MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
The Honda/Yamaha pendulum
Amid all the Assen drama it was easy to forget about the forlorn figure of Dani Pedrosa, slumped in his pit, wondering what might have been.
If all things had been equal, victory should have belonged to the Spaniard. Instead he finished a distant fourth, just one place ahead of the remarkable Jorge Lorenzo. So instead of stretching his advantage over his main title rival by 14 points, he gained just two points on him.
Pedrosa may still lean on points but his season has gone awry since his back-to-back wins at Jerez and Le Mans, because for one reason or another he hasn’t been able to get the best out of the Bridgestones. At the three races since Le Mans – Mugello, Catalunya and Assen – he has cited tyre issues for his inability to challenge for victory.
Jorge Lorenzo has won the last two MotoGP rounds in utterly dominating style. Though his win at Mugello was by a greater margin, the victory at Barcelona was one of the most impressive of his career. Afterwards, both Lorenzo's team manager Wilco Zeelenberg and Monster Tech 3 rider Cal Crutchlow said of the Barcelona win that it was probably one of the best races he had ever ridden. Lorenzo had made only one mistake, the Spaniard said afterwards, and it was so small it did not even show up on the data.
As he had done at Mugello, Lorenzo ensured that he won the drag race to the first corner, aggressively outbraking Dani Pedrosa to take the lead. From that point, he held the Hondas at bay until Dani Pedrosa finally broke, the Yamaha man going on to win by nearly two seconds. It was the second race in a row which Lorenzo had led from the start and gone on to win the race. In fact, all three of Lorenzo's wins, at Qatar, Mugello and Barcelona, have come in the same manner: Get into the first corner in the lead, push hard in the early laps, and ride as perfectly and as fast as possible throughout the entire race. There is simply no one else in the world capable of riding a motorcycle for 25 laps at full speed as well as Jorge Lorenzo at the moment.
The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team today issued the following press release, detailing the progress being made by Bradley Smith after the operation to repair his damaged finger, and to fix the scaphoid in his left hand:
Bradley Smith recovering well from successful double surgery
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Bradley Smith returned to the UK yesterday (Thursday) to continue his recovery from successful left hand and wrist sugrery he underwent in Barcelona on Monday.
Just over 24 hours after racing to a fantastic career first top six MotoGP finish at the Circuit de Catalunya, Smith had a 75-minute operation to insert a small screw in the left scaphoid bone he damaged in a heavy crash during practice for the Mugello round in Italy earlier this month.
Smih also suffered a nasty open wound on his left little finger in the same accident, and during Monday’s operation at the USP Institut Universitari Dexeus of Barcelona he also underwent a skin graft to repair the damage.
A small section of skin was removed from his left forearm and the specialist team at the USP Institut Universitari Dexeus of Barcelona are confident the skin graft was successful.
The troubled waters through which Cal Crutchlow has found himself sailing with Yamaha have been calmed a little. The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider and his manager Bob Moore held their first face-to-face meeting with Yamaha bosses Lin Jarvis and Masahiko Nakajima on the Sunday night after the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, to discuss the options for extending their relationship for next year.
Also present at the meeting was Monster Tech 3 Yamaha boss Hervé Poncharal, who has been very vocal in his desire to retain the British rider. Crutchlow's results have been a real boon for the French team, and his outspoken and impish personality have helped attract a large amount of media attention. Poncharal has been mediating between Yamaha and Crutchlow, and is trying to secure an extension of Crutchlow's contract with the team for 2014.
Max Biaggi's brief return to MotoGP is over. After two days of testing Ducati's MotoGP bike at Mugello, filling in for the injured Ben Spies, Biaggi returns to his day job, as TV commentator for the Italian coverage of World Superbikes.
Two short days were not really enough time for Biaggi to get back to grips with a MotoGP bike, especially given that testing stopped early on both days after rain started to fall in the afternoon. Biaggi faced two problems, returning to riding at speed for the first time in eight months, and returning to a MotoGP bike for the first time in over seven years. Given those difficulties, the times he set in the end were respectable. According to GPOne.com, who had reporter Luca Semprini on location, Biaggi's best time was a lap of 1'52.1, which would have seen him qualify in 23rd position for last Sunday's MotoGP race, just ahead of Hiroshi Aoyama on the FTR Kawasaki CRT machine.
2013 Mugello Moto2 And Moto3 Round Up: Redding Stokes Up A War of Words, And Why KTM Is Killing It In Moto3
In many ways, the Moto2 race at Mugello resembled the MotoGP race. One rider seized the initiative, sized up the competition, and when he saw that they were no match for him, pressed home his advantage. While Scott Redding's victory at Mugello was not quite as dominant as Jorge Lorenzo's in MotoGP - after watching it again at leisure, it is clear just how totally Lorenzo controlled every aspect of that race, from his tough pass on Dani Pedrosa in the first corner to the devastating pace increase he forced when he sensed the Repsol Honda man weaken - it is still one of the most commanding Moto2 wins for some time.
Redding did not quite lead from the start, but he disposed of Takaaki Nakagami without too much difficulty. He then pulled a gap, with only Nico Terol and Johann Zarco able to follow his pace. Terol passed Redding just before the halfway mark, exploiting the slipstream provided by the oversized Englishman, but that was all Terol could do. Redding was puzzled when Terol failed to pull a gap after passing. "I couldn't understand how he caught me, because when he passed me, I was expecting to be fighting to hold on to him, but I was really comfortable behind," Redding said afterwards. He got past four laps later, and turned up the pressure, and while Terol and Zarco could hang on along the front straight, once Redding broke the slipstream he was gone. It was the first back-to-back victory by a British rider in 42 years.
Max Biaggi is back on a MotoGP machine, for the first time since he lost his ride at the end of the 2005 season. The reigning World Superbike champion took to the track at Mugello today to test Ben Spies' Pramac Ducati, and get a feel for a MotoGP machine again. Biaggi was invited to ride the bike by Ducati, mainly just as a friendly gesture towards an old rider, but in part also to give his input on riding the bike. With Spies still absent recovering from his shoulder injury, putting Biaggi on the bike was an interesting prospect. Because of Biaggi's Italian connections, he rode Spies bike, but with bodywork from Iannone's Energy.TI bike.
In a series of posts on his Twitter feed, Biaggi took some time getting up to speed on the machine. An enormous amount has changed since Biaggi last rode a V5 990cc Honda RC211V back in 2005, all of which take a lot of getting used to. The spec Bridgestone tires and the amount of electronic rider aids are two of the biggest changes, though the electronics on the factory Aprilia RSV4 WSBK machine are already highly sophisticated. The tires, though, are totally different to what Biaggi was used to, Bridgestone having made huge steps forward in grip, durability and stiffness in the intervening period, the tires offering much more performance than the Michelins Biaggi used in the past, but also being less compliant. The difference in performance between 2005 and 2013 is huge: Dani Pedrosa's pole record (1'47.157) is over two seconds faster now than the record (1'49.223) set by Valentino Rossi eight years ago, and Marc Marquez' race lap record (1'47.639) is two and a half seconds quicker than Max Biaggi's from 2005 (1'50.117). According to GPOne.com, one of the biggest challenges Biaggi faced was getting used to carbon disk brakes once again, having raced using steel disks during his time in World Superbikes.
Pramac Ducati today issued the following press release, confirming the news reported yesterday, that Max Biaggi is to test the Pramac Ducati at Mugello, and Michele Pirro is to substitute for Ben Spies at Barcelona:
Max Biaggi to test Pramac Racing Team’s Ducati Desmosedici for two days at Mugello
Bridgestone Press Release: Masao Azuma Explains Why Bridgestone's Heat-Resistant Tires Were Used At Mugello
Bridgestone today issued their customary post-race press release, today discussing the use of their special heat-resistant slicks at Mugello:
Italian MotoGP™ debrief with Masao Azuma
Wednesday 5 June 2013
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft & Medium. Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Hard (Main), Soft (Alternative)
Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo rode an inspired race at Mugello last Sunday, winning his third race in a row at the Italian circuit ahead of Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa and Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Cal Crutchlow.
Excellent conditions greeted riders at this year’s Italian Grand Prix with the dry Mugello tarmac reaching a peak of 44°C during both Saturday and Sunday afternoon, ensuring the teams had plenty of relevant set-up data for the twenty-three lap race.
Q&A with Masao Azuma – Chief Engineer, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
All of the rear slicks brought to Mugello this year featured Bridgestone’s heat-resistant construction. Can you explain why these tyres were supplied and did they do the job last weekend?
Max Biaggi is to make a surprise return to riding a MotoGP machine. The former 250 and World Superbike champion will take a seat on Ben Spies' Ignite Pramac Ducati as part of a one-day test at Mugello, as part of Ducati's testing program, according to Italian site GPOne.com.
Spies was scheduled to stay on at Mugello to take part in a two-day test, but after the first day of practice at last weekend's Italian Grand Prix, it was clear to both Spies and Ducati that his shoulder was still too weak to ride a MotoGP machine. With work continuing on the Desmosedici, it was important for Ducati to get as much data as possible on their bike, and so Biaggi was offered the chance to ride the machine.
While the MotoGP riders packed up and headed home after the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, the Moto2 and Moto3 classes stayed on for their first official in-season test. There was plenty to test, with Marc VDS having brought a new swingarm, Dunlop having new tires to try, Suter having a new fairing, FCC having new clutch parts, and a lot of set up work to try, but the weather was not inclined to cooperate. Heavy rain towards the end of the morning cut testing short for several riders, with about half the field staying on for the afternoon.
Pol Espargaro found an improved set up, which solved some of the grip problems he has been having for most of the year, and posted the fastest time of both the day and the weekend. He improved his qualifying time by nearly a full second, and was nearly a quarter of a second faster than Scott Redding's pole time from Saturday. Takaaki Nakagami also improved on his qualifying time, also dipping under the time set by Redding, as the Japanese rider focused on solving clutch issues which had caused him problems during the race. Tito Rabat was third fastests, rounding out a trio of Kalexes.
2013 Mugello MotoGP Round Up, Part 1: Lorenzo's Persistence, Cruchlow's Fierceness, And Honda's Hidden Weakness.
Qualifying doesn't tell you the whole story. Which is a good thing, as otherwise they could just hand out the trophies after qualifying and be done with it. A lot of things change in the 24 hours between qualifying and the race - weather, temperature, set up - but most of all, qualifying is just a couple of laps, while the race means spending a long time on the track.
Mugello turned out to be a perfect example. Dani Pedrosa had been getting faster every session, especially as the temperatures rose and the grip of the track improved. The Repsol Honda man blasted to pole, just pipping Jorge Lorenzo at the end of qualifying and setting a new lap record in the process. With race day looking warmer, and the track cleaning up every session, Pedrosa looked the hot favorite to dominate at the Italian track.
It turned out Pedrosa had been bluffing. He and his team had worked out early on that the new tires Bridgestone had brought did not quite work for them. "We have a modified shoulder on the rear, so at this track with this tire, we couldn't really get the grip. You are a long time on the edge on this track, so I couldn't really open well, and get drive out of corners," Pedrosa told the press conference after finishing second to Jorge Lorenzo.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after Sunday's Italian Grand Prix at Mugello:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after Sunday's Italian Grand Prix at Mugello: