After rating the top ten finishers in the championship, it is time to turn our gaze to those outside the top ten worthy of note. Here is a view of Colin Edwards and Danilo Petrucci, two riders who both exceeded expectations in 2013.
|Colin Edwards||NGM Mobile Forward Racing|
Colin Edwards was thirty-nine years of age when he lined up on the grid for the first race of 2013, and facing questions over his ability to keep competing. His performance had been slipping since losing his spot in the factory Yamaha team, reaching a low point in his first year with the NGM Forward team on the Suter BMW. Was he perhaps too old? Did he really have the motivation to compete at this level?
The former question is still open, but the switch to the FTR Kawasaki gave Edwards the chance to show that he still cared enough to keep racing. Much better handling and above all, being freed from the shackles of the BMW's electronics made the FTR Kawasaki a much easier package to ride. Edwards looked much more at home on the bike, regularly making it into Q2 in the second half of the season. The Kawasaki CRT bike was still lacking too much power to take the fight to the factory prototypes, but Edwards was the only rider to challenge the outright dominance of Aleix Espargaro among the CRT riders.
With the arrival of the leased Yamaha package at NGM Forward, Edwards found another motivational boost. After the test at Valencia, Edwards was positively chirpy, sure to be much closer in 2014 than he has been for a long while. There is life in the old dog yet.
|Danilo Petrucci||IODA Came Racing|
If ever proof were needed that Grand Prix motorcycle racing is not just a bit of fun, Danilo Petrucci is it. The Italian has spent two seasons of hard graft in the IODA Came Racing team, working first on the chronically underpowered IODA Aprilia, then switching to the Suter BMW abandoned by NGM Forward. Due to chronic underfunding, the Suter BMW has received no development, being almost identical to the bike tested by Mika Kallio at Mugello in 2011.
Yet Danilo Petrucci turned up at the coalface of MotoGP week in, week out, with only the occasional snarky comment on Twitter revealing his true feelings. He turned his frustration and ire into speed, getting far more performance out of the bike than he had any right to. The contrast with his teammate was a stark reminder of just how much difference a rider can make. Lukas Pesek, a race winner in 125s, did not score a single point in 2013. Petrucci scored twenty six, more than Yonny Hernandez, more than Claudio Corti, more than former 250cc world champion Hiroshi Aoyama, more than Karel Abraham on the Aprilia ART.
What would Petrucci be capable of if he was on a decent bike? Right now, we don't know. So far, the IODA team have not announced their plans for 2014, though rumors persist they could team up with Aprilia to race their ART machines. After two years slaving on a completely uncompetitive machine, it would be nice to see Petrucci racing something with a proven track record.