Scott Jones Down Under: Saturday At Phillip Island

At a track which disguises the GSX-RR's weaknesses, both Suzuki riders were strong

Buried on the brakes

Chasing a dream

'T is but a scratch!

Jack Miller loves Phillip Island, and it showed

For the first time this year, Pol Espargaro consistently outperformed his Tech 3 teammate

Wheelie... whatever day it is today.

Still the most spectacular setting in the world

The wings worked on the Ducati, just not for Andrea Dovizioso

Pedrosa's Motegi revival was short-lived. He could get no drive out of the last corner at PI

Call a boy Maverick and he is sure to turn into a star

Fresh rubber. Time to go fast

Marc Marquez at full lean

The Pramac Ducatis did not have the pace at Phillip Island they have had elsewhere


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Please stop this suspense! My fingernails and my stomach are bleeding.
But seriously we are lucky to witness this 2015 nail biter motoGP season. Dorna has taken several risky decisions in the last few years but the results have revindicated them. Moto3 and moto2 have also been thriving, the previous 125 and 250 formulas were losing significance. The only item in which they have been far from successful is in bringing motoGP back markers closer to the front, a recognizably tough task.

I have a few suggestions for Dorna:
- Publish and encourage external publishing of more technical articles on the bikes of the 3 categories. There have been several posts of very high quality on issues like heat resistant tires, seamless shifting, frames, etc. I would ask permission (with recognition to the author) and/or pay for the right to import them onto the motoGP site or at least provide a link to the site to vetted interesting articles. This type of modesty would be a win/win and it would increase even more the already positive public view about Dorna.
- Avoid the temptation of becoming too greedy if motoGP keeps on growing. Keep in mind the painful consequences of the financial leeches in F1. Instead of reaping more short term benefits which will hurt in the long term take the long view (this was in part the reason for the Japanese commercial miracle).
- Go to Casey Stoner’s abode and ask on your knees what it would take to bring him back to motoGP. His riding at Suzuka proves that he still has what it takes. Apologize to him for the mistreatment he suffered when he was sick. Offer him the best babysitters in the GP paddock, exception from PR appearances, special diet, a bulletproof truck with darkened windows to take him and his family to/from the track to a secret hotel, whatever he wants. Ask also to his wife who, in spite of her shyness, probably has a big influence on her husband’s decisions. At the same time, go to Honda and beg them to provide Stoner with a third works bike (they can do that as shown by doing that previously with Dovizioso; dropping the now healthier and resurgent Pedrosa would be a mistake).
- After e.g. 2 years allow or even encourage high quality posting of all classifications and races of the 3 categories in YouTube. I was lucky to be in Laguna Seca in 2008 (in interviews after qualifying, when Rossi was asked what it would take for him to win over Stoner, two of his answers were “a shotgun” and “a 30 second start advantage”, so far ahead of him was Stoner; I was on top of the hill overlooking turns 2 to 4 and Rossi’s passes in there were to me as dramatic as the Corkscrew dirt riding that I watched later in the Web); I missed not seeing the lower classes. I went back in 2009 expecting a repeat, oh well we cannot have everything in life. My stepson does not have a TV but he became a fanatic through the Web and he drove me in the long trip from Buenos Aires to Termas de Rio Hondo. When Rossi passed Marquez and Marquez crashed the fans were shouting “hijo de puta!” (son of a whore); I asked my stepson why they were cursing Rossi, he said that it was actually a show of admiration. What I mean is that these Web postings would make more people aware of the sport without detracting from the ticket paying audience (of course, the very shrewd but old man in charge of F1 commercial rights would have conniptions but to me that is a plus).
- I am ambivalent about the F1 practice of having inside people following the rider public utterances to help them to avoid putting their feet in their mouths; this option could be examined.
- Give more financial support and, if possible, more technical help to customer teams.
- Do not impose any limit on amount of fuel to customer teams.
- Give the customer bikes a displacement advantage of e.g. 100 cc.
Of course, Dorna would have to be careful with the implementation of these last two measures, but I am sure that Mr.Ezpeleta would be up to the task e.g. by reducing the advantages after a few positive results. If these actions are successful, we could have an armada fighting for front positions. Maybe they can wait until 2017 when the dust of the new software/hardware regulations clears. It is also too late for 2016 to allow manufacturers to design customer engines with a new displacement limit and to change the regulations.

But there is some urgency to change because, even if I hope that Rossi rides competitively until arthritis does not let him climb onto the bike, realistically he does not have too many years left in motoGP (but I set a candle to Rossi’s past glories after his two years a Ducati and his first year back at Yamaha, hoping that he would retire before he became an embarrassment like so many who kept at it long past their due date; mea culpa). To keep it up, he would have to increase enormously his cardiovascular training but he does not seem too fond of doing so except for riding bikes and that is not sufficient at his age; he looked wasted when he removed his helmet after Misano. Fangio, another old man of top level motorsports, said once that he retired because he was tired not of racing but of traveling (he also said that he decided after his epic and very risky 1957 race in Nurburgring); instead, Rossi enjoys the limelight. He is the best ambassador that motoGP would hope for but it is unlikely that he becomes an advisor or a commentator. The path after his departure must be well set before he leaves, partially because a future superstar does not seem to exist in the lower ranks (stars yes, aliens mmm…) and partially because nobody has his joie de vivre. That is to some extent the reason why bringing back Stoner is important to increase knife in the teeth competition. Rely on people strengths, not on their weaknesses: Stoner’s personality is not the best in front of a camera but he loves racing and he is very very good at it; if he helps the competition to be as keen as in Philip Island few would care for his aversion to the public eye and I would not care for those. I would set an environment to protect him from PR appearances and from harassing interviews with ferrous determination. We could talk for a long time about similarities and differences between Stoner and Marquez but the most important similarity is their riding (not racing) styles, to me they are the only two riders that can save consistently a front end washout and tame or at least survive a difficult beast of a bike. Both of them on the same machinery would be a dream.

In the background but imparting a sense of additional urgency are the let’s call it boldness of Marquez and the physical fragility of Pedrosa. Marquez, quite possibly a forced retiree after his moto2 crash that left him with serious eye problems and probably the holder of the dubious record for highest speed crash in motoGP, still gives the impression of being a tick away from disaster in spite of his impressive maturity. And what will happen when he ages and his lightning fast reflexes slow down? Several years ago, Dr.Costa (emergency physician of motoGP) put heart monitors on Rossi and on Biaggi. Rossi: 125 pulses per minute. Biaggi: 170. Rossi relies on forward thinking more than on fast reactions, that’s probably part of the reason for his longevity, the jury is out on Marquez who would still be considered one of the greats even if he were forced to retire tomorrow but has the chance to be mentioned on the same level as Ago, Hailwood and Rossi; he is close but not there yet. If Stoner returns, he is another candidate; please please Dorna try your hardest to entice this alien back. With respect to Pedrosa, we have seen several relatively innocuous offs that resulted in injury and long convalescence. If he had had the same type of accident that Marquez had when he landed on his head and had only a bit of neck soreness, Pedrosa would likely have had a far more serious trauma. This physical limitation must have an effect on his aggressiveness although the new airbag suits possibly have contributed more to his increased confidence than that of any other rider.

In short, Dorna needs to look at the future of motoGP with a careful but urgent eye and to take action. This is possible because, in spite of Dorna’s organization being more dictatorial than that of the F1 powers, it behaves more democratically than F1. Dorna (actually Ezpeleta) asks for feedback, it tries to get consensus, it really listens to concerns, it takes bold but well thought decisions and, most important, it tries to help the back markers (in spite of what Ducati critics might say about their unfair advantages) and it has the power to implement the measures that are best for the sport.

There would be risks, but now is the time to be even more forward thinking. WEC has been going from success to success but it is a different type of racing, one cannot compare a marathon runner with a sprinter. Now that motoGP is at its apparent apogee, it has a big opportunity to not just stay where it is but to bring motoGP to the next level, as a legitimate contender of F1 popularity. People might decry the unlikeness of a marginal activity such as motorcycling becoming a serious pretender to F1 recognition but top racing cars have not had any relationship to street cars for an eternity, recent racing in the three categories has kept many of us on the edge of our seats, motorcycle racing riders (and most street riders) have become more, uh, civilized and the farce that the F1 organization has become all open a big window of opportunity to capitalize on the strengths of moto2, 3 and GP.

Beautiful photos, Scott, especially that one of the Suzuki with the tree in the background. Is it really that close to the track?

....thinks that does winglets are looking dangerously sharp?! I don't want to jinx it but with so much close fights especially at this circuit it's hard not to think about it. Hm...

Hi, very late on the comment. To answer your question about the tree, no it does not hang over the track as it appears but it is over the marshall pit and close to the track. I personally love this pic of Aleix & surrounds. I think he is coming through the hayshed up to lukey.

Scott, great job on the pics when the riders are hard on the front brake. Especially like Iannone braking to go left & the bike looks as if it wants to go right- brilliant.