2013 Motegi MotoGP Sunday Round Up: On The Unpredictability Of Racing, And Why You Should Never Trust Pundits

There have been occasions over the past few years when I have asked Nicky Hayden how he manages to find the motivation to keep racing every Sunday. His answer is always the same, whether I have asked him after a surprise podium, or after coming in tenth: 'You never know what can happen in the race. That's why we line up.' Hayden is living testament to his own deeply driven mixture of ambition, hope and determination. His 2006 championship was won against the odds, and against the greatest rider of the period at the height of his powers.

Sunday's races at Motegi - indeed, the races at all three of the flyaways - have been a shining example of the vicissitudes of racing. In all three classes, the presupposed script was torn up and thrown away. In Moto3, young men facing pressure made major mistakes. In Moto2, one astounding comeback met with disaster, another astounding comeback met with triumph, and a championship. And in MotoGP, the champion elect as of a couple of races ago is finding himself having to fight for his title. The season is only over once everyone crosses the line for the last time at Valencia.

It has been a lesson in humility for MotoGP pundits, and for this pundit in particular. I, like most of my colleagues, parroted the line that Motegi was a Honda track, and that the Yamahas would struggle at the circuit. Apparently, Jorge Lorenzo did not get the memo, for the reigning champion took pole on Saturday and then victory on Sunday, setting the fastest lap along the way. The method by which he did so was breathtaking in its audacity, and almost painful to watch for its cruelty.

Lorenzo fired off the line from the start, tried to pull a gap, and when he was caught by the Hondas, started cranking up the lap times until they could no longer match his pace. It was a picture perfect example of applying pressure to his opponents while leading, ratcheting it up until they crack under the strain. It is unfortunate that it is more tense than exciting, and makes for interesting viewing more for connoisseurs than for casual fans, but the effort, talent and sheer determination involved is beyond measure.

Was this his best race, Lorenzo was asked? '51 victories is a lot to remember,' Lorenzo said, 'but one of the best for sure.' It was one of the happiest days in his career, he added, taking Yamaha's 200th victory at the track owned by Honda. He turned up at a circuit where the Hondas were expected to dominate, and he crushed them, beating them despite being on clearly inferior machinery. With its hard braking zones, high top speed and low gear corners, Motegi is clearly a Honda track, as Lorenzo delighted in pointing out. Of the top five finishers, four were on a Honda. Only one was not, and he finished first.

Though this was Yamaha's 200th premier class win, victory clearly belonged to Lorenzo rather than to Yamaha. Given where the other Yamahas finished, Jorge Lorenzo is the major differential factor in performance. If you take away the laps where Valentino Rossi ran off the track and compare Rossi's race time for laps 4 to 24 to Lorenzo's for the same period, Lorenzo is nearly 16 seconds faster, or the better part of a second a lap quicker. Part of this is due to Lorenzo's tire choice, choosing to run the soft tire rather than the hard, a gamble that turned out to be the right one for the edge grip which Yamaha needs. Part of this is down to Lorenzo's style, braking earlier and more smoothly and keeping the bike more stable, allowing him to brake harder, and also being more smooth with the throttle, consuming less fuel in the process and therefore having more power throughout the race. But most of all, it is down to Lorenzo's talent. With the equipment he has at his disposal, he shouldn't be anywhere near the Hondas. But he is, every week. What Yamaha would do if Lorenzo were to leave or be injured does not bear thinking about, if you are Lin Jarvis. The Yamaha boss will have to dig deep into his pockets if he is to keep the world champion after his contract expires in 2014.

So Lorenzo takes the championship fight to Valencia, as was the plan all along. In Aragon, Lorenzo's team boss had told me that this was their aim, to prevent Marquez from wrapping up the title before the final race, and then going into Valencia hoping for an eventful race. 'Anything can happen,' Zeelenberg said. That is a universal truth in racing, as the Moto2 and Moto3 classes demonstrated. Lorenzo will need something to happen, as Marquez can wrap up the title with a fourth place, and getting two bikes between himself and Marquez is profoundly difficult.

Valentino Rossi tried to help Lorenzo today, getting a superb start and slotting his Yamaha in behind his teammate, but ahead of the two Repsol Hondas. Lacking Lorenzo's smoothness in braking, however, Rossi struggled with the brakes, and let Marquez and Pedrosa by, then dropping even further as he ran completely into the gravel. Despite the 340mm carbon disks, he simply lacked power in braking. In part this is due to the different style the Yamaha requires, and in part due to his heavier weight, something which Cal Crutchlow also complained of. At Motegi, the Yamahas were overheating their brakes and lacking braking pressure, and that lost them ground against the Honda. All of the Yamahas except Jorge Lorenzo, of course.

The biggest losers at Motegi were Marc Marquez and Honda. Marquez less so than HRC, mainly because he salvaged what there was to salvage, and made it home in one piece and in second place. Marquez had the disadvantage of racing at Motegi with no experience on a MotoGP bike here, a track which is radically different in the various classes, due to the differences in speed, weight, and braking distances. Marquez had no reference points, he didn't know where to brake and where to turn in. Normally, he told reporters, this was what he spent his time learning on Friday, but as Friday was canceled, he had to learn one set of references in the wet on Saturday, then had 50 minutes to learn another set in the dry on Sunday morning. That he was still learning them was obvious when he crashed during Sunday practice, losing the front on a cool track as he searched for braking spots. At least he was prepared for next year, he told reporters.

The roots of Marquez' failure to wrap up the title lie of course in Phillip Island. 'I didn't lose the moment today, but at Phillip Island,' Marquez told reporters. 'Here I gave the maximum, and I'm satisfied with that I have done.' If Marquez' team had got their strategy right in Phillip Island, the Spaniard would have been crowned champion, at Honda's home, in front of their top brass. Instead, Honda leave Motegi empty handed, except for wrapping up the team championship. That is the sort of prize valued only when failure looms large elsewhere.

Marquez is still likely to wrap up the championship at Valencia, however. A 13 point lead means that he only needs to finish in 4th to become the youngest world champion ever. Given that he has only finished off the podium twice this season - once at Mugello, when he made an unforced error in the race, and once at Phillip Island, when he was let down by his team - the probability of him not being on the podium at Valencia is small. Looking back to last year, when he blasted through the field to take the win in Moto2 after being forced to start from the back of the grid, betting against Marquez seems foolish indeed. Yet Marquez is showing signs of strain, his permagrin wavering from time to time as the title gets nearer. That is exactly why Jorge Lorenzo and his team want to take this championship down to the wire: because they know that a rookie with his eyes on the championship at the last race of the year will be under immense pressure. Lorenzo will exploit this to the maximum, and try to ramp up the pressure even more. Marquez hasn't cracked all year, but if there is one place where he might crack, it could be Valencia.

Nerves are what broke open the Moto3 championship as well. With the title chase getting close, both Luis Salom and Alex Rins cracked under pressure, Salom only partly to blame, but Rins all of his own accord. Salom was first taken out by Isaac Viñales, the Spaniard highsiding right in front of the championship leader, but got back on and was climbing steadily up the order, before crashing out of the race. Rins managed to crash of his own accord while chasing his teammate Alex Marquez. Maverick Viñales was the only one of the three championship contenders to stay upright, taking the title fight to Valencia with just 5 points separating the top three riders. Whoever wins in Valencia automatically becomes champion.

The winner of the Moto3 race should also serve as a warning for the future. Those who have followed the careers of both carefully say that of the two Marquez brothers, Alex is the more talented. His win at Motegi was also a victory over his brother. While Marc took 33 races to claim his first win, Alex managed it in 27 races. If Yamaha is smart, they will start chasing a precontract with the younger Marquez as soon as possible.

The events of the Moto2 race prevented all three championships from going down to the last race. Pol Espargaro had already taken the lead in the title chase after Scott Redding tried to hang on to a bike which was trying to highside him at Phillip Island, and fractured his radius in the attempt. Quick surgery and Lorenzo's win in Australia gave the Englishman hope, and he came to Motegi intending to score enough points to prevent Espargaro from wrapping it up at Motegi, and taking the decider to Valencia.

His attempt was brave, but he was foiled by conditions. Not wishing to risk further injury, he backed off once the track turned from full wet during qualifying to partially drying. Unpredictable grip levels meant more danger of crashing, and so Redding settled for 15th. That left him in the middle of traffic when Tito Rabat crashed in front of him, and nowhere left to go. With bikes and injured riders down, Race Direction had no choice but to red flag the race and aim for a restart. Once it became apparent that Redding would not make the restart, the championship was out of his hands.

Motegi was symbolic for where Redding lost the championship: in his qualifying position. The first laps of a Moto2 or Moto3 race are brutal, and if you get caught up in traffic then it becomes very hard to make progress. Redding was brilliant all year at threading his way through traffic, but his luck was bound to run out at some time. At Aragon, Sepang and Motegi, Redding had qualified in 13th, 10th, and 15th, leaving himself with a mass of work to do. At Brno, he had qualified in 13th, and in German he had started from 8th. These are all so far down the grid that you risk running into traffic and losing touch with the leaders from the start. If Redding had qualified better at Motegi, he wouldn't have been behind Rabat, who was in 6th spot when he highsided out and caused the mass crash which Redding got caught up in.

This should take nothing away from Pol Espargaro, however. After a very difficult first part of the season, where the Spaniard struggled with getting the tires to work, his team found a solution at the Mugello tests. From then on, he was a constant threat, winning 5 races and finishing outside the top 4 only once. Espargaro has been brilliant, consistent, fast, and intelligent. He thoroughly deserves the 2013 Moto2 title, and rewards the confidence which Yamaha put in him when they signed him back at the first race in Qatar.

Yet Espargaro has been pushed on by Redding too. Without the intense rivalry throughout the season, neither rider would have reached the heights they did. This has been a classic year of Moto2 racing, and the good news is that it their rivalry is set to continue into MotoGP. Their machinery may not be equal in their first year in the class, but from 2015, things could get pretty lively between them once again.

And so to Valencia, the last race of the season. The last time a title was decided there in the MotoGP class, the hot favorite ended up crashing out, and Nicky Hayden ended up celebrating in a cloud of yellow smoke, the Valencia circuit having banked on Rossi clinching the title there. As Nicky Hayden always says, you never know what's going to happen. And that, dear reader, is why they line up on Sunday.

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"clearly inferior bike"
"With the equipment he has at his disposal, he shouldn't be anywhere near the Hondas"

jorge has WON 8 races now, on a bike that is built around him? the vastly superior honda, then, has won 7 in the hands of their top rider. i mean, kudos for beating his teammate by a country mile but you cant tell me there's a whole lot wrong with that Yamaha. Again, this is just sensationalism. Jorge is fantastic but you gotta have a decent mount to be at the front. THAT YAMAHA IS!

"Instead, Honda leave Motegi empty handed, except for wrapping up the team championship. That is the sort of prize valued only when failure looms large elsewhere."

so is winning an FIM team championship regarded less nowadays? Repsol Honda couldnt wait to bust out the press release regarding the win in the teams championship. IM sure they are stoked to have nailed down one championship, regardless if Marc had got the riders title at motegi or not.

You said it! Lorenzo winning races means that the bike is clearly good enough! Good to see you understood ;)

In any racing series, if a bike/car is winning races, how bad can it be?! It is obviously good enough to win races! If you collect enough points, winning being the best way to do so, then you can also win the championship.

I don't disagree that the Ducati is no longer the best bike out there, its rate/direction of development clearly behind both Yamaha and Honda, but even in the Stoner era when he was winning lots and the bike was good enough to win he was the only one getting the most out of the bike. This is because there are only a few riders who are going to win each weekend, because they are the best and no matter what bike they are on they are at the front, because the bikes are all good enough to be at the front (excluding CRT, but that's not MotoGP...).

I am fascinated that you can have a rider winning the most races and yet everyone agrees he is on a crap bike. It just does not make sense to the logical people out in the world. It does of course make perfect sense if you believe that Lorenzo is so much better than everyone that the fact that he doesn't win by 30 seconds each race over these average riders, Marquez and Pedrosa, on CLEARLY superior bikes shows just how great Lorenzo is. Its interesting to note that when Stoner won his titles (particularly in 2007) people said the bike was so much better, but when Lorenzo wins his bike is not as good...go figure, Lorenzo should make sure he is never on the best bike as he appears to thrive on the crap Yamaha.

I am not having a go at Lorenzo, he is riding good, but so are Marquez and Pedrosa (the most underrated rider in history to win races every year). I am tired of the spin around the Yamaha vs Honda bikes, whoever is running this spin should consider a career in politics!

say that the M1 is an inferior bike there.

And honeslty it's been an inferior bike (not by a big margin but still a fair one) all season long. Insiders, eye-test and statistics all agree on that.

The RCV is the most complete package out there that can go fast with different riding styles, type of tracks and conditions. Stable in the fast corners, agile in the tight ones, It has been genuinely built around the bridgestone tires moreover, the riders don't seem bothered with temperature change.

Meanwhile the M1 struggles with its tires when the track is hot, their engine longevity is not that great, Rossi just can't ride the M1 to the limit. The 2 factory riders complain about the same problems still. Braking issues are bothering both Jorge and Valentino.

and yet the number 1 yamaha man is 7 wins ahead of his teammate. If your bike is inferior then i dont see how that equation can be true. Again its Rossi's performance this year that is unfortunately ruling the verdict on the best bike. Because of prior prejudice, if he isnt mixing it up at the front, then it has to be the bikes fault. Such is the times we live in, and such is the hold rossi has on commentators and media alike.

David I normally love your articles but this one does seem slanted.

To indicate how well Jorge did based on the next 4 bikes being Honda's is like a graph I saw the other day showing how the increase in organic foods matched an increase in Autism rates. Correlation does not equal causation.

Clearly the three best riders are on similar enough machines where choosing a different tyre will determine the winner.

As you did point out for Marc to have 50 minutes of track time (a good portion tasting the tarmac) on a MotoGP bike for the first time at that track is not enough to work out the braking points. Vale messed them up and he has been there a few times. So for Marc to be so close was an amazing effort but again does not prove how much better the Honda is.

If I hear the commentators say once more "see how the Honda's catch Jorge under brakes" I will throw something through the TV. That optical illusion has occurred since motor racing started. Likewise "see the superior corner speed of the Yamaha" whilst the 3 of them are going through the same corner at the same speed....

Watching Marc & Jorge under brakes you would want to be on the Yamaha but that again is rider style and setup rather than the bike.

Jorge and Vale have done a great sell job on how they are doing so well in spite of their bike. I feel sorry for Yamaha trying to sell bikes on that basis.

If the 3 of them were to swap bikes I would be surprised if much would change.

"If I hear the commentators say once more "see how the Honda's catch Jorge under brakes" I will throw something through the TV."

Oh man, dont even get me started!
There is a reason why the riders are measured with respect to one another in units of time.

Simple physics for all of you that think you see people gaining into corners, because their bike is better on the brakes, only to lose out on corner exit because the bike in front has better drive.

Keeping this simple,

Distance = Speed*Time
As speed is varying around different parts of the track, so too does the distance between the two riders.

This is why we measure how close one rider is to another in time, because:

Time = Distance/Speed
As your speed decreases so too does the distance covered in any time period, and the effect is the time between two moving objects remains constant while their speeds vary and the distance between them.

But its much more fun to say "Look how much the Hondas gain on the brakes!"

I would say it's not a very fair comparison to put Marc's 125 career against Alex's Moto3 career. Marc spent his first 2 years on the underpowered KTM, battling against the superior Derbi's and Aprilia's. Alex came right in to one of the top 3 teams on the best bike. Once Marc got onto a Derbi, he went on to win the WC in dominant fashion.

I saw him lose the rear, turn into it and drive out of the turn so smoothly I almost wondered whether it happened or not, so I rewound it to make sure.

Tremendous championship, normally its finalised up to 3 rounds earlier, hopefully we'll see what 'pressure' they can apply to each and which surfaces as the 'winner'.

Lorenzo is simply so impressive, I've just loved his 'take it to the repsol riders' attitude. Just terrific stuff.

"Despite the 340mm carbon disks, he simply lacked power in braking".

Perhaps you have never ridden a racing motorcycle, but there is no such thing (even on a modern street sport bike) as "simply lacking power in braking". All bikes have enough braking power to lift the rear wheel (straight line) or lock the front (tuck) when turning in.

There are issues with feel (feedback) and how hard you have to pull the brake lever before these things happen, but that is not the same as lacking power.

Most riders today use only 2 fingers (or even 1!) on the brake lever.

As for you comment "At Motegi, the Yamahas were ... lacking braking pressure", speaking as both an engineer and an ex-racer, you are surely kidding. It does not even make sense.

I really appreciate your insights into the racing scene and analysis of racing in general, but perhaps you should leave the engineering analysis to those better qualified.

The simple version of what happened here is that that Rossi misjudged his braking twice. If Marques had done that we would have said it is his normal reckless, out-of-control style. Why, when Rossi does it, do we need to blame the bike?

Good point - re-reading my post I have to admit the tone is not what it might have been. I was guilty of venting some frustrations.

My apologies. I get great enjoyment from David's columns, despite the odd technical disagreement.

Perhaps it is incorrect, but I thought David was referring to the idea that when the carbon fiber brakes heat up too much their coefficient of friction decreases (it would be nice to see a graph, but I guess that is something we will never see for the brakes used). I don't know at what rate, but from what I've heard other riders say it's a rather precipitous drop (they go to grab the brake [1 finger or 2] and there isn't much there). At Motegi this is supposed to be why they use larger brakes so they have more surface area to spread the force over so they don't heat up as much -- why else do you think they use larger brakes? Being larger they have more surface area so they also probably cool faster (although it is also a function of total volume as well). Maybe it was his wording you didn't like, but otherwise it would be good if you could provide more specifics in your criticisms. Perhaps I don't have the practical knowledge of an "engineer" to base my criticisms on, I'm only a Physicist after all, but I do like to race my motorcycle.


Don't Brembo make the brakes not HRC? I don't see how Yamaha suffering with the brakes equates to Honda having better brakes.

[I know this wasnt mentioned by you mikhailway, but I thought it was implied in the article/tv/everywhere that the Hondas are better on the brakes and therefore dont suffer the braking issues discussed here. My comments arn't directed at you, just wanted to add to the discussion :) ]

To slow a bike down from any speed, regardless of the bike (or object) you must convert that kinetic energy into another form of energy, in this case heat. If Yamaha riders (not all) are suffering with over heating brakes, using the same brake setup as the Hondas (I assume they do, supplied by Brembo, and if not then maybe they should), and if the Hondas (as everyone likes to claim) have higher top speed then they have more energy to dissipate as heat, then the Hondas not the Yamahas should be the ones suffering.

This makes me think it must be more of a rider/setup issue causing braking problems as I dont see how the same brake setup on different bikes could suffer problems resulting from anything other than different use of the system. Also, don't we hear about these braking issues each year, why don't they get it sorted?

The reason they use carbon-carbon brakes is they are far more fade resistant than steel rotors and don't work properly until up to operating temperature, cold is their enemy. The reason they use 340mm discs at Motegi is because the larger rotors have higher mass which can contain more energy as heat and further reduce the brake fade. Their surface area to mass will actually be about the same as regular 3200mm rotors so cooling will be equivalent.
Anyway it's the callipers you have to worry about cooling, not the rotors as expansion within them is the cause of brake fade.

As stated above the actual braking power will always be in excess of what the suspension and tyre can possibly handle - it's far higher than the engine outputs!

The only disadvantage Rossi would have is his greater mass, shared by all larger riders. That would be more for the brakes to stop and the suspension and front tyre to deal with while turning into the corner (all MotoGP riders trail brake).

It really just looked like he missed his braking mark.

My understanding is that carbon-carbon brakes have a problem when running too cold - which is why they cannot be used anywhere except on racetracks.

Looking at the Motegi map, turn 11 might be the spot on the track where the brakes are at their coldest - the last hard braking is at turn 5. (turn 10 is slow, but after a very short straight) From 10 to 11 is a nice long straight to cool the brakes down...

But whether is was causes by brakes that were too hot or too cold, all the other riders coped with it. If they hadn't, I suspect we would have called it a rider's mistake, not a design fault in the bike....

Firstly, if Valentino Rossi himself says 'on the second lap when I arrive at Turn 11, I had not enough power in the brake and I arrive too deep' then Valentino Rossi believes he doesn't have enough braking power.

Secondly, in theory, you are are right, all of the brakes using almost identical set ups will have near identical braking power. But this is only in a theoretical situation, on a test bed, with just a spinning disk and calipers.

But racing isn't a theoretical situation. Each bike is different, each rider is different, and there are so many dynamic variables that actual braking power is very different to theoretical braking power. Braking power on the track comes down to the efficiency with with braking force between calipers, pads and rotors is transmitted to the tire contact patch, and ultimately is translated into deceleration.

And here is where I believe that the Yamaha is inferior to the Honda. Both Crutchlow and Rossi had problems with brakes losing power, Crutchlow through overheating his rotor. I interpret this as meaning that they are transferring less of the energy from braking into deceleration, and more is ending up as heat. Whether the failure to transfer brake friction into deceleration is being lost, I don't know, but somewhere between chassis stiffness, suspension set up, engine layout, weight balance, center of mass, rider technique and miscellaneous other factors, the Yamaha is losing out. I could use that sentence every time I wanted to talk about that problem, but 'braking power' is much shorter, and much more easily understood.

This is not a new problem for Yamaha. Ben Spies race at Motegi from 2012 was a textbook example, his brakes overheating to such an extent (brake temperatures of over 1000°C were cited) that he eventually went straight on and crashed. The fact that both Lorenzo and Rossi asked for the 340mm brakes to be allowed to be used as standard is telling. Even at circuits with less severe braking, the Yamaha is having problems. None of the Honda riders have a problem with braking power, including Alvaro Bautista who is using Nissins, which suggests that the configuration of the Honda is more efficient at transferring braking energy to the front tire than the Yamaha is.

Clearly, Rossi made a mistake in braking that caused him to run wide, but at the basis of that mistake lies a lack of braking power.

One more thing, if I left everything I am less well qualified to write about to someone else, this would be a very empty website. 

But David, the website would be completely full of undoubtedly contradictory comments from people who ARE qualified to comment, as I suspect no two such people would agree on a damn thing anyway. Great article, great website. Thanks.

PS - was Aleix Espargaro's crash related to brakes? Not seen anything on it except the scary footage.

stepped off the bike at over 200kph?
During the telecast it mentioned possible stuck throttle or brake problem. Either way it serious enough for AE to quickly dismount.

David, have you heard what exactly the problem was?

Is a shibboleth. Every racing machine is a combination of compromises that the developers have determined to be the best overall package they can deliver and for factory machines that package is tailored to the competitive strengths of the 'pilot'.

Ask Colin Edwards about the development direction of the M1 when he was Rossi's team-mate. It was no more a 'universally rider-friendly' package than the Ducatis in Stoner's Ducati era.

Lorenzo has developed a corner-speed style that no other rider can match - carving through the corners on a classic 'fastest theoretical speed' line that is mathematically describable. He is getting 99.99% of the available speed out of the M1 every moment, beautiful to watch.

The Honda RCV has undeniable strengths - but is a twitchy, capricious machine that demands almost superhuman responses from its riders, adjusting to every tiny change in line, adhesion level, attitude and change of input parameters. If the M1 is a thoroughbred racehorse, the RCV is a steeple-chaser or quarter-horse - powerful, agile, but not as refined for pure point-to-point speed.

The judgement of the M1 as inferior to the RCV has a lot to do with Rossi's results since he rejoined Yamaha. Lorenzo is riding it to maximise his strengths - constant ultimate velocity at every part of the track. The M1 isn't Rossi's bike any more, a consummate dog-fighter through the corners. The last four years of the Lorenzo/Pedrosa/Stoner era have changed the dynamics of the game and Marquez has taken up where Stoner left off - wild, unbalanced but like a knife-fighter in a gun-fight, deadly when right in your face and personal.

The M1 and the RCV are simply different machines, but both very, very good at what they do. Rather than try to rationalise performance on the basis of the machine differences, good reporting would recognise the ability of the three top contenders (Lorenzo, Marquez and Pedrosa) to best utilise the qualities of the beasts they have to ride to achieve the results.

This season, it is Lorenzo and Marquez. Pedrosa and Rossi are, frankly, in line for 'best supporting' awards at the most generous. And ultimately, the differences between the M1 and the RCV are so fine as to be a matter of subjective rather than objective decision.

someone with an unblinkered, unbiased opinion calling it like it is. Appreciate it. And its bang on, once again people from the commentary down to these "journalists" dont give enough credit to the two honda pilots, that Honda looks as ragged as a bull yet all we hear is superior this, superior that. Three superior riders on three equally superior machines is the way i see it

meanwhile the number 2 rider on yamaha isnt touching any of these riders. Because as this article shows, if rossi isnt winning it must be the bike? or the brakes right? hence the harsh critque of the yamaha and the gushing of the hondas. Pure fawnication by the media for a rider who simply has not been good enough this year...

and yet all we hear race after race is honda superiority..unbelievable..

The M1 must be the most successful inferior bike in history, not only capable of winning multiple races but also getting podiums in satellite form.

May I refer you to the source you identified?:

"It is also sometimes used in a broader sense to mean jargon, the proper use of which identifies speakers as members of a particular group or subculture."

Yes, I used the term in a less than OED example - but I believe one that is relevant. The common ascribing of the M1 as an inferior machine to the RCV does not allow for recognition of its strengths, which Lorenzo uses magnificently. Rossi is being used as the baseline for comparison and Rossi is no longer the valid standard. That may be a matter for lamentation, but it is nevertheless a fact.

The Clearly Inferior Yamaha syndrome may be bullshit, and I suspect that it is, but that does not make it a term used by members of the CIY tribe primarily in order to identify those who agree with that line of thinking. (A shibboleth)
It is just a statement of opinion about the relative merits of one motorcycle vs. another.

I'm beginning to think your use of this term is in itself a particularly cunning shibboleth which has very effectively identified me as one who holds a contrary view to yours.

Without Lorenzo, Yamaha means 2 wins in 17 races this season. One in Qatar (Rossi 2nd to Lorenzo) and one in Assen. Otherwise the gap between the winner and the 1st Yamaha rider fluctuates between 5 and 15 seconds per race. If that doesn't scream Stoner on Ducati scenario, it's getting close at least.

Lorenzo just beat Honda at home, where everyone, themselves included thought he had no business to keep up the Repsol riders. Nice shirts by the way.

You should get a closer look at Nakamoto's face watching Lorenzo put on a clinic against his own boys.

Oscar made a good point with his explanation about misjudged perception of Yamaha and Honda and I just wanted to add couple of interesting facts.

Since 2008 to 2010 Honda was nowhere close to Yamaha.
Just remember - in 2010 Pedrosa scored just 12 points more then Rossi (who unfortunately broke his leg that year at Mugello) and Lorenzo took his first MotoGP World champion title with record-breaking 383 points on his M1!

In 2011 that same RC212V Honda looked amazing in hands of Casey Stoner and that same Yamaha M1 was suddenly perceived as pile of scrap metal - it can't break, engine has bad fuel consumption, it's unreliable and needs more horse power, etc. Lorenzo didn't complain at all in 2010 and just a year later his bike is full of flaws. Strange, isn't it?

So, just as Stoner in 2011 made Honda look much better then Yamaha now Marquez does the same thing.

Marc, Jorge and Dani are all extracting every ounce from their bikes. If Jorge is supposedly overriding his bike to such an extent to keep up with the Hondas, then why is it that Marquez has about 5 times as many crashes to his name? Seems to me Marquez is the one trying very hard and maybe having to ride around problems if crashes are any indicator. Jorge has had a fraction of the crashes but unfortunately got hurt. During the period he was injured Jorge gave up about 50 points to Marc. With half of Marc's crashing luck this year he could be leading the title, not bad on the perennially inferior yam.

When Stoner was winning races quite often there wasn't another Ducati in the top 10 despite their being another 4 of them competing. The Yamaha has proven to be competitive in satellite guise with numerous podiums over the last two seasons. If Spies hadn't been cursed the second factory bike would have been similarly competitive. That was virtually never the case while Stoner was winning at Ducati.

The Honda riders seem to be able to make up some time on the brakes, they usually get a bit out of shape in doing it and the Yamaha at many tracks offsets that by carrying more corner entry speed and therefore mid corner speed. While many people talk about a supposed engine advantage for Honda in terms of power and fuel consumption, the Yamaha hardly gives away anything on acceleration or top speed, hasn't run out of engines at all and is still better from corner to corner. Yamaha could build a v4 if they wanted to, they've stuck with the cross plane INL4 for a reason and given their multiple titles over the past few years it seems to be a good decision. Through fast corners the Yamaha is still peerless for speed, agility and stability and corners are somewhat important on a racetrack.

As far as Rossi goes, even Burgess has said he doesn't think Rossi has another title in him. It's not just that he's regularly getting thrashed by Jorge, Crutchlow has also given Rossi a run for his money several times on a satellite bike. Put Rossi on a Honda and Marquez would tear him apart just as Jorge is.

Lorenzo is about to lose this year's WC title from a rookie who supposed to spend this year learning everything from the scratch. It's a bit embarrassing situation for him, especially because at the beginning of the season he was considered as by far the strongest candidate for winning it.

That's the main reason why is Lorenzo complaining so much about weaknesses of his M1. Consequently, media and public perceive Yamaha as inferior bike to Honda.

In reality all of the named riders (Stoner, Marquez, Lorenzo) are world-class talents and all of them make their bikes look good. It's just a matter of who is winning and who is not.

I stand by my analysis that the Yamaha is clearly inferior than the Honda, but people seem to be misinterpreting the difference I ascribe to the two bikes. The Yamaha is better in corner speed, more or less matches the Honda in acceleration, has a little less top speed, is less stable on the brakes (see my view on Yamaha's braking problems above), suffers worse with wheelies, and has a fraction more pumping at the rear on corner exit. In my book, that makes the Yamaha inferior, and visibly so.

However, calling the Yamaha 'vastly inferior' is a nonsense. On balance, the Honda is a better bike, allowing the rider to brake later and harder, and get out of slow corners a fraction faster. It has more horsepower, and appears to have a little bit better overall balance. The fact that riders such as Marquez and Stoner can take the bike to the very ragged edge without crashing all the time is a testament to its predictability. The bike may look spectacular, and it may reward a very physical riding style, but it is anything but capricious. It is utterly predictable, which is why they ride it like that.

This is very far from being the same situation as when Casey Stoner was on the Ducati. Then, the difference was clearly in the rider, but even then, Nicky Hayden was capable of getting the odd podium on the bike, and that was against a field with more satellite bikes and a Suzuki. Right now, there are only really 8 bikes capable of getting on the podium, yet three riders have taken 40 out of the 51 podium spots. Except at Le Mans and Qatar, the only time other riders (Rossi, Crutchlow, Bradl) have been on the podium is when one or more of the top three have been hampered or out of the race by injury or incident. If the Yamaha was more of a match for the Hondas, then Rossi would have had more podiums.

But don't take my word for it. The Yamaha riders all say that the Honda is superior, but that is hardly objective - after all, I do not think I have ever heard a motorcycle racer admit to have an equipment advantage, at least not while they were still racing on it. But Alvaro Bautista also thinks the Honda is a slightly better package, as he told Borja Gonzalez at Motegi. In Spanish he said:

'Yo las veo bastante fuertes, y quizás sí que están un poquito mejor las Honda que las Yamaha.'

'They (the factory Yamahas) seem pretty strong to me, and maybe the Honda is a little bit better than the Yamaha.'

Bautista believes that difference between the factory Yamahas and the satellite Yamahas is similar to the difference between the factory Hondas and the satellite Hondas. The factory bikes are a little bit better than the satellite bikes, for both manufacturers. He rates Rossi's bike as about the same or maybe a fraction better than his (Bautista's) bike, and the factory Honda a little bit better than that.

I standby your analysis also David, and think it's dead on.

Honda is better on the brakes, into the turns, out of the turns (slight advantage on accel), and top speed. The only place I see where Yamaha has an advantage is corner speed but that goes to the wayside once it gets hot. Jorge Lorenzo, is simply putting on a clinic, riding at 99.9%, 100% of the race, calculating riding every square meter of the track. The difference is him and his riding. On a Honda, he'd be gone, with a big lead in the championship. Riders have been over-riding machines since the sport was invented. To me Lorenzo is the world's best rider but the Honda is the world's best bike.

20 liters and 5 engines should scare Yamaha to death. Will be much harder for them in 2014.

the fact that rossi, despite having a bike better than Alvaro, isnt mixing it up with the front three. As we have seen every race, rossi has been battling Cal and Bautista. Again, by even ABs observation Rossi should be further up the field, hence the statement that "the factory bikes are a little bit better than the satellite bikes, for both manufacterers".

Is that - lo and behold, Lorenzo is better on this bike which was developed around him than Rossi. Not really a revelation or surprise is it?

I'd have been amazed if Rossi was beating Lorenzo this season, Rossi is the number two.

In an article by Neil Spalding for a MCN special this year that Honda have 4 times the budget that Yamaha do to go racing?

to admit to, what appears to me to be, the obvious? Valentino Rossi isn't a god anymore. He's just another very good rider. In a field of very good riders.

Time gets everybody, sooner or later.

For me it was really quite simple. Jorge's pro active riding, metronomic precision lap after lap after lap based on extensive experience at the track on that machine as opposed to Marc's inexperience and re active riding based on so little experience on that machine at that track. Jorge is making the best of what's available to him, I would expect to see him win again although the WC is out of his hands. How more deserving could two different riders be to win the WC and for different reasons. After all the shouts of "farce! Procession" of recent weeks there's a championship going down to the last round and how exciting and refreshing is that! Anything can happen and I for one can't wait :)

Is any bike in a two man team the same as another? Are any two bikes/riders the same weight? Do any two riders choose the same tyres for exactly the same bikes if given a real choice (not, 'this is the only one that works and can get through the race')?
The only thing I agree with is that the Honda's and Yamaha's are too close to prise apart for 99.9999etc% of the racers on this planet. However, when you put the top 4 riders on the top 4 bikes the things most cannot tell apart do make a difference. When riders like MM and DP are marginal on the brakes that extra 10 kgs others carry WILL make a difference between working and fading. JL can carry more corner speed and perhaps that meant he didn't encounter the problem that Crutchlow and Rossi did.
Rossi's need for better braking performance/more stability from the front tyre isn't an excuse it's a fact. Yamaha are clearly trying to improve the bike for Rossi but the probability seems to be that until the tyres can be changed he will struggle, just as others such as Crutchlow will.
Now, whether MM/JL could make a similar improvement on that sort of tyre, is another question.....
You only have to look at F1 to see that this weight issue is not just an excuse - there you have cars 4 or 5 times the weight and drivers 8 or 10 kg heavier than the smaller drivers are described as 'too heavy' and are losing out on opportunities because of it (and they already have minimal body fat/muscle so saying 'diet' isn't the answer). The effect on a 160kg bike is going to be much more significant, because the square law applies to power requirements, whether braking or accelerating. You can talk long arms and legs and weight distribution as much as you like but the lighter/smaller rider has more things in his favour than against.
Which makes Lorenzo's performance yesterday look even better.
And he didn't run out of fuel either, fortunately!

A riders weight is not as straight forward as a car because you can move your mass around on a bike. As Casey pointed out when everyone was ganging up on Pedrosa for being too small. There are pros and cons.

The difference between Rossi and Jorge is about 2 kilos - I cannot really see it being the difference between the two of them - 8 years in age might be a better explanation.

Jorge is smoother on the throttle explains the fuel consumption. He also used a different rear tyre.

The carbon brakes do not fade - that is why Rossi can do his fastest lap in this race on the last lap. A shame it was still slower than Jorge did on all but his 1st and last laps.

Lorenzo, I take back any ill words I gave said about the man's racing spirit. This dude refuses to give in or give up to Marquez no matter what. Earlier this year Marquez started getting on a run that seemed unstoppable until Lorenzo stepped up. The way he just won this race shows me that he is ruthless in his pursuit of the title. It damn near looked like he was letting Marquez feel like he was getting him. Then he kicked in some afterburners and scorched Marquez like he had never been a factor in the first place. Leaving him for dead with a few laps to go.

As far as the Yamaha vs Honda issue. I think both bikes are the top level. It looks like their strengths and weaknesses are yin and yang. The Honda goes in on the brakes to a corner good. Good acceleration out. The Yamaha not the best (or worst), braking bike, but gets around the corner good, and it seemed like Lorenzo's bike accelerated better out of turns than Marquez' Honda. Looks like a good matchup to me. Rossi just seems to have lost a step, Pedrosa...is Pedrosa. This is it for him. I do not believe Honda is going to help him, and Marquez is going to slow down. Pedrosa I do not see EVER getting a Motogp World Title with Marquez as a teammate.

Marc did a very good job at Motegi given the time he had on the track due to the weather conditions, also he rode MotoGP bike the very first time there this weekend without reference and yet he finished second! Impressive young man indeed.

People have short memories. From 2008 to 2012 the Yamaha was considered the best overall bike on the grid (and for good reason). This is the first year in ages that you could argue Honda have the slight edge on overall package.

I think both bikes have their strengths and weaknesses quite well balanced out. They take two radically different approaches and meet somewhere in the middle. Then add three exceptional riders (yes I do count Pedrosa) and what you get is a fascinating year.

Lorenzo is a 100% fit&focused, determined rider. Yamaha is probably 95% competitive. A rider (of Lorenzos or Pedrosas, Marquezes calibre) at it's best can win on slightley inferior machine. A rider on 95% can't win even on vastley superior hardware, as Dani is demonstrating all to often.

But I still think that #93 will be champion in Valencia.

I didn't say they were the same - I used the example of 10kgs on a bike and 10 kgs in a car which weighs 4 or 5 times more being important. I also commented that the issues of arms/legs etc. has an effect but it doesn't balance out (even if you move your weight around).

I'm not excusing any one or any thing - just making the point that no two bikes are the same actually when it comes to racing the fastest bikes available and the best riders available. Perhaps 2kgs doesn't make a difference - but if JL was easier on the brakes and he was marginal, it would. Who's to say? Rossi has said it was a problem until the fuel load started to drop; he also said he couldn't have stayed with JL. What's not to believe?

Also, carbon brakes do fade if they overheat (they also increase wear-rate when too hot) - which is why they use high mass rotors at Motegi and people are now saying they need them at other circuits.

.... performance by Jorge, despite it being a bit of a snooze-fest. However, it was entertaining that the announcers kept claiming the front group was "about to explode into action" and that the "fuse was lit" with "fireworks any moment", yet they never came! Kudos to Lorenzo for turning back the tide of orange and black.

Massively disappointed for Rossi after probably his best start of the year, and while he clearly needs to find more speed within himself, Yamaha as well need to find more for their riders to work with. Brakes overheating and being overpowered by 3 out of 4 bikes?! Not acceptable. I'd be lying if said I didn't hope some of the 2014 M1's development went Rossi's way next year...

Shift development away from the guy who's actually in with a shout at the title, to the guy that's running 4th in the title and who developed Ducati down a dead end still can't find their way out of. Sounds like a smart move!

I find it hard to understand? Are you blaming Rossi for Ducati's recent demise? Personally I think Ducati have no one to blame but themselves after all he's been nothing to do with their WSB programme which is also in rapid decline. If you don't believe me ask Lanzi and his 1098R.

... away?! I said nothing of the sort, but you better believe it would benefit Yamaha to get the M1 performing (much) better on the brakes. Their riders need to be able stuff it in late to compete with Hondas, who seem to be able to brake as late as they like and with little risk. The Yamaha looks positively squeamish on the brakes this year, while Jorge has his own strange (and fast!) way of getting into corners, Rossi literally looks like he's got one hand tied behind his back during corner entry.

But it's not like Yamaha isn't keenly aware they're falling behind, I'm sure it'll be all hands on deck during the off season, just better not ignore the Doctor's orders.

Btw, Ducati was already thoroughly upside down and incompetent before Rossi got there.

Opions are like arseholes, everybody has one (or more apparently) and these are the places to air them. Pity there's still a great deal of poop associated with these metaphoric arseholes....

Lot of mention of the bike/rider on this board and I can agree with a lot of that. Something I felt was worth a mention is that JL is taking advantage of his opportunities with his awesome riding in the past few races, but also utilizing the strengths of one of (if not the best) teams in the paddock. Strategic precision and execution has given Jorge the chance to ride his way back into the championship fight. He makes few mistakes and his team seems to make very few mistakes as well. Not to put the focus on MM's team pit strategy fiasco, but if that comes down to be the difference in the championship it will go to show how important everyone involved in the team can be to finish a season. The last minute decision to switch to the extra soft option due to the ambient temperature at the track may have been a risk, but it was definitely a calculated risk. I rarely ever hear Jorge complain about his bike's set-up after the race. Tires in Le Mans and he admits the bike's shortcomings, but I've never heard him throw his team under the bus or complain of strategy failures.

Marc didn't have enough time to 'learn' Motegi on the GP bike- that much is clear. Got his obligatory crash out of the way though... Haha. It will be interesting in Valencia. JL has done quite well there. This was the first time I saw Marc seem defeated in his post-race interviews. He was still smiling but there was some reservation there. Even mentioning - 'well, at the beginning of the year this was not the goal.' Don't give up yet Marc! It will be interesting to see if experienced heads in the Repsol garage advise Marc to ride cautiously at Valencia. Finishing 4th should be no problem at all as long as he can stay on the bike. But... it's sort of like trying to tell the Incredible Hulk to not SMASH!

Moto3 will be EPIC! Rinz probably has much love for his teammate to hold off Maverick in that final lap. What a series!

I was actually just trying to write something pointing that out. Bikes and rider aside (as good as they are) If you want to win you and your team have to work together. Lorenzo and his team have shown them selves to be an incredibly coherent force to be reckoned with. This race given the short setup and vastly different conditions for qualifying make that point incredibly clear.

Next year, with Marquez not having to learn all the MotoGP reference points for all the tracks, Yamaha and Lorenzo, not to mention everybody else, are going to have to come up with something special to keep up. It's true that Marquez often looks out of control on that bike but, as the season went on, it seemed to me that his out-of-control moments got further apart and less spectacular.

Why MGP doesnt use weight limits e.g. Rider + Bike = X kg, is beyond me! In F1, Sprint cars, drag racing, and kart racing there are total weight limits for the simple reason that an object accelerates & stops slower if its heavier, and obviously, does the opposite if lighter. Its simple physics! Im not saying this because im for/against any rider (Im a RACE fan!). It just seems this makes sense! And yes, I understand the differences in car vs m/c racing. Ive never raced cars, only m/c...enduro, motocross & road racing.

People say that the taller riders can shift their weight more effectively than the shorter ones, which is true, but they fail to consider the aerodynamic advantage smaller riders have. No matter what you do, a rider as tall as Rossi is always going to have more frontal area than someone like Pedrosa on a similar bike. When Honda put Simoncelli -R.I.P.- in the wind tunnel and made modifications to the bike's fairing, they were trying to reduce his disadvantage to the short guys, but, try as they might, the frontal area would always be bigger, which means more drag, which in turn slows you down exponentially. My point is that by having all bike/rider sets weigh the same, or at least close to, one would still have one aspect benefiting taller riders and one, not two, benefiting smaller ones. One of the reasons Scott Redding had a much better chance to fight for this year's championship was the new weight rule. He was still heavier than most and still suffered on the straights, but he did have a more level playing field to work with.

I think where the honda wins out is in being a more neutral bike. The yam is designed to fit Jorges style and this affects every rider who rides differently to Lorenzo, that is just about everyone in motogp.. I am not surprised Cal and Rossi have problems with the brakes and Lorenzo doesn't and it has nothing to do with Jorge riding around anything. They both have completely different riding style's.. Both late and heavy on the brakes, their styles would suit the honda same as everyone else. The yam can't handle this because it is designed to brake early and maintain high corner speed accelerating out of the corner from further up the rev range. As usual there is little in it but it only needs a 10th. If your ignore the top 4 riders and look further down Bradl and Bautista are both making mince meat out of Cal and Bradley..
As for last weekend I though Marquez,and Rossi before his issues, were doing a fabulous job, neither had been there in the least couple of years, or at all in Marquez case, on anything like the bikes they had and with almost no set up time, both close to the front. Had they both and Dani used the same tyre as Jorge who is only in the hunt due to a bogus disqualification, then the result could have been a lot different. I was surprised at just how close the hondas and Rossi were to Jorge given the huge difference in tyre quality.. They should all have been on the softer tyre and probably will be next time out.

Finally someone points out the elephant in the room with this:

"Ask Colin Edwards about the development direction of the M1 when he was Rossi's team-mate. It was no more a 'universally rider-friendly' package than the Ducatis in Stoner's Ducati era."

Honda has been refining their package since the inception on the 800CC machine. People always labeled Paedrosa as having a lack of fighting back, when in fact the biggest issue the RCV has had since 2007 was it's braking abilities. Dani and Melandri stated on multiple occasions that the bike was unstable under heavy braking, which basically translates into making it impossible to over take someone on the brakes.

Honda has adapted to that feedback and finally started to get it right in 2010. HRC's problem was of course the very dominant Jorge. In 2011 we saw Stoner climb on board and dominate. Was it the bike or was it Stoner (or perhaps both).

When Rossi first joined Yamaha in 2004 he didn't design a bike for everyone else to ride quickly. He provided feedback that was necessary for HIM to go faster, which Yamaha complied, which is the same thing they are now doing with Lorenzo. Rossi was receiving go fast bits long before his teammates were, and with Ohlins he was receiving suspension upgrades first that no one else in the paddock was getting. Pick up a copy (if you haven't already) of Neil Spaldings Moto GP Technology, it brings a lot of insight as to the technical aspects of the evolution of the M1.

Every 'weapon' has strengths & weakness's and if the operator knows them, he'll maximize the strength's and minimize the weakness's. Jorge is maximizing the M1's strengths, which others cant (I guess you could also say that he's developed the M1 to his strengths!).

For argument sake: IF the Honda is the superior 'weapon', but MM wasnt in MGP, meaning Dani was HRC's #1 rider, Jorge/M1 would be leading the W/C & the M1 might be considered superior! IMHO the only reason the Honda is 'superior' is because MM is making it so. Prior to 'super alien' throwing a leg over the Honda in 2011, the M1 was considered a smidge better.

Technically speaking, if that was the case, then Marquez wouldn't have knocked Dani off, or finished between him and Jorge when it happened. Therefore Dani would be leading the championship by some 50 points or more....

I mean all of it on race day. The Alex Marquez win in Moto 3 kicked the day off for me. The race of the day from a spectacle point of view. Great to follow that up with Pol getting a well deserved Moto 2 title. Then the absorbing and gripping battle between George and the Honda's. That was an absolute masterclass of of relentless precision. All credit to Marc for keeping it all together and bringing it home in 2nd.
Valencia will be mighty after the lights go out in Moto 3 and GP. Salom,Rins and Vinales, like George and Marc know exactly what they have to do to lift the remaining titles.
Like Rossi back in 2006, the title is more like Marc's to lose than it is George's to win.
I guess a Ducati one/two as in 2006 is out of the question !!!
Anyway,thats why they race and we watch. You never know what will happen in the race.
Tell you what though. If George does claim a 3rd title,it will rank as one of the greatest,if not the greatest title defence in the history of the sport,all things considered.

First off: enjoyed the article David!

All this talk about the bikes having issues reminded me of Wayne Rainey when he was riding the Yamaha for team Roberts. Both KKR and Rainey kept telling Yamaha the bike had issues but Wayne was winning on it in spite of it due to his riding skill, so Yamaha ignored them. CS had a similar situation at Ducati and won in spite of the bike... Even the proposed GOAT couldn't accomplish that!

Jorge's riding is masking the issues the Yam has and MM & DP do the same for the Honda. That the Honda is a better package is obvious. Since when has Bautista had the skill or talent to race with VR? It would be nice to see a different rider/bike combo on the podium every now and then tho...

Looking forward to Valencia. BTW, Can we start a petition for CS to come back??

"The little brother is coming...and we must open gas and try to push because he is coming!" - Marc Marquez talking about his brother's Moto3 victory.

The kid is talented for sure and having a big brother like Marc to train with must be a big advantage for him. My younger brother was always scrapping with my friends and I and it definitely helped him raise his level when competing against kids his own age. Alex's pedigree and talent will ensure that he will be on competitive machinery when he arrives in MotoGP 3-5 years from now. I can't wait to see the Marquez brothers racing against each other.

I think some of you, with all due respect, have forgotten that David's comments towards the Yamaha were not made by himself. All this info has come from the riders themselves including JL99, VR46, CC35, BS11, comments such as the Honda RCV "brake deeper and pulls faster out of the turns" and he (JL99) has changed his riding style to cope with the lack of power (relative term) to stay with the Honda's.

Further supporting this is the fact that Honda is the championship leader by placing more bikes at the top compared to the Yamaha's. Why say the Yamaha is inferior?, well it is not inferior, it just that these past four years, HRC, has managed to come up with technology advancements, such that everything put together, has shaved milliseconds from laps times.

For those with short memories, when the MotoGP specs where changed for the 1000cc engines, Honda was forced to add weight to the bike to comply with the new specs.

Lorenzo may not be Casey Stoner but he manages to squeeze out every fraction of performance from the M1.

how many times this year have we seen the yamaha run down and pass the honda? other than the first few turns with a full fuel load and cold tires, the yamaha never routinely passes a honda. it does seem however that a gap of 1 or 2 seconds can often be closed up by honda pilots... food for thought...

other food for thought. If pedrosa wins Valencia, and it is then marquez and lorenzo, then the last corner pass at Jerez becomes the deciding event of the season....

The reason the Yamaha can't run down and pass the Honda is the Honda's top speed is superior to the Yamaha. This has been true all year. Top speeds are dominated by Honda with Ducati occasionally thrown in. At Motegi, MM top speed was 309.1 vs JLO at 302.5. Pedrosa was tops at 310.3. The HRC bikes are usually anywhere between 4-8km/h faster than JLO. Strangely enough, Rossi is often slightly faster than JLO on top speed. The Ducati's, which often have excellent top speeds, can't turn so their lap times suffer. Conclusions?
Although both JLO and MM can post very similar times, the way the get those times is very different. The Hondas are fastest on the straights where you pass people. This is good if you are in 2nd place on the track and also means your starts aren't critical. The Yamaha is faster in the corners which is bad if you are in 2nd. JLO's strategy can never be sit in 2nd or 3rd and pass people later in the race. His task to win at Motegi was somewhat monumental when you think about it.
1. Get the Hole Shot and get the lead in the first lap.
2. Manage your pace and don't burn up your soft rear tire.
3. Keep the most aggressive and fastest rider/bike from passing, even though your down 7km/h in top speed.
4. Past the halfway point break the HRC duo by dropping your lap times by .5 sec.
5. Oh, and don't make a single mistake, because MM will pounce.

Sounds easy, but no other rider does this.

I highly doubt that Honda will let any other Factory get their hands on Alex Marquez, not now or in the future (especially Yamaha) unless Marc makes a switch as well! Marc has said many times over just how much faster/talented his younger taller brother is. Marc knows exactly what he needs to do while the sun is still shining on him! Brotherly competition will ensure that Alex is on the same machinery that Marc is... so they can see which brother is truly best between themselves as the world watches. Marc may have 2-3 MotoGP titles by the time Alex joins MotoGP. Another example will be Aleix and Pol next season... both on Yamahas... battle to get that Factory Yamaha ride from JL99 and VR46.

This sums it up perfectly: "The method by which he did so was breathtaking in its audacity, and almost painful to watch for its cruelty."

Another fantastic article, a great read!

All this blathering over which MACHINE is better is sad. I think (maybe I've missed something?) the championship trophy is awarded to the MAN who scores best in the series. And except for the fustercluck in OZ, this would have already have been decided so all the blah, blah, blah about the season ending event and who will end up the champion is pretty much just a bunch of typing on keyboards. There is no doubt Mr. Marquez is/was the class of the field - someone to rival guys like King Kenny and Fast Freddie. Sure, it's never over 'till it's over, but it should have been over already!