Category: review

ROUND 14: ARAGONLast round in Europe before th…

ROUND 14: ARAGON

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
him.
”  

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. 

RATING THE RIDERS: ROUND 13 – SAN MARINO AD04…

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
were we!

ROUND 13: SAN MARINOAs we are getting closer t…

ROUND 13: SAN MARINO

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
era.

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
strong
”.

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
the race
”.

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
against myself.

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
him
”.

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
happy
”.

 

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
Zarco.

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
what is…

 

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
be.”

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.

RATING THE RIDERS: ROUND 12 – SILVERSTONEVR46 …

RATING THE RIDERS: ROUND 12 – SILVERSTONE

VR46 – 7: Vale wasn’t at the safety meeting. You see, it was nap time for him. #ZZzzz

AR42 – 8: Hero of the weekend. Probably saved a few guys from spending their saturday night at the hospital. 

JL99 – 9: Jorge Lorenzo took the pole position on mix conditions. I repeat: ON MIX CONDITIONS! If that’s not a proof that the world is going upside down, i don’t what is..

JZ5 – 8: The french rooster has found back all of his A game just in time for qualification. Too bad he couldn’t score any points on it.

MV25 – 8: Was that a bird ? A plane ? No. That was Maverick back to his top form. At least right until it started raining than ABRACADABRA like magic Maverick disappeared…

SR45 – 4: i’ve heard Scott wanted to race. Well, of course. Home crowd and co. Also, it wouldn’t have made much of a difference as he would have ended up in the gravel trap or with a mechanical problem anyway.

DP26 – 5: We were glad Dani wasn’t forced into doing this race because, let’s be honest, with the amount of luck he has, he would have been the one with broken bones by the end of Sunday… 

AD04 – 8: Andrea wasn’t at the safety commission. Nobody told him. Well, like a friend of mine said, if he was still on speaking terms with his teammate, he would have known about the meeting…. #justsaying

MM93 – 7: Marc’s one lucky boy. The one time he was about to loose a few precious points on his main opponents, a flood came to Silverstone, drowning the track just enough to cancel the race! #theforceisstrongwiththisone 

Silverstone – 0: I feel for the fans. The one event they go during the year was ruined for them only because the track decided to let the resurfacing job to a shitty company. Hopefully, they’ll do better next year… if we go there. Maybe i should consider giving them a point for getting Tom Holland aka Spiderman to come though… #NextTimeSaveYourMoneyAndGoToSpainOrItaly #NoNeedToThanksMeForThatTip 

RATING THE RIDERS: ROUND 11 – AUSTRIAJL99 – 10…

RATING THE RIDERS: ROUND 11 – AUSTRIA

JL99 – 10: “If we fix the corner speed, fire Claudio and get Andrea back on a number 2 salary, do you think he’ll come back ?” – Davide, Gigi and Paolo, ploting for 2021 somewhere near Bologna…

CC35 – 8: This one only has one thing in mind: winning at Silverstone. 

MM93 – 9,5: Marc on Thursday: we need to think about the championship 

Also Marc: almost crashing out of the race, still block passing Lorenzo

MV25 – 3: So Maverick, dropping to 16 after the race start, who’s to blame for that this time ?

AD04 – 8: Even Grumpy cat wouldn’t master the face of desperation like Dovi did in the parc fermé

JM43 – 1: “Ducati track” they said.. “You’ll be fast” they said… #not

VR46 – 8: The old fox always has one last magic trick up his sleeve when race day comes

SR45 – 3: Scott was faster testing the new red Marc Marquez shoes on his instagram than while riding his aprilia during the race… #awkward 

DP9 – 7: Someone needs to tell Danilo that taking a tow from Andrea in every FP and QP sessions will simply never help him once race day comes…

ROUND 11: AUSTRIABack to Austria where the Des…

ROUND 11: AUSTRIA

Back to Austria where the Desmosedici is the Queen of all things on two wheels and where the hills are alive to the sound of it’s engine. The bologna team has a red cross marked on the calendar for that race, but did the ducati boys lived up to their bosses’ expectations ?

1) Jorge Maestro

Sensational, fantastic, magistral, magical, superb… We’re running out of words to describe Jorge Lorenzo’s win in Austria. 

A win he desperately wanted and worked for. Yet a win that wasn’t as easy as we could have thought. At the beginning of the race, and from the outside, it even seemed like Lorenzo wasn’t able to follow Marc Marquez’ pace, even with the desmosedici’s incredible power in the straights. Losing ground on the Honda man and not letting Andrea Dovizioso past through, we’re pretty sure that if the “map 8″ orders were still a thing, someone at Ducati would had probably send it to Lorenzo. And they would have been wrong (again) as Jorge’s apparent struggles were all but true.

From the inside, Lorenzo already had it all planned. Strong from his new strategy tested in Brno, he knew he couldn’t replicate his Mugello and Catalan GP wins in Austria by taking the early lead and running away until the chequered flag. His soft tire choice had us all in the wrong thinking that was exactly what he was going to do or at least try. Jorge played it smarter and surprised us all. 

While we all thought the spaniard was too slow and blocking Dovizioso from running after Marc Marquez, he was in fact nursing his soft tires like only him and his silky smooth riding style can do: “[It] Was a great decision to use the soft rear tyre, but I needed to
manage a lot in the first ten laps,” explained Lorenzo after his third
win in six races. “I needed to manage a lot not to overheat the tyre
because it was very hot. It was very, very soft in some parts of the
tyre.”

At 31 and with many years of experience in the paddock, Lorenzo proves to be one of the only riders able to question himself and work on himself to improve. Proof of this is how he studied videos of Marquez and Dovizioso in austria to find a solution on his sector 3′s struggles: “But was also key the big improvement I made in the sector three, because yesterday I was losing almost two tenths there compared to Marc and Dovi. Then I made a big improvement in one afternoon. Trying to watch some videos, trying to understand which position of my body I need to change to be faster in that sector. It really, really worked. During the race I was improving and improving in that sector and I was  catching Marc in that sector where we were losing a lot last year.”

Same strategy as in Brno, different tires and  “Bibbity Bobbity Boo”, the magic happened! The spaniard was impossible to pass by Dovizioso and always in control of how much ground he was letting go to Marquez. Once the gap got to 1 second, suddendly Lorenzo went faster and closed it back again to half a second pretty easily.

Keeping Marquez in sight is one thing, get past through him is another. That’s where Lorenzo’s second  lesson from Brno gets a use: to beat Marc Marquez in a last lap showdown you must ride like Marc Marquez. If you’re even able to think like him then you’ll know what he’ll try and when and be able to stop him from succeeding. 

With 10 laps to go and Dovi out of the fight, Jorge Lorenzo and Marc Marquez offered us another epic battle for the win. A dog fight with many more riders like Assen is great, a dual of titans with two of the best riders in the world is even better. The two of them not willing to let the other win, the fight intensified in the last 3 laps of the race. From there it was block pass on black pass, touching in the corners, touching in the straights, up until that one final pass from the younger spaniard on the older one. A move straight out of the Marquez books, something of genius. Lorenzo’s defensive line to it though was even better. He knew it was coming and he countered it opened the gas and pushed to take the chequered flag first, wiggling with joy crossing the finish line.

To think these two will be teammate next season, Honda Repsol Team got some serious greatness in it’s hands and better not waste it!

The Austrian GP is Lorenzo’s 3rd win with Ducati, 25 points thanks to what he is now 3rd in the championship standings, only 12 points behind Valentino Rossi. To think at some point in the season the spaniard was only 20th with less than 10 points scored with everybody thinking he would announced his retirement soon… 

2) Expectation vs Reality

If Ducati’s win was expected, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun to watch nor that it was easy. On the later, Marc Marquez proves to be a genius at shaking up what everybody’s expecting versus what he really can do.

In an extremely great pace right from the start of the weekend, the spaniard and his team knew their main opponent in Austria would once again be the Ducatis, especially now that Jorge Lorenzo’s got his head around how to make the desmosedici to work. 

He proved it in the past (cf: last year’s austrian GP), Marquez can handle one ducati around the Red Bull Ring, but two ? No thank you. He explained his very not marquez-ish strategy in the post race press conference: “I try to push a lot from the beginning because the goal was try to
arrive in the end with only one Ducati, because fight against Ducati I
know that is quite difficult for us, but we achieve our goal that was
just fight against one Ducati.”

Seeing Marquez trying to run away with the win while Lorenzo was waiting for his moment behind him seemed like the world had turned upside down as we were used to see the exact opposite in the past. Yet, Marc Marquez being who he is, and feeling much better than in Brno, he had to try: “In Brno I didn’t try because I didn’t feel well and it was like a waste
of time there because it was more chance to lose than to win, but today
I try. I try to change my strategy. Every short straight he (JL) was able to overtake me, to be in parallel. Was really difficult to defend.”

Even though weeks in, weeks out, Marquez always says he has to be careful, think of the championship, it’s all thrown up by the window once the lights goes off, and once again, his will to win had the better on him: “I try to lead the race in the last lap. He overtook me in the main
straight, then I try in turn three. I lost the front two times. I go in
too fast and I lose two times. I nearly crash and then I stay on the
bike. I don’t know why, but I stayed there.”

Marc’s block pass on Lorenzo in the final lap was a stroke of genius and even though it didn’t work, the spaniard still leave Austria another 20 points in the bag, extending his championship lead to 59 points on 2nd in the standings, Valentino Rossi. 

3) Intern crisis exploding

The situation for the Iwata brand seems to be going from bad to worse as the current season follows her path. Still in the chase of their first win since the 2017 Dutch GP, the Movistar Yamaha team finally touched what seems to be the rock bottum during the Austrian GP weekend.

Electronical and mechanical problems causing their leading rider to be out of Q2 while the current no-love situation between Vinales and Forcada proved once again to be a deadly weapon for their winning aspirations, forced an unprecedented event to happen on saturday afternoon: Yamaha’s project leader, accompanied by Jarvis and communication manager Favero, apologized to their riders in what seemed to be a modern shakespearean stage show: “We as Yamaha, owe our riders and also you an explanation about the difficulties we have been
facing so far. Today was a very difficult day for us. We are struggling with the acceleration performance, which
means the power delivery, to adjust the power delivery more precisely.
But this track we know is the most difficult track for us. Because we
couldn’t achieve a more precise power delivery for our riders. That’s
why this is maybe the worst qualifying result for us. But then I have to
apologize to the riders for our lack of acceleration performance
today.”

What is currently happening with Yamaha is both laughable and extremely worrying. To think this team that was on top of the World 3 years back, winning all 3 titles, having two of the top 3 best riders in the world and what was easily the best package on the grid, is now struggling to even get a podium seems unreal.

There’s many reason to this descent to hell though. The bike itselft isn’t as good as it was in the past especially with it’s current impossibility to make the electronic work with it. Still, what seems to have turn into a piece of crap is, by all means, far from it. The M1 isn’t the best package on the grid but it’s problems are magnified by the close racing and the huge steps forward done by Honda and Ducati. The situation, which was at a pick this weekend was also largely to due to the track itself, far from one made to suit the specifics characteristic of the M1, and this is straight out of the mouth of Yamaha’s last MotoGP Champion, and Austriang GP winner, Jorge Lorenzo.

Finally, and that’s probably the main problem here at least to me, the riders. While the non-stop growing frustration is understandable due to the lack of result and reactivity from the team back in Japan, we can clearly see that there is actually two ways of dealing with such a strange and difficult situation in the Iwata box.

First you have Valentino Rossi. His approach is both incisive and subtile. While he does lays a few shades over Yamaha’s boss in the press, he always keeps it under control and never crosses the line where he would lost respect from his japanese chiefs. His years of experience and never doubted skills make him able to race around the bike’s problem on Sunday and always get the extra position, the extra points that have given him, so far, a current 2nd place in the championship standings.

On the other hand you have Maverick Vinales. To the opposite of Rossi, Vinales’ never ending criticims toward his team has most than probably grown bored the japaneses back in Iwata. Vinales’ current war with his crew chief does not help either especially when, once again, while Rossi finds a way to get from 14 to 6 in the race, the spaniard goes backward from 11 on the grid to 12th in the race. He was even pointing 16th at some points due to his, yet not solved, race start problems.

The Movistar team will go to Misano for a 2 days test before Silverstone, yet we doubt it will help cure a problem which is rooted too deeply to be snatched off without collateral damages.

4) Give Dovi a cookie

To say that Dovizioso wasn’t happy with Sunday’s race result would be an understatement. It was a picture of desperation and disappointement that showed up into the parc fermé after the race. 

Strong of a win at Brno, the italian expected to, at least, fight against Marquez for the first place once again this weekend. Right from the get go though, things didn’t went as planned: “I couldn’t put [myself] in the right position from the beginning. After the hard overtaking from Marc, I was sixth in turn four. I
overtake immediately three riders, but at the end I was third and Marc
start to push.”

And pushed he did. In fact, Desmo Dovi was able to get back up there with Marquez and Lorenzo. Get away with them was thing though, passing them was another. As the majorcan was catching Marquez, Dovizioso only had one thing in mind: get past Lorenzo. Something he will later regret.

Known to be a hard breaker, Andrea Dovizioso couldn’t found a way to surpass Lorenzo’s new and very impressive breaking skills. With nowhere to pass and no “mapping 8″ orders to save him, Dovi just cooked his tires, too much, too early: “I used maybe too much the rear tyre to try to overtake Jorge and I
couldn’t overtake him. I was faster in that part of the race, but I
couldn’t really prepare in the best way the overtaking. That cost me for
sure because I had to slow down too early, ten laps to the end.”

A couple more tried and a mistake at turn 1 when Marquez and Lorenzo were both making moves against one another saw Dovizioso ran wide and loosing too much ground on the spanish duo. Then, his race was over and his position a done deal: “I did a small mistake, but already I was in trouble with the right side
on the rear tyre. Very disappointed because we have a chance to bring
more points in our championship. But at the end when you make just two
practice on the dry, this can happen.”

The italian is now 4th in the standings, one point behind his team mate for the first time since Lorenzo’s Ducati debuts. 

5) Honorable mentions

– Cal Crutchlow finished 4th and jugding by his no-love for this track, it’s fair to say, nobody expected that!

– Dani Pedrosa’s still struggling to get the Michelin tire / RCV combo working but still gets another deserved top 10. We do have our fingers crossed for him to win another race before leaving.

– Alex Rins probably hate a lion for breakfast on sunday judging by his rocket start and form in the early laps.

– Another top 10 finish for Alvaro Bautista who’s closer and closer to a Ducati ride in WSBK.

– Bradley Smith, only KTM at the brand’s home track, couldn’t do much against the rest of the field during the race but a superb saturday was still a great and positive result for the team. Pol Espargaro is expected to make his return to the paddock at Silverstone.

RATING THE RIDERS: ROUND 10 – BRNOAD04 -10: Ba…

RATING THE RIDERS: ROUND 10 – BRNO

AD04 -10: Back on the winning wagon and a 1-2 for Ducati! Something they better enjoy this season as i doubt they’ll get much of this next year.

MV25 – 1: I seriously doubt getting rid of Ramon Forcada will improve Maverick’s race start but who knows. #not

DP26 – 7: Seeing Dani first on Friday had our little fan heart explode with joy. Now finger crossed he can win another race before leaving us for good. #youarecryingnotus

JL99 – 10: Por Fuera, Por Dentro, Por Whatever you want, if even the most hardcore VR46 fans were cheering for you, that means you were doing well!

PE44 – 5: Congratulations to Pol on getting married! Congratulations to Carlotta on already having to play the nurse!

MM93 – 8: 100 MotoGP race and still all his teeth ! #BabyChampOntheRun

VR46 – 8:Alo ? Lin ? You’re fired ” – “ Valentino ? What the f.. *bip bip* ”

CC35 – 8: Cal did well. Willow must have been the happiest little nuggets in the paddock!

AB19 – 7: Alvaro never raced this well before. Sadly it’s seems to be too late…

AE41 – 5: A weekend to forget… At least he still can go home to his sweet little twins in one peace this time. And that’s all that matters !

RATING THE RIDERS: ROUND 9 – SACHSENRINGVR46 -…

RATING THE RIDERS: ROUND 9 – SACHSENRING

VR46 – 9: 1 year and a few weeks. The clock’s ticking! #ChasingtheDreamChashingaWin 

AD04 – 6: If anyone see “2017 Andrea Dovizioso”, please contact us, we would like to have him back !

MM93 – 10: The term “alien” doesn’t even begin to describe Marc Marquez anymore. At least when it comes to races at the Sachsenring. 

SR45 – 4: We see you there, Scotty boy, trying to make #HelmetDown being the new #kneedown … 

DP26 – 7: Dani will be leaving us soon. Nope, we’re not crying, you are. #snif

MV25 – 8: Two podiums in a row, Maverick be careful there, we might be impressed !

DP9 – 7: Is shaming Lorenzo the new trend or are Danilo’s ankles just too big for his boots now ? Just asking because i’m on the edge of blocking everything that comes out of his b*tchy mouth lately. 

JL99 – 7: What’s the first thing Jorge did to start his summer break ? Eat a paella. Yup, for some of us, food does comes first. 

AB19 – 8: CAN SOMEONE PLEASE GIVE A DAMN RIDE TO ALVARO ! *signing a petition* *calling everybody i know* *eating chocolate waiting for the bad news*

PE44 – 4: Did you eat Andrea Iannone at breakfast, Pol ? Because stricking everybody during lap 1 is more of #29 thing to do than you…

ROUND 9: SACHSENRINGThe German track might be …

ROUND 9: SACHSENRING

The German track might be a classic venue on the MotoGP calendar but it found itself in a difficult position as Sunday’s race at the Sachsenring could very well have been the last one there.

1. The SachsenKing

And one more that makes 9! Marc Marquez won the German GP, starting from the pole position, for the 9th consecutive time. A record to give nightmares to anybody else on the grid to the point where his opponents starts to wonder if the only way to stop the « SachsenKing » from winning the German Grand Prix wouldn’t be to get rid of the Sach track once and for all.
Sources may seems to indicate though that the Sachsenring track should stay on the calendar for, at least, 2019.

There’s still hope though for Marquez’ opponent as his victory wasn’t as easy as we’ve been used to… or at least it seems so.

Not looking a dominant as everybody expected, Marquez was blown away by the Ducati armada’s apparent force at the German track. An armada led by Lorenzo during the race as, once again, he bursted into turn 1 as first. Seeing Lorenzo not being able to open the needed gap to run away with the win, Marquez kept his cool and, once he saw the older spaniard’s pace was dropping, he made his attack and took the lead. From there, the Honda rider made sure to always have all the cards in hand in order to control the whole race.

One should not be fooled by the pace being slower than in the previous years. Marquez explains it as a result of improvement on the RCV that forced them to do compromises on the strong points the bike always had at the Sachsenring.

 Comprise or no, Marc Marquez always had something more up his wrist and was smartly waiting for Valentino Rossi to come back on him to deliver an higher pace and run away: “Honestly speaking at the end of the race I had something more, I didn’t feel the drop in this race. I just tried to manage the distance to me and Valentino but I had something there. It was not necessary to use.

The spaniard now goes into the (very short) summer break leading in the championship standings. The title seems more than ever, his to lose. 

2. The Yamaha illusion

It was a real surprise on Sunday to see the two factory Yamaha on the podium. They’ve been consistent all season but their lack of improvement on the bike as left them chasing their first win in a year.

To huge situation, you take huge mesure. Last year, Jonas Folger found himself behind Marquez’ only challenger at the German track and, to Yamaha’s logic: if it worked for Jonas, it must work for Valentino and Maverick! Both factory riders decided to use Folger’s set-up as a base for the German weekend, and one can say, it worked out well!

Rossi felt stronger but still needs a little Something more coming from the electronic: “Me and Maverick are stronger and we are second and third in the championship but we need some small help from Japan to improve the electronics system Under acceleration.

Vinales also think things are getting better but he, too, hopes for improvement from the factory: “It is good to have a little bit more consistency in results but i think here being on the podium at Sachsenring, as last year we suffered a lot, this year seems to be much better so i think with the bike we’ve improved”.

The spaniard’s problems though remains the same as he still struggles in the early stages of the race no matter where he starts from on the grid: “It went really well for the last 10-15 laps but i expected to be at the front trying to battle. It is time to work and try to become even stronger and i think at the moment we are recovering this feeling that i can be fast at the end so i need to improve my riding style to be fast at the beginning”.

If the official riders are better, Zarco isn’t. Since Le Mans, the frenchman has been struggling and looking like only the shadow of himself.

Rumor has it, Johann founds himself in a huge disagreement with his confident and manager, Laurent Fellon, regarding the way the deals with HRC and KTM were andled. It’s true a place at the HRC, even next to Marc Marquez, would have been the chance of his life but his management team decided to let it go in favor of KTM where he should be number one and not only Marquez’ helper.

3. Ducati’s hope of a better future

Even though both factory Ducati riders’ frustration was palpable on Sunday night, they both decided to remain positive, hoping for better days after the summer break.

On the pace and clearly showing they should be a force to reckon with all weekend, Jorge Lorenzo and Andrea Dovizioso couldn’t keep the illusion living during the race.

The spaniard tried, but so much he was left without any rear grip for half of the race: “I was leading but i realized that i was unable to shake off the riders behind me and when the rear tyre began to lose grip it was impossible to keep up the pace. (…) Maybe we went in the wrong direction with the setting of the bike: we focussed too much on trying to get a lot of grip at the front and we probably neglected the rear”.

Overall though, Lorenzo stays positive, knowing he took important points at his two bogey tracks (Assen + Sachsenring): “I made a great start again today and i led the race for a good number of laps. (…) Overall we made progress throughout the whole weekend but weren’t able to confirm with a good result”.

Marquez might be already too far in the standings but 2nd and 3rd could very well be possible knowing most of Lorenzo’s favorite tracks are coming and judging by his second half of season for the last couple of years: “Now the World Ducati Week awaits us at Misano and then, after a few days of rest we will concentrate on Brno where i’m convinced we will be back stronger than ever”. Read between the lines: “Where i’m gonna Hammer them all”.

If Lorenzo’s frustration was due to Petrucci’s behavior, Dovizioso’s was more regarding his results and the fact he is unable to reach last year’s level of performance: “We still don’t have the situation in hand in terms of the tyres. I don’t know if it is because there tyres are not the best for us. I cannot be pleased with my result. i did not bring home the maximum and i lost a lot of seconds so it’s better to look forward”.

Much like Lorenzo though, the italian preffers to stay positive and focus on the good points: “You cannot forget the past and so many fast Ducatis have never been seen on the Sachsenring, this is a confirmation of our improvements

Dovizioso is currently 4th in the standings but with his team-mate’s new found revival, he has to do, at least, as good as last year in the second part of the season if he still wants to be First Ducati and have a place on the final podium.

4. Pedrosa’s retirement

After two press conferences held with nothing new to say about his future, Dani Pedrosa finally announced on Thursday that he decided to retire from the sport and put a final point on his career as a championship rider at the end of 2018.

Even though Dani did his best to keep the tears to himself, the news broke millions of hearts across the world. Indeed, Dani Pedrosa’s departure is of the ones that means a lot for the fans much like Casey or Nicky before him. As he’s one of the very best rider in history, the spaniard’s story will always be marked by being the most deserving and talented rider to never get the ultimate prize that is a MotoGP title. It wasn’t by lack of trying though. Pedrosa wen’t close to get the title on 3 occasions, 2012 being probably the most obvious one. History though will remember that each time the spaniard was close to get it, fate had other plans and injuries always had the best on him.

Pedrosa’s work ethic, passion, riding style and personality made him the only one adored by all no matter if they initially wear yellow, red or blue. His retirement will leave a huge hole on the grid, not only because of his incredible skills on track, but especially because in a motorcycle world where fans (and riders) argue to know who’s the best of all, Dani’s intelligence and humility made him the voice of wisdom and the only one able to assemble in a paddock divised by the recent year’s events.

If the fans will miss Dani Pedrosa, so will his opponents on track:

JL99 « Se retira un referente del motociclismo español. Siempre recordaré nuestras grandes batallas desde 125cc hasta cuando luchábamos por el título de MotoGP. Técnico, rápido, respetuoso y por si muchos no se acuerdan, tricampeón del mundo! Disfruta de todo lo conseguido. #GraciasDani »

MM93 « Gracias @26_DaniPedrosa por ser el referente de muchos pilotos que crecíamos en busca de nuestro sueño. Has sido un gran compañero! #GraciasDani »

MV25 « Gracias @26_danipedrosa ! Enhorabuena por toda tu trayectora deportiva. Siempre serás un referente para el motociclismo español. #GraciasDani »

5. Honorable mention

– Another hard day at the office for Cal Crutchlow as overheat in his tires forced him to DNF.

– Scott Redding seemed to have only one purpose: put the helmet down. Now that it’s done, he might found it hard to stay in the championship as he still has no ride for next season.

– Pol Espargaro went from Hero in the Morning, topping the Warm UP with KTM, to Zero in the afternoon causing lap 1′s big incident.

– Not all hero wear cape, some wear white and gold leather as Alvaro Bautista made an heroic ride to P5!

– Aleix Espargaro had a weekend to forget. He went from getting a 6 places grid penalty to not being on the grid at all suffering a huge and scary crash in the Morning warm up.

RATING THE RIDERS: ROUND 8 – ASSENMM93 – 10: W…

RATING THE RIDERS: ROUND 8 – ASSEN

MM93 – 10: We all have that one weird friend doing stupid things so that everybody pays attention to him, right ? Marc’s that friend saving a crash in the middle of a race he ended up winning. #lifeisunfairfortheother

DP26 – 4: We do hope Dani’s M1 next season will be faster than the announcement…

AR42 – 9: There’s really no middle ground with Alex, it’s either really bad or really good. Hopefully, there’s more “really good” coming next.

JL99 – 8: Show me a better and more iconic starter than Jorge Lorenzo at Assen, i’ll wait.

AD29 – 5: Andrea, we haven’t seen Bellen in quite some times, we’re worried here !

MV25 – 9: A rare sigh this weekend at Assen: Maverick smiling and having good things to say about his race and his team. #thumbsup

VR46 – 8: Vale was so eager to know what was in that already famous ‘salad box’ on the back of the Ducatis, that he couldn’t wait any longer and tried to open it…. In the middle of the race wasn’t particulary good timing though.

AD04 – 8: Last season Andrea was “The Hope” for legion of italian fans. This year though, after rubbing shoulders with Vale a couple of times, he’s becoming more of a number 1 public enemy

JZ5 – 6: Starting to think we officially lost Johann somewhere back in France after Le Mans. To anybody seeing him, please return him to us @ “ MGP FANPAGE: THE ZARCO SEARCH – PO 555 – Dorna Land ”