Helmets On – Catalunya 2018
Helmets On – Catalunya 2018
Cal Crutchlow – Catalunya 2018
Years goes by and look alike for Ducati. Too bad for Dovi, this time he’s not the hero he once was for them though.
1. Dovi’s turn of fortune
At that time last season, Dovizioso looked like he was the personification of Moses for millions of tifosi obviously very disappointed by Ducati’s new golden boy form. If the italian’s success came as a surprise last year, it is expected now and the least we can say is Ducati’s Moses has been sinking lately, taking DNF more than podiums.
On the question whether his current form as to do with his team-mate resurrection, Andrea insists it’s not, but more about his desperate wish to win the title which he has always in mind: « it’s not about Jorge. It’s about i want to win the race because i have a good speed and we have to gain points on Marquez ».
Taking the blame on himself, recognizing he made a mistake was one thing, but for Dovizioso the blame also lies on Michelin: « they say it’s the same tires because it’s the same rubber but the casings are different so the grip is also different ».
Being 8th in the standings, 49 points behind Marquez leaves not much choices regarding what to do to come back to form for the italian: « When you have a strong team-mate it’s positive and negative. The positive is that you have an example to study. I didn’t have that until now ». It’s an obvious 360° turn coming from Andrea, the very same who said to anybody who would listen that « jorge’s way and method don’t work at Ducati » just a couple of weeks ago. Now studying the data is one thing, having the skills to replicate them is another and on that task Dovizioso will find he has a mountain to climb to reach Lorenzo’s life long achievement of metronomic skills.
2. “Fall 7 times, Stand up 8″
Strong from his Mugello win and whole new HRC deal, Lorenzo made it clear on friday that he came to Montmelo to dominate the field. And so he did. Fastest on friday and did not even bother to chase a lap time in FP3 knowing to well the work done in FP2 was already enough for Q2. The spaniard later took the pole position when even Marquez’ firm opposition couldn’t stop him from taking Saturday’s win making it 14 years since Lorenzo last started the CatalanGP outside the front row.
For Jorge’s opponents the strategy was unique and very clear. Like Marquez later said after QP « we have to stop him » meaning « before it’s too late ». Too late for the race and too late for the title chase.
Lorenzo is of a very singular kind in the paddock. Confidence is key for him and if his self confidence can make him look cocky at times but it ends up being his main quality. Knowing fully well what he can do helps him working to found confidence again and once he has it he is on a roll, something his rivals are always afraid of.
He found himself in the deeper waves of his career, many times in the past, trying to survive at every races. He struggles with pain and fear during his rookie season following a couple of crashes so big even his own father wanted him to stop. He couldn’t win a title promised to him in a season where he became the bravest guy you could found following his ride at Assen, 36 hours after surgery, in 2013. He looked like the fading shadow of the rider he once was in 2014 making a fool of himself jumping the start at the US round. Each of these events was followed by a « comeback » and more often resulted in a title or top 3 place than not.
Jorge Lorenzo’s career is made of ups and downs. Even though the downs are sometimes extremely deep, the one sure thing is that they’re always followed by a high higher than the last one. His time at Ducati will end up being just another example of Lorenzo’s determination to always get up and get the best out of himself, his riding and work or, like he wrote on his Catalan GP’s new graffiti helmet: keizen (constent improvement).
The spaniard is 7th in the standings, 49 points behind Marquez. If someone can catch such a gap it can only be the one guy who once decided to slow the pace of a whole race so that more riders could come in between him and his title rival, a certain 93.
3. The smart one
Marc Marquez learns his lessons: when you crash out of a race giving 25-20 points away to your opponents, next time you think before acting.
Marquez knowing very early on that the race win would be difficult against a metronome Lorenzo, the spaniard decided not to push too much: « i tried to follow (JL) and was pushing because it’s my mentality and i wanted to create a gap on the others ».
Seeing Dovizioso’s fate though stopped him: « one moment i lost the front. In the same lap Dovi crashed. I saw all the yellow flags, so many crashes » he then decided to settle for the 20 points offered taking the 2nd place.
You never really change a lion nature though, you can take the upper hand on them but don’t be careful once and they’ll devour that same hand: « i pushed in the last laps to see if Jorge was dropping the tires », but Jorge wasn’t. At all.
The young one then focus on Plan B: if you can’t take the win, take 2nd. He managed the race until the checkered flag safely into the second position, Rossi in 3rd being to far to threaten him. By knowing it was better to give away 5 points to Lorenzo, who is still too far in the standings, than giving 20 points to Rossi, now 2nd behind him for the title chase Marc Marquez was a very happy runner up to the Catalan GP.
That, Ladies and Gents, is how you win a title.
4. Maverick’s misfortune opens Vale’s title chase
Same old story at Yamaha on sunday night: one was able to get the best out of a sinking package while the other is drowning with the M1.
Frustrated is becoming Vinales’ middle name as it was clear on Sunday that the new approach Team 25 tested at Montmelo didn’t produced the results they hoped for. The young spaniard keeps saying the same thing over and over again after each and every race debrief this season: “I can’t do more with this bike”, “I don’t know what to do”.
Maverick’s unsolvable problems tends to overshadow his true potential: “the first 10 laps of the race can go to the trash”. Looking back on his races since Losail, the harsh statement seems as true as it could be though.
We first thought the number 25 needed to qualify better on Saturday so that he wouldn’t be glued in the traffic on Sunday but judging by Mugello’s result it’s not so much the QP which seems to be the problem but the opening of the race.
With the fuel tank full, Vinales goes wide, slides a lot and can’t get the bike working as he wants it to and looses tones of places that he then have to take back once he finally founds a good rythme with an emptier tank.
On the other side of the Yamaha box, Rossi struggles too. His 2nd place in the standings are not much of a relieve for the italian knowing Yamaha still have to work harder and harder on the engine and chassis of their bike to make it coming back on the winning road.
He noted “1 year without a win isn’t a good news for Yamaha and for me”. Assen coming next will mark Yamaha’s one year anniversary since they last won a race, a statistic which would have seemed impossible to be true a few years back.
What seems like an unevitable conclusion though is that the loss of Jorge Lorenzo to Ducati started the downing of the Yamaha ship. The fact tech 3′s Johann Zarco still uses Lorenzo’s data on his bike to make it work is another proof of what Lin Jarvis’ team is missing. Number 99 going to the HRC next season, it’s another famous spaniard with a riding style as beautiful and impressive in it’s own way that could save them.
5. Dani’s future
With what ends up being a good weekend overall, Dani Pedrosa’s future remains uncertain.
Ears were listening carefully on thursday, scared he would announced a retirement but hope is still alive and well as the spaniard is working on “a few options”.
Lin Jarvis later fuelled the rumors of a satelite yamaha/petronas team that could very well get Dani Pedrosa as it’s lead: “Dani’s situation is something new that has come up in the last couple of weeks. If Dani is available and keen to ride a satellite Yamaha, it would be a really positive thing and a pleasure for Yamaha.“We’ve had discussions in previous years as well, and it’s always been a curiosity in my mind. So if Dani would finally be one of the riders, I think myself and Yamaha would be happy to see that (…) The situation is not confirmed yet, but talks are progressing well and I’m optimistic we’ll find a good solution. Hopefully there will be some positive news within the next couple of weeks about 2019 and beyond.”
6. Honorable Mentions
Cal Crutchlow takes home 4th place but his lovely daughter Willow had her first taste of the podium and that was ADORABLE.
Johann Zarco seems to be fadding away since Le Mans.
Alvaro Bautista ends up 9th in the Catalan GP, something he can be proud of!
Syarhin’s crash on Sunday doesn’t take away all the shine he had during the rest of the weekend.
Helmets On – Mugello 2018
There’s nowhere like italy, and no race like the Italian GP. With it’s inimitable atmosphere, passionate (sometimes too much) fans and one of the most enjoyable and fascinating track of the calendar, the Italian GP is on everybody’s bucket list.
1. Lorenzo il magnifico
After weeks of speculation regarding his future ans possible retirement, it’s a determined and confident Jorge Lorenzo who arrived at the track on thursday.
Insisting that he has absolutely no intention of retiring, the mallorcan made his point clear in QP where he lost the pole position to Valentino Rossi in the very last minutes.
Second on the grid, sure of himself and in what he believed he could achieved, Lorenzo fired his desmosedici from the starting grid onto the main straight like a bullet out of a gun. He took the lead in the first corner to never gave it back until the finish line.
It’s a classic and masterclass win that Lorenzo delieved on Sunday. He, the man so many love to hate and never believed in, won on a Ducati, in italy in front of all of Ducati’s bosses and ducatisti. Lorenzo’s clear joy, emotions and enthusiasm were not only a blessing to witness but also a proof how just how hard the last year and a half has been for him.
In « caliente » the spaniard stated winning on the Ducati was the best day of his life. The pride and joy of annexing the « Red Stands » with his famous Lorenzo Land flag was obvious but sadden by the fact this story will not continue in the coming years.
2. A win and.. what’s next ?
Behind closed doors, Lorenzo who felt like Ducati were not interested a bit about his case nor had any love left for him, has been maneuvering with his management team, Dorna and Lin Jarvis to prepare a team in which he could get his hands a Yamaha M1, much like his arch nemesis Valentino Rossi did after his red debacle.
Ducati, who is said to have signed Danilo Petrucci just hours before Lorenzo’s win, found themselves in a very curious position indeed.
There’s no denying Dovizioso’s progress through the years, but one can only wonder if he’ll ever really be title’s material. A combo Dovi/Petrucci will sure win races, but it misses that little sparkles, that little something that transform a chance of title into a proper title.
It’s that sparkle they wanted when they signed Lorenzo and that’s that little extra something he could give them if only they were giving him time. At the end of the day, that’s the main problem: after only a year on the bike they asked Jorge Lorenzo to do what their new favorite needed 5 years to do. Can Ducati found a way to convince Lorenzo to stay ? Do Dovizioso and Petrucci have a real chance to get a world championship against Marc Marquez ? Is it too late to keep Lorenzo ? Judging by the mallorcan’s own words after the race, it is: “One side of my heart is sad. I am very happy with this victory but one
side of me is sad because I believe if I had this modification before I
could tell you that I would stay with Ducati but the pieces arrived too
late and the next two years I will be with another bike.”
Ducati’s faillure to keep the spaniard could well end up into a gift offered to Yamaha: a team which desperately need some Lorenzo’s magic again judging by their current form.
3. Some smiles, some don’t
It was a mix of content and frustrated faces you could found at Yamaha on sunday evening.
First, Valentino Rossi, the man all of italy consider as the personification of Jesus on Earth, not only took the pole position on Saturday (his 65th) but he also made it to the podium in 3rd place after one hell of a fight with Petrucci, Rins and Iannone.
The italian, genuinely happy for his old teammate’s win, was on cloud 9 to be back on the podium at the Mugello: « all the training and suffering is worth it for these 10 minutes on the podium ». Awww Our Hearts, Vale !
Less vocal but critical nonetheless, Rossi believed they still could play a part in this year’s championship and urges Yamaha to solves their recurent problems which are the reason behind their lack of win since Assen 2017.
On the other side of the box, Maverick Vinales was way more angry, vocal and frustrated than his famous teammate.
He stated after the race: « Yamaha promised me that i’d win, not fight with satelite Ducatis (…) they have a rider to fight for the championship, but they need to give me the tools for that». OUCH !
Since his last win at the 2017’s french GP, Vinales has been doing the « yo-yo » to the point where, in the very same weekend he can go from being nowhere in to be seen in FPs to 3rd on the grid to barely taking a top 10 in the race.
One can only wonder WHY did both sides of this equation agreed to continue together as early as they did before the season started. (A question we ask ourselves non stop since the annoucement).
4. Marquez couldn’t save it while Pedrosa needs saving
Marc Marquez, King of saves and gravel trap’s favorite Gardener, crashed out of the Italian GP, rejoining the race to finish only outside the top 15, getting absolutely no points, except maybe ours for his determination to try always and forever, but then again, these do not count at the end of the year.
On hard tires, the spaniard made a gamble which would lead him to fall visibly forcing too much on his front to match Lorenzo’s early race pace. While losing 25 or less points might make him frustrated and unhappy of his weekend, it’s the fans’ reaction which infuriated him on sunday evening: “To celebrate the crash of a rider is sad because we are taking risks on
the track. I don’t know if many people ‘celebrated’ my crash today but,
well, it is curious that they celebrate a crash of a rider more than a
victory of another. It is a curious thing about bike racing.”
Used to boos and cheers when he goes down since 2015 and his famous clash with Rossi, Marc insisted he hoped his fans will never act like that, in any circumstances: “I said before in 2015 and in 2016 that I hope they support the racing as
much as me and respect all the riders. This is the most important.”
Marc couldn’t save his crash but it’s Pedrosa’s situation which becomes worrying for next season. The spaniard has been very quiet about his future. Only a few rumors of a 1 year deal he would have refused coming from Honda have escaped from the paddock (then again, is it even true ?). At the end of the day, it might not be Captain Lorenzo who needs saving from Carmelo Ezpeleta but Soldier Pedrosa.
Rumor has it, Honda, after trying to get Dovi, Mir and Zarco without success, tried to buy Jack Miller back home from his current multiple years Ducati deal. It might be very different from the inside, but looking at it from the outside, we cannot help but think Alberto Puig and the HRC are keen and giving the ride alongside Marc Marquez to ANYONE BUT Dani Pedrosa.
As seats for next season are almost all taken now, it’s becoming a reality that Pedrosa, if nothing happens that could save his current place, could very well be heading home in 2019. This end of Dani’s MotoGP chapter would be unacceptable, not only to his many fans, but to the rest of the MotoGP paddock. A rider should never be forced to retirement, especially not one with Pedrosa’s palmares.
Now i do not know where we have to sign or whom we have to threaten but, if he is without a ride, just give him the M1 on that satelite/petrona team they are building, alongside Lorenzo or not.
5. Honorable mentions
Andrea Iannone was on fire the whole weekend showing a form that could have made a title contender has he only be consisten the rest of the time. He’ll leave Suzuki at the end of the year, surely to get an Aprilia next season.
Zarco was nowhere to be seen this weekend after his missed opportunity in France.
Alex Rins was back where he belongs, fighting for top positions.
Danilo Petrucci couldn’t stop whining about Marquez’ pass on him in the early race and we couldn’t care less because, well, he should remember he does the same pretty much all the time.
Cal Crutchlow was a tuff one this weekend, still suffering from his huge crash last time out.
Helmets On – Le Mans 2018
Cal Crutchlow – Le Mans 2018
Helmets On – Jerez 2018