Paddock Pass Podcast Episode 68: Thailand And Qatar Tests With Manuel Pecino

The Paddock Pass Podcast is back with another episode, and this one is a real treat, with another special guest. At Qatar, Paddock Pass Podcast regular Neil Morrison is joined by veteran globetrotting Spanish journalist Manuel Pecino, to discuss the state of play after the Buriram and the Qatar tests.

Manuel adds even more depth to Neil's incisive analysis of testing, and the pair get into the details of where the various factories stand. They start off with Yamaha, and ponder how the once-dominant factory seems to have lost its way, with the exception of Johann Zarco on the satellite bike. They take a long hard look at what has happened, and how Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales seem to be taking the bike in two different directions.

Then Neil and Manuel go on to discuss Marc Marquez' new contract with Repsol Honda, and whether that makes him the best paid rider on the grid. This leads them onto a discussion of who they see as being in the hunt for the championship. They talk about Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso, then go on to debate how Jorge Lorenzo has been adapting to the Ducati.

Neil and Manuel go on to discuss the other factories and riders: how Alex Rins is faring at Suzuki, and the difference between Rins and Andrea Iannone; how Cal Crutchlow could leverage his HRC support to challenge for the title. Finally, Neil gets Manuel to make his prediction for the top three in the 2018 MotoGP championship.

If you enjoyed this chat between Neil and Manuel, make sure you follow Manuel on Twitter at @pecinogp, keep an eye on his website,, where you will find a host of fascinating articles, or look out for the articles he publishes for a range of magazines such as Cycle World and Sport Rider.

If you don't want to miss out on these episodes as they are released, make sure you follow The Paddock Pass Podcast on Facebook and Twitter, or subscribe to it on iTunes or Soundcloud. If you do use iTunes, please remember to rate the show and leave a review, as this helps other MotoGP fans find it. Enjoy the show!

Round Number: 

Back to top


Sure I’d rate the guest contributors views here. 

First he says Yamaha need Jorge back as they are lost and without good enough rider feedback-despite topping the time sheets in Qatar. 


Then he said Jorge can’t ride the Ducati which is suppose to be pretty much the best bike on the grid. 

Great podcast but some inaccuracies scattered in it. 1. Vinales didn't win his three races last year on Lorenzoʼs bike. It was a completely new bike new engine new chassis. Rossi even said at the start of last season that he didn't like the chassis and preferred the 2016 chassis. 2. The Yamaha has to be rode like Lorenzo, if that was the case then why didn't Lorenzo beat Rossi in 2016 on the Michelins. Lorenzo had even more trouble than Rossi with the tyres.

3. Jerez isn't a low grip track for 2018 as it has been resurfaced for this season. Along with Barcelona and Silverstone. Yamaha do have more problems than Ducati and certainly Honda but it's not all doom and gloom. The first eight circuits are good Yamaha tracks, if they start off with a few wins then keep consistency regular podiums a title challenge can be made. 

I definitely loved to hear manuel. He gives very straightforward opinions about the current state of MotoGP and main riders/teams. Very interesting point of view. This podcast is a delight to hear :) 

Completely agree!  Very refreshing and enjoyable to hear his thoughts.  Especially ones that differ from the usual unyielding praise of the 'GOAT' in spite of reasons to suggest otherwise.  Kudos for sharing it!

Manuel just calls it as he sees it based in fact and off season testing grounded in reality. Right now it looks like a potential Marc vs Dovi, Honda vs Ducati affair 2018. That can all change in a heartbeat in one weekend. As much as I like Marc his crash and burn technique will catch up with him but is way less likely to with this years Honda out of the starting blocks. He is my pick for another title. Dovi is the one rider that has proven he can mix it with Marc head to head and beat him. I reckon Dovi can beat him to the title too. They both start from a way better base than last year. The fickle finger of fate will play a major role. Lorenzo is blowing hot and cold. Rossi as ever garners 80% interest at Yamaha as Pecino pointed out. Rossi's interest after every outing gets a swarm of Yamaha engineers around him, Vinales gets 3 or 4. Zarco can be pleased he ain't Vale's team mate for sure. Waiting in the wings is Rins. No way Suzuki will get the title but I expect them to upset the applecart on more than one occasion this season.. KTM don't have the riders. Aprlilia do but don't have the ponies right now. Then of course HRC have Dani and Cal as back-up in any given situation. Ducati have Petrux and Miller coming good at any event should Lorenzo have a bad day (a less than ideal surface,tyre or temperature is for him these days a bad day). I'm with Pecino on his assesment re Yamaha garage. They are caught between Lorenzo's bike which Zarco just adapted to and the current Yamaha which is being sculpted to Rossi's bent leaving Vinales' clutching at straws. I don't think Ducati nor Honda have those issues. Were I in charge of Yamaha 2018, I'd give Tech 3 all their riders asked for even though they are off to KTM next year. Tell you why. Yamaha need to evaluate across a broader spectrum what works and what does not irrespective of what any particular rider demands. They need a better base line and you cannot get that without a broader base of rider input. I think Crutchlow's toil has been invaluable to HRC as has Petrux's been to Ducati. Thank god Ducati kept Dovi over Iannone. While Dovi was really working the bike and team forward, Iannone was stroking his ego. Jorge is doing the right thing within the team like Dovi but needs to get over his fear of mixed conditions and walk the plank. I believe the pirate still has it within himself, he is just too good a racer, just needs to 'walk the plank' at Ducati. Rossi could not do it as Stoner pointed out back then. Develope the bike around all input rather than any individual. It remains a manufacturer sport at its essence. Superstar racer's are incidental, come and go but the brand remains intact by virtue of due and sometimes ruthless diligence.