Monday, June 11, 2007

125GP / 250GP Barcelona: Those Crazy Kids!

Another of my infrequent reviews of the 125cc and 250cc Grand Prix races, this time from Barcelona, where there was another dose of lunacy from the kids in the junior classes.
The 125cc race saw Japanese KTM rider Tommy Koyama win his first ever Grand Prix in nearly 8 years of trying. If you thought Dani Pedrosa was tiny, you should see little "Koyamax", he is tiny! Seriously, he'd pass for an 8 year old, not a 24 year old. Tommy is always there or thereabouts in races, but it has always seemed that the only way he would win is by some freak result where all the really quick guys end up in a tangled heap in a gravel trap. That was not what happened.
Koyama rode a great race, staying on the back of the lead pack at first and then carving his way through the Aspar Aprilia riders to take the victory. His Swiss team-mate Randy Krummenacher proved that KTM had produced excellent bikes for this race by snatching 3rd, a full 10 places better than his previous best.
Splitting the two was Hungarian Gabor Talmasci, who would pass for a 40 year old. Ironically, Talmasci used to ride for KTM, but his contract was not renewed when he overtook his championship-chasing team-mate for a win, despite being ordered not to. He was the highest finishing of the dominant Aspar Aprilia team, with his team-mates Sergio Gadea finishing 5th and Hector Faubel being punted off by Lukas Pesek on the last lap.
The other big news from the 125GP class was the outrageous bad luck of Mattia Pasini, which is now beyond a joke. Last year Sete Gibernau seemed to be the unluckiest man on the planet. His Ducati broke down when he looked like winning. He crashed at Barcelona and broke a collar bone, then his ambulance crashed on the way to hospital, then Casey Stoner took him down, landing on his collar bone again.
Sete's travails are nothing compared to those of Pasini this year. One of the stars of 125GP, he has taken pole positions aplenty, but his Aprilia breaks down constantly, giving him 5 DNF's from 7 starts. (One of those DNF's was when he hit Bradley Smith as he charged through the field, having started from the back of the pack when his Aprilia broke down on the way to the grid!)
This time out, it was another mechanical failure that threw him off in the braking zone for turn 1. Pasini delighted the crowd by losing it altogether. He kicked the bike repeatedly, stopped seemingly to scream inside his helmet, then returned to kicking and stamping on the bike for a while longer. Nobody deserves that kind of luck, especially not somebody who has taken several pole positions and led dozens of laps this year.
In the 250cc class, it was the usual Jorge Lorenzo walkover, a return to form from the Mugello race where he visited the gravel due to a 50-50 racing incident. Lorenzo previously entertained us with his victory celebrations of arrogantly planting a Lorenzo's Land flag in the gravel, and of having a doppelganger dressed in identical leathers and helmet meeting him on the slowdown lap to congratulate him.
This time Lorenzo outdid himself with a truly surreal celebration. Not satisfied with the usual Lorenzo's Land flag-planting, he was met in the gravel trap by a pair of doppelgangers. While the real Jorge grabbed a fake microphone and mimed into it like a rock star, his two clones produced electric guitars and vigorously pretended to play them in the background. It was utterly ridiculous, and funnier than anything that Valentino Rossi has done for quite a while.
The junior classes rarely fail to entertain, and they also show the stars of the future. Great stuff.

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