RATING THE RIDERS: ROUND 19 – VALENCIA
AD04 – 9: I swear i saw Andrea do a rain dance in the middle of the race… 😉
MM93 – 5: Patience is a vertue Marc, and at Valencia, you definitely needed more of it.
JL99 – 5: Years are starting to show on Jorge. And by show i mean i would have never thought a wrist injury could slow down this much the guy who finished 5th a few hours after a collarbone surgery.
DP26 – 8: Oh Dani, i can tell you there was not one dry eye in your fanclub grandstand on Sunday. They almost got me out of tissue papers!
VR46 – 7: Vale tried to win. Again. But failed. Again. When luck runs out, it’s really out!
SR45 – 5: If the bike racing stuff does not work, Scott has a career of underwear model waiting for him judging by his way of celebrating his last race in MotoGP!
AR42 – 9: After a 2 part race like this, i bet Suzuki are fine letting Andrea go. Alex’s ready for that number 1 rider spot.
PE44 – 7: And just like this, out of nowhere, Pol gives KTM their first podium in MotoGP! Good job Polyccio!
MV25 – 6: I do not know if switching from 25 to 12 will make Maverick go faster but it can definitely not make him, or rather his M1, go slower.
RATING THE RIDERS: ROUND 18 – MALAYSIA
MM93 – 9: Marc Marquez aka the man who wins even when he fails. #machine
AD04 – 6: Sometimes even with the best bike on the grid you cannot win.
JZ5 – 8: … And suddenly, Johann is back !
DP9 – 4: “Can we swap them, get Danilo in WSBK and keep Alvaro ?” – Every Ducati fans out there…
VR46 – 9: Fate must have something against you when you crash out of the most perfect ride you’ve been able to do all season. We don’t know about you, but we were sad.
AR42 – 8: Rise and Shine, we’re pretty certain Alex was the revelation of this Asian trip !
DP26 – 8: Hold on your tears everyone, Valencia is coming…
AB19 – 8: Can you stay Alvaro ? Please. We’re begging you.
MV25 – 7: YOUR RACE STARTS MAVERICK FFS ! #angryface
HS55 – 7: Local hero providing heroic ride for his home fans.
Andrea Dovizioso – Sepang 2018
ROUND 17: PHILLIP ISLAND
Phillip Island provides both a gorgeous landscape with sea
in the background (and seagull playing around) and a fast floating track. It’s
no surprise then that it always makes good racing and it’s a favorite for many
fans and riders.
After 25 races of plain struggles and no wins at all, since
Valentino Rossi’s Assen GP victory, Yamaha finds the top step once again thanks
to Maverick Vinales. Funilly enough it’s Maverick who’s racing his famous 25
spaniard couldn’t hide his joy on Sunday, happy to finally get the chequered
flag first once again and proud to be the one ending Yamaha’s victory drought: “This
is the best feeling ever, honestly! We’ve been in the dark all year, and
suddenly we came into the light! The season has been difficult. I needed that
win. We needed that win. Yamaha needed it also, to start next year. I said on
Friday, ‘we need to be good and motivated to start next year really well’ and
for sure this win is going to give us a lot of motivation.”
though people started to think maybe the riders were also one of the many
problems from Yamaha’s crisis, Vinales never doubted himself and his skills. In
fact it’s in yamaha that the spaniard lost faith a little at some point during
his personal 28 races victory drought: “There were two races I felt I
could win. One was Silverstone [cancelled] and another was here. So to make it
is really good and to win here is so special.”
win wasn’t an easy get away though. Vinales once again struggled at the start
being merely into the top 10 by the end of the first couple of laps even though
he started from the front row: “I didn’t expect to start so bad, it was
incredible. When I saw myself in tenth I just said to myself, ‘Maverick, you
are stupid! What are you doing!’” I just tried to keep my concentration. We
worked so well this morning on the electronics and I knew if I felt good I
could be fast because I was top-three all weekend. I felt good, so I said, ‘now
I have to push. Not think about the tyres, just push and push’. When I saw I
was three-seconds [clear] I could relax a little bit and save the tyre, but it
was close at the end because both Andreas were coming really fast. In MotoGP
it’s always really difficult to control the race, control the gap. They were so
fast at the end and I was struggling, thinking, ‘maybe they’ll catch me’
because in the last laps my rear tyre was really down. I just tried to control
the gas really well. Luckily I could push at the beginning. I didn’t expect to
be so fast in the beginning, but finally I made enough gap just in case the
tyre went down.“
the 2019 will be a clear contrast against his 2018 season, Vinales made it
clear he believes and hope Yamaha will now listen to him and let him lead next
year’s bike developement as showed that, when everything is right he can win
"à la Lorenzo” too: “For Yamaha, I proved I can win races and
they need to try to provide a bike for my riding style. Especially in the
middle of the corners to turn and if we have that we have the chance to fight. I
think if we work well for 2019 we can be strong as we were in 2017. So we need
to keep working. Next year I will also have more experience and I will be
better, because I know the worst point of being here racing and the better ones.
We have a great chassis, but we have to improve the electronic and engine. I
really love the chassis because, as today, I can ride really fast.”
2) Marquez / Zarco
Marc Marquez’ curse continues. Indeed, each time the spaniard get to win a
MotoGP title in Japan, he finds himself impossible to finish the next race at
Phillip Island. This time though, Marquez was forced to a DNF because of a
racing incident which happened between him and french man Johann Zarco in the
very early laps of the race. The two men collide when Zarco touched Marquez’
rear, propulsing the french rider out of his bike and into the gravel trap. The
bike of his bike being too damaged, the 2018 World Champion had to get back in
his pit, scoring his first DNF since Silverstone 2017.
riders were lucky enough to get out of the horrific incident without a scratch
and they both were gracious enough to not dramatise anything of what happened.
“When I was on the bike, I didn’t understand what happened and, honestly
speaking, I was angry, because I felt some contact from the rear. I wasn’t able
to continue because my seat was completely broken and was moving a lot. It was
impossible to ride in a good way and if it broke completely, it would become
very dangerous. Then when I arrived in the box and I saw the video I
understood what happened and it was completely a racing incident. At that point
in the track we arrive really fast. Miller was in front, I was the slipstream
behind Miller, at over 300 km/h. I braked, even a little bit late, and I just
tried to stop more, but then I felt the contact, because Zarco took the
slipstream from two bikes. Of course, you can say maybe he can consider this
[slipstream], but it’s a racing incident, I already spoke with him. I feel
really lucky today because me and him are both OK so this is the most important
“I went to him to say sorry because I totally destroyed the back of his bike
and he told to me the most important thing was that I didn’t injure myself. As two racers and sportsmen we totally understood each other. It
was an accident as we are going so fast and there was not a lot of space on the
left side. He was close to Jack and he came back on to the racing line at corner
one but I was also there. So I crashed.”
Vinales’ chasing pack
Vinales, Adrea Iannone took 2nd after a weekend where he showed a very
impressive pace. The italian even believes that without a couple of silly
mistakes he made, the victory was a true possibility: “I started the race
with a really strong feeling and for sure we had a really good potential to try
to win the race. But I made a mistake at Turn 4 and
lost 4-5 positions. It was not a good situation! I tried to recover but I felt
the tyre start to drop more than I expected and so I decided to remain in the
group and manage the tyres as best I could. That strategy allowed the Italian
to make a late push for victory, taking chunks out of Vinales’ lead until
another Turn 4 error. I had a little more in the last four laps and I tried to
push at 100%, I closed [on Vinales] but on the last lap I made another mistake
at Turn 4 so Dovi nearly overtook me. But at the end it was a great fight –
also with Vale, both Ducatis, Marc and Zarco. It was a difficult race and at
the end we got second position. I’m happy”
Dovizioso closes the podium even though Alvaro Bautista, replacing injured Lorenzo,
did not make the job easy on Desmo Dovi. The italian was overall very happy to
see the Ducati finally being competitive at Phillip Island, a track where
they’ve been struggling ever since Casey Stoner left the Bologna boat for Honda
in 2011: “A lot of good things happened today. I’m really happy. That was
the last important test before the end of the season, because this is a track
where we always struggled. So we confirmed, in every practice, our improvement
over last year. The winglets, the set-up is different from last year and it
worked. The improvement is big. Still it’s not enough to really fight because
in the middle of the corner I was too slow. We accelerate more in the main
straight, but in some corners I couldn’t exit with the right speed. I was able
to put myself in the right position, that gave me the chance to fight for the
podium, but I really didn’t have the same speed as these two riders [Vinales
and Iannone]. So we still have to continue to improve, because in some
other parts we are really, really good, but still we are struggling in the
middle of the corners.”
of the race though has to be Alvaro Bautista. The spaniard was given the very
uneasy job of replacing 5 times World Champion, Jorge Lorenzo, on the
desmosedici GP18. After struggling a little (and crashing some more) in the
free practices, Bautista found his pace and was able to display all of his
riding skills: “It’s a bit different from the satellite team because in the
satellite team you have just a few people working for you. But in the factory
team you have the same people in the box but behind the box you have eight
people more. And they help a lot. In this category the small details make the
difference, and those small details are better in the factory team. Also for
sure the bike is different. For me I’m very impressed of the engine, the
character of the engine, the power of the engine. It’s incredible how different
this bike is from the bike of last year that I’m using. The difference is quite
big. Well, I had better results in the past but for sure it’s been good,” he
said. “Just to arrive for one weekend with a different bike, a different team,
a different way to work, and also in this track that I’ve struggled in the
past… Also with the three crashes I had in the whole weekend, and to recover
the feeling and confidence for the race was really good. I was fighting for the
podium position. I missed for the fight for the podium at the end because I had
a problem with the gearbox. When I switched to third – because the gearbox is a
bit different to what I’m using – I didn’t engage the gear and I lost the
distance with both Andreas. In any case I’m happy because I enjoyed the race
fighting at the front.”
will have to get back on his old desmo though has Jorge Lorenzo (who congratulated his fellow spaniard on twitter for taking good cares of his 2 bikes), who got surgery on
his wrist the repair his damaged ligament, is planning on returning to action
at Sepang by the end of this week.
RATING THE RIDERS: ROUND 16 – JAPAN
MM93 – 10: All Hail to King Marquez ! May his reign be even longer than Queen Elizabeth II !
VR46 – 7: The M1’s poor ambitions are outweighing Vale’s talent. And Lin isn’t doing anything about it !
AI29 – 3: The maniac crashed out of the race BUT THANKS GOD, he did not scratch his pretty Instagram worthy face.
AD04 – 7: One of the many differences between a Great Rider and a Champion has to be being able to deal with title pressure. Two years in a row that Andrea is lacking in that department… #atleasthetried
DP9 – 5: I’ll be honest, i did not even saw him during the race. Maybe i should have woken up for every session to see a glimpse of Danilo…
CC35 – 8: I’ve heard Cal sais he hoped to finish in front of Lorenzo in the standings to « show his value ». Has someone told him yet that Jorge hasn’t even been racing lately ? No ? Well…
SR45 – 3: We know you adore Marc, but that’s no reason to try and broke him so you could have him all for yourself buddy.. 😉
AR42 – 8: Slowly but surely someone is finally getting there. And it’s a joy to see!
BS38 – 7: Is that some real progress that we’re seeing with the KTM ?!?!! 👀
MV25 – 6: Maverick, sweety, it’s decided. You’re SO getting race start private lessons during the winter.
AB19 – 8: Jorge might be grumpy and forced to stay at home but at least it’s making someone else happy. Cheers to Alvaro for getting a well deserved opportunity !!
The Japanese GP held at the Twin Ring Motegi track is the
home round of many manufacturers in the premier class but most of all, the home
of Honda. With Jorge Lorenzo out again of the race weekend due to his wrist
injury, Marquez had one opponent less to worry about regarding his first match
ball in Japan.
1) Level 7
With 3 races to go in 2018, Marc Marquez was crowned World
Champion again, this past sunday at Motegi. It’s the 7th time of his career
that the young spaniard is taking the title home, to Cervera. At only 25,
Marquez already has a place with Legends of the sport that have won multiple
world titles and only has Valentino Rossi (9), Angel Nieto (12+1) and Giacomo
Agostini (15) in front of him.
youngster that first rode a bike before he was even 5 is domininating the field
since he first came into MotoGP winning 5 of the last 6 titles with only
another extremely talented spaniard, Jorge Lorenzo, being able to
get the title in 2015: “It was
impossible to imagine and I say every season it is a dream come true, but I’m
living a dream. Of course, (being) a MotoGP rider is one thing, but every year
to fight for the title, be there in the top positions and win the title, is
something that nobody can imagine. Even if you are a super talented rider and
you are winning everything in the smallest category, you cannot imagine because
in MotoGP are the best riders in the world and there are 19 races in a year, so
it is so difficult to find the best level during all the season.”
though he is making history as we watch him continue his journey, Marc Marquez
isn’t focussed on the record breaking but on the new season to come.
the spaniard will face a whole new challenge as Dani Pedrosa’s retirement means
Marquez will now share the box with one of his main opponents so far. A threat to
him and his dominance, but a threat he knows about and is already getting ready
to face as his will to win again and again is still as intact as ever: “I never thought
about records because every season is different, but I have a two-year contract
with Honda and these two years, I will try to fight for the championship. In
the pre-season, I will work for another title and this is the way. I know that
I will have the pressure, like all top riders, but all top riders are working
to win the championship. If you finish second, it is a good season, but the
goal is not achieved. As long as I stay here, I will try to increase this
not open you seat belt just yet, this ride is far from being over, the
Marquez Era has just begun !
2) The Race
Marquez did got the title on Sunday by winning the Japanese GP but he did not
do so without a trick or two.
a real stop and go track, Ducatis were the favorite. With Lorenzo back to
Europe to heal his wirst, all hopes of a win were on Dovizioso’s shoulder. A
burden that might have been to big to bear for the italian. With Marquez
starting from 6th on the grid, Dovizioso took the early lead and tried to get
away ”à la Lorenzo“ knowing Marquez’ pace in FP4 was fierceless. A
failled strategy in the end as by the end of lap one, the spaniard was right
being Desmo Dovi, stalking his every moves.
there, started the now usual and very boring – let’s wait and save as much
as possible the tires for the end – show delivered to us by Michelin. Not
much happened until 10-5 laps to the end where Dovi and Marquez started their
usual on track feud for the win with Cal Crutchlow right behind, ready to take
any opportuny that would come his way.
the penultimate lap of the race, Dovizioso, pushed to his very maximum by the number 93, made a mistake and crashed out leaving Marquez to take
both the win and the title, with Crutchlow in 2nd and Rins in 3rd: "I’m
obviously pretty disappointed because we wanted to win this race at all costs,
but all-in-all it has been a positive weekend because we were very quick and we
confirmed our competitiveness. Pity about the crash: I didn’t overdo it but
simply tried to prepare for the exit of the turn in the best possible way in
order to attack him and I made a small mistake that cost me dearly. Even though
we did a good race we were unable to make the difference against Marquez, and
so I want to congratulate him because also this year he deserved to win the
Dovi lead the race though seams to have provide Honda an understantement of
Ducati’s strategy, at least that’s what Crutchlow believes: “The problem was
that Dovi was yo-yoing the pace again. Now we know the strategy of Ducati,
which they have done for four or five races in a row now: they do two or three
fast laps, then he slows the pace down, and the he does two or three fast laps
again. It’s so difficult to pass the Ducati because even when he slows down for
a lap, the Ducati has so much power off the turns.“
it’s worth noting that Yamaha is now at more than 25 races without winning. After their
great revival in Thailand, the boys in blue (and black aka Zarco and Syahrin)
had to deal once again with a disappointing race weekend and a bike that still
doesn’t want to obey them. A situation that cannot continue and which is leaving
both Rossi and Vinales absolutely desperate: “I think we worked well, we made
another step [in warm-up] and I feel better on the bike and I started quite
optimistic to fight for the podium. Unfortunately the two Suzukis and also
[Cal] Crutchlow are faster than me. I tried to not give up and not make any
mistakes, tried to arrive at the end with good pace.But our potential is
this. It’s more this than Thailand, unfortunately. Suzuki did a very good
step compared to last year, because they work in the right way. Better than us.
They are strong. If Iannone didn’t crash, he would have arrived in front. They
are fighting for the podium, they are stronger.”
now go to Phillip Island, which is definitely MotoGP’s brightest jewel. Jorge Lorenzo will again miss the race and will be replaced by best
Ducati rider during the Japanese GP, Alvaro Bautista. The 5 times World Champ
hopes to be back for Sepang. Free of any kind of pressure, will Marc Marquez celebrate his new title with a win on the Island ? History is agains’t him on that note as each time he won a title at Motegi, a DNF followed right back at Phillip Island…
Andrea Dovizioso – Motegi 2018
s h a d o w s