2011 Jerez MotoGP Race Day Round Up Part 2: Strategy Begets Tragedy

Race days like Sunday, full of incident and intrigue, leave MotoGP writers such as myself feeling starkly inadequate. So much happened at Jerez, in every single class, both during and after the race that it is impossible to do the weekend justice and give a comprehensive account of events without collapsing from exhaustion at about five in the morning. This weekend also made it clear to me that my fitness is not up to scratch, as I did not make it much past 1:30 am.

Fortunately, there is a four-week gap between the race at Jerez and the following round at Estoril. The riders may not much like it ("too long!" Andrea Dovizioso exclaimed), but that does leave plenty of time to fill out the stories that emerged at Jerez.

Rather unsurprisingly, many of those stories revolve around the incident involving Valentino Rossi and Casey Stoner. Debate on the issue is already extraordinarily heated, as was to be expected given that the riders who were party to the incident are the undisputed lord and master of MotoGP, and the rider who most polarizes opinion among racing fans.

Much of the argument revolves around the claims of both Rossi and Stoner that they were certain they could have fought for victory, or at worst a podium, if it hadn't been for the crash. With both Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa having a strong race, a podium, let alone a victory, would not have been a given, yet the evidence would seem to point to Rossi and Stoner being correct in their assumptions.

Just watching the race, Rossi would appear to have the best claim to a podium, the Italian being fast from the off, and the fastest rider on the track from lap 4 onwards. The way Rossi cut through the field from 12th up to 3rd was impressive, and at the point where he crashed, he looked virtually unstoppable, his string of 1'48 laps only broken once he encountered traffic.

Casey Stoner, on the other hand, seemed to have plateaued. The Australian's lap times quickly dropped into the 1'49s, but once he was caught and passed by Marco Simoncelli, Stoner's pace appeared to sag. At the point where he was inadvertently taken out by Rossi, Stoner looked to be going backwards.

But given the conditions on the track and the way the different bikes treated their tires, the mere fact of Rossi going forward and Stoner going backward is not the whole story. Comparing other riders on the same bikes offers an interesting perspective, and provides an insight into just what Rossi and Stoner were doing at the time of the crash.

Look at Nicky Hayden's times on the second Marlboro Ducati bike, and it is clear that the Ducati was fast right out of the gate. Hayden's pace was immediately strong, and on laps 5 and 6, the only man quicker was his teammate Valentino Rossi. Once Rossi crashed out, Hayden was the fastest man on track on laps 7 and 8, before his pace started to wane on the next couple of laps. From lap 11, his pace dropped right off as his tires lost most of their grip. Hayden's podium was helped immensely by mistakes ahead of him, with Marco Simoncelli and Ben Spies crashing out, then Colin Edwards suffering mechanical heartbreak on the final lap putting Hayden on the box.

On a tangential note, Edwards' problem was not as at first thought an engine seizure, team members happy to clarify that the engine itself was just fine. What the problem was they were not allowed to say, but hints including the phrases "fuel starvation," "electro-mechanical system" and "$20 part" point very strongly in the direction of a broken fuel pump. A true tragedy for the Texan to be robbed of a podium spot, opportunities for which are rarer than unicorn spittle for satellite riders.

Returning to Nicky Hayden, it is clear that the Ducati was fast in the early part of the race, but was going to eat up its tires as the race progressed. Ducati clearly knew this, and Valentino Rossi almost certainly decided his tactics would be to gain as much of a lead as possible in the early laps, then defend like a demon as his tires went off later on.

This would explain his impetuous charge to the front, taking no prisoners - but causing one casualty - along the way. With Rossi's shoulder not troubling him in the wet conditions ("this is the first time I can ride at 100% since Qatar last year," Rossi said afterwards), the joy of riding at full pace and the sniff of a podium enticed Rossi into taking risks, a gamble which he - and Stoner - eventually lost.

For the pace of the Hondas, the obvious comparison would be with Stoner's Repsol Honda teammates, but both Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso had complicating factors which rule them out of the comparison. Pedrosa's problems are well-documented, and though his shoulder held up much better than expected thanks to the wet conditions, the Spaniard was far from 100% at the end of the race. Dovizioso came in and pitted for a new tire, the old one having been completely destroyed. After the race, the Italian said the problem had been caused by a gamble on using too little traction control, the track not drying up as much as the team had hoped.

Instead, we must look further down the field for an example of how the Hondas would have fared, and the only good example we have of this is Hiroshi Aoyama. The San Carlo Gresini Honda rider got off to a poor start, ending the first lap in 16th place, down from 10th on the grid. During the first half of the race, Aoyama's pace was very middling, posting 1'52 when the leaders were doing 1'50s. But as the race progressed, the Honda came into its own, Aoyama's pace degrading much less than all of the other riders. By the last ten or so laps, Aoyama was matching or beating the rest of the field, and was the fastest man on track on laps 24, 26 and 27.

Extrapolating from Aoyama's lap times, it would appear that the Hondas were much better at conserving their tires for later in the race, but that this meant taking a more cautious approach early on. Stoner's strategy, then, was to nurse his tires in the early part of the race, then pushing on as the race progressed. This accords with Stoner's own words, telling the press debrief after the race "we were taking it easy early on to save our tires."

From the data, what appears to have happened is a collision of strategies as much as riders. Valentino Rossi, keen to gain as much advantage as possible before his grip gave out, was pushing and taking calculated risks to try to get away from the front. Casey Stoner, in turn, was content to let people by, saving his tires for an attack in the latter stages of the race. Rossi going forward met Stoner holding station, and the two hit the gravel after Rossi took one risk too many. That these two riders would meet each other on the way past - probably more than once - was inevitable. That they should both end up on the floor was the result of bad luck and poor judgment.

The real tragedy is that this incident denied us what could very well have turned into a fascinating race, with riders stalking and passing each other as conditions swung in favor of one rider, then back to favor the other. The only upside is that it has made the championship that much more interesting, with Stoner now forced to come from behind, taking more risks to try to grab a title than he had hoped would be necessary. But there are still 16 races of the season left to go. There's plenty more drama left in store.

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A good article that doesn't mention Lorenzo much. He has to be the huge winner both in the race and in terms of winning the championship. It is going to be really hard to catch a rider who is proving to me with every race that he richly deserves to be defending champion and favourite. (not that I ever doubted the former)
My concern is that the incident might make the Championship less interesting as Lorenzo could maintain a points buffer that Stoner, Pedrosa and the others may only be able to chip away at but never fully erode.

Lorenzo's much-improved professionalism was on display in this race: he's fast (always has been), but has also learned how to stay on the bike and score maximum points. And that's how you win titles.

...can be made up very easily. I'm not a huge Stoner fan, but let's face it: Purely based on cold logic, math, and recent history, when Stoner is upright, he virtually can't be caught. He will (almost certainly) be making up at least 5 to 9 points on Jorge per race. That's 3-4 races to equalize or take the lead. No problem. The title chase is certainly more exciting now. At least now the championship won't be done and dusted before Estoril... :)

Fascinating analysis David and spot on the money for what was the Jerez lunacy.

I'm with Tide on the championship though. If you say that there are only 2-3 truly wet races in the year and Stoner is going to win at least half of the remaining dry races with Sic picking up one or two when he stops flinging his bike at the scenery, Jorge's Jerez bonus won't last long.

Jerez is the best thing that's happened to MotoGP in years. Can we run there in the wet again this year?

All in favor.....


So you guys don't think Jorge will win any more races? You don't seem to factor Dani into this either, seems pretty early to be counting the points for Casey.

Well put David, nice disection each riders perceived tactics.
Man, can't wait for the next race
Will be interesting to see if Stoner and keep it together and get on with his job, after being rattled by rossi.
Also if he will still use a convservative approach to racing counting on his end-of-race pace or will he try and push like last year and make a gap.
Also will be interesting if rossi can translate this progess onto a dry track. Also I cant wait for his new parts so he can be fighting for wins.
Lorenzo is looking mighty consistant again but I think the might of Casey and his honda have the upper hand and a healed Dani may even help as a buffer.

All in all I still believe/hope Stoner is on his way to his 2nd world title.

Too many times commenters comment on something they have not taken the time to ponder.

Has anyone mentioned Stoner taking out Sete in Portugal 2006? I can't remember what transpired after that.

Yes, we really should mention Stoner taking out Sete, as it too is an excellent example of a rookie mistake.

The only difference being that Rossi is a 7-time premier class champion who knew his bike had a dodgy front end well before he barrelled into turn 1. Stoner on the other hand was new to MotoGP and Michelins. But yeah, exactly the same thing, if you ignore those niggling little details.

In the dry perhaps. No such issues with the significantly lesser forces imparted during a wet race. Rossi simply got a little over excited. There appears to be a changing of the guard going on and Stoner is a world champ too. He was well within his rights to have a sarky crack at racings fading god. Stoner will let the incident pass. Will Mr 4 out of 10 too, or seeth a little now he's probably digested the call?

Loved your writes ups these past two days David. Rarely (if ever) do I read a word from you with which I disagree.

In the Stoner-Gibernau crash situation, Stoner had dropped his bike while in front of Gibernau, who had no room to avoid running over Stoner's bike. While the result was effectively the same and was disastrous for Gibernau, it was not a case of Stoner making an ill-judged passing manouever but a personal stuff-up - very reminiscent of the de Puniet crash last year where he went down in front of a group of other riders and had his leg broken by being run over.

So the two situations are not directly comparable.

Stoner misjudged the corner, most definitely, and there are reasons to suggest that the LCR Honda was a highly unreliable device on the Michelins (as it continued to be the next year in de Puniet's hands). Of course, the same criticism can be fairly applied to the Ducati in ANYBODY's hands - and as one regular contributor to the mtm forum who is the acknowledged expert on Rossi (Albert) has stated, had Rossi been on the Yamaha the whole incident probably would not have happened and Rossi would have passed cleanly and shot off into the distance.

This coment is not intended to start a war, merely to point out that comparing the two situations is not accurate other than in the outcome of two bikes ending off the track. Nor is it intended to be any form of implied criticism of Rossi / Stoner, but merely to state that the circumstances were markedly different.

Another good read of the GP Bard's musings.

I know you are tired, but anxious to hear the Pedrosa updates as you have them. Did they fix him today?

This little scuffle could end up being his best chance yet, of a championship, if he can come off this procedure fit. Wishing him well.

You only had to look at the three makes of bike and their respective tyres on the podium to get a feel for how each bike wore down it's tyres.

The Yamaha and Ducati's tyres were in terrible shape. I'm sure you all saw just how torn up they were, it's a wonder anyone stayed upright on those things.

Pedrosa's Honda though, the tyre didn't look too bad at all, and I would imagine Stoner would have been right there in the end fighting at the pointy end.

As for the much talked about comments from both sides of the biggest story to hit Jerez in years, it really boils down to cultural differences - especially in how language, slang and sarcasm differs between Australian English and Italian.

Stoners' comments are not uncommon over here in Australia. One of my fathers quips that was always directed at me when growing up was "Your ambitions outweigh your capabilities" which I had NO idea what it meant at the time, but it's a pretty simple and sarcastic phrase that was thrown around without care.

The beauty in this case is that Stoner delivered it to Rossi of all people, and true to form - Rossi detests the taste of his own medicine. Rossi's mind-games don't seem to have the same affect on Stoner because Casey can give it as good as he gets it.

The thing is, and Rossi must really hate this one - Stoner is a proven success story in the 800cc era. His results speak for themselves, especially on that (now) mid-pack Ducati that was a regular on the top step of the podium over the last few years. He is also the form rider in 2011 - heads and shoulders above the rest.

Shoulders, spare parts, new riding style and 80 seconds of 'oh shit' from his team won't spare Rossi from the harsh critique of his results should he not start pointing that Ducati in the right direction. Sadly for him, it will take alot more effort than he thought it would.

Remember, Casey wasn't even riding that bike at 100% yeah? Sucks to be in Vales shoes in that case.

F1 has understood this for a while - with suggestions of "random rain" at different venues. When the systems understand the track so well that each corner has different computer mappings and most riders hit the apex and hold the throttle open while the computer does the work, rain is the only thing that can bring this sport back to reality - where power can instantly exceed available traction and the rider needs to feel the limit as opposed to relaying on a moto-cyborg.

This was a great race. Riders taking chances at the whiff of success. Some gambling on longer term strategies. All living at the limit on their own - not at the control of big brother.

Many riders made mistakes and were still in a positon to win or podium. How long has it been since that happened? Many made mistakes and threw away a great chance - how often does that REALLY happen nowadays?

It's a shame that we need rain to remind us how brutal a sport this can be and how a truly skilled rider can "ride over" a mediocre bike.

Damn. Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain.

...comments made here on MM since the mid-19th century. Almost certainly the best made in the 800cc era. Regarding HP vs. GRIP, I have recently read a brief comment from one of the moto/techno luminaries of our sport on exactly that issue, and pending receipt of further info, I think that that could be one of the biggest (if not THE biggest) missing pieces of the puzzle for the return of great racing.

I know that I will earnestly and continuously be submitting request after request to The Almighty for rain (a proper soaking) before each race from here until the end of the season.

Normally I'm disappointed by wet races b/c I miss seeing the outrigt pace of the bikes on the limit, but Sunday's race was different. The rain was great. It changed the stakes b/c the riders had just a single WUP session to sort their psyche and the bike. The race results were determined by risk management as much as outright pace.

I'm conflicted. I'm happy that wet racing created entertainment and competitive substance, but I'm worried that MotoGP fans may find themselves begging for rain. Has MotoGP really turned into F1?

Not to take anything away from Jorge, but the determining factor for this race was luck.

Set up was luck - the crews couldn't predict the race conditions. Wet, dry, drying or continually 'just damp'. Hence the variations in race tactics.

Stoner been brought down - luck.

Rossi keeping the engine running on it's side without oil starvation and engine damage - luck.

Edwards 'seizing' - luck.

Hayden, and others, finishing and straying upright with those shagged tyres - luck.

As for continually wet MotoGP's for close competition the World series would become a lottery of luck. One or two wet races it's interesting. A year long series would not be a competition of man and machine but a lottery.

In the wet they brake and accelerate at .8 G's rather than 1.2 G's. Nothing is 'stressed out' as it is 'at the max' in the dry - neither man nor machine.

I think Rossi's move was only labled a 'mistake' because the front end washed out in less-than-optimal circumstances. If he'd made the pass, we'd be having a different discussion. That Stoner admits he was 'letting him pass', while Rossi's comment was that he was in too hot and didn't expect to be up the inside that quickly (paraphrasing there) speaks volumes to the totalitly of what happened.

Honda's gearbox that David wrote an excellent article about didn't help when the engine had to be re-started. Rossi held the clutch in to keep the bike running while Stoner shut it down. THAT is why Rossi got back into the fold so quickly ... it isn't about biased track marshals IMHO.

Overall it was an incredibly exciting race to watch ... my fiance and I had more OMG's and WHOLLY CRAP's! yelled out since I can remember! Sad for Super Sic who could have taken it all as well as for Stoner, Spies and Edwards. Kudos to Lorezo who rode a very intelligent race.

Rossi's mistake was labeled a mistake by Rossi, so I guess it was a mistake. To call it anything else is wishful thinking.

The "less-than-optimal circumstances" were the same for all riders so I guess if one rider deals with the circumstance and another doesn't it must be a mistake by that rider.

The accident was the result of racing, a clash of two differing strategies for trying and unusual conditions. Rossi was pushing hard, knowingly to 'use up' his tyres, to get a good lead and then defend it. Stoner was conserving his tyre to have a later lunge. The riders' comments and facts bear this out.

When a lead rider 'senses' an impending overtake up the inside they normally 'close the door', hold a tight line, forcing the overtaking rider to take the 'long way around', the outside line. In this case Stoner didn't. Stoner clearly was .5 to 1 metre wider than normal.

When a rider comes into a corner 'too hot' they normally 'steer off', run wide and use the width of the track to brake and lose speed. It cost them time, momentum and track position.

When Stoner, in his 'conserve bike conserve tyres' mindset, ran wide to allow Rossi up the inside he didn't know that Rossi was 'in too hot' but unintentionally took away Rossi's normally recovery strategy and committed him to the tighter inside line.

And the rest was history as they say. A racing incident.

I think both riders will see it that way and are probably already 'over it'. The emotional response and judgment of the fans, whipped by the media, will continue to the point that in 10 years time Rossi and Stoner fans will still hold and express strong views of the incident.

Speaking of Sete, that was a great rivalry. Since 2008 at Laguna the Vale vs Casey rivalry has been simmering. Comments of snide wit and sarcasm flew out of both sides. But now, oh boy, we look set for a monumental rivalry which hopefully will play out all season.

Caseys comments, intentionally or not, must have give Rossi a taste of his own mind-games. To suggest an athlete of infinite talent has no talent surely has to eat at that persons ego. It was a brilliant move. Personally I am sick and tired of the VR46 fanboy club bitching about Casey's 'passive aggressive' slander when that has been Vale's MO for years. The Sete hex? remember that one?

The pass reminded me of something boneheaded that Simoncelli would do. Over aggressive and impatient. Fading tyres or not, Vale can ride around those problems and defend a lead better than any of his Ducati brethren. He surely had a fantastic chance of his first win in red. As fast as he was lapping he would have passed Casey in a turn or two. Real shame.

"The pass reminded me of something boneheaded that Simoncelli would do. Over aggressive and impatient."

Which reminded me of Lorenzo's pass on Simoncelli late last season. And Biaggi as well in WSB when things aren't going completely his way. Every once in a while we seem to see the top stars go "I'm faster than you, out of my way" when actually the person they're passing is almost as fast as them and not some rookie at the back of the field. I'm also reminded me of Rossi's attempted pass when he decked out an overheating Yamaha trying to get past a slower rider (De Puniet?).

What else would you expect if Rossi is charging with no thought for tire wear while Stoner was trying to conserve his? I'm not sure where you're trying to go with this.

Yes, every now and then all riders seem to crash when their ambition exceeds their ability... I think I heard someone say something like that recently.

I think you're totally right about different strategies. Stoner's words after the race ("heard him coming but was not afraid of being passed at that point") underline this. Would they not have crashed they may have met at the front again at the end of the race.

David, intriguing hypothesis regarding strategy. From lap 8 onward Rossi's lap times never reached the same speed as pre incident. At the end of lap 8 after recovering from the crash he was 29.1 seconds behind the race leader - Simoncelli at that stage. At the race end he was 1:02 seconds behind race winner Lorenzo.

From that stats it is easy to speculate that Rossi had already done his best,and the tyres were already starting to detiorate. Adding weight to that arguement is Rossi's lap times had already started to slow, from 1:48's on laps 3, 4, and 5, to 1:49, then 1:50 on laps 6 and 7. Lap 7 involved the overtake on lorenzo so can be less regarded in this arguement. After the crash his best lap time was 1:52.7 on laps 10 and 11, steadily falling away to high 1:57's on lap 26.

This slow creep of lap times affected all the riders, but as the race progressed the drop in performance of Rossi's tyres was more pronounced than that of Lorenzo and Pedrosa.

Does this mean that Stoner's strategy was going to get him a podium had he not been skittled by Rossi? Best settled over a bottle of red wine I suspect; perhaps something from Spain!

It strikes me that one thing NOT being discussed regarding the Rossi/Stoner crash is the difficulty in starting the factory Honda with a bump start, and the riders actions during the melee itself.

Rossi kept his hand firmly on the clutch lever and kept his motor running throughout the incident, so once upright was able to ride off with little actual assistance being needed (depsite it looking like he needed 27 marshalls to push him!). Stoner though deliberately hit the kill switch to 'prevent engine damage' so needed to restart his motor before he could rejoin the race. However the factory Honda apparently needs to have 2 pins inserted into the gearbox during the normal starting procedure, and is allegedly very very difficult to restart with a bump or push start (as Simoncelli also found following his crash).

If this is the case then either Honda need to look at their system to enable riders to rejoin following an accident, or Stoner should have known this and kept his engine running?

Either way, criticism of Rossi after the accident seems to be wide of the mark, and some comments I have read that he should have assisted Stoner first before he rejoined the race are just ridiculous.

It's a half a speculation at best. If Stoner had conserved(possibly over conserving?) his tyres for 5 more laps(would still leave 18 laps at a pace some way above what he was doing at the time), Rossi could have been 10 secs ahead as he made 2 secs on Casey on I think the 23 lap to catch up.
The most surprising thing for me at Jerez which has got zero press, was the fact that Casey was so slow in the wet. In the past on the Ducati he would disappear into the distance and then manage his pace till the end. Something I think Rossi looked like he could match though I think starting from 12th put paid to it... I thought it was another interesting incite into the behaviour of the ducati(from another riders perspective) and suspect next wet race Rossi will be a force to be reckoned with. Just needs to sort out the dry now.. roll on estoril.

Hmm interesting concept. As opposed to your far more certain assertion that Rossi was on for the win Hugelean?

How does sitting quietly in touch with the leader Simoncelli become slow? Lap eight after his crash Rossi 29 secs down. End of race more than a minute. Given there was no mention of any machine damage this can only indicate that Rossi chewed his rubber out early in his vain glorious attempt to lead / win. Perhaps Stoner could teach Rossi a little race strategy?

Hum let's see...Stoner was fastest by far (meaning half second on Rossi and almost 1 second on everyone else) during the warm up which was the very first session he ever had on the wet with the Honda (the same goes for Rossi at Ducati).
And then he was up to second place when he got wiped out by Rossi during the race.
Yeah, I guess Stoner was really slow in the wet.

Anyone who thinks that was a great race and would like to have more rain is not a true fan of motogp.

That race was interesting and I'm glad they race in the rain unlike some racing series but this was not a classic race.

Yes, there were many crashes in Jerez but if you are watching motogp for the crashes you should go to a demolition derby instead.

IMO Rossi's biggest crime (albeit accidental) was to deny us dog eat dog battle to the end. I really wanted to see the aliens RACE for the win.

We have plenty of gossip and turmoil after Jerez but it ain't as good as racing in my opinion. If you think it is, go and watch Days of Our lives.

Just saw David asking Nicky a question in the post race press conference on the MotoGP website about his No. 1 engine not having been used since warm-up in Qatar. Glad to see you're keeping tabs on all facets to keep us informed. Excellent work!

As for the big incident, I think the corner workers were a bit "blinded" by the glow of the remaining yellow on Rossi's leathers and livery and just didn't see "poor ole Casey". They were also running around a bit like "chickens with heads cut off" in a few of the other incidents, but it's easy to be an armchair critic. Vale not taking his helmet off was probably to keep the press at distance, and I'm sure Casey would have realized this and not take any personal offense. An unfortunate incident for both a result of "ambition exceeding talent".

Championships (and races) are often decided by DNF's and crashes. Always have been, always will be. Purists and seekers of "classic races" can subscribe to that package on MotoGP.com. If you've never smelled the two stroke oil and watched them steer with the rear wheel you will just have to go on being frustrated and criticizing others for enjoying what little excitement MotoGP can still provide. I will take whatever I can get, and last week was fun to watch...unlike most of the races in the 800cc era.

Not to take blame from the crash away from Rossi but Toby Moody posted this video to his Twitter account:
It clearly shows more than one or two people helping Casey. They don't appear to be able to get him started, which jibes with the contention that the Hinda is difficult to bump start. They then melt away. Someone, can't remember who, pointed out that they were getting too close to the racing line and that is likely why they gave up on Casey. He clearly wasn't unhelped.

That video is shocking quality. It looks a little different in HD and when you can see all of the events unfolding, instead of the camera jumping here there and everywhere. From the incident, Stoner lost two championship places. Rossi gained two championship places...but Rossi's fans still want to run Stoner into the ground, still want to find a way to call him a whiner...give it a rest.

Nevermind. You didn't really consider what I was saying, but ok.

what you were saying. I just have a problem with that youtube video being used to illustrate anything, so many little things took place in such a short time, the youtube video just confuses the issues more as it is very poor quality and keeps jumping away from the action at key moments. Who knows what was going through the marshal's minds, I guess the FIM enquiry will get to the bottom of racing line issues and if their was favouritism shown.

Thanks David for your insightful articles. They have certainly given me a better understanding of the intricacies of motogp racing.

The more I read and the more I think about it , I do not believe that the accident was a mistake.

Firstly, Rossi is a 7 time world champion and has been under pressure many times previously. It is unlike him to do something so stupid as this.
Secondly, he had been having a great race till then ie keeping cool, keeping the bile upright and going fast. To suddenly lose his head when he sees Stoner is unlikely.
Lastly, based on the comments by experts, any bike going into that corner, that quickly would lose it ie the crash cannot be blamed on the unpredictable Ducati front end. Therefore , Rossi would have known that he was probably going to lose it.

I do not believe that Rossi intended to crash but he probably intended to intimidate Stoner and accepted the high risk that in doing so would result in an accident.

So , why did he do it? I suspect that he realised that he was not going to win this race despite his initial speed. his tires would not last the distance. He must have had the future in his mind. If the Ducati gets sorted out later this year then he may well be at the sharp end dueling with Stoner for a win. In that situation, there would be a reasonable chance that Stoner will pull back to get championship points rather the risk a crash with a desperate and hot headed Rossi.

He left his helmet on so that the cameras could not see the big grin on his face, after all he managed the triple ie intimidating Stoner, getting some points and an excuse for not winning ie the front end gave way when he was riding soooo well.

Interestingly, Rossi used "mistake" to describe the crash but Stoner used the word "incident", rather then accident or mistake. Do you think that Stoner reached the same conclusion?

First of all, thanks for the compliments, they are greatly appreciated.

However, I think that believing Rossi planned this crash is a mistake. Firstly, because crashes are impossible to plan, and it is entirely possible that Rossi could have been badly hurt in the incident.

Most of all, though, the problem Rossi faces is one of his own making. The three men who stand between him and the title - Casey Stoner, Dani Pedrosa and Jorge Lorenzo - all grew up knowing that if they wanted to be MotoGP World Champion, they would have to find a way to beat Valentino Rossi. They have all worked tirelessly to achieve that aim, upping their game until they were able to compete with Rossi.

So your assertion that Rossi has been under pressure before - while correct - underestimates the situation. The pressure Rossi faced before from Biaggi and Gibernau was nowhere near as intense as he faces now from Stoner, Pedrosa and Lorenzo. On any given day, any one of those three could beat him.

Add to that a move to Ducati, where he encountered a bike that was much more difficult than he had expected, and has the whole of Italy expecting him to succeed. Now you can start to imagine how much pressure Rossi is under, and seeing an opportunity to regain some of the prestige he has lost since the Ducati switch, and the likelihood of this being an honest mistake is infinitely more likely than that it was a calculated risk.

Tires way too soft. We know Vale's front probably going away even early on. Plus too hard on breaks = tuck, gravel and new orange paint on Duc.

Look at Nicks rear tire by end of race. Completely destroyed. Ducatis hardest on the rubber. No chance, 46 has to try and get away early as has been stated already.

By the way, looks like four riders in the way of the 46....you know...the other Ducati ;) As usual, great write D.


I loved Stoner's "talent" jibe at Rossi. The stiletto like comment delivered with an impish smile has long been Rossi's forte (worked a treat with Max). Stoner beat him at his own game, the fact Valli left his helmet on worked against him too.