Thursday, March 22, 2007

MotoGP: Jerez Preview

The big question for the forthcoming Jerez GP is: are Ducati going to be quick or what?
The Italian team stunned everybody with Casey Stoner's debut victory at Qatar, but Jerez is a very different racetrack, much more twisty and without such a long straight. Ducati didn't look too great there at the IRTA pre-season test, while Rossi and Pedrosa looked awesome for Yamaha and Honda.
Will this be a replay of qualifying session zero? If so, expect Rossi to win, pursued by little Dani. However, if Stoner and Capirossi can detonate the explosive straight line speed of the Dukes, along with the high corner speed that the Bridgestones give them, then we could be seeing the 2nd Ducati victory of the season.
But the potential of the Ducati can't be judged by one race, where Stoner was pretty quick around the twisty bits, especially on the last lap, but largely relied on lighting the burners and screaming down the front straight 15K's faster than the Yamaha. If Ducati are going to be quick at Jerez, then why weren't they that quick at the test?
Stoner didn't particularly need good corner exit speed at Qatar, he could just wait for a few seconds and arrow past the opposition. On a shorter straight, the Yamaha's higher corner speed and earlier throttle application could give just enough advantage to get over the finish line first, which is all that matters on the last lap.
I'm backing The Doctor to win. He was incredibly strong on the brakes at Qatar, sailing past Pedrosa easily into turn one. This should suit the Jerez track down to the ground. It has been a long time since Rossi's last victory, and he will be extremely determined to stand on the top step this weekend. With the Yamaha's awesome cornering, Rossi will be able to stick with anybody around the lap. Should there be a Ducati in front of him going into the final corner, I wouldn't bet against a strong move from the Doctor, barging past his opponent and unsettling him for long enough to make a bolt for the chequered flag.
Who knows? Maybe the Dukes will pull something out of the bag again, maybe Pedrosa will show the same pace he did at the IRTA test, or maybe normal #46 service will be resumed. It's going to be fascinating.

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