Friday, May 04, 2007

MotoGP: Shanghai Preview

Gee, this is a tough one. Deciding who will finish 3rd, that is. Will Alex Barros manage to take a podium? The ancient Brazilian should be in with a chance.
Michelin will have to beat Bridgestone by some margin on the twisty bits if they are going to take the race win, or even take a podium. The Istanbul race showed us that when it comes to tyres, all bets are off, as Bridgestone dominated on what used to be a Michelin track. That should give us hope that Michelin just might win the race.
Valentino Rossi didn't have the best luck in China last year. His front tyre failed, and despite the protests of his identically attired companion Uccio, Vale was sent out with a new rear tyre instead. The poor top speed of his Yamaha will probably be a millstone around Rossi's neck in China.
Atomic automaton Dani Pedrosa is probably the favourite Michelin runner for this race, as his microscopic size and weight tend to give him the best straight-line speed of the Honda riders. He also has the benefit of his dominating victory on the last visit to Shanghai.
Suzuki and Gresini Honda will be fighting to be 2nd best Bridgestone runners. Toni Elias couldn't care less whether his bike is suited to the track or not, while Marco Melandri couldn't find consistency if it was standing right in front of him. As for the Suzuki riders, Hopkins was a bit unlucky to be shuffled down through the pack in Turkey when he looked to be setting a good pace, while Vermeulen was even unluckier, getting punted off the track and setting fastest lap as he attempted to come back. It's impossible to say whether these Bridgestone-shod teams can beat Barros on his d'Antin Ducati. They will e slower than him down the straights and faster round the corners, and who knows where the balance will lie?
The big question is whether the race will be at all exciting, as the track is almost universally condemned as a pile of boring F1-style garbage. Long straights ending in slow corners? Oh, brilliant.
Well, I that something interesting or unexpected happens on the worst track of the 2007 MotoGP calendar, but I'm not holding my breath.

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