2014 Le Mans MotoGP Sunday Round Up: Rossi's Revival, Lorenzo's Slump, Ducati's Stagnation, Miller's Revenge And Funny Front Ends

Now, Valentino Rossi knows how Max Biaggi felt. 'I did one mistake in 27 laps,' Rossi told the press conference after the MotoGP race at Le Mans. 'But in the crucial moment of the race.' Rossi braked a little bit too deep into Turn 9, ran wide, and Marquez was through. The mistake was because Rossi knew Marquez was coming, and had to try to push to keep ahead. 'I try to push, to do 1'34.0, but I knew I was at the limit.' Rossi knew that if he did not keep pushing to the full, Marquez would be upon him and past him in no time. It was perhaps that effort that caused Rossi to make the mistake that let Marquez by.

It was indeed a strange role reversal for Rossi. Ten years ago, it was Rossi himself who was hunter, stalking riders like Max Biaggi and Sete Gibernau, following them and simply waiting for a mistake. Now, the hunter had become prey, faltering when Marquez bore down upon him. At last, he got to ride a mile in Biaggi's boots.

Yet all credit is due to the veteran Italian. He is currently the only rider in the world capable of putting up any kind of resistance to the unstoppable force which is Marc Marquez. Both Rossi and Marquez were surprised and disappointed at Rossi's mistake, both relishing the chance to go toe to toe with one another. 'I don't know if I can beat him,' Rossi said, 'But I would like to fight. I think it would be fun.' Marquez concurred, telling the press conference he had expected to have 'a nice battle' with Rossi as he came up behind him, but when he saw Rossi make the mistake, he did not hesitate. He was past, had put half a second into Rossi within half a lap, and was gone. If anything, it was a mark of respect that he distanced himself so quickly. Marquez may have been prepared for a fight with Rossi, but he couldn't afford to hang around to see what Rossi could do. With five victories from five poles, Marquez may be confident, but he is not yet reckless.

That confidence had got him into trouble at the start of the race. He had made a mistake on the first lap, taken it too easily. 'I was too relaxed,' Marquez said, and that had cost him. It cost him even more when Jorge Lorenzo came past, ran wide and was forced to brake. That left Marquez with nowhere to go but very wide, and he was forced onto the extended tarmac run off at Garage Vert, dropping down to 10th place. All of a sudden, he had a lot of riders ahead of him, and work to do if he was to even get on the podium.

The way in which he sliced his way through the field was positively magisterial. He was not looking at the riders directly in front of him, he said, but instead was watching Rossi. He knew Dovizioso and Bradl were ahead, but knew that the man with the real pace was Rossi. Every lap at Turn 10, the second part of the Garage Bleu esses, he could see Rossi entering the final corner, and every lap he got a little bit closer. It took him 11 laps to catch him, and one more to get past.

If getting past Rossi was handed to Marquez on a plate by a mistake from the Italian, the other passes were effortless, of a surgical precision. Most riders were dispatched either at the Garage Bleu esses, or at the Dunlop chicane. The only pass he didn't really have to work for was on Rossi, who made a mistake and let him through. The rest were simply down to superior riding, braking deeper into corners, getting the bike turned better and faster, and blocking the line to prevent counter attacks. They were textbook passes, every single one.

It made for an entertaining first half of the race, but it also just how vast Marquez' superiority is at the moment. Records are his for the taking, and even having to fight his way through half the field is no handicap. He can put the bike where he wants to, pass riders – any riders, even multiple world champions – at will, and never look like he is in any real trouble. The Honda has the edge over the Yamaha, but most of Marquez' advantage is down to Marquez. As Valentino Rossi put it, 'he is the only rider who can squeeze the bike at 100%.'

Marquez' dominance is overshadowing some interesting developments behind him. First and foremost, Rossi's revival is very real indeed, the Italian capable of riding the M1 more or less as he pleases. He underlined once again that swapping crew chiefs had been more a matter of finding motivation, rather than any major technical differences. Yet working with Silvano Galbusera was going perfectly: they make progress on the bike every practice, and arrive at the race with a set up good enough to be able to run at the front.

It also puts Rossi in the interesting position of being the lead rider at Yamaha again. Though officially, neither rider is leading and both get equal treatment, factories listen to the rider getting the results. Right now, that is Valentino Rossi, the Italian closing to within two points of Dani Pedrosa in the championship standings, and having been on the podium in three out of five races. He is 36 points ahead of Lorenzo, and brimming with confidence going into Mugello, his home race, and truly his spiritual home. 'There are 25 points for victory like the other races,' Rossi said, 'but Mugello is a question of honor.' Marc Marquez has been warned, and he knows it.

So what has gone wrong with Jorge Lorenzo? In a brutally honest assessment, the Spaniard said he was simply not riding well. He had got a bad start, tried to push too hard, was too tense on the bike and too nervous. It meant he wasn't capable of replicating the pace he had in practice, where he had been very impressive indeed. 'I'm riding well until the race,' Lorenzo told the press. Bad starts meant he found himself bunched up behind other riders, a position he simple wasn't accustomed to being in. 'I couldn't be leading the race, or in second place, which is where I am used to.'

Lorenzo's problem is still the heat-resistant Bridgestone tire. Despite the Japanese tire manufacture having brought new rears with a special treatment to give them a bit more edge grip, they weren't really helping the Spaniard. The problem, he explained, was that the tire was still missing grip on the drive section, the part of the tire just inside the edge where acceleration starts in earnest. When he started to open the throttle hard after the corner, the rear was spinning and not driving. Lorenzo's problems had been exacerbated by a set up gamble, which his crew had found in the morning warm up.

They had moved more weight to the rear of the bike, and in the cooler temperatures of the morning, this had provided more drive out of corners. That drive had come at a price, with less feeling from the front tire, but it was a gamble Lorenzo had been willing to take. The problem was that in the heat of the afternoon, the advantages from having more weight on the rear disappeared, leaving Lorenzo with neither grip at the rear, and still with no feeling on the front. Lorenzo drew comfort from the success which Rossi was having, but for himself, he simply had to knuckle down and wait for better times. 'We are improving little by little, so it will come,' he told reporters.

But it's not just Lorenzo and the Yamaha which is suffering with the tires. Dani Pedrosa complained of a similar feeling, describing it as like riding in the wet. Pedrosa's problem was more with the front tire than with the rear, however, the front end wanting to fold on him all race long. It meant that he could not make the passes he needed to get closer to the front, and it took him all race to climb his way up to fifth. Like Lorenzo, Pedrosa found himself caught up in the middle of the pack in the early laps, forced to back off after aggressive moves by Bradley Smith and Andrea Iannone. Unaccustomed to fighting his way forward, and struggling with both a lack of grip and his newly operated-on forearms, he could not make the passes he needed to get by.

And what of Ducati? Andrea Dovizioso could not convert his promising front row start into a strong result, and Cal Crutchlow rode around to a modest eleventh place finish. Despite improved braking, and excellent drive on new tires, the Desmosedici's main problem remains: the bike simply will not turn. The problems were exactly the same as last year, Dovizioso explained. 'The reason is the same, the limit is the same. With a new tire, we have special grip with our bike, and it is enough to do a good lap time. After the tire drops, maybe more than our competitors, the main point is always the turning.' The understeer which plagues the Ducati remains.

Despite their differing starts, both Dovizioso and Crutchlow finished just three seconds apart, and both well over twenty seconds behind the winner. Dovizioso's strength is the ability to exploit the new tire in the early laps, while Crutchlow is still unable to push. But once the rear tire goes off, both Crutchlow and Dovizioso end up in the same boat. To illustrate the point, you can compare the two men's first five laps with the remaining 23 laps. From the start of the race to the end of lap 5, Dovizioso is nearly five seconds faster than Crutchlow. Between lap 6 and lap 28, it is Crutchlow who is quicker, by 1.3 seconds. There you have Ducati's problem in a nutshell: with a fresh tire, you can ride around the Ducati's weakness, exploiting its strength in acceleration. Once the tire goes away, it is damage limitation time.

The brilliant races by Marquez and Rossi, and the dismal performance of their teammates Pedrosa and Lorenzo masked a couple of superb performances behind the winner. After a terrible start to the season – three crashes in three races – Alvaro Bautista rode a strong and impressive race to take his first podium in over eighteen months. When they get the set up right, and can get the Showa suspension and Nissin brakes working, Bautista still has the pace to challenge for the podium. But at some tracks they simply lack data, and cannot find the right suspension set up to be competitive.

Perhaps the most impressive performance of the weekend came from Pol Espargaro. A superb effort in qualifying saw him start from second on the grid, but he did so with no illusions. In the qualifying press conference on Saturday, he had told the press that he knew his qualifying time was just a single fast lap, and was not a real reflection of his race rhythm. 'If I tell you I will fight for the podium, I am lying to myself,' he had said. It turned out he was not, as he fought at the front all race long. In the end, he lost out to Alvaro Bautista, but still ended within a second of the podium. In just just fifth MotoGP race, Espargaro is showing real pace and competitiveness.

Espargaro's boss, Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team boss Herve Poncharal, told MotoGP.com that he was surprised just how quickly the rookie had settled in. 'Pol was a little bit angry in the beginning of the season, because he wanted to be closer [to the front] quicker,' Poncharal said. 'I told him, you have to wait, and it will come. It is coming maybe quicker than I was expecting, but this guy is a genius!' The Yamaha M1 was a good bike, Poncharal was quick to add, and above all, he was with a great team, the Frenchman said, with a wink and a nod.

The MotoGP race may have been intriguing, but the race of the day was Moto3. The junior class has been the real gem this season, with races inevitably decided on the last lap. Jack Miller took his third win of the season, in spectacular and perhaps controversial fashion. After suffering at the hands of Romano Fenati in Argentina, after the Italian ran wide and hit Miller's KTM, robbing the Australian of what he felt was a certain victory, Miller was not prepared to see that happen again. So when Efren Vazquez slipped past out of the Chemin aux Boeufs esses on the final lap, Miller launched a counter attack. He got ahead, then closed the door from the outside, leaving Vazquez with little choice but to hit the brakes and run wide. Vazquez saw his shot at his first win in Moto3 go up in smoke, while Miller tightened his grip on the Moto3 championship.

The move was certainly rough, and Vazquez was furious about it afterwards, hitting Miller after the line, and then complaining to MotoGP.com that such a move was dangerous. 'These riders look like they have no brain,' he said, adding that he expected Race Direction to intervene. They had not by the time the circuit emptied on Sunday night, and it seems unlikely they will.

Why not? Firstly, Race Direction has explicitly stated that riders are given a little bit of extra leeway in the last corners of the last lap. Mike Webb told me at Jerez that the intention of Race Direction was to let the riders race, and try to win. Pull that stuff earlier in the race, and especially in practice, and they would treat it much more severely, but last corner, last lap, riders have a right to try to win the race.

The second reason for not acting against Miller is perhaps more prosaic. There was more than a touch of irony in Vazquez complaining about harsh moves, as the Spaniard had pulled plenty of questionable maneuvers all race long. It was a case of the pot casting aspersions on the discoloration of the kettle, and so was unlikely to meet with much sympathy.

It was fitting end to a scintillating race, where the entire field spent the race trying to beat each other up. For a while, it looked like the internecine warfare among the group in second would hand the race to Alex Rins, who made a break around the halfway mark. Behind him, all hell broke loose, as Miller, Vazquez, Alex Marquez, Isaac Viñales, Romano Fenati and Pecco Bagnaia went at it hammer and tongs. An uneasy truce was formed towards the end, and they reeled Rins in. With three laps to go, Vazquez caught Rins, with Miller and Viñales in his wake. On the last lap, Miller pulled the pin, butting past Vazquez, briefly losing out, then securing victory with that rather vicious pass.

The Australian celebrated the win with his usual vigor, pulling massive wheelies, throwing his gloves into the crowd, and even with a spot of break dancing in the gravel. Miller is endearing himself to fans, and showing he has what it takes to be champion. Now leading the title chase by 30 points, assisted by a technical problem for Romano Fenati, Miller is firmly in control.

By contrast, the Moto2 race was almost processional. A group of six gapped the field early, with Simone Corsi – now officially on a Kalex, no longer on the anonymized KLX machine – taking the lead. Jerez winner Mika Kallio had the race under control, however, biding his time before striking, running away to take a convincing and unchallenged win. With Tito Rabat taking 3rd, the Marc VDS Racing team has a very firm grip on the Moto2 championship. Rabat leads with 99 points, but teammate Kallio is only 7 points behind. The only threat to the Marc VDS Racing team is coming from the rookies moving up from Moto3, with the Pons bikes of Maverick Viñales and Luis Salom leading the way. But Jonas Folger was strong at Le Mans as well, taking pole yesterday, and following that up with a solid sixth place.

Perhaps this is a reflection on the relative weakness of Moto2, that three Moto3 rookies can come in and immediately challenge for podiums and wins. Maverick Viñales is clearly a very special rider, and both Luis Salom and Jonas Folger are no slouches either. But with Marc Marquez, Scott Redding and Pol Espargaro all gone from the class, the talent level is not perhaps where it was a couple of years ago.

One final note. We have often bemoaned the lack of innovation in Grand Prix racing, and especially in Moto2. Spec engines and spec tires are to blame in part, but even more restrictive is the extreme conservatism of the teams. As one frustrated chassis designer put it to me, 'the teams think that if it wasn't used on a 1967 Matchless, it can't be any good.' So it was heartening to see French wildcard Lucas Mahias running well inside the points for a large part of the race on the Transfiormers Moto2 machine, before dropping back to 18th. The Transfiormers bike uses a FIOR-style front end, which is similar to a Hossack set up: a fixed solid fork, connected to the steering head using a couple of light linkages, and a single shock for suspension. Making set ups like these work with spec tires designed around telescopic forks is impressive indeed, and prove that the concept is sound. Just think what could be achieved with a decent budget, a decent rider, and above all, plenty of courage.

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Rossi is the only rider in the paddock, at the moment, that can keep Marquez in site. And he's 14 years his senior. Last year it was he wasn't an alien, 4th is his spot, and he's hogging a seat that should go to someone younger as he just doesn't have it anymore. All too soon some forget all the things that were said.

Right now he's the second best rider in the field and getting stronger as the rounds stack up. 2 points from taking Pedrosa's spot for 2nd in the points is impressive for the has been.

Apparently the old man still has it and it never left. He's beating Pedrosa and more importantly Lorenzo consistently now. Lorenzo hasn't been sitting down after the races. He's been bolting out the back of the garage in frustration, anger, and disappointment. If he wants to get back up front, late braking is something he needs to not only like but learn to love or Marquez will be off in the distance. You are going to have to show a wheel to Marquez late in the race to beat him. Flying off from the start is not enough anymore, neither is that riding style. Rossi has had to change his style some to get the most out of this bike. Lorenzo has to change some as well.

150 podiums as of today. That is a staggering number in this sport, mind blowing. But more impressive is 5 in a row from a 21 year old. If he can have a decent length of time in his career and stay away from serious injury he can obliterate almost every record in the book, especially if he stays with Honda long term. If you don't like Marc Marquez and/or don't like him winning races you might want to switch it off and find something else to do with your life. This is going to go on for years.

I've watched this sport long enough to still miss the 500's, and luckily got a number of seasons in before it was over.......and this is the best start of a season for any rider that I've seen. Practice, 1st, pole position, and the race win. Like The scene in Resevoir Dogs with Keitel "this is what he was doing, bam, bam, bam, bam."

Lastly, the comparison to Max is laughable. Max would break under the pressure and put it in the litter. Even if Rossi didn't make a mistake, Marquez was going to win today. That mistake was inconsequential, completely. Nobody had MM's pace today.

I wasn't comparing Rossi to Biaggi, I was merely pointing out that Rossi is now in the same situation as Biaggi was when they were racing together. There was never any doubt in Biaggi's mind that Rossi would pass him, same with Rossi and Marquez. Rossi is still one of the greatest of all time. The ease with which Marquez is beating him takes nothing away from Rossi's achievements, but speaks only of Marquez' truly exceptional ability. Reminiscent of Spencer beating Roberts.

No need for such defensive hero worship Bricktop. Mistake or no mistake Marquez would have dispatched Rossi pretty quickly anyway I think. The advantage he had over the field through the first kink was amazing, taking a compromised line into the turn to overtake and then pulling a gap on the exit anyway. He brakes and turns the bike from full lean to full lean super fast. I was very impressed with Pol E's riding. He needs to get tidier but he's the only guy out there that rides the bike into turns like Marquez does, letting it drift in until he catches the apex.

I'm a biassed Rossi fan but I am not so delusional as to say that he is the second best rider all of a sudden. Lorenzo was all over him in 2009 and was even faster in 2010, helped by Rossi overstepping the limits trying to keep up and robbing us of a battle (at Mugello no less, hands wringing for the next race). Lorenzo has only gotten faster since then. I knew before Rossi's drubbing of Lorenzo at Jerez, the last time Rossi out-raced an injury-free Lorenzo was Malaysia 2010...I will bet it has been even longer since he out-qualified him like he did yesterday. That was the real shocker to me. Lorenzo is going through a tough spell right now, but he hasn't all of a sudden lost his mojo that he has consistently demonstrated for the last 5 years. He will figure it out and come charging back. He got beat by a rookie on the satellite bike in this race for heaven's sake...a satellite ahead of him happened once before...but Pol ain't what Spies was!! Lorenzo has really dropped off for the moment, but he ain't gone.

The one who has been completely and utterly demoralized and destroyed is Pedrosa. Rossi's comments post-race were spot on....the main difference between the Honda and Yamaha teams is down to the rider...Marquez. Pedrosa never got a smackdown like this from Stoner and there is no end in sight. He is psychologically beaten.

I am loving seeing Rossi back because he is clearly much improved. But I was looking forward to him battling the real Lorenzo, not this imposter we have now. We need Lorenzo back to make this championship exciting. Mugello may be a one-off fight for victory between Marquez and Rossi, but the real battle this season will be between Rossi, Lorenzo and Pedrosa (barring anything silly happening to Marquez).

I have nothing to say about Marquez...I'm speechless. Pure awesomeness.

I'm not particularly a Rossi fan, but I wonder why you typed that history review but ignored that VR46 won the world championship in both 2008 and 2009; ignored that VR46 rode most of 2010 with a debilitating shoulder injury (motocross training crash) plus sustained a compound fracture that caused him the miss 4? or 5? races; and rode the ill-handling Ducati in 2011 and 2012. There is no mystery about Valentino's poor results in the 2010-2012 period. The real mystery IMO is, where was the Alien Rossi last year, and why were his 2013 results on the M1 Yamaha so ordinary compared to what we are seeing this year?

Rossi needs no analysis, we know he was awesome in 2008 and 2009 (and before), and yes he was hurt in 2010. My point is that Lorenzo was already faster than him in 2009 but got beat through Rossi's experience and racecraft. In 2010, Lorenzo stepped it up a notch and further still in 2011-13. Why do you think Rossi left Yamaha for Ducati? Don't forget it was Rossi who demanded the Wall and the non-sharing of data and setups...because he knew where his strengths were and who had more pure speed (IMHO). He knew he would get beat if he stayed.

I suspect that his results were so ordinary last year partly because he needed to learn how to ride a real bike again. My point, however, is that his results would not appear so extraordinary this year if Lorenzo were doing what he normally does. Again, the fact that Pol was only a couple secs behind Rossi and Lorenzo was behind Pol tells me that Rossi's riding was not THAT extraordinary and Lorenzo's was horrible (as was Dani's trailing Pol & Bautista - Dani should NEVER lose to Alvaro). Anyway, very uncharacteristic for Jorge...

"Don't forget it was Rossi who demanded the Wall and the non-sharing of data"

I think you'll find that Bridgestone and / or Michelin put that wall up when Rossi switched to Bridgestone tires (Lorenzo was still on Michelin). Rossi did not demand it, it's just a myth people who don't like Rossi like to cling to.

Once the entire paddock went BS the wall stayed, Rossi was for it and Lorenzo was against it.


Sorry to ruin your storyline of Rossi haters clinging to myths but behind the scenes he is the most Machiavellian rider around. Insisting on keeping the wall after there is no reason to is just one more point indicative of that fact.


Look I don't personally know the guy, but to accuse Rossi of being Machiavellian is wrong. Machiavellian is defined as someone being amoral or unscrupulous.

Now if you had said he is ruthless, relentless, ferocious, etc... well, ok.

A nine time champ being ruthless? Big shocker there.

But, I have never witnessed or heard of any amoral behavior. Not to say he is an angel, and there may be an example out there, but on the whole to call him Machiavellian is wrong.

Ma·chi·a·vel·lian - adjective - suggesting the principles of conduct laid down by Machiavelli; specifically :  marked by cunning, duplicity, or bad faith.

Note the 'or'. Nobody would deny Rossi's ability to achieve his objectives using his wit and cunning. Reynard or Macchiavelli, you choose.

Bing's definition of Machiavellian: cunning and unscrupulous: using clever trickery, amoral methods, and expediency to achieve a desired goal, especially in politics

I would certainly defer to Merriam Webster over Bing though.

Chris's posts are respected here, so when I saw the word in his post I cringed a bit. I just disagree with the suggestion that having these traits is unique to Rossi and should define him.

Rossi has been around for a long time and from my armchair I think the examples of his like of fair play and a 'good battle' outnumber the bad examples.

But I thought it fit. Rossi is out for himself above all others. So are all the other riders, but like most things racing he pulls it off just a bit more and better than the rest.

>>having these traits is unique to Rossi and should define him.

I didn't say they were unique to him but he seems to utilize and benefit most from their application.

>> I think the examples of his like of fair play and a 'good battle' outnumber the bad examples.

On track Rossi is one of the fairest riders out there, he is willing to push and close doors yet does not complain when pushed or has the door closed on him. Its when you get off the track that his behind the scenes scheming to me takes away from his stature as a sportsman. Things like trying to torpedo Yamaha signing Lorenzo or Stoner to me are just too much. Then again, you usually don't get to dominate like he did without a singular focus of will and effort on all fronts.


He has a collection of traits and techniques that he applies to the situation at hand with the hope of gaining an advantage over his opponents and it usually works. Is that clearer?


I don't get why some fans think this behind the scenes stuff is so bad. In my job I'm quite happy to have someone come into my team with an eye on my job down the road, but I'm certainly not going to sit passively by and have someone come in to displace me next year while I'm still delivering the goods. Why would Rossi be any different? Maybe he felt that he and JB had done a load of work to get the M1 to where it was, he'd given Yamaha loads of podiums and titles, felt he was more than capable of delivering more of the same, so why should he be all sweetness and light about them bringing in Jorge or Casey to get in his way. If things had been different he might well have got another 1 or 2 titles, instead of which he wasted 3 years at ducati and re-learning the M1.

>>but I'm certainly not going to sit passively by and have someone come in to displace me next year while I'm still delivering the goods.

When Yamaha signed Lorenzo for 2008 they had been 2 years with no rider or manufacturer championship. They were not replacing Rossi with Lorenzo. Ducati and Stoner seemed to be on the cusp of making it a consistent 3 factory race so it was completely reasonable for Yamaha to promote their rising star, especially since the current factory #2 rider had not been able to bring home consistent top finishes.

>>Maybe he felt that he and JB had done a load of work to get the M1 to where it was, he'd given Yamaha loads of podiums and titles, felt he was more than capable of delivering more of the same, so why should he be all sweetness and light about them bringing in Jorge or Casey to get in his way.

Correct me here but weren't both Rossi and JB paid employees of Yamaha? To me the rider calling the shots is like the tail wagging the dog. You may disagree which is fine but if his time at Ducati has shown anything it is that there are whole lot more people than the rider and crew chief that share credit for any win or title.

>>If things had been different he might well have got another 1 or 2 titles

He left Yamaha, they did not fire him. This was the only time his machinations backfired on him. He did get paid handsomely but I'm sure he would give it all back if he could reverse the decision.


Everything you say is perfectly reasonable but the point I'm making is that Rossi hasn't behaved particularly differently to how most people would and I think the examples given are thin grounds on which to paint him as some kind of dark force. If I was Mr Yamaha I'd have done as they did. If I was Rossi I'd have done as he did. The corporate body is still just a collection of people with various levels of power within the structure, and Rossi was in a position to try to influence decisions. Why wouldn't he try to get the best deal for himself? Their not riding for world peace or an end to famine, there's no noble cause here to which personal ambition should be subservient. Of course there were a whole host of people behind the bike's, and Rossi's, success, I didn't mean to diminish their role in any way.

Another way to look at this episode is that Rossi threatened to up sticks if he didn't get his own way. I bet most of us have done this one way or another in our lives, and backed down when we realised the other party wasn't going to budgee. Rossi though saw it through and paid a very high price. He didn't just have to endure two appalling years on the ducati, forgoing two of his few remaining chances to get that 10th title, he also had to eat humble pie to go back to Yamaha. He didn't have to do that, he can't possibly need the money, and to do so takes a bit of backbone.

Valentino Rossi lobbied very hard to prevent Jorge Lorenzo joining the factory Yamaha team. Right up until the end of 2007, Colin Edwards was convinced he would be Rossi's teammate, and Lorenzo would have to go elsewhere. For the 2008 season, Rossi lobbied to ensure that only he would get the Bridgestone tires, and not Lorenzo. He succeeded.

Ruthless? Absolutely. Macchiavellian? I would say it was. It depends on how negatively you view the word Macchiavellian, I suppose.

Wasn't it 2009 that Rossi beat Lorenzo at Catalunya? First passing on the outside of T1 and finally the last turn to win the race? I think Rossi beat him several other times that season too......

Now, was Lorenzo coming? Absolutely.

But, I wouldn't say he was already faster. It was still pretty even at that point. 2010, JLo made another step. That's where it would have been interesting to see what happened over the course of the year.

I agree with you 99% (no pun intended). When I say faster, I am talking about hotlap pace. The question is who can ride a faster single lap...to me that is who is "faster". The challenge is who is a hotlapper vs who is a racer. Rossi is fast of course, but he has proven over the years that he is a racer above everything else. He can barely get a sniff at the front row now because he lacks the one lap balls-to-the-wall pace, but he has race pace, race craft and a strategic mindset to deliver results above what he should.

So Jorge was faster in 2009. But as I said before, Rossi beat him that year because of experience and race raft. That is what happened at Catalunya and the key race when 99 crashed trying to pass 46. The same way that 46 is beating all the cats that qualify in front of him now. I contend that Crutchlow is "faster" than Rossi but I wouldn't be against Rossi on the same bike now. It's all semantics.

I'm too lazy to look up the qualifying stats for 99 vs 46 in 2009, but I will bet you a Euro 99 was in front more often.... :)

And I would still argue that over the course of the race, Rossi was still (over the whole year) faster than Lorenzo.

Now, I also do remember there were some races, probably an equal amount, where JLo was just plain faster than VR46 and walked away and won.

I guess we differ in our definitions of faster. I would argue that even Pedrosa is a better one-lap wonder than VR46, but history will show that Pedrosa = no MotoGP WC and VR46, well....

And to me, that stat says VR46 was always faster.

Hilarious retort, but your memory is playing tricks on you. Spend a weekend watching some of Spies old races vs. Mladin & Haga. I never was much of a huge Spies fan, despite watching him come up through the lower AMA classes. As a Haga fanboy I hated watching him deprive my beloved Nitro Nori of his long-deserved championship, but he displayed a level of racing ability I've never seen from Espargaro. Just my opinion, of course.

Great Superbike riders.

But lets see their input on motogp bikes.

Haga 2001 - 14th...
Haga 2003 - 14th on the Cube... but still beaten by Colin on the same thing.

Mladin 1993 - 13th - sure on a Cagiva but beaten by Kocinski who only started 4 races on the same bike

Spies out performed them all
2010 - 6th
2011 - 5th
2012 - 10th
2013 - best left unsaid

Pol is currently 7th with 13 races to go.

If numbers are what we're going by, how is Pols' 7th better than Spies' 6th in 2010? Spies podiumed in round 5 of 2010 (albeit in mixed conditions), Pols' best so far is 4th. Pol also had tons more relevant track & paddock knowledge coming in, although Spies had quite a few (fairly successful- 14th, 8th & 6th on Suzi, 7th on Yam.) wild card appearances. That all said, I do think Pol will be a more successful GP rider than Spies. To say Bens' career potential went unfulfilled is a bit of an understatement.

Could you show me where I said Pols current 7th is better than SPies in 2010?

My comment was largely focussed on bringing up spies racing with haga et al, when they were large fish in little ponds, but dwarfed in the MotoGP ocean.

Pol is racing on the second rate of the second rate bikes, coming up from smaller engines. Track knowledge is one thing, 1000cc is another. The remainder of the season will be interesting to see how he progresses. The man he replaced finished fifth on the same bike.

Saying Rossi has put up a fight against Marquez is like saying the dragonfly on my windshield put up a fight against my car... The only time Rossi, let alone anyone, put up a fight against Marquez was when Marc's leg was broken and Marc still won. I like to call Marc the Juggernaut.

If a kid from Queensland comes along thinking it will be all about passing cleanly and with good technique like he might have learned back home, he'll need to adjust quickly. And so he has. IMO, Miller has been on the end of harsh moves more than he perpetrates them. I feel we will see this change now.

then Vinales harassed his efforts to snatch the victory at Jerez I think Jack's motto is now "take no prisoners!" The way he puts that KTM wherever he wants it on the track is exciting to watch. If he could just match the Hondas for horsepower on the straights I think he'd be a shadow on the horizon every race. Probably owe Fenati some respect for his ability to fight his way through the field each race too.

But no more unfair than many moves he's been on the receiving end of. It was a real 'line in the sand' statement to Vazquez, that he was not going to be pushed around. And although he turned in across Vazquez's bow it also shows that Vazquez didn't have enough bike underneath Miller to prevent Miller slamming the door in his face, so he either had to pull out of the move or take them both down. Brilliant.

That's all Vazquez's actions were. It's a high-pressure environment and he tried something and was thwarted. No different to Miller being pissed off at Fenati a few races back.
Nothing to see here. Move on.
Vazquez went in too hot to try to hold the corner, as evidenced by his widening line as he tried to exit, but found Miller on a tightening line on his outside. I'm in awe of Jack's ability to hold a racing line after being so hard on the brakes, and frankly I didn't think he'd hold the corner. Glad he did, though.

On a pure racing note, so far Miller has been comparatively gentlemanly compared with some of the shenanigans that occur in Moto3. I hope he continues to be firm but fair.

I think that Jack Miller's fans are bringing a certain bias to the question of riding ethics and safety in Moto3. Miller's collision with Vasquez was brutal, and it was deliberate. It was outside the range of acceptable last-lap tactics IMO. And yet multiple posts are condoning and defending that move. I'm not buying it.

There is nothing I have seen in professional racing, nor experienced personally in club racing, to make me think that move was "hard but fair." It reminds me of a Marc Marquez move in Moto2 a few years ago, and that move was roundly criticized. IIRC, Marquez was sanctioned but he won on appeal or something. Fenati's move a few weeks ago was less objectionable and less dangerous, but he was also criticized heavily for it.

As for the alleged multiple instances where Vasquez delivered overly-aggressive moves, could someone please be more specific? After reading these comments, I watched (most of) the race again, and saw nothing untoward from Vasquez, but I could have missed something. If there is anything, I'd like to review the video again.

It looked to me like Miller shut the door on Vasquez pretty violently, forcing Vasquez to reconsider his inside pass. But I don't think Miller actually hit him, where Miller has been bumped into pretty hard a couple of times. If you're not prepared to race hard in Moto 3 you'll finish nowhere.

I thought there was contact, but not certain. I am sure Vasquez had position in the corner. And Miller knew that, but turned in anyway, forcing Vasquez to stand up the bike and mash the brakes. I'm all for hard racing, but not dirty racing.

If you want to amuse yourself, trawl  through some old patents from the 1930s. You'll find almost every part of a modern MotoGP machine (and modern motorcycle), plus all of their alternatives, already registered. The hard part is getting it to work...

Implementation is the key. The 1910 James is certainly not as neat as the Bimota Tesi 3D, but the basic implementation development is evolutionary.

I dont think that this implementation of the Hossack front end doesnt even evolve the concept over the Hossack 1, the Duolever, or Brittens carbon fibre fork (besides being Apple shiny - and it sure is purdy).

But like all funny front ends, it will be a hard task completing against forks that are at the peak of their evolution.

When Stoner gave Rdp a nice what for on the shoulder for tooling around on the racing line race direction were all over him with a fine. How is it that Vazquez didn't get at least a warning, if not a penalty point or a fine for his unbecoming conduct?
p.s. Go Jack!!! Us Aussies need some pain relief after Casey shattered our ability to indulge our national pride.

I think the comment is regarding Vasquez physically hitting (assaulting) Miller when they were on the slow-down lap.

The pass on the last lap was quite simply a 'racing incident', Race Direction has made that clear so there's nothing more to discuss on that.

Yes, that was my point given Race Directions handling of similar previous incidents.

Good to see that TransFIORmer got a mention and impressive to see that they were in the points at one stage of the race. Although the technology isn't new in theory, at least someone is trying something different in an ocean of norm.

I'm wondering how much of Lorenzo's struggles and Rossi's resurgence can be simply attributed to the new tires

It is well known that last year Rossi admitted that he needed to change riding styles to be quick on the newer edge grip heavy tires, which Lorenzo thrived on

Now, with the switch to tires with less edge grip, suddenly the roles are reversed and Rossi is back in charge.

Things are rarely that simple, but I suspect that the type of tires used this year are a bit part of the reason in the switch in the competitive balance between the two riders

David, maybe a topic for an upcoming article?

I think Rossi is quite vulnerable. He can be beaten by Lorenzo and Pedrosa. Without taking anything from his performances thus far I can say with confidence that he is not he once was (prior to joining Ducati) and I am an admirer of Rossi. The truth is that this year the way the field is playing out there is Marquez who is the best and all others can be classified as the rest. The best of the rest is not really what we require. Marquez has made that classification totally into rubbish. Love the fellow. He is great and great for the sport.

So for non-French speaking people ( which is most of the world ) it is rather a useless website, unless you want to look at poor quality low resolution photos of the bike.


It is interesting that so many of the recent claims made by Rossi ( claims which to many seemed like excuses ) have been substantiated after the fact by actual events on the track this year. This says as much about Rossi's knowledge and expertise as any of his riding. If Rossi was on a Honda, I
reckon he and Marquez would leave the rest of the field behind in a decisive

No wonder they haven't set up a website for international visitors (nor that they have spelling mistakes in the titles), they run after cash all year long even at the smaller motorcycle events at the local scale, most of the team are unpaid volunteers and so on.
They can barely afford the 13 000 € fee to enter as a wildcard.

They even set up a page on some crowd funding website, asking for 5 000 € for Le Mans GP wildcard and getting none, this tells you all you need to know as far cash strapped goes.
(only in french but with a detailed budget and pictures of the bike)

The bike was assembled on Thursday and never ran in this configuration before FP1.
This makes it all the more impressive that they can be reasonably competitive at Grand Prix level, with spec tyres and a promising rider with little experience.
Lucas Mahias qualified less than 1 second from pole position, ran as high as 13th during the race and stayed in the points until past the halfway mark.

"Making set ups like these work with spec tires designed around telescopic forks is impressive indeed, and prove that the concept is sound. Just think what could be achieved with a decent budget, a decent rider, and above all, plenty of courage."

I have read reports that these front ends can not get enough heat into the front tyre, which as you said, has been designed for telescopic forks. So no matter the budget or anything else, I believe that innovation will remain stifled across all of the classes.

The rules are draconian. We live in an age of CAD, computerised FEA, and 5 axis cnc machines; where you can make your own 3D printer at home. We should be seeing the fruits of these tremendous advances in technology but all we see are laptops and electronic sensors.
So now you can build a road bike of the same displacement that weighs less than a MotoGP bike, has a larger bore for the same number of cylinders and wheels made from carbon fiber that are approved for ROAD use.
Of course it is their (dorna, MSMA whoever) show and as such they have carte blanche to do whatever they like, but I do wish that the motorcycle press at large would call it what it is and not promulgate the myths of "protoype class" and pretend that this represents the peak of technology and innovation.

I always like it when someone brings up the "prototype class". It kind of gets to the heart of what people think of when they think GP racing.

Is it supposed to mean open rules... or non-production based, because the two are not the same.

GP racing has always had rules... banning turbos, limiting displacement, limiting # of cylinders (starting in 1967-ish).

So when people say a "true prototype class", do they really mean "completely open" ?

Mainly because Lorenzo might be pushed down from being the next best thing on two wheels (after Marquez) to "just" an alien. And that would leave Yamaha in a more uncomfortable position regarding how agressively they should pursure young talent from Moto2/Moto3. Of course Tech 3 riders would also suddenly be under much more constant and intense scrutiny. But that isn't really new to them.

But then, I honestly think all bets are off once Bridgestone leaves for whoever replaces them. Tyres being so fantastic and fundamental, there is no telling what profound changes might come to the grid.

This reminds me at 2007's season.. at that time Rossi & Yamaha pretty much told the press.."ok..this year is not ours.. let's fix the bike and better luck next year"...*and the rest is history.
After 2013's season ends... Yamaha development was pretty much leading by Lorenzo since he is no 1 rider. Now looking at the results so far... Yamaha might be as well realized that Lorenzo is not good as Rossi in terms of bike development input. Rossi also had his input, but remember, Lorenzo is no 1 rider right?
So I guess for next year we will see M1's Rossi tailor made again.
No, I am not saying Marc wins because the bike.. but if Yamaha involved more Rossi's input after last season ends.. I don't think Marc would win this easily. He still can win, but maybe not like this. It looks like now Marc is playing Xbox in "easy" level. Lol.

"So I guess for next year we will see M1's Rossi tailor made again."

Are you serious? No offence intended, but how long have you been watching GP racing? Because your opinion appears to me to be a 'fair weather' perspective, rather than an observation grounded in reality.

I first attended a GP race in 1992 - after having watched plenty of GPs on tv in the years prior to that - and have rarely missed watching the coverage of a race since then. What I am seeing is merely a blip in Lorenzo's 2014 season challenge. It's a big blip, granted, and the title may already be out of reach for him - but he will be back as strong as ever. His ability remains, and the bike is up to the job from a purely mechanical/electronic perspective. The difference is that Rossi has come to grips with the new tyre spec a bit faster than Lorenzo, and it's also fair to say that Rossi has less pressure on him than Lorenzo.

If you want some evidence of how the tyre can impact the ability of a front-runner to win, just look at what happened to the Hondas in 2012.

Seriously, don't for a moment write Lorenzo off as a challenger to the title. Even as far behind as he is now, he is still absolutely the nearest thing Marquez has to a rival. And I say that as one whose opinion of Lorenzo is more 'earned respect' than 'fan'.

Sure.. no problem mate :-)

Anyway, I watch GP since Rainey-Schwantz-Doohan era. :-)

"So I guess for next year we will see M1's Rossi tailor made again."

I mean is if things continue to go this way and Rossi finish ahead of Lorenzo..than Rossi will be the no 1 rider and will be have more attention right?
Yes.. the bike is up to the engineering department, but the riders also give their input & feedback in term of development. For example, Rossi 2013 brake problems looks like sorted now. So I guess Rossi had his input & feedback for the engineers.
Back to the championship, I am sure both of Rossi & Lorenzo can fight with Marc, as long as Yamaha can bring a significant updates this season (and that will be good for the championship as well)...#man, we desperately need this...

Cheers yzf-r15, appreciate your follow-up - yeah I agree that Rossi will have a higher focus from the team given his results so far, but most of what they have planned for the season is pretty much locked in... and rather than switching focus from 99 to 46, they are probably scrambling to make things work for 99. Well, you'd hope so, anyway.

At least I think it was 76, or maybe 77. He won of course. Guess there's a lot of us old farts out here! By the way, one more time, 34 is not old, you'll realise that properly once youre staring 60 in the eye.

I think you hit on every point David. That last race made me feel this about Bautista, his bike is not that bad. Nissin and SHOWA especially seem to be underrated. Nissin I believe can be lower level brakes but Showa have YEARS of championships. I bet if someone else gets his seat, say Redding. The bike parts will no longer be an issue. The issue will be getting better on that Factory spec, (besides the non Ohlins and Brembo parts), how to get that bike up with the leaders. His own mistakes have held him back. Hopefully he will move forward from here.

Rossi seems to have found the magic potion that steals Lorenzo's confidence and gives it to him, (Rossi). Seeing Rossi with a smile back on his face and looking like he feels like he can be a factor again warms my heart. I do not want to see him go out into retirement like Holyfield or any other boxer that has gone on too long. It hurts when you are fan watching that. Rossi is showing that he can be somewhat of a factor.

Lorenzo is in a depression. I do not believe that he will stay having these problems. Once he gets a setup he feels good with, the Metronome will return.

Marquez....what can anyone say. If you do not believe he is one special individual, then you are a hater plain and simple. This is historical what we are all witnessing. Trying my hardest not to admire him too much, but DAMN! Rossi is right. It is not the bike. Someone should find a way to force Marquez to ride for Ducati to even the field out. So he does not win with such ease. ;)

"Mike Webb told me at Jerez that the intention of Race Direction was to let the riders race, and try to win. Pull that stuff earlier in the race, and especially in practice, and they would treat it much more severely, but last corner, last lap, riders have a right to try to win the race."

Yeah, because a collision on the last lap won't leave anyone injured, paralyzed or dead like it would on an earlier lap, right?

Every time Webb opens his mouth he frightens me more ...

Simoncelli's move on Pedrosa was unnecessary. It was mid-race, he was clearly faster than Pedrosa, and could have passed him at any time. If he'd waited until the front straight, he would have passed Pedrosa with ease. Instead, he passed him in the worst place on the track, and at the worst possible time, causing Pedrosa to fall. Simoncelli had his eyes on a possible podium. Miller's pass was three corners before the checkered flag, when there was a race win at stake. He did not touch Vazquez, and Vazquez did not crash.

I agree completely with Mike Webb. In the last couple of corners, riders should have a little more leeway. If Miller had pulled that move during free practice, or while battling for 20th on lap 10, it may have deserved penalty points. But on the last lap, last corner (or last complex, as at Le Mans) then riders should be allowed to race.

Yes Marco had faster lap pace but passing Dani on the straight unlikely with Dani's weight/acceleration advantage. Still all could see, including Dani from his pit boards, that it was only a matter of time before Marco passed. You have forgotten that Marco passed him cleanly in the proceeding corner & Dani with better acceleration chose to put himself into such a high risk position at the next corner. The silly thing was Dani did not do what he would ordinarily do. That is let the bullish rider through, keep his own pace & pounce when the inevitable tyre fade happens. Dani was under some pressure at the time in the press for not being a forceful rider & that maybe drove him to that hot-headed but pointless attempt to reclaim track position after Marcos' pass. . Yes Marco was at fault, but what was Dani thinking?

Coulda woulda shoulda. The main point of it is that Simoncelli failed to make a clean pass. That's his responsibility, not Dani's.

I know it's not the journalists' favourite track and it's probably not the riders' favourite track either, but I find that Le Mans consistently delivers interesting races. Maybe not for the win (but we are yet to witness such a circuit this year anyway) but somehow this track seems to extract errors from many riders and the race is somewhat different that what practice suggests. Jorge looked so strong up to and including warm up that this 6th place just doesn't seem right.

Regarding the influence of Silvano Galbusera in Rossi's results. I think it is greater than what Rossi will publicly admit, to his credit actually after that graceless sacking of Burgess last year. I remember all too well how last year's Friday practice would show a strong Rossi and how come Saturday and especially Sunday this would no longer be the case. I believe people, also on this website, were detecting a relative lack of improvement during the weekend and in my understanding this has a lot to do with the set-up direction decided by the crew chief. Instead this year, as Rossi also stated, it seems that whatever the troubles on Fri-Sat, come Sunday he always has a good bike and that, I believe, has a lot to do with how they work in the garage and a big part of that credit should go to Galbusera. So hats off to Galbusera for successfully filling very big shoes and to Rossi for going forward with this bet, and actually doing all the riding that has rendered him the only serious threat to Marquez.

Speaking of whom, I will agree with so many other people's comments. Indeed the race for the win has become.... well... there is no race for the win really, but we are truly witnessing something special; historical moments, as Averagerider says above. I am very intrigued to see where this will go, where this will stop and what MM will be doing towards the end of the year out of shear boredom.

As a final note, Mugello has already been hyped up so much, not least by Rossi who spoke of "honour" (I never saw that coming), so I hope they all keep it real and provide a good race despite the huge pressure that is already on. Frankly I can't think of a better track to settle this question: can Marquez be beaten this year? To be honest, and despite rooting for Rossi, I think not.

I think what Silvano Galbusera brings to the table is more electronics expertise, and some fresh determination. Electronics is so fundamentally important to how these bikes operate now, and maybe Burgess was a bit too old school.. I must admit I'm surprised at how much difference there's been in Rossi's fortunes, though I also think the new Bridgestones have really played to his strengths by taking the emphasis off extreme edge grip.

I find it highly amusing that it would be Vazquez, of all people, who lets out a sentence like "These riders look like they have no brain". Not only has he consistently been one of the main offenders to pull overly aggressive and outright stupid moves all throughout a race (not just this season), he also appears to have zero race strategy, seemingly going to red mist the very second someone passes him and then being hellbent to pass the rider back, regardless of how much this messes up everyone's rhythm, including his own. More often than not this also always allows someone else to get away at the front, so he is depriving himself of real chances to win with his own lack of strategy. Given his age and vast experience in the class, especially compared to the amount of Rookies and barely experienced riders in Moto3, I am somehow still surprised when he does the same thing again the next race. For all intents and purposes he should be leading every race over the line and dispatch of the younger riders with ease.

All that said though: Congratz Jack! After staying on the throttle and optimistic despite some abysmal equipment in recent years I think that he deserves every good thing coming to him and he has certainly taken the chance he has now and is shaking it by the neck like there is no tomorrow.

I believe Jorge lives in a nightmare at the moment. There is no way he will be able to beat MM when he can't even beat his own team mate (you know that old fart that everybody said should have quit many years ago). It's sad to see him crack under the pressure and make mistake after mistake.

I think Lorenzo will be riding a Ducati next year.

Another chapter in "Operation Clean Sweep" closed.

Marquie the cyborg.... aka Asimo 3.0 (Asimarquie)

The way he flicked that Honda through that chicane.... it looked like a controlled highside. His understanding of motorcycle dynamics... it's not human.

Is anyone else just loving the way Rossi and Marquez are relating to each other?

Casey Stoner was just such a bitter person, he and Rossi just couldn't seem to get along. I always found that a bit sad. So much racing success, so much failure on a personal level.

To see Rossi give MM a shove after the race in Laguna last year and then see them both burst into laughter, knowing it was a playful 'damn you' was just magic to me.

There is a passing of the torch going on here and I'm really impressed with the way it is happening. The are both clearly admiring and respecting each other and enjoying a special time in history when perhaps the GOAT and likely his successor are sharing a track, racing hard against each other.. and getting along as friends and rivals should

Perhaps Rossi has in his vintage years begun to understand that he should have shown a little more respect to Stoner - and others - and is now making good on that with Marquez.

It's easy to write the narrative of the era from the comfort of one's keyboard... but how true are the words written, if not from the protagonist's mouth?

And, back on topic - if Rossi somehow starts to get the better of Marquez, or even begins to get close to that - watch how the post-victory celebrations change. The leopard does not change his spots.

You can't compare Rossi/Stoner rivalry with what it seems to appear this year.

Rossi was the arrogant king, Stoner the no joke/no smile genious.

Now Marquez is the new king, very cool, a former Rossi's fan, unbeatable ... and Rossi an old phoenix, happy to be where he is right now, and admiror of who he considers his worthy (? excuse my english) successor. He has changed.

And even if in the future he manages to fight against E.T. with more chance to win, I'm quite sure he will not start a "media-fight" like he used to do.

But on the track, for sure, if there in the same place with the same pace they will fight mercyless, these two pilots love the same thing : FIGHT.

I'd love to see that but ...

And Lorenzo will come back for sure ... but the title is over for him, 80 points is far far too much.

I think that a superior force (call it whatever you want) has made Rossi humble. Before I am misunderstood let me tell everybody concerned that I was a Rossi fan. I say I was because over the years I have learnt that you cannot be the fan of someone who thinks he is God. Though I am no big fan of Lorenzo as a person, I think Lorenzo showed himself to the better person than Rossi on many occasions. I remember him wearing a yellow 46 numbered T shirt when he went on to the podium and dedicated his win (or was it second place) to Rossi in the race where Rossi fractured his leg. He showed himself as being confident of his ability when he did not stand in the way of Rossi returning to Yamaha. Rossi left Yamaha asking them to choose between himself and Lorenzo. His return to Yamaha could have been blocked by Lorenzo, but he did not. He did not run Rossi down as did Casey Stoner. But then Stoner was different person. Was he bitter by nature? I don't know. I suppose it is not exactly easy to take booing by a partisan audience because you have won a race beating the man they loved. The press was so enamoured of Rossi that they rarely gave Stoner his due. I am no Stoner fan. I find it extremely difficult to like him. But that cannot be the ground for saying rubbish about him. The Rossi-Stoner rivalry was the real deal. And the first blow that Rossi suffered was delivered by Stoner as an underdog riding a Ducati. He did not have the same kind of history that Rossi had in the 125 cc and 250 cc classes, yet he showed he could beat Rossi fair and square in the premier class. In my opinion Stoner was the one who ended Rossi's reign, not Ducati.

I will not get into comparisons between Stoner and Marquez. That would be untenable because it will be comparing the actual with the hypothetical, and that is a very foolish thing to do. What I do know is that Marc Marquez is special and since 2013 he has been demonstrating that he is a wunderkind in every sense of the term. Rossi will never be able to beat Marquez unless the latter has a problem. The so called Rossi revival is good enough to fight lesser talent (in that I do not include Lorenzo and Pedrosa) and teach them a thing or two. Lorenzo will find his feet again this season and if Pedrosa is able to overcome his problems it is just a matter of time for Rossi to start riding in a lonely fourth place. He being the onetime great that he is will not lose his ability to ride significantly faster than riders on Ducatis or private Hondas and Yamahas which as machines do not give the same kind of base to a rider. Bradl could be an exception but even if his machinery is the equal of what Pedrosa is given, he simply does not have the talent to get anywhere near Rossi. So right now all that matters is thus far this season Marc Marquez is peerless. Only sudden and major improvements from Lorenzo and to a lesser extent Pedrosa can offer a challenge. Rossi is having a run of good luck and I will not grudge him that but in terms of sheer pace over a race distance he can consider himself great if he can be behind Marquez in a position which is less than 5 seconds away at the conclusion of the race.

A Rossi-Marquez rivalry is just like a wet dream of a teenager with raging hormones. Even to think of it is really quite hilarious.

Rossi only lucky so far?? No offense... but I don't think so.. he already beat Lorenzo and Pedrosa this season... almost beat Marquez at Qatar... you call that lucky..?? Sorry mate.. but I disagree..
Give him some respect....
Rossi earns what he deserves.. he trained hard after 2013 ends.. msde a brave decision to replace JB with Silvano... so here it is... he deserves his result so far...

With all respect I can't agree. The ducati was a superior package that year, though to be fair it seems to have needed stoner on it to bring out the potential. Faster riders have regularly beaten rossi over the years, including lorenzo, because rossi has never really been consistently fastest. Neither Stoner nor Lorenzo (nor Pedrosa) could routinely beat Rossi at close quarters, each needed a clear track to do their thing. Rossi's consistency has been as probably the best racer over many years. Even during the dark days at ducati he would often out-race the midfield in the final few laps. And he beat Stoner and Lorenzo too many times for either of them to think they were clearly better than him. Marquez is different. He's faster and as good at racing. He may even be better, who knows, only time will tell. Rossi himself seems to acknowledge that, which may be why he shows Marquez so much more respect.

I do agree though that we're unlikely to see a rivalry between them. If we're lucky we might get the odd glimpse of what could have been, but no more than that. It's a shame that Rossi wasn't in this years form last year, when it would have been more likely.

Here's a thought: generally, men peak around their late twenties. That's when their physical power and mental strength tend to be optimised. Either side of this they are either still developing or declining relative to that peak. So while Rossi is probably never going to be quite as good as he was a few years ago, he might well remain better than many of the young 20's out there for a while to come; but Marquez is probably just going to get better. Maybe this is what's taken the wind out of Jorge's sails.


"The leopard does not change his spots."

I thought the same thing. But that's a good thing, who'd want any different than a fiesty and fast Rossi?

Casey Stoner did not have the mental make-up to deal with either Rossi or the spotlight of the sport ,its politics,media focus and mind games....He was clearly miserable as soon as he was no longer on the bike and on the track. It affected him mentally and physically.... Which is why he left...I don't necessarily mean that as knock on one of the most talented Champions that the sport has seen...just the reality....and Casey faced that reality and dealt with it in the manner he felt best....meanwhile, the rest of the paddock is racing.....and Rossi continues to mentally deal with the field in the manner he sees as best fitting the circumstance......

Stoner and Rossi were rivals, and two completely different personalities to top it off.
Marquez and Rossi are no rivals, which makes it a lot easier to be all cuddly. Marquez is happy because he is the new king, Rossi is happy because he is the underdog that all of a sudden is beating his team mate.

I wonder whether the jovial good nature would be the same if Rossi was still Yamaha's #1 or were they much closer rivals. I suspect not.

I just finished his book and if I had not read the last few chapters I would have disagreed with you, but i think he undid a lot of good will the book was earning when(at least for me) he started his vendetta section. He was an unquestioned talent, faster than anything I'd seen before watching MM and driven beyond belief, but on the whole the sport is better off without him. I think VR46 sees that the sport will be safe in the hands of Marc and I also think this next contract will be signed for him to figure out how to beat MM and get his 10th WC and go out on top ( at least I hope).

I don't understand what he is supposedly bitter about given that Rossi was eating his own contempt on the Ducati, and he turned down a massive offer from Honda in order to retire?

Oh, I also apparently didn't get the 'vendetta section' in my copy....I thought said what he was unhappy about with apology from the start, especially including MA and the MA affiliated bodies he dealt with here in Australia.

Disclaimer: I am a Stoner fan, but not a fanboy. I also like Crutchlow despite his current woes, and Rossi at the moment for being willing to enjoy a fight with Marquez. I think 'we' tend analyse the personalities too much, myself included.

... with Dovi perhaps the most impressive rider in my eyes. He's clearly got the speed within him, but the Ducati (just as Dovi himself described) falls off dramatically after about 5 laps once the tires wear short of brand spanking new.

Besides Marquez' hayday, you've got to say Rossi is the only rider with the mindset to take him on. While Jorge and Dani clearly struggle with their own heads at this point, Rossi is enjoying himself and is far more pragmatic than others in the paddock. When he talks about about challenging Marc, he might as well be talking about next weekend's backyard scrap on dirt bikes, not racing at the pinnacle of roadracing.

The media likes to spin, fine they have to spin to exist, but it's refreshing to hear a rider bring us all back down to reality. It's a bunch of guys riding around on motorcycles and "unbeatable" just doesn't factor into human competition.

I fully expect more excitement this season.

As far as I can tell Rossi is the only rider out there that is actually closer to MM this year despite MM clearly making a huge step and blowing Dani and Jorge it has to be said(he'll have to prove he can still do it with the new tyres like everyone else) into the weeds..

Pedrosa and Lorenzo need to step up. Whatever is bothering them, I hope they fix it fast. Rossi is not close enough to actually bother Marquez and I don't quite see that changing this year.

I first started watching GPs in 1986. I was in a bike shop buying parts for my VFR750 and they were playing a video of a 500cc GP race. I was hooked and have been follwing GPs/MotoGP since! Guess I'm old! I have every 500cc/MotoGP season review video/DVD since 1984! I'm glad to see Rossi is back fighting for podiums and enjoying his racing. I also realize that I am witnessing the beginnings of a legend in MM93. I haven't seen this sort of demoralizing domination since Mick Doohan. He may not lose a race all year!

Aaahhhhh,.... sweet, sweet VFR750! A flawless (for the time) bike if there ever was one. The first sportbike I ever attained total oneness with! I've owned 6, & a couple full HRC race packages. In 1988 alone I put almost 105,000 miles on a brand new one. Spent almost $20,000 on tires...Good Times!! :)

Wow, was that my first flashback? ;)

I remember the first time I ever saw the VFR750 on a forecourt. Wasn't it something. Never got to ride one, sadly, too poor back then, but how I dreamed!

Exactly my sentiments about the RC30!! I did get to ride one at a track day (only at a gentlemens' pace, unfortunately). Still will acquire one if situation/$$$ allow.

P.S. Honda, bring on the next-gen V4 superbike!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Another VFR fan here (surprising I know ; )

Got two 4th Gens. Love love love that motor.

Enjoy the write up David, gracias mi amigo. Did the manner in which MM93 carved through the field and tossed the bike about inspire your verbage? Fun flair, makes me smile.
Interesting start and first half a race! Enjoyed it. I admit brazenly rooting for Rossi to gap out and Marquez to get held up. Disappointing for the pass to be battle-free.

Nice job Pol Espargaro! Fun to see him developing. He was backing the Yamaha in and loose, beautiful wll controlled slides. Wished for him to podium. Ducati is getting there, it is apparent. Looking fwd to that first win.

Fun race!

At first I too was hoping Rossi would get far ahead enough to pinch the win, but then thought that this would have been a hollow victory. There's no fight for the title this year, that's done and dusted barring a terrible mishap, so it has to be about who can actually take on and beat Marquez fair and square. The only value for rossi in winning would have been the points gain over pedrosa, but i think he'll probably manage that anyway in another race or two.

My money (monopoly dosh naturally) is still on Rossi and I don't mind if the only way he can do it is by weaving all over the track just to stop the little tyke getting past, or brake-testing into every corner, so long as they are head to head and neither gets hurt. And I suspect that's what they want too, Qatar revisited every other week.

Ducati. Win. I struggle to see those two words in a future tense statement :-) More chance of seeing Mr De Maglio on the podium (read further down)

Apart from the obvious dominance of Marc Marquez, I respectfully suggest it may be a little early to start making predictions about how the fortunes of the other three factory riders pan out.

After a great second place finish at Qatar, Rossi made a rather strange chassis set-up choice at Austin and succeeded in scrubbing out the right-hand side of his front tyre, in practice, and in the race. It is hard to accept that was a Bridgestone quality control issue as no one else had that problem. Lorenzo had other problems (nerves). But he was catching his team-mate hand over fist at the end.

In Argentina, Lorenzo was 1.7 seconds ahead of Rossi at the finish after leading for 16 of the 25 laps.

At Jerez Lorenzo just did not seem to fire, running third for 20 of the 25 laps then losing the final podium place to Pedrosa. And at Le Mans both he and Dani seemed unable to get to grips with the grip. However, as everyone is on the same tyres, this must come down to chassis set-up and riding style. Bautista got stronger the longer the race went on and Pol Espargaro was able to run at the front most of the race. It would be interesting to get his opinion of the Bridgestones after a few years on Dunlops. He appears to have got to grips with their grip.

Finally, when Rossi mentions 'honour' in relation to Mugello, might he not be talking about the fact in his return-to-Yamaha year, his team-mate led every lap of the race at Mugello and won while Valentino did not complete a lap, having crashed with Bautista?

And Marquez? Last year he ran third most of the race, moved into second then crashed with three laps to go.

It is going to be fascinating to see what this year's Mugello race will bring. A Ducati on the podium seems a very long shot, but almost anything else is possible, including Marquez not winning (unlikely but possible).

One thing that comes through is that Marquez is revelling in mastering the best HRC can build while Rossi appears to have well and truly shaken off the despondency and desperation of the last three years and is enjoying his racing again. Everyone knows this is a confidence game and right now Marquez, Rossi and young Espargaro are showing that in spades, Bautista may be getting it back, Bradl seems to be gong backwards (not fully recovered?) and Pedrosa and Lorenzo are starting to look like last year's Rossi.

But, that can all change in the next two races.

every race this year, if he is good enough then so be it and I enjoy watching what the others have to try in order to catch up. What I will be very upset with is if MM starts playing with the competition either to entertain himself or the muppets. I haven't seen this type of behaviour in him and I just hope that he doesn't develop it. IMO the sport doesn't need it.

Not entirely clear that JL, VR or DP can see what MM is doing differently nor is it obvious that even if they understood it that they could replicate it.

Nice one Jack M, it has been a long long time since anyone has that much fun on one wheel after winning races.

Someone said earlier that Lorenzo was faster than Rossi in 2009; not to nitpick but I would say that he was almost as fast as Rossi in 2009.

But then it's a given. A 800cc Yamaha, well developed and meant to be smoothly ridden, Bridgestones rich in edge grip, a super fast alien rookie coming right out of 250s, an aging old timer with a successful background in 500cc 2strokes and 990cc 4strokes, you can't expect anything else.

If anything, Bridgestones took their time in bringing tires that would suit the 1000cc bikes and hence moving the riding style away from that of the 800cc era.

I mean, Lorenzo is simply facing the delayed inevitable.

Ideally, we should have seen the 2014 tires in 2012. While that would have certainly been bad for Lorenzo (and good for Casey), it would have helped Yamaha eventually : the M1 would have developed accordingly and just might have been closer to the Honda right now.

The Honda started off fine with a base well suited for the 1000cc class but not for the 2012 Bridgestones which were still languishing in the 800cc era. Once Honda adjusted and Brigdestones caught up, Yamaha was left behind.

I don't know much, but Yamaha needs to backtrack and build something along the lines of their 2005 version (obviously aligned to current requirements) : a short wheel based late braking monster thats not too shabby out of corners, with an engine layout specifically designed to aid chassis and handling improvements.

I can't help thinking that what Yamaha had in 2012 was a big nice well-mannered Labrador 250 with tires to suit, which Jorge exploited to devastating effect. Honda started off 2012 with a bloodhound, albeit a heavily muzzled one. Now the muzzle is off the bloodhound and the Lab is on the run.

Unless Yamaha take the next step in their engine layout, I fear they might not catch Honda...but then I guess that's a story for 2015.

guys don't you think that Pol Espargarro will be the man to follow MM93 in a couple of races . His riding style matches perfectly MM93 except that it does not go to the extreme yet . By the time a couple of races go by I bet he will challenge him .

He clearly couldn't keep up with Marc without throwing himself off the bike repeatedly in Moto2, can't see why it would be any different in MotoGP.

Yes, I was noting during qualifying and practice, that Pol was the only person that had the loose Marquez style about him. I really do think Pol will be a long term challenger to MM...

Sorry to say but the Yamaha under current 20L and handful of engines per yr regulations is NOT going to compete w the Honda. Even MM93 aside. The bike is anemic. We all have wishes and dreams, and many of us have shared one of MM93 being on ANY bike but the Honda for next season and this is very understandable. However, we are in for TWO seasons of this same dynamic.

2016 - here is where things get REALLY interesting!

P.S. imagine the expanded interest as the last of the CRT's matriculate off of their grid filler spots, Suzuki has 2 bikes ahead of the Production Honda Cup that are joined by 2 Aprilias. A few of the Prod Hondas are replaced by Open Ducatis and Open Yamahas piloted by up and coming talent other than Hernandez and (bless his old ass) Edwards. Championship software takes a leap forward in collaborative development to maximize the possible w 22.5L. Ducati continues the forward march they have undertaken. And who knows, HRC may not "get it right" first go.


I am staying tuned!

Some very funny things from this article and the comments:

1. Saying that Rossi is the only racer that can challenge Marquez. Er...what ? This statement should be qualified by saying that the current #2 in the standings racer is injured and can not ride. And Jorge has unfortunately allowed himself to be mentally destroyed by MM. Both these riders are faster than Vale.

2. Rossi saying it was just one small mistake that allowed MM past. His gesture to the camera after the race saying that a tiny mistake it was difference in the race ? I LOL'd at that point. Sorry Vale - you will never, ever beat Marc in a 1-1 fight. You don't have his pace, period. Once Marc got past, the battle was over. Daylight second.

3. The amount of people here on Jack Miller's back. It's Moto3 guys! This is what happens all through the field. What amazes me more though - a couple races ago, Fenati can pull a clumsy barge up the inside of the last corner, bashing aside both Marquez and Miller, P2 and P1 to take the win and then celebrate like he earned it - most people here said what a great, gutsy ride it was. And even many bought into the classic racer's excuse 'I ran out of tyre' - haha ! Very funny !

Some amusing tweets post race: Loris Baz, currently 4th in the world superbike standings tweeted of Vazquez's behaviour and comments post-race "Vazquez is something...and it starts with a 'D' and ends with 'Head'. Another said being Efrin @27 years old racing in Moto3 was aking to being a 45 year old at a rave, surrounded by teenagers. At 27 to be racing in the Junior class tells you something of the type of racer you are dealing with.

Moto3 as always, is the best class to watch. Always brilliant, always close, always hard. If you don't like hard moves, watch the utterly sanitised class that is MotoGP. Watching Miller, an absolute monster on the brakes, making up all the ground lost to the Honda on the straight and then some every time, was breathtaking to say the least.

Fantastic win Jack. Long May you reign.

Then both Pedrosa and Lorenzo would be beating Rossi-would they not? After 4 rounds they are not-simple, period whatever you like to call it mate, (no doubt I'm addressing mostly Aussies here) -if it wasn't for faulty tyre supply Rossi would easily be second in the title race.

I love all of the old Stoner fans still coming back out to try to rubbish Rossi's unbelievable performances this season-when during the past 3 seasons they were the first to bag him after one race let alone 4. Tyres are the problem for Jorge-how is that any different then tyres being a problem for Rossi during the last three seasons? Ducati and tyres? Where do you start?

It was a mistake that let Marc past, unfortunately as no doubt it would have been on for young and old had it not happened-unless you've had your head in the sand whilst watching GP's for the past 18 years, when it comes to Rossi I sure a few certainly have, I'm sure most would agree it would have been a good fight. I think it great to see VR and Marc get on like they do (this probably erks a ertain fanbase too-nothing like being proven wrong time and time again eh?) and I hope Rossi can find the few tenths he needs to really challenge for the win.

At the moment Yamaha is doing multi-tasking :
1. Fixing 99 problem
2. Improving 46 bike
But.. if things continue this way until mid-season then we might see Yamaha (at least) 80% focusing to Rossi as their main attention... to (somehow) bring WC home ... ;-)

does Marquez gets secret track time that others are not allowed? damn he's advantage seems so massive I sometimes wonder!! :0 :P

does Marquez gets secret track time that others are not allowed? damn he's advantage seems so massive I sometimes wonder!! :0 :P

I thought I caught a glimpse of him in parc ferme looking highly pleased with rossi, but it was only a fraction of a second so maybe wasn't him.

Marquez is great, i'm just hoping that he won't become 'the next arrogant king'. Lorenzo in his peak should've been able to put more of a fight against him. It seems that this year everything goes not in Lorenzo's flow. New tyres and fuels has made him struggling, Rossi outperformed him plus Marquez seems unreachable. Lorenzo needs to focus and revive his confidence. I was not a fan of Rossi and I'm not either and of course I won't become one. To be honest he is (so far) the best actor in motoGP circus. The arrogant king who had switched to another girl has gone home to his ex-girlfriend girl as a humble peasant, reflected on his comments on the bike, on his teammate and the team since preseason started. Is he really humble, or...? Once, last season, I saw him riding the Ducati and Hayden can ride faster than him, Rossi retired to the pit. Is it really a technical problem or an act to stop the humiliation?
Ah nevermind that, does anyone here has the link to watch the collision of Mattia Pasini and Ricky Cardus, I smiled a little bit when I saw how furious Pasini on Cardus, unfortunately I didn't see the whole accident and the events following it.