Now, Valentino Rossi knows how Max Biaggi felt. 'I did one mistake in 27 laps,' Rossi told the press conference after the MotoGP race at Le Mans. 'But in the crucial moment of the race.' Rossi braked a little bit too deep into Turn 9, ran wide, and Marquez was through. The mistake was because Rossi knew Marquez was coming, and had to try to push to keep ahead. 'I try to push, to do 1'34.0, but I knew I was at the limit.' Rossi knew that if he did not keep pushing to the full, Marquez would be upon him and past him in no time. It was perhaps that effort that caused Rossi to make the mistake that let Marquez by.
It was indeed a strange role reversal for Rossi. Ten years ago, it was Rossi himself who was hunter, stalking riders like Max Biaggi and Sete Gibernau, following them and simply waiting for a mistake. Now, the hunter had become prey, faltering when Marquez bore down upon him. At last, he got to ride a mile in Biaggi's boots.
The Marc VDS Racing Team issued the following press release after two days of testing at the Almeria circuit in southern Spain:
With everyone slowly recovering from the shock of the announcement that Bridgestone is pulling out of MotoGP at the end of the 2015 season, it is easy to forget that we are here for a motorcycle race. The roar of Grand Prix machinery hurtling around the beautiful Circuito de Jerez on a glorious Andalusian morning soon dispelled thoughts of 2016, and concentrated minds on what is to come on Sunday.
The heat of the afternoon, though, made thinking tough, and riding even tougher. Track temperatures rose to over 50°, robbing the circuit of even more grip, and making it greasier than ever. Rider consensus was that the track was in pretty good shape, but when it's this hot, the already low-grip surface of Jerez becomes very difficult to ride. That meant that the number of riders who managed to improve their times in FP2 in all three classes were limited.
Moto3 had the best of the conditions, taking to the track in the early afternoon, before temperatures started moving outside of the operating range of tires. That meant that around half the riders managed to better their times from the morning, with a good mix of machinery at the top of the timesheets. Jack Miller and Miguel Oliveira were the biggest benefactors of the afternoon session, jumping from 12th and 31st up to 4th and 3rd respectively. But it was Isaac Viñales who topped the timesheets, three tenths quicker than Alex Marquez in the morning, who ended the day fastest Moto3 rider.
The Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas is a difficult track to get right.
There's an old racing adage: when the flag drops, the talking stops, though the word 'talking' is rarely used. It's a cliche, but like all cliches, it is a cliche because it reflects such a basic truth. Without bikes circulating on track in anger, fans and press have nothing to do but engage in idle speculation, and pick over the minutiae of rules, rumors and races long past. As soon as the racing starts again, all is forgotten, and we all lose ourselves in the now. It is the zen which all racing fans aspire to.
So after spending months going round in circles over the 2014 regulations, speculating about who they favor, and expressing outrage at either the perceived injustice of the rules, or the supposed incompetence of those involved in drawing them up at the last minute, the talk stopped at Qatar on Sunday night. The fans filled their bellies on three outstanding races, all of which went down to the wire. With something once again at stake, all talk of rules was forgotten.
On Thursday night, it looked like a revolution had been unleashed in MotoGP. After qualifying on Saturday, that revolution has been postponed. Three Spaniards on pole, two Spaniards on the front row for both MotoGP and Moto3. No prizes for guessing the names of any of the polesitters, all three were hotly tipped favorites at the beginning of the year.
So what has changed to restore order to the proceedings? In a word, track time. When the riders took to the track on Thursday, the factory riders had a lot of catching up to do. They had been down at Phillip Island, a track which has lots of grip and puts plenty of load into the tires. The heat resistant layer added to the 2013 tires really comes into its own, the track imbuing the riders with confidence. Qatar is a low grip track, thanks in part to the cooler temperatures at night, but the sand which continuously blows onto the track also makes it extremely abrasive, posing a double challenge to tire makers. Use rubber which is too soft, and the tire is gone in a couple of laps. Make it hard enough to withstand the abrasion, and it's hard to get the tire up to temperature.
Press releases from the teams, Bridgestone and Dunlop at the end of the three-day tire test at Phillip Island:
Bridgestone tyre test comes to an end with Pedrosa in second
The 2014 Moto2 rider line up :
There must be something in the Moravian water. Three races at Brno on Sunday, and all three genuine barnburners. What's more, the podiums had a good mixture of experience, age, and nationality. 'Only' five of the nine were Spanish, while in Moto2, there wasn't a single Spaniard on the podium. And at the end, the championships in all three classes got a little more interesting.
Race of the day? Impossible to say, but the 2013 Czech Grand Prix will surely be remembered for the MotoGP race. After a tense race with a blistering finish last year, the 2013 race was even better. A brilliant start by Jorge Lorenzo - perhaps the best of his career - saw him catapult into the lead at the start. He pushed to break the following group, consisting of Marc Marquez, Dani Pedrosa and Cal Crutchlow.
Crutchlow soon dropped off the back of the Repsol Hondas, got caught up in a battle with Alvaro Bautista, then crashed out when he upped the pace to attempt to catch Marquez and Pedrosa once again. A red helmet appeared on the timing screens behind Crutchlow's name in one sector of the track, and then it flashed 'Crash #35, rider OK'. 'I lost the front but I was pushing. I've got nothing to lose and I needed to catch the guys as the front and I just pushed a little bit too much,' Crutchlow said. After a superb pole on Saturday, his race was one to forget.