2012 Valencia MotoGP Post-Race Round Up: On Marquez' Talent, Pedrosa's Gamble, Lorenzo's Crash, And A Debt Left Open

So the 2012 MotoGP season is over, and someone with a great deal of courage and a little bit of money to wager could have ended the year rich beyond their wildest dreams. If you could have found someone to take your bet seriously, you would have got a very, very good return on one race being won from the back of the grid, and the other from a rider starting from pit lane. Just one of those events is highly unusual, having both of the happen on the same day is unheard of.

The odds on Marc Marquez winning from the back of the grid were probably disappointingly short. By now, every bookmaker in the world will have seen the onboard clip of Marc Marquez after stalling his bike on the grid at Motegi, and the way he disposed of twenty Moto2 competitors in the space of half a lap. The first lap at Valencia is likely to create as much of a sensation - or at least it would, if Dorna would either resist the temptation to take down Youtube videos before they go viral to keep their TV rights holders happy, or make the videos available free of charge on the MotoGP.com website so that they can go viral while retaining control - as Marquez passed another twenty riders in the space of five corners.

From onboard, the Motegi and Valencia laps look like a video capture from a computer game. When the footage was shown in the media center, cries of "Playstation!" were heard from around the room. That is almost a fair assessment: the ease with which Marquez makes those passes is impressive, but they are almost worryingly courageous. The Spanish teenager knows neither fear nor doubt, putting his bike exactly where it needs to be at exactly the right time, and predicting (or perhaps guessing) where gaps will open and diving into them before they close. His awareness of what is going on around him is sensational, though it also displays a certain disregard for what his competitors may choose to do. His style, his aggressiveness, his willingness to gamble and the frequency with which those gambles pay off remind many observers of a young Valentino Rossi, especially as their careers in the sport have so many parallels - a year to learn, and then a title, in each of the support classes. It was a comparison Rossi himself was prepared to make: "I don't think that the people saying he is the new Rossi are exaggerating," he told the Italian media.

There has been much made of a perceived unfair advantage in machinery which Marquez is alleged to have, but the ease with which the Spaniard disposed of the competition on a damp track showed that his speed had more to do with his talent and mental ability rather than any skullduggery. Even his critics have been forced to concede that it is Marquez who makes the difference. One paddock insider who has in the past cast aspersions on the Spaniard's advantage came up to me over the weekend to admit that he had now changed his mind, and seen that any advantages were all completely legal, and the result of hard work, ingenuity, and a willingness (and ability) to spend the money to figure it all out. The fact that other Moto2 teams are already following Marquez and Monlau Competicion's lead makes it clear that they were on the right track.

If Marc Marquez' achievement was impressive, it was matched by that of his new teammate, Dani Pedrosa. Following Jorge Lorenzo round on the warm up lap, Pedrosa realized immediately that the dry line that had formed around the track during the Moto2 race was now dry enough for slicks. In the very last corner of the warm up lap, Pedrosa followed his instincts and dived into the pits to swap bikes, getting off of the bike with the wet setup and jumping onto his slick-shod Honda RC213V. It was a gamble, but one which would pay off handsomely in the end. First, he had to get out of pit lane, though: there may have been a dry line on the track, but pit lane was still cold and damp, too wet to start smoothly with slicks, and Pedrosa just hung on as his bike tried to buck him off once he dropped the clutch.

Once on track, things were much better, but the dry line was very narrow in places, and everyone on slicks faced the same problem. Though they were much quicker than the guys on rain tires, it was very hard to get past without going out onto the wet part of the track, a treacherous place to be. Moving up the order in the early laps was relatively simple, as the riders on wet tires headed into the pits for slicks. But that put both Jorge Lorenzo, who led the race, and Dani Pedrosa, who was in the process of chasing him down, in a difficult position. They were coming up rapidly on slower riders, and those riders were showing little inclination to move aside. "Only Valentino [Rossi] go outside the line," Lorenzo told reporters. The others seemed not to be aware of riders coming from behind, despite the blue flags being waved.

This would eventually prove fatal to Lorenzo's chances of winning the race, though the Spaniard must bear some part of the blame himself. With Pedrosa closing on his tail, Lorenzo started to push on, and after losing 1.5 seconds to Karel Abraham as he struggled to lap the Czech rider, the Yamaha man started to get nervous. A mistake by Pedrosa - missing a gear and going into neutral - gave him some breathing space, and Lorenzo ran up behind James Ellison very quickly, perhaps more quickly than he expected, especially as he was keen to press home the advantage he had gained from Pedrosa's mistake.

The resulting highside - one of the most spectacular since Lorenzo's Shanghai crash in 2008, though thankfully he walked away from this one unhurt - put an end to Lorenzo's race, and his chances of capping the title with a win. Though Ellison did not move over, the combination of Lorenzo's impatience and the difference in pace between the two riders meant that Lorenzo found himself trying to pass Ellison at a tricky point in the track. Lorenzo's manager Wilco Zeelenberg said afterwards he did not think that Lorenzo had even intended to pass Ellison there, but he had almost been forced into it because he had closed the gap so quickly. "Jorge didn't really want to do anything there, but he was forced to make a choice. Maybe he underestimated just how fast he was closing on Ellison," Zeelenberg said. The team manager did not want to assign blame, however: "I'm not going to point fingers at anyone. It's a shame Ellison didn't stay on the right side of the outside of the track, but he didn't. But nothing has changed since Saturday: we're still world champions."

Lorenzo himself felt that more could be done to make slower riders aware of people getting ready to lap them. He had already spoken to Javier Alonso, Dorna's representative in Race Direction, about the need for a different way of signaling. Lorenzo had suggested dashboard lights, or as in Formula One, large light arrays at the side of the track to signal to the riders. Alonso had told Lorenzo that this was something they were already looking at, though it was still too early to make any concrete changes to the system. The most important thing, said Lorenzo, was for the series to learn from his crash, to try to avoid it in the future.

The mistake was doubly harsh on the Spaniard, as it had been Lorenzo who had taken the decision to start the race on slicks. His crew chief Ramon Forcada had sent Lorenzo out early, so that he could do two sighting laps if the track was dry enough. Lorenzo had followed Valentino Rossi round on his first sighting lap, and immediately realized that the track was dry enough for slicks. He dived straight back into the pits to swap bikes, to the surprise of his team. The view from pit lane suggested that the track was still far too wet for slicks, and they had to rush to get Lorenzo on the second bike.

The gamble paid off handsomely for both Yamaha riders, as Kats Nakasuga followed Lorenzo's lead and went out on slicks. But where Lorenzo crashed out, Nakasuga took a podium, his first, the first for a Japanese rider since Shinya Nakano in 2006, and the first of the season for a Japanese rider in any of the three GP classes this season, keeping a streak alive that has been going since 1985. Lorenzo was delighted for Nakasuga - the Japanese rider himself was in tears, his second child having been born earlier that day - saying that it was just reward for all the hard work Nakasuga had put in in testing and developing the bike.

Lorenzo himself was glad that he had wrapped up the title at Phillip Island, as to have lost the title in this crash at Valencia would have been very hard indeed. But Pedrosa was a little more philosophical. "This is the mistake I have been waiting for all season," Pedrosa half-joked in the press conference. It had just come a race too late, and that was perhaps why it had happened. "Maybe because the pressure is off it is easier to make mistakes."

Though Pedrosa's win has no effect on the championship order, it does make the standings a little more interesting. Dani Pedrosa has now won 7 races to Jorge Lorenzo's 6, but more importantly, he has won 6 of the last 8 races, and all 7 of his wins have come in the second half of the season. Where Lorenzo controlled the early part of the year, winning when he could, settling for second when he couldn't, Pedrosa dominated the second half of the year. With the exception of Brno, the races followed a familiar pattern, Pedrosa stalking Lorenzo for the first half of the race, before pouncing and disappearing into the distance. If Honda ever get the chatter in the RC213V sorted, Lorenzo could be in real trouble in 2013.

Valencia also saw the end of two massive chapters in MotoGP, two stories which are intimately intertwined, though radically different in almost every conceivable way. The end of Casey Stoner's career in MotoGP and Valentino Rossi's time at Ducati - both having fitting ends, Stoner on the podium and Rossi circulating invisibly in mid-pack - need much, much more space and time devoted to them than I have right now. Once the dust of the first MotoGP test of the year, which starts on Tuesday, has settled, it will be time to look back.

Back to top


I hope that 46 on Yami and 93 on Honda are both fast. They are both aggressive riders. One old dog and one new dog. Combined with 99 perfection and 26 new aggressive and reliable performance .... That will make crazy 2013 year.

I do not know why, but I would like to see 93 to try and force his way pass 46 on Yamaha.

You are right it could be, should be great. And if only Cal could go a notch up.....

Too bad Marquez is Spanish. MotoGP needs more heroes from around the world. They already have enough Spaniards and 2012 has seen an Aussie wave goodbye and a Texan slip terribly back the order.

I've said it before, if I had to bet, I'd say Marquez' first win will come at Aragon.

I think he'll be huge.

Wow, what a day for Nakasuga! Thanks for sharing that David, it's that sort of stuff that lifts your articles well above the mainstream rote pieces.

Loved this summary and can't wait to read your summation of the 27/46 era.

And may I suggest a future article topic - spurred by Dani's comment regarding doing a Marquez. I know a lot of the MotoGP guys will watch the support classes, but I'd love to read about exactly what they do on race day, in your words. Which ones watch the support races, and where do they choose to watch the races from - what do the Moto3 and Moto2 men do after their races - do the riders wander into other riders garages and if so, why - do any of the riders go trackside (amongst the great unwashed) to watch the other races. What's the first order of business after the day of racing concludes etc. Stuff like that is interesting, to me at least. We have a pretty good idea of how they spend 45 minutes of each Sunday, but knowing a little more about how these guys spend the other 7-10 hours would add something to it for the fans.

.....the Moto GP community (fans!) are lucky! I think that Casey is the fastest rider thats ever thrown a leg over a GP bike! He's retiring and Marc is taking his place! Could we ask for a better rider to take over the #1/27 bike? Rossi on the M1 ..... 2013 looks to be very exciting. Now with that said, MGP has a boat load of problems with the factory vs the 'slow' bikes vs $$$$$$! There are NO easy answers here, but I do know this: I was at Laguna Seca in '80/'81, took a 30 year hiatus, returning in '11/'12 and the differences were radical. DORNA has to get fans more involved and CLOSER to the bikes/riders to expand the sport and get the excitement back into going to the races/pits. 30 years ago, I was standing 12' away from Freddie's 32 valve, oval pistoned screamer, watching the mechanic warm the bike up for practice. The tach started at 6000 (remember the year!)!!! Seeing, hearing, smelling, engulfing that scene was something. Then seeing Freddie walk over, smile/wave to everyone and throw a leg the beast ........ You get the picture. Today's races, you can't see shit! Riders or bikes! Your not building the latest stealth sub for the Navy. Open up the pits and let the fans, the ones PAYING FOR THE SHOW, watch the show!!!

Spanish riders: yeah, I'd like MGP too have more nationalities up front, but you gotta hand it to the national racing series in Spain. They set it up for ONE reason: the World Championships!!!

In 2011 and 2012 we only had 3 aliens taking all the wins, unlike the previous years when we had 4.
In 2013 we seem to be returning to 4. Marquez will probably get up to speed quickly, and Rossi is back on a competitive bike.
Good news. But, it still feels a bit sad to only have 4 people competing for the win.

Ok... I respect all the riders and think Lorenzo deserved the championship for a masterful year of riding. I also think the CRT bikes are a failure, political solutions rarely work well in the real world.

But, I'm amazed that Lorenzo was so focused on Danni, that he was unable to manage his position and speed on track and ended up in a high side that was totally preventable! (Doesn't Lorenzo have history of chastising riders (Like Marco S.) for making these kind of poor track management decisions?)

Is it possible that the Aliens have become so used to riding "within a few centimeters of the same line" lap after lap that they have lost the ability to deal with anything less than perfect conditions and open tracks?

P.S. Thanks to Stoner for all the amazing rides over the years... I was fortunate enough to see each of your races at Laguna, and you always left the wife and I speechless... Enjoy what's next!

try racing a 1000cc gp bike on a slippery track with only a two feet dry patch in between the track in the midst of a bunch of far slower CRT bikes on a steep corner or a left-right chicane..that too when you've suddenly come upon those slower bikes...then criticize lorenzo and others..he himself admitted that it was a mistake...what, he cant make a mistake and mis-judgement once in a while because he's an alien and the most consistent and perfect one at that?

have a hard time seeing how some people find ways to criticize riders on threatening crashes (which are usually highsides) and find points on how they should or should not have done whatever they did that ended up in those highsides...maybe the aliens should take crash courses on how not to make racing mis-judgements from the people who seem to have so many ideas on how it should or should not have happened.

First... I'm sorry I touched a nerve! I fully admit I have no game when it comes to the skills these people have. Never will... Don't think there is a person posting here who can claim that level of talent or skill (and if there is I apologize for the omission).

Second, I'm sorry my point came across too harshly about Lorenzo, I was trying to comment that I thought it was very out of character for him to make a mistake of this caliber. You actually stated my point in a much clearer fashion than I did.

I (and it seems so from your words about "far slower CRT bikes") feel that the combination of the prototypes and the CRTs have built a environment where these types of situations come up too often and that is unfortunate and undesirable for the highest level of our sport.

However, in my experience on track (notably limited) and years of observation, the overtaking rider is always responsible for the passing maneuver, even if the leading slower rider is "blocking" (knowingly or unknowingly...), and that Lorenzo got himself into this situation and was unable to get through it, was very unusual for him. That's all..

Finally, my comment about being "centimeter perfect". I will fully admit that is is my opinion and that I threw it out there. I believe that if MotoGP racing is to thrive then everyone riding to the "centimeter perfect lap", is in my opinion, less entertaining than racing with bikes on different but nearly as fast lines.

The only time in recent GP history the bikes were all reasonably close in HP was the time when the grid was at its lowest - all the bikes built for that season of racing by a small handful of very large manufacturers, who retained ownership over every bike built. If you go back further in history to the 500s, there was a much greater diversity of manufacturers, and similar power deficits to those CRT have against the MSMA bikes. E.g. the Harris Yamaha's were reported by Fast Bikes to making around 155 bhp iirc (though, my memory can be wrong), when the factory 500s were making 185 bhp. So about 84% of the power of the factory bikes.

Does anyone know what the ratio is for CRT to MSMA bike?

"Does anyone know what the ratio is for CRT to MSMA bike?"

Well we know the prototypes are at least 250hp, and given that the CRTs run SBK motors, we know they are capable of around 220hp.

So, 88% on the above figures, and if we say 275hp for a prototype, the ratio goes to 80%... average that out and you get 84%

Nothing new under the sun...

David, I'm glad you mentioned the stupidity of Dorna for holding so much of their great video content in their pay for play site. I feel like they have not yet discovered the massive potential of viral marketing. It's almost as if they want the sport to remain a niche sport. Youtube should be stock full of all of their super slow mo videos and onboard action shots. Not to mention the fact that on their site, their idea of "HD" is not real HD. Also, it would be pretty cool if you put up an article with all of our beginning of the season championship predictions.

Dani has become a serious hard nosed competitor this year vs previous years. He had a reputation for being rather easy to break. Blazingly fast, when everything was 'perfect', but only capable of winning two or three races/year and never a 'real' contender for the WC. What happened this year? IMHO....Casey happened! Last year, Casey totally embarrassed Dani and it was obvious who the #1 rider on the team was. It would have been very easy for Dani to stay put and 'follow', but he didn't. Congrats to Dani for raising his game to the next level!! Next year should be very interesting!

That Dani will ever win a title. He's had a good year, but the reality was that once Stoner got injured Jorge was happy to cruise around collecting 2nd places because thats all he needed to do. Even then Stoner was only one win away from equalling Pedrosa for wins this year even being out or handicapped with injury for the second half of the season.

Next year is probably Pedrosa's best shot for the title with Honda hopefully having sorted the chatter, Marquez in his Rookie year, Stoner retired and Rossi reacquainting himself with the Yamaha at each track again.

Lorenzo never just settled for second. He was beaten by a faster Dani Pedrosa. Lorenzo nearly crashed on a number of occasions trying to keep up, only then would he settle for second. If Pedrosa can maintain this aggression to start next year and stay fit, he will be exceedingly difficult to beat.

Jorge pushed to his absolute limit in those races, that would have been dumb, and he's not dumb. Jorge did exactly what he needed to do and no more, which meant in a two horse race Dani won a lot of races. Had Stoner been fit Jorge would have had to push harder or lose big chunks of points every race, and he and Stoner would have taken the lions share of the wins. So, good season by Dani but Jorge had him covered, and probably will again next year IMO.

In last race Jorge did push to the limit and Dani caught him, despite the fact that he started from the pit lane. And we know how this has ended.

Do not underestimate Dani Pedrosa. Dani has rattled his cage.

I have posted this on another thread, it possibly went un-noticed.
How to make your niche sport more popular, quite relevant as what they discuss is the opposite of what Dorna is doing!

The Business of sport – Evan Davis speaks to the top business brains in the industry (Max Mosley, Barry Herne & Tim Wright) How did they re-invent their sports and bring in new and bigger audiences?


re: "The others seemed not to be aware of riders coming from behind, despite the blue flags being waved."
What is the rule for blue flags? The rider in front is not required to move over and give way, is he?
I submit that Ellison (and others) probably did not move aside because it was so treacherous off the dry line?
All credit to Lorenzo for calling it a mistake on his part.
Anyway, with all the crashes, I'm glad no one got hurt.

Blue flags or not. He made a mistake. Dani has overtake all of them without blue flag. JL run to the wet part of the track in the corner. And that is Ellison fault?

Give me a brake.

lol who told you dani overtook them without the blue flags ? there were blue flags being waved when dani was behind and in the midst of those same crt riders as well...and ellison actually slowed down, went slightly off the dry patch and sat up a bit on a left-handed corner and let dani pass...something he should and would have done for jorge too had he been aware jorge was just behind him...so it was actually slightly ellison's fault too for being unaware (that he was going to get lapped by a some faster rider was not too far from him) even though blue flags were getting waved from 3-4 corners before that particular corner, but mostly still jorge's fault for being a bit too impatient...or maybe ellison was aware of jorge being behind him because just a corner or two before the crashing-corner jorge had almost pulled alongside him but he was perhaps waiting to get a wider dry patch and hence the upcoming straight and didnt think jorge would be impatient. (or maybe ellison thought it was one of his crt competitors pulling alongside him who he knew weren't very far behind from him and thus either didnt see the blue flags or ignored them thinking they were being waved for some other riders getting lapped and not him yet).

and i am saying this after watching that particular part of the race 5-6 times forward and backward yesterday to properly gauge what the hell had happened..

Dani started from the pit lane. There was no Blue flags then. Blue flags ware out when Dani was lapping them (overtaking them second time).

and the blue flag and all the talk is all about the lapping situation...not when they were overtaking each other for positions, as dani was doing in the beginning of the race...

From the FIM rulebook, re: Blue flags. "During the race, the rider concerned is about to be lapped. He must allow the following rider(s) to pass him at the earliest opportunity."