Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner suffered an uncharacteristic crash during the warm-up for Sunday’s MotoGP finale.
That was the official statement from Casey Stoner and the Marlboro Ducati team following his shock rookie error, highsiding in Turn 2 of the warm up lap, 90 seconds before the start of the race, after completely dominating practice and qualifying. Only Pedrosa was expected to be able to go with his fellow ‘alien’ in the 30-lap race, the rest eyeing up a podium at best.
Stoner stormed out of the track just as fast as he exited the race and quicker than you could say ‘no comment’. His team left red-faced and trying to put a positive spin on the fact their Aussie starlet screwed-up. The cooler than normal track temperatures, suppressed by a gusting 32 km/h wind had dropped tire temperatures below a normal operating level. Casey did his normal procedure of saving fuel and cruising slowly away at the beginning of his warm up lap, letting the entire field pass him. By now he was at the entry of Turn 2. He gets hard on the gas to catch up and presto-crasho!
Respected veteran journalist Dennis Noyes pointed out that Stoner mathematically may have had time to get back to the pit lane and start on his spare. He had until the leader completed his first lap to do this, but he would have been fighting for a mere few points and not the race win he was expecting.
Colin Edwards was one rider gleefully eyeing up the vacant pole position as the lights went out. Involved in a scrap with works HRC star Andrea Dovizioso for fifth in the championship and the first ‘human being’ after the four unbeatable ‘aliens’, more points were now up for grabs.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Colin Edwards was quite pleased with his new teammate, Ben Spies, and his efforts that granted Edwards fifth-place in the championship.
“I got a great start and the bike was working awesome but those three out front were untouchable. I don’t know how they do it, what they’ve got or what they eat for breakfast, but I couldn’t run their pace,” said Edwards. “In the middle of the race I couldn’t carry the corner speed I wanted to so I tried to smooth myself out and just rode out of my skin. I was doing the best I could but wasn’t sure where Dovizioso was. It turns out Ben (Spies) got by him and that point proved crucial. I gave him a big hug after the race and anything he wants me to buy him, he can have it! I’m glad he adapted so quickly to the Yamaha because him riding so well is what got me that fifth overall and I’m really looking forward to working with him.”
Spies was very impressive, as expected: “It was a good day. We got a good start which something I didn’t think was going to happen,” commented the Texan. “For the first six or seven laps I wasn’t really on it, I wasn’t used to the way the tires come in so I was halfway taking it easy and halfway getting pushed around because I didn’t want to do anything silly. Once we got into a rhythm I got to follow some people and it was ok, then I slowly started to pass some people and got my eyes set on the guys in front. Once I got passed Dovizioso I could see Nicky Hayden and Tony Elias up ahead. I knew I wasn’t going to catch them but I tried to keep my pace going and was able to keep it steady. It’s been a dream first weekend for us, to get seventh on a track I don’t particularly favor is pretty cool, the feeling is the same as winning a superbike race. I’m happy we’ve kept the bike off the ground and made solid progress all weekend which was our number one goal.”
Ben Spies was happy with the progress he made during his wildcard entry for Yamaha at the final round in Valencia.
But the real hard work starts for Ben now. There’s huge expectation from Yamaha in Japan for him to succeed in MotoGP. He is stated to be the Japanese manufacturer’s man to move to the full factory Fiat Yamaha Team and replace either Rossi or Lorenzo should they move for 2011.
Speaking of which, Rossi has laid his cards on the table, continuing to say that bitter rival Jorge Lorenzo remains with ‘his team’ for 2010 and is not happy with it.
“Yamaha have to choose between me and Jorge for 2011,” Rossi told English BBC TV. “I could change bike, ride for Ducati and try to win the world championship with an Italian bike. That would be great motivation, although I prefer at this moment to stay with Yamaha because the love between me and Yamaha, our relationship, is something special.”
Rossi still holds all the cards. The whole team and factory is Rossi-run unlike his time at Honda. Generally what VR wants, VR gets. Opinion here is split between whether his intentions are to oust Lorenzo from Yamaha and see his time out there, or if he could try and win the title with an Italian bike at Ducati and maybe by that time surpassing Giacomo Agostini’s record 123 all-time GP wins. If Lorenzo gets stronger next year, which on current form appears likely, and is ahead of Valentino when 2011 contact time arrives next June, it will put Yamaha in a very difficult position!
To fan the Rossi-to-Ducati rumor flames further, the bombshell news that Ducati’s MotoGP team manager Livio Suppo is moving along the pit lane to HRC as Marketing Director. As I’ve previously told you here, the fickle Italian media have reported that the move was designed to appease Valentino Rossi who does not get along with Suppo prior to him moving to Ducati. The Italian journos are now speculating that the move to Honda is part of a HRC master plan to poach Stoner from Ducati who is out of contract for 2011. More likely is that Suppo has been brought in to find major sponsors for the team. Repsol are rumored to be paying peanuts as a title sponsor and may well leave with Pedrosa should he decide to move after next year. Suppo is credited with bringing the big money to Ducati and it is the only team that’s costs are completely covered by sponsorship. All the other MotoGP teams rely on manufacturer money as well as secondary sponsors.
In a complete turn-around, MotoGP looks like it is headed back to 1000cc for 2012! Something that was dismissed out-of-hand only a year ago after 800s had been blamed for dour racing after the tail-sliding, fire-breathing 990 era. The proposal from the controlling manufacturer body the MSMA has been confirmed by Dorna chief Carmelo Ezpeleta after the manufacturers had failed to come up with any good cost-cutting idea’s to combat the current shrinking grid. Four-cylinder 1000cc engines could come from any source, although current production based engines would need major modifications to enable them to run alongside the full-pedigree bikes run by the current manufacturers. It is aimed to enable new teams and manufacturers to enter the championship to bolster the grids, bringing down costs and also hopefully spice up the racing. Interesting…
That’s all for this season, folks. Thanks for tuning in!