2013 Misano MotoGP Post-Race Round Up: An Imperious Lorenzo, Rookie Mistakes, And Remembering Shoya

If half a second is a long time around Misano, seven tenths of a second is almost a geological era. Jorge Lorenzo was lacking grip and braking stability on Saturday; on Sunday morning, Ramon Forcada stiffened the front to improve Lorenzo's braking, and the factory Yamaha man crushed the opposition in the warm up. Four hours later, the reigning world champion did exactly the same again in the race, destroying his rivals in the first three laps, and holding on for a victory that was both overwhelming and important.

The first three laps? Lorenzo probably won the race in the first 100 meters off the line. Lorenzo had fluffed his practice starts on Saturday, bogging down and not really getting off the line. On Sunday, he was so fast away off the line that he had two bike lengths before he had even changed up into second gear. By the time he crossed the timing line at the end of the first sector, he was already 0.4 seconds ahead. By the end of the first lap, he was 1.2 seconds ahead. It was already game over.

There was the small matter of the remaining 27 laps, of course, but Lorenzo controlled the race imperiously. Every time one of the Repsol Hondas chasing him got a little closer, Lorenzo responded, upping his pace to match either Dani Pedrosa or Marc Marquez, depending on who was leading the chase. The gap climbed to three seconds, dropped to two seconds, climbed again to four before Lorenzo crossed the line nearly three and a half seconds ahead of Marquez. It had been a typically Lorenzian performance, ruling the race with an iron fist, crushing the opposition before it even had a chance to consider trying to put up a fight.

Of course, this was the first race Yamaha used their seamless gearbox, so could Lorenzo's revival be attributed in any way to the new transmission? 'This was a seamless victory,' Wilco Zeelenberg, Lorenzo's team manager joked, before adding that he didn't think it had played that much of a role. 'He won the last race at Silverstone without the seamless,' Zeelenberg pointed out. 'I think he would have made the gap also without the seamless, but at the end of the race, it was also clear that he could do still 34 low, and even with a bit more tire wear at the end maybe Marc and Dani could have caught him if they were pushing. But I don't know, I can't answer.' In short, the seamless gearbox may have helped Lorenzo maintain his advantage at the end, but that wasn't why Lorenzo won the race. 'We were lucky to have full grip straight away, while the rest struggled with that, so I think that was the key to break the first three four five laps and make a gap.'

The other factor that helped Lorenzo win were the mistakes made by Marc Marquez as he chased. Marquez got a mediocre start, and then struggled through the first few laps with a full fuel tank. As he started planning his attack on Dani Pedrosa, who had got a start almost as good as Jorge Lorenzo's from the second row, Marquez ran wide and allowed Valentino Rossi through. He was soon back in front of the Italian, and ready for another attack on Pedrosa. He got past his Repsol teammate, but Pedrosa still had plenty of fight left in him, making Marquez' life difficult for the following five laps. Those who have accused Pedrosa of not being willing to take risks and put up a fight were shown the errors of their ways, Pedrosa's passes on Marquez as hard and clean as any Marquez put on him.

In the end, though, Pedrosa could hang on no longer. A lack of edge grip had troubled the Spaniard all weekend, and it left him powerless to resist in the fast corners. After a mistake he lost touch with Marquez, and was left to ride his own race. With Bridgestone bringing a new tire for the riders to test on Monday, aimed at improving exactly this area, perhaps Pedrosa can get back in the fight. 'If we can improve edge grip, maybe we can win races again,' Pedrosa had said after the race.

Marquez was unapologetic about the mistakes he had made after the race, pointing out that this was his first season in MotoGP - something which is easy to forget, as he breaks record after record, extending his record string of rookie podiums to twelve at Misano - and that making mistakes is what rookies do. That is how they learn, and given the rate at which Marquez is progressing, it must strike fear into the hearts of the opposition.

Valentino Rossi rode home to a lonely fourth, for the fourth race in a row. Looking, if not quite dejected, then certainly disappointed, Rossi explained once again that he is still struggling with the same problem, being able to brake the way he wants to and then get the bike turned. Braking stability is probably the Yamaha's biggest weakness at the moment, but Lorenzo's style disguises it best, braking early and smoothly, then releasing the brake early to carry as much corner speed as possible. But the fact that Lorenzo is complaining of the same issue as Rossi, who likes to brake late, deep, and then pivot the bike on the front wheel, shows that it is Yamaha's highest priority right now. Rossi had hoped for a podium at his home race, and had been pleased he had matched the pace of the top three throughout the weekend, and was disappointed not to get on the box in the race. 'Starting on the front row we expected a podium,' he said. But the podium had not come.

Behind Rossi, Stefan Bradl was happy to take fifth from Cal Crutchlow, after stalking him all race long. Both men had known almost from the start of the race that the outcome was inevitable, Crutchlow telling reporters that he knew the Honda is better in braking, and that Bradl would get past at some point. Bradl, in turn, knew that he could pass Crutchlow, but also knew he could not go any faster once he did. Instead of trying to push and using up his front tire, Bradl elected instead to play it safe, striking on the last lap to take fifth spot. Crutchlow, in turn, was not too unhappy at having finished sixth, after a run of difficult weekends. In response to queries whether he had officially got his mojo back, Crutchlow was cagey. Misano was one of his best races in terms of racecraft, the Tech 3 man admitted, as he hadn't made a single mistake all race. He had lapped consistently faster in the race than he had during practice, and was happy he had been able to maintain that rhythm comfortably. It may be the first steps on his road to recovery.

Lorenzo's win at Misano may not have broken open the championship once again, but it does make a rookie title for Marquez look a bit less inevitable. Lorenzo had achieved the objective he had set for himself, taking points back from Marquez to keep reducing the gap. The objective of the team was now simple, team manager Wilco Zeelenberg said. 'We have to wait and see if we can extend the fight to prevent him from being champion before Valencia. Then in Valencia, anything can happen.'

Pol Espargaro's race in Moto2 demonstrated exactly that. After giving away points to Scott Redding at Silverstone and losing some of the momentum he had gained at Mugello, the Spaniard struck back to great effect at Misano. While Takaaki Nakagami got away at the start early, and looked well on his way to his first ever Moto2 race win - that will surely come very soon now - Espargaro bided his time, held on to his rhythm, then pushed at the end to catch and then pass the Japanese rider. He went on to take a convincing win, while Redding struggled with the group behind the top three, crossing the line in sixth. With the win, Espargaro cut Redding's advantage back from 38 points to 23. 'In Silverstone I thought the title was impossible,' Espargaro said. 'Now, with five points every race I can be champion.'

The most poignant moment of the weekend came at the end of the Moto2 race. While the Misano circuit is surrounded with tributes to Marco Simoncelli, the local boy who died in Sepang and is beloved and honored by fans around the world, Nakagami stopped his bike close to the spot where Shoya Tomizawa was killed in 2010, and picked up a tribute flag. Clearly in tears, he rode around honoring the memory of his fallen compatriot, overcome by emotion, and passing on that emotion to all he watched. 'Shoya helped me,' Nakagami said of the race afterwards, expressing his feeling that Tomizawa had been with him as he raced. There had been small scale celebrations of Tomizawa's life at the circuit, with the Technomag team, who Tomizawa was riding for at the time of his death, having a remembrance wall inside their hospitality. Tomizawa was a charming, talented, lovable young man, and the first ever winner of a Moto2 race. Nakagami's tribute was a touching tribute to the cheery Japanese youngster who lost his life. It was a nice and timely reminder that all those who die while racing live on in the hearts and memories of the fans who watched them, and who they gave such pleasure to.

Misano is a wonderful location, near the beach, below the fairy tale republic of San Marino, at the heart of Italian motorcycle racing. But it is also a place tinged with tragedy, the track where Shoya Tomizawa died, where Wayne Rainey's career was ended when his spine was damaged, and named after Marco Simoncelli, a young man who died on foreign soil. It is a reminder of both the glory and the tragedy which motorcycle racing is capable of.

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Excellent article, David. Great stuff about the racing, and touching comments re: Tomizawa. Thank you.

It really got to me Nakagami's tribute. Shoya was a big loss to racing - his charming, smiling, humble approach disguised his fierce will on track.

Things I loved from Misano: 1. Jorge giving the young pup a smack. Down, boy! 2. Pol Espargaro. Seeing Pol's aeroplane after taking the chequered flag - I have missed that pure symbol of joy, it is so cool to watch... and the celebration with his brother Aleix in Parc Ferme - it is always a pleasure to see these two and their heartfelt support for each other. They feel each other's pain, and joy and they wear their hearts on their sleeve.

All that said I really would like to see Nakagami go one better... he deserves it !

When was the last time we saw Dani Pedrosa win the drag race to turn 1 at the start? He used to pull off that trick regularly but I don't remember the last time he managed it.

"Those who have accused Pedrosa of not being willing to take risks and put up a fight were shown the errors of their ways, Pedrosa's passes on Marquez as hard and clean as any Marquez put on him."

Actually for me this race solidified the idea for me that Pedrosa can't fight - it took him 5-6 laps to make his move on Marquez, Marquez got him back in 5-6 corners, and then Pedrosa faded away. Pedrosa doesn't take chances; he makes one calculated move and that's it. He was all over Marquez's back wheel lap after lap, but it took him forever to actually try a pass. To me that's not fighting.

Fitting tribute, David, from someone who takes the time to understand the hearts and minds of the broad family of motorcycle racing and communicates that with soul and passion and depth.

Good post race round up. One additional thought: I've really enjoyed the (mostly) clean racing and respect that the racers are showing one another this year. Seemingly genuine pats on the backs and hand shakes are being extended by and to all of the podium placers and those who didn't make the podium are congratulating those who did without any apparent resentment.

The racing has still been competitive with tough passes being made (at some races more than others of course) but it's much easier for me to cheer all of the riders on when I respect their character as well as their riding.

Yes, this batch of riders are a credit to the sport. I was at Silverstone for the whole weekend, they were genuinely thrilled at the turnout, and all came across well when interviewed on the main stage, I was very impressed, and not only at the usual crowd pleasers like Rossi, Edwards and Hayden. They also helped raise a lot of money for Riders For Health.

I think the racing has been much better this year, helped of course by MM, but racing is taking place all the way through. Rossi v Bautista at Silverstone was also brilliant.

Seems like there's always very good reason (excuse) a rider makes for not winning, making the podium, or at least beating their team-mate! Rossi can't brake the way he needs to, Pedrosa doesn't have edge grip, and Lorenzo needs more corner stability! But Marquez... made mistakes and I didn't win... move on! These riders are the best in the world on the best teams in the world... how is it that the rookie (MM93) seems to be a more mature veteran than others on the grid!? Lorenzo did a great job at doing what he does best. But if Marquez improves his starts and get ahead of Lorenzo so that they use up their tires battling earlier, Marquez will win consistently! 4 races to go to keep a 25+point gap... Go Marquez... upset the established MGP order.

He has stepped into most of someone else's team, a team that is brilliant in its execution, on the best bike and his two main rivals broke collar bones. But this will not always be the case, the pendulum will swing back, it always does, we will see how mature he is when things are not so sweet...

Rossi was a larrikin, and hilarious as he swept all before using Doohan's old team, but the pendulum swung. Personally I think Rossi has been very composed about his current predicament, baring some regrettable comments about Stoner's bike development skills prior to Rossi actually riding the duke, I think Rossi has been terrific in his maturity and acceptance of Marquez dominance. As I believe Pedrossa and Lorenzo have.

Lets see how Marquez behaves when things aren't right, he may be fabulous, then again he may not be either. Early days yet!

Besides, they all take my breath away at the island, I really dont care about their character when watching their talent.

I'm thinking things look pretty inevitable right now, barring of course crash or injury. Marquez can seal the title with three seconds and two thirds in the last five rounds, no matter what Jorge does, correct? Anyone really want to bet on Marquez finishing off the podium anywhere? And one win out of the next five races would just about seal things. Let's face it, the top four spots are going to the factory Yamahas and Hondas, and it looks like Rossi isn't going to be challenging for wins or even seconds.

Marquez with three 2nds and two 3rds will put him at 345. If either Dani or Jorge manage to win the next 5 in a row, they would have 344

Dani has done a decent job helping MM. Off the top of my head, Dani has finished in front of JLO in GP americas, jerez, assen, laguna, indy and brno. So that is 18 points JLO would have otherwise gotten. But Rossi has only finished in front of MM twice, in Qatar and Assen, taking 9 points of MM. That leaves JLO with a 9 point deficit because his teammate isn't as competitive as MM's teammate. I doubt this pattern will change this season making MM a lock for the title unless he bins it bad.

For either Dani or Jorge to have any chance of beating MM, Dani has to start taking some points off Marquez. Dani is pretty special at Motegi and Valencia, but Marc is is damn quick everywhere now so who knows.

I wonder if Marc will be level headed enough to just back off and get the podiums he needs without risking too much though. Marc really HAS crashed a lot this season, if luck turns against him he could easily find himself injured. also rain could yet play a big part in how things go.

Dani doesn't fight! Dani favorite song must be " i follow you" .
even in the second half of 2012 and only because of the 2013 honda in 2012 dani could challange Jorge, but for most races Dani sticks behind Lorenzo and when Jorge's tyres fade at the end of the race he made a move. there's no fighting spirit in him. we could even see this behavior this year. Sinds 2006 nothing stoner beating him the first year now marq beats him hell even hayden beats him, hrc thought dani could challange vale but it was another spaniard who did beat rossi and also "dani". this was his last year in motogp. i can't imagine hrc sticks with him after this year. Nakamoto said it him self.! give that bike to another rider willing to fight for the title

Old cliche. George has proven time and again he is the master of 'iron fist in the velvet glove'. Butter and hammer. Marc may well have challenged for the win had he got away at the start half decently.
Other issues and the championship. I don't see Dani taking it to George nor Marc after this one. That is not to suggest for one moment Dani can't or is unwilling to fight for it. Only a fool would question his gameness. The thing is,at 5 apiece Marc and George are carrying momentum into the final showddown without privelege. Dani enjoyed privelege post Indy last year viz a viz Stoner abscence. That gave him a good base against George in a final assault. George doing it against Marc is currently a different proposition. Marc has the 'Rookie' escape hatch bolted down to a tee. Absolutely no pressure in terms of anyything GP Factory. One would expect him to just coast to a 1st Gp title,but its not his game. The bloke loves winning above all else.
At Yamaha its a different story, 15 seconds adrift of George at Factory Yamaha was Rossi. I for one am sick and tired of the front end issue chucked up again again.. Crikey. No doubt,Dovi,based on evidence of 2012 would have been a way better bet in terms of Factory M1 than Vale.
6th placed man elevated to 4th man, by virtue of kit sums it up for me.
Agreed, the SPECTACLE needs the ever present threat,the hopes and dreams.

For ducati. Honda already introduced earlyer the 2014 prototype. And after the 2014 prototype honda again introduced a brand new prototype witch i believe is the 2015 prototype. Now Yamaha have also introduce the 2014 prototype. Ducati wil, like gobmeier said introduce the 2014 bike in 2014! Audi realy needs to step it up. And also ditch that stupid desmodromic system. F1 pneumatic, motogp pneumatic. And why? A lower gravity because of the lighter engine. Lower gravity no understeer! How long does it take audi to understand. They have to leave the stupid traditionale ducati stuff to be competative. Well maybe they should not. Funny to see them struggeling. Btw im saying that duc needs to change the engine for over a year now. Same with the monocoque frame it was doomed to fail. Same with the engine because its to heavy.

The GPC need to ditch the rev limitation and fuel limit viz a viz desmo/pneumatic.
I guess 10 years will go by and you will still not ride a pneumatic valve train bike on the way to work. I ride a Desmo everyday. It works like a shifting spanner or toque wrench or Rolex watch,not an I-Phone, thats the allure and why Audi bought them out. How long Ducati remain in GP is a moot point, but as Fed currency proved to be a joke again and again,gold, Ducati's and Rolex's will remain big bang for your buck. Where are Suzuki and Kawasaki? Well. Who invests in Seiko watches anyway?.
I'm buying a MotoMia 250cc dual purpose bike to undertake an 8000km trip in Africa to revisit some old stomping grounds.
Bike is about $1200 local and made in China I believe. By all accounts from those who have done it...solid as a rock. Now why the hell would I bother with a KTM/Honda or Yamaha at 10X the price, whist outfits like Kwak and Suz don't even compete in MGP.
Afterall,HRC and Yamaha claim they race on track to develope for the road. Truth is they race for profit not the road. Can't blame 'em,its an expensive venture as Ducati have found out.

Dont talk rubbish pittbull. And watches? Well lets talk about that. Witch factory performs like a seiko on track? Aswell in sbk as motogp? Yes its your so called rolex, now i dont think rolex wants too be seen as a duc. and it seems that with some extreme looking fairings (panigale) its not gonna be competative. Ducati made some good commercials with "checkmate" and now in this case it seems the seiko has destroyed the rolex compleetly. Duc gave you so called fans an concept doomed too fail, a cheap monocoque with some very tiny fairings. And fans bought it. Duc is circus watch that trys to look like a rolex. Still the engine is the most evil part of the bike right now. Audi will soon change it maybe even 2014.