Category: review

RATING THE RIDERS: ROUND 18 – MALAYSIAMM93 – 9…

RATING THE RIDERS: ROUND 18 – MALAYSIA

MM93 – 9: Marc Marquez aka the man who wins even when he fails. #machine

AD04 – 6: Sometimes even with the best bike on the grid you cannot win.

JZ5 – 8: … And suddenly, Johann is back !

DP9 – 4:Can we swap them, get Danilo in WSBK and keep Alvaro ?” – Every Ducati fans out there…

VR46 – 9: Fate must have something against you when you crash out of the most perfect ride you’ve been able to do all season. We don’t know about you, but we were sad.

AR42 – 8: Rise and Shine, we’re pretty certain Alex was the revelation of this Asian trip !

DP26 – 8: Hold on your tears everyone, Valencia is coming…

AB19 – 8: Can you stay Alvaro ? Please. We’re begging you.

MV25 – 7: YOUR RACE STARTS MAVERICK FFS ! #angryface

HS55 – 7: Local hero providing heroic ride for his home fans.

ROUND 18: MALAYSIALast round of the Asian tour…

ROUND 18: MALAYSIA

Last round of the Asian tour for the MotoGP paddock took
place at Sepang. The Malaysian track always provides it’s lot of drama due to
the weather conditions and the fair wars betweens riders going into the last
part of the championship. This year Malaysian GP was no exception.

 1) Fate favors the Brave …

 Having
the start from 7th on the grid due to a “dangerous behavior being too slow
on the racing line
” penalty, Marc Marquez knew from the very start that
the race would be a hard one and that he would have to push for the win: “It
was a very, very hard race. First because we started from seventh place, so
that was an extra motivation because I’d never won from the third row. The
first lap was not the best of my career and I had to overtake some riders, but
then I saw that Valentino was pushing really hard from the beginning. So I
pushed too, but I was riding like qualifying and I overheated my tires.”

Pushing is one thing, but in Marquez’
case, pushing also means saving a handfull of crashes, which once again he did
all weekend long: “I was just riding by instinct, not by using my head,
and pushing on the limit. I was fighting against myself and the bike to be
as close to Valentino to attack in the end. I nearly crashed 3-4 times during
the race.”

Lady luck though already had her plan moving
and while Marc Marquez almost made a mistake at each lap it’s Rossi who went
down while he was leading at the front from Marquez and Zarco: “The plan
was just to try to be there at the end! I mean, I didn’t have anything more. We
were both riding on the limit. A really fast pace. But he was on the limit too
and I saw he was starting to struggle, but there were only 4-5 laps left so it
would be very close, because our level was very equal. (…) When I was only
six tenths behind he did a mistake because he was a little bit wide and when
you are fighting like this you don’t want to lose any time, so he tried to come
back on the line too quickly and crashed. When I saw that Valentino fell,
my body just relaxed and I was riding in another way, because both of us were
pushing a lot.”


 2) … Or maybe it doesn’t.

After
a very disappointing race at Phillip Island where teammate Maverick Vinales
won, Valentino Rossi was desperate to finally find the miraculous recipe to get
back on the top step of the podium, and for a while, he did, thanks to the many
changes his team made on the bike: “We modify a lot the bike, the setting to
try and make everything help the rear tyre. At the end it worked. Already from
Friday morning I felt good. We worked well with the team. We just made a small
adjustment. We can be competitive for all the race. Also Maverick was not so
bad, and also Zarco. Because Maverick started from very behind, no? This time
the three Yamahas were quite competitive. It was more mechanical [than
electronics changes]. In the last races we improved the electronics, like three
or four races ago that helped a bit. But now it’s more mechanical. For me the
problems are not fixed and we have to improve. Like I said, we worked well on
the software but we have to make something more in the hardware from Japan. I
think we need some details, especially in the electronics and also in the
engine. We speak a lot with the Japanese and it looks like it will work.”

But
fate, karma or whatever you would like to call it had other plans for Rossi and
so, even though he made a pitch perfect race start and went on to do a
fantastic job at leading the race, the only mistake made by the italian proved
to be lethal for his hopes of a win: “It’s a mixed feeling. From one side I’m
very happy for the race because it’s the best race of the season for me and
also it was coming in difficult conditions at a difficult track for us. This is
very important. On the other side it’s a great, great shame. I’m very
disappointed for the mistake. To make a race like this and go home with zero
points is frustrating, yes. We have to say it’s my
first mistake of the season because I arrived always at the end except in
Argentina. But maybe it’s the worst moment. But like you said, I’m devastated
for the crash. But I’m also happy because anyway we lived the dream for 15
laps. After the victory of my brother also, it can be a great, great day. But
it’s like this.”

The
crash cost Valentino Rossi a lot as this zero point taken makes him lose the
runner up position in the championship standings to Dovizioso and he will now
have to fight against Vinales for 3rd at Valencia, a track he doesn’t keep
close to his heart: “Also today the result can be very important also for the
championship because if I don’t win and I arrive second I close the third place
with Maverick and I can be five points from Dovi [Andrea
Dovizioso
] for second in Valencia. Now Dovi has gone and we have to
fight with Maverick for the third place. But I think Valencia is an important
weekend because it’s one of the most difficult tracks. If we are able to be
strong also there it’s positive.“

Valentino
might have lost the 2nd place in the standings but he did won back the
admiration of many fans who were desperate to see him do well again. He also
impressed his former teammate Jorge Lorenzo who congratulated and praised him
on twitter:

JL99:
"Apart from the crash, I’ve never seen Valentino Rossi so consistent. More
than 10 laps in just 1 tenth at the hottest and longest track impressed me. And
some said he started to feel his age after last race”

Such
praise coming from the number 99 could only soften Rossi who answered:
“Grazie  Jorge!”

We
couln’t be happier to see them finally having a respectfull releationship !

 

3) Behind Marquez

Behind the race winner, Alex Rins took another podium
leading him to a fantastic 2nd half of the season: “Our Suzuki is going
very good. The factory deserves it. They have done a really good job during all
the season, because since Qatar I felt we had a very competitive bike. But it
looks like since the middle of the season we did a very big step. At Assen,
Suzuki brought me a new engine, with a little bit more top-end power, and since
this point we improved a lot. We were able to hold the slipstream and fight
with Yamaha and Honda on the straight. And then also I think the experience of
trying to control more the tyres and electronics. Suzuki are now working for
next year, taking a lot of information, and already Guintoli is trying a new
engine that looks very good. We will see what happens next year. For sure I
will give my best to try to beat these guys and be more constant at the
front.”

 It’s
been a while since Johann Zarco was able to fight for pole positions and race
podiums but in Malaysia, like his yamaha teammates, the frenchman was back to
his old self and fought for the 2nd place most of the race, only giving it away
to Rins at the very end: “The strong beginning of the race was key for
the podium. I had a great start from pole and it helped me to go well in the
first two corners. Valentino was pushing a lot and going so fast. I was
not able to overtake him,  but following him was good enough to go away
and save the podium. Later I did a mistake in corner 14 and Marc overtook me
very cleanly and then I tried to stay behind him. I expected Marc could catch
Vale quickly but instead he was closing step-by-step. I lost a little bit to
him, but I was able to keep a good pace and have a bigger gap to the guys
behind me. After Valentino crashed I was second, again with a good gap, I thought I could control it but five laps from the end I saw
on the pit board that Alex was coming maybe five-tenths per lap faster than me!
I tried to push but I was not fast enough and in the last lap when he overtook
me in turn four I wanted to overtake him again and fight a little bit. But
there wasn’t the possibility and I almost crashed in turn 11. I got the podium
last year here in tricky conditions, but this year was like a real constant
race and the strong beginning helped me finish on the podium. Third is just a
fantastic present because I’m now the first Independent rider. I’ll try to keep
it in Valencia and being on the same points as Rins means whoever finishes in
front can be in the top five of the championship.”

Now the paddock is heading back to Europe and back to Spain for Valencia and it’s legendary end of the season race. Jorge Lorenzo should make a full comeback after a failed attempt at Sepang. Rossi and Vinales will fight against each other for the 3rd place in the standings while the Team, Best independent and Rookie of the year titles are still to be given away.

Buckle up, Valencia is coming. And we will be there. #CannotWait 

ROUND 17: PHILLIP ISLANDPhillip Island provi…

ROUND 17: PHILLIP ISLAND

Phillip Island provides both a gorgeous landscape with sea
in the background (and seagull playing around) and a fast floating track. It’s
no surprise then that it always makes good racing and it’s a favorite for many
fans and riders.

1) FINALLY

After 25 races of plain struggles and no wins at all, since
Valentino Rossi’s Assen GP victory, Yamaha finds the top step once again thanks
to Maverick Vinales. Funilly enough it’s Maverick who’s racing his famous 25
number…

The
spaniard couldn’t hide his joy on Sunday, happy to finally get the chequered
flag first once again and proud to be the one ending Yamaha’s victory drought: “This
is the best feeling ever, honestly! We’ve been in the dark all year, and
suddenly we came into the light! The season has been difficult. I needed that
win. We needed that win. Yamaha needed it also, to start next year. I said on
Friday, ‘we need to be good and motivated to start next year really well’ and
for sure this win is going to give us a lot of motivation.”

Even
though people started to think maybe the riders were also one of the many
problems from Yamaha’s crisis, Vinales never doubted himself and his skills. In
fact it’s in yamaha that the spaniard lost faith a little at some point during
his personal 28 races victory drought: “There were two races I felt I
could win. One was Silverstone [cancelled] and another was here. So to make it
is really good and to win here is so special.”

This
win wasn’t an easy get away though. Vinales once again struggled at the start
being merely into the top 10 by the end of the first couple of laps even though
he started from the front row: “I didn’t expect to start so bad, it was
incredible. When I saw myself in tenth I just said to myself, ‘Maverick, you
are stupid! What are you doing!’” I just tried to keep my concentration. We
worked so well this morning on the electronics and I knew if I felt good I
could be fast because I was top-three all weekend. I felt good, so I said, ‘now
I have to push. Not think about the tyres, just push and push’. When I saw I
was three-seconds [clear] I could relax a little bit and save the tyre, but it
was close at the end because both Andreas were coming really fast. In MotoGP
it’s always really difficult to control the race, control the gap. They were so
fast at the end and I was struggling, thinking, ‘maybe they’ll catch me’
because in the last laps my rear tyre was really down. I just tried to control
the gas really well. Luckily I could push at the beginning. I didn’t expect to
be so fast in the beginning, but finally I made enough gap just in case the
tyre went down.“

Hoping
the 2019 will be a clear contrast against his 2018 season, Vinales made it
clear he believes and hope Yamaha will now listen to him and let him lead next
year’s bike developement as showed that, when everything is right he can win
"à la Lorenzo” too: “For Yamaha, I proved I can win races and
they need to try to provide a bike for my riding style. Especially in the
middle of the corners to turn and if we have that we have the chance to fight. I
think if we work well for 2019 we can be strong as we were in 2017. So we need
to keep working. Next year I will also have more experience and I will be
better, because I know the worst point of being here racing and the better ones.
We have a great chassis, but we have to improve the electronic and engine. I
really love the chassis because, as today, I can ride really fast.”

2) Marquez / Zarco

The
Marc Marquez’ curse continues. Indeed, each time the spaniard get to win a
MotoGP title in Japan, he finds himself impossible to finish the next race at
Phillip Island. This time though, Marquez was forced to a DNF because of a
racing incident which happened between him and french man Johann Zarco in the
very early laps of the race. The two men collide when Zarco touched Marquez’
rear, propulsing the french rider out of his bike and into the gravel trap. The
bike of his bike being too damaged, the 2018 World Champion had to get back in
his pit, scoring his first DNF since Silverstone 2017.

Both
riders were lucky enough to get out of the horrific incident without a scratch
and they both were gracious enough to not dramatise anything of what happened.

Marquez:
“When I was on the bike, I didn’t understand what happened and, honestly
speaking, I was angry, because I felt some contact from the rear. I wasn’t able
to continue because my seat was completely broken and was moving a lot. It was
impossible to ride in a good way and if it broke completely, it would become
very dangerous. Then when I arrived in the box and I saw the video I
understood what happened and it was completely a racing incident. At that point
in the track we arrive really fast. Miller was in front, I was the slipstream
behind Miller, at over 300 km/h. I braked, even a little bit late, and I just
tried to stop more, but then I felt the contact, because Zarco took the
slipstream from two bikes. Of course, you can say maybe he can consider this
[slipstream], but it’s a racing incident, I already spoke with him. I feel
really lucky today because me and him are both OK so this is the most important
thing.”

Zarco:
“I went to him to say sorry because I totally destroyed the back of his bike
and he told to me the most important thing was that I didn’t injure myself. As two racers and sportsmen we totally understood each other. It
was an accident as we are going so fast and there was not a lot of space on the
left side. He was close to Jack and he came back on to the racing line at corner
one but I was also there. So I crashed.”

3)
Vinales’ chasing pack

Behind
Vinales, Adrea Iannone took 2nd after a weekend where he showed a very
impressive pace. The italian even believes that without a couple of silly
mistakes he made, the victory was a true possibility: “I started the race
with a really strong feeling and for sure we had a really good potential to try
to win the race. But I made a mistake at Turn 4 and
lost 4-5 positions. It was not a good situation! I tried to recover but I felt
the tyre start to drop more than I expected and so I decided to remain in the
group and manage the tyres as best I could. That strategy allowed the Italian
to make a late push for victory, taking chunks out of Vinales’ lead until
another Turn 4 error. I had a little more in the last four laps and I tried to
push at 100%, I closed [on Vinales] but on the last lap I made another mistake
at Turn 4 so Dovi nearly overtook me. But at the end it was a great fight –
also with Vale, both Ducatis, Marc and Zarco. It was a difficult race and at
the end we got second position. I’m happy”

Andrea
Dovizioso closes the podium even though Alvaro Bautista, replacing injured Lorenzo,
did not make the job easy on Desmo Dovi. The italian was overall very happy to
see the Ducati finally being competitive at Phillip Island, a track where
they’ve been struggling ever since Casey Stoner left the Bologna boat for Honda
in 2011: “A lot of good things happened today. I’m really happy. That was
the last important test before the end of the season, because this is a track
where we always struggled. So we confirmed, in every practice, our improvement
over last year. The winglets, the set-up is different from last year and it
worked. The improvement is big. Still it’s not enough to really fight because
in the middle of the corner I was too slow. We accelerate more in the main
straight, but in some corners I couldn’t exit with the right speed. I was able
to put myself in the right position, that gave me the chance to fight for the
podium, but I really didn’t have the same speed as these two riders [Vinales
and Iannone]. So we still have to continue to improve, because in some
other parts we are really, really good, but still we are struggling in the
middle of the corners.”

Man
of the race though has to be Alvaro Bautista. The spaniard was given the very
uneasy job of replacing 5 times World Champion, Jorge Lorenzo, on the
desmosedici GP18. After struggling a little (and crashing some more) in the
free practices, Bautista found his pace and was able to display all of his
riding skills: “It’s a bit different from the satellite team because in the
satellite team you have just a few people working for you. But in the factory
team you have the same people in the box but behind the box you have eight
people more. And they help a lot. In this category the small details make the
difference, and those small details are better in the factory team. Also for
sure the bike is different. For me I’m very impressed of the engine, the
character of the engine, the power of the engine. It’s incredible how different
this bike is from the bike of last year that I’m using. The difference is quite
big. Well, I had better results in the past but for sure it’s been good,” he
said. “Just to arrive for one weekend with a different bike, a different team,
a different way to work, and also in this track that I’ve struggled in the
past… Also with the three crashes I had in the whole weekend, and to recover
the feeling and confidence for the race was really good. I was fighting for the
podium position. I missed for the fight for the podium at the end because I had
a problem with the gearbox. When I switched to third – because the gearbox is a
bit different to what I’m using – I didn’t engage the gear and I lost the
distance with both Andreas. In any case I’m happy because I enjoyed the race
fighting at the front.”

Bautista
will have to get back on his old desmo though has Jorge Lorenzo (who congratulated his fellow spaniard on twitter for taking good cares of his 2 bikes), who got surgery on
his wrist the repair his damaged ligament, is planning on returning to action
at Sepang by the end of this week.

RATING THE RIDERS: ROUND 16 – JAPANMM93 – 10: …

RATING THE RIDERS: ROUND 16 – JAPAN

MM93 – 10: All Hail to King Marquez ! May his reign be even longer than Queen Elizabeth II !

VR46 – 7: The M1’s poor ambitions are outweighing Vale’s talent. And Lin isn’t doing anything about it !

AI29 – 3: The maniac crashed out of the race BUT THANKS GOD, he did not scratch his pretty Instagram worthy face.

AD04 – 7: One of the many differences between a Great Rider and a Champion has to be being able to deal with title pressure. Two years in a row that Andrea is lacking in that department… #atleasthetried

DP9 – 5: I’ll be honest, i did not even saw him during the race. Maybe i should have woken up for every session to see a glimpse of Danilo…

CC35 – 8: I’ve heard Cal sais he hoped to finish in front of Lorenzo in the standings to « show his value ». Has someone told him yet that Jorge hasn’t even been racing lately ? No ? Well…

SR45 – 3: We know you adore Marc, but that’s no reason to try and broke him so you could have him all for yourself buddy.. 😉

AR42 – 8: Slowly but surely someone is finally getting there. And it’s a joy to see!

BS38 – 7: Is that some real progress that we’re seeing with the KTM ?!?!! 👀

MV25 – 6: Maverick, sweety, it’s decided. You’re SO getting race start private lessons during the winter.

AB19 – 8: Jorge might be grumpy and forced to stay at home but at least it’s making someone else happy. Cheers to Alvaro for getting a well deserved opportunity !!

ROUND 16: JAPANThe Japanese GP held at the Twi…

ROUND 16: JAPAN

The Japanese GP held at the Twin Ring Motegi track is the
home round of many manufacturers in the premier class but most of all, the home
of Honda. With Jorge Lorenzo out again of the race weekend due to his wrist
injury, Marquez had one opponent less to worry about regarding his first match
ball in Japan.

1) Level 7

With 3 races to go in 2018, Marc Marquez was crowned World
Champion again, this past sunday at Motegi. It’s the 7th time of his career
that the young spaniard is taking the title home, to Cervera. At only 25,
Marquez already has a place with Legends of the sport that have won multiple
world titles and only has Valentino Rossi (9), Angel Nieto (12+1) and Giacomo
Agostini (15) in front of him.

The
youngster that first rode a bike before he was even 5 is domininating the field
since he first came into MotoGP winning 5 of the last 6 titles with only
another extremely  talented spaniard, Jorge Lorenzo, being able to
get the title in 2015:  “It was
impossible to imagine and I say every season it is a dream come true, but I’m
living a dream. Of course, (being) a MotoGP rider is one thing, but every year
to fight for the title, be there in the top positions and win the title, is
something that nobody can imagine. Even if you are a super talented rider and
you are winning everything in the smallest category, you cannot imagine because
in MotoGP are the best riders in the world and there are 19 races in a year, so
it is so difficult to find the best level during all the season.”

Even
though he is making history as we watch him continue his journey, Marc Marquez
isn’t focussed on the record breaking but on the new season to come.

Indeed,
the spaniard will face a whole new challenge as Dani Pedrosa’s retirement means
Marquez will now share the box with one of his main opponents so far. A threat to
him and his dominance, but a threat he knows about and is already getting ready
to face as his will to win again and again is still as intact as ever: “I never thought
about records because every season is different, but I have a two-year contract
with Honda and these two years, I will try to fight for the championship. In
the pre-season, I will work for another title and this is the way. I know that
I will have the pressure, like all top riders, but all top riders are working
to win the championship. If you finish second, it is a good season, but the
goal is not achieved. As long as I stay here, I will try to increase this
number.”

Do
not open you seat belt just yet, this ride is far from being over, the
Marquez Era has just begun !

2) The Race

Marc
Marquez did got the title on Sunday by winning the Japanese GP but he did not
do so without a trick or two.

On
a real stop and go track, Ducatis were the favorite. With Lorenzo back to
Europe to heal his wirst, all hopes of a win were on Dovizioso’s shoulder. A
burden that might have been to big to bear for the italian. With Marquez
starting from 6th on the grid, Dovizioso took the early lead and tried to get
away ”à la Lorenzo“ knowing Marquez’ pace in FP4 was fierceless. A
failled strategy in the end as by the end of lap one, the spaniard was right
being Desmo Dovi, stalking his every moves.

From
there, started the now usual and very boring – let’s wait and save as much
as possible the tires for the end – show delivered to us by Michelin. Not
much happened until 10-5 laps to the end where Dovi and Marquez started their
usual on track feud for the win with Cal Crutchlow right behind, ready to take
any opportuny that would come his way.

On
the penultimate lap of the race, Dovizioso, pushed to his very maximum by the number 93, made a mistake and crashed out leaving Marquez to take
both the win and the title, with Crutchlow in 2nd and Rins in 3rd: "I’m
obviously pretty disappointed because we wanted to win this race at all costs,
but all-in-all it has been a positive weekend because we were very quick and we
confirmed our competitiveness. Pity about the crash: I didn’t overdo it but
simply tried to prepare for the exit of the turn in the best possible way in
order to attack him and I made a small mistake that cost me dearly. Even though
we did a good race we were unable to make the difference against Marquez, and
so I want to congratulate him because also this year he deserved to win the
championship.”

Having
Dovi lead the race though seams to have provide Honda an understantement of
Ducati’s strategy, at least that’s what Crutchlow believes: “The problem was
that Dovi was yo-yoing the pace again. Now we know the strategy of Ducati,
which they have done for four or five races in a row now: they do two or three
fast laps, then he slows the pace down, and the he does two or three fast laps
again. It’s so difficult to pass the Ducati because even when he slows down for
a lap, the Ducati has so much power off the turns.“

Finally
it’s worth noting that Yamaha is now at more than 25 races without winning. After their
great revival in Thailand, the boys in blue (and black aka Zarco and Syahrin)
had to deal once again with a disappointing race weekend and a bike that still
doesn’t want to obey them. A situation that cannot continue and which is leaving
both Rossi and Vinales absolutely desperate: “I think we worked well, we made
another step [in warm-up] and I feel better on the bike and I started quite
optimistic to fight for the podium. Unfortunately the two Suzukis and also
[Cal] Crutchlow are faster than me. I tried to not give up and not make any
mistakes, tried to arrive at the end with good pace.But our potential is
this. It’s more this than Thailand, unfortunately. Suzuki did a very good
step compared to last year, because they work in the right way. Better than us.
They are strong. If Iannone didn’t crash, he would have arrived in front. They
are fighting for the podium, they are stronger.”

We
now go to Phillip Island, which is definitely MotoGP’s brightest jewel. Jorge Lorenzo will again miss the race and will be replaced by best
Ducati rider during the Japanese GP, Alvaro Bautista. The 5 times World Champ
hopes to be back for Sepang. Free of any kind of pressure, will Marc Marquez celebrate his new title with a win on the Island ? History is agains’t him on that note as each time he won a title at Motegi, a DNF followed right back at Phillip Island… 

RATING THE RIDERS: ROUND 15 – THAILANDMM93 – 1…

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

ROUND 15: THAILANDFirst time racing in Thailan…

ROUND 15: THAILAND

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
manage.”

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 – ARAGONMM93 – 10…

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!

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!