2012 Laguna Seca Saturday Round Up: Lorenzo's Blistering Pace, Stoner's Traffic Problems and Rossi's Ducati Offer

Despite dominating the championship so far, Jorge Lorenzo does not get a lot of pole positions. Except at Laguna: though this was only his third of the season, Saturday's pole position was Lorenzo's fourth in a row at the circuit, and he secured it in convincing style. The circuit record tumbled - it had stood since 2008, set by Casey Stoner when he looked on his way to dominating the US GP at Laguna, before his run in with Valentino Rossi. There has been much complaining about the Bridgestone tires of late, yet both Lorenzo and Stoner beat the pole record on the tire they will probably race on, a pole record set on super-soft special qualifiers, which at a track like Laguna Seca you could just about eke two laps out of before they were finished. In reality, there's not so much wrong with these tires.

The pole record could have been beaten by a lot more, but Casey Stoner kept running into traffic each time he went for a fast lap. Up by a tenth or more at each split a number of times, he would suddenly run into a rider cruising, or a CRT machine on a hot lap, and lose out. On his last attempt, he ran into Danilo Petrucci just before the final corner, working his way swiftly past to take pole from Lorenzo with a couple of minutes to go. But Lorenzo would not be denied, pushing hard in the final sector to get pole back from Stoner in the dying moments.

Afterwards, Stoner was annoyed and frustrated, saying that if it hadn't been for the traffic, he could have had pole. He may be right, but it may not matter: Stoner was fast on softs when qualifying, but Lorenzo's race pace is once again utterly oppressive, as it has been all year. The Yamaha man set his fastest lap of the weekend on his third lap out of the pits during qualifying, going on to crack the 1'20 barrier two laps later. His race pace is high 1'20s, low 1'21s, and the only man who can follow him is Dani Pedrosa. The Repsol Honda man is very happy with the new chassis he tested at Mugello, based on the version of the bike originally planned to be introduced in 2013, and is fast with the bike. So fast that he will race it on Sunday.

Stoner, on race pace, is a couple of tenths slower than the two Spaniards, but is confident of being competitive. The Australian had spent a lot of time working on the hard tire, the tire that he does not like, and felt that he and his crew had achieved a good pace on it. The soft worked well enough anyway, and so whatever the temperature, he believes he can run with Lorenzo and Pedrosa.

Behind the three front runners, there is a fair gap. Where Lorenzo and Pedrosa are running low 1'21s, with Stoner not that far off, Ben Spies, Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso are running high 1'21s and low 1'22s. Spies has the added handicap of being badly shaken, having sprained his ankle in a monster highside at Turn 3 and suffered a minor concussion. He will be fit to race, but at Laguna's tight and twisty circuit, giving the riders no place to rest, he is in for a very tough afternoon.

The Ducatis are in a bit more trouble. Though Nicky Hayden is not far off the pace of the Yamahas - the second group, not Lorenzo, who is in a world of his own - Valentino Rossi is struggling. The problems are the same, Rossi said: once they put a new soft tire in, they simply cannot find the extra few tenths that would move them up the grid, the extra time that everyone else - including teammate Hayden - seem to find without too much trouble. Bearing this in mind, Rossi spent most of the session working on race pace, which puts him pretty close to the group of Yamahas. Rossi's problem is that he and his crew face a dilemma: the bike is spinning up too much, and so they are moving weight backward to conserve the tire and improve drive. When they do that, Rossi loses front end feel and can't get into the corner fast enough.

Part of the problem is that the parts that were supposed to have helped solve the problem - a revised positioning of the ECU and fuel tank, and parts meant for the inlet tract to help smooth power delivery - have not all be supplied on time and tested. A few parts are being used, but much more is to come "in the second half of the year" according to Vitto Guareschi. But Ducati have been promising this for a while, and each time new parts are promised, they take longer than hoped to arrive. This weekend is a massive weekend for Valentino Rossi, and one which could prove decisive for his future. He is due to meet with Ducati CEO Gabriele Del Torchio to discuss some "details" for next season. One of those details is the basic salary of his contract, with Ducati rumored to be offering the Italian 17 million euros a season to stay at Bologna. The money is likely to be the least important detail - Rossi's base salary forms well under half of his income - the more significant details being what goes on at Ducati Corse, and the influence Audi will bring to bear on that department. His choice will come down to whether he believes Ducati can turn the project around and build a competitive bike. So far, the signs are not good, but walking away risks losing his reputation as a rider who can develop a bike. Whether the fault is his or Ducati's will not be recorded in history, only that the Italian was incapable of making it competitive.

Ducati is already looking to the future. Andrea Iannone and Danilo Petrucci are set to test the Desmosedici at Mugello next week, with rumors that Scott Redding might be at the very same test. Ducati's plans for a junior team - plans confirmed to MotoMatters.com by Ducati team boss Alessandro Cicognani at Mugello - are taking shape, with the full details likely to be settled by the time the paddock lands at Indianapolis. With Nicky Hayden staying on for continuity, Ducati must be hoping that throwing a gaggle of fresh young riders at the problem. They might get lucky like in 2007. Or they might not...

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Ducati can't seem to find the time or will to make a few new parts given a time frame of several months, even if it means losing Rossi. If I were he, that's all I would need to know.

... for God's sake, surely 17 million euro's could buy you the 0.5-0.7s that's been missing from Ducati's times?

Rossi can't find it - that's been proved over the past 18 months or so.

I can't believe that they'd allow Spies to race after a concussion, minor or not. It's been proven that the effects of concussion can take several days to work out, with football players reporting that it's only by the 3rd week that they feel 'right' again and that the only reason they play on before then is the result of coach and peer pressure.

I know Dr Costa is a legend amongst the riders, but there comes a time when he must insist and stop a rider from going out. Spies looked shaken and groggy both at the trackside and the pit garage after the accident.

It might only have been minor, but concussion is serious, both for the rider and anyone who happens to be around should there be an accident.

I can't see how Spies could be considered fit to race after having a concussion just yesterday. Surely this needs to be looked at. No one recovers from a concussion (minor or not) in 24hr time.

Has in been confirmed that Steve Rapp will be allowed to race? I thought I read so but wasn't 100%. He's made up time every time out so theres hope he may not be the last CRT. Speaking of CRT's the same slow guys were out on Lorenzo's lap as they were during Stoner's. I still don't understand how even coming in second in qualifying he finds the need to place blame somewhere. Does this help him sleep at night or something?

There is such a thing as just having a bad run with traffic, Spies and Dani had it early this year and Stoner most definitely had issues in both practice and qualifying this weekend. I don't think Stoner was suggesting they were out to get him, just that he kept running into them. Jorge seemed to dodge the traffic better this weekend but there's not much you can do about it either way when there's both guys cruising
around for a tow and very slow CRT bikes circulating

Yes, Stoner did complain about the traffic, a little more than Lorenzo but whinge they both did. However Vale was in fine whinging form as well.

Perhaps pressure to perform, the sheer 'life risking' process they go through and their endlessly driven competitive character combine to cause them to vent. Personally, I dont know why they are expected to accept an interview after almost EVERY session... Surely 2 times in a weekend is enough? They are young men, a group in our society not known for their diplomacy... with age they mellow, just the way it should be, but cut them all some slack.

He made a comment about pole, and that he could have gone faster.
He doesn't agree with CRT, which is one of the reason's he's gone at the end of the season.
Nothing he said is not factual.
Journalists ask questions and he answers them.
Sure he sleeps well knowing what he's done with his life. What about you, champ?

"Whether the fault is his or Ducati's will not be recorded in history, only that the Italian was incapable of making it competitive."

So true, so true.


That's the beauty of living throughthe eras,is the stats don't get to con you. I've seen enough of ducati to know they can't do it. They only had to show up with a few parts for the first time this year and failed totally. All they have to offer are things they don't have to deliver, namely audi's influence and phil Morris millions. . Vale you've been to Ducati you've told them, they haven't listened. Their loss. Please go to Honda. Their only chance I suspect next year, will shuhei roll the red carpet after gorges pole against next years honda with this years yam.?? Be mad if he doesn't.

If Rossi switches from Ducati to Yamaha and beats Ago's record, no one will care that the Duc sucked (except Ducati). only that he has the most wins in history.
And the truth is, riders don't develop bikes, they give feedback. The bikes are developed on, drawing boards in computers, wind tunnels, machine shops, and on test tracks, then with rider input the keep pushing forward. And Rossi can keep trying to play football with a golf ball all day but in the end it's a fucking golf ball and if YAMAHA is offering the right tool for the job and Ducati can't, JUMP SHIP. The first time he wins a race all will be forgiven.

>>Whether the fault is his or Ducati's will not be recorded in history, only that the Italian was incapable of making it competitive.<<

It's irrelevant at this point. Big ego or not.
Personally, I don't think that's something to label on a rider's history, especially in this era where technology/electronics are so more important and intrusive, that the so called "bike/rider importance equation" became much heavier towards the machine side.

Ducati had over 18 months to make a (propper) revolution and step up the game, something that Stoner asked them to, as other riders did, once upon a time. It was (and is) a necessity.
But they haven't.
It was not just with Rossi where this failed. And it's not just a matter of delivering bits and pieces in time, it's a matter of self-inspection, attitude, facing mistakes and wrong philosophy, and fix that. Start anew, if it comes to that.
Maybe Ducati, with VAG's money and influence, will make a propper winning MotoGP bike in the next coming seasons.
Maybe they won't.

Regarding Rossi's contract for 2013 and all this "silly season" novel, perhaps all that we have to look at is at Eddie Lawson in his final two years of career at Cagiva.
And notice that Cagiva differed a lot from the current Ducati. They did not fear to experiment and change back then, on and on, whenever they -or their rider- felt it was worth the expense. Heck, and with a much smaller budget!
We all know now that Lawson never set the world on fire with Cagiva, as much as he did help improve it a lot and achieved some really decent (and consistent) results with it.

I don't think Rossi should gamble, again, with another lottery ticket of "maybe's" and "if's" for the next season with Ducati.
Give him the factory Yamaha M1 (bringing his crew and the much needed sponsors to Yamaha and all). From the given list, it's the only possible deal where all parties involved will gain.
He'll be happy making podiums, perhaps winning races again.
Just like Lawson would have if he didn't go to Cagiva and had remain at the top Yamaha team (Roberts/Marlboro) or returned to Honda (HRC/Rothmans, w/ Kanemoto).

I also think that -using a Cagiva analogy- now that Ducati have had their own atempt with an "Eddie Lawson" (with Rossi), it's time for them to find their own "John Kocinski" (insert some other talent name).

One of the very few riders I never liked, he had a reputation of 'wrecking the engine' by over revving if he thought the bike wasn't up scratch, in order to punish his team... I also remember him beating Mick Doohan in Australia (not easy at any time) in a GP while riding the Cagiva, the engineer that was specially introduced for just a single race was the Australian legend (Carruthers), after winning the race he immediately re-retired attributiing his need to leave at the feet of Kocinski - an immensely talented but deeply flawed individual.


hehe... that Kocinski fella was really an odd character, looking at some stories told by other riders and team staff.

Anyway, what I ment with the "Cagiva analogy" is that, now that Ducati have had a go with a very experienced, multi-champion rider (Rossi, as was Lawson), perhaps they might be better giving their bike to a younger rider, highly ambitious, talented and ferocious, to deliver to them the sort of "winning out of rage" first victories, like Kocinski did with the Cagiva, after Lawson. ...no personalities or temper tantrum resemblances needed! :-)

Lorenzo is simply awesome on the Yamaha at this point in his career, and how much will it mess with Rossi's head if he returns to Yamaha, but can't find the tenth or two needed to beat his team-mate? That's why I wonder if a works satellite Honda would be a better bet, it'd be a new bike to learn, and easier to have new excuses until his confidence is 'up there' again. Where-as the Yamaha still has his DNA in it, and the immediate expectation would be top step of the podium. I just don't see the Ducati as his best option, imho.

Tick tock, tick tock...

In a world crashing in recession, 17 million Euros seems like a LOT of money. There is no way Yamaha would be offering even half of that, perhaps a third at best - and even that would be a maybe. So if Valentino returns to Yamaha a beaten man, it certainly will not be for the money. It will be because he feels a need to redeem himself. And with Stoner gone, that will be much easier.

I can run 10th or worse for a whole lot less..

Surely the only credible option at this stage is struggle through on 4 or 5 million and tip the rest into the bike. Then when it is capable of winning (like it used to be..), or Vale is capable of winning on it, he takes bonus payments, or repayments or shares or whatever floats his boat?

Shows commitment, provides a part of the solution if it succedes, cloaks himself in glory etc etc.

Having previously been unhappy to race Georgie on equal equipment, with the tantrum wall in place, a return to Yamaha can't really be the rosey-tinted past he, (or is it just his myopic fans?), wishes for.

In the meantime, Go Casey..

Only because I feel that he has gone far too long being uncompetitive and that surely must begin to affect a rider who has gone from being one of the aliens, to someone mixing it mid pack.
So far all the history books has shown is Casey Stoner has been the only rider capable of taking the Ducati to a world title, no one else has ever come close! No one!

And if Rossi feels like it is more important to try and address the history books by bringing a world title to them, I suspect it will take longer than the 2013 season to make that happen.
Ducati and Vale and crew should just be known as a failed experiment, give Stoner his credit for his achievements and get Vale back on a bike we know he can push to the limits and see if he really still has it.

Dont get me wrong I am a huge fan of Ducati but this isn't working for me, the fans or Vale.

Rest assured that when Ducati signs a comptent rider in the next couple of years, they will be making regular podiums and it won't be due to rossi making "the bike rideable for everyone" over the last two years as the trained seals ape on these forums for the last two years endlessly.

And I don't mean Dovisioso by any means whatsoever.

17 votes and only one star. I think you need to throw more fish to the seals :)

Unfortunately, Ducati are simply not going to attract competent riders... so as much as I'd love to see Ducati racing at the front, it just isn't going to happen. If Rossi leaves, Ducati may even pull out at the end of 2013.

Hello David,

Do you know how the numbering system in MotoGP works, in F1 it seems that the championship winning driver wears the no 1 plate and his teamate has the right to wear no 2 do you know if this is the case in motogp, for example if Jorge lorenzo won this years championship would it be possible for him to demand from yamaha that Rossi wear the number 2 plate if he is signed or maybe he could insist he wear 6 or 7.

Thankyou PrinceofRepsol.

The system is different in MotoGP. The numbers are individual and stay with the rider even when they switch teams, unless there is already a rider who 'owns' the number. That's why you will see Rossi has raced with 46 across different teams, Casey with 27 etc. The championship winner may choose to wear the No 1 - or not. And his team-mate doesn't get the No 2 - unless of course he has actually come second in the championship the previous year.
Thanks to this system, riders and their numbers are better associated with each other - presenting marketers with a better opportunity for branding and creating more merchandise.

Hayden is improving, he's half a second faster than in last year's qualifying, on the other hand Rossi is 3 tenths slower than on the GP11.
Yet Nicky is still 6 tenths slower than Stoner's qualifying on the carbon-framed GP10.
Not to mention over a full second slower than Stoner's outright lap record on the treillis GP8 (and qualifying tires of course) that just got beaten this weekend.
That has to be worrying when a manufacturer is still struggling to match times from 2-3 seasons ago...with 200cc less.

rossi left because he couldn't beat jorge heads up. he knew he needed a bike with an edge somewhere on the track that he could exploit. he knows he cannot go back, it will be the same. he is stuck with ducati, and is simply posturing for the best terms...

I don't think they got lucky at all. Had they not got Stoner they would have been more likely to accept there was something deeply wrong with their bike. This would have stopped them going in the wrong direction for the next 4 years.

I think it was us, as MotoGP fans, who got lucky in 2006 when Stoner moved up to the class.

...even Casey couldn't ride the carbon frame Ducati without crashing more often than not, so that needed fixing, and yet when Casey pointed that out, they ignored him. It could be argued that this is what happens to you if you have a reputation for being a whinger, but I think it's probably just Ducati being Ducati. I'm sure that if Rossi could replicate what Stoner was doing on the bike then he would have done so, and would presumably be winning on it already, but clearly he can't, and nor has anybody else who has ridden a Ducati. I bet if they had their time again knowing what they know now, Ducati would have spent more time blowing smoke up Stoner's arse to keep him on their bike...

I got the distinct impression that Rossi was both dismayed and extremely angry when he got on the GP12 and discovered that they had ignored all his feedback last year and basically designed a GP11 in steroids.

At this point, Ducati have demonstrated an unwillingness or inability to deliver what he asks for and believes he needs. If you hire the GOAT + Jeremy Burgess and his technical team for an immense sum of money and then ignore what they ask for then you are surely very, very dumb; either you are ignoring them because they aren't worth all the money you are paying them, or you are wasting their priceless feedback...

In short, unless Audi are going to sack people at Ducati HQ to enforce a change of attitude for next year, Rossi cannot trust that anything much will change, and he doesn't have the time to take a punt on it if he is going to take that win record...

In short, he's gone...

Come on guys, get your facts right regarding Burgess' 90 second comment!

What he actually said was that if he had the same problems Ducati were having with Rossi's bike (THE YAMAHA) He would be able to fix them in 90 second. Its a very different comment from saying he could fix the Ducati in 90 seconds. He was referring to his own own bike at the time. Unfortunately these comments have been twisted over time, by the media and fans having an axe to grind!!!!

“Difficult to say, without knowing where the weight is on the bike and how it behaves. But, without question, I don’t anticipate any major dramas. I can watch some of these lesser riders on the Ducatis and you can see that the bikes are, in my opinion, unsuitably set for what they want to try and do with them. I’m not saying anybody’s doing a bad job. I see these things wobbling around. When I think, clearly, if we had that issue with Valentino it’d be fixed in 80 seconds, but some riders don’t like the hardness of the bike, because they don’t get the feel. But then when they’re riding around and it’s too soft they’re not going forward either. So you’ve got to be able to create the feel with the hardness to avoid all that sloppiness. I don’t think there are any issues in the bike that are a big worry to me. I think the bike is just a tool to do your job. You sharpen the tool at the race track, you don’t build it. you should be able to adjust it to what Valentino wants. And until we’ve got a race or two under belts, we won’t really know how close we are or how much better we’ve made it. but if we can make it, as it stands here today, good for Valentino, then it’s probably not a bad bike. Then we just have to wait and see what happens.”


I'm not so sure it makes sense for Rossi to go back to Yamaha. Look who they are developing the M1 for. Not Rossi. His time was 2004-2009. Yamaha have moved on to the Lorenzo era since 2010 and won't be developing a bike for a previous champion no matter who he is. Rossi needs to continue on with Ducati. This bike (GP12/13) is being developed for him (as we're made to believe) and he simply has no choice but to see this project through. His final legacy may be a few more race wins on a bike "no one else" could win on-the bike that ended GP careers for other great riders (Melandri, Gibernau, Hodgson). Tame the beast and retire. Leave a legacy for future young guns to continue racing a Ducati in Moto GP. Probably not a bad way to be viewed in history.

It is definitely a point. If you look it from another perspective he had already won everything possible both with Yamaha and Honda ... so some more victories with a japanese company wouldn't add much to the legend (unless he is after Ago's record).
Turning Ducati into a successful bike would mean much more.
I hope he stays .... also for Ducati because I fear not many would be so happy to ride it and not many sponsor to back it. And we do need them on the grid (possibly plus some others).

David, any news on what Nicky's deal was? I realize that Rossi's worldwide marketing value is great, but I hope given Rossi's reported 17m Euros that Nicky isn't getting crumbs.

Well, Stoner rode for Ducati in 2007 for less than $100,000 plus bonuses (and he sure collected on the bonuses), so I guess Hayden's salary would fall somewhere between $100k and $17m... : )

If I were Rossi and there were any chance of getting a Factory Yamaha seat, I wouldn't walk but run from Ducati. Even though the odds of beating JL next year are slim, the *opportunity* for wins and podiums will be there. If the contract contains a clause stating he must clean JL's toilet, swallow some humble pie and sign it!

Ducati has demonstrated nothing other than the ability spend millions to achieve nothing. They cling to vestiges of the past (their 90 deg engine) while ignoring feedback from all their riders, not just Rossi.

IMO Rossi will never come to grips with the Ducati in anything resembling its current form. His riding style is smooth and very front end biased, completely opposite Hayden/Stoner and opposite what the bike requires to work. To spend the next two years trying to make that dog perform would be a terrible waste IMO.

The money that has been reported to have been offered to Rossi is utterly insane, no matter how you look at it. Simply as a racer, as a guy how has been employed to ride the Ducati, he does not seem to be any faster than Hayden...so wht pay him 8 or 10 times the money that Hayden makes???

OK, lets agree that Rossi has this gigantic following of lemming like fans who watch his every move and are supportive of his sponsors...undoubtedly, on the world stage a greater and more fanatical following than Hayden...so this is worth something...may be a lot. On the other hand, as nearly as I can tell, Rossi's presence has done nothing positive for Ducati. As I read the stuff on this forum and elsewhere, Ducati is held up as a failure because they can not produce parts fast enough for the GOAT and his crew. They are viewed as a failure because they can not consistently compete with these gigantic Japanese corporations which are free to deploy budgets many multiples greater than Ducati. Ducati has been held up to scorn for retaining their unique engine configuration. And then, at press conference after press conference, the GOAT complains because they haven't built him a Yamaha.

Please, let's hope that the GOAT turns down the money and goes back to riding a UJM, and Ducati can go back to perfecting their unique vision of what a motorcycle should be. If they can not beat the Japanese, so be it. Let's just hope that they don't join the competition.

Never cared for the winging but watching Stoner ride that bucking Honda to the limit you cant help but emphathize with him. These guys put everything they have on the line to be the best every time they are out there. To have that kind of effort thwarted by bikes which shouldnt be on the same track must be demoralizing. I understand pole isnt critical for the race but it does usually guarantee a dramma free start for the pole sitter & I still believe it is a matter of pride for these guys.

"....but if we can make it, as it stands here today, good for Valentino, then it’s probably not a bad bike. Then we just have to wait and see what happens."

I hadn't seen/noticed that before - seems like Burgess must have told someone it's not a good bike then?

For someone as experienced and talented as Burgess I always wondered why he made that foolish 80/90 sec. statement. The above and your copy make it all a lot more sensible.

OK Jerry - back on the pedastal.