Danilo Petrucci – Thailand 2018
Danilo Petrucci – Thailand 2018
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).
As we are getting closer to the end of the season, it’s at
Misano, near Rossi’s hometown that we were racing this weekend. A weekend where
Ducati was favorite but the crowd had only eyes for The Doctor.
1) Dovi’s moment of proud
Andrea Dovizioso took his 3rd win of the season a Misano. A
very important win as Ducati won both italian GP this season and it’s also the first time they win 3 races back-to-back since the Stoner
Dovi knew his main rival would be his teammate. Somehow, if
he wanted to win he first had to stop Jorge from running away “à la
lorenzo” but the italian was confident he had the pace to rush at the
front: “my strategy was to be on front and make my rythm because i knew i
had a good pace but sometimes Jorge make a special race and Marc is always very
Once the mid-race mark was checked it seemed Lorenzo was
coming back on Dovizioso like a repeat of the previous races but Dovi had the
race under control and pushed more just when he wanted: “i was trying to
play with lap times to see and understand the competitors. i had the margin to
go faster and take more risks under control”.
As always though, the italian adaptated his pre-race
strategy to what was happening live during the race “it’s important that
you have your strategy but at the end you have to make some part of it during
As for the championship, Andrea is up to 2nd now in the
standings but there’s no illusion on their real chances to win it, it’s
Marquez’s to lose “we are focus on that (getting ready for 2019) because
Marc is ahead. If we do something important this year, good, but if we can’t we
have to be even more ready for next year”.
And next year Dovizioso will have some help! Indeed,
Lorenzo’s replacement, Danilo Petrucci, know he’s been signed, not to win, but
to help Dovi win the next title. Think i’m joking ? Nope. It’s Marca which reported this very strange and awkward line said by Domenicalli himself (link of the article here)
“Petrucci will make sure that Dovizioso has a whole lots of points by the end of the year”. Now i do not know how Danilo feels about playing second field but i know i wouldn’t like it!
2) Pen already well in hand
Marc Marquez might have arrived at Misano with a comfortable
lead in the championship but that doesn’t mean he is not willing to take some
risks if a win is a stake. After a good fight with Lorenzo that left us on the
edge of our seat and salivating for next season, the spaniard saw that
Dovizioso was escaping, but there was nothing he could have done to prevent
that from happening: “when i saw Dovi going away i tried to be behind
Jorge, to attack him in the end but i was on the limit, i was pushing too much.”
Knowing a mistake was likely to be made after his crash
during the qualification session (where he gave us one hell of a show running
back to a scooter, rushing back to his box and going back on track on his 2nd
bike in less than 5 minutes), Marquez wasn’t willing to let too many points
escape him: “i was fighting against the bike, i was fast but riding
In the end Marquez vs Ducati went, once again to Ducati:
“i tried to follow them, to be aggressive on the first laps but today Dovi
was riding perfect. I was just following the ducatis, i wasn’t able to overtook
them. Jorge just made a mistake and went wide, that’s how i was able to pass
In Marc Marquez fashion though, the spaniard had to try
first before giving up and settling for points: “when you never give up
sometimes you get something. This time we get 20 points.”
Even if the spaniard hasn’t won since the Sachsenring, he
can still be pretty happy to extend his championship lead after the San Marino
GP: “i arrived with 59 points at the front and we leave with 67 so we’re
3) Lorenzo, Ganador, Campeon, Guerrero
Jorge Lorenzo was a man with a plan this weekend in Italy. Strong from a confidence build by a very good test at Misano for the ducati team earlier this summer, the spaniard was the clear favorite even before the action started on track.
His pole position on saturday, breaking the track’s record (a record he owned as he had set it previously on Yamaha), made that cristal clear for anybody else still doubting. Lorenzo wouldn’t be happy with anything else than a race win on sunday. Fate had other plans for him though.
The hot temperatures forced Lorenzo to race a combo of medium tires which he never felt at ease with: « i have to use the medium front and rear that normally i don’t like, especially the front. I didn’t have any grip on the side and not a food grip in the center of it ». Lorenzo stated he had to use way too much of the brakes than what he likes because of this bad feeling with the tires.
The spaniard tried to escape though but that wasn’t going to work today. Starting from pole position, Lorenzo made another rocket start only him has the secret of and, with the soft, he believed it could have made the difference at least at start even though it woudn’t have last for the whole race distance: « with the softs i think i would have had something more on Dovi and Marc but with the mediums we were on the same pace ».
Favorite before the race thanks to a superb test earlier, the spaniard lamented the tires weren’t working the same « the softs were very constant during the tests but this weekend after 5 laps it was destroyed ».
A wrong choice of tires leading to a crash while he was chasing Dovizioso for the win. Jorge Lorenzo could have settled for the 2nd place in the race. This would have pushed him into 2nd in the championship standings but if you ask him, 2nd isn’t ever enough. He had nothing to lose, Marquez being already gone in the title chase, so he went for it, win it or bin it style.
Lorenzo is now 4th in the standings. With 6 races to go and 24 points between him and 2nd Dovizioso, the spaniard isn’t one to stop trying easily and one can be sure, he’ll give his everything to make sure to not only finish in front of teammate Dovizioso in the standings but also to win more races than him and, like the cherry on the top of cake, try to give Ducati the constructor’s championship. Is Domenicalli still certain it was the right choice to get rid of the spaniard ? I bet Honda are rubbing their hands…
4) 22 races
The streak of shame continues for Yamaha. It is now 22 races
since they’ve last won one. As the situation doesn’t look like it’s going
to be solves anytime soon, riders still try to understand what is going on into
what was once the best team on the grid.
Maverick Vinales seemed to have found some of his old form
back being in the top spots most of the practices but the race is always
another story: “i felt very strong in FP4 but we had a big drop in feeling
from saturday to sunday. It’s been a year and a half that we are suffering
during races and we still have to understand where we lose out”
The spaniard wants to keep focus on the positive though as
for once he didn’t messed up his race start: “after the start i was really
happy because i thought now i can take the slipstream from the fast guys”.
Even a few positive notes cannot keep Vinales from worrying
about Aragon though: “it will also be difficult because it’s very hot and
slippery there but we have some adeas to try”.
Valentino Rossi, on the other hand, was clearly more downcast from having to do a very anonymous race on his home turf. He was finally back
to Misano (as written on his special helmet) after having to miss last year’s
San Marino GP due to an injury. A comeback yes, but not a party: “difficult race, a
big shame to not be competitive in Misano. I expected to be stronger because in
FP4 i was not too bad. But today was more difficult for me, Maverick and also
The italian stating he was close to being one second slower
on sunday than he was on saturday is frustrated by the fact the team still
hasn’t found any reason behind that drop of form: ”maybe it’s because of
moto2 rubber but honestly we don’t know“.
Reflecting on his last seasons, Rossi gives a great insight into what could be one of the reason behind Yamaha’s form these last few
years: “in the last 3 seasons we start good, i make a lot of podiums in the
first par of the season but during the second par we suffer more. it looks like
Ducati and Honda are able to develop their bike in a better way. This is a
problem Yamaha needs to understand why.”
With Lorenzo’s crash, Rossi still finds himself 3rd in the
standings, a result which should cheer him up but the italian knows best:
“we have to stay concentrated and give the maximum because in the
championship miraculously i am 3rd and i don’t understand how!”
If that’s not throwing shades to yamaha, then i do not know
5) Dani’s future
Between good and bad memories, Misano is a track where Dani
Pedrosa used to be a favorite on race day.
This year though, what ended up
being an overall good weekend for the spaniard resulted in nothing better than
a 6th place. Something Pedrosa cannot be proud of: “Today 6th place was
the best outcome, it’s positive but not enough. We’re far from where we want to
Still motivated to end his career on a good note, Pedrosa
couldn’t keep up with his main opponents on sunday: “i wasn’t able to get
closer to Rins and Maverick. We need to work on the bike setup to get closer to
the front group”.
Regarding his future, even though a possible job as a Honda
test rider and ambassador isn’t out of question just yet (at least officially), rumor has it Dani is
talking with KTM to become the new star of the testing team.
A good news for
Dani even though we can’t hide the fact that we would have love to see him race
for the Austrian team. Something which won’t happen as it’s being said that
Pedrosa, even though he would gladly take on the role of test rider, has no
intention of doing wildcards next season.
Valencia then might very well be the
last time we will see him race… Glad i have my ticket!
6) honorable mentions
Another disappointing weekend for Johann Zarco who couldn’t
take more than a 10th place finish on sunday.
Pol Espargaro made his comeback to the race tracks after his
horrible crash which forced him to skip multiple races. Even though it was nice
to have him back, the spaniard couldn’t bare the pain and had to stop mid-race.
Morbidelli’s on a flying form since the announcement of his
future as a Yamaha rider in the whole new SIC-Petronas team. After a great
weekend he took 12th during the race.
Petrucci might be replacing Lorenzo next season, but so far,
he’s not showing any championship winner material with a very disappointing
11th place during the San marino GP.
Cal Crutchlow took a podium home! A great way to celebrate
his new contract with LCR.
Alex Rins’ 4th place comes as both a very impressive and
huge improvement on the form he was showing latelly.
Syahrin started the season so well but is now turning into a
disappointement. 19th is no where near what he should get.
MotoGP meets his holiness Pope Francis – Vaticano, September 5th 2018
A roaring Ballet ✨
Helmets On – Catalunya 2018
Danilo Petrucci – Catalunya 2018