2015 Aragon Sunday Round Up, Part 1 - Of Deceptive Speed, Unforced Errors And A Championship Reopened

Just when it looked like the three Grand Prix championships were getting closed to being wrapped up, along came Aragon. The three races at the last European round before the Pacific flyaways left the title chase still open in all three classes. The outcome in both Moto2 and Moto3 still looks pretty much inevitable, but a win by Jorge Lorenzo in MotoGP meant that the battle for supremacy between the Spaniard and Valentino Rossi is anything but over. The Moto2 and Moto3 crowns may end up being handed out at Motegi, Phillip Island or Sepang, but the championship fight for MotoGP will most likely go all the way to the last race in Valencia. That may be hard on the fans of the two riders involved, but for MotoGP as a series, it is great. The pressure and the tension go up with every race, and makes watching an ever greater joy.

Jorge Lorenzo's victory at Aragon was taken exactly as he has taken his previous five wins: the Movistar Yamaha rider got the jump off the line, led in to the first corner, and tried to make a break. The timesheets bear witness to just how hard he was pushing. Breaking it down into the four timed sectors which go to make each lap, Lorenzo set his fastest split times in the third and fourth sectors on his first lap, and followed that up with his fastest splits in the first and second sectors at the beginning of lap two.

If his intention was to intimidate the opposition – and clearly it was – then it worked. Marc Márquez, who had got caught up off the line behind Andrea Iannone, stuffed his Honda RC213V past the Italian's Ducati into Turn 7 on the first lap, then pushed to close the gap to Lorenzo on the second lap. He caught the Yamaha as they powered through the long left hander which comprises Turns 10 and 11. Trying to make up ground he pushed a little too hard, losing the front on the way into Turn 12. The only man who had looked like he had the pace to match, and perhaps even beat Lorenzo at Aragon, had taken himself out of contention. Now Lorenzo was left to ride, and to reign, unopposed.

Did Lorenzo's tactic come as a surprise? It shouldn't have. He practiced this on Friday, in his last run during FP2. He came steaming out of pit lane, was on record pace by the time he hit the third sector of his out lap, then went on to get close to the outright lap record on his first flying lap. Of his six victories this season, all of them have been won on the first lap. Jorge Lorenzo has led every lap of every race he has won, and plenty more besides. If he gets a gap, he is a hard man to beat.

What Lorenzo knows is that his rivals know this too. That, perhaps, is why Lorenzo believed he had to push so hard from the start. He knew that Marc Márquez had the pace to beat him, and that his only chance was to lure the Honda rider into making a mistake. Lorenzo spent a long time in the press conference beating around the bush, trying not to say he had been attempting to force Márquez into a mistake. Read between the lines, however, and the message was clear. "I knew Marc was very strong here," he told the press conference. "Especially after the warm up which he made the fast lap in the last lap with the old tire. I knew he was very strong especially in the second part of the race. So it will be very, very complicated to beat him today."

Lorenzo's solution? "It has been key today to be so fast in the race, especially to be quite a bit lucky about Marquez’s crash, Marquez’s mistake. Probably my first or second lap has helped a little bit for him to try to recover these meters in the braking and push so much on the front tire." So hard did Márquez have to push that the front simply let go, and down he went.

Márquez himself owned up to the mistake. "I already said to the team and the fans, I’m sorry because it was completely my mistake," he said. "It was not necessary because in one lap I already caught Jorge and was already really close to him. I lost the front and I’m sorry for my mistake. But on the other hand I’m really happy for the team because this weekend we worked really good and I feel we have enough pace, set-up and everything to fight for the victory."

The Repsol Honda rider categorically denied his crash had anything to do with the character of the Honda, saying it was all on him. Cal Crutchlow – a man who knows a thing or two about how hard the Honda is to ride – was less convinced. Was he surprised to see Márquez crashing out? "No. Not at all. Because I nearly did it a lap after. And I was so close to going on the floor, you cannot believe. We're pushing the front so much because we have no rear grip. It's as simple as that. That's why Marc crashed, evidently." The aggressive nature of the engine means that the rear has no grip, either spinning or wheelying. The front brake is excellent, though the unpredictable nature of engine braking means that the riders can only rely on the front tire. "Honestly, in the braking zone, in one corner, I was taking 0.4 out of Dovi and Aleix," he said, but he was losing that time in acceleration as the rear span up without gripping.

That wheelie and tire spin is also why the bike is so poor off the line. Once upon a time, Dani Pedrosa was a demon off the line, winning the drag race to the first corner every race. Those days are long gone, disappeared at the beginning of last year. "If you look categorically, Marc's starts are terrible as well," Crutchlow explained. "Dani three years ago, he got the holeshot every race. But you've never seen him make a good start all year. [This bike is] really difficult to get off the line." Trying to compensate for the 2015 RC213V's weaknesses has cost Honda riders dearly this year. Marc Márquez has now crashed out of five of the fourteen races so far this year, each time from a podium position.

That doesn't mean the Honda is unrideable, however, as Dani Pedrosa so ably demonstrated. Lorenzo may have been out of reach and riding with implacable perfection, but the battle for second behind him was fierce. Dani Pedrosa had inherited second place once his teammate had crashed out, but he had Valentino Rossi for company. Rossi was on a mission to limit the number of points he would lose to Lorenzo. The difference was worth the extra effort: finish second, and he would give up five points to Lorenzo. Finish third, and he would lose nine.

For most of the race, the battle resembled a Mexican stand off. Pedrosa pushed to open a gap, Rossi pushed to follow, neither man able to make an impression on the other. Rossi closed in the second and third sectors, but lost ground down out of Turn 15 and down the back straight. The gap yoyoed back and forth for fifteen laps or more, never growing beyond a couple of tenths. On lap seventeen, the impasse was broken, Rossi attacking to go for the lead.

Dani Pedrosa does not have much of a reputation as a fighter, but he had no intention of just rolling over for the Italian. He countered Rossi's first attempt at Turn 4 by striking back straight away at Turn 5. Mildly surprised at Pedrosa's resilience, Rossi bided his time for a couple of laps, before trying again, this time into Turn 1. Pedrosa countered, so Rossi struck again, only to be rebuffed for the second time that lap.

This was turning out to be tougher than Rossi had counted on, but that left him undeterred. On the penultimate lap, Rossi tried again into the first corner, only to run wide and see Pedrosa come back past again. His last hope was the final lap, and the Italian gave it all he had, and a little bit more. "I played all the cards I have," Rossi said afterwards, "also one extra, that I did not expect I had." That attempt at the final chicane was countered with as much ferocity and determination as all of the others, Pedrosa hitting straight back, as he had seen Rossi do in battles so many times before. In the end less than a tenth of a second separated them as they crossed the line, but it was Pedrosa who emerged victorious.

Was is his greatest battle, Dani Pedrosa was asked in the press conference? It was, he acknowledged, not just for the way he had done it, but because of exactly who it was he had beaten. "Sure it's one of the best battles, because of the rider," he said. "Normally you can have a good battle with many riders, also I had in the past in another class. But Valentino is a master of these situations. Normally he’s so comfortable in this moment and he has so much confidence. He can play a lot with the bike and change lines and do different moves, change braking points and he picks point to turn the bike. So normally he’s super comfortable in that and it’s one of my weakest points so I’m really, really happy about that achievement today."

All too often, Pedrosa has been accused of being incapable of fighting. Given his physical stature – too small to do much battling on a MotoGP bike – it has sometimes been justified. But at Aragon, he showed exactly what he is capable of when everything goes his way. The arm pump surgery had been enough of a success for him to ride without pain, and be able to concentrate on the mechanics of riding, rather than having to skirt around the issues with his forearm. It is a sign that there is much more to come from the Spaniard.

It was a costly four extra points which Pedrosa took from Rossi. Instead of being eighteen points, the gap between Rossi and Lorenzo was cut to just fourteen. With four races left, the championship is still wide open. Lorenzo can wrap it up simply by winning every race from now until Valencia, but winning is no longer a necessity. As long as Lorenzo finishes ahead of Rossi, two second places and two thirds would be sufficient for the Spaniard to take the title. For Rossi's part, he needs to gain 11 points on Lorenzo to grab the title before Valencia, or finish ahead of Lorenzo at one race, and directly behind Lorenzo at the rest, and the title should be his. It is far from an ideal situation for either of the Yamaha teammates. But it is outstanding for fans of exciting racing.

Five seconds behind Pedrosa and Rossi, Andrea Iannone rode perhaps the race of the weekend to finish fourth. Normally, fourth would be considered a rather modest result, but in Iannone's case, it was very far from that. After dislocating his shoulder while out running last week, Iannone was in a lot of pain. It was visible every time he spoke to the press, the Italian holding his shoulder as if in a sling, but either too proud or too stubborn to actually use one. After painkilling injections, Iannone tried to fight for the podium, but came up a couple of tenths a lap short. Given just how tough it was for the Italian, finishing fourth, nearly seventeen seconds ahead of his teammate is an incredible achievement. Iannone has completely outshone Andrea Dovizioso for most of the season, and Aragon was the most glaring example of his supremacy.

A long way behind Iannone, Dovizioso crossed the line in fifth, but very unhappy. The GP15 was a much better bike than its predecessor, he told the media, turning much more easily and holding a line. But it was a very long way from perfect, and sacrificing in some crucial areas to help the bike turn. Braking stability, in particular, was a personal bugbear of Andrea Dovizioso, normally one of his strongest points. Dovizioso had gone from perhaps the toughest braker in the paddock to a rider who had trouble fending others off on the brakes. Without braking stability, there was little he could do, opined Dovizioso.

The saving grace of the Ducati was its immense power, the bike's rivals bandying the phrase "rocketship" around. The Desmosedici was hammering the chasing Suzukis, Hondas and Yamahas down the back straight, the speed differential rising to as much as 20 km/h at certain points. That left Aleix Espargaro struggling to get past the Ducati, that only possible in few corners around the track. Getting past did not last long, however, the Ducati blasting past Aleix Espargaro before the Spaniard had even clicked fourth gear. The new engine and exhaust Suzuki had brought at Aragon had helped, but the gap to the rocket Ducati remained.

Beside the MotoGP race, there were two more fascinating races at Aragon. More on them tomorrow, but the championships are still far from over, despite the mathematical superiority of championship leaders Danny Kent in Moto3 and Johann Zarco in Moto2. It ain't over till it's over, that much is clear. And what is equally clear is that it is still a very long way from over in MotoGP. And that is good for fans everywhere.


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Total votes: 120
Total votes: 74

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Comments

It was the most normal weekend and race since Brno and even though Lorenzo ran alone for most of it, the racing did not disappoint. The Pedrosa-Rossi battle goes straight into highlight reels and classic sections.

Aragon really is a terrific circuit. It allowed two vastly different bikes and riders like Rossi and Pedrosa to be evenly matched, and it also makes it easier to enjoy the nuances and differences between riders' styles. Lorenzo look as smooth and effortless as ever. Terrific.

As for the title battle, the ball remains in Rossi's court. If he beats Lorenzo twice, there is little the spaniard will be able to do.

Total votes: 122

Great writeup!

Fantastic podium for DP26. I don't think I've ever seen him battle so hard for so many laps for a position and I've been watching him since his time in 125GP. Also, don't forget that AI29 was riding with injury and that 4th was heroic.

I also agree that the title seems to be Rossi's to lose. He has shown real resilience and speed this season and that all the experience does count for something! If he ever sorted out his qualifying and his starts...

Respect from a JL99/NH69 fan.

Total votes: 92

I thought while watching the battle between Rossi and Pedrosa , that Rossi was somehow mentally unprepared for this enemy and even more I thought that he was like riding on eggshells...all the way thinking about not to crash and not to bring his title chase in danger.
At the beginning of the season he would have smashed Pedrosa like a bug, but under the actual circumstances it was the best Vale could do.
It was also cruel to watch how the Honda disapeared at the main straight.
Reminded me at Mugello years ago,when Rossi was fighting back every lap against Stoner and such.

Total votes: 153

First of all its good to defend your rider but here you have gone too far to defend him. Dani from what he showed today clearly proved that he can defeat rossi and any other on his day. Rossi on the other hand "tried all his cards" didn't you read that and an extra one also which he didn't had. So championship or no championship, it would be very very difficult to defeat this Dani Pedrosa. Stoner in catalunya 2007, marc in 2014 qatar and now dani has joined this elite club of riders who has beaten rossi in a race long battle. Jorge is yet to achieve that.

Total votes: 127

PEDROSA! Wow, I had no idea that race was in there. Even before the last 5 laps he looked loose and aggressive but consistent. He backed the bike in like 2014 Marquez, really late on the brakes. He gathered really good drives out of corners. His light little stature was still able to get the bike chucked around, and helped him get an advantage on the long straights at Aragon. Seeing the many crashes here showed how well Dani was riding. He PUSHED and didn't get caught out.

The last 5 laps Dani showed mettle, courage, focus and adaptability that was clearly Alien. I knew he had that pace, but did ANYONE expect Dani taking the fight to Rossi like that? In the past he has literally flinched when a rider is coming through on him, at Aragon his instincts were 180 degrees from that. The Honda is not an easy bike to throw around on the brakes like that.

Perhaps Dani has at long last turned a corner and, having experienced himself as a head to head dueler, will be nearer the pointy end with a new found aggressive style?

BRAVO DANI! You may he in need of a child's size Bridgestone hat, but you were a GIANT today.

Total votes: 136

In the future, when the case is made for Pedrosa having been one of the most talented riders never to have won a premier class championship (though never say "never") this will be one of the races cited to prove the point.

Like Rossi, I was surprised when Dani struck back so aggressively to retake second and had assumed that when Rossi chose to strike the pass would stick. When Dani battled back over and over again, thwarting The Doctor repeatedly as he threw everything he had at salvaging those precious four points, I knew I was watching one of this era's historic bouts.

What a reminder of why Pedrosa has retained his Alien status despite never having captured the title. One can only hope we see more of this Pedrosa before the season's end.

Total votes: 128

Was the best battling I have ever seen Dani Pedrosa do in the Motogp class. He was on fire. Even watching on TV you could feel his determination. Arm pump surgery or not, it was his mental that made this 2nd place happen today. I often wondered while watching this battle between he and Rossi what would have happened if Pedrosa would have fought EVERYONE like this in past years

Rossi definitely tried all he had, but Pedrosa hit every hole with a vengeance. He made sure to not go out in a way that anyone could criticize today. Even I had doubted if Pedrosa still had fight in him after watching most of the this season. He has shut me all the way up. Never pushed and pulled in front of the TV by a battle for second like this. Great racing, good on Pedrosa, (still a diehard Rossi fan though). He EARNED that 2nd place today.

Lorenzo was gone in the distance and that is all I have to say about his next level pace. Deceptively fast. Even and smooth all around the whole track. Iannone... I have said it before and will say it again. He has more potential than Dovi will ever possess. Dovi is good, a solid rider, but Iannone has IT. Riding with such a bad shoulder and beating his teammate so badly just shows what I have been saying all along. Dovi is too obsessed with something not feeling right on the bike instead of looking at himself. For you injured teammate to beat you SO BADLY while brutally injured should make you look into why he can ride the same bike and beat you by so much. Ride of the day is for me a tie between Pedrosa and Iannonne for separate reasons. Rossi's best result in any year he raced here, so I believe he did all he could, just was not the best man on the day. But he was his best self and gave his all.

Marquez I felt for. Was actually looking forward to him and Lorenzo making everyone look slow in their two man battle. Actually felt his pain through the TV when he crashed. He has won so much already, and I feel like all the crashing he did not do since he has been in the Motogp class is now catching up to him this year. Feel sorry for him, but I know he will learn and make up for it. His rivals should be scared for next year. This year is almost done, but I can dang near guarantee that next year he will be different.

Total votes: 99

Not to discredit the man, it's just my perception that he's never been interesting - but I felt like, "Where did that Pedrosa come from? I've never seen him before!" I wonder if Rossi was thinking "Wait, what??? You're not supposed to fight!" :D Is there an Italian expression for "WTF"?

Thank you for reporting the Honda assessment from Crutchlow. MM must of course be a good spokesman for the brand, but Cal is forthright as always. I was thinking of Cal's crashes when MM went down.

The Honda situation sheds some light on Pedrosa's riding style. In a way he's as television-boring as Lorenzo, he's so smooth and consistent that he looks like he's commuting, so the Honda's troubles show up as crashes for the aggressive riders, and start/passing problems for the steady ones. It makes me wonder what Lorenzo would look like on a Honda.

Total votes: 111

This race showes that everybody has a right to fight for any position and its good that way.
Its not called Worldchampionship for nothing.

As a Rossi-fan, I was a little angry that Pedrosa again played a huge role in deciding the WC, but on the other side I was glad that neither he nor Elias were bowling down Valentino:)

Total votes: 105

was it me or everyone noticed that rossi was a bit cautious and also pedrosa was bit more stronger than rossi would have liked?i agree to one of the comments above that in normal situation(championship not at stake) , rossi most likely would have been more aggressive in passing dani irrespective of being successful or not. But he took a little bit less risk than usual to bring it home.having said that i hope dani fights it out with lorenzo while rossi is winning at PI..

Total votes: 109

and thats the end, 16 points is better than 0, so yes I think he tried hard to do the best he could without ending up on the ground. He still has the lead so lets see how they do at Motegi, JL won last year with VR 3rd.

Total votes: 102

That was a snoozer, almost dozed off mid race. Then Dani and Vale lit it up and made a spectacle. Dani rode very well today and Rossi was gracious in defeat. A good fight.

Shame we didn't get to see George and Marc go at it. Marc needs to wake up. That is number five and you have to learn at some point. Almost unbelievable that he keeps doing it. I will say he is the best crasher I have ever seen. When he chunked it in qualifying, or during the race, or any time this year, he knows exactly what to do when going down. Extremely smooth in those situations. Don't think you could crash any better. Slides perfect, knows exactly when to let go of the bike, etc.

Can't wait for these flyaways. Best part of the season to me. Championships get decided, PI and Sepang are marvelous racetracks, and I get to watch them at midnight instead of getting up at the crack of dawn.

Total votes: 109

The race did become a snoozer. I like you almost dozed off until the battle for second started. But gotta say your comment about Marquez being the best crasher ever is hilarious. And it is hilarious because now that I think about it, I think you are right.

Total votes: 109

Has motogp ever kept a most crashes in a season in their record book? Never heard but if any such... Would marq hold the record?

Total votes: 95

No, Marquez if there was a record would not hold it. That would be someone like Randy Depuniet.

Total votes: 86

Depuniet or Checa...they both had a season or two of crashes MANY more than MM. In the high 20's maybe?

I like someone else's comment (Bricktop? TZ250?) that Marquez is a really good faller - good instincts and awareness to minimize injury and get up fast. True!

The engineering overreach on the 2015 Honda is an unfortunate synergy w MM93's loose aggression and limit pushing on the bike. And related - paradoxically the bike was meant specifically to be stiff enough for his corner entry storming. Then the motor offering even more power to keep with the Ducati on straights.

The magic and fire of MM93 was what fueled HRC. The engineering lead doesn't understand the rider's experience as well as they do some charts and concepts. Compare this to A.Espargaro's experience on the Suzuki last weekend for instance. Without that chassis feel and sweetness the rider is struggling against the bike near the limit.

Unlike the pre-Gigi Ducati, Honda will take a different course quickly and get results. Second thought for me here is to appreciate even more what Pedrosa just did with that bike at Aragon. Look at how many riders crashed out under braking? Sure, the Honda's issue may be less about trail braking for flowing corners and more about getting it stopped, but Pedrosa just did something that wasn't possible until it was.

Alien!

Now about those Michelins and the new electronics...GLUED to who is getting this right and how.

Total votes: 94

I believe he holds the records as a current WC (none of the others were).

And I say it with no derespect, first because partly is due to the bike and second because I'd have been much happier to see him up there fighting for the WC. In a couple of races where he didn't stay vertical, like the last one, he was the favourite for a win. Having said that ... he has his share of blame, which is probably "normal" considering his age and his potential. Marquez is in the same league of Rossi .... anything less than a WC is not good enough. Rossi overtime has learned to come back, Marc .... will likely learn it too.

Total votes: 100

Marquez doesn't need to learn it, he's done that in moto2, look at his second year in Moto2 .............

Total votes: 97

Maybe to learn isn't the proper verb. I mean he will accumulate experience.
What I wanted to say is that Marquez, like Rossi before him (and currently) is a rider with enormous expecations around him. From others, and probably himself. This can push you to throw all at it and even the kitchen sink. Which is fine, Val didi it with Dani yesterday, but managed to finish the race. Not always the case.
Notably he didn't in 2006 (!). But now most of the times.
If Marc finished more races this year he'd likely be amongst the two M1 in the overall standings. And I hope he does, because Marc, again like Rossi, is something that enriches the sport when he is in the mix.
At the same time .... I believe that age is a factor, in both ways, so I cannot expect #93 and #46 to behave the same, in good and bad.

Total votes: 85

Marc hasn't finished eighteen races in a MotoGP season yet, but yes, he would almost certainly be in the mix. Of the races he has finished in the premier class, all but one have been on the podium. Spot him five third place finishes and he gains 80 points...and the lead.

Total votes: 95

Give Lorenzo a win at Misano and how would the outcome be then?? It's all wishful thinking, I didn't happen so it doesn't matter IMHO.

Total votes: 92

You just gave him 80 points ;-) .......

Total votes: 88

Usually less painful than over the top.
Maybe Marquez needs to become a little less front end focused if he wants to finish races on the 2015 Honda more often.
It looked to me like Pedrosa was concentrating on (relatively) slow in, fast out and was losing lots of ground to Rossi on corner entry as a result.

Total votes: 107

is the age we live in. Electronics look after acceleration to such a large degree the only place a rider can make a substantial difference is on corner entry.

This is why Dovi has gone backwards whereas Iannone has excelled: one is comfortable with the front while the other is not.

I'm still not sure why Dorna mandate that traction control on corner exit is ok but traction control on corner entry (ABS) is not. Where is the consistency? TC should either be banned or open, it shouldn't matter which part of the corner you are in.

Total votes: 100

Really hope the title is not decided by a succession of Lorenozzzzzzzo snooze fests like yesterday. Really can’t knock his immense talent and early race speed but eff me, it’s dull. I want to see racing decide the title not a rider time-trialling to glory.
The VR46/DP26 mano a mano battling, on the other hand, is just what we want to see to decide the title. Or preferably ‘muchas manos a muchas manos’ if MM93 can stay upright and in the mix. As bike racing fan I feel it’s my inalienable (if unreasonable) right to demand such action for the remainder of the season. Sort it out for the last four races gentlemen please!

Total votes: 110

We have 4 races remaining in the calendar:
Motegi / Valencia - favor Lorenzo
Sepang / PI - favor Rossi

However, Rossi is not doing himself much good by doing poor in qualifying and partially therefore, not being able to get a good start off the first couple of laps. Lorenzo's first lap was 2 seconds faster than Rossi's first lap at Aragon though Lorenzo won only by a margin of 2.7 seconds. That should be highly disappointing for Rossi. The advantage to Rossi at his favorable tracks therefore, is much lesser than to Lorenzo on his favorable tracks. This means Lorenzo is likely to win comfortably at his 2 tracks where as Rossi will have to fight to merely ensure he finishes just behind Lorenzo there. This also means that, at his 2 tracks, Rossi will have to fight hard for a win or just to finish ahead of Lorenzo. And we all now know what 2 Hondas in the mix can do. With "advantage Rossi" at the moment, this is going to be a nail biter championship hoping both of these riders finish all the remaining races and all races are normal. Fingers crossed for VR46!

Total votes: 117

Championship blues. As explained to me back when I was chasing national championships. that feeling late in the season when you have a points lead and you are trying to defend/extend it, but cannot risk crashing. Racing, but not with abandon. Takes a lot of the joy out of it.

Total votes: 104

Uhm. Rossi said he tried everything. No holding back there.

He knows he can't afford to hold back.

Total votes: 90

Not quite sure why it's mentioned the title fight is back on. Was it over??? In reality, it was only 23 points, 2 more races like yesterday and Rossi's lead becomes a deficit with a further 2 races to play.

And I love the, this is a Rossi track and that's a Jorge track. The reality is we can think that, but I think that as hard as Jorge had to push yesterday shows how wrong most people were. I heard a lot of, "Rossi has to find half a second" and really the difference was made on the first lap or two.

This season has seen a tidal wave of momentum swings that it's pretty much worthless to try and figure out points based on this track and that track being left on the calendar. Might as well try and predict the weather too.

Which btw, looks at the moment to make for a wet Motegi......

Total votes: 82

Rossi isn't some magician in the rain. It's just that the race will be slower, and the fuel restrictions don't matter so the taller and heavier riders (such as Rossi and Petrucci) have a better shot than they do in the dry where more fuel is used.

Total votes: 90

I don't think Rossi is a magician in the rain, I do think rain is Lorenzo's Achilles heal. I will say that Lorenzo was oozing confidence in the press conference and that Rossi looked genuinely concerned. A confident Lorenzo is dangerous if not boring. At this point we are all just guessing as to what will happen. As per Dani, nice ride yesterday but he will never get his name on the trophy, he has squandered way too many opportunities. Looking forward to the rest of the season and may the best/luckiest/fastest/wet rider/time trailer /GOAT whatever win !

Total votes: 90

I don't think Rossi is a magician in the rain either. I think he is a magician PERIOD. Of adaptation to conditions. Of making the most quickly of opportunities that arise, which they do more when conditions are atypical. Wet weather specialists are underwhelming in comparison.

Even in the dry at normal temperatures, against a rider clearly ahead of him in pace, there is opportunity for him that can't be expected but somehow is. How many times have we gone back and re watched Laguna Seca with Stoner? I just re-watched the Japanese battle of Rossi - Lorenzo in VR46's last season on the Yamaha and it is as exciting as ever.

Lorenzo's technical skill is brilliant and hard to over appreciate. And yet Rossi and crew can brew up a cauldron of "where did THAT come from?!" more often than they they should. And put one of TWO Hondas in that mix as well, and be careful not to spill your Sapporo while someone becomes Ichiban!

Total votes: 103

Oh the weight card, this again.

Rossi is only 1kg heavier than Lorenzo.

It's odd really, this is your biggest chance to defend Rossi's own prowess and be right for once, yet instead you throw in some age old disproven theory about how disadvantaged he is.

Total votes: 89

It is immensely enjoyable to read the comments, when the subject invites, such as does the last race. Pointy and accurate remarks, they make my day. I enjoy them as much as the actual racing.
It is beautiful that people have this enthusiasm for Dani --like most everybody else on the Blog, I wish he found his mojo, this infinitesimal burst of energy or aggression or confidence that is missing sometimes --and which would really complement his excellent, “alien” riding skill and skyrocket his performance to an even higher orbit.
A perfect Lorenzo, everybody seems to agree in this, is untouchable. His team is also exceptional at setting the bike, this year at least. But, Rossi seems set to become Olympian by the Fates.
We are standing in front of three races in South Asia. How probable is it really that none will be wet? I only pray that when it happens, Rossi will make the correct judgement. Because, truth be told, I am not convinced by the way he managed these two wet races, although the outcome favoured him. In Misano he was extremely cautious and late in changing bikes, losing the podium and most probably the victory. In Aragon he looked too weary of a fall or other mishap and held a bit back --having seen him racing for 18 years, this is the impression I got, watching his duel with Dani.
All in all, hail to Rossi, Dani, Jorge and Marc and at long last to close racing. Oh, and to this Blog.

Total votes: 103

You might be right that VR held back a little, but it looked to me like Valentino just didn't have enough extra pace to pass and gap Dani, in fact could only just hang onto his tail. That would tally with the gap he had from qualifying, so I thought he did relatively well to get that close to second place. Fantastic ride from Dani though. I never, ever thought I'd see him fight back so hard; for that matter I never ever thought I'd see Dani beat Valentino in that kind of battle, as this is where VR usually out-performs them all.

By the way, I doubt Jorge was really stretching himself. He knew he'd got it done once MM crashed out and I suspect that from there on it was all about winning by the smallest possible, but safe, margin. He too can't afford another DNF.

Total votes: 94

any of the time!

I just shake my head when reading those criticising Rossi because they "saw" some timidity in his riding. It reminds me of why Police interview witnesses separately and despite this still get wildly varying views of a situation: where the witness saw action A, then saw result C and imagined the bit in the middle to fill the void.

It almost seems impossible for some folks to believe that Dani defeated Rossi and there MUST be something other than the obvious reason that Dani and Honda were simply a better package on the day.

Yet people insist on making excuses: "the wind was in his eyes", "the sun was in his hair", "the second moon of Jupiter was in the ascendancy" and basically imagining some meekness in Rossi, or phantom reason why Rossi was unable to make a pass stick.

Fact: Dani out qualified Rossi. To those who don't understand the significance this is often interpreted as a difference in speed around the course. I could point out that there are no fuel issues during qualifying....but I don't think that's necessary.

Fact: Dani finished in front of Rossi. To those who don't understand, finishing order is usually taken as an indication of performance on the day.

Fact: Rossi himself said he threw everything at Dani. To those who don't understand this is a rider admitting defeat. (and without a single reference to a fogged visor, lol)

Fact: Rossi commented that he enjoyed the battle. To those who don't understand this is not an indication of someone racing on eggshells.

Get over it people. Now repeat after me: "Rossi is mortal"...."Rossi is mortal"..."Rossi is mortal".......

Total votes: 135

I agree with a comment further above, in that Dani fully deserved that 2nd place and victory in that battle with Rossi. It was the best I've seen him dueling in a MotoGP race in all these years, if not in all of his GP career (I too watch him since the GP125cc days).

And I would agree with your post entirely as well, if it wasn't for the obvious discrepancy in the acceleration plus top-speed that we already got used to see with Dani riding the Honda RCVs all these years (big advantage in his case). Yesterday it was no different.

That factory Honda, with the shorty flyweight Dani over it, did go like a rocket against that factory Yamaha. There's no two ways to put it - just watch it over again and see for yourself.
I believe that, has good as Rossi is on the brakes, and as comfortable as he is at the "mano-a-mano" (still the best on that, IMHO), it was impossible to do more than he did considering all aspects, even if fully exploiting the corner entry speed (funny enough, a strong point on these RCV213s, just not of Dani perhaps).
My take on "what Rossi said himself" is that is not the kind of rider that would blame or point that out in the post-race comments, and not in this particular case (with Dani "he-is-done-and-over-but-oh-wtf-is-he-doing"). At least not the Rossi of post-Ducati days (a lot more humble). He was gracious on his defeat, for sure. But maybe "playing nice" too much.

One could also argue that Rossi could be refraining, as to not risk too much and crash, but I'm not so sure that was the case here. I really think it was simply Dani's day (of exception), assisted by a notoriously faster straight-line speed bike, in a circuit that Rossi was never good at.
Both deserve big applause, IMO. Especially for transforming an utterly boring race into an exciting one.

Total votes: 99

... that was less due to the Honda being rocket powered and a lot more to do with 2 other factors:

1. the way Dani was trading corner entry line/speed for exit line/speed
2. the talent Dani has for getting the bike stood up and fired out of the corner

The Honda is not as far out in front power wise these days as it used to be.

Dani out-rode Rossi plain and simple. He made the best use of the package he had, and didn't push it in the areas where it was weak (front end folding on corner entry like Marc did).

Total votes: 84

I just thought of this: we all know who's stronger (on paper) at which circuits, but how about the importance of which order they are visited? Let's just say the next 2 races are George Lawrence's strong tracks and he pulls the gap even closer, or who knows - tie, even take the lead? Psychological impact and atomic pressure on Rossi sure would impact his performance even at his strong circuits. Vice versa. I'd be interested to read some analysis of upcoming circuits and importance of the order to come, if any.

Total votes: 88

Dani has flashes of greatness, but, what really bothers me is that's all it is.
Now two people are seriously fighting for a championship, they are very different in style, and personalities, the list can go forever, the only similarity is the bike they ride.

I'd like to see Pedrosa fighting on a regular basis because a flash like this can only make one rider lose points while the other gains them, I seriously don't think he'll be in the real mix again.

I remember the spanish press saying, "wake up Dani, Marc is coming" and Marc came and won the championship. The way Vale fought is what I will remember from this race, because he risked his championship lead trying to make his passes stick while Dani was basically risking nothing and could now say he fought for second and won....

When I saw Lorenzo making the fin gesture I realized his only skill is riding a bike, anything else just bothers me and the rest of the I guess 99% of fans that watch MotoGP.

Thanks to David for the great articles. : )

Total votes: 116

Lorenzo's fanbase. While there is no doubt Rossi has a huge following, there will always be a big amount of people rooting for the challenger, which in this era is basically anyone battling Rossi, and at this moment it is #99.

Total votes: 86

... has the talent, but he has the worst luck of anyone in the paddock. Misano 2012 for example, he was on for the championship, and Honda had a stuck front brake or some other issue on the grid when he was in pole. he had to start from the back and got collected in traffic.

that should have been Dani's title in my opinion.

Total votes: 80

It didn't seem to bother Rossi (they joked about it/shook hands at the post-race press conference), so I don't know why anyone else should care.

So Pedrosa should have been shown the blue flag? ;-)

Total votes: 96

Great race, fantastic battle between Dani and Vale. One thing that hasn't been commented on so far is that Lorenzo, by his own admission, couldn't increase the gap of around 3 seconds max to those two during the race. He said in parc ferme that he tried but it wasn't possible.

That's interesting. It means that, aside from lap 1-2, when he pulled an immediate 2 second lead, Pedrosa and Rossi generally matched his fastest pace all race long, even with the battling between them at the end. It's a good sign for Rossi at one of his least favourite tracks, and harks back to Barcelona, when he was able to track and even haul in Lorenzo at his metronomic best.

It shows that if the Doctor can get on Lorenzo's tail early on he should be able to stick with him to battle at the end in upcoming races. A big 'if', but he certainly has the incentive.

Total votes: 106

^ and that's the crux of it. Rossi himself has admitted he can't do what Jorge does at the start of a race on a 'cold' bike. I think Jorge's well aware of this, and by practising going at 100% from the pits in practice he's preparing for the first two laps of the race. Very clever, and a great way to use your strengths to your advantage.

I think the championship will come down to the weather and how Rossi qualifies....

Total votes: 100

He also said that after Marquez crash, he had 1 or 2 tenth in reserve.
99% he said (post race presse conference).

So yes, it was not a Hamilton victory, but I really think he controlled it ... in the opposite of Barcelona where it seems he had to push until the end.

Total votes: 92

It is great, until it isn't. Sit on the starting grid those extra few seconds and the tyres cool just that little extra. As for the rain, Lorenzo does not do runners in the wet, not that I can recall, so that ace card is shot to pieces. Phillip Island starts so late that we might see another crash fest as the temperature plummets, so cross that one off the 'perfect conditions list. Maybe Dorna should require headlights to be fitted so the European fans can watch the race at a suitable time.
If the remaining races are all held in perfect conditions Lorenzo can win the championship. Any variation from that and the pendulum swings back to Rossi, IMHO.

Total votes: 97

I just reviewed the results this season and again am amazed that Lorenzo has led every lap of every race he's won. Curiously, I don't know if that's a sign of strength or a weakness...because his average result when he doesn't win is a little worse than 5th (I counted his crash as a 16th, the highest non-points-paying position). I think that this is because Lorenzo's bike set-up and style (long wheel base, probably softer setting) doesn't allow him to go wheel-to-wheel as effectively - if he doesn't win, his lines don't work, and his bike is mechanically set up in a way that prevents him from working the "fighting" lines as effectively.

Rossi's average finish when he doesn't win is a little better than 3rd.

Lorenzo is ahead by 14 points - that means for him to win the championship, he probably needs to win at least 3 of the 4 remaining races, and he needs Rossi to have below-average results. He has finished ahead of Rossi (without winning) only once! He may need to win ALL of the remaining races.

This of course makes the incorrect assumption that the past is a reliable predictor of the future, which is not the case when there are this many variables. But it is an interesting perspective.

I think the odds right now are probably 75/25 Rossi - I don't think Lorenzo will win all the rest of the races. And if Rossi finishes ahead of Lorenzo even once it's likely over, especially with Marquez lurking in the background - he will almost certainly win a race between now and the end of the season.

I am convinced that Lorenzo's set-up is so highly refined for racing off the front that if he doesn't get away, he's in trouble. "Perfection" is a fragile thing. If I were Marquez or Rossi, I wouldn't try to copy Lorenzo at all - I'd just try to figure out how to get to the first corner, because once Lorenzo is behind, I think he's beaten.

BTW - this does not mean that I don't think Lorenzo can fight! Far from it. I think he's very combative. But good for fighting and good for time-trialing are two different things, and I think he's chasing something that ultimately - if he achieves it - is not desirable if he can't get away.

Total votes: 101

Lorenzo is behind 14 points, not "ahead."

With MM out of the WC picture, DNFs or injury for the two factory Yamaha riders now on will be catastrophic. The little fish participates in the Michelin tire test, crashes, and has minor injuries, while the shark decides not to participate and instagrams us his breakfast along with the trophy that he designed and won, letting VR and the Yamaha satellite riders and their teams work hard and risk injury to test tires for next season.

I'm cheering for the fish.

VR fandom aside, JL was stellar in managing his race pace. After MM crashed out, I'm sure that JL realized the strengths of Dani and the Honda on that track, and I'm sure that he kept something in reserve as the laps ticked down with consistent gap times, each lap giving him relief to not see ROSSI on his signboard. I thought that he was generous in saying that he couldn't move the gap, but as he said recently he has realized new things this season to go "Faster."

I'd surmise that VR already did the math after MM crashed out, and that he waited to attack DP at a strategic moment in late in the race where DP's age, armpump surgery, small stature, displayed choice of lines, and race pace would have made him most vulnerable to attack. Qualifying had already shown the Hondas to be superior on the straits of Aragon, and DP's weight and aero only enhanced that strength.

My eyes are on the weather, MM and now DP. Of such "other things" are championships made of.

Go fish!

Total votes: 86

Hi David,
For us, and our factory Yamaha men the season is certainly building up into an absolute classic. Because of that we all focus on those two riders...and then the trailing other factories.
Do you think you will have time to get an insight into the teams further down the grid? My belief rightly or wrongly is that they may be a bit more forthcoming on information/stories with their team and race ups and downs. In the open class, we have 3 Honda's where this week saw a new open class winner Mr. Laverty. It would be very interesting to hear how each team has tried to squeeze the most out of their machines as their riders learn the nuances of the RS. Did they ever get any race time help from the factory...did any one rider get 'more'?
Forward Yamaha, skipping the team politics for a moment...Baz, what a dam impressive year that guy has had so far. What development Aprilia has done and hopes to do pre the 2016 season, and what are the things they know now versus what they thought they knew etc..

Love the site...and am a proud site supporter.
Cheers
nsd

Total votes: 96

You are quite right to highlight the fact that the stories further down the grid can be just as fascinating as those at the front. The problem is that there are only 24 hours in a day, and if I spent all of my Sunday round up on Laverty - who had a brilliant race - and Baz and Hayden and Bradl, there would be outrage. And rightly so. That does not mean that the riders further down the order are not worthy of attention, just that I cannot skimp on action at the front to cover what happens outside the top 10. I try to cover what I can when something interesting happens.

As for the teams further down the order being more forthcoming with information, nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone leasing a bike from a major manufacturer is bound by the contracts that manufacturer places upon them, and most of those contracts contain clauses forbidding the teams from sharing too much information. So it's tough.

Total votes: 93

Information can be free to take, but not free to provide. You can't push bits out for free, so I hope that more of us with similar interests can help you to fund your site as is our duty.

Some of the information you provide, like a 20kph differential at some track points displayed by the GP15 is not available anywhere else. Cross this with Bradley Smith saying that the slip stream at speed is different behind a GP15 vs. other bikes, and it gives me a richer appreciation for the sport.

As a wrench lover, the higher the kph, the harder it is to get 1 kph more, so I'm assuming that some of the GP15's speed is due to aero in addition to fuel allocation under current rules. It's easy to add 20 kph to a slow bike, but very difficult to add to a very very fast bike.

As far as the "rest of the grid" goes, it's not really your affair to cover the sport in it's entirety, but you do surprisingly well by providing text transcripts of the press releases. The live world feed denies us of some of the best battles between riders simply because it's human nature to focus on the fore, and the lexical loses to the visual in the digital age.

Motomatters is an island in a digital sea. I like to visit here. (almost every day during the season)

Thanks!

Total votes: 73

It was great to see Pedrosa fending off Rossi's repeated attacks at Aragon, but it wasn't that unusual. Go back and look at the 2006 season and you'll see a very aggressive Pedrosa - he fought all season long in exactly the same manner as he did at Aragon on the weekend.

I think his injuries over the years, plus the odd bike issue, plus the accendancy of Lorenzo and Stoner, have meant that people haven't really been watching him the way they should have. The man can fight just as hard as any of his competitors.

Total votes: 87

I enjoy and respect you and your thoughts here as usual but disagree on this one. I have a "lowlight reel" sitting in my head in which he flinches when passed with 16 inches of space, and adheres to the race line. He had some flashes of top pace in 2006 but didn't take it to anyone with the gloves off that year (except Hayden...OUCH). He hasn't looked like this to me since his best in 250's...he really trancended something holding him back last wknd and looked AMAZING. I believe in THIS Pedrosa!

Btw HRC has said they are sending Puig in to Miller's garage to help mold the kid. What do you think of that V4?
;)

Total votes: 84