2011 Brno MotoGP Sunday Post-Race Round Up: If We Didn't See The Future Today, We'll See It Tomorrow

Race day turned up plenty of surprises at Brno, some good, some bad, and some, well, just surprising. The three races turned up a tense duel, a full-on fairing-banging barnstormer and, well, a MotoGP race with a surprise podium, and proved that the layout of the Brno circuit is one of the very best in the world.

The 125cc race saw Sandro Cortese win from Johann Zarco, but more importantly, it saw Zarco claw back a whole host of points from Nico Terol after the Bankia Aspar rider was forced out of the race with a mechanical problem. Zarco would once again be denied victory, coming home 2nd to Sandro Cortese, but Zarco's championship prospects improved drastically, cutting Terol's lead from 32 to just 12 points, and throwing the title race open again.

In the Moto2 class, Stefan Bradl is still firmly in control of the championship, but he too is starting to leak points to Marc Marquez. At Brno, Bradl limited the damage to just 4 points, and still leads by a very generous 43-point margin, but with Marquez on a roll, a single DNF by Bradl would blow the championship open again.

Though the championship may not be so exciting, the racing certainly was. The Moto2 race turned into the kind of classic that we have come to expect from the intermediate class, with five riders taking the race right down to the wire, the lead swapping multiple times in the last few laps. The quality of some of the passes was perhaps a little suspect, raising some calls - among the non-Spanish media at least - for more consistency from Race Direction. A few of the moves that Marc Marquez put on Alex de Angelis and Stefan Bradl were right on the edge, but some paddock insiders believe that Marquez goes unpunished because of the backing the Spaniard has - from Repsol, from Dorna, from Spain. But given that Marquez was getting just as good as he was giving - especially from Alex de Angelis, a rider not known for either his subtlety or his politeness - unpicking the mess at the front would have beyond the powers of Race Direction to do fairly.

The fans, needless to say, loved it.

The MotoGP race was far from thrilling, though again, there are signs of improvement. Groups are sticking together for longer, the finishing order less often decided already during qualifying. What it lacked in thrills and spills it made up for in surprises and intrigue, with all three podium spots unexpected. The one name we expect to see on top of the podium is of course Casey Stoner, and once again the Repsol Honda rider delivered a post-graduate thesis in blowing away a MotoGP field. But anyone brave enough to suggest on Saturday night - or even after Sunday warm up - that this might happen would have been laughed out of the room.

The name pencilled in on the winner's trophy was Dani Pedrosa, and the chisel was ready to engrave it after warm up, Pedrosa posting a blistering pace seven tenths quicker than anyone else. And for two laps, Pedrosa looked like converting his practice form into maximum points, until suddenly the Repsol Honda rider disappeared into the gravel. Pedrosa had no explanation for the crash, and was taken completely by surprise. He had just got back on the gas when the front went, but there was no discernible cause. "I was going through the corner, very smooth, and then I was on the floor," Pedrosa said.

Naturally, after so many crashes and so many injuries this season, I asked him what had gone through his mind as he crashed. Had he been worried about hurting himself again? "I didn't think about it at all," Pedrosa answered, "I couldn't believe this is really happening. I still can't believe it."

Pedrosa's crash left the way open for Stoner, and with no one capable of matching his pace, the Australian was gone. His crew had found a little more edge grip for the race, but had been forced to gamble after what they had tried in the warm up had not worked at all. Stoner owned up to his petulance after the race, telling the press conference that he had had "a bit of a sulk." But a comfortable victory - and getting 12 points on his title rival Jorge Lorenzo - had done much to smooth things over.

Lorenzo had been the biggest loser at the Czech Grand Prix, Lorenzo and his team - Lorenzo, crew chief Ramon Forcada and his Bridgestone tire technician - electing to use the softer of the two front compounds that were available at the test. They had gone for the soft tire because they had had the best results with that compound all weekend, and consistently been quicker than with the hard tire. But warmer conditions on Sunday and a totally different track - Lorenzo said it was much slippier - meant that he could not sustain the pace the thought he had all weekend. It was a costly mistake - if mistake it was, for it only became apparent with 20/20 hindsight - and Lorenzo is now 32 points behind Stoner. He still has his destiny in his own hands - just - but he has to win all 7 races to be certain of retaining the number 1 plate.

The mathematics of the situation prompted Spanish journalists to try to provoke Lorenzo into an answer as to whether he would go to Motegi. Lorenzo skillfully avoided their provocations, saying merely that it was all hypothetical and there was no point discussing it. There are three more races between now and Motegi, and plenty can happen in between.

With Pedrosa out and Lorenzo handicapped with a bum tire, two podium slots opened up, and Honda's "Other Two" neatly took their place. Andrea Dovizioso made a brilliant start to get straight through to the front, though he could not match the pace of Stoner, and Marco Simoncelli fought his way forward to take 3rd, and his first and long-awaited podium. The result was hugely popular - Simoncelli remains a firm favorite with the fans, especially in the UK, for some reason - and deserves further examination. Is this the breakthrough that Simoncelli needed, and will it mark the start of a string of podiums and his entry to the elite club of Aliens that has ruled MotoGP? Is it a sign that he has finally learned the lessons from earlier in the year, when his season seemed to be a comedy of errors?

From the evidence of today - though pretty threadbare, with just one race - it would be a stretch to say this marks the beginning of a new era. The good news for Simoncelli was that he finally kept his head and settled for a podium, rather than losing it and ending up collecting gravel - either alone or in company. The bad news is that when Simoncelli did try to make a move on Dovizioso, the Repsol Honda man merely upped his pace and put some time on Simoncelli that the San Carlo Gresini man was incapable of recovering. Simoncelli has still not finished ahead of Dovizioso this year - despite being on equal material - and Brno was no exception.

But there is another reason to regard this not as a major breakthrough, but as the two Italians being smiled on by Lady Luck. A mistake by Dani Pedrosa - whatever caused it - meant that one Alien was taken out of the equation, and a mistake in tire selection cast another Alien back among the mortals. Under normal circumstances, both Pedrosa and Lorenzo would have been on the podium; these were not normal circumstances, and so Dovizioso - who, to his credit, predicted that a podium was possible on Saturday night - and Simoncelli ended up on the box. But 8 seconds or so from the winner is a big gap to close.

Valentino Rossi was even further back, crossing the line over 10 seconds behind Stoner. Yet after the race, Rossi was the most optimistic he has been for a very long time. Compared with Laguna Seca, Rossi had cut the deficit by half on the new bike, and the Italian was confident that the improvement was permanent.

Rossi was coy on exactly what had changed - refusing to answer the question directly, saying only that they were "details" - but he was fulsome in his praise of Filippo Preziosi. "Ducati are very clever," he said, "such a small change makes such a big difference." The improvement had been major, allowing Rossi to brake much deeper giving both stability and improving corner entry and giving him much more feeling with the front. He kept talking about having made "a step" and his surprise at such a small part bringing such big results. "I hope Filippo has a few more boxes!"

This breakthrough basically means the end of the GP11. Rossi said that he felt that there was more potential with the GP11.1, and the improved front end meant that there was a real sense of progress. Rossi will run back-to-back tests of the GP11 and GP11.1 on Monday, but that will probably be the last outing for the bike. Nicky Hayden will also try both bikes, and though he is far less certain about which bike he will be racing at Indianapolis in two weeks' time - Indy being Hayden's home round, the nearest circuit to his home in Owensboro, Kentucky - he was buoyed by Rossi's improvement on the GP11.1. "I hope they bought enough parts for me!" he joked, and questioned reporters on exactly what Rossi had said after the race.

The Ducatis will not be the only 800s to be tested. The Yamaha factory riders will be giving the 1000 a first roll out to confirm that the direction the bike is being developed in is fundamentally correct, before turning their attention to the 800. Yamaha have brought a new engine for the 2011 bike, one which Lorenzo is fervently hoping has more power. Lorenzo will be trying that engine tomorrow, and spending most of his time working on this year's bike. He has a championship to defend after all.

But most of the attention at the test will be on the 1000s here, Yamaha's 2012 M1 and Honda's RC213V. Listening to the bikes warming up in pit lane this evening, they already sounded better; deeper, gruffer, more vicious. Visual differences between the bikes are minimal, and only detailed study of the pictures will show up the detail changes. Similar or not, the appearance of the 1000s is eagerly awaited, and everyone I have spoken to in the paddock will be arriving here fresh and early for the test. The future may be starting tomorrow, but the fact that it is locked in the pit garages downstairs at Brno makes the anticipation even worse.

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I had Stoner off the podium in my tips, with Dani, Jorge and Marco ahead of him. Whatever data they analysed and based their changes on, it worked.

What happened to Dani?? He went down leaving a big black line to the edge of the track, and for a while I wondered if he just locked the rear as he lost it, or whether something failed in Honda's wonder gearbox and that sent him down the road. And the fact that he seems genuinely perplexed as to the erason, well that makes me even more suspicious.

I suspect Jorge banked on getting away from them early on the softer front and then controlling the race, but as we have seen this year if you hammer the Bridgestones early sometimes they do go off.

Terrific ride from Dovi, who seems to have found new purpose this year. If ever a bloke pencilled to lose a factory ride has made a case to keep it, this has to be the most obvious example of recent years. And a good effort by Spies, who at one time looked like he might run the #1 plate down.

Wish the director had given us more footage of the early laps between Nicky and Vali, as it looked like they were hard at it on the snippets we saw.

I don't think there is anything suspicious looking about the black marks on the road. It's pretty much what you would expect from a hefty bit of kit sliding on a sheet of carbon fibre. You can also see a matching white line beside it, from his leathers sliding across the road. Dani just lost the front end, and you can see it happen in the video.

Lorenzo and/or his team, made the mistake of not adjusting the tyre selection for warmer conditions. He said they had used the soft front in the earlier (but colder) sessions, and were happy with it then, so stuck with it for the race.

i heard on the eurosport feed that dani recently switched to new forks. shifu emmett, any word on this?

Another masterclass by Stoner. He really is just a cut above the rest apparently. Even when the bike isn't spot on he can just dial up the speed.

Just a thought, with the racing closing up finally, Ducati genuinely catching up with Honda and Yamaha, Suzuki getting competitive for the first time in many years, was it really the 800cc regs that have caused the spaced out racing for the last few years? or was it the development time for each factory to figure out how to build a bike to the specs? and if it is, what does that mean for next year....

Looks like there will be rain in the forcast tommorow. What time does testing start David? I'm assuming/hoping that you'll be able to provide some updates through out the day? With any kind of luck all the teams will be able to get a bunch of laps in before the rain starts....

Ill health, bad luck and a not so strong mind keep making people not acknowledge the fact that he is just as fast as Stoner (of course I'm not stating fact but merely my opinion, so try not to get offended).

It's not offensive. But why not just base your opinion on fact, then you don't have to worry?

Fact is, from the time Stoner threw a leg over the Honda he has been faster than Dani, with the odd exception.

There's a very good reason Honda paid a lot of cash for Stoner and went to the expense of running an extra bike (and an entire extra team)... and that is because they knew he would be consistently faster than Dani in race trim.

They were right, and if they had not made that decision they would not be looking likely to take a world championship this year.

Honda made the smartest developmental move of all the manufacturers this year, and it had nothing to do with the motorcycle.

I didn´t meant that Casey wasn´t the better rider, I think he´s much stronger mentally and that gives him the edge. But talking strictly about speed I think they are evenly matched. They where usually very close in pre-season tests when Dani wasn´t having troubles with his thoracic outlet syndrome and only now Dani is healthy (I think). Dani was faster that Stoner in Germany and Brno (before the crash) and Stoner was faster in Laguna Seca, to me that is a hole lot of fact.

(I think I made a few spelling errors there, sorry about it)

No question about it, Dani has the speed to match Casey and even beat him at times. However, it is Casey first time in all the tracks on the Honda, so that has to count too.

That's a big bold call unless you've known Pedrosa personally for a considerable period of time. Given our top four are all multiple (bar Stoner who is well on course to join that club) world champions my presumption would be they are all rock solid in their self belief.

Sounds very like a Stoner / Ducati front end wash out doesn't it? It would appear that sometimes a rolling 'stone does gather moss.

It's difficult to make direct comparisons at the best of times, but at the moment the situation is such that doing so is probably unfair to both.

Dani and his team do have the advantage of a few year's experience, data and familiarity with the bike, and this would clearly help them get a jump-start at each race this year.

However, Stoner's team are no newbies at sorting a bike, and Stoner has an uncanny ability to adapt himself to manage the conditions presented.

Talent wise, they are both freaks, and all other things being equal, there is probably little to choose between them (or Lorenzo and Rossi).

Dani tends to be more fragile than Stoner, and too often seems to break something when he falls... he can't possibly be 100% fit yet.

Stoner, in the meantime, has been incredibly lucky this year, and walked away from some nasty offs... an almost identical crash to his one this weekend, sidelined Hopkins.

Next year will be telling... both riders on new bikes, effectively starting from the same development and data point.

Stoner, in the meantime, has been incredibly lucky this year, and walked away from some nasty offs... an almost identical crash to his one this weekend, sidelined Hopkins.

Casey got plenty of falling off practice on his 125 and 250 :)
But it never stopped him from riding hard to make up for the deficiencies of his non-factory machine.

I still think Jorge would be much closer this year if Yamaha had given him a better bike. Not to say Casey isn't fast but Jorge has been the lone Yamaha in a field of Hondas so many times this season. I really think he's wringing way more out of his bike than most could. I hope the new engine they are rolling out for the rest of the year keeps the championship tight.
Moto2 made MotoGP look really boring today.

Lorenzo seems to require a flawless setup and ride a perfect line to even stay with any of the top Hondas at most tracks. I've been amazed at his smoothness on the bike this season. Jorge has learned that getting the most out of the Yamaha means to play to it's strengths, whereas the Honda seems to either be stronger overall or more forgiving of an imperfect setup. It would be interesting to see how he'd place on a Honda - not to take away anything from Stoner or Dani, who show shocking pace themselves.

Regarding being the lone Yamaha, I think it's as much down to riders. I just think Honda have amassed the best performing group of riders right now. Stoner, Pedrosa, Dovi & Simmo are all leading edge riders - some in different ways than others. Elias and Aoyama are on (non works) Hondas and have done nothing.
Compare Hondas stable of riders with Yamaha - Jorge is doing the business, Spies is still finding his way but none the less has not achieved the results most expected and has generally been well beaten by his team mate on similar equipment. On a somewhat lower spec bike they then have Edwards, who is a cool guy and funny but was never quite a top line rider even in the factory team and is not getting any faster, and Crutchlow who after initial promise is probably trying too hard and falling off way too much and generally showing his relative lack of racing experience/success compared with the pack.
Yamaha also suffer by having only 4 bikes on the grid, and their range of riders is thus compromised. If, like yesterday, one of Hondas big guns fail, there's always another to step up to the plate. Not so with Yamaha, with only 4 bikes only 2 of which are full-factory spec vs 6 and 4 respectively for the big H.

I got distracted halfway through and never posted, but I was also thinking that Honda have basically got some serious depth of talent in even their second tier riders.
Also, I think the line between Stoner and Pedrosa as the 1st tier and Simoncelli and Dovizioso as the 2nd is thinner than Jorge and Spies at the moment.

All four of the 'aliens' are very, very fast riders, though Rossi is obviously hobbled by the Ducati this year.

Both Pedrosa and Lorenzo are products of the Spanish training system and have had smooth, precise and fast injected into their basic DNA. Stoner came up through a very different path until he started road racing and he is happier to ride 'loose' and find a way on the day to get the best from the package - and that is very evident from Forcada's comments re Lorenzo and Stoner, having crew chief-ed for both. All four of these guys are stunning to watch ride and if (at the moment) the top three all have good set-ups at the same time the competition is extremely close between them.

Stoner's adaptability has stood him in good stead - he has an unassailable lead in the number of wins on an 800s-era bike now but by comparison to Rossi's utter dominance of the 990s-era, the relative equality of the 'aliens' is something we haven't seen in any one era of racing in a decade or more.

After the retirement of Schwantz there was only one Alien for several years, firstly Doohan and then Rossi. But from 2007 there were three Aliens and by 2009 four (ignoring rookie years). It is amazing to think that in the post 2006 Rossi era we have three other riders on the same level as a rider regarding by many as the GOAT. And Stoner and Lorenzo are arguably now better than Rossi (and I mean right at this moment, not historically). I don't understand people who complain about MotoGP being boring. These people just don't understand how privileged we are to see such talents in MotoGP.

ok 3+1 riders are clearly faster than the rest

ok it's quite rare in the history of motorcycle

sorry, but this season except in Shachsenring and maybe maybe in Laguna and Mugello, the races were boring ...

The problem is that these 3 riders (let's forget Rossi for this year) are almost never equally fast during a complete race. The reasons have been well explained on this website: bike/tyre precision, extreme professionalism etc etc

The fact is that this year, I prefer watching formula 1 than motogp which is completely incredible for me ... they also have 3 fantastic racers (Vettel, Alonso, Hamilton) but due to new reglementation, we have races, we have suspense, we have fights ... you can call it artificial but fantastic races still fantastic races

And I will never call processions fantastic races

Boredom is not derived from the excellent field of MotoGP riders. Boredom is the result of the anemic, fuel-starved 800cc motorcycles the riders are forced to pilot, and the dwindling number of manufacturers who are willing to build such undesirable machines.

There are only three aliens this season. I wouldn't call Spies one yet, despite his win at Assen. I think he needs to be on the podium and challenging for wins more consistently to be considered an alien?

Someone was questioning the use of twitter the other week & the lack of information from Rossi confirms how useful it actually is. Alex Briggs in several tweets gave a full explanation of the changes Ducati made for this race.

No one has complained about the fuel limits for a while... are they no longer playing a role at all?

That could be bad news for the CRT teams...

If you are fiddling around with the headstock, drilling holes in yokes etc to give more feel (or whatever Ducati are doing) to compensate for chassis over-stiffness, then this only demonstrates the chassis is fundamentally flawed and needs to be changed. These sorts of tweaks might get better results race to race but they are not sustainable over the long run in terms of building a good racing motorcycle. I really do hope Ducati ditch the carbon frame.

Personally, I think the three aliens are very closely matched this year with things such as preferences for certain tracks and minor set up choices making significant differences.

That being said, Stoner is doing the business and showing he has a slight edge over his alien rivals so far.

who thinks Rossi isn't as fast ever is fooling themselves.

I think the 800's suit the smaller riders for one, and most of the other 3 aliens getting into the premier class right at or shortly before the switch to electronic laiden 800's. Rossi, Edwards, Capirossi, the elder riders, come from a different generation of bikes and much less electronics and TC. I don't think this is an excuse, just an observation. It's harder to teach an older dog new tricks than a younger one.

Hopefully Sic and Spies can come up to the level of the othe 4 and we'll see some real passing next year. Spies has mucho 1000cc experience for one and I'm hoping the displacement switch brings back lots of passing, multiple lines through a corner, and some fairing bashing!

The one thing these 800's do is take away throttle control. The best riders will still be the best but wouldn't it be nice to see the rider's right wrist controlling the full show so we could seperate the men from the boys.

I really wish next year they were banning TC and upping the fuel limits to 25 liters or more. Shame.

He may be POTENTIALLY fast, and I'm willing to believe that he is, given the right bike. But so might some kid currently doing stunts on a monkey bike outside Ulan Bator.
Arguing about whether someone would be fast if the world was not as it is seems a bit silly, since it can never be resolved.

What we do know is that Stoner and Lorenzo are fast and consistent and that Dani is sometimes fast but spends too much time falling down and getting injured. At the end of the year, I reckon we can say that the guy with the most points and holding the ugly trophy is, all in all in the current reality, the fastest.

Radical idea, huh?

I think the 800's suit the smaller riders for one.

Don't think I can agree with that when Rossi has won the 800s. The 3 you mentioned are all 30 plus 2 with children and 1 who doesn't have anything to prove anything anymore other than he can win on a Ducati. Whether that sits in the back of their minds you would have to ask them. I gave up my road riding after I had kids as I was getting punted off the road by trucks and I didn't want to not be there for my kids. So self preservation could play a part as you get older.

You can't go on to win two consecutive titles (2008-2009) on a new format (800cc) without adapting your riding style. Rossi has proven that he is able to win on any type of bike (500cc, 1000cc, and 800cc) Maybe next year Ducati can get things sorted and Rossi can fight for another title... My fingers are crossed, there is a lot of great riders with the potential to win races, so hopefully next year will be better racing.

I sure miss the days of the Michelin tires fading and riders having to control the slides in the final few laps, that was exciting!