2015 MotoGP Sepang 2 Day 3 Round Up: Marquez vs Lorenzo, Honda vs Yamaha, And Why The Open Honda Is Still Slow

Take a glance at the timesheet after the final day and it is easy to draw some simple conclusions from of second Sepang MotoGP test. Marc Márquez reigns supreme, with Jorge Lorenzo is the only rider to get anywhere near to him. Cal Crutchlow has improved, but at the moment is only fast over a single lap. The Ducati Desmosedici GP15 is fast, but only in the hands of Andrea Iannone. Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa have their work cut out if they are to match their teammates. Bradley Smith has surpassed his teammate, Pol Espargaro. Suzuki is close, but not quite close enough, while Aprilia are hopelessly lost.

As attractive as those conclusions are, the underlying truth is a lot more complex. Testing is exactly that, testing, and everyone is on different programs, trying different things at different times of the day. Or as Dani Pedrosa succinctly put it, when asked if he was trying out a new strategy for qualifying during the test, "we were just trying. That's why we are here." Marc Márquez was undeniably faster than the rest of the field, and his race simulation was undeniably faster than anyone else's. But just comparing the times does not provide the whole picture.

Márquez' race simulation was fearsome to behold. 19 laps at an average of 2:00.760, just one shy of full race distance. 16 laps of 2:00, just three of 2:01. While it is impossible to know how fast his out lap was – the analysis timesheets available only show the full lap times, and no partials, and Márquez embarked on his race simulation after spending 15 minutes in the pits – that pace would have seen him beat his own race time from last year by some 25 seconds. That is seriously fast.

On the face of it, Jorge Lorenzo's race simulation looks positively disappointing by contrast. The Movistar Yamaha man rode just 11 full laps, six of which were 2:01s, the remaining five all 2:02s. That is just about the pace Lorenzo managed in the race last year, when he finished third, 3.5 seconds behind Márquez. But there is good reason to look past the time differential between Lorenzo and Márquez, and look at the conditions. Márquez started on his race simulation shortly after 5pm, when air and track temperatures were starting to drop. Ambient temperatures were around 30°C, while the track was at 51°C. Lorenzo, on the other hand, had the "brilliant idea," as he put it, of running his simulation at 3:30pm, in the middle of the sweltering tropical afternoon. At 2pm, Bridgestone measured track temperatures of 60°C, and air temps of 35°C; by 3:30pm, the temperatures had barely dropped off at all. Conditions are always tough at Sepang, but they were immeasurably tougher for Lorenzo during his race simulation.

Why do that? Surely, if you want to know if you can beat Marc Márquez, the best thing to do is to run your race simulation at the same time as him, and see where you stand? That rather misses the point of testing: yes, you want to measure yourself against your opponents, but most of all, you want to improve on your weak points, and be faster overall. The weakness of the Yamaha is in hot, slippery conditions, and so targeting a run in the middle of the afternoon heat was a conscious and clever choice. "All of the little problems the bike were magnified by three," Lorenzo told the Spanish press. If you want to fix your problems, then anything you can do to see them more clearly is the smart thing to do. What's more, the race in October starts at 4pm, closer to the time Lorenzo did his race simulation than when Márquez did his.

Lorenzo and Márquez are also at different stages in the development of their bikes. After the Sepang test, Márquez basically said the bike was fine as it was. He had decided on which chassis to use – the one he had selected after the first Sepang test, not the modified version which HRC had brought to this test – and now, the focus was on set up and riding style. "We just need to adapt our riding style, our bike to another circuit and see what is the level," he said. Lorenzo, on the other hand, said the bike needs more work. Though the fully seamless gearbox is an improvement over the old one, it still has one or two problems. What those problems are, Lorenzo refused to say, but there is still margin to improve.

Advantage Honda? Perhaps, but the advantage is not as large as timesheets seem to suggest. Honda are just about ready to race, but Yamaha still have some potential to unlock. Márquez' natural talent shines undiminished, while Lorenzo's work ethic and ability remain his strongest weapon. Much more will become clear at the next test at Qatar. That track suits the Yamaha better, and the dusty surface can cause problems for the Honda, robbing it of drive. Cooler temperatures are better for Yamaha, though again, only within a certain range. Once conditions get too cold, the Yamaha loses the edge grip it needs, and the Honda's ability to stand up and drive out of corners comes into its own. The ideal temperature range for the Yamaha is a little narrower: too hot or too cold, and the YZR-M1 loses out, needing grip to maintain corner speed. Get it just right, however, and the M1 is a weapon capable of matching the Honda RC213V. Expanding the 'Goldilocks zone' will be high on the list of priorities for the Yamaha engineers.

From Valentino Rossi's perspective, Honda still holds an advantage, especially in the hands of Marc Márquez. Rossi pointed to Márquez' time and his race simulation for proof. "I think Honda and Márquez are the favorites to win the championship," he said. The new gearbox was an improvement, and Rossi was happy with the work done to understand its potential. They had spent a lot of time working with used tires, as this was where he had suffered during the race. His attempt at a fast lap had been thwarted, the Movistar Yamaha rider constantly running into traffic in the first hour of the day. He believed he could have been in the top three, but discounted the importance of posting a single fast lap. "It's just for fun!" he remarked.

Rossi underlined that it was hard to get a true measure of where everyone stands. Relative strengths varied from track to track, he said, and the way of working was very different between test and race weekend. At a test, the work was very "start-stop", he said. On a race weekend, with more limited time, there is much more of a focus, with no time to experiment. Every session was spent working towards a goal, and following a plan. At a test, the teams and riders can try lots of different things.

Clear choices have been made at Ducati, with Andrea Iannone expressing a clear preference for the Ducati GP15, and Andrea Dovizioso following suit a little more cautiously. Clearly the bike has more potential than the GP14.3, Dovizioso said, but some problems remain. The middle of the corner, and the last part of braking were not 100%, but the fact that the new bike turns into corners and holds a line was a huge improvement. Ducati Corse boss Gigi Dall'Igna was also pleased, though he too noted the problems they had encountered, especially in braking. Dall'Igna said that 80% of the comments given by the riders fit with the results of the simulations run beforehand. The other 20% were different, and required analysis to understand and fix.

Iannone was immediately comfortable with the bike, and very quick. Dovizioso was still struggling with the balance of the bike, his team working on set up and weight distribution. That had prevented Dovizioso from trying a race simulation, or putting in a real attempt at a very fast lap. His team had wanted to try something radical, but did not have enough time to do so at this test. But Dovizioso was hopeful that it would be possible at the Qatar test, and would bring the improvement they are seeking.

With neither Valentino Rossi nor Dani Pedrosa managing to put in a fast lap during the morning, Cal Crutchlow found himself in the top three. But Crutchlow certainly did not just inherit the position by default. The LCR Honda man's fast lap was just two tenths behind Jorge Lorenzo, and was his best ever lap around the Sepang circuit. He also set the time despite suffering braking problems similar to those Marc Márquez had on Monday. The brake pressure was inconsistent, Crutchlow said, braking normally at some corners, the lever coming back to the bars in others.

His race simulation suffered from the same problem. Crutchlow managed a couple of 2:00s, but the braking inconsistency meant his lap times varied wildly. When the problem wasn't present, he was fast, when it came back, he lost time. On average, he was losing four tenths a lap with brake problems, and had a couple of laps where he had to slow right down waiting for the braking to return. He would not be drawn on a possible cause for the braking issue, though he would say that he did not believe it was related to the temperature of the braking fluid.

Crutchlow wasn't the only surprise on the timesheets. Hector Barbera was also impressive on the Open class Ducati, setting the eighth best time of the day. Like Crutchlow, Barbera has made a massive step forward since the first Sepang test, as he gets accustomed to riding a bike with more power and the ability to brake. The Spaniard was 0.939 seconds faster than he was here last time, compared to Crutchlow's 0.878 second improvement. Barbera had to break off his race simulation, after his Camelbak sprung a leak. The water was causing his visor to steam up, and by the time he went out for a second attempt, the afternoon heat had become oppressive.

The strong showing by Hector Barbera shows the potential of the Open class bikes, just as Aleix Espargaro did on the Forward Yamaha in 2014. But that potential must frustrate Nicky Hayden, and the other Open class Honda riders, as they find themselves in a similar position to last year. In 2014, Honda's attempt at a production racer had been humiliated by the Forward Yamahas. The RCV1000R was everything which Dorna had asked of the manufacturers: affordable (or relatively so), available for purchase rather than lease, and easy to ride for young riders. Unfortunately, it was also rather slow, despite the claims made for it by HRC. Led by Nicky Hayden, the Open class RCV1000R riders suffered through the Sepang tests, ending a long way from the top.

Hayden had been frustrated in 2014. The bike lacked power, and Hayden ended the second Sepang test in 15th, 1.925 seconds off the fastest rider, Valentino Rossi. In 2015, Hayden has a much more powerful bike, the Honda RC213V-RS: basically, the Honda which made its debut here this time last year in the hands of the factory riders, but with a conventional gearbox and the spec Magneti Marelli electronics. The bike is certainly a lot quicker, Hayden lapping 1.1 seconds faster in 2015 than he did last year. Yet he finds himself having slipped down the timesheets, his improved time only good for 17th overall. Hayden has closed the gap to the front, but only by 0.227 seconds, the gap still 1.698 seconds from Marc Márquez.

Clearly, horsepower is not everything, as the teams who lease the Honda RC213V-RS have found to their cost. It is not the outright speed which is slowing the Open class Hondas, but rather the overall package. Hayden pointed to the electronics as an area where the bike needed work, and given the sophistication of the factory Honda's electronics, it is conceivable that the Open class bike is a lot more difficult to set up with the spec electronics. The role which HRC's software plays in engine braking, especially, will have a major role in performance.

More than just electronics, the difference between the Open class RC213V-RS and the factory RC213V highlights the difference in resources between the factory teams and the Open class teams. Factory teams have hordes of factory engineers in their garages, and in the race trucks behind the garages, and direct access to the people who designed and built the bikes. They have access to all of the data from every lap by every rider, as well as all of the data from the simulations. Above all, they have a lot of warm bodies and sharp brains at their disposal, and can throw a bunch of engineers at a puzzle.

The Open class teams have no such luxury. Though HRC engineers will pay them a visit and offer advice wherever they can, the Open class teams come very low on their list of priorities. That leaves the donkey work to be done by the four or five people in the garage: a crew chief, a data engineer, and a couple of mechanics. They may have plenty of data from previous years, but that data may not have been collected on the same bike. They must hope that one of their number has a few bright ideas to try to shortcut their way to a good set up, otherwise they are left with few resources and fewer people to try to find the ideal balance for the bike. This is the real division between the haves and have nots in the MotoGP paddock, and without extremely stringent and impossible to police budget caps, it is a division which will continue to exist.

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We were probably saying that Crutchlow is a hopeless racer and all odds are against him getting a podium this season.

Crutchlow put in one 1:59:** lap in testing, which means nothing. If you look at his lap times every other lap he did was basically 1 second slower. Iannone, Rossi, Smith and Pedrosa all had fast laps almost identical but all had laps consistently closer to the 1:59:00 lap than Crutchlow.... in testing.

Don't know why you're in denial, he's a bum only good for the occasional quali lap.

What a silly mistake crutchlow made, jumping ship just as it came right.



Indeed, Cal made a silly mistake, but I guess from ‘his point of view’ he had little or no other options, I would say…
When he was at Tech 3 and Rossi decided to continue, he saw his ultimate dream, a factory Yamaha ride, go up in smoke…
At Ducati, he never felt at home, not only on the bike, but more importantly, in the ‘communication’ with the Italians. Dall’Igna never kept it secret that he preferred working with Dovi. Cal, such a social guy, never felt taken seriously and accepted among the Italians…
On top of that, last year he was put in the shade by the better results ànd the positive approach (which is not the least important from a factory's viewpoint!) of yet another Italian, Iannone. So in the end, I guess Cal felt him left with almost no other option than to leave Ducati…
Hope I got it all wrong, but I guess Cal's chances to ever throw his leg over a championship winning factory MotoGP bike are all gone now. But who knows, perhaps this year we will see him shine again in its 'good old' role, thumbs up ;-) Go for it Cal !!!!

I think a lot of you guys are just not giving Cal a chance yet---it's a brand new bike for him and his crew---a few test laps are not yet going to show his true potential---the bike still needs sorting and he was having brake problems as well. I am willing to give the team a few races to find the right settings...

Not giving him a chance?

He's got 4 seasons under his belt, 3 of which were on a very good Yamaha, and he's managed 2 second places - one of which was a race that didn't involve Lorenzo OR Pedrosa, and the other was a very wet weekend - and a handful of thirds. He's not a champion, just a streaky middle of the pack rider.

Both Dovi and Bautista rode satellite bikes arguable better than Crutchlow. The Espargaro brothers are head and shoulders above him as well. Wish I could say Bradl, but he's had very disappointing showings since he left moto2 really.

I don't know how anyone can get their back up so much for Crutchlow when you know, you just know, he's going to choke. You just know when he's pushing towards the end of a race he's going to cock it up completely.

Argue it as much as you like, but a healthy Crutchlow put his bike in the dirt and retired almost more than he finished races last year, it's a familiar story right the way through his career, if he didn't do that he'd be impressive.

Not interested in being anyones fan, I respect all the MotoGP pilots for their skill and big kahunas; so can it be argued that both Dovi and Bautista have ridden satellite bikes better?

Points make prizes, so surely the results determine who rode what well, to level it off, I only looked at time spent on a MotoGP satellite machines, factory rides are not relevant to the sample.

Satellite rides;
2011 Tech 3 Yamaha satellite - 11th
2012 Tech 3 Yamaha satellite - 7th
2013 Tech 3 Yamaha satellite - 5th

2008 Scot Honda Satellite - 5th
2012 Tech 3 Yamaha - 4th

2012 Honda Gresini - 5th
2013 Honda Gresini - 6th
2014 Honda Gresini - 11th

Both Dovi and Bautista were both factory riders when Crutchlow joined as a rookie in 2011, whilst Dovi's class shines through even on a satellite machine its reasonable to say Crutclow's record is at least comparable with Bautista.

So to the second part, its far to say Aleix Espargaró is a fantastic rider who hasn't always had the best available kit, however Aleix was a 'full' satellite rider in 2010 on the Pramac Ducati when he finished the season 14th.

Pol finished 6th in his rookie year on a Tech 3 Yamaha which was a brilliant achievement and marks him out as a special talent. Worth noting though in Crutchlow's rookie season he was Yamaha's No 4 rider and bottom of the pile, Pol is a factory employee and getting treated as such. This takes nothing away from Pol's achievement though, well deserved plaudits for a great debut.

My assessment is simple
Pol has had a better start to his MotoGP career than his brother, Dovi is a world class rider, Crutchlow is generally no better and definitely not any worse than those he is being compared too;- as a satellite rider.

I think it is pretty unfair to judge someone for becoming champion. I'm 99.99999% sure Cal is not going to be champion. For ages that's something for factory riders, of the factory's with potential that is. But if Cal extents this improvement and Dani's has another season like last year, they could be fighting together this year, who knows?

And only 2 second places in four seasons? that's a pretty bad summary. In one season he got 2 2nds, 2 3ths, one pole position and also 2 4ths, which means he was competitative with the factory riders and beating them, that's pretty impressive. His ducati adventure was quite a dissaster, but still got a podium at Aragon and unluckily threw away a podium at Philip Island.

This year is his chance to show his current potential.

Honestly, I do think it's too late, even when he would beat dani this year, HRC is never going to let Cal on the repsol since they have Marquez and HRC would be smart to but a younger person next to him in 2017. Getting back to ducati will not happen and Yamaha has Pol awaiting for 2017. Then he has to search for another tricky factory offer...

I'm taken aback by the Crutchlow comments.
I've posted criticism of him of late, and always had them "removed" by the governor. lol
I do think he was an idiot leaving Ducati and showed himself in a very bad way in his handling and arrogance last season......... but as a Brit, I'll still cheer for him.
As long as he's behind the Ducs

One VERY important thing to note is that this time of the year is cooler than October (assuming same time of the day). Cooler temperatures equal faster laptimes at Sepang. Even last year, the qualifying 2014 times were way slower than pre-season testing 2014 times. You also have to consider that riders are probably going 99% during testing and 101% during qualifying. While I have no doubt that Marquez+Honda combination would be significantly faster than the race last year, I absolutely do not think that the difference is 25 seconds.

Cal staying at Ducati would be a huge gamble. Most people wouldn't take that bet. The only reason he went in the first place...well, we know the story. So let's be real. He left an up hill battle (Ducati is better but still unproven) for Honda. The Honda has more potential. What is Ducati's track record outside of Stoner?

Then they (Honda) can kiss their hordes of electronics engineers goodbye. About 5 years too late but better late then never.

What I find really interesting is #69's results on the spec electronics RC213V-RS. I have no difficulty imagining that without extensive electronic 'assistance' the RC213 is more than a handful to control and make fast. What does this mean for the factory Hondas next year?

Hayden being so far behind on a regular Motogp bike with Spec Electronics and no seamless shifting I will not say is fully down to those things. BUT, it does show how much electronics are playing a part in making these heat seeking missiles easier to ride or control. Being able to tune bikes to work differently corner to corner should be cut in my opinion. They should have to find a setting that works for most of the track or their worst area and work out the rest themselves with their own skills.

I get some traction control and lean angle based programming to help get off a corner. But goddamn, it is beginning to sound like if you have do not have a factory electronics package you will not EVER get close to winning. A little too close to Formula 1 to me. Motogp always held a higher level to me because of rider input which used to be more 80 rider 20 bike. Now it is a solid 50/50, maybe even more in some cases. Marquez seems to be able to make things work well like Stoner did, but everyone else seems to be OBSESSED with getting the electronics right. Engine braking, acceleration, anti wheelie, settings for the whole track...etc. Riders still do make the ultimate difference but would like to see less factors available for everyone to say it is because of this or that, (electronics) that I could not keep up with Marquez/ Lorenz/ Ross/ Pedrosa and just be more down to them to get more speed.

Agreed Whorida. I can speak from experience that is somewhat applicable, at least in the sense that I have had a revelation of sorts in the last yr re electronics as apply to technology trickling down to production bikes.

Just spent (blissful) time canyon carving for a few days on a newish CBR1000rr and it was...mixed. 160hp is all it has cooking under the fairings and it is much different than my old 130hp R1. Honestly lots less rideable and manageable. And less fun than the 2007 CBR600rr I now wish I hadn't sold.

A dear friend of mine, expert racer team mate, was almost taken by the "widow maker" 2007 Kawasaki ZX10 on a free practice day. He was trying to sort suspension to make the power rideable. I have always said that it was down to bike geometry primarily and his adjusting to the monster engine second. And been a avid anti-electronics crusader of sorts re GP rules AND on production bikes. My limited frame of reference and eager temperament are to blame. I intentionally bought the 07 CBR600RR to avoid ABS. Why? It adds a bunch of weight, and I didn't want anything between my right hand and front rotors but fluid, stainless lines, and great pads. I had experienced front end slides controlled in rain races, and floating the rear braking in the dry. So I know everything! (Yeah, right).

The 07 ZX10 and 08 CBR1000rr were amazing bikes. More power. Size of a 600. Give me MORE! When can we get 180hp and in a 250GP little carving knife? Oh yeah? Try and ride it! I can only imagine (and believe me I do) what it must be like to be on a teeny little 225hp MotoGP bike with only wheelie control and minimal engine management for rear wheel spin. I need to be careful what I wish for! It sounds awful.

The next wave of production bikes is upon us. The BMW1000rr and now R1m have opened the next war - not for more power with less weight. For more refinement of electronics packages.

The 2015 Open Honda customers have a great bike. That is slow. And if you dropped your $200,000 for one and I could ride it on a track day I sure would love it (happy to share my email for all those interested of course). Until I stopped loving it and wanted to go back to enjoying putting down similar lap times on a 130hp middleweight Supersport like I should be.

The comment above a bit sounds wise - we are 99.9% sure to not see a satellite win in 2015. Electronics are a big deal. Let's watch what the 2015 Open Honda can do relative to its main rivals. Which include the 2014 Open times, the Aprilia, and...not any of the satellites. For 2016 I agree with the other poster above that the top Factory teams will still have an advantage with their more full use of the Championship electronics package. And the more functionality that is included the more likely it is to make this more pronounced. In 2016 we may have a 95% chance of not seeing a satellite win. And that sounds like a huge improvement to me.

And who will the greatest threat be? Top satellite that is grabbing podiums? I am still betting P.Espargaro or Crutchlow. Or some wild newcomer on a satellite Ducati maybe even, which is a joy to even have in consideration. (Side note - ever notice that criticism of the paddock whipping post rider, currently Cal, tends to entail less wisdom and more personal attacks? Ironically addressed at Cal's intelligence or character?).

2015 is here and I eagerly await the perfect storm of a low grip low temperature track that suits the super soft rear tire closer to race distance, #29 or #4 and the GP15 coming into their own together, and a podium that was not granted by attrition or a bike swap. It is coming at some point. And top satellite may be in tow.

CC35 although very fast is still of a dying breed a (superbike) rider...
Since the 4-stroke era of gp only a very select few have been successfull: Hayden, Spies, and somewhat Bayliss. Hayden only has 3 wins in his 12 seasons of racing in gp and won the title in '06 through consistency. Spies was supposed to be the next big thing coming out of the U.S. He was probably the only superbike racer that could have given the aliens a run. He did win a race in the "hard to ride" 800cc era in the dry against Stoner/Lorenzo/Pedrosa. Then there's Bayliss who won a race as a wildcard for Ducati in the last 990cc race ever. That's it. I don't see gp factory teams recruiting any superbike racers in the near future. Most superbike racers try gp and end up going back to production derived racing. CC35 is "topped out" I don't see him moving anywhere higher. Couldn't do it with Yamaha, Decided to leave factory Ducati, and he won't move up to factory HRC. He'll probably do ok with LCR Honda and then have an opportunity to move down to open machinery or MAYBE Gresini Aprilia and help them develop the rs gp and by the time that machine gets sorted he will have been past his "shelf life" in the top class. For whatever reason superbike racing doesn't transfer over to well in gp racing...Possibly a combination of stiffer chassis and stickier tires that provide deeper lean angles not really seen in sbk idk.

I do not have the exact article or video of the question. When Ben Spies was asked why more WSBK racers do not do better in Motogp he said "These guys (Motogp) are just faster. There is no way to get around it."

That came from someone who came to the Superbike Class and waxed the dog mess out of everyone in it in his first year in the series, at many of the racetracks, and living in Europe coming from America. All HUGE factors in themselves let alone Winning a huge amount of races, taking pole positions, and actually breaking Haga while on a bike that was not the best. Cal Crutchlow alluded to the same thing when he said that anyone that gets top five in Motogp can win races or a championship in WSBK. It is not the bikes. It is the racers who are just better in Motogp.

MotoGP has changed quite a bit since Lorenzo and Yamaha can plant a Bridgestone front tire and knock out 250 GP style metronome laps to win. Superbike riders have not been top notch MotoGP riders for a while, no. During the time of the "faith over feel" Bridgestone spec front tire that is SO different than any other. And the age of electronics and HRC fuel limit rules. This might be seen as an exception era in years ahead.

If we think things have changed a lot since Bayliss's wildcard win, perhaps we can do the same in foresight re 2016 and the next era. We have our rider domination established ending the last era and opening the next one. It will not stay that way forever. And Marquez, he is a "Moto2 style" rider, which wasn't even a thing when Spies came through the pipeline.

Ah, Spies. His Tech3 tenure was something to behold, very hopeful and exciting. His Factory experience was, well...bizarre disappointing shite. Just a touch like Cal maybe in some respects? Both really good guys in my estimation too btw. I am glad expectations are low for Cal and Satellite Hondas. Perhaps that will dispel whatever demonic juju afflicted poor Ben.

Well...Bayliss, is just Bayliss. ;)

For him to come in and win that one race after being off the Motogp bike for awhile just shows that he always had the speed there. He said that Ducati would not listen to him. But with the crew he used for that race he was able to get what he was asking for.

Still feel something happened in the background with Ben. Dont' know if it was in his personal life or on the team. His luck was not just him jacking up, there were alot of MYSTERIOUS failures happening with him. He had more raw talent than Crutchlow to me. But Crutchlow at the Motogp level seems to have a little more "F*ck you!" in him than I saw with Spies which is surprising because Spies had the about the worst teammate you could ever deal with in AMA. He was fast AND talked mess about Spies every race and interview.

To me I do not think rider styles matter as much. When Lorenzo started winning everyone said tires in line works. Now Marquez is dominating real hard and making veterans look like rookies riding like he is at a dirt track. Really does seem it is whatever works for the rider with the speed. Everyone else has to emulate to catch up.

Remember his 2nd win was stolen from him by Stoner/HRC at Valencia. Nothing Ben could do about it. Also, only a select few GP riders are head & shoulders above the best WSB riders. WSB champs have almost always been in the top 6-8 in gp. So take away your top 3 established GP gods who are always there and throw in your Brit, Aussie or Yank whom the gp team won't listen to for a year. By the time the WSB champ knows what's going on he is on a B-team.

Had Hayden not been US Honda's golden child he would never have survived his early career in Gp. Look what happened to Edwards. A better rider with a deeper resume. It is more about the system in GP.

Wins aren't stolen they're earned but I know what you mean. The thing is Spies stole defeat (well 2nd) from the jaws of victory with his timid last lap.

Had he taken a second win I can't help but feel Bens gp career would've turned out a lot different. Sadly we'll never know.

No, the race is to the line and Stoner was 1st over the line. It would be stolen if Stoner had played dirty and tried to run Spies of the track or something similar but that never happened - the race was clean (Bautista on the other hand was a complete muppet!)

Spies rode well that day, particularly when the rain fell but it could be argued he got into the lead purely because Stoner made a mistake and ran wide.

It could also be counter-argued Spies made Stoner lose concentration when he ran wide. Suppose it depends on wether you look at with Yamaha or Honda tinted glasses. Either way, both rode hard and Stoner simply got way better drive out of the final corner.

Stoner was actually quite far back and hence just rode to maximise his drive onto the straight. Ben was probably covering on entry, worrying if he'd get a wheel up the inside, and thus most certainly got a comparatively poor run out of the corner. It's quite visible in the replay if you care to look, just not all that obvious since it's from the wide helicopter shot. He runs wide over the ripple strip, picks up the front, drops off the ripple strip and the bike spins up, wobbles a bit then lifts the front again. All that time our beloved TC and anti-wheelie are trimming power while Stoner's is on the meat of the tyre and driving.

If you look at how far back Stoner nabbed him from, just crying "HRC" is way too simplistic. Nobody's had a power advantage like that since early 2007. Sadly, Ben just got beat that day, fair and square. Not bashing him, he was one of the most promising riders to come through in that time.

Yay! MotoGP 2015 starts THIS MONTH! We won't have to navel gaze over two plonkers who took early retirement.

"It's just for fun!" LOL, how disingenuous. That's my new word. I think that's Italian for we couldn't do it. Not that there's anything wrong with that.