2016 Austin MotoGP Sunday Round Up: Imperious Marquez, Complex Crashes, and Intrigue in the Support Classes

If the big question at the Circuit of the Americas was "Who can beat Marc Márquez?" then we found out the answer on Sunday: Nobody. There were only two brief moments during which Márquez was not leading the MotoGP race. Off the line, Jorge Lorenzo was a fraction quicker going into Turn 1, but Márquez turned earlier and already had the lead on the exit. Lorenzo tried once more into the hairpin of Turn 11, but overshot and ran wide, Márquez taking back the lead immediately.

After that, Márquez was gone. Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo kept Márquez honest for a couple of laps, but the Repsol Honda rider's relentless pace forced them to concede. Márquez went on to win his fourth straight Grand Prix of the Americas, and his tenth straight win in the United States of America. Since ascending to MotoGP, he has never been beaten on American soil.

There are plenty of adjectives you could throw at Márquez' performance – imperious, dominant, superlative – but perhaps the best word to sum up Marc Márquez at the Circuit of the Americas is "Unbeatable." His rivals will have to wait another year to try to find a way of stopping him.

The problem with performances such as that of Márquez' is that it robs the race of excitement. The race was basically settled by a quarter distance, Márquez lapping relentlessly in the 2'04s, where the rest of the field could only manage 2'05s. It can be a joy to watch Marc Márquez so visibly wring the neck of his Honda RC213V around COTA, but you did so knowing the race was a foregone conclusion.

Ten green bottles ...

That does not mean the race held little of interest. Behind Márquez, a fascinating race unfolded, with significant consequences in the championship. Rider after rider crashed out, prompting claims among observers that there are serious problems with the Michelins. As we shall see, that would be putting it a little too strongly, as the causes of the crashes were many and varied. But at its heart, the issue remains that Michelins are not like Bridgestones, and you can't afford to ride them like that.

All of the crashes were over the front, as the riders pushed a little too hard to try to keep up. The riders had a choice between two usable front tires, with nobody opting to use the hard front. Aleix Espargaro explained the difference between the two as follows. "The 36 [medium] compound is quite soft, and if you ask too much of it, you lose the front, immediately. The 34 [soft] is much better, but the problem is that we block in a straight line."

Leaving aside Michelin's arcane and incomprehensible numbering system (which nobody understands, and which Michelin refuses to explain), the rider choice boiled down to the following: They could either opt for a front tire with a softer construction, which had enough feel, but was too soft under braking, and lacked stability. Or they could go with a soft tire with a stiffer construction, which was better under braking but lacked feel, giving no warning when you reach the limit.

Paying the penalty

Rider after rider used the same word to describe the dilemma they faced: mistakes. You cannot afford to make any mistakes with the Michelin front, or you will be punished mercilessly. This is in contrast to the Bridgestone fronts, which were exceptionally forgiving. "It's really tricky for the rider when we are full tank, and we are really nervous for the race to make no mistakes," Aleix Espargaro explained.

It would be a mistake (there's that word again) to regard Michelin as being at fault here. In reality, it was the Bridgestones which were the outliers. Valentino Rossi explained the difference, after he had crashed out at Turn 2 when he hit a bump. "For me like this is quite normal. I think it is like with the Pirelli in Superbike. If you make a mistake, you crash." You could get away with a small mistake with the Bridgestones, he said. You can't do that with the Michelins.

Though Michelin continue to work on both construction and compounds for their tires, a lot of the problem is down to the teams still searching for the ideal set up, and riders still trying to unlearn habits picked up in the preceding years. They are succeeding more and more in that during practice, but it is a little different in the race. "In the practice it's difficult, in the race, full tank and race mode, it's extremely difficult," Aleix Espargaro said. Valentino Rossi concurred. "The Michelin tires have good performance, are good to ride and I like them. The problem is you can’t make a mistake."

Under pressure

There is perhaps another factor at play here, one raised by several riders themselves. Loris Baz and Stefan Bradl both agreed that pressure is also a major factor this year. With the field so much closer than before, and the differences in performance between the bike much smaller, riders are pushing harder to make the difference themselves. In a race situation, especially early in the race, that can lead to mistakes being made. And mistakes lead inevitably to an uncomfortable encounter with the tarmac.

Despite the fact that five riders crashed during the MotoGP race, there was not a single cause you could pinpoint. Cal Crutchlow owned up to his own crash, pushing the front into Turn 11 to try to compensate for a lack of acceleration elsewhere. Marc Márquez and Dani Pedrosa were doing something similar, but only Márquez managed to keep the bike upright.

Bradley Smith blamed his crash on oil on the track, left there from a blown engine during the first MotoAmerica Superbike race (won, incidentally, by Toni Elias, the former Moto2 champion reinventing himself in the US). Smith said he got a little off line following Crutchlow in to the corner, hit a greasy patch and went down. What convinced Smith the issue was one of something on the track was his second crash, later on. He had approached the same corner with a lot less lean angle, but with precisely the same result.

Both Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa owned up to mistakes in their own crashes. Rossi said there were two bumps in the corner he crashed at, and that perhaps he had changed his line slightly on that lap. "You have to be concentrated, precise and try not to make any mistake in the race," he said.

The biggest man in the paddock

Dani Pedrosa said he locked the front going into Turn 1, and that had caused his RC213V to get all bent out of shape. As he tipped it in, the bike was still moving too violently, and the front let go and put him on the floor. Adding insult to injury, Pedrosa's bike shot straight up the hill and wiped out the rear tire of Andrea Dovizioso's Ducati, the Italian taken out of a race through no fault of his own for the second race in a row.

How Pedrosa reacted to the incident is a mark of the true greatness of the man. Recognizing he had made a mistake, he rushed over first to see Dovizioso as the Italian lay on the ground. When the two men returned to the pits, Pedrosa went straight out of his own garage and into the garage of Dovizioso, apologizing first to the Italian, and explaining what had happened. He made no excuses, and accepted the blame, unlike so many other riders in the past. Dani Pedrosa is the biggest man in the paddock, and a genuine gentleman.

Dovizioso acknowledged that while speaking to the media afterwards. "I know Dani for many years," Dovizioso said. "Dani is not a rider who takes many risks normally. Everybody is on the limit. Mistakes can happen. But Dani is not a kamikaze, trying to overtake you every time on the brakes. So it’s bad, he made a mistake and this is the reality. When somebody makes a mistake and it creates a problem for another rider, it’s bad. But from Dani it’s different, compared to Argentina."

Turning things around?

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the clash between Dovizioso and Pedrosa was the fact that Pedrosa was even in a situation which made it possible. All weekend long, Pedrosa had struggled, barely making an impression. In the race, the Repsol Honda rider was suddenly battling for the podium. What had changed? Not the bike. "The bike was the same as in practice," Pedrosa told the media. "I was just trying to ride it in a different way. I learned quite a lot in those laps so I hope I can benefit from that at the next GP."

Márquez' outstanding victory leaves him sitting pretty at the top of the championship standings. The Repsol Honda rider is the only one of the title favorites not to have had a DNF so far this year, so he leads the man in second place, Jorge Lorenzo, by 21 points, and Lorenzo's Movistar Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi by 33 points. But that situation is unlikely to last for long. Of the 21 regular starters on the grid, just seven have finished every race without crashing. There is still a very long way to go in the championship.

While it is all too tempting to speak of the failures, the successes are also worthy of mention. Jorge Lorenzo could not match the pace of Márquez, but he was clearly the second best rider on the grid, without question. Maverick Viñales bested his teammate once again, taking fourth after a difficult start. Aleix Espargaro was happy to take fifth, though less thrilled to have been beaten by Viñales. "Half the paddock want Maverick for next year, so my target is to beat him as soon as I can," Espargaro commented. Further down, Stefan Bradl managed a top ten finish, but was especially happy with the progress made with electronics. Aprilia have been struggling, but they are slowly closing the gap. Both Bradl and Alvaro Bautista have been working hard on improvements, and they are close to reaping the rewards of their labor.

The difference between those who crash and those who don't are also having an interesting effect in the championship. That Márquez, Lorenzo, and Rossi should be top three is barely a surprise. But that Pol Espargaro is fourth in the standings may raise a few eyebrows. Or that Hector Barbera should be first Ducati, the Avintia rider on the GP14.2 two points ahead of Andrea Dovizioso on the factory Desmosedici GP. Eugene Laverty is the best rider of the British Isles (to call him best British rider would open a can of worms too complex to examine here), a result achieved through consistency and persistence. Though we are only three races in, it is clear that the title race is going to be absolutely fascinating.

Support classes worth supporting

If the MotoGP race was a foregone conclusion, both Moto2 and Moto3 threw up racing which was a little tighter, and a little more tense. Alex Rins may have led the Moto2 race from lights to flag, but the way Sam Lowes kept him honest for most of the race showed that the class is a lot more competitive this year than it has been. The top three – Rins, Lowes, Johann Zarco – look set to contest the championship, with all three being fairly evenly matched. After a few years of a relative lack of interest, Moto2 is finding its spark once again.

It is also worth noting Sam Lowes' second place finish. Speaking after the press conference, the Englishman put his result down to a change in attitude. He felt he could have caught Rins if he had pushed, but it would have meant taking too many risks, and probably ending up in the gravel. This year, Lowes settled for points, took over the lead in the championship (by a single, solitary point) and moved on to Jerez. Last year, as he put it, "I would have tried to catch Rins, crashed, and been sat crying in the back of the race truck."

The Moto3 race was equally intriguing, and exemplary of the career of Romano Fenati. The Italian allowed Jorge Navarro to escape, then chased down the Estrella Galicia rider, before leaving the Spaniard behind him. Fenati's race was a reminder of exactly what the Italian is capable of, when the stars align. It was also just what the team needed, after erroneous reports in the Spanish media that the Sky VR46 team were planning to expand into MotoGP. That had caused them problems with their sponsor Sky Italia, as their current plans only foresee them expanding into Moto2 with Fenati in 2017. Victory pointed the spotlight back where it belonged: on just how strong the team can be.

Fenati's revival was a blow for Jorge Navarro, who is inching closer to his first Grand Prix victory. It was not to be in Austin, also dashing the hopes of Spanish supporters. For a series supposedly dominated by Spaniards, it has been 18 months since the last Spanish victory in Moto3, Efren Vazquez the last Spaniard to win, at Sepang in 2014.

Brad Binder is also chasing his first win, but the South African came up short again in Texas. But his third podium in a row put him in charge of the Moto3 championship, leading the title race by three points over Navarro. Binder is killing it with consistency, but would kill for a win. It surely won't be long.


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Total votes: 98
Total votes: 109

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Comments

Riders who aren't 'crashers' crashing, Smith, Rossi, Pedrosa. And Smith twice? Missed that.

When was the last time Rossi made an unforced error in a race since going back to Yamaha, I can't remember one?

Total votes: 102

I've always viewed Rossi as a rider who has tended to make the most rookie unforced crashes of any veteran I've ever seen, but you may be right there Swiftnick - he seems to have unlearned that particular(ly) bad habit since 2013. Perhaps it was the numerous painful descents to Terra Firma aboard the Ducati that convinced him to change his ways?

Total votes: 133

Agreed; when VR gets it wrong he usually does so in spades. Yesterday was odd though, he seemed to be struggling to get the power down for some reason and I thought I reas somewhere that he had a clutch problem. Either way, his last DNF was aragon 14 so by the law of averages he was due for another soon.

Total votes: 132

Rossi and Pedrosa not crashers, Ill give you that one, but Smith is a crasher.

Total votes: 113

Bradley Smith does not crash out of races, at least not in the last couple of years. His crash at Austin brought to an end a string of 26 consecutive point-scoring finishes.

Total votes: 126

Last year no race crashes, he actually had a good year, 2014 he crashed out in Qatar and Mugello, he also had a couple weekends where he crashed multiple times in practices.

Total votes: 83

I wish other riders on the grid would follow Pedrosa's example.  His actions immediately after the crash and later in the pits put others on the grid to shame.  Competition can be 100% red-blooded and still co-exist happily with good sportsmanship.  Being a 'racer' (= 'always on' competitivity, ego & selfishness) may excuse a lot of otherwise socially unacceptable behaviour but sometimes you just have to take some responsibility & do the right thing.

Total votes: 194

I hope that DP can take what he learned at Austin and use it to regain his form from late last year. I desparately want to see him beat his teammate and lift the trophy at the end of the season. 

While JL, MM and VR were too busy playing in the mud (to the point I didn't think I would renew subscriptions this year) DP showed he was the adult in the room. It is high time those of us in America stop holding his collision with NH69 against him and get behind him. He is one tough cookie. 

Total votes: 108

You probably couldn't find a bigger Pedrosa basher than myself and yes I still held a grudge from 2006 but the last two years I have done a 180 on Dani.  When Alberto Puig was dismissed and the real Dani came out he has shown himself to be a much better person than he presented himself before.  His actions last year among the top three "adults" and their bickering really impressed me and while his wreck at COTA was unfortunate his genuine concern for Dovi showed the kind of guy he is.  No "team orders" made him rush over to Dovi on the track to check on him, that was all him.  The past year of classless bickering he's shown himself to be above other in the paddock and I never thought I'd say that but I'll gladly say it now.

Total votes: 112

Yup, Dani is currently the most mature rider in the field IMHO.

Dani's move on Nicky was 10 years ago and in his Rookie season.

Lets not forget... 

I think Dani is perhaps a lot more likely to do what he did and check on Dovi because he's been on the receiving end of that sort of thing so many times in the past...

Total votes: 97

Given this post is nearly a month old I'm guessing noone will read it but I just felt amongst all this Pedrosa love I should point out Dani has not always been quite the gentleman.

At Le Mans 2011 after the crash with Simoncelli - which he was at least in part responsible for, he refused to shake hands with Sic weeks later when Sic made a public apology.

I also recall the spat between Lorenzo and Pedrosa, after that had been mediated buy the King of Spain no less, it was Pedrosa whom publically re-started hostilities miming a faux-handshake as he crossed the line (in front of Yamaha or his own team depending on reports.)

While I am happy for people to point out on this occasion he was apologetic (albeit for an incident fully his fault - I wonder how he'd have reacted if Doci had refused to speak with him?) We should not start canonizing him. 

Total votes: 107

After the shameful antics of Rossi, Lorenzo and Marquez last year, Dani Pedrosa has once again shown how it should be done. A true sporting gentleman surrounded by spoilt brats. Respect.

Total votes: 137

I may be mistaken but I remember the MotoGP feed saying Marc Marquez started on the soft front tyre but the rest of the contenders started on the medium. If my recall is correct your comments regarding the nature of the two front tyres is also an interesting commentary on Marc himself & the Honda as well. Cal & Dani dumped their factory Hondas under brakes on the more stable, better braking medium yet Marc was untouchable on the less stable but more communicative soft tyre. Is it a case of riders preferring the medium because its more "Bridgestone" in nature? Aleix Espargaro's coments seemed to suggest this.

Total votes: 117

Dani was also saying that if his bike had wings he could have really hurt Dovi... and will join the movement to get them banned.

Total votes: 102

The British rider who impresses me is Scott Redding on a satellite Ducati but didnt warrant a mention! Top Brit who didnt throw it down the road though by the state of his knee pad looks like it was pretty close. Had an unfortunate Argentinian race with his tyre and a non-finish but kept out of trouble in Cota to bring it home in a fine 6th position. He seems to have got the measure of the Ducati already and i expect good things going forward!

Total votes: 125

Back then the kids would generally target a kid in the playground, sneak up behind him and stick a sign with KICK ME !!! written on it, on his back. Poor old Dovi must be wondering what he can do to break the cycle of being the 'mark'. Always close, but no cigar. By the same token and well spotted, Brad Binder in Moto3 must be wondering what he must kick or kill to win one. All credit to the little big man, Dani Pedrosa. That was great to see. 99% would have tried to get back in the race immediately and the hell with the stricken opponent. Maybe the GPC should look at awarding points for exemplary sportsmanship in parralel with docking points for bad behavior on track.

The problem for Dovi is his future with Ducati GP and he makes no bones about it.

Superbikeplanet are saying that the Lorenzo deal has already been signed by all, Audi, Phillip Morris and Lorenzo's management. Who will Ducati let go of ? That appears to be the bigger question right now. I don't see Ducati making an announcement on that issue prior to the conclusion of season's first half, but the scramble for signing potential aliens and aliens alike may force them to pen deals sooner than expected.

The current points standings make for fascinating reading but I guess it will settle into the usual pattern as the European grind gains momentum.

 

 

Total votes: 115

A friend of mine was at the race this year and said he heard over the Public Address system that the deal was signed. Did anyone else hear that?

Total votes: 81

I can't comment from the track or anything, but during one of the FP sessions (I think FP3), Dylan was interviewing Davide Brivio about Suzuki trying to secure Vinales for another year. He said something to the effect of "with Lorenzo signing for Ducati, we know Yamaha will be trying to get Vinales." So it seems an open secret in the paddock that it's happened.

Total votes: 106

Scott is from my home town, so I pay him a little more attention than I might otherwise (and I just love to hear his genuine Gloucester accent when interviewed).  He's shown good pace in both the last two races, and his 6th place (and best private team result) at COTA should be commended.  OK, he was gifted 3 places by crashers (Rossi, Dovi and Pedrosa), but those three are factory riders on factory bikes.  And he was lying in a solid 5th place in Argentina before the bike stopped on him - had he got those 13 points, he, not Pol Espagaro, would currently be 4th in the championship.

He seems to be reliably faster than Pol, the man he chased hard for the Moto2 championship in 2013.

Total votes: 116

Remember him in argentina he had just gotten past dani before his bike gave up and Dani ended up on the podium due to crashes so that COULD been 16 points; even though his tyre blew and he lost confidence. Even though I'm a redding fan I believe after maverick vinales he is the best young prospect at 23

Total votes: 98

Surprised not to see anything about Rossi's bike. There were some comments in the Italian press about the software possibly frying the clutch due to a long delay before the lights went on...and also this apparently affected Lorenzo last week.  So tires maybe but it sounds like Yamaha electronics might have some issues...this was an unusual level of disclosure from Rossi and I can't imagine Yamaha was happy about it. 

I thought Rossi has the pace to run with Marquez for the first part of the race (he was slower than Marquez but faster than Lorenzo) which would have been interesting indeed.

Lin Jarvis looked surprised and far more emotive than usual when he crashed...

Total votes: 93

Yes, Rossi had a problem with the clutch off the line. However, I felt that the many different crashes were much more important to address. I don't have space for every interesting detail of the weekend, or my race round up would only be finished on Thursday before the next race ...

Total votes: 101

From the moment I saw Rossi losing positions on the acceleration to the back straight I knew something was wrong. Rossi had a problem with the clutch but did not crash because of it.

Hey David, not a word on this? I bet there is some engineer in Japan working on this problem already.

Total votes: 108

Yes VR said to the press that he made a mistake. But added that because of the clutch problem he might have lost some concentration trying to overdo it making up in corners what he was losing on the straight (my personal note : it was just awful to see him lose so much on the straight! It was painful to watch: anyone could just ride by! It was obvious that something was really wrong) so the crash is somehow related to the problem. The guys on BT sports said that JL too had this same problem last week. I know that ifs and buts don't take us far.... but! Given VR performance in warm up and the way he negotiated that first corner he seemed comfortable confident and ready for battle.....we'll never know. At least now some people can stop saying that VR is lucky. Wrong second bike in Argentina. Clutch problem in Austin....
Maybe I shouldn't be talking about luck considering what's happening to Dovi. I wonder the mental strength he needs to overcome this

Total votes: 119

Maybe by him saying that " I fried the clutch " he's being a Yamaha and Dorna 'company' man? By not blaming the bike manufacturer or the software he's being a good corporate voice? Who knows?It's not the first time I heard of Yamaha having a weak clutch. 

That reminds me: didn't Nicky have major clutch problems with the Honda his one year?

Total votes: 81

Nice to see some genuinely adult behavior from Dani Pedrosa and gracious acceptance from Dovi.  Marquez was, as expected, unbelievable but just not the kind of race I like to watch no matter who wins.  

Total votes: 123

I commend Pedrosa for immediately going to Dovi to apologize (both on the track and later off of it), but I'd respectfully suggest that the biggest man in the Paddock yesterday was Dovi for graciously accepting the apology. 

I agree with the assessment that Pedrosa didn't make an overly aggressive mistake; he made a simple error at exactly the wrong moment in an odd corner where Dovi happened to be in line to be taken out. None the less it was the second race in a row where Dovi was taken out of a race that he appeared positioned to do very well in, and I wouldn't have blamed him for being less gracious. 

Kudos to both men for demonstrating that even when they have the drive, determination, and ego to make their way to the very top of a testosterone filled sport they can still be civil in the midst of adrenaline filled disappointment. 

Total votes: 144

... it takes a lot more effort to man up and admit to your mistakes and do something about it than simply to do nothing other than passively accept that a racing incident occurred and a guy has apologised for it.  Dovi has zero grounds to be upset at Dani over that incident.  Yes it sucks for Dovi, but it wasn't due to Dani doing anything stupid.  And the previous race has nothing at all to do with Dani.

Dani did not have to stop mid-race and check on Dovi, and most riders would have (and have demonstrated that they have in the past) run straight past him to their own bike in an effort to try salvage more points.

Total votes: 105

Dani Pedrosa has grown into the man/racer he is today. As proof of this I believe a younger Pedrosa would have blamed Dovi for selecting a slow corner entry speed, as an explanation to the cause of the crash. If you have any doubts, remember the excuses Dani gave when he took Hayden out in 2006.

This is not a dig against Dani Pedrosa but an example of how his character has developed over his racing career. Dan Pedrosa has come a long way since 2006, and hopefully Marc can learn how to treat other riders from Dani's example, vs how Rossi treats his rivals.

Total votes: 133

I do not remember what excuses Dani Pedrosa made when he crashed and took Nicky Hayden out, but in the last couple of years his behaviour has been nothing short of examplary. Be it the statesman like behaviour on Pedrosa's part (he won that race) after Jorge Lorenzo gave thumbs down to Valentino Rossi on the podium after the now famous statements made by Rossi in a press conference, or admitting in Argentina that neither he nor his bike deserved to be on the podium to what we saw at COTA on and off track, to me it seems Dani Pedrosa needs to be in the series for some more time. He may not have won the MotoGP championship but he is a proven race winner.  Usually people say racing is great when there are characters in it and I suppose that means Cal Crutchlow, Andrea Ionnone etc and now we seem to have plenty of them so it makes sense to now say that the sport requires some gentleman.

Total votes: 99

I think that 'nicky entered slow' line was more from Puig than Dani.  Some would say if you don't have a highly biased manager behind you, you don't have the right manager!  ;)

 

Chris

Total votes: 100

Some observations:

Yamaha installed a cup holder on the latest model of the M1. Nice touch.

Through no fault of his own, his name has now been changed to "Demo Dovi". Sorry Andrea.

Totally agree on the bigger-than-average summation of the very big man that is Dani Pedrosa. Top bloke. Unfortunately, I think Dani is done. At Honda at least.

Well, they call it silly season for a reason, so here goes:

Everyone thinks otherwise, but I don't believe Vinales is in line to join Rossi at Yamaha. At the very least, I think Fummi would prefer the little samurai to travel down retirment road with than another young and eager Spaniard on the ascendancy over on the other side of the wall - err, box. VR at least could pull rank this time, Yamaha understanding the importance of a legend's swan song (to their bottom line). Dani still has more to offer in his career but would surely retire if his only option were a non-factory ride, so don't be surprised if he jumps ship to fill Jorge's seat on 'the other side'.

Maverick to HRC makes infinitely more sense, even though he really should just stay with the team that took a chance on him and is showing such huge promise. But from past experiences, we've learned that the Maverick is just that, and I unfortunately feel that his level of emotional maturity is such that he's believing his own hype just a bit too much right now, and this is affecting his sense of balance and reason. I hope his integrity remains intact. While this is an area reserved for management and counsel, one feels Mav is a bit of a wild man who makes his own counsel. Hopefully he learned something a few years back. I just can't help but doubt it, especially considering he came out the better for it. Don't doubt that HRC would be a better place for Vinales at this stage of his career, though. Maverick could really benefit from the discipline of being a factory Honda man, even though he would have to do his best Luke Skywalker rendition to survive. I do think he needs it, though, just like Marquez did. And we know how that story went, dont we? *

NOT putting Mav in the same category as Marc, though. Not even close. But I fear the younger youngster is doing just that (putting himself in the same category as Marc) Mav's eyes betraying his very lofty ambitions whenever nearby The Ant. Only Marc could deal with Vinales right now as a teammate, anyway, as he hastens the end of teammate A. Esp as a top contendor - quickly and seemingly effortlessly. And I'm probably doing Marquez a disservice by suggesting he needed the discipline of Honda, but his association with the big H certainly didn't hurt the young man from Cervera. This much is certain.

And just in case you're doubting Repsol would let Pedrosa go to Yamaha, recall it was with Movistar that he romped to his world championships in 250. Reunions are fun and often deeply moving, aren't they?

Iannone's gaff in Argentina would definitely have pissed off more than the Bologna brass. A certain Mr. Stoner would have been less than impressed as well. Perhaps he's thinking something happens to an Italian rider's coefficient of ambition to talent when they hop on an Italian thoroughbred. Will it be enough to make him join his old mate Lorenzo next year, consummating the Italian Renaissance? It might, as Jorge is one of the few guys Casey doesn't mind, they both sharing a mutually high regard and level of respect for one another. Now that would be a Super-Team, no? Could Ducati Manage it? Doubtful. But it would certainly be worth trying - and bloody awesome to behold.

* Don't forget and never doubt Marc Marquez is The GOAT.

Total votes: 138

* Can't go with MM as The GOAT yet.  Looking like an alien in a category of his own so far this year though.

Total votes: 98

You have to remember Rossi hasnt won since 2009 and despite his hunger and adapting to the new world order - there is something there which holds him back. Perhaps its age, his inability to qualify on front row, or Jorge/Marc have got to him. Dunno.

I think Pedrosa is due for a move. He's been in that team since 2006 and hasnt won a world championship. A move to Yamaha playing number 2 rider to Rossi ? Where is the investment in new talent ?

There is always Pol E with his factory yamaha contract but he hasnt set the world on fire and his team mate often gets the bette of him!

Total votes: 107

There is plenty, plenty of new talent in the GP pipe right now, more than will ever be able to find a competitive seat in MotoGP. Yamaha will have no problems whatsoever finding hot boots to ride their machines after VR and DP retire. As they have demonstrated for quite some time, and to their immense credit, Yamaha do not have number 1 & number 2 riders. They field their squad of two superstar riders with equal equipment and equal opportunity to fight for the world championship - just as it should be. Very admirable.

No offense intended to his fans, but I feel Pol Espargaro has no business in the premier-class any longer. He got his two year trial, came up very short, and now I think that his very, very desirable seat at Tech3 is being wasted on him - in a big way - as are all those beautiful D-Air suits he shreds up with alarming frequency. Just my opinion.

Total votes: 84

>>As they have demonstrated for quite some time, and to their immense credit, Yamaha do not have number 1 & number 2 riders

Only because Jorge refused to play second fiddle.  For years Edwards was a parts tester and support rider for Rossi.

 

Chris

Total votes: 102

... was obtained by Yamaha so they could experiment with someone from Moto2 riding the Yamaha in the typical moto 2 style, as Pol rides.

​The Yamaha is not built to be ridden that way, so despite the fact that he has not had results, i think writing him off is a litle hasty.

​He's got more to his credit in terms of world championships than Smith, and is perhaps likely to help Yamaha make the M1 more suited to the new generation of riders coming up from Moto2 (vs. 250GP).

So, i think he's been doing his job, just that his job was not specifically to win a world championship, but more to help with bike development.

Total votes: 83

Right…Ianonne's bone head move is the straw that broke the camels back and is going to get Stoner back on the bike.

I heard the real reason is that one of the Ducati mechanics farted in the box and Stoner was so unpleased that he's suiting back up just to get the guy fired...

Total votes: 129

Whilst i think it is too early BY FAR to call time on Dani's career with HRC, I would seriously, seriously love to see him get some time on an M1.  I have zero doubt that he would be a regular championship contender on the M1, and if he had been on one instead of the Honda so far he would have had multiple MotoGP titles to his name.

The Honda is an unruly, difficult bike that needs manhandling to ride.  Dani is the smallest guy in the field, the fact that he gets ANYWHERE on that bike is a testament to his sheer talent as a rider.

Give him something more managable and I reckon he would do even better.

I'd also like to see him on the Suzuki if it came to that.  I reckon both himself and Suzuki would benefit from that arrangement.

Total votes: 105

as Dani's considerable style and skill (as well as his vast experience with Yamaha's #1 rival) would fit the M1 absolutely perfectly. I really, really hope it happens. I agree also that he should already be a premier-class world champion a couple of times, and that he has much more left in him to give. And yes, Suzuki would be good fit as well - for both parties.

Isn't silly season great? (And very early.)

Total votes: 123

I don't think Lorenzo rode in riders parade. Or if he did not even one camera caught a glimpse of him.... maybe he did not want to be in the same car as VR but IMO it was just that he had crashed less than10 mnt earlier and had more pressing things to deal with. The convertible bore on the windshield both names and VR sat on one side as if waiting for JL to join. Did anyone see him in another car? I really would like to know

Total votes: 101

Counter clockwise, but longest and fastest corners run clockwise, and the really punishing 'S' sequence... Whatever Michelin and the riders found there will not be found anywhere else.

So I am not alarmed by the crashes. Riders just made mistakes in unusual circumstances.

Neither do I expect Marquez to maintain such imperious form in these next GPs.

The issue now is wether Lorenzo or Rossi will be the main challenger, providing one dominates the other instead of dropping points, and wether Ducati still has speed to be a natural contender.

I can hardly wait for Jerez.

Total votes: 89

Complaints about tires that don't exist - have me thinking the riders have been asked not to, which is fine really, if they have also been assured lots is being done about it, which I believe is. Things will improve via adjustments by everyone involved, including riders, teams AND Michelin. There is room for improvement on the feel and adhesion of this front, even though it will never be like the Bstone. And set up and riding style too, room for improvement.

Marquez's aggressive loose style, on that Honda, on these tires? Even more impressive. I would think a more cautious, consistent, feel oriented rider on a Yamaha would be the advantaged now. Someone that seldom crashes. Like an Edwards at his peak sort. Or a very adaptive and sensitive rider, like Valentino. Even at COTA...how the heck did MM93 just do that?!
Wow.

Great article as usual David. Your "good enough with the time I have" is fantastic, thanks for losing sleep Sun nights. But Laverty, ahferfooksake mate he's an Irishman. (Kidding - thanks for the sensitivity...when we have a strong Scotsman out there I will appreciate it).

Nice race A.Espargaro, back in form! Are the Suzukis running the full seamless yet, or is it still getting sorted?

Lorenzo's body language towards Marquez on the podium was chilly. He has intense focus on getting past the MARQUEZ - COTA weekend. Jerez will be a FIGHT.

Poor Dovi. I don't think he has much likelihood at all of retaining his red seat, but the guy could use a break that isn't almost his left femur. He could get a Suzuki seat alongside a youngster arriving in the upper class.

Hey, notice not a SINGLE reader has mentioned that they can no longer rate their own posts? Funny to me, we would be admitting we do it. I did! Only if I really liked my post, once in a while I pop out a gem. This one?
* * *

Interesting season! A bit too interesting this past weekend even. Phew!
Off to Europe we go, been looking forward to this.

Total votes: 98

Man I feel for this guy. At a time where he needs the results he is putting the bike where it needs to be. Unfortunately someone else keeps trying to put their bike there too. Seriously should be about 56 points and second in the championship. Always a quick smile and a wave to the camera without some of the over the top theatrics of some of the bigger egos out there. Thought he rode the Yamaha really well and now seems to be doing great on the Desmo. Hope his luck changes and he can get on that top step.
Dani is a dead set legend too. These guys with the worst luck seem to be the most genuine guys out there.

Total votes: 110

I'm just wondering what Aleix Espargaro and his crew did this weekend to improve their fortunes on the track, compared to the first two races and all the preseason testing.

Total votes: 82

I must write this again, (I think I've said the same thing every year since COTA started )

There's an inherent bug in that track in the transition from T5 to T6, every year in some class, a bike has slide or rolled and re-entered the track quite easy and if I'm not mistaken, it has already caused  crashes, that could be very dangerous, the safety commission should take a look at that and make a recommendation, this year it happened again, they shouldn't wait until things get ugly in that sector.

Total votes: 96

MM rode that flawlessly, things can change very quickly of course, but he already has a fairly comfortable lead before heading to Europe...

Dovi was very gracious with the Pedrosa crash, but it was truly a racing incident, iirc Dani wasn't even on the bike when it struck the Ducati, so it wasn't some do or die move on Dani's part.

it must really rankle though, probably more so that Iannone made the podium... In fact (yeah what if in racing) what if Iannone hadn't had a grid penalty... It might of been him being skittled instead...

I've never understood the continued apathy towards Pedrosa from those Stateside... (Nor the frankly daft complaint at the Ben Spies rule, but I digress) anyone would think that NH didn't win the title that year...

Was great to see Junior there too... One of the most underated riders of the past decade or so IMO, beating Mick, Rossi, Taddy, Criville etc on a 2 stroke Suzuki, then putting his Dad's bathtub motogp bike (is that harsh?) on the box once (twice?) for good measure

MM is always special at COTA, but he's also proven he can be special at ALL the upcoming Euro rounds too... It actually MIGHT not be the year of surprise and intrigue that we hoped...

Total votes: 107

If Rossi loses too much ground to the points leader, it might help him focus on race wins instead of safe podiums, could spice things up in places like Mugello, Phillip Island, Sepang

Total votes: 111