2012 Sachsenring MotoGP Post-Race Notes: Sometimes, The Winner Gets Overlooked

There was one glaring omission from the post-Sachsenring round up I wrote on Sunday night. Well, two actually, but the biggest was that I neglected to give Dani Pedrosa the attention he deserved for a fantastic win, his first in over nine months. Pedrosa managed the race brilliantly, starting on a bike which had seen massive changes ahead of the race, and which he took a few laps to get accustomed to. He did so by dropping behind Stoner, and following in the wake of the reigning World Champion, until he was comfortable enough to make a pass. He accomplished this with ease, and the pair engaged in some synchronized drifting to the end of the race, when Pedrosa upped his pace and forced Stoner into an error. The Australian may have believed that he had the pace and the move to beat Pedrosa, but the fact that he crashed would suggest that Pedrosa was forcing Stoner much closer to the limit than the champion realized.

The win was important to Pedrosa, not just because he has not yet put pen to paper on the two-year extension of his Repsol Honda deal, but also because he felt he owed it to his team for all the hard work they have put in, he said. This year, he had felt very comfortable on the bike - chatter notwithstanding, from both the rear with the existing tire and from the front with new '33' spec tire - and he felt he had the pace to win. But every time there was always someone else who was faster on the day. Until Sunday.

"When you do 2nd or 3rd, always is a good feeling," Pedrosa told the media on Sunday, "but winning is the best feeling for the rider. When you win it's extra, you feel just perfect. Not only for me, but also for the people that work for you. They push hard, and maybe in a race it looks like you will win, but in the end you don't. This is so frustrating also for the mechanics, from my point of view. They give 100%, and if you can't win it's a little bit disappointing for the team, so I really want win always to give back something for all the support they give to me."

When Stoner crashed, there were some who thought that the rain might have had something to do with it. The rain did not really start to fall until after Pedrosa crossed the line, though the Spaniard said he knew it was coming, because of the sudden mass of flies splattered across his visor. In my ignorance, I asked him about the flies on his visor, never having realized that this was the case. "Sometimes you get one fly, two flies, and at the end of the race you have many flies," Pedrosa explained patiently, "but when they come so quickly this means the rain is coming." Thomas Baujard, French journalist for Moto Journal and ex racer, explained the phenomenon further: when the pressure drops suddenly, the moisture increases in the air, and both flies and birds start flying a lot lower due to the air pressure. "Obviously, when you are riding at 300 km/h it's not such a good idea to start looking up to see where the birds are flying," Baujard commented wryly, but the mass appearance of flies on your visor was a hint that it is about to get very wet. 

This kind of attention to detail is what marks out the very elite among racers. Riders will often speak of looking at the jumbo screens around the circuit to see what is going on, despite being engaged in hard battles at speeds that make most mortals tremble. Pedrosa once commented that he had been extremely concerned about the state of his tire, after seeing a shot of it on a jumbo screen during a race. He had recognized the orange wheel as belonging to a Repsol Honda, and his bike from the camera angle. The human mind is an incredible instrument, and racers at this level use their minds just as much as their bodies, picking up details wherever they can.

Speaking of tires, that was my other omission from Sunday. Despite taking a comfortable lead in the championship, and despite taking 2nd in the race, it was a highly irritated Jorge Lorenzo who appeared at the post-race press conference. He had known from the start of the race that he would not be able to match the pace of the Hondas, having no feeling at all with the harder of the two options. His own preference would have been to run the softer tire - "I was one and a half seconds faster with it in the morning warm up," he told the press - but Bridgestone had told him they could not guarantee the soft tire would last. Big problems were expected from the halfway point, Bridgestone had told both Yamaha riders, and though the tire would not have been dangerous, they were uncertain of the performance of the tire.

It worked OK for Alvaro Bautista. The Spaniard rode an outstanding race on the softer option to finish in 7th, after starting dead last on the grid. Jorge Lorenzo's team boss Wilco Zeelenberg was on Lorenzo's side, and had wanted to take a chance on the softer tire. "I would have gambled on the softer tire, but then I like a gamble," he told me. Lorenzo and his team had not had enough dry time to get the harder tire to work with the bike, with only Friday's FP1 and Sunday's warm up run in the dry. Their hand forced by Bridgestone, both Lorenzo and Spies had struggled, whatever the results sheet said. Zeelenberg summed it up succinctly: "Shit race, good result."

Bridgestone's advice had been based on the much higher temperatures that appeared during the race, but the PR disaster at Assen, where Valentino Rossi and Ben Spies had lost massive chunks from their rear tires, must surely also have played a role. Bridgestone is now playing it more conservatively once again, after having found themselves in deep trouble while listening to the requests of the Safety Commission and the riders for a softer tire that warms up more quickly. 

Bridgestone have reaped the rewards of being the sole tire supplier, but for the past couple of years, they have also suffered the disadvantages too. They took massive criticism when riders were suffering cold-tire highsides and hurting themselves badly; they fixed that this year, and now they are copping criticism for excessive tire wear and dangerous heat build up in the tires.

Whether the criticism is justified or not, or at least the amount of criticism they have faced is justified or not, there is a quick and deeply cynical fix, as employed in most other series which use a spec tire. In those series, riders are forbidden by contract from criticizing the tires, facing massive fines - five figures, it is said, in one championship - if they do speak out about it. That makes the tires look great in those other series, though former WSBK rider Cal Crutchlow has spoken more freely since moving to MotoGP. "Sometimes you would have five identical tires," the Brit told reporters recently, "and each one would feel completely different." At the time, he couldn't complain about it publicly, but no such constraints exist in MotoGP. If Bridgestone - or Dorna - wanted to remove the illusion that results are determined by tires, then imposing a fine on speaking out would be quick fix. It would be fundamentally wrong, just as it is fundamentally wrong in other series, but it would be effective. Let's hope they can rise above the situation and the temptation.

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Can anyone reconcile Jorge's statement that he was 1.5 seconds faster using the softer tire in morning warm-up? According to motogp.com, his fastest lap during warm-up was a 1'22.950 vs. 1'23.057 fastest race lap. I'm no math whiz, but don't see where that 1.5 seconds is hiding...

It's time for multiple brands of tires to make their way into the series again. They way you contain costs is this, teams can choose one tire maker for the year, they pay a set fee, same for all tire brands, and it's game on. This well help to keep everyone honest about the quality of tires.

Also I finally understand DORNA, the company is run the same way the Spanish economy is run, true voodoo economics. Never has so much potential for growth and sucess been thrown away by so few.

And is having random tires of the same brand chunking any better? Or having the tire mfgr tell you 'don't use that compound, we're not sure if it will last or not. it doesn't matter if your bike goes faster with that compound.'

There are many components on a bike that if not operating properly will have an influence on the race outcome. Why single out tires?

And not to mention that tires used to be the one place where GP development quickly made it onto the street. Asymmetric multi-compound tires are all thanks to the tire war years of GP. In the past several years we've had no significant developments in street tire technology. Why? Spec tire rules.

In fact, we've lost a major tool in overall bike development: the Q tire. The riders would go out on a tire that only lasts for 1 lap and push the boundaries beyond what even they think is possible. Then the engineers dig into the data from that one hot lap and try to pry the secrets out and make a bike and tire that can do it for an entire race.

Another loss is having a grid that is not largely determined by a bike's race configuration. Without Q's the bikes are gridded by performance on race tires so once the race starts there is not much passing because the riders are already gridded largely in performance order. With Q tires the starting order was mixed up by whoever could rip out a fast lap with the super softs which resulted in more passing as the race order reorganized itself by race setup performance as opposed to Q performance.

Spec tire=frozen technology=static grids=boring races. I'm in favor of tire wars again and if one manufacturer gets it wrong once in a while so what?


I'd be down with this as long as ... each company is required to give each team running its tires the same tire. One of the quickest ways to turn the field into haves and have-nots is to give one team the good tires, and give another team the OK stuff. That's how it has happened in the past, and it causes all kinds of problems in attracting sponsors, riders, etc. It is what the one-make tire rule is supposed to prevent. Competition between brands is healthy. The way it was prior to the one-company tire rule was, literally, anti-competition.

If the tire manufacturer makes all their typre types available to all the riders/teams they support then yes (also no overnights for a special rider). If the tire manufacturer only makes 2 or 3 tire types (like now) and dictates what is available to each rider/team then no.

Concur. I can remember the old days when Michelin would have tires for the special rider and then different tires for the rest of their runners. I can also remember Dunlop in the AMA handing out special tires to the riders who pleased them for marketing or whatever purposes and telling the other riders that those 'special' tires didn't exist. Dunlop embedded a color code near the bead of the tire so they could tell what tire was what; the stamp on the side of the tire was the same, special tire or not special, so they could continue the deception. There was a LOT of bitterness in the paddock over that.

If you think it's bad now, with factories dictating which riders get upgraded chassis, electronics, etc., throw in special tires for special riders and you may as well not run the races - the outcome will be in even less doubt than now. OK, that's an exaggeration, but not much of one.

p.s. agree with the fellow poster who thought that race kicked a$$. And Moto2 - Marquez is ready. As the announcer said, time for him to go play with the big boys.

Perhaps David could do a piece on tyre evolution, There appears to be many fairy tales surrounding what happened.. In WSBK even though it's a spec series I've heard that some teams get to use the latest developments before everyone else... As for the michelin tale I was under the impression that michelin flew tyres in for many riders/teams when in europe and rather than being a 'special' it was normal practice. Whether the satellite teams could afford it of course is another matter but plus ca change. There is even an argument that the old BS design tyre was originally designed with a single rider in mind and everyone had to adapt....
The old BS tyres were an anomaly in world motorcycle racing it is good they have gone as it potentially opens the championship up to outsiders.. They have had one problem with the new construction/compound( the rest tyre wear I suspect, something the riders haven't experienced for many years and could be confused with faulty) but have not had chance to fix it due to the proximity of the races and therefore erred on the side of caution, with hindsight (Bautista) it was possibly not necessary and of course if they had the weather they could have tested it out... Time and circumstance.. I have to say though I am surprised that Dani did his fastest lap on the penultimate lap that for me is bad news, aren't these tyres supposed to go off?? Hopefully it was again an over precaution..

Do we want to have a series to see what bike manages a specific tire the best or what bike manages a specific track the best?

Not only should tire selection be optional wheel size should be as well.

It's getting old seeing races decided by tire performance instead of bike/rider performance.

spot on firefly, this is motorsickle racing NOT tyre racing. despite b'stone being unbearable to do business with in oz, i reckon thay have done an outstanding job in motogp providing FAST rubber with just the odd pothole. all those who demand 100% perfection 100% of the time should wake up & join the real world.

"when the pressure drops suddenly, the moisture increases in the air, and both flies and birds start flying a lot lower due to the air pressure"

I have to admit that I find that explanation a bit unconvincing. Not that I doubt the observation, just the explanation.

David, you really check things out a bit more before repeating them! This is quite the most ridiculous theory I have heard in years, easily surpassing the garbage people believed about nuclear poisoning last year.

Yes, rain is often associated with low pressure systems. The pressure normally drops in the 24 hours before a storm arrives, and by about 2%. There is absolutely no significant change in air pressure at the moment the rain arrives.

As a journalist respected by most of your readers you need to filter out this type of tooth-fairy theories. Most of the people who read your article are by now probably repeating this to their friends, and so another myth is born.

Your analysis of weather is correct, but David was reporting what Dani said about knowing rain was coming? And the analysis was provided by a french journalist...

Did you know that?

1. Flies are not as active if the temperature is above 35 degrees - they tend to find a place to rest (like the shade under your hat with your carbon monoxide breath - they love this!)
2. Flies do not do anything much at below 20 degrees - they will die below 15 degrees unless they find shelter (usually provided by our fly friendly homes)

What happens when the temperature drops below 35 degrees and is above 20? You guessed it! Flies take to the air, they get active looking for food and mates...

So french journo's logic was wrong but David correctly attributed the explanation to him and Dani shows his experience and the application of his knowledge is probably correct. Dani's a world champ bike racer and he reacted to what he knows? "When many come so quickly, this means rain". No marks lost for David for reporting what the french guy said! Many makrs attributed to Dani! And some french journalist should really stop 'guessing'...

Here's one example found with a quick search:

"If birds are flying high in the sky, there will probably be fair weather. (Falling air pressure caused by an imminent storm causes discomfort in birds' ears, so they fly low to alleviate it. Large numbers of birds roosting on power lines indicates swiftly falling air pressure.)"

I don't think that the explanation given is such a tooth-fairy theory. I mean it makes sense, it's logical, although for some reason you argue it's not what's actually happening. But then I read here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cold_front) in the second paragraph that the meeting of cold and warm air masses causes an upward motion which results in lowered pressure AT the front of a cold weather / storm. And then here (http://www.weathermeasure.com/) that "Thinning air is harder to fly in. Birds "sit it out" before a storm."

I guess finding patterns in nature is much easier than finding the explanation but this thread is balancing between an interesting discussion and bashing somebody for being wrong, which I don't think is such a big sin anyway, especially if stimulating thinking, arguing etc.

Care to hear your side more clearly, you sound like you have knowledge about the topic. Maybe that 2% is important for birds? Maybe it can be more in extreme circumstances? Or maybe all this is indeed a popular myth that has also contaminated wikipedia (OMG!)

Oh, and to make the issue a bit more intriguing, bugs don't use air pressure to fly (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insect_wing#Aerodynamics), they displace air to gain thrust. In other words they rely on wind direction and air-density. And Dani certainly didn't hit birds but bugs. However they (bugs) seem to be a good indication of a storm (http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T120603002181.htm).

There has always been some sort of tire 'issues' even before the single-tire-supplier was instituted so it is what it is. Stoner played himself yet again when he crashed on Sunday leaving Dani to shine even more in front of HRC. DP26 probably has the pen in his hand right now to sign his new contract. With the current points status, Dani is a threat for the title now. With the 2nd half of the season at hand... this is Dani's shot to take the points lead and possible title from physically injured-Jorge and mentally injured-Stoner! Stoner's (continual) venting about MotoGP as a whole has done nothing besides making him look like a child having a tantrum! Carmelo should convince Stoner to stay another season but join the 2013 Factory Yamaha team next to Jorge! Dorna's ratings would go through the roof. Then we all can see who is the Best of the Best: Jorge vs Stoner (on equal machinery) vs Dani (and Marc)...

As the author says the real star was Dani, and he is perfectly correct, but over the years Dani has always had the speed, unfortunately for him he seems to have greater issues with small crashes than most. Whenever he takes a tumble, he breaks, and that's it for 3 or 4 rounds and the title hunt for him is over. Last year, he was super quick till he was taken out by Marco, its clear he will win if he isnt broken. Dani is one helluva rider!

All this talk of this era of motogp being boring, is just rubbish, I've been watching this for as long as its been on TV, I've flown around the world to take in rounds. And in my vast experience I can never remember seeing 4 (now temporiarily reduced to 3) riders so close, so capable, so fast and so clean!!! This is the greatest spectacle on earth at the moment - talented, endlessly brave young men, going handle bar to handle bar at 340kph? It gives me goose bumps... Name another sport where team mates could attack each on the track like Dani and Casey did on Sunday? Name it? So thrilling, so fast, so rivetting.. Its NOT entertainment, its in a different league...

My biggest concern has nothing to do with the sport, but rather this website, the author has done something we all love. However I feel he is 'getting frustrated' because some of us lower the tone with the Rossi or Casey bashing. If we dont raise our contributions in both tone and quality then he may sell or worse yet simply close it down... Trolls beware...

Speculation? Audi, Rossi and Casey for 2014? Ducati with the dream team and deeper pockets... hmm I'd like to see that!!!

I suspect if more of us subscribed, that might help his long term outlook.

Check the new badge upper right of my posts..

And thanks, I should've done it much sooner.

I used to really really dislike Dani. He just seemed miserable to me. Never a smile, always grim. And then he took out Hayden... Ooo baby, he was on my sh*t list (and I think a lot of other Americans)

But then, a few years later... during the post race press conference, right after the MotoGP race, the GP riders found out that Shoya Tomizawa had succumbed to his injuries; Dani gave the most touching, sensitive, and mature interview about the loss of a young rider. It really really touched me and I instantly gained a whole new respect for Dani.

By then, the Hayden thing was already water under the bridge so it was easy to like him more.

But, since then, he has kept growing on me and growing on me. He is a feisty little guy. To keep coming back from his injuries, always being so close to wins and titles - but never there, to constantly play second fiddle to guys he regularly beat in the lower classes. And yet he just seems to get happier and happier. He smiles a lot more, always has a positive attitude, and is genuinely interesting to listen to and always seems to offer intelligent and mature answers to questions during the interviews, and with a smile!

If I was to have a wish... it would be for Dani to grab the title from the much hyped Lorenzo and Stoner this year, no slight to them at all, but to me, it would be great to see Dani sneak in there and grab it.

Agreed, I think he's grown up over the last couple of years. He was jolly good on the Riders For Health ad at Silverstone too.

Shame about the 'cheating at exams' episode this year though (not good PR), but 'Captain Pugwash' was contrite about that too. I was really pleased he got a win at the weekend, he was coming in for some inexplicable flak this site last week, but HRC are about to put their money where it counts, and they know better than forum jockeys!

He rode a great race and induced the formidable Casey into a rare and costly error.

Good read. Dani is surely needed in the series!

I think MM hit it on the head regarding Stoner too. Casey's ego comes out a little stating he was going to make a pass at the last corner and win. Little did he realized Dani was setting the fastest lap of the race and pulling him along faster than he had hoped. I'm sorry Casey, but there was no way you were beating Dani on Sunday.

After years of Dani succumbing to the other aliens(and their will), it seems that Pedrosa has learned his lesson taken a page out of Rossi's book.....not leaving clear off in the distance, but sizing up the opponent and knowing you have 2-3 tenths when it counts.

I like Stoner a lot but I wonder(fear) what last year's outcome would have been if someone was close enough to race him week in week out. Very seldom does he have the battle till the end and come out victorious. This is when he has seemed to crash..... But it's not his fault no one was fast enough to stay close.:)

I want to thank the author.

I was actually logging in to post a comment to an early article that was 'Stoner this' & 'Lorenzo that', just to make the point that Dani was the star all weekend and deserved recognition.

I also truly appreciate sharing many of the the Pedrosa comments that you don't otherwise see in most Anglophile motorcycle media.

WRT the tyre issue...

I guess I didn't realize that Bridgestone picked what compound a rider went to the grid with {tongue firmly placed in cheek}

I have to speculate, but, I suspect seeing all his competition choosing the harder compound had more to do with Lorenzo's choice. (the old crew chief in me says; when in doubt run what everyone else is running)

I'm with ghostrider11; how quickly we forget the days of the problems that existed when we had multiple tyre manufacturers in the series.

I suspect you are right, but from the comments coming from Lorenzo's camp, it seems Bridgestone were the ones that caused that doubt.

I really agree with Backmarker61's comment. There's nothing in the MotoGP world I wish for more than Dani taking a championship; and for him to do it this year would be a jaw dropper for every fan. Yes, everything that has been said is true. He was once reckless, fragile, unemotional. But he has matured as a rider - and as a person. He is a formidable opponent, as Casey discovered this past weekend, and when he's on, he's a remarkable rider to watch. Spanish finesse at its finest.
I would hate for his role in the MotoGP history books to be similar to that of one of my other favorite riders - Randy Mamola. No one remembers second place.
Now I'm just waiting for Mr. Emmett to announce that two-year contract extension...
Best of luck, Dani.

I have huge respect for Dani.

I look at my life. Everything goes wrong. All the time! In time, I feel sorry for myself. Why is everything so unfair???

And then I look at this little guy. Huge pressure, elite level of racing, everything goes wrong... year after year.

And how the hell he always comes back?? After so much frustration for us and even more for him, so much pressure ... but he punches back, hard!

This guy really gives me the will to go on.

Huge respect to Dani and I hope from bottom of my heart he get championship. If not this year then the next.

And I personally as his fan don´t care for championship win. But I can see how much he want that championship.


Has anyone noticed the podium pecularity of how Lorenzo treats Pedrosa ? Often when JLo wins and Dani is second, after the spraying of bubbly etc and they stand atop for the photos, Lorenzo will give him hardly any room, and do his best to muscle him out of the way. given Dani's dimunitive stature, you can barely see him on some occaisons.

At the Sachsenring, even with Dani winning, Lorenzo did the same thing, using his left elbow and from the 2nd on the Dais position, he barged in front of Dani for the photos.

This makes me like Lorenzo a lot less. This is not his 'competitive nature' this is just Lorenzo being a douchebag.

Hail Dani, King of the Ring.