I’m Watching.. MotoGP Estoril

MotoGP 2010 – Portuguese GP

Estoril, Portugal – Round 17 of 18

31st October 2010
BBC coverage

Front row: Jorge Lorenzo is on pole, with Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi alongside him.
Dani Pedrosa has returned after his Japanese GP injury but starts well down the order, it’ll be interesting to see if he can work his way through.
Ben Spies crashed on the way to the grid and injured himself, he won’t be starting.

With all the rain over the weekend so far there has been no dry practice, this is going to be a dry race yet the track seems damp and greasy.

Race Start

Fast start from Lorenzo, behind him its 5 wide into turn 1. Dovizioso has jumped up to 2nd but is passed by Hayden who now leads this 5 bike group. Espagaro is off and limping.
Midway through lap two, passing all over the place, Hayden leads! Stoner passes Dovi and Rossi until the Italian re-takes him and positions changing all the time, I can’t keep up! Into lap 3 and the order is Lorenzo, Hayden, Rossi, Dovi, Stoner.

Lap 4 – Fantastic stuff but now it is a duel, Lorenzo vs Rossi with the Ducatis of Hayden and Stoner heading the chasing group.

Rossi leads! Passes Lorenzo into the uphill chicane at turn 9.

Stoner is off! It drops out from under him and he’s into the gravel at the Parabolica. Real shame as he was up to 3rd. Pedrosa is now 7th. Huge wobble from Simoncelli on to the main straight.

News from race control – “Spies diagnosed with left ankle dislocation” – ouch.

Lap 8 and things have calmed considerably as the gaps open up. Rossi leads Lorenzo by a second and a half, with Hayden a similar gap behind, then Simoncelli leading the works Hondas of Dovizioso and Pedrosa and de Puniet is on the back of them. Edwards isn’t far behind.

Dovizioso spins up his rear wheel and is nearly thrown off his bike, he drops behind Pedrosa and de Puniet and continues.

Replay: Carlos Checa loses a place and brings the bike in to the pits to retire, Steve Parrish on commentary suggests it is ‘arm pump’, i.e. he’s not physically used to the force of squeezing the brakes on the big MotoGP bikes.

Lap 15, the Yamahas have opened a gap the length of the pit straight over Hayden. Lorenzo is very gradually catching Rossi and on the next time through the main straight he’s on him, slipstreams past into turn 1, Lorenzo leads!

Simoncelli has taken 3rd from Hayden, and now Dovizioso retakes 5th from Pedrosa. This group of four are still circulating together.

9 to go. Edwards passes de Puniet and these two have recaught the group of four ahead, big group of six now.

8 to go and Dovizioso jumps Simoncelli for 3rd, this group has been epic all race and Simoncelli takes it back again! Dovizioso finally seals the deal into turn one. While this was going on Pedrosa got shuffled to the back of the group falls away, Parrish suggests this is probably because he’s not ‘race fit’ yet. Edwards was dropped off a little too.

5 to go, Dovizioso missed the apex and Simoncelli pounced immediately, he’s back to third. Hayden is lurking but doesn’t look likely to make a pass just yet.

Lorenzo is now 5 seconds ahead of Rossi and riding away. This is a bit like the last race, front two places sealed but an epic battle for 3rd.

2 to go, Dovizioso is back into 3rd, he’s clearly the faster of the two but keeps making errors allowing Simoncelli back through – can he hold on this time?

They are fighting like dogs on the last lap.. who’s got it?

Podium:
1. Lorenzo,
2. Rossi,
3….. Dovizioso in a near photo finish at the line!

Simoncelli 4th, Hayden, de Puniet, Edwards, Pedrosa, Melandri, Barbera for the top ten.

Verdict:

A really good race, even though the front two cleared off into the distance there was still action up and down the field. The head-to-head between Rossi and Lorenzo was excellent, and the group fighting over third was absolutely superb. A lot of MotoGP races this year have been really disappointing – now it has its mojo back!

Apologies for the lack of photo in this post, Picapp pulled their WordPress.com support and I haven’t registered for media access with anyone as yet.

Points:
Lorenzo 358; Pedrosa 236; Rossi 217; Stoner 205; Dovizioso 195; Spies & Hayden 163;

The next round is the finale at Valencia, it has already taken place (as you know) and I’ll have a little review up in a few days.

I’m Watching.. MotoGP

MotoGP 2010 – Australian GP

Phillip Island, Australia – Round 17 of 18

17th October 2010
BBC coverage

Front row: Casey Stoner is on pole at his home circuit, new champion Jorge Lorenzo 2nd, Ben Spies an impressive 3rd.
Dani Pedrosa is still out through injury after crashing in free practice at Motegi.

This will be Mika Kallio’s last race of the year which is a shame, he’d been tipped as a new talent but after a few poor races he’s shuffled out. He’ll be replaced by Carlos Checa, who spent 12 years in the top class before moving to World Superbikes.

Conditions are very windy and it has been raining for three days straight – but today it is dry.

Race Start

Stoner and Lorenzo make a good initial start before Spies tries to run around the outside, but he gets mugged by Simoncelli and Hayden. By the end of lap one Stoner already had a 1.5 second lead over Lorenzo! Simoncelli’s Honda passes Hayden’s Ducati on the front straight. Check up with the Doctor, Rossi is down in 9th.

A bit of a battle between Dovi and Spies ends up with Spies ahead and Dovi dropping back, slowing which allows Rossi (now 6th) to catch up to Spies. Replay: Dovizioso’s bike is going slowly and multiple riders pass him, he pits shortly afterwards.

Lap 5 and the battle for 3rd is suddenly Spies vs Hayden vs Simoncelli vs Rossi in that order, I don’t remember seeing Spies move up through the group, but here goes Rossi, up another position.
Lap 6, Stoner has a 2.6sec lead over Lorenzo who’s 4 seconds ahead of this mad battle for 3rd.

BBC commentary reminds us that the new engine rule is in effect, most guys are on their 6th engine of the year but because Rossi missed races he’s able to keep using new engines when others are saving theirs. Rossi and Simoncelli make their way past Hayden who’s back up to speed on their tail – and just a few corners later Rossi is past Spies for 3rd, having made two places in a lap. Spies then gets shuffled back to 6th by the other two who continue scrapping as Rossi darts away from them.

A couple of laps later and I didn’t expect this, Hayden is catching Rossi! The 2011 teammates are running together with a gap to the pair of Simoncelli and Spies. Things calmed down for a while thereafter, small groups of bikes circulated and while they weren’t trying any less the amount of passing seemed to drop for a bit. It was a bit like the Aragon race with pairs or threes racing and the gaps enlarging between the groups.

Further back, de Puniet, Bautista and Kallio make it three abreast in the fast southern loop! Dangerous stuff, it is barely wide enough for three bikes at these speeds. Spies gets ahead of Simoncelli once more.

Wow, suddenly Hayden makes a move and is past Rossi into second! 3 laps remaining, can he hold on to it? Rossi attacks Hayden just as hard as Nicky had been doing for so long, but with only three-quarters of a lap to go this could go either way.
Vale dive-bombs him, they are side-by-side as they hang on around the low grip right-hander, does it he make it.. yes! Amazing. All credit to the pair of them for a cracking race in which they were the undoubted highlight, and well done to Casey Stoner on his dominant, flawless win.

Podium: 1. Stoner, 2. Lorenzo, 3. Rossi.
Hayden 4th, Spies, Simoncelli, Edwards, Espargaro, Melandri etc.

The race for the first two positions was over at the first corner of the first lap, the race for 3rd wasn’t settled until the last corner of the last lap! Excellent race.

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”false” link=”term=MotoGP+Phillip+Island&iid=9993557″ src=”http://view1.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9993557/motogp-australia-race/motogp-australia-race.jpg?size=500&imageId=9993557″ width=”380″ height=”265″ /]

Points:

Lorenzo 333 (C), Pedrosa 228, Stoner 205, Rossi 197, Dovizioso 179, Spies 163

The next round is the Portuguese Grand Prix at Estoril this weekend.

Photo credit: Rossi stalks Hayden in the closing stages at Phillip Island – Lucas Dawson / Getty Images via PicApp.com

I’m Watching.. MotoGP

MotoGP 2010 – Malaysian GP

Sepang, Malaysia – Rnd 15 of 18

3 October 2010
BBC coverage

I have a massive backlog of articles but as I’m in the middle of sorting a move to another flat things are a bit delayed.

Front row: Jorge Lorenzo starts on pole, Nicky Hayden 2nd, Andrea ‘Dovi’ Dovizioso 3rd.
Dani Pedrosa is still out with an injury sustained in free practice in Japan.

At the start Lorenzo gets away with a small gap, yet by the end of lap one Dovi had got side by side with him at the last corner – Lorenzo fended him off and the battle continued. Just as they were dropping the Ducatis one of them, Stoner, found himself in the gravel thus enlargening the gap between the leaders and the other Ducati of Hayden, who had about 6 bikes on his tail.

Valentino Rossi had dropped from 6th to 11th at the start and immediately set about re-passing people. After just a couple of laps he was in 6th again, two laps more and he was up to 3rd! Incredible even for him, if you consider he’s still carrying an injury from earlier in the season. We’re told his leg has fully healed, his shoulder has not.

Capirossi parked up and limped away, he’s still carrying an injury from a few races before. A pit report from Matt Roberts later in the race confirms he retired due to an electrical fault on his Suzuki, it wasn’t down to his injury.

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”false” link=”term=MotoGP+Sepang&iid=10016264″ src=”http://view3.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/10016264/motogp-malaysia-race/motogp-malaysia-race.jpg?size=500&imageId=10016264″ width=”380″ height=”253″ /]

Dovi hassled Lorenzo for lap after lap as Rossi slowly, slowly closed in on them, before Dovizioso was able to make the move on lap 8 with a great pass! Edwards retired from 8th somewhere here.

Rossi passes Lorenzo for 2nd, I don’t think Lorenzo worked TOO hard for it because he wants to secure the title in this race. In the same place one lap later Rossi takes the lead! He dove into the tight left-hander and darted away into the lead, immediately opening a little gap. Simply brilliant.

Hayden slipped to the back of the fairly big pack running in the upper midfield as Spies and Simoncelli fought to head this group. Suddenly on lap 15 Dovizioso seems to come from nowhere to retake the race lead from Rossi! Half a lap later Vale retakes the place in his favourite overtaking spot. This is really fantastic stuff!

Wow, great scrap between Simoncelli, Bautista, Hayden and Ayama. Bautista passed two guys in one move! It continued and Simoncelli and Aoyama bumped and bruised until they run wide (Simoncelli’s fault) allowing Hayden to pass both.
Up front, Rossi and Dovi dropped Lorenzo by a big margin, the trio miles ahead of the rest. That’s how it finished.

Podium: 1. Rossi, 2. Dovizioso, 3. Lorenzo. Jorge Lorenzo confirmed as 2010 MotoGP World Champion!
Some guys dressed as Mario and Luigi meet him on the cooldown lap and he holds up a Game Over sign to the bike’s onboard camera! Massive cheers from the crowd, and it is a big crowd.
Spies finished 4th, Bautista, Hayden, Aoyama, etc.

What a stunning race. After several really boring GPs the series has regained its old form in style, well done to all concerned.

Well done to both race winner Rossi and champion Lorenzo, who’s run of race wins and other podium positions were going to be incredibly hard to beat even if the opposition hadn’t struggled with injury, there’s no false title here as Lorenzo worked for every result.

Points:

Lorenzo 313 (C), Pedrosa 228, Rossi 181, Stoner 180, Dovizioso 179, Spies 152

The next round is Phillip Island, Australia, for which there will be a post up in a few days.

Photo credit:  Andrea Dovizioso leads after passing Jorge Lorenzo, while Valentino Rossi is closing, closing, closing. (c) Getty Images via Picapp.

I’m Watching… MotoGP

I watch racing so you don’t have to. Missed any MotoGP lately? Allow me to briefly recap.

[I’ve changed the format of these posts to do one championship at a time, makes it less scattergun, you can pick the ones you’re interested in, and helps me find things in the archive – and yes I am still miles behind, I’ve got loads of these in draft for different series]

MotoGP
Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
29 August 2010

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I’m glad MotoGP visits the US twice but both Indianapolis visits prior to this one were pretty unspectacular, the weather intervened with the one and the other was just plain boring. Unfortunately this year’s race was also uninspiring. This is a real shame because the local crowd is enthusiastic, if looking a little lost in the massive stands of Indy. I maintain this date is not helped by having an IndyCar race the previous night in Chicago, much of the local IndyCar media might be expected to cover this race too and they weren’t all able to do so. Got to hurt publicity, etc.

The first half of the race was reasonably good. Pedrosa put in a storming ride to dominate the field, a really excellent performance involving passing three or four other riders – including an impressive Ben Spies (pictured) – in the early running before disappearing into the distance in the second half of the race. For me that was the extent of the action, there were a few changes among the lower positions but after the wholesale change of riders at that end of the grid for this season I don’t really care for any of them. Bring back Vermuelen, Toseland and co, I say.

*

MotoGP
Misano, Italy

5 September 2010

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Again this race featured some great early battling before settling down into a Pedrosa benefit. It is great to see the guy on an upswing in form and taking the fight to Lorenzo because somebody had to, yet #99 still finished 2nd so his points advantage over Dani is remains massive. Rossi finished an amazing 3rd given his injuries, a stellar performance in the circumstances and he must’ve been hurting. That was about it for this race! We’re all hoping the new-for-2011 rules will bring back the great races seen in the top flight of motorcycle racing just a few short years ago, some series can get away with a long string of boring races but I don’t think MotoGP can for much longer, it is renowned for action and right now we aren’t getting it.

Both Indy and Misano races were held under a cloud following the death in Indy of the 13-year old Peter Lenz in the USGPRU support race warm-up, and an in Misano a Moto2 accident involving 19-year old Shoya Tomizawa which led to his eventual passing and was announced just as the main race came to an end. They were both accidents that even the best safety precautions would have struggled to prevent but that doesn’t make them any less sad or tragic. My thoughts are with their families and colleagues.

*

MotoGP
Motorland Aragon, Alcaniz, Spain
19 September 2010

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”false” link=”term=MotoGP+Aragon&iid=9812324″ src=”http://view.picapp.com/pictures.photo/image/9812324/ducati-motogp-rider-stoner/ducati-motogp-rider-stoner.jpg?size=500&imageId=9812324″ width=”234″ height=”140″ /]

A new venue for MotoGP, this recently constructed circuit in Northern Spain is a Tilke creation with some quite interesting sections, including elevation changes and tight and fairly narrow twisty bits by Tilke’s standards – it is a good design. Unfortunately it all looks a bit bland simply because there is no scenery to speak of, it is a yellow/orange dustbowl.

Lorenzo and Stoner battled hard on the opening lap, with Casey coming off best. He soon disappeared into a handy lead over Pedrosa who’d also passed #99. Pedrosa then made an error and had to recover, this could’ve sunk him but he battled back hard – helped in no small part by his Honda engine on the very long back straight, that engine is the class of the field this year. It still needed to be ridden though and Dani did so brilliantly to recover up to 2nd place and only a second down on Stoner at times, until he had to give best and the Aussie duly took the win.

A tip of the hat to Nicky Hayden for finishing an improved 3rd in spectacular style by sending it up the inside of Lorenzo on the very final lap. They’d been fighting closely for some time, as had Dovisiozo and Spies which went the American’s way when Dovi crashed out, again on the last lap.

*

MotoGP
Twin-Ring Motegi, Japan
3 October 2010

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This round was originally scheduled for April but was postponed due to the volcanic ash cloud over Europe, preventing travel. Drama immediately! No Pedrosa for this race because he crashed badly in free practice with a stuck throttle – he’s flown home to Spain. Lorenzo had his worse qualifying session of the year and starts all the way down in 4th, the first man on the second row – how will he possibly cope? It was really good to see Edwards returning to the front end of the grid in 5th alongside his team-mate Spies 6th.

Dovisiozo got a good start initially but Stoner came breezing by in the first sequence of corners, then just rode away from the field. Lorenzo passed Rossi for 3rd and Capirossi got from 10th to 6th in the early running, well done Loris. Spies dropped to 8th before clashing with Hayden and both wound up fighting for last, at least until they caught the usual tailenders.

Simoncelli put a good pass on Edwards for 5th, he’s having an impressive season. Meanwhile, the race nearer the front came alive – what a brilliant battle between Lorenzo and Rossi! Vale pushed and harried him until he was able to make the move, and while he does have a newer engine with a later development step he is still carrying that injury. They passed an repassed each other for several laps, and these people are supposed to be teammates!

Back in the field Colin Edwards pulled himself together to attack Simoncelli again, couldn’t quite do it but never gave up and fought all the way, a great comeback after finishing only 12th in Aragon, his 100th start. His team-mate Spies who’d fallen to the back had fought his way through the field into the top eight, while Hayden got up to 12th. After the frenetic action in the middle of the race things were pretty quiet in the top half dozen for a long while, until 3 to go when Lorenzo suddenly launched attack after attack on Rossi for 3rd. He wasn’t able to pull it off. Stoner made it two races in a row, Dovi 2nd and Rossi claimed the final podium spot from Lorenzo. Everyone else was half a minute behind.

*

After these races the top of the standings were:

297 Lorenzo
228 Pedrosa
180 Stoner
159 Dovisiozo
156 Rossi

With no Pedrosa and a commanding lead Lorenzo was now aiming to claim the title at the next round, which was Sepang last week. I’m sure you’ve probably seen the outcome already. Then the circus moves on to Phillip Island this week and then heads back to Portugal and Spain to close the season. I’ll recap all four together in roughly a month from now, and I hope this summary has been useful!

All photos courtesy of PicApp.