel speed data seems to give it away.

And a little more to back it up. Regarding the 'cube' factor of aero, (and considering rolling resistance is only a tiny factor in the scheme of top speed for a bike), a Moto3 bike with 55 hp will do about 145 mph, and yet a MotoGP bike with five times as much horsepower will only go about 70 faster(!). And re: traction - check out some data on motorcycle speed records at Bonneville. The salt sucks for grip, so getting past 200 is, or is nearly, impossible without a streamlining set-up - reduce the drag. Twin-turbo 'Busas with 600hp do little or no better than a good-running, stock literbike.

Finally, there's a point to be made regarding future rule changes that have been publicly discussed to a small degree by Dorna, to limit the power of bikes in order to reduce top speeds for safety reasons. (Seems it started after Marquez' little get-off at Mugello in 2013, at over 200mph.) Trouble with this well-meaning concept is that the math works both ways. This is only a barely-educated estimate, but say in the 'real fast' zone above 190 or so, it takes another 60 horsepower to gain 20-25 mph. Well, this also means that to reduce top speeds in a meaningful way, power will have to be cut drastically. Very drastically. Kind of a buzzkill thought, sorry!

Just some random ramblings, but it's all pretty fascinating to me, easily amused, etc. Would be great to hear more discussion on this, especially as it relates to future rules, because that could be a game-changer. Think, restrictor plates per Nascar. NOOOOOO!

Total votes: 139

I liked this a lot. It's easy to forget how close to the physical limits of two-wheeled travel these guys really are. I think it helps to provide context for the challenge Dorna has in creating competitive racing. When you're at the bleeding edge of performance, incremental gains can cost a fortune. (A point often made by David.)

Total votes: 138

Excellent point. Honda has almost no practical limit on money, Yamaha and even Ducati are not far behind, really.

There's an old-school speed shop here in St. Louis that has a sign hanging above the counter, which spells the main concept out quite well: "Speed Costs. How fast do you want to spend?"

And another great cliché: "Racing: The most efficient way to convert dollars into noise."

Total votes: 115

...or you could of course look at reducing the ability to hold traction (tyre compound rules) or restrict the opportunity to reach super-high speeds (short straights, twisty tracks).

Regardless, I still think theres more to those winglets than meets the eye.

Total votes: 111

Yup, on all counts. On grip, (while in many ways I'd hate to see this), reducing it would also lower corner speeds, and nearly all crashes occur in or near corners, almost never on a topped-out straightaway. This this, incidentally, the ultimate argument against limiting power, besides the fact that as discussed, more power won't equal more speed. Reducing power won't reduce speed in corners, where the crashes happen.

Track layout is the magic bullet, but also virtually un-changeable. To really work, every circuit on the calendar would have to be designed specifically for motorcycle racing, and that's not going to happen. This would also make for much less variety in tracks and track sections, hence duller, if not safer racing.

And them winglet thingys, does anyone have a solid explanation as to what these are about? Here's my totally wild guess: They help with hard braking from high speed, as they create a small amount of additional downforce on the front wheel, increasing bite between tire and tarmac at the initial brake-whack moment. And they help with acceleration in the zone between about 100 and about 180 mph, by helping to hold the front end down, thereby lessening the intervention of anti-wheelie control, equaling more drive -- and indirectly - since the front wheel is trying to rise, but being pushed down - transferring some downforce to the rear wheel, again increasing traction. ??? Of course, all this could be completely, hopelessly wrong. They might not do a damn thing and are there just to baffle all the other teams.

Total votes: 149

If you look at top speeds, the Honda's have the most power, not the Ducati's. The Tech 3 Yamaha's are very fast also (faster than Dovi). I cannot believe the Ducati is better than the Honda. Looking at top speeds doesn't show the whole story. Fuel consumption is not only due to power. Honda and Yamaha may have better computer programmers and electronics on there bikes. It's hard to separate the bike from the rider.

Total votes: 106

are those made to Honda and Yamaha. MotoGP is supposed to be prototype racing,run what you brung....as long as fuel limits and engine limits are in place, those with the money will win. The racing dollars,(R&D, engineering,testing) necessary to produce results under these "limiting" conditions virtually guarantee lesser bankrolls will lag behind...If this were not the case, then these limits would not be in place...Follow the money...truer words have never been spoken....

Total votes: 131

That has always been the case...those who have money to spend on racing activities get the better equipment and will typically outperform the have-nots. Agostini had this advantage with MV Agusta and so did Surtees...wait for it.. so did Mick Doohan, Schantz, Rainey, Lawson, Gardner, Rossi, Stoner, Lorenzo, Marquez...(have to include Pedro as he wins relatively often) Correct me if I am wrong but all the above ride/rode for factory efforts...do/did they not?

Point being....Factories have the money, long before these concessions and factories still won back then because they had the money... so your point is a little weak regarding the concessions...which are intended to help the less funded and less performing teams.....I am loving 2015 racing in MotoGP and I have to say the concessions are what helped it to this point...

Total votes: 121

Nah ,level play field please.
Ducati are now up to speed.
But by all means give the others some handicapping.(Suzuki/Aprillia).

Total votes: 147

Rossi has a point, for the moment. (I'm an admittedly raving fan, so not to dis him here...) But both of these statements are easily countered.

Ducati et al (currently) has the soft tire, because while "this advantage" seems obvious, it has not been proven. Only race results will prove beyond doubt that this advantage is real, and said race results if or when they come, per the rules, will cause this advantage to be taken away. From the meeting of the Grand Prix Commission, March 27, 2015:

"(Note: the criteria for losing concessions concerning the use of Open class tyres and testing with contracted riders remains at three race wins in dry conditions)."

Ducati lost (some of) their fuel based on the three podiums in '14 and '15. If they show greater success, they will then lose the soft tire, (and testing). Further success in 2016, and they will lose all concessions. Here's the link to MotoMatters article:

https://motomatters.com/news/2015/04/03/2016_motogp_rules_clarified_7_en...

Just my opinion here, but I think the concessions system as it now stands is brilliant. This temporarily un-level playing field has probably saved MotoGP. And Dorna, (in a rare show of genius), has put in place a system that self-levels over time, as various manufacturers get up to speed, so to speak. Even better, any manufacturer that has no success, (like when Honda doesn't even get a single podium in 2016 - HA!), then gets the concessions back, presumably so they can get their s*** together and stay in the sport. This system, while maybe not perfect, is beautiful, imho.

Total votes: 110

M3. KTM have work to do to challenge HRC power. That is pretty apparent.
M2. Tito is up against the wall. I was alarmed at the way he backed way off when rain threatened play. He is a way better racer than that. He needs to back himself otherwise he will not progress to MGP1.
GP1. Well! Qatar and Austin were great, especially if you are a Preziosi desmosedici fan as I am. Kudos to Gigi for picking up the pieces and turning a fundamentally sound powerplant around and making the entire machine user friendly within the space of a year and within the ambit of the concessions availed to HRC and Yamaha had they acceded to join the club of 2016 in 2015.
Anyway deckard, the lack of the hard option cost Ducati last year at a couple of races. Swings and roundabouts. Ducati and 22 litres and Motegi. I reckon Brembo data is an even bigger issue at Motegi than fuel consumption.
Dovi. Brilliant race. The next Capirex. This season could be a repeat of 2006 for Ducati. That is once you factor out Marc...and that will not happen. He is simply way ahead of the rest.

Total votes: 128