MotoGP: 2013 Round 05 - Gran Premio d'Italia (SPOILERS)

Posted at 5/29/2013 6:22:08 PM

budoist

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MotoGP: 2013 Round 05 - Gran Premio d'Italia (SPOILERS)

In The Hot Seat

Maria Herrera - Don't know the name? You might just have to learn it. It should come as no surprise to read that motorcycle racing is a male dominated sport. Both inside and out of the garage, compelling female figures are hard to find unless you peek under an umbrella or pay close attention to the members of the pit crew. However there are signs that this trend is changing. At the grass roots level, female racers are becoming more common in local series' the world over. A notable few, such as the US' own Melissa Paris, have made limited appearances on a more international level but the overall result has been mixed at best. Enter Maria Herrera, the Spanish sensation who put her name in the history books as the first woman to grace the top step in Moto3. The true test for young Maria, though, is yet to come. While she has tasted the fruit of victory, she must now push on duplicate that result many times over to truly open the door for others. That's a tall order in a climate of shrinking support and smaller grids, however for the young and brave of heart the challenge may just be accepted.

Dani Pedrosa - Things are looking good for Dani Pedrosa after a dominant win in France. Leading teammate Marquez by 6 points and defending champion Lorenzo by a healthy 17, the Repsol Honda rider looks set to take control of what has been a topsy-turvy season thus far. While Pedrosa ended 2012 runner up to Lorenzo, last season closed on somewhat of a high for the Spanish rider as he surged to win after win. Had he started 2012 in the same form that he finished, the championship standing may have looked quite different. Now only 4 races in, Pedrosa has already gained the championship lead on an RC213V that looks every bit dominant racer that Honda could have hoped for. Chasing his first ever championship in the premier class, and with an unexpectedly strong teammate for competition, one would expect Pedrosa to be sweating under the pressure. To the contrary, however, Honda's de-facto lead rider strives to remain calm as the weekend approaches, relishing a well earned position on the leader board. After a brilliant ride in the wet, Pedrosa will be looking to drive the point home to the field and sponsors that he is still every bit of an alien.

Cal Crutchlow - Second place in a MotoGP race is nothing to sneeze at. Second place on a satellite bike in a series where only 4 factory bikes seem to have any real shot at winning is sure to raise eyebrows and attract some well deserved attention. So it has come to be that Crutchlow's name seems to be at the tip of everyone's tongue regarding placement in 2013. While Crutchlow has been decidedly vocal concerning his desire for a factory ride, his biggest problem right now is the lack of availability. Honda and Yamaha, the two dominant factories right now, have two each and all four seats are spoken for in 2014. This only leaves Ducati and he's already made a play there. He may have a dog in the fight should the factory fail to renew Nicky Hayden's contract, however he would need to resign himself to a) reprising his role as Dovizioso's teammate and b) joining the least competitive of the active manufacturers as shows by Dovi's results to date. There is also the option of Suzuki, should they meet Dorna's requirements for competing as a factory, however the GSV as last raced was hardly a front runner and after several years off Suzuki is even further behind the 8-ball. Whether they can return with a competitive bike is a matter of much conjecture. In the end, any move from Cal is as much a matter of what he is willing to give up as what he might gain.

The Manufacturers - Cost cutting is positively rampant in MotoGP, as well it should be. Despite a global recession and shrinking monetary support available to riders and teams, even second tier satellite rides are reported to cost in the neighborhood of millions with dubious returns on the investment. Though the big two scoffed at the idea of a CRT racer, GP exile Aprilia leapt at the chance to provide a turn key racer and developed their ART project from the skeleton of the WSBK championship winning RSV4 Factory. Now, for a significant fraction of the cost of a "prototype" teams have the option of racing in the GP class for roughly the same positions that they would otherwise fight for and even knock on the doors of the much more expensive factory prototypes. Yamaha's response to Dorna's desire for a cost effective grid has been to offer a leased version of its M1 engine to teams that provide their own chassis. The caveat, however, is that since the engine will be very close in spec to the satellite Yamaha's and the engines themselves will be leased, teams will not be considered part of the CRT sub-class should they choose this option. However they would be, by admission of Yamaha, even further removed from being competitive with the front runners. Honda, meanwhile, is still busy testing their production version of the RC213V that will be offered for sale to racers. Honda insiders claim to be pleasantly surprised by the machine's performance at the last test. It is still speculative, however, where either machine will fall in what is already a 3 class racing system and whether either option from the big two will be cost-attractive to teams with the CRT option in the long run.

Jorge Lorenzo - It is the curse of the champion - that maintaining the title is infinitely harder than earning it to begin with. Yamaha's Valentino Rossi is famous for his outright refusal to run the number 1 plate, reportedly believing it to be bad luck and instead keeping his racing number 46. To underscore Rossi's point, he remains the only rider in recent history to win back to back titles. Which brings us to two-time and defending champion, Jorge Lorenzo. After a brilliant start to the season, Lorenzo has fallen on hard times in his championship defense. Lacking some of Honda's game changing technology like the much touted seamless-shift gearbox, Lorenzo is struggling to keep the Honda factory riders in sight. This weekend, Spain's own premiere champion returns to a track where he has taken the top step for two years in a row. Yet despite a sterling record at Mugello Lorenzo's releases quote him as hoping at best to claw some points back in the standings. Will almost a full race tally between himself and new championship leader Pedrosa, Lorenzo's reservations are understandable however he is the lead rider of a top notch team who will be working tirelessly to bridge the gap to Honda.

Posted at 5/30/2013 2:24:03 AM

Richard47

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Maria Herrera? I'm guessing she has won a race in a domestic series, it wasn't in a Moto3 world championship event. It would be nice if she did appear on the world stage though.

And Pedrosa's team mate is unexpectedly good is he? Not if you have been following his progress for the last few years. He has at times been a bit rash but he has always seemed to be very fast. On one of his last rides in Moto2 he carved through the field from last on the grid as though the other riders weren't there. If Pedrosa wants to win the title he will have to ride very well which, to be fair, he seems to have done so far.

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Posted at 5/30/2013 9:28:30 AM

budoist

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Dunno what's going on with the MotoGP site, as their article states that. I'm guessing that maybe the national Spanish series has a Moto3 class like the GP series does and she won that. Considering that Spain is currently the feeder nation for the series and there are strong ties between GP and all things Spanish it would make sense that they cover it... I guess.

I think that everyone expected Marquez to do "well" but not be anywhere near as good as he is proving to be. While other riders have entered the series with high expectations and done well, they have also had a journeyman period where they also did a fair bit of crashing as well. Lorenzo, Pedrosa, Simoncelli, all did well in their rookie years but weren't serious title contenders. They looked like rookies - very talented rookies and definite rising stars but rookies none the less. Marquez looks like a seasoned rider out there. He showed the entire field the fast way around the new track in Austin, he's breaking records and he's a serious threat for the title.

Posted at 6/3/2013 12:39:07 PM

budoka

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Marquez certainly blew it yesterday though. Pedrosa couldn't hang with Lorenzo (again) either. If you let Jorge get in the groove like yesterday, he's unbeatable.

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Posted at 6/3/2013 5:41:17 PM

budoist

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Ain't that the truth. With Lorenzo, like with Stoner, your best bet is to get under them and disrupt their rythm unless you have plenty in the bag to make a quick break. David Emmett posted that Dani had actually been having setup trouble all weekend trying for race distance, so it might be a miracle that he hung in there so long. Lorenzo must be ticked that Marquez crashed and awarded Pedrosa those extra points.

Posted at 6/3/2013 9:44:15 PM

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This was a completely wild weekend. I thought the weather was going to be a real bummer, but after a tricky first day that saw complete chaos break out and take quite a few riders into the danger zone, the weather subsided and provided one the best qualifying sessions of the season to date, and THEN threw the ultimate curve by heating up on race day and sending the teams scrambling to make the adjustments.

The heat certainly didn't do Pedbot any favors, who was already struggling a bit with grip, but he hung tough and to his credit gutted it out and got the result he needed. I loved how Lorenzo just literally moved Pedrosa out of the way on that first turn and owned this race, as if returning the favor done to him by Marky Marc in Jerez. Yamaha definitely turned up the wick on those engines, and it showed.

And what a blow for Vale. Freakin Bautista. He took out Lorenzo last year with a bonehead move, and now he takes Vale with another. I don't know what the hell he was thinking there shutting off the line like that when he knew he had riders all around him. Just stupid. Rossi had the race pace but blew it in quali to put himself in that position and then had some kind of clutch issue that ruined his start. But that is racing I guess. I'm just glad no one got hurt. They both went hard into the barriers there.

And the inevitable happened to Marquez. I couldn't believe what I was looking at watching him skidding down that tarmac. Ah, to be 20 again! But the kid was down all weekend, so he showed that he is mortal after all. He needs to be careful, because there is a fine line between showing reckless abandon and just being reckless. it will get him hurt or worse. But at the same time I have to admire his persistence and nearly pulled off an amazing rostrum. You gotta love watching him go.

The Ducs showed some good stuff out there as well. No, they are not ready to fight with the Hondas and the Yammies yet, but they are getting better and better, and I loved watching Nicky and Dovi duke it out. It was good clean racing and they brought home good results.

Finally, I loved the run Cal made on Sunday. I know he felt like he got gifted third, but it was a great run no matter the circumstance, and I think he could have possibly taken the position from Pedbot anyhow. And a shout out has to be given to Colin Edwards, who finally showed some competitiveness as the team is finally coming to grips with the FTR Kawi and that tricky electronics package. Hopefully this will be a sign of even better things to come. I'm counting the days to Catalunya!

What, Me Worry?

Posted at 6/4/2013 2:03:57 AM

Richard47

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RaptorFA said: I thought the Yamaha definitely turned up the wick on those engines, and it showed.



I don't think they did, the circuit just suited Lorenzo's style, all nice and smooth and flowing. He is such a great rider but he won't have such an easy time when the circuit is more point and squirt.

When Marquez learns to stay on the bike he will be a major force. Remember when Stoner and Lorenzo had their debut years? They were always falling off in a big way. Marquez is the same and if he survives without too much damage he will be World Champ.

Poor old Rossi is not the rider he was. The accident was just a racing incident, I don't think you can blame Bautista. And Rossi shouldn't have been down there anyway, his qualifying is just not good enough. You cant start from the third row of the grid and hope for a good result, not with the likes of Lorenzo etc in front of you. At one time maybe, but not any more. Frank Melling suggests that the bikes of Crutchlow and Rossi will be quietly swopped over at some time. That would be interesting. For sure Lorenzo could use a little support from his team mate.

And a big up for Scott Redding for consecutive wins in Moto2. The first time that has happened for a Brit in the intermediate class since 1971! That was when I still had hair (and much else besides).:smile:

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