April 5th, 2011
The incident between Casey Stoner and Valentino Rossi continues to generate controversy. Much of the debate has centered around the role of the marshals, with Stoner contending that the marshals helped Rossi first before attending to him. Footage only partially corroborates Stoner's story, but what is clear is that the marshals did not lend enough assistance to restart his Honda RC212V, the marshals dropping off one by one, until the Australian had only marshal pushing him along. This, Stoner claimed, was not good enough, and he felt that he was a victim of bias by the marshals, the corner workers helping Rossi on his way but not doing enough to get the Repsol Honda rider back in the race.
As a result of this complaint, Race Direction have decided to hold a review of the entire incident once they reach Estoril, the FIM announced today. Race Direction will hold a hearing into the incident at Estoril, where they will invite the Clerk of the Course and the Chief Marshal to explain the chain of events. Though the press release does not go into details of exactly what will be reviewed, given the people invited to attend, it is most likely to examine the actions of the corner workers helping both Rossi and Stoner during and after the crash.
Race days like Sunday, full of incident and intrigue, leave MotoGP writers such as myself feeling starkly inadequate. So much happened at Jerez, in every single class, both during and after the race that it is impossible to do the weekend justice and give a comprehensive account of events without collapsing from exhaustion at about five in the morning. This weekend also made it clear to me that my fitness is not up to scratch, as I did not make it much past 1:30 am.
Fortunately, there is a four-week gap between the race at Jerez and the following round at Estoril. The riders may not much like it ("too long!" Andrea Dovizioso exclaimed), but that does leave plenty of time to fill out the stories that emerged at Jerez.
Rather unsurprisingly, many of those stories revolve around the incident involving Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner. Debate on the issue is already extraordinarily heated, as was to be expected given that the riders who were party to the incident are the undisputed lord and master of MotoGP, and the rider who most polarizes opinion among racing fans.
I'm sure I can take a pretty good guess at what you'd all like me to write about, but with your permission, I'll come to that in a minute. Valentino Rossi's excessively optimistic dive up the inside of Casey Stoner, and the ensuing fallout in its many varied forms will generate many millions of words in the future. It may even end up being the decisive moment in the championship, though we won't know that until November. But that crash will overshadow a few stories which deserve a little limelight of their own.
The rain at Jerez was the worst kind, the kind that makes the track greasy and wet, without providing a nice layer of water to help keep tires cool. The rain started early, a few spots appearing at around 8am, becoming gradually heavier over the course of the day, only stopping once the racing was done.
The conditions made the already slippery track absolutely treacherous, and though it produced a bizarre crashfest spectacular, those conditions also revealed an intriguing insight into the art of motorcycle racing. Grip was minimal, tires - especially the soft-compound Bridgestone wets - ran hot and stripped rubber, and mistakes and arrogance were punished mercilessly, intelligence, tire management and racecraft rewarded all the more.
Press releases after the race from the MotoGP teams at Jerez:
Press releases after the race from the Moto2 and 125cc teams:
Results and summary of the MotoGP race at Jerez:
Results and Summary of the Moto2 race at Jerez:
Results and summary of the 125cc race at Jerez:
If there are two facts that you need to know about the Jerez circuit - apart from its wonderful setting in one of the nicest parts of the world - it is these: The track is difficult in terms of grip, and the circuit demands a lot of the front end of motorcycle races. If you were unaware of those two facts, then watching qualifying - for any of the three classes that race in the MotoGP series - would be enough to acquaint you with them.
In the MotoGP class, Valentino Rossi crashed, Hiroshi Aoyama crashed, Ben Spies crashed, Randy de Puniet crashed. It would be quicker to sum up who didn't crash rather than who didn't end up on the floor. Even Casey Stoner managed to topple over in the gravel trap, though the Australian's incident was the least serious of the session, and had more to do with misjudging the tire rather than pushing the front beyond the limits of endurance.
Not so for both Ben Spies and Valentino Rossi, both men confessing to having asked too much of their tires. Spies admitted to getting into Turn 1 just far too hot, and his hope of being able to save the situation turning out to be far too optimistic. Spies laid it down and slid off, acknowledging that his luck had lost out to physics.