QATAR / ARGENTINA / USA: WHERE ARE WE NOW, AFTER 3 ROUNDS ?
Back in Europe after 3 races spent oversea, the Spanish GP at Jerez always feels like a second start of the season. Before we got to go deep in it though, let’s see what we can take away from the first rounds.
1. What happens oversea, stays oversea !
Losail, Termas de Rio Hondo and Cota are special tracks that often don’t reflect well what are the forces in play. A night time race will always be very different from a day time one. The best example of it was FP1 at Losail where both Rossi and Lorenzo dominated before getting back mid-field once the night had come.
The mixed weather conditions from the Argentina tracks makes the race a wild card for anyone to shine even though this year, Marquez took no prisoners there. As for CoTA, the asphalt is so specific (and bumpy) that only Marc Marquez can lap around 1 second faster than everybody else.
2. Yes for Ducati, BUT…
Ducati is having a good start of the season.
Not as good as you could hope coming from Dovizioso, who’s been challenging for the title over the last 3 years, but not as bad as they used too before 2016. You can help but have mixed feeling when it comes to the Bologna squad. They sure have the best bike on the grid. After years of hard work they finally created a beast able to take the win on any track and even able to fly away in the sunset in the right hands. Nonetheless, Dovizioso isn’t shining as much as he used too. Sometimes out of Q2, he’s lucky to be able to save precious points on sunday which is the main reason he’s coming back to europe leading the title chase.
As for Petrucci, the life as a factory rider isn’t an easy one. The boots left behind by Lorenzo are not easy ones to take on. While the spaniard needed time to adapt, once it all clicked into place he was one of the strongest contender of last year’s championship before being stroked with bad luck.
So far Petrucci isn’t meeting the expectations but again, employed to be number 2, what could they really asked him more to do ?
3. YAMAHA: 50/50
There’s a strange situation going on at Yamaha.
The bike doesn’t seems to have improved a lot compared to last year and yet, in the hands of Valentino Rossi, it’s a major threat every sundays, sometimes even though he was struggling in FP. The Doctor seems to be in the form of his life. Now he still hasn’t won and Marquez & Dovizioso will make this harder and harder for him yet this seems to be a now or never kind of situation for the 10th title.
On the other side of the box, Maverick’s new number isn’t hiding his
weaknesses. The same as always: starts is still a huge problem for the
spaniard, always loosing ground in the early laps even though he has the
same pace as the leaders by the end of the race.
4. It’s hard to shine @ Honda near MM93
Marc Marquez might have lost and tumbled at CoTA ending his streak of US
victories, but what he showed during the first 3 races of the year
still is pretty clear to anyone who’s not wearing tinted glasses: only
Marquez can beat Marquez. Still a phenomenon, his injured shoulder
surgery during winter didn’t stopped him one bit. As fast as ever, he’s
almost unbeatable if he doesn’t make a mistake on his own. His only let
down though is the RCV.
Together with Lorenzo, the spaniards suffered quite a few mechanical problems on their bike sometimes resulting on missing a good spot on the grid, sometime scoring 0 points during a race.
Like when he started at Ducati Lorenzo clearly needs time on the bike to understand completely how she’s working beneath him. While somes experts seems to be loosing patience with him again, much like @ Ducati, it’s worth remembering everyone that the spaniard has been on a roll with bad luck since Silverstone 2018. Race cancelled, injuries – some bigger than expected at first – and mechanical problems have led Lorenzo to have little time spent on the bike before the start of the season and deprived him from top 10 and maybe even better. Watch out for Jerez though, Lorenzo loves this track where he always does well and the RCV is always a major threat there. Jerez is always Lorenzo’s real start of the season, if it click there, things could change pretty fast.
5. Rins, a slow burn
While he was in smaller categories, Alex Rins showed he had to potential to do great things in GP. Since he took on the factory ride at Suzuki, Rins has been a slow burn but is finally meeting all expectations we had for him. Winner at CoTA, it didn’t came as a surprise for those os us that were paying attention to his progress since around mid season last year.
The bigining of great things to come ?
6. Rookies on fire
To say we have an impressive bunch of rookies this season would be an understatement. First Quartararo is clearly showing some huge potential on his M1 and we can only wish Yamaha will realise that before they loose him like they did with Zarco. Mir is also doing great stuffs so far and mix up with Rins, the Suzuki team could become a much bigger player in years to come. Things are harder for Oliveira. The KTM still is in huge need of progress yet Pol Espargaro’s good result last time out shows they’ll be there at some point.