Dani Pedrosa – Phillip Island 2018
Dani Pedrosa – Motegi 2018
RATING THE RIDERS: ROUND 15 – THAILAND
MM93 – 10: A+ to that show-off of Marc Marquez who can wheelie on the line with Dovizioso & Vinales on his tail like it’s nobody’s business. #TooEasy
SR45 – 5: If you’re on social networks you’ll unterstand why we’re putting Scott right behind Marc. Afterall, he is SO glue to his back lately. #Bromance
AD04 – 8: There was a time where Dovizioso was able to defeat Marquez in a last lap fight. And he was really good at it. Well… Not anymore.
JZ5 – 7: Cocorico is back ! Almost.
MV25 – 8: A round of applause for Maverick’s race start! See ? When you don’t drop like a stone at the start, everything else works fine.
AB19 – 7: WSBK is getting itself a new Star with Alvaro. Another top 10 in the bag!
VR46 – 8: Leading a good part of the race is progress but even all of the old dog’s tricks weren’t enough to race around the bike’s problems.
DP26 – 7: We were cheering. We ended up heart broken.
Bonus: Is that Jordi Torres kicking a few regulars’ butt i see there ? #OUCH
First time racing in Thailand was a success for MotoGP judging by the huge attendance showing up all weekend long at the Chang International Circuit. Was the racing good though ?
1) Team Mani
Marc Marquez continues to mark history each times he goes out as he now is the first ever winner of the Thai GP. Still fierce and incisive in his every moves, the spaniard has to fight hard to get the best out of Dovizioso for the win: “I saw that Dovi’s pace was good and I was able to be slightly faster,
maybe, but I wasn’t able to overtake him because my front tyre was
overheating and I wasn’t able to stop the bike on the brake points. For
that reason I tried to attack before the last lap, to try to cool down a
little bit the front tyre, but Dovi was really smart and he overtook me
really quick every time. Then I said okay, we will see on the last lap.
I tried to forget everything, the championship, all these things and I
just give all that I have.”
Was the racing good then ? It was fine. Was it the best race ever like many like to say every sunday now ? Hell no! What’s the problem then ? The entertainment, the fights, all this only happened in the last couple of laps, leaving you watching the rest of the race like you where watching the boring middle part of the 24h of Le Mans. This isn’t Marquez’ fault by any mean though but it brings us to our next point: Dani Pedrosa and the Michelin tires.
It’s no news that Dani Pedrosa is living one of the hardest time of his career right now. While he will retire at the end of the current season, one could wonder: is he simply not good enough to win a GP or is he not being give the tools to shine ?
Some weirdo will tell you he cannot do it anymore, that he is not one of the Aliens. Regardless of whether they are right or wrong, let’s just say we do not share this point of view. Proof is the Thai GP. At a hotter track where he was quicker to bring the tires to temp, suddenly, Pedrosa looks in good form, do well in FP and QP and was at some point of the race before his crash, the fastest man on track with a real chance of winning. His smaller size has always been a threat to his natural talent ever since he joined MotoGP but since Michelin took over the paddock, Pedrosa’s problem went from bad to worse. And ever since they comeback, no solution was being given to Dani. Something which, to me, is incomprehensible: “We were forced to use the hard rear and I had a huge, massive,
disadvantage on that. Because for me, to warm-up this tyre was almost
impossible. It took me five laps [in the race] and I had to
do two extra laps before the grid, to clean the tyre and try to
give temperature, when all my rivals put the new tyre in on the grid. I lost so many seconds, maybe four seconds, in the first couple of
laps but then I caught back to them before the crash. So this is the
positive part but unfortunately it ended in a crash and I think it would
be a lot different if I could start from the front. But the disadvantage was massive today on the rear tyre at the beginning. That’s the problem, but… nobody cares.”
We do care, Dani. We do.
2) Magic Trick ?
The Iwata brand is living it’s worse time in the Grand Prix paddock since so long ago that i probably wasn’t even born yet to witness it. All jokes aside, the men in blue were hoping racing on a whole new track on the calendar might help them save what they can from that dreadful season.
Twenty Four races without winning and still counting, both Rossi and Vinales looked to be in better shape this weekend. Being fast during practice doesn’t means much though once Sunday comes. Yamaha’s miracle did not arrived in time for the Thai GP but we did saw a few sparkles of it.
Indeed Valentino Rossi not only made it to the front row of the grid but he also led the race for a while, which he hasn’t been able to do in quite some times: “For me, this is the best race for Yamaha in the second half of the season. This is so important. It
was a lot better, because we fight in the top group. At the end,
unfortunately, we are always struggling a little bit too much with the
tyres. But today we are not far. During the weekend Maverick followed another way with the set-up. He was
able to ride that type of bike and maybe saved the tyre in a better
way. So Maverick was a bit stronger than me at the end.”
Vinales on the other side could only take away the positive of the weekend. The spaniard seemed more relaxed, being all smile most of the time which marks a radical change compared to the last races. Finally getting a start worth of his factory rider’s status, Maverick needed some times at first to match the leader’s pace. Once he did though, he closed on Dovizioso and Marquez like melting snow to the point where he probably didn’t saw a race win this close in ages: “It is really difficult to ride like this, up and down, because you never
have enough trust but I think that race was a different situation
because I could have the chance to attack on the last laps. I was there, really close, but we need more feeling because in five or
six races I was not able to be less than ten seconds from the top. I
arrived there really close, I was able to fight, so I am happy that we
did a good job this weekend, so let’s see in Japan – no expectations, I
will try to be clever like I was this weekend and we will see if we can
3) The Boys in Red
Jorge Lorenzo came to Thailand suffering from his foot and left suffering from his foot even more AND from his wrist. After one hell of a hot summer for the spaniard, the last couple of weeks have been a complete disaster for Lorenzo, losing every chances go be runner up and making it even hard now to finish 3rd in the standings. Nobody can blame him for deciding not to race this weekend after the awfully scary highside he suffered in FP2 (due to a mechanical problem on his desmosedici but with Ducati not wanting to provide anymore infos on the matter): “As I told you,
the chances to compete here were minimal [after the Friday accident] –
even before I had the scan, when I found out that I have a fissure in
the end of the radius bone. So my left wrist is
hurting a lot and for sure in my opinion there is no meaning to take
more risk, knowing the circumstances, knowing the pain, and I decided
not to race. I don’t want to miss any grand prix and, as you
know, I did whatever it takes to arrive here and try. Obviously, the
right foot that was already injured is a little bit more painful, but
the main problem now is the wrist. If I was fighting for the
championship, I would probably make a desperate effort not to lose
points here. But knowing my position in the championship, knowing the
risk to be bad also in the next races, there is no meaning to try now.”
Dovizioso on the other had a rather normal weekend. Having a pretty good pace, he challenged Marquez for the win the last laps but failed to stop the younger spaniard: “I am always trying all my career to do that (harness aggression) and it
has happened with Marc and with most other riders, because I am not that
rider to try and create a problem. Yes, I can be aggressive but not
over, and it is good when the race is like that: a lot of overtaking but
try to be in the safe way. I’m happy if we continue like this.”
A 2nd place and another podium which leaves him without any pressure to take the 2nd place in the overall standings and prep for next season: “I am really happy to have another four races and continue to work and
try to improve a little bit because we need that if we really want to
fight for the championship next year.”
Reading Germán Garcia Casanova’s blog post on Motorsport dot com (here’s the link: x) though we cannot help but agree to the fact that being a good rider isn’t enough against Marc Marquez. In order to beat him you must be willing to take every risks, to try anything. Dovizioso lacks that. He could have tried to do a Lorenzo and go away instead of saving his tires as he was showing a very strong pace, but he didn’t. He could have pushed Marquez even further in his moves, but he didn’t. To quote german: “Dovizioso is a
great driver, but he does not have the competiviness, irreducible gene of not wanting to lose that makes you one of the greatest. (…) Dovizioso did
not risk, he did not give everything, he did not seek the limit, the
Italian complied, without a doubt, he did his role, and in the end,
he even made ‘a Márquez’ move in the last corner, but you could be expecting a little more coming from the rider with the best bike on the grid.”
With Lorenzo probably back at Motegi, a track he loves, and judging by the Ducati’s improvement, the pair should be hard to beat in the last couple of rounds, at the exception of maybe Phillip Island. Or maybe not ?
4) Honorable mentions
Kuddos to Scott for doing the last few laps completely sick in his helmet even though he couldn’t bring home a point by finishing 16th.
Johann Zarco felt better this weekend too and was able to take a very welcomed top 5.
Alex Rins continues to slowly progressing. Not top 5 this time but a good 6th place ahead of his teammate Andrea Iannone.
Danilo Petrucci in 9th still not showing any factory rider worthy material.
Rookie and replacement for the injured Tito Rabat, Torres is showing some skills. Finished 19th in front of regulars of the like of Nakagami, Luthi and Espargaro (the last one is still recovering from his previous injury though).
RATING THE RIDERS : ROUND 14 – ARAGON
MM93 – 10: *M a r c M a r q …* – Marc writing his name on the Tower of Champion’s trophy.
AE41 – 7: 6th place never felt this much like a race win ever before.
AI29 – 8: Andrea Iannone, from Instagram model to podium rider.
JL99 – 5: Pole position at Silverstone – Race cancelled, Pole position at Misano – Crash in the last laps, Pole position at Aragon – Crash in the first lap.The Lorenzo fan in me is hoping Jorge will not get another pole position anytime soon. #iseeapaternhere
DP26 – 7: I never hoped so much for so many engines to break at the same time than i did when i believed Dani had a chance to win this past Sunday.. #iknowiambad
VR46 – 6: “Allo ? You’re Yamaha’s Big Boss ? You’re fired !!” – Valentino, probably.
AR42 – 7: Every now and then, Alex makes sure to remind everybody what he can do.
MV25 – 4: Another race start that will go down in the “Worst Start Ever” records.
CC35 – 3: I’ve heard Cal blames Jorge for his crash. I don’t see how someone who was already out of the race could make him crash but i suppose it’s one of Lorenzo’s superpower !
PE44 – 6: Pol’s lucky to be happy in love, because he’s freaking cursed at work!
Last round in Europe before the huge month of flyaways, Aragon marks a turning point in the season as Marc Marquez gets closer to clinching another World Title.
1) Captain Marquez
On thursday Marc Marquez stated he still had the title in mind, even though his lead is already huge, and would be willing to lose 5 or 10 points to his opponents.
On saturday he went even further into this state of mind saying a top 5 would be his goal after failing to take pole position against fellow spaniard and future teammate Jorge Lorenzo.
Once sunday came, and after a good night sleep, gone was the careful Marquez and back was the crazy beast: “ I got up this morning I say okay, I want to take a risk today ”. And many risks he took indeed running wide and taking Lorenzo with him at turn 1, fighting on and on with Dovizioso, giving back every attack, switching places multiple times in one lap and finally pushing for the win in the final laps to escape the Desmo’s power in the straights.
Marquez believe the reason behind his race win at Aragon was a tire gamble he decided to take. Supposed to race the hard once again, the spaniard went against all odds and favored the soft as he believed he would be his only chance against the Ducatis: “ In the warm-up I didn’t feel well but I pushed, I crashed and then I start to think why I crash. Then we speak together with Santi [Hernandez, crew chief], with my technician and I say to him ‘I want the soft rear’. Then started a big meeting, discussions inside the team, with HRC because I did not try that soft tyre in the afternoon in hot temperature but I say I believe on this one, I can manage. Another thing is, was the only chance to fight against Dovi because with the hard I felt good but for my riding style was not working in a good way, especially on the entry. ”
Aragon GP win helped Marc increasing his lead advantage and even though he cannot win the title next time out in Thailand, his first match point will come right after at Motegi.
2) Two side of the same coin
The Aragon GP may have been won by Marquez and Suzuki may have got a podium but the image of the weekend certainly was Jorge Lorenzo’s monstruous highside at the first corner right after the start of the race.
An horrific incident leaving the spaniard with a dislocated a toe and fractured second metatarsal on his right foot. After being checked by the clinica on Sunday, and again in Barcelona on Monday, Lorenzo’s participation to the Thai GP is all but certain. Forced in resting his leg and foot for at least the 10 coming days, the spaniard will be checked again by the medicals later this week to see how the situation is evolving and if he could be fit enough to take part to the next grand prix in Thailand.
Lorenzo’s foot might be hurting but so is his tongue. On sunday night the spaniard put some of the blame for his crash on future teammate Marc Marquez’ lines and block pass at turn 1: “From the outside, [it looked like] I entered too fast, I lean too much and I entered too wide in the dirty part, that’s why I crashed. From what I lived, what I experienced, I entered in the normal line, entered the corner as I did in the seven last years here in Aragon, but I watched Marc go into the inside, very aggressive, not making the corner because you saw where he finished, in the green [paint on the outside]. And when he saw that I was there, he tried not to let me pass into the corner, and I didn’t have any options [but] to go to the dirty part. Because we were very wide and already the other riders were coming, if I didn’t want to lose five or six positions, I had to open the throttle.“In Misano [last time out] the crash was completely my fault, this time Marc destroyed my race, destroyed my foot, destroyed also the big possibility that I have to win and probably also [the] Thailand race.”
Lorenzo’s words were greeted with many criticizes, most people thinking it could only be his ego speaking and blaming Marquez for a mistake he did on his own. Body language though doesn’t lie and watching MotoGP dot Com’s video clip of JL’s post race debrief only shows someone who genuinely believe what he is saying.
Is Marquez to blame ? Is Lorenzo to blame ? Is it 50/50 ? Everybody will have their own opinion on the matters but reporters can put their clickbait headline about the “Dream Team Already Fighting” to rest as both Lorenzo and Marquez went on to show what Gentlemen are made of.
On Monday night, the oldest spaniard made a twitter thread explaining his view of the incident with a more calm and resting head. He then added: “This is my version, But I want to inform you that this afternoon I
received a call from Marquez checking on me, which honors
Something to which Marc Marquez replied: “Get well soon! We will see each other in Thailand”.
They might not always agree and they will definitely have moment of fight next year at Honda, but when you have respect for one another, it makes everything else easier. Even the reconciliation of two great champions.
3) Best of the rest
Failing to stop Marquez from winning his home GP, Dovizioso was pretty happy with the result anyway once in the parc fermé on Sunday. The Ducati, clearly shaping into the best bike on the grid, is so good that even Marc Marquez’ riding skills needs helps from a few tricks and gambles to win: “In Misano it was very important, but here even more because this confirms our improvement, and this improvement is the reality but is even better for the future. This is the way I want to look at the weekend, Because we come here with a lot of confidence from the [other] competitors, they thought we could win easy the race. But it’s never like this, and I’m so happy how much we improved from last year – this is the point. Unfortunately we couldn’t win, we try until the last lap, but we have to study and analyse the reality, and the reality is we did a good step – a huge step.”
With Jorge Lorenzo and Crutchlow out of the race and Yamaha struggling at the back, Iannone, Rins and Pedrosa decided to give everybody a quick reminder of just what they capable of.
Showing a fairly good pace all weekend, Andrea Iannone was the revelation of Sunday’s race. The maniac, more used to playing bowling with other riders when fighting with them was the cleanest we’ve seen of him in a long time. Sharp but never on the edge, the italian gave his everything and never let a mistake made by the leader being unnoticed. After sandwiching Marc Marquez with Dovizioso though, Iannone realized he could keep up with the Honda and Ducati and settled for 3rd: “It was a really great race for us and in many cases, a real battle because first of all, I fight a lot with my tyres, especially with the rear because it is really important to manage for all the race. During the practice we worked in a good direction with the used tyres and in the race I tried to not push a lot and push the bike on the side, and I think this is a really good strategy. At the end, the last five or six laps I started to recover the gap a little bit. The Honda and Ducati are more faster than us on the straight and I think this is the negative point for the race of today, but it was a good race.”
Behind him his teammate, Alex Rins, was struggling to keep his older teammate’s pace but not for lack of trying. In the end he was 4th and very happy to bring home a good result: “I’m really happy, I think we passed these expectations that we made yesterday. Mostly during all the race I was riding very comfortable with the first group. But then when there were twelve laps to go I started to feel something strange on the front. Since the beginning I believed in Suzuki, I was saying we had a competitive bike, no? In some races we’ve been a little bit at the back, for the setting or I don’t know what. But for sure our bike is very competitive and very good. Sure, we need to improve a little bit in the top speed and the small things, but I’m very happy with my bike.”
A little further back, Pedrosa almost looked like his older self riding with perfect line in a way only him can. Getting the benefits of a few new pieces given to him from Honda after asking for them since Jerez, the spaniard had what seemed to be his best shot at a podium since the start of the season. A 5th place isn’t was he was hoping for but soon enough will came Sepang and we know just how strong the little samurai can be there: “I think today in the race everything was quite well, we were able to start with the front group and i was able to do some passing, but unfortunately the hard rear had no grip. I was unable to carry the corner speed and the acceleration out of the turns with the hard, and that make me lose a bit of the gap per lap that I was unable to stay in the [lead] group.“I think with a little better grip in the rear I was able today to be in the podium or fight for the victory.”
4) Debacle and Disaster
If you thought the Austrian GP was a disaster for Yamaha then the Aragon GP was purgatory. At a track where former Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo used to make it onto the podium, the Rossi and Vinales duo barely made it into the top 10 after both qualifying way too far on the grid for a factory team.
If Marquez changed his mind from Saturday to Sunday, the same happened to Vinales. Not on the pace, in Q1 and struggling to get into Q2, the spaniard was penalized with a 3 places on the grid penalty for cruising on the racing line while Bradley Smith was on a hot lap. On saturday night he tweeted “we’re still motivated”.
On sunday and after a disastrous race result, there was no motovation left for box 25. Still not getting any better at race start the spaniard struggled to get closer to the top 10: “We have lost all our objectives, we don’t know what to aim for. The feeling on the bike is very bad. Now we have the Asian tour and I just hope to get it over with fast. Zero motivation, zero expectations. For me it is the worst race I’ve done in Yamaha, and the worst time on the bike, when the feeling was worst on the bike. I can’t tell really the precise problem because every area was working bad, was not even one area that was okay. I was comparing myself with non-factory bikes and they were even better than me.”
Side 46 of the box wasn’t partying either. For the first time in i don’t know how many year (if it even ever happened before) we got ourselves a VR46 waiting for a tow during Q1 saying there was no way he could have had the pace for Q2 alone.
Failing to find one, the doctor qualified at a very anonymous 17th place on the grid. Only his sunday racer skills would help him get into the top 10 and beyond.
It is now 23 races since Yamaha last one a race and even though anything can happen during the flyaways one could think everybody should prepare themselves for a year without any yamaha win: “I started very much behind, but I could keep a constant pace for the race and I can take some points, I can make the top 10, that yesterday I wasn’t sure [I could do]. It’s like this, this is our potential now. We hope to improve.”
Both sides of the box are hoping to see the light at the end of a very dark tunel, if only heads in japan would start doing something to solve a problem Rossi believe will not go away even with the 2019 engines: “I hope it’s important for Yamaha to react.“Maybe some top guys see the number, and somebody asks: ‘Why?’ ”
5) Honorable mentions
Aleix Espargaro’s 6th place in the race with the Aprilia felt nothing less than a win!
Danilo Petrucci in 7th continues to be a disappointment.
Zarco cannot do better than 14th which comes as no surprise when even the factory riders struggles to be in the top 10.
Pol Espargaro’s was forced out of the race weekend due to a crash when he was just coming back from a severe injury.
It was nice having Jordi Torres back in the paddock. The famously #kneedown rider made a respectable job out of a great opportunity replacing Tito.
Dani Pedrosa – Misano 2018
RATING THE RIDERS: ROUND 13 – SAN MARINO
AD04 – 10: What’s better than the championship battle that
doesn’t exist ? The Ducati fight! In the war between Desmo Dovi and Por Fuera
to be the best Ducati rider, it’s 50/50 after Misano. My nerves cannot andle
the suspens! #OHEMGEE
JL99 – 8: We’re loving the new Jorge Lorenzo even more than
we were already loving the old one. Shame about the crash but pstt, we all know
how fast an angry Jorge can go.. 😉
JM43 – 6: Jack should stop taking a tow and start working on
his laps alone because the one time he did, he was on the front row !
MM93 – 8: Have you seen Marquez rushing to his box after his
QP crash ? If the bike racing stuff doesn’t work out, i’m pretty sure he could
have a successful carreer as Usain Bolt’s successor.
VR46 – 6: Being anonymous. Something Vale isn’t used to.
Something he probably hate too.
HS55 – 2: We don’t really now what’s going on with Syahrin
and neither does his Boss Herve Poncharal.
MV25 – 7: We’re proud of Maverick. He did not messed up his
race start and that alone deserves an award !
DP26 – 7: – *Hm Hm* KTM *Hm Hm*
CC35 – 7: At the track where Ducati thought they could have
had 3 bikes on the podium, it’s Honda which ended up with a double. #awkward
AR42 – 8: Alex was proud of the race he produced. And so
Dani Pedrosa – Misano 2018